Monday, July 02, 2007

Zeitgeist - Our Era

While dumping some footage this evening I had time to poke around what videos are big on Google Videos and found a documentary on "Christianity, 9/11, and the Federal Reserve". Curious, I watched it. Granted, it's two hours long and could really use some editing, but the content is certainly provocative if not sensationalistic, biased and wrong.

After watching the whole video, I followed the link to the references. It was clearly stated that "some information... is not obtained by simple keyword searches on the Internet. You have to dig deeper." In other words, Wikipedia did not back a single claim I double checked. Granted, Wikipedia is hardly the end all of information, but many of his(?) claims in the first part about Christianity didn't even make sense. Glancing through his sources you find that his bit on Christianity consists of 19 sources, three of which are written by the same guy. His bias is clear. Even so, it was disconcerting to me that I did not have specific rebuttals to the claims. Worse still, I have no idea where to go get them.

He's clearly out to lunch on some of this stuff, but how much? How would we know?

This is where, again, my Christian education didn't prepare me to respond. We are told what is true and what isn't. We are told that there are people out there with difficult questions. In some of my really good Bible classes we were even exposed to a few of these questions, but then were given the answer right out. So, yes, this guy is wrong... but if I had to discuss this with him face to face, would I be able to at least present the other side so he couldn't leave thinking I was completely clueless? Where do I find the answers, the rebuttal, the solution?

And perhaps that is why were are where we are in this era. This isn't merely a "relativistic culture" like we hear in church. No, there's a reason why everything seems grey. The world is so complex, truth so elusive, and perspectives so easily flawed that it makes it difficult to say, for certain and with clarity, "You're wrong." Not because truth can't be known, but because it is hard to state truth in a way that others can accept.

Like Zeitgeist--interesting, biased and paranoid, but what could I possibly say that would shed light on the other side? He accepts his truth "and disregards the rest". By the same token, how would I know what truth I've disregarded? My perspective is far too limited.

The comfort I take is that I still watch these kinds of things, still inquire, still search, still question. But in my search and openness I still hold to a consistent, orthodox view of things, and that is something sadly missing from the cynics of today. This era is full of questions that demand not answers, but apologies for the confronted. So, perhaps my lack of rebuttals isn't a problem because the counter-argument is not being sought. Rather, we must rethink how we approach these issues and find a viable solution buried behind the pain of the accusers. And therein lies the rub: This isn't logic we must combat, but hurt. And those that are hurt do not fight by the rules of reason. No, they are out for blood so theirs is not shed. Too bad they refuse to accept the fact that Blood enough has been spilled.

So, Mr. Documentary-Guy, I'm not after you or your ideas (as "out to lunch" as they may be). Rather, I want to know what started you down this path. Why did you make this video? Who hurt you? And what links Christianity, 9/11, and the Federal Reserve for you? That isn't clear in your movie and I can't piece it together. I'm curious, and I want to learn.

~Luke Holzmann

4 comments:

Isaiah said...

Really? Is it all that hard to see the reason for saying these things, and for linking them together? If you can't see the links between the topics than it is clear that your own opinion is clouding your ability to understand. Religion is used to control people, and there is extensive philosophical, academic, and logical discussion out there on this topic. A culture can only remain stable if the members of it have similar values, otherwise the culture experiences internal turmoil and uncertainty. Whether these values are right or not isn't the concern, though.

Now, our country is being similarly abused. An event occurred, the origins of which are unclear. People were killed and lives were torn asunder, and no one really knows what happened. The scientific evidence against the common opinion is too great. A building does not explode the way the world trade centers did when it is hit with a plane the way they were. Fire does not cause buildings to explode, unless they are full of highly combustible material. Fire also does not melt metal to temperatures so hot that they remain in a melted state for up to five weeks. It just doesn't work like that. Now, I don't know WHO put explosives in the building or HOW, but I know that a plane can't do that, and that building 7 did not just topple over of its own accord.

What's the relation of this to religion? Religion defines the values of the culture, as well as those who lead the culture. The way that people have been raised determines what decisions they make, such as the decision to go to war. And even if these topics don't DIRECTLY connect, that doesn't make them worthless.

There is far more concrete evidence against Christianity here than there is for it anywhere else. There's more evidence here that 9/11 didn't happen the way we thought than there is saying that it did. The problem is, the arguments against what is said here are totally uncertain and only founded in people's beliefs rather than actual fact. Why do you believe Jesus is real, Moses was real, Noah was real? Because you've been told so from birth. The bible isn't a text book, it has no sources, and it is the most changed and edited piece of literature known to man. Jesus didn't write the bible, other men did, and other men translated it. There is no possible way that it is in it's original state when we read it.

