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Maori Animism: New Zealand’s Established Religion

January 30th, 2011 by John Tertullian

New Zealand, along with all nations, is acutely religious. But, more than most Western countries, the dominant religion is now the Established Religion. We are using “established” in the historical sense of a religion prescribed and protected, so that all citizens must respect and honour that particular religion’s beliefs and practices. Established religion is the religion buttressed and proscribed by the law of the land and funded by tax money.

The established religion in New Zealand is Maori animism. In historical terms it is a pagan and primitive religion, riddled with superstition and idolatry. It is an offence and provocation to the Living God. But none who want official and public respect in New Zealand dare criticise the Establishment. Those, however, who fear God more than man are prepared to call it for what it is: stale hokey pokey–a thoroughly sour, ignorant and stupefying batch of mouldy ice-cream. Every Christian who understands what the Bible says about idolatry and false gods has no hesitation in flatly rejecting Maori animism. In so doing, we have become the new dissenters.

Wavering Christians may well be offended at such a stand because they fear it will cause offence to Maori. Not causing offence has regrettably become for some of our brethren, not the eleventh commandment, but the only commandment. To these brethren we say, “harden up”. Fear God, not man. These weaker brethren have not yet realised that when it comes to a choice between offending the Living God, on the one hand, or man on the other, Christians must offend man a thousand times over. We must never, ever wilfully offend our God.

We will drive out any idol, never tolerating any in His presence. We will be as jealous of God’s honour as God is Himself. We will never bow down or honour any image of God, which makes all graphical representations of God idolatrous. We will never tolerate His Name being used in an empty or vain fashion. We will honour His holy day. This is what former generations called the First Table of the Law.

The ignorance and stupidity of Maori animism has been on display in recent days. A church youth group had a fantastic day out, climbing Mount Taranaki, packing up a couch and BBQ by hand. Quite a feat. At the top they reclined for a celebratory meal. After enjoying the Lord’s creation and celebrating his goodness, they decamped taking their gear and detritus with them.

Mt TaranakiOn returning to the land of the living dead they were assailed by a government official: an outraged Taranaki Department of Conservation boss, Phil Mohi. Now, Phil it turns out is a Maori who has returned to the religion of his ancestors and is a card carrying animist. He has taken it upon himself to speak out in the name of his god. His god is the mountain (Mt Taranaki). The top of the mountain is tapu–sacred ground, in the eyes of Phil and his colleagues. To eat up there is to eat on his god’s head. (We are not making this up. One shudders to think the depths of outrage that would be disembogued were anyone forced to relieve themselves up the mountain.) According to a media report entitled “Mt Taranaki summit cook-up ‘tapu offence’“:

He said the summit barbecue was disappointing because the young people there probably didn’t realise or hadn’t learnt that the mountain and especially the summit is a very sacred place for iwi of Taranaki. “We discourage camping at the summit and try to make people aware that the very highest part is the most sacred of all – and ask climbers to avoid standing there. “There’s a difference too between eating prepared food for sustenance and actually cooking on the summit,” he said.

Ah, the casuistry of the animist. How quaint. Now the young Christians were taken aback by this outburst. They apologised. They did not want to cause offence, they said.

What they should have said is something like this: “Mount Taranaki is holy to us because it belongs to the Living God Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine. All the earth is His. We went up the mountain to celebrate His glory and His majesty. We ate and drank with Him and feasted with Him and communed with Him. We gave thanks to Him for our food. We praised Him for His greatness displayed in the grandeur of Mount Taranaki which He has created. People need to respect our faith. All the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

Sadly, these young folk were not mature enough to understand that this is how they ought to have responded. Instead they apologised for offending animists because they had not respecting their beliefs. Sad. But, hey, they will mature.

Now all of this may have been a mere debate between opposed religions–except that Phil Mohi was speaking as an officer of the Government of New Zealand. This is why we have argued that Maori animism is now the Established religion of our nation.

Mr Mohi said that was a good reflection on the group and he encouraged and applauded all those that made use of the park. “But part of our management role is to promote and protect the mountain’s cultural and spiritual values,” he said.

