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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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70 Responses to 817

  1. Sophie says:

    That is a proper classic!

  2. JF says:

    It’s interesting that an omnipotent, omnipresent God relies on humans to go around spreading the Word about him. It’d be so much easier if he just made his presence a bit more… y’know… apparent! Like he used to in Biblical times! Why all the (recent) obscurity?

  3. kls says:

    ahahahha :D

  4. beatthedrum says:

    surely no evangelical would be ina womans bath, they would avoid nakedness at all costs!

  5. Eddie says:

    I like the labour saving technique, evangelism and baptism combined in one simple operation. We need more creative ideas like this.

  6. subo says:

    how pervasive is that inner condemner, inner critic is no where near it! it’s as though this hangman’s’ been and gone, and I feel like I’m left with a corpse sometimes

    be-gone you smug condemner, be banished, lets see if a little scented bubble can restore a sense of fun

  7. Becky says:

    4. Actually that tends to be what gets a lot of them in trouble – they try soooo hard to be good and pure that they end up getting all Haggard.

  8. jonbirch says:

    jf… maybe if you see god in everything, you see god in everything, if you don’t, you don’t. all a matter of perception and attribution. i guess you could tell the hebrew story in many different ways, but what we read is hte way they chose to tell it.

  9. Forrest says:

    #5, Eddie, ;-D ;-D ;-D

  10. Forrest says:

    But then, althought probably not the main thrust, there is another thing which can be read into this cartoon: it is never the wrong time or wrong place to say, hey, I do need to know Christ, what do ya say we accept each other’s “Friend Request”.

  11. I don’t mean to be picky, or perhaps I do, but did you mean to write ‘evangelical’? Don’t you mean ‘evangelist’?

  12. beatthedrum says:

    Maybe he should rebuke her for the state of the bath

    ” It is neather hot nor cold so i will have to spit it out of my mouth!”

  13. Forrest says:

    Re #11, From what I’ve encountered, David, evangelicals who are not job-titled evangelists are just as (more?) likely to do this.

    Especially fundamentalist evangelical “you’re gonna burn if you read the NIV” people like my father-in-law!

  14. Pat says:

    beatthedrum and Eddie :lol: :lol:

  15. Caroline Too says:

    Sorry, Jon, but “Bollocks!”

    Why an over zealous Evangellybaby?

    Has there ever been an example of and evangelist launching into
    woman’s bath like that?

    (… or might it have been a part of a longer conversation?)

    and are you suggesting that ONLY evangellybabies are insensitive…

    sorry, as you know, I usually love your cartoons and am at ease with
    you ‘having a go’ at things I cherish…

    but, I guess that sometimes a get weary of ‘my’ tradition getting all the bad press, it ain’t necessarily so!

    hmmm, there’s a song lyric there somewhere :-)

    sorry, rant over, I’ll get a cup of camomile tea now

  16. youthworkerpete says:

    Ditto the above post, but also is it not “overzealous evangelist” rather than evangelical?

    All but the most extreme liberal ‘Christians’ consider Jesus to be our ‘personal saviour’, the difference is the process by which he becomes/is our saviour.

  17. Allatsea says:

    I didn’t realise that liberals and fundementalists have different beliefs about being saved. Why is Christians in inverted commas?

    How do we differentiate liberals and fundementals? I wanna know which one I am?

  18. Caroline Too says:

    oh dear… do you really want a label, Allatsea?

    what about one of

    Christ’s ones?

    wouldn’t that do?

    I think that it would… and you know it too,

    and if youthworkerpete answered your question,

    what would you reply?

    for he is one of

    Christ’s ones too

    maybe one you’d disagree with

    one that I’d disagree with

    and maybe we could use labels to
    rent apart a kingdom of God

    into little parcels

    from which we can all throw darts at others

    I wonder if I’m an evangellybaby anymore

    but it was evangelicals who invited me into life

    and I’m grateful for that

    and now, those with whom I share more, throw darts at my spiritual midwives

    maybe they deserve it?

    I dunno

    but I have a Father in the Grace business

    and grace reaches out even to the judgemental….

    and those we disagree with…

  19. jonbirch says:

    i would like to state that the emphasis is on the ‘overzealous’ rather than ‘evangelical’. i’ve met a fantastically wide variety of different kinds of christian going by the name of ‘evangelical’… even was one myself up until about 20 years ago. have many friends who are. my dad is, my brother is and is minister to a congregation of ‘em. much of it good stuff, certainly a lot of wonderful people. but the guy in the cartoon is an overzealous evangelical and let’s face it, we’ve all seen it. :-)

  20. Tiggy says:

    Well if an overzealous evangelical is going to get in MY bath, he’d better get naked.