And the Federal Reserve Bank? Alright, doesn't relate directly to Christianity being a self-imposed farce, but it definitely relates to the faulty values often associated with religious thinkers and leaders. These are insane, sociopathic men that are in control of an entire country's economy. I don't care who it is, it is obvious that SOMEONE is in control of this, where no one has the right to be. You can't say that the Federal Reserve Bank didn't benefit from the wars we entered, and isn't benefiting right now.

The fact of the matter is, the point in this movie isn't to say "I'm right, you're all wrong, here's the truth." If you look at it consciously you can see that it's presenting the evidence that no one considers when making their decisions. It presents the fact that there is just as much of an argument against these things as there is for them. It's asking us to question what we believe rather than blindly agreeing with what our leaders tell us. The truth is, anyone that believes Bush is an idiot. His administration has lied countless times, has dodged questions, and blatantly ignores the other side of the argument. Why did we go into Iraq? How did building 7 explode? Where is the actual plane that crashed into the pentagon, how was an entire plane vaporized into nothing? Why are they hiding evidence from the public? Why aren't they following obvious leads? What do they have to say when their lies are obvious to everyone? These people are the EPITOME of closed-minded selfishness.

Anyways, if your honest argument with this is: "It's wrong, but I don't know why. The heart of the matter is to ask why someone would say something so wrong," Then you don't know how to argue at all, you have no case against it, and your just as closed-minded and ignorant as any other American robot.

Luke said...

Isaiah,

Since you have your profile locked down, I can't respond to you personally. This is sad because I'm pretty confident that you have "written me off" and won't be back to read this. Ah well; here's hoping [smile].

I wrote the original post to address the very things you commented on, so I guess I wasn't clear. But I still don't see how everything is connected, unless you mean, as you imply, by the fact that they are all issues that are not as certain as Math. I see the stability of society to lead to much better ends than the disorder of anarchy, so shared ideas are a good thing. Should they be reconsidered often? Absolutely. But the only way to do so is to have stability and a social forum where such ideas can be tossed around. Many churches are notoriously bad about this, but I think that Christianity has, overall, done a much better job of it than any other group.

As for 9/11: I'm with you, man. I've seen "Loose Change: 2nd Edition" and think it is very insightful, thought-provoking and accurate... until the end. To blame Bush for 9/11 is ludicrous. He is clearly not capable of masterminding the whole thing. So, I'm right with you: Who did it and how? I want to know. What bothers me the most about most of the recent documentaries I've seen is that they do not have a course of action to take armed with our new-found knowledge. 9/11 happened, it was at minimum aided by an "inside job", so what do we do about it?

I would agree that religion can define the values of a culture, but I think it would be prudent to decide what religion a culture has before pointing a finger at Orthodox Christianity. Our nation is clearly not Christian in action, nor are our leaders acting in line with Orthodoxy. All societies act off their religion, I would argue here that our nation's current religion is not Christianity.

I saw no "concrete evident against Christianity" in Zeitgiest. There were, as I mention again and again in my original post, some very thought-provoking ideas that need to be considered and responded to, but no good evidence against it. My beliefs in the validity of Scripture as an accurate historical account (as you said: Jesus, Moses, Noah) are based in the research I have done since my early days of "being told" it was true. There is tons of evidence for the accuracy of Scripture, more so than that Plato ever existed. The Bible was not written with footnotes, true, but since then modern science and historical study has demonstrated the accuracy of Scripture quite nicely. I'd be interested in the sources you have that state the opposite. I always love reading the "other side". I want to make sure I'm not just believing crap.

As for the "changed" (i.e. edited) nature of Scripture, I have never heard of a single place where something was radically altered. True, there is always information lost in translation, but the Dead Sea Scrolls showed a Bible that hasn't changed in 2000 years. Again, please send me your sources so I can make sure I'm not just blinding believing these things. However, "The Telephone Game" idea that you present here has been responded to already in such books as "Don't Check Your Brains at the Door".

I agree that there have been evil men in every group since the Fall of man. In fact, Chesterton makes this an incredible asset to Orthodoxy in his aptly titled work "Orthodoxy". He notes that Christianity is the one religion that assumes the evilness of man. Great book, and short! Well worth the read.

As I note in my initial post and again here: I think the ideas are thought-provoking... meaning, I've gotten from the documentary what you state the point was. I still ask for action steps to take now, but I clearly do not merely ignore the evidence. My original post was to muse about the evidence presented and wonder about its origin.