He said the summit barbecue presented a timely reminder that the mountain is of huge significance to a great many people and that such actions show little respect to a very special place. DOC’s interpretation panels do explain the overall significance of the mountain but Mr Mohi said that staff will be exploring other ways to build greater awareness among the public. (Emphasis, ours.)

OK, Phil–let’s build greater awareness of each other. What you are promoting is deeply offensive to Christians and to God. It is also a lie. Your gods do not exist. Your beliefs offend and anger the Living God. Such idolatry ripens New Zealand and our people for judgment. It calls down the curses of the Covenant upon our land. Have we not already begun to taste His cup of wrath. Are we not being left once again in this country to demons from the ancient world? Are we not bloated upon the carcasses of our abused and aborted children? Are we not enslaved to drink, drugs, and crime? Are we not subjected to criminal gangs that imprison, enslave, rape and maim all who fall into their clutches? The fact that your paganism is now the Established Religion of our nation makes it all the worse.

That our government will stand four square behind Phil, supporting him in his imperialistic animist beliefs and tacitly promoting them with the force of rule, regulation, law and taxes, condemns the nation–that is, all of us–to wrath. But we Christians want no part of it. We are called to come out from among them, and be separate, and to touch not the unclean thing. (II Corinthians 6: 16-18)

The “unclean thing” is Maori animism; the clean thing is the creation, for it belongs to the Lord alone. Therefore, we will go up the mountain again, as often as we consider it appropriate, and eat and drink and feast and be merry before the Lord. Maori animism be damned–literally.

RELATED POSTS:
The Body Snatchers and the Problem of Pluralism
Guest Post: No Official Religion in God’s Own?
Maori and Pakeha are Not Partners to the Treaty of Waitangi
The Foreshore and Seabed Repeal: The Inconvenience of Due Process
Sovereignty and The Treaty of Waitangi

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263 responses so far ↓

  • It’s the same here in Canada. People can, and do, criticise any religion, with Christianity coming in for special derision from the chattering classes and New Atheists. But no one dare say a (politically incorrect) word against “First Nations” pantheism or animism.

  • Oh dear. Such ignorance of tikanga Maori. But then Pakeha are so good at that, aren’t they? Being ignorant of the beliefs of others and denigrating their beliefs, but expecting other people to accept and abide by their particular take on things. Sigh. How disappointing to see such disrespect – on both sides.

  • Rebekah, your post consists of 100% ad hominem: what an ignorant, disrespectful fellow the poster is, blah, blah, blah.

    Can you support your accusations with any facts at all? If not, you’re just ranting.

  • Maybe when Mt Taranaki heals the sick, gives sight to the blind, causes the lame to walk, raises the dead, and rises from the dead itself, then maybe just maybe I’ll listen to the likes of DOC and their spiritual advisors. In the interim I will ignore them entirely.

  • Rebekah what did John Tertullian get wrong?

    Are Maori animists?

    Do they believe that the mountain is divine?

    Is their reason for not wanting others to eat on the mountain tied up in their belief that the mountain is the head of the divine being?

    Do agents of the NZ state seek to enforce this view on members of the public?

    Did not Old Testament prophets polemicise against beliefs like this in a fashion at least as strident as John Tertullian did in this post?

    I am interested to know where you think he has gone wrong. Clearly identifying and discussing these things is helpful to reach understanding.

  • I totally agree with the fact that Maori animism is an established religion here. One piece of evidence for this from my own experience is that whenever a new building is attained for government it is given a Maori blessing.

  • Paul Rishworth, Professor and outgoing Dean of Law at the University of Auckland, arguably New Zealand’s top legal scholar on Rights and Freedoms law, in his address to the Human Rights Commission’s Diversity Forum on Religion in Schools in August 2007 gives you another line of evidence Anthony. Paul writes:

    “About 5 years ago a member of the NZ public attended a regional council hearing in Hawke’s Bay at which waste water consents were on the agenda. The hearing began with a karakia – a Maori prayer. This person, whose name was Wayne Church, complained to the Human Rights Commission. Now in the US this would have been a clear establishment clause violation. The state espousing a prayer as part of its official business (or even facilitating the private prayer of a community group) would be seen as coercive. But here in NZ that complaint was summarily dismissed by the Human Rights Commission, and then when Mr Church took it to the next level up it was dismissed on the papers without a hearing even by the complaints review tribunal. They said “his level of discomfort during the karakia cannot amount to discrimination”. But in the US that level of discomfort is precisely what amounts to the establishment clause violation. People are made to feel outsiders, because the state appears to endorse, or support, a religious belief.