    What I can’t stand is evangelists with megaphones. I was sitting having a coffee with a friend in London and this evangelist with a megaphone started up near us. He was spoiling everyones afternoon with is noisy ranting. I went up and told him that Jesus didn’t use a megaphone, but he didn’t stop talking long enough to really hear me. I was so angry that I tried to wrest the megaphone from him. Looking back now, I wish I’d just kicked him where it would hurt the most.

  21. youthworkerpete says:

    Allatsea – I’m not really qualified to tell you which one you are! But someone who is ‘fundamental’ or evangelical is more likely to view the bible literally and stick to historic doctrine, and ‘liberal’ is more likely to view the bible with a pinch of salt and stray from historic orthodoxy. Often liberalism is mixed with our predominent world view, humanism.

    And for teh inverted commas, that was purely in reference to people who may ccall themselves ‘christian’ but deny the saving work of Jesus. What they label theselves is their business, but they are not Christian in the traditional sense of the word.

  22. subo says:

    I think I’d still like to call myself a ‘gellical’, though my faith, beliefs and my tools for viewing life have expanded

    for me, as someone who’s trying to scrape it off – like having stepped in something, a punitive approach to life comes more from depravation than faith. we who have grown up without any kind of spoon, crawl desperately to the church – where Jesus offers ‘abundant life’

    and then we make church in our experience – look at the number of church revolutions which have turned out as ridged and controlled and punitive as the one’s they were fleeing from

    the thing is, opening your eye’s to faith, celebrating life, and accepting the hardships as just part of a doable operation, isn’t natural to all of us – think about how tricky it can be to try to get a party off the ground in a church group, (maybe I’m just hanging around with the wrong guy’s)

  23. beatthedrum says:

    Of course the Charismatic Evangelical would have been standing on the water rather than being under it….

    Or the openeing line would have been “i see you have a an aching back lets pray for that to be healed first then you will realise the power of the risen christ and will fall at his knees at repentance!”


  24. Lewis says:

    Great post. And wonderful reply btd!

  25. Graham says:

    Thanks- it maybe just me this morning…. and I have too many degrees to be healthy or sane….but I just laughed and laughed at this.

    I think it is one of your best. As my 5 year old would say ‘it’s just funny!’

  26. Allatsea says:

    Re: 21
    Thanks youthworkerpete, is that criteria well understood and widely-used to define the two groups?

    I’ve heard the terms loads but just thought of them as 9usually negative) labels to identify the extremes at either end of christianity.

    I understand God to be the highest authority on all matters of life and faith. I think he speaks through the bible, other people, creation, common sense and through personal relationship. I think we probably never quite hear God right but keep making better efforts as we go along. And Christs’s death more than covers the gap.

    I must be a fundemental liberalist or a liberal fundementalist.

  27. JF says:

    Forrest (10) – I took this cartoon the other way, i.e. the inappropriateness of confronting human beings with the notion that the same being both creates them sick AND commands them to be well… it’s much more deeply ‘inappropriate’ than being in a stranger’s bath.

  28. MATTTHEMOP says:

    This cartoon reminded me of Nightmare on Elm Street!

  29. theseoldshades says:

    Caroline Too@18: Wow, good words. Difficult but good. You’ve made me think about how I label people so it’s easier to poke fun or defend myself from what they say. I hate being labelled (we are apparently known as ‘THAT house’ [feminists and liberals ahoy!] in certain circles :) ) and that annoys me no end so why do I do it constantly to people I disagree with or dislike?

    ‘and grace reaches out even to the judgemental….

    and those we disagree with…’

    yes yes yes. will try and remember this today, thankyou.

    In terms of overzealous evange*lism* I have certainly been witness to that and it makes me feel horrifically uncomfortable. A shouting, turn or burn, bash people repeatedly over the head with the Bible approach seems to miss the message of God’s love somewhat. It seems to me much more likely (from personal experience not any great revelation!) that people will see Jesus’ love through relation, compassion and our love to them. Those things speak the Gospel more than Bible bashing ever could.

  30. theseoldshades says:

    Also, can I just say that the phrase ‘personal saviour’ really annoys me? Not because I don’t agree with it but because it always seems so selfish when people say ‘Well the most important thing is that you have accepted Jesus as your personal saviour’ when I always kind of thought the most important thing was loving God with heart, soul and mind and loving one another as Christ loved us. If Jesus is you’re ‘personal saviour’ but you don’t do those things then it’s clearly not the most important thing because the whole point has been completely missed!

  31. themethatisme says:

    Well said theseoldshades…Jesus didn’t tell bible stories.

  32. Caroline Too says:

    Jon (#19), actually, NO, I haven’t seen an evangellybaby preaching like that to someone having a soak in their bath at the end of a tiring week.