Bush has certainly messed things up, there's no question about that. But as for lying: Everyone can be faulted for that. Bush may be so ignorant that he isn't even lying when he says what he says. Lying is wrong, and people should not be allowed to lie. So, as we are approaching the next election, I would strongly recommend that you watch the documentary, or at least the trailer for: Hillary Uncensored (also titled "Hillary Exposed"). I think the vast majority of people, with the exception of a few good souls out there (which includes a great majority of Orthodox Christians), are "the EPITOME of closed-minded selfishness". I know I often am too. I do my best to keep an open mind and open heart, but I suck at it at times.

My point in my initial post, sorry it didn't come across, was that this isn't an argument. I'm not here to argue. I'm pretty sure I could in a way that is vastly superior an "American robot", but that's not the point. I've long since learned that "arguing" doesn't get us anywhere, but open-minded discussion without hiding behind our biases or anger can lead to truth.

So, why do I write such a long response to a guy who just inferred that I am a "closed-minded, ignorant, blind-faith robot"? Because I am open to such a discussion at any time. Let's keep talking. I want to know your side because the more I know of the opposition, the more certain I can be of my own position.

~Luke

Isaiah said...

Well, I have to admit that on some points I feel rather ignorant myself. I haven't done the research, rather I have trusted much of what has been passed down to me on the subject by people who I tend to agree with. I'm hearing a lot of Christians argue that there is more evidence for Christ's existence and the bible's authenticity than I think and then I'm hearing the other side say the opposite. Truthfully it's just confusing me. Now I haven't seen the sources which say this, but it makes sense, that is that the bible has been added to or changed by authoritative figures in the past, and that a lot of things have been mistranslated (such the Jesus saying "the end of time" rather than "the end of the aeon/age"). I’ve heard a lot about the fact that the Vatican has a lot of truths about the religion hidden away, and no I don’t know about the Dead Sea Scrolls and I as well am looking to read the facts behind the Bible. I’d say that Plato’s existence might not be in so much question, it would seem that there were historians talking about him or more of a record of his life, especially since we know for sure that Socrates was condemned for questioning the people.

The reason I'm so inclined to believe whatever puts religion down is not because I blame my Christian friends for the terrible things people have done in the name of religion, but because of what is being done now that impedes on another's freedom. Now, it hasn't become definite yet, and we still have freedom, but I myself am a bisexual man and it is religious values that are attempting to halt me from living what I believe is a decent and happy life. My decision to be a homosexual or bisexual in no way affects anyone but me, while their decision to try to stop me affects me by making my life more difficult and stopping me from my "pursuit of happiness." There’s other subjects in which this is true (though I am very much against abortion, and it astounds me that people on my side of most arguments aren’t), and the religion itself tends to associate with prude and sexually-closed minded people, which from a psychological standpoint can be deemed unhealthy.

A lot of laws and moral decisions with direct relations to Christianity (or maybe just people who are Christian and pull a lot out of the bible that isn’t actually there) are made, because this IS a Christian nation. Christianity is the largest religion (when we aren’t looking at specific denominations) in the world. This country was founded by people of this religion, and every president has been a member of this religion (as well as had some sort of relations with the Free Masons). A friend was pointing out that she thought it was immature for the documentary to include comedian’s interpretations of religion, but it’s totally pertinent. I usually feel bad saying “Religion is stupid,” but no matter how much proof there is of the Bible’s historical validity, there is no proof that Christ was resurrected, that he performed miracles, or that there is a heaven and hell.

I mean, there isn’t even a valid explanation for fossils and prehistoric evidence that can be carbon-dated FAR past the time when you think the world started. Why on Earth would God want to question our faith? Why do we have to have faith to be let into heaven? Why is this belief a prerequisite for eternal happiness? In comparison to every other religion, Christianity is really no different, and no less ridiculous and inexplicable. There is a logical fallacy in the belief that God would disregard us to eternal damnation for not having faith in him and his son, when before the religion was forcibly spread all over the world, destroying cultures and other religions, no one even had the opportunity to know about Jesus.

This also leads to the many denominations of Christianity, and that on many points they don’t agree. Then people within the same denominations still don’t have the same values and view points. Some think their loose guidelines, some look at the bible as the end-all and be-all for how to live life. As far as religions go, current times are no different than when there was a different pagan belief between two different cities. I’m now realizing that getting hung up on the details and evidence is just an excuse for ignoring all the more pertinent failures in logic that are found in any religion.

Christianity as an explanation for existence is just as valid as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, or any other religious belief. They all make valid points, some which others don’t make, and it’s all just a way of living life. What it comes down to is, sure, we can believe whatever we want, but when our beliefs and values begin to impede on the ability of others to survive and be happy in the world, then we’ve crossed a line. It was not the place of settlers and missionaries to force a religion down the throats of another culture, that is wrong, and there’s no excusing it. It doesn’t matter how right you think you are, you can’t control another human’s perception, and if you think that God or Jesus would think this, then you clearly don’t understand the bible at all (and I don’t mean you, that’s a vague second-person “you”).