    That Hawkes Bay example suggests that we have a sort of unexamined practice – of incorporating religion, especially Maori expression of it, into state practice – yet not regarding it as extracting any toll on those who do not believe. It is not in other words, treated as a serious assault on our freedom that the state does, in these ceremonial senses, take a position on matters of religion. Having to sit through something you don’t agree with is not seen as such a serious matter. …

    … official or state recognised religion – is closer to us than we might imagine at times. There is perhaps not that much of it, but residues remain. Maori meeting protocol being brought into public, and school, events. Is a large chunk of it. … But no one is made to suffer in any way for not subscribing to it. And its simple existence is not, yet anyway, seen to be “coercive” of the freedom of non-believers.”

    In documents put out by the Human Rights Commission in recent years I have seen further justifications of the Maori religious practices being part of official state events being made on cultural and minority rights grounds. This has been in response to continued criticism of cases like Wayne Church’s complaint where people have pushed further and said ‘if this was a Christian prayer or a Muslim prayer at a council meeting with zero trace of anything Maori in it you would not tolerate it.’ The HRC, by further justifying it on cultural and minority grounds have conceded this.

    This backdoor defence of religious practice should be opposed irregardless of one’s objections to Maori animism as it erodes freedom of religion. Continual justification of religious practice in public on grounds of historical or cultural value so as to avoid arguments over freedom of religion weakens it – but that is another topic.

  • What appallingly ignorant, jealous, sectarian nonsense.

    New Zealand has no official state religion or established Christian denomination. Religious freedom is enshrined in our unentrenched Bill of Rights, and we are signatories to United Nations conventions that deal with religious freedom. As such, they enshrine the right to freedom of belief, conscience, worship, assembly, speech and broad areas of practice. The Treaty of Waitangi is also only binding when it receives statutory recognition. Personally, I’d prefer it if it were incorporated into a written constitution.

    Therefore, the kaumatua here was quite within his rights to take offence at the transgression of a tapu site by a pack of ignorant pakeha fundamentalist kids- although he has no legal recourse against them. Just as Muslims are similarly entitled when equally stupid fundamentalists, conspiracy theorists, neofascists and right-wing extremists voice similarly racist and sectarian claptrap about an allegedly homogenised Muslim aversion to the western world. Just as Jews are entitled to get angry about fundamentalist Christian conversion tactics and anti-Semitic conspiracy broadcasts on Sunni and Shia Islamist media.

    Civility and respect for religious diversity is infinitely preferable to all of these options.

  • Great post and valid points about the supposedly secular state endorsing Maori religion whilst running a mile from It’s Christian heritage in the name of secularism

    DOC will possibly be using taxpayer money to put up signs near the top of the moutain “No Hillary wannabes permitted” and that is quite culturally offensive because we used to celebrate such achievements as climbing to the very peak of the mountain

  • Julian the Apostate I have to correct your erroneous claims.

    First I refer you to my comment above where I cite the outgoing Dean of Law and one of the most eminent Rights and Freedoms scholars in the country. His position contradicts yours.

    Secondly I refer you to this guest post written by lawyer David Simpkin who sets out the law showing New Zealand does have an official state religion and denomination – the Church of England (Anglican). His legal analysis is dead right. Guest Post: No Official Religion in God’s Own?.

  • The shock, the horror, the effrontery! Christian fundamentalist kids eat lunch on a mountain! Call out the gods, bring fire down upon these brazen oafs.

    Get lost.

  • “We will never tolerate His Name being used in an empty or vain fashion.”

    Just wondering, is His Name God, or Yahweh, or I AM THAT I AM, or Jesus or all of them?

    (I’m not ‘going anywhere’ distasteful with this, just a question.)

  • “New Zealand has no official state religion or established Christian denomination.”