    Have I seen insensitive evangelistic speaking/arguing?

    yes, indeed I’ve don’t it :roll:

    strangely, it seemingly resulted in a friend meeting up with and starting to follow Jesus…

    Mind you, I think that may have had something to do with how mortified I was at my rudeness, so that I prayed and prayed for my friend, for fogiveness, for my friend again,…

    and I’ve been a tad more careful since

    so, there you are, even over zealous evangellybabies can learn…

    of course, fortunately, there are NO insensitive sacrementalist or liberal christians, noooooooo, perish the thought….

  33. Graham says:

    Now there is an idea for a triptych of cartoons:-

    (1) insensitive evangelical- done.
    (2) insensitive sacramentalist
    (3) insenstive liberal christian.

    I think you would have to use the phrase ‘I’ve outgrown’ or ‘I’ve moved on’.

    I don’t know what I am anymore….but I do remember when I entered theological cemetary being told by a member of the selection panel (quite fundamentalist liberal in their views) ‘You are going to go to college and be told that your views are crap’…which now just makes me laugh…

    Go on – a challenge- a triptych (I’ve never used that word before so I’m using it again)…. :)

  34. Allatsea says:

    Love no. 30
    well said :)

  35. youthworkerpete says:

    Re: 26 – lol, you are right. I misused the word ‘fundamentalist’. The opposite ends of the scale are usually defined as Evangelical v liberal, and of course you can be a fundamentalist in either end although typically it is used to desribe a very narrow evangelicalism – Dawkins, for example, is a fundamentalist atheist. Of course, different people use these terms differently, but from the books I’ve read people I’ve talked to it usually seem that the more evangelical you are the more stringent your beliefs, and the more liberal you are the more fluffy and fluid your beliefs. But the problem comes when some people use ‘liberal’ as a synonym for ‘progressive’.

    #33 – I too would like to see that! Nothing annoys me more than John Hick, who constantly invites poor old evangelicals like he used to be, to become a big boy and eat the solid food of pluralism.

  36. JF says:


    Applying the term “fundamentalism” to scientists is specious, and is usually done by those who espouse wish-thinking and who are trying to denigrate science by reducing it to the same level.

    Dawkins says “No, please, do not mistake passion, which can change its mind, for fundamentalism, which never will. Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe”, in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will. “

  37. Bo says:

    Dawkins quote is funny, since it is widely believed in academic circles, that for a revolutionary idea to be accepted in the university, it is often neccessary that the old generation of scientists die of old age, since they do not have the capability to accept a radical new idea.

  38. jonbirch says:

    yeh, that is quite a good example of dawkins saying something ridiculous. for all the interesting stuff he says, he still seems to have no grasp of how he and humanity behave. he is absolutely a fundamentalist and what bo says is correct. he reminds me a bit of marx.

    at the risk of annoying the marvelous caroline too further, i did have a few more overzealous evangelical cartoons. i also was an overzealous evangelical for a period and one of the cartoons i have is based on something i actually said, which makes me now shudder to think about. maybe over the weekend i’ll draw them all up and pop them in a single post, so as not to draw out the pain. i too, as many of us, have a lot to be grateful to evangelicals for… i have a lot to be grateful to my country for as well, but that wouldn’t stop me doing cartoons on the things i would be critical of. :-)

    a triptych is a nice idea. maybe i will. :-)

  39. JF says:

    Please look up “fundamentalist” in the dictionary.

    “A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.”

    Which is why it is ridiculous to assert that a secular biologist is a fundamentalist!

    Or, Google Books “The God Delusion” p283 for an intimation of the extent to which Dawkins admires and respects one of his old Oxford professors for admitting his belief was wrong and moving to a new position of belief, based on evidence.

    It may be a convenient piece of mental gymnastics to think of scientists as “fundamentalist” when they doggedly disagree with your standpoint, but this is in fact specious.

    Watch this video (if you have an hour free!) and you will see that Dawkins does not make any absolute statements or claim to “know” anything which cannot be known. Only the fundamentalist does that. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6609671681098320091#

  40. Caroline Too says:

    Dawkins’ problem is his very restricted notion of what counts
    as evidence.

    It is simply no good saying that you’ll change your mind when the
    evidence persuades you when you ascribe unto yourself the right to decide what does and does not count as evidence.

    Your own definitions of ‘Fundamentalism’ ignores its history, which – if I remember aright – grows out of a particular grouping of christians who championed what they called “the fundamentals of the faith”

    use of this term has broadened over the years, to include all who
    hold a view that is extreme… still usually applied to religious people

    language is living, and it’s use changes the meanings we ascribe to
    words. It is certainly a new, but by no means an inappropriate use
    of the term to link it to those Atheists who are militant and,
    what is more, unyielding in their assertion of atheism.