As far as my personal beliefs, I’ve been open-minded to many perceptions and have begun to understand how to find validity in an opinion I may not agree with. I’ve tried to keep all my beliefs founded in science and base what I think off of evidence rather than just believing what I’m told, and I’ve still found a way to believe in “God” in a sense, not any kind of human-like figure, but rather the order behind everything that happens in the universe and the path of events that unfolds before us. I’m not exactly describing it in full, and I know I’m not the first to think this. I feel like beliefs and opinions from just about every religion fit into this view if you filter out some of the myth and story-telling involved. There’s obviously a lot of value in the bible, and it’s obviously brought up some very good-hearted individuals, but everything in this world has a shadow which has to be taken into account.

Luke said...

Isaiah,

I'm so glad you wrote back! Thanks so much. I find that the more I interact with someone the better I understand them and their position, and we actually get somewhere in discussion. So, again, thanks!

Thanks for admitting that you too have believed many things "just because" someone you trusted told you. That isn't the worst thing in the world, for sure. We learn many things this way without problem (like, the boiling point of water). The danger arises when people believe something that is challenged "just because". It sounds like you aren't that kind of person, and I do my best to be that way as well.

From the research that I have done, the Bible has not changed much at all over the years. Sure, with more study translational "errors" are corrected, but these "errors" are much like the ones you mention: "Time" versus "Age"... which, begs the question of what "age" means ("Timeframe", "Era", etc.). These translational issues can lead to confusion, but the message of Scripture remains the same. Now, what difference does this make since so many people interpret it to mean such horribly nasty things (like preaching hate toward homosexuals)? That, as you point out, is the "shadow" that overcomes even Christians. We are Fallen too. We need grace just as much as anyone, which it's a good thing that God loves us, especially me. I totally screw things up, but that doesn't change the fact that the Bible still teaches truth, even if people who claim to be following it get it wrong.

I have no idea what kind of "truths" the Vatican could be hiding. That was the entire point of Luther's translation of the Bible into German. If you find anything about that, I would love to learn more about that, since I know nothing about that topic right now.

I believe the book was "Case for Christ" that has the data about the amount of historical documents that back Christianity versus Plato. It's an interesting point, but nothing to really "hang your hat on".

I think your comment that "My decision to be a homosexual or bisexual in no way affects anyone but me" is probably overstated, and not completely true. However, I hear what you're saying. In response, I would suggest that instead of looking at Christianity's rejection of homosexuality as a position born out of stopping your pursuit of happiness, but rather a call to a way of life that leads to true happiness. In a more recent post I was talking about Tithing and Sin and such, and tried to point out that God's "Laws" are for our benefit. Life is actually better when we follow them. I am happy to discuss the details of such a line of reasoning a great length, but I'll leave it at that for now (I don't want to write a novel back [smile]).

I will totally give you that Christians (and most other religions) tend to be prudish and sexually-closed-minded, which does lead to tons of issues. That's the basis for the book I'm writing with my best friend: If Jesus Went Hot Tubbing. We're doing what we can to help counteract those bad ideas that aren't Scriptural but people who are very concerned about "being holy" believe.

"Christianity" is certainly the largest religious label in our nation. However, the rules, laws, and ideas of the mass populace (even those who claim to be Christians) are hardly rooted in Orthodoxy. Islam is quickly taking over in a more "global" standpoint, but I'm not sure which religion is the largest population-wise (there are an awful lot of people in China and India). And, again, just because someone (like a president) claims to be a Christian, does not mean that he follows Orthodoxy and Christ-like ideals.

The U.S. was founded on Christian ideology, which is why we have progressed so well compared to other nations. Our Christian heritage was the foundation for all sorts of great things that we enjoy today, that are painfully absent when you visit other countries, or are only to be found in Christian-run organizations (the one that comes to mind right now is our care for the handicapped, but there are more).

I have no problems with comedians who want to poke fun at my religion. Often times their comments are spot-on and point out things that we simply must change to be more Christ-like.

Your comment of "there is no proof that Christ was resurrected, that he performed miracles, or that there is a heaven and hell" is, again, skewed. This statement completely depends on your definition of "proof" and an issue of how we attain knowledge. This is the study, as you probably know, of Epistemology: What we know and how. There are many ways that we "know" various different bits of data in this world. Some of them are more "factual" in the Math sense: 2+2=4 for small values of 2. Other knowledge is "known" through historical data. I would challenge you to consider the "proof" you would accept for Christ's existence, and then consider the evidence that is there (again, a decent starting place would be "A Case for Christ").