    This simply isn’t correct, sorry. While it is true we don’t have an “established” religion in the constitutional sense, we do have an official religion – the Church of England.

    This is because our absentee head of state, the Sovereign in London, must (under the Act of Settlement 1701, part of New Zealand law) be “in communion with the Established Church of England”. This Act also specifically bans Catholics from the throne. It’s the number one reason why members of the Royal family drop off the succession list – recently in Canada Mark Philips future wife was forced to convert from the religion of her birth because if she didn’t, her hubby would lose access to the Civil List.

    Moreover, the Royal Titles Act 1974 (a New Zealand Act) declares the Sovereign as reigning “By Grace of God” and is “Defender of *the* faith” – the faith being the Church of England. It’s significant that, as far as I can tell, the Queen has never visited a Catholic cathedral in New Zealand – HM has only ever visited Anglican Churches and Cathedrals.

    There’s lots of other examples too: when parliament opens everyday, the prayer recited is explicitly Anglican.

    “Religious freedom is enshrined in our unentrenched Bill of Rights, and we are signatories to United Nations conventions that deal with religious freedom.”

    Sure – but as the above demonstrates, that’s impossible to actually enforce constitutionally. Guarantees of freedom of religion (or freedom from it, as this article seems to be calling for) are barely worth the paper it’s written on.

    “Personally, I’d prefer it if it were incorporated into a written constitution.”

    Fair enough – perhaps then the points raised above would be mute…

  • pboy, his name is Sam I Am.

  • Given the degree to which traditional Maori spiritual beliefs are overridden and ignored in this country (and the degree to which they were actively suppressed by the Catholic and Anglican churches during the colonial era) it is empty hyperbole to proclaim it as a state religion. Clearly Christianity is still the dominant religious discourse in New Zealand. Of course, both sets of beliefs are equally irrational and tedious. Both rely on dubious and unprovable metaphysical beliefs and both of them will eventually fade away and be completely replaced by a secular scientific based approach to human identity and ethics. You can try all you like to argue against this if you like but that is just the way things are going. There is no god and there never has been. No afterlife and no spiritual realm. You can blah on all you want about God but the majority don’t care. Maori spirituality is lame. So is Christianity. Your church is a sacred place. Their mountain top is a sacred place. I won’t be eating or defecating on either out of respect for your right to believe in whatever far-fetched and patently absurd beliefs bring you comfort.

  • I wonder how he knows that the gods are more offended by freshly cooked food than a packed lunch? But anyway… the only real issue here is the state getting involved I guess? There is nothing wrong with people openly and loudly expressing their particular religious pet peeves. People do this constantly about all sorts of issues – why should the followers of Maori religion do the same?

    I would get worried if some law was passed where people could be fined for eating in a place sacred to one particular religion – but to openly speak about it? Not a big deal.

  • rather:

    why should the followers of Maori religion NOT do the same?

  • “Your church is a sacred place. Their mountain top is a sacred place. I won’t be eating or defecating on either out of respect for your right to believe in whatever far-fetched and patently absurd beliefs bring you comfort.”

    Interesting point. I guess one difference is that the mountain is not actually owned by a particular Maori religious group which can then post their own guidelines about how people should act on their property. The argument could be made that the mountain “belongs” just as much to Christians as it does to whatever other religious group…

  • Could I also note Mr Simpkin’s former role as a member of Youth for New Zealand, a front group for the Christian Heritage Party?

    Added to which, Mrs Flannagan, if you get to delete Maori animism from official ceremonies, then please allow the rest of us to delete other residual pieces of religious observance from certain other legislation. And Lewis…one more argument for republicanism!

  • “Could I also note Mr Simpkin’s former role as a member of Youth for New Zealand, a front group for the Christian Heritage Party?”

    Well I am convinced! Someone who in their youth was involved in a political party could NEVER make a good argument. (sarcasm for the slower members of the audience… you know who you are ;) )

  • This post gets a big Thumbs Down from me. Maori myth and spirituality is nothing for Christians to fear and in a pluralistic society respect for others’ beliefs is a minimum requirement – - but for Mr. Tertullian it seems to be a one way street. Many (perhaps most) of the ceremonial Maori rituals (karakia, blessings etc) are Christian in character anyway!