    Would I apply it to Dawkins? Yes, I think I would. Why? What
    evidence do I have to support this usage? Well (a) I would point out
    that Dawkins always uses the most extreme, creationist Christians to
    illustrate his points, I’ve not seen him engage with more
    moderate, acdemically literate christians. and (b) whilst I don’t
    know him myself, people I know who have attempted to debate with him,
    speak of a man with whom it is pointless to debate, there is no
    openness for discussion.

    Is my case firm, is my evidence conclusive? By no means, but it’s good enough for me to be going on with for now, and I accept others’ description of Dawkins as a fundaminatlist Atheist.

  41. JF says:

    What is the wider meaning of “evidence” that Dawkins misses?

  42. jonbirch says:

    “It may be a convenient piece of mental gymnastics to think of scientists as “fundamentalist” when they doggedly disagree with your standpoint, but this is in fact specious.” many, many scientists are not fundamentalist, dawkins is. he is also one heck of an evangelist… to bastardise yet another word. :-) i do not believe that everything he says is wrong, in fact i agree with much of what he does say. but the views of dawkins on belief are not the views od dawkins as a scientist… in fact dawkins dogmatic rantings are an annoyance to many scientists both atheist and christian for being unscientific. science does not say one way or another whether god exists or not, it simply discovers stuff, which is why you have scientists of all persuasions of belief finding no conflict with their faith in the work they do. his objection to the heavy control of fundamentalist religion upon it’s people is one i have great sympathy with, but seeing himself as somehow above all that and having a clearer view than others cleverer and far more knowledgeable than him is hilarious. his understanding of the human condition and how human beings function in a vacuum of belief simply ignores everything history tells us. by the same token, i am in no way wishing to paint any kind of rosy picture of religions history, but dawkins is darned selective about what he chooses to argue with and engage with… blind to anything which does not fit his message. many atheists also say this re. dawkins. he is only a mouthpiece for some, certainly not all. i’m a christian and yet often the pope does not speak on my behalf.
    it is not because i disagree with some of what he says that i see him as a fundamentalist, it is his behaviour… absolutely no mental gymnastics necessary.

  43. Forrest says:

    #27, by JF, “inappropriateness of confronting human beings with the notion that the same being both creates them sick AND commands them to be well”

    I am one of those who was created sick.

    Even though I do feel a bit resentful about that at times, it doesn’t bug me in the ultimate sense. After all, God did say there were negative consequences for the world and all the people to come, after Adam and Eve disobeyed and thereby brought sin into the world.

    It’s logical cause and effect to me.

    Stepson Rusty got into drugs knowing it is
    a. illegal
    b. proven to be a hair on the risky side
    c. something the Bible he was raised with says is not exactly respecting the body God gave you
    d. something his Momma told him not to
    and he is now very sick with Hepatitis C.

    It’s logical cause and effect.

    Somewhere in the New Testament the matter of not everyone being healed here in This Life is addressed.
    Maybe even by Jesus himself.

    I *think* the thrust of what was said was that it’s not your business why a given person is healed or not; your concern is to look after your own relationship to God.

    God also says absolutely do pray for people to be healed; but, whether and why they ultimately are or are not healed this side of eternity is not your problem.

    (and since they are his living creations, I expect it’s okay to pray for his animals and plants to be healed)

    And I know I’ve got the eternity to come to be not sick.
    So does my wife Kathy.
    And the son Rusty.
    And the daughter Bridgette.
    And Aunt Susan, who has MS.
    And Dad, whose health is worse than mine with most of the same things as me.

    Who knows, maybe my animal-rescue run-over kitty with all the broken bones; crushed foot; nerve damage; and brain damage; does too.
    He is God’s creation.
    And God is merciful.

  44. Tiggy says:

    A friend of mine has been free of cancer for three years and he’s telling people this on FB and saying ‘God is good!’. And friends are saying, ‘Yes, He is!’ But what about if he wasn’t free of it; would God be good then or what? And what about all the people who aren’t free of it? It made me feel uncomfortable.

  45. youthworkerpete says:

    Are you uncomfortable because someone cured of cancer is proclaiming God’s goodness, or that no one else mentions it?

    Do you ever write ‘God is good’? It’s not often I do!

    Jesus healed people to glorify God. Of course, there was an element of compassion too, but if that was all surely he would have cured the whole world in an instant! Maybe your friend is a living reminder that we should all be proclaiming ‘God is Good’ whatever our circustances!

  46. Tiggy says:

    It’s neither of those reasons. I think you’ve missed my point a bit.

    I feel uncomfortable because he’s saying, ‘I’m cured of cancer – God is therefore good.’ How does that make someone who isn’t cured of cancer feel? Or someone who’s partner or child died of cancer.