As for your data about the age of the earth, there are many Christians who are "Old Earthers", who have no problem reconciling Scripture with the earth's billion year old age. My dad has read a ton on that subject, and it has yet to really interest me. I current don't really care what age the earth is, and can see reasons for both sides. If you would like references for that subject, I'd be happy to find the names of the best books on the subject.

Your question of "Why do we have to have faith to be let into heaven? Why is this belief a prerequisite for eternal happiness?" is a fantastic one. Allow me to try to answer this one, bearing in mind that I am young and a filmmaker not a theologian: The prerequisite belief to salvation is in the person of Christ, nothing else. The reason we must believe in Him is that He spoke truth (I know of very few people who disagree with that), and, from a philosophical standpoint, was the only way we could be reconciled to God because only He could "bridge the gap" back to God. Crap, I'm using way more "Christianese" than I would like, sorry. C.S. Lewis makes a very interesting point in "The Last Battle" (the last book in the Narnia series) that the reason why we must be following Christ here on earth to be happy in Heaven is that if we don't "get it" here, we won't "get it" there. So, some Dwarves end up in Heaven, but they still experience the feeling like they are in the cave back in Narnia. This is certainly a topic of its own discussion, so please keep asking questions because I don't feel like I'm communicating very well at the moment.

If you compare Christianity to other religions it is very different (and I am very interested in what you find "ridiculous and inexplicable" because that would make for a great discussion, me thinks [smile]). The few things I can think of off the top of my head are as follows: Christianity is the only religion that starts with the idea that man can not save himself and so God must come and save him. All other religions (including many "flavors" of Christianity) demand that we somehow make ourselves worthy of salvation, or, as Bubbs from Homestarrunner.com says "You gotta EARN it!" So, there is a cute little Christmas card that says: There are many men who would be gods, but only one God who would be man. I'll leave that at that for now. It's getting late and this is getting long and I don't want to bore you.

What is the logical fallacy in believing God would damn us for our ignorance? There is plenty of evidence for God's existence, and people were saved prior to Christ's coming in a faith looking forward to Him (going back all the way to Genesis). And I believe that God in His justice and mercy will take care of those who believed without knowing of Christ. And if He doesn't, that would be on our heads for not sharing the Gospel sooner.

As for the disagreements between Christians: We are certainly not Christ-like in our lack of love for one another. That is an area we very much need to grow in. Agreed 100%. However, many Christians have adopted the idea of "In the essentials: Unity; in the differences: Grace". That's good.

You note: "I’m now realizing that getting hung up on the details and evidence is just an excuse for ignoring all the more pertinent failures in logic that are found in any religion." Quite likely true. Let's talk about those! Please. "Lay it on me", as it were [smile].

You say, "[W]hen our beliefs and values begin to impede on the ability of others to survive and be happy in the world, then we’ve crossed a line." I agree, and that isn't Christ-like. However, Christ's entire point was that we can be happy, and happier than we've ever been. The love of Christ goes far beyond "tolerance" (which isn't love, but merely "putting up with"): He actually wants you to know the Good News that God loves you and wants what is best for you, nothing less or more. Following Christ is the opportunity to have what is best. If someone is selling anything else (like "Get Out of Hell Free" cards or some more laws and regulations, or a way to seem holy and look good), that's not the message of Christ and it's crap.

I find your view of missionary efforts to be horribly inaccurate. Now, it is true, there have been many people who have used the name of Christianity to do horrible things, but they were not being loving and Christ-like. The Christian missionaries who go out to love people and share with them the Good News of Christ do wonders in societies and preserve their heritage and backgrounds. A great introduction to this idea is "Spirit of the Rainforest". And I agree with you: If you act in the way you describe, you don't get the Bible or Christ at all. You're right on.

I too try to find the truth in what is out there (this is strongly supported in the book "Finding Common Ground"). That's why I'm so happy to be talking about this stuff with you. It's great!

I also do my best to keep my beliefs rooted in science (I don't think you can "found" your beliefs on science as Science is not the study of philosophy and therefore can not comment on it, merely support or deny the ideas you hold).

And after this last post by you, I'd say that you are closer to God and who He is than many people who have given themselves the "Christian" label. That's why it's so cool to be talking with you: You challenge me to reconsider what I believe, and I can tell that you are really searching for truth like I am. I would love to keep this up.

Sorry for the long post, I just get so excited sometimes that I don't shut up [smile].

Have a great night!

~Luke