    When Paul preached at Athens he didn’t go on about how Satanic all the Greek gods were. Later he admonished Christians to follow their own conscience and not get hung up about food dedicated to idols. Peter had a vision from God about eating unclean food. Paul also advised “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial”.

    Christian Pharisees preaching condemnation and ranting about the evils of other cultures need to pull the log out of their own eye. This sort of divisive message injures the Gospel of Grace.

    For further study:
    Titus 1:15 “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.”
    Luke 11:41 “But give what is inside [the dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”
    Acts 10:15 “The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.””
    Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

  • “Could I also note Mr Simpkin’s former role as a member of Youth for New Zealand, a front group for the Christian Heritage Party?”

    Given that this is the context where I met him in this is not news to me but duly noted.

    Mr Simpkin is also a member of his local golf club and a gym in Hamilton – would you like that noted also?

  • Yes Ropata – it is true that many Maori are Christian… and much of the spirituality practices by Maori is Christian…. not that I know much about it… but this article was not talking about Maori as a whole but was rather talking about the religious beliefs of a set of people who put what are supposedly traditional Maori animistic beliefs ahead of all other religious beliefs… in my experience the people most likely to do this are middle class, middle ages white females… not Maori themselves…

  • middle aged…

  • 19th century colonialism makes a comeback! This time on the internet and unsurprisingly on a Conservative Christian blog. Got hand it to this crowd, you sure know how to take minority groups like Maoris, women and homosexuals.

    Who is the next target? The Jews? They don’t believe in Jesus and John Key is a Jew-they are taking over the place. After all Germany was targeting the backwaters of Africa, perfecting the art of concentration camps there before heading home to confront the Jewish problem. Can anyone see any parallels between the process that Germany went through and the attitudes in John’s article? Scary stuff.

  • Oh man, I thought the church left this kind of crap back in 1980s – unfortunately it seems not everyone has developed a more mature faith yet… thank God we have moved to a post-Christendom society and no wonder Jesus was so opposed to the idea of people setting up a religion in his name… you guys really do a dissevice to Jesus if anyone takes you seriously.

  • Sorry I had a bit of mistake;
    “Got hand it to this crowd, you sure know how to take minority groups like Maoris, women and homosexuals.”

    I should have said ‘target’ instead of ‘take.’ Please forgive me.

  • On another note, MandM could make themselves more relevant to New Zealand political discourse if they discussed matters such as this one (but from a more educated and thought through manner than the nonsense John is scribbling down here) instead of silly talk about bible passages that should be read in the same style as your Sunday paper sports section.

  • Maybe a post comparing the metaphysical claims of Christianity to Maori Animism would be interesting? See who wins out?

  • Interesting, apart from labels, accusations of colonialism, racism and ignorance and assertions about science, do any of JT’s critics actually have some arguments against his position?

    Also, when Richard Dawkins uses language significantly more strident criticising Christian beliefs, why is this not denounced with the same fervour?

  • Ropata, what Paul said to the Greeks, in the passage you cite, is as follows:

    “What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

    Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable All things are lawful, but not all things edify”

    So Paul actually said something like what JT said. Moreover, the Prophets are full of very strong denunciation of paganism.

    I myself would not use this language but to claim it is somehow un-Christian or contrary to Jesus’ teaching is to distort the picture the scriptures portray of him.

    JT has raised some interesting points. If he is mistaken, people should respond to this with argument. The fact many here have only responded with assertions, labels, slogans, name calling and so forth does not really address his points.

  • Manu wrote “I thought the church left this kind of crap back in 1980.”

    Well some churches might have Manu but others don’t let the date dictate which of God’s Words they follow and take seriously.

    The way that God speaks about idol worship, false religions and so on is very strident. Isaiah does not mince his words: “throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!’”

    False religious practice deserves as much respect as a used tampon. Of course that is not PC but it is what God’s word says.

  • What is a menstrual cloth and what does one do with one?

  • Richard, you throw away a menstrual cloth when you have used it – think used tampon or used pad but made out of cloth.
    (If you are still lost I am not going to explain menstruation. Google it or phone your mum.)