    Also it’s like he’s using his cure as evidence of God’s goodness, but if he hadn’t been cured, what then? It’s not evidence that can be disproved in any way.

  47. JF says:

    YouTube is full of Dawkins talking/debating with more moderate Christians, such as the one I posted earlier, or Bishop Harries, or Father George Coyne, or any number of others. It’s simply not true to say he only debates with the most extreme, creationist Christians.

    [It is a matter of debate as to whether “creationist” Christians are “extremist” (at least they have literal texts to back up their story!) or maybe it is the “liberal” Christians who are the extremists? This is something else it’s great to debate; to try to understand.]

    I have already addressed the fact that Dawkins is clear that he will change his beliefs in the light of evidence for doing so. I simply do not understand how that makes him a fundamentalist and I still reject the misuse of a term which has come into existence to describe someone who sticks to fundamental principles in the face of contrary evidence. To simlpy repeat that claim is not to substantiate it. Jon, what is his “fundamentalist” view, from which you feel he would never depart?

    Yes, he is definitely an “evangelist”. He is well within his rights to conduct his own “outreach work” in the name of his beliefs, surely? I have seen missionary and outreach work praised on ASBO before now – is it only OK if it’s done in the name of God, or is everyone free to put their views to others, in the hope that they might find/offer connection and enlightenment? At least he does not threaten anyone with eternal damnation if they do not choose to share his belief! (How dogmatic is that!?)

    BTW – Someone is going to have to point me to some footage of where they consider Dawkins to be having a “dogmatic rant”; I’ve watched several hours of footage of him asking legitimate questions. The only time his tone gets somewhat ‘arch’ is when he is faced with a wall of obfuscation – where his interview partners depart from normal, rational conversation in order to avoid answering valid questions. I, too, find it extremely frustrating when, in the attempt to clarify relatively simple ideas & queries, the response is to try to tinker with language and with the definition of words which have a common, established meaning (e.g. “truth”, “exist”, “evidence”). Can we at least talk like adults and have an adult conversation about these things?

    I do not hold up Dawkins as any sort of paragon of perfection. But he asks questions about God and about Belief that my enquiring mind also asks. I come on ASBO to try to establish WHY people believe in God. This seems to stimulate people to re-state WHAT they believe (see the . But the question was “WHY do you believe?”. “What is the BASIS for that belief?”. It is so hard to get these questions answered in language that I can understand (and I feel that I have a reasonable grasp of language).

    I also hugely enjoy watching Christopher Hitchens. He is much more strident and dogmatic; there’s no denying that. In comparison, Dawkins is a softie, asking nice questions, nicely.

    Forrest, I struggle with one specific idea. Many Christians have moved on from “Adam and Eve”, in favour of accepting Evolution as the most likely theory for the development of species. CarolineToo brands creationists “extreme”. Taking the less extreme, Evolutionist view, Adam and Eve never happened. So when reading your comment I am left looking for another ‘reason’ why man is considered ‘sinful’ by God at birth and is commanded to jump through the hoop of belief in order to become well again. This is just the way my enquiring mind works.

    As for Tiggy’s point, this debate is had in detail about 35 minutes in to the Dawkins-McGrath video (and again, tellingy, at 49 minutes). At least, it is raised by Dawkins, but again, I don’t get the sense of having a clear answer.

    All in all, I just want a grown-up conversation about belief. I identify very strongly with the questions Dawkins puts and I do not hear answers which satisfy my mind. If God made my mind, he is making it very hard for me to believe in him. Why would he do that?!

  48. Tiggy says:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t make any point about Dawkins. I wasn’t around for that debate and couldn’t have watched any video because my audio isn’t working properly. I was just raising something that happened to me the other day. It wasn’t designed to relate to the Dawkins stuff at all.

    I don’t see people as bad, myself – just weak. Why do I believe in God? I just felt something in me as a child and decided it must be what people call God. That’s all.

    As someone who’s studied the history of the relationship between religion and science, I think Dawkins oversimplifies, but I’m not going to join in this debate as I’ve been awake all night and am going to bed.

  49. JF says:

    Tiggy – I simply meant that your point is also addressed in the video – I know you didn’t refer to it specifically. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  50. jonbirch says:

    let’s take it point by point johnny, before i have to go out… it’s gonna be one of those ‘in-law’ weekends so won’t be around to debate too much.

    1. i didn’t and wouldn’t say he only debates with extreme creationist christians, i would say that his major argument however is with an extreme view of christianity.

    2. i don’t believe all creationists are extremist. “at least they have literal texts to back up their story!” that’s a misunderstanding of hebraic literary tradition and the social/historical context in which it is written. genesis is neither history nor science, it is a story… that is the tradition it is written in. no one thinks the lover in the song of songs really has breasts like gazelles do they?