  • Richard and Sam and Manu, imagine JT had said the following:

    “Maori spiritual deities are arguably the most unpleasant characters in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; they are petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freaks; vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleansers; misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bullies.”

    Read more.

    Would you still consider what he said colonialist, backwards, racist and having ominous parallels to the holocaust?

  • Why bring Dawkins into it? Are you assuming that because I am an atheist that therefore I am a follower of Dawkins? Postmodern types such as myself don’t really go for scientific freaks such as Dawkins.

    And yes I do consider Dawkins’ crusade rather colonialist and backwards-all belief systems are equal.

  • Maddy, lol I don’t want to be having those conversations with my mother.

  • @ Richard P
    If you cant figure that out for yourself you might be younger than we think. It is not our place to tell you these things. I suggest a private talk with Mum :-)

  • Gee, i type slowly, must be old age approaching.

  • Richard, I was just testing to see if whether you draw the same conclusions when it is Jewish, as opposed to Maori, spiritual beliefs.

    So, is that a yes or no answer to my question? Would JT be a racist colonist, proto-nazi, etc if he uttered the statement I mention above?

  • And yes I do consider Dawkins’ crusade rather colonialist and backwards-all belief systems are equal.
    So your own views are backwards and colonialist then.

  • Lol, you caught me out there Matt. I guess there is some logic in the minds of theologians.

    Jeremy, the most unfortunate thing about trying to find out what it meant was doing a google image search for it with safe search turned off!

  • @Richard P
    Gross, i didnt need those mental images just before bedtime, thankyou, not. :-(

  • Sorry, sometimes I don’t think before writing down things on this blog. Just think of kittens and your problems will go away, I promise.

  • Couple of quotes, via http://libprot.blogspot.com/

    … For I have learned
    To look on nature, not as in the hour
    Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
    The still, sad music of humanity,
    Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
    To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
    A presence that disturbs me with the joy
    Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
    Of something far more deeply interfused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
    And the round ocean and the living air,
    And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
    And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
    A lover of the meadows and the woods,
    And mountains; and of all that we behold
    From this green earth; of all the mighty world
    Of eye, and ear,— both what they half create,
    And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
    In nature and the language of the sense,
    The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
    The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
    Of all my moral being.
    — Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey

    “What is it in religion over which men have argued, taken sides, and ignited wars? Sometimes over morals and always over metaphysics, and neither of these belong to it. … Religion does not strive to bring those who believe and feel under a single belief and feeling. It strives, to be sure, to open the eyes of those who are not yet capable of intuiting the universe, for everyone who sees is a new priest, a new mediator, a new mouthpiece; but for just this reason it avoids with aversion the barren uniformity that would again destroy this divine abundance.”

    Pg. 28, Schleiermacher, On Religion (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy). Edited by R. Crouter, Cambridge: CUP, 1996.

    Here’s Philip Jenkins on the Lost History of [Eastern] Christianity:
    When Jesus met Buddha
    Something remarkable happened when evangelists for two great religions crossed paths more than 1,000 years ago: they got along

  • Idolatry? The Bible and Christ on the Cross are idols. Obey the commandments and discard the idols that you have erected in God’s name! Hypocrites.

  • Are these views representative of the wider NZ white Christian views ?

    If so then that’s actually quite shocking.

  • Paul wrote, “Are these views representative of the wider NZ white Christian views ?”

    No. They are representative of the Christian view generally. God’s word is applicable regardless of one’s skin colour (and regardless of the date and regardless of political correctness and so on).

  • Is the view that John T and those of like mind must be “white” representative of the wider NZ atheist view?

    Is the assumption that a view can or should be dismissed because [insert colour] people hold it representative of the wider NZ atheist view?

    If so then that’s actually quite shocking.

  • OK, Rebekah and Julian:

    We have three choices.

    Firstly, we become a theocracy. If you establish a religion with the power of the state and have people with preistly authority making pronouncements on what one can and cannot do — enforced by the state — you are heading that way. This is the position of the Anglicans (who were the Established religion in England), the Islamists (who want us to establish Islam and Sharia) and some Maori.