    3. scientific fact as a way of understanding the world is just one way. we don’t even know what life is and how. dawkins is clearly a disciplined scientist in his field, but he’s no theologian or philosopher.

    4. yes, of course he’s well within his rights to evangelise. but make no mistake, he’s a mile outside the realms of science when he does so. he is stating his beliefs based on the evidence as he sees it, fair enough. but this has nothing to do with science.

    5. haha! wanting to pin language down is something no one’s ever achieved. that’s the hard thing about debate. for instance, for some, hard science is the only evidence which is valid… for others, including many scientists this is not the case. people have been sent to prison on the basis of evidence… irrefutable one might suggest, until it turns out they are innocent and the rock hard evidence not as rock hard as first thought. truth is another word that ten different philosophers will give you ten different definitions of, let alone the way the rest of us use the word. we can’t escape this problem within debate as we’re very often talking from different viewpoints and trying to find that common language. if we were all scientist and simply talking scientific language we may fair better, but probably not. given that two equals in their scientific field will still struggle to understand one another’s language of faith. wanting to have a simplified view of language is a nice thought, but it has never been the case, it is as inexact as everything else which humans do it seems. language has massive field of study all of it’s own. so that dawkins gets frustrated is the same frustration people of faith experience the other way.

    6. the title of his famous book is pretty much, no ‘is’, a dogmatic rant in itself. telling us that those who believe in god are delusional. haha! it doesn’t get more dogmatic than that, and many atheists would divorce themselves from this position as also many scientists will tell you there is no scientific basis for this dogma.

    7. i believe, because i see no other explanation for the wonder i see around me. pattern within pattern, intricate and infinite shape everywhere. whatever the reason, whatever the meaning, however the coming about, i attribute to god, because i have no other word for that which is behind it all. i want to run with that (you see, for me here, words break down)… how do i say these things without someone else assuming something about what i am saying based on their own understanding, pre. established ideas or prejudice. if i ascribe a human metaphor to that which i see, like ‘design’ for example, it does not mean i see god as a person. but i do see intricate and gobsmacking design. now, apparently, i may be made up of gravitons which don’t exist in any one space at any one time… i know it’s just a theory, but it’s science having a go at working out the function behind it all, and i love it. when i ascribe metaphor to god that has human qualities, i do so because it’s the only language i have… just like when biologists and physicists tell you how clever nature is, i’ve heard this a lot and they’re doing the same thing… using limited language to express the inexpressable wonder of it all. it’s just that i’d go to the source, even though i don’t understand the source, to ascribe these great things to.
    religion is interesting because it seems as varied as humanity. some want to nail things down and control them, others want to be free to say they don’t understand (holy mystery, it’s sometimes called). when it comes to institutions it is the ‘nail it down’ variety that gets big and wants to dictate the thinking and learning of it’s masses. here, me and dawkins have no trouble understanding one another. jesus did not seek to dominate, in fact he was openly dominated and killed. this is a model i would want to subscribe to. i can see problems with every type of ‘nail it down and woe to those who differ’ type ways of being. sadly that seems to be one of the dominant forces in human behaviour/nature. not just in religion.

    8. man is not considered sinful from birth in the western church until moderately recently in western christianity. eastern orthodoxy has never subscribed to this view as i don’t. there is no biblical precedent for it, just a way of people trying to make sense of something and then decreeing it so that everyone thinks the same and they all know where they are and rome can stay in charge. protestantism was born out of and in opposition to catholicism, so like it or not inherits the ‘original sin’ thing. but it was never part of christendom for hundreds of years and makes absolutely no sense to me at all. i simply to not view people in that way. protestantism has never clearly (at least institutionally) dealt with this problem.

    9. i find hitchins very amusing and engaging, i agree with some of his understanding and some of it i find hilariously simplistic. but i find both he and dawkins to be very good protagonists for the debate. religious people like consumerists can be darned lazy and they force us to think about what we believe and why. i see this as a good thing. they themselves come from a well established tradition. we agree, we disagree, and i love ‘em. and btw… if ever they seem pompous, i’d have to say that there is as much pomposity knocking about in religious circles too to make it more than even. with hitchins, he seems (i may be wrong) to be a slightly more anti establishment figure than dawkins. he makes many points i agree with, but then sometimes asserts the ridiculous… however, i’ve seen this in so-called religious circles too, so no complaints there either.

    “All in all, I just want a grown-up conversation about belief. I identify very strongly with the questions Dawkins puts and I do not hear answers which satisfy my mind. If God made my mind, he is making it very hard for me to believe in him. Why would he do that?!” …interesting question. based on the thinking that we are not divorced from our experiences, upbringing, hurts, prejudices, sickness, limited (yet still astonishing) brain capacity, what do you think that answer might be? my looking at the world around me leads me to believe in god and if i have this right (yours doesn’t, or not necessarily anyway)… this is an interesting one and one i would enjoy a pint over. putting “religion and religiousness and religiosity to one side and simply talking about faith or belief i find very interesting and individually more satisfying and helpful… even though ‘religion’ has been the big player on the world stage, for me it’s about a faith and a belief. religion is merely what happens when you get a bunch of people together who want to feel secure in the knowledge that they believe the same thing. helpful though this might be to the institution, often it runs contradictory to faith, as the death of many a saint at the hands of it’s own religion will attest.
    thanks for the chance to debate… that may have to be it for the next couple of days. :-)

  51. Forrest says:

    Re 347 by JF “Forrest, I struggle with one specific idea. Many Christians have moved on from “Adam and Eve”, in favour of accepting Evolution as the most likely theory for the development of species. CarolineToo brands creationists “extreme”. Taking the less extreme, Evolutionist view, Adam and Eve never happened. So when reading your comment I am left looking for another ‘reason’ why man is considered ’sinful’ by God at birth and is commanded to jump through the hoop of belief in order to become well again. This is just the way my enquiring mind works.”

    Here’s some more of what goes through my head about this –

    I don’t have certain knowledge of whether a person is sinful at birth or not: I do like the concept of an “age of innocence” or “age of accountability”, below which the child is free of willful sin.

    One thing I am pretty sure of is that since a child, fetus, embryo, exists within a physical system which is affected by the results of sin, it is not strange to me that its physical parts would be affected by those same results of sin.

    That is why some inner workings and processes of my body have been flawed from my birth.

    As far as whether the Adam and Eve account is literal, allegorical, figurative, poetic; who here on earth has absolute certain knowledge? I know I don’t know.

    I am of the belief that what is in the Torah and the Bible is in there for a reason of some kind or another, whether we’ve got any given reason for any given part all figured out yet or not.

    There is something of value to our spiritual and physical lives we are supposed to bring home from the Adam and Eve story, and that is why it is in there.

    Specificaly and precisely what it may be is . . . open to continuing discovery.

    I see it as stating that there is something which happened to bring the effects of sin, decline, and destruction, into our world and our lives.

    Those effects are not results of random happenstance.
    There is a cause for those effects.

  52. Spiralis says:

    Confrontation concerning whether someone is ‘saved’ or has accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour…
    I find is insulting and is denying that God is in the journey (whatever stage you are at).

    Dawkins = not a very good atheist -I definitely have more time for people like Paul Davies. Having read several of his books, I find that his argument is more against 1 particular face of Christianity. That of the biblical literalist and the creationist.
    However I do see what you mean JF, as he isn’t thick. He does realise that not all christians are like this. In ‘The greatest show on earth’ his new book, which he says, is not a fight against those who believe in God, but that who are creationist (old or young earth), he says, of all the theologians, bishops etc he has met, not one of them disagrees with him that evolution is the greatest show on earth and does in no way taint the idea that man/woman is made in the image of God.
    However he says clearly, that there is still a purpose in his book, to give evidence to those who deny evolution. As he has come up against, and is completely aware, that there is a huge bulk (generally not including, theologians, academics, bishops, etc) who still believe that evolution jars with their faith.

  53. Spiralis says:

    Sorry to post again! But…

    Is it really bad that I struggle to be in an effective community aiming to learn to love God and my neighbour more, with evangelicals such as the one in the picture?
    How are we meant to show the love of God to our world, unitedly as Christians, when say, I’m showing a God who is:
    loving, inclusive, displays him/herself beautifully in science and sees man and woman equal.
    And they are showing a God who is:
    loving but only because of Jesus, exclusive, is above and contradictory to science and is oppressive to women.


  54. Forrest says:

    Here’s a question meant to start something:

    Is creationist God totally contradictory to science or only to our current understanding of science?

  55. Forrest says:

    I’d wager that at this point humans, taken overall, are at the stage of the 17 year old know it all who has all the answers: and in about 35 years is going to say something along the lines of “Man, I was such an idiot then, and I ain’t got any of the answers now. The more
    I know, the more I know I don’t know much of anything.”

  56. jonbirch says:

    spiralis… please don’t apologise for posting twice. your input is most welcome. :-)

    i don’t know about a creationist god, forrest… but i believe in a creator god and i find there to be no contradiction between my belief in this and what we know of evolution. clearly, evolution is a wonderful part of the picture, but there are still so many holes in it’s story, like all the other stories which become unveiled as we discover more about that which is around us. the way the fossil record produces new species off the bat shows the mechanics really are not understood at all yet. so clearly evolutionary theory still has some way to go and somebody else at any point could come up with an amazing theory that moves the whole thing along even further. it has certainly happened in physics.
    is it just me or is the world of physics utterly fascinating right now? it seems like a really exciting field to work in, particularly at the theoretical end. biology seems a little stuck at present, but again that might be just me and the choices of documentary viewing i make. :-)

    spiralis and jf… i don’t understand why anyone would want to deny evolution. the evidence is everywhere. there are some breakthroughs needed though, to fully substantiate the theory in it’s purest sense. but it’s good to work with, much as einstein’s theory of relativity was and is still useful to work with. we now know it is only part of the picture and only works in certain conditions, likewise quantum mechanics… so scientists are looking for that new theory to go at… but einstein is still useful. it may well turn out to be a similar story for evolution. who can say? in a universe so extensive and broad that it gives us singularities and the possibility of gravitons it really would be an idiot scientist who stood by any theory as the very last word on the subject. i think in many ways we live in exciting times, like being in the foothills of some great mountain. well i think it’s exciting anyway. :-)

  57. Forrest says:

    Yes jon, it is exciting. There is recent news of something like 500 or 5000 new species discovered deep in black depths of the Atlantic Ocean which do quite well at making lives for themselves in incredibly harsh conditions.

    Created? Evolved?
    A lot of the time I’m kinda “who cares, they ARE, right here, right now, and they’re way cool!”

  58. Forrest says:

    Wow, it’s the first Sunday of Advent – where did this year go????

  59. subo says:

    hi Forrest, obviously tooooo much time soaking in a tub of bubbles, (maybe that was just me)

  60. Tiggy says:

    I hope a nasty man in a suit didn’t jump out at you and start yelling.

    I don’t want to go outside in the rain, but I want chocolate and tonic water. And I can’t decide whether to have a bath now or when I get back.

  61. Tiggy says:

    I’ve bought one of those light boxes for Winter Depression because this pissing weather is getting to me.

    Do you think Jesus would come and be my personal organiser?

  62. subo says:

    how’s the light box Tiggy? am tempted to get one of those. yes, the only way to cope with this weather (uk winter), is to really make your house cosy – too bad the rains coming in to my kitchen!

  63. Tiggy says:

    Oh no! That’s awful, and there’s so much of it. The light box hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m sure it will help. My friend uses one. I’ve been sitting on the balcony this morning anyway in the sun with a blanket over me. It’s a bit of a suntrap for some reason.

    Unfortunately I only have single glazing in the lounge and the shutters don’t fit very well so there are terrible draughts. Back in March I remember stuffing pairs of knickers in the gaps – only clean ones! My landlord found a pair down by the radiator when he moved the sofa to do the floorboards and he threw them at me – how disrespectful!

    Are you coming to the Sanctuary Christmas Service on the 6th? I sounds good.

  64. linus says:

    Tiggy, you could check here for any energy savings grants in your area. Might be nothing but worth a try. Some of it is just ‘special offers’ (hmm) from installers, but there are local and national gov grants/schemes listed too. Hope the lightbox helps – it really has been foul the last week or so for the most part, hasn’t it?

  65. Tiggy says:

    Oh thanks, I’ll take a look at it. It’s tricky here though because of it being a Georgian building. A type of double glazing for period homes has only just recently been invented. I read an article on it. And there’s no way my landlord would pay for it.

    There’s secondary double glazing of a kind at the front, but it’s so ugly and ruins a lovely Georgian bay window. Maybe I’ll find some way to get the curtains back up. At the moment there’s no curtain rail. I have just got a lovely, lovely rug though that will make the place seem warmer and it was only £20.

    The West gets a lot more rain than Essex, but it’s worth it.

  66. subo says:

    “Are you coming to the Sanctuary Christmas Service on the 6th? I sounds good.” Ahhh, that’s this Sun! oh la, will do our best “I just don’t feel christmassy”

  67. Tiggy says:

    Maybe you will after some mince pies and mulled wine.

    The Christmas lights are on here – very elegant, but rather too minimalist for me. There’s a horse and carriage trots round now giving people rides like we’re in Vienna or something! Lovely horses.

    I’m not sure if I’m hoping it’ll snow here this winter or not. The photos from last winter looked so pretty. On the other hand, I find the pavements difficult enough to walk on as it is and snow is rather cold and wet.

  68. Pingback: postmodern vadå? » Blog Archive » Att ta sitt uppdrag på allvar

  69. Marcolicious says:

    i just cant stop laughing everytime i stop by and see this..!! XD

  70. jonbirch says:

    thanks… it made me laugh too. :-D

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