    Since I am a fundamentalist, I reject this. I consider that the word of God is interpreted, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and by reason and logic. I want freedom. To argue. I don’t want to have to be non offensive.

    Because being non offensive is to honour that which should not be honoured. Mt Taranaki is beautiful. It glorifies God. it iis not to be worshiped as a God.

    Secondly, we become completely secular. We remove all religion from our public spaces. That includes prayers of blessing. It becomes a private issue. This is the “hard” American position — and I note that the religious impulse in all humans has led them to worship their flag and Constitution (Glen Beck is a classic example of a person who does the latter).

    Finally, we can allow free reign to our opinions. We will not establish any religion or any tikanga. We will be free to be saved or to damn ourselves. We will allow good speech freedom, to drive out the bad.

    We will tolterate offensive speech. This is what Milton argued for. This is what I argue for.

    I will not bow down. And to those Maori offended: Harden up.

  • The thing is Chris, no one is asking you to worship a mountain. They’re just asking you not to be a dick about someone else’s beliefs.

    I don’t think anyone has every been miraculously healed at Lourdes, or that a god was crucified at Calvary; but if I was to visit those places I’d be respectful of their cultural signifcance. Wouldn’t you?

  • David, this talk of “respect” seems to me disengenious given the citation I provided from Dawkins above, did anyone take him aside on behalf on the NZ government when he came to NZ and admonish him to respect the Christians in NZ.

    Do you want me to dig out the Hansards and see the “respect” showed the exclusive bretheren by state officials a few years ago? Or perhaps the state funded “virgin in a condom” art a few years ago in a public museum, I remember the Catholics being ridiculed and considered bigots for complaining.

    The point is this demand for respect is selective and applied quite arbitrarily by the state, for certain pagan beliefs and not others.

    On this blog people have made insinuations about the jewish God over the Abraham and Isaac issue, people felt no need to be deferent or respectful of this story. Yet one of our major National Parks is named after a virgin who actually was sacrificed to the mountain deities.

    At mount maunganui there is a similar sacred spot which is revered by the local iwi where their tribe sacrificed a women in thanks to the gods before landing ashore. A Kaumatua from the area told me this when I visited there at teachers college as part of the government required courses designed to teach us respect for Maori culture. The expectation was that we would deferentially and silently listening to the story of how they drowned a women and learn to respect the solemnity of the site. This apparently is essential to being a secondary school teacher.

  • “David, this talk of “respect” seems to me disengenious given the citation I provided from Dawkins above, did anyone take him aside on behalf on the NZ government when he came to NZ and admonish him to respect the Christians in NZ. ”

    Matt, with due respect :), David is not Dawkins. And you know full well that two wrongs do not make a right.

    Your argument sounds something like “well my brother punched me and no one did anything – so why shouldn’t a hit my sister.”

    Shouldn’t your attitude be to be better than the people you criticize – not to emulate them? Just a thought.

  • *I hit* … which remind me… I used to be able to edit my stupid typos after posting on here but this function seems to have vanished?

  • Max, you misunderstand me, I am not suggesting its OK to do Z because someone else did. What I was trying to ascertain is wether people would support the principle they propose her if it were consistently applied, for example would David, or Paul, or Richard, or Julian, and so forth support a state official telling Dawkins he can’t use the language he used in the GD in his talks at public universities or public halls. or would they support the state telling Te Papa, to not display a virgin in a condom or the state denying public funds to such art, and so forth. I suspect that when the issue is not Maori spirtuality, most of these people would not support this.

  • Yeah, what Max said, unless you have statement I made on Hansard (I’ve not been to parliament…) I can’t see why it would matter.

    The other point is that it’s DoC’s job is to manage our heritage and conservation sites. So it’s in keeping with their job to inform people of the significance associated with some of their sites (including important European landmarks like early buildings etc).

  • “Max, you misunderstand me”

    Maybe…

    But to spin it around – given that you do criticize Dawkins a fair bit. Would you be willing to similarly criticize John for doing the same thing?

  • You are entirely right. “A pagan and primitive religion, riddled with superstition and idolatry.” Mighty Zeus, the Living God, is furious with this “Christianity” business.

  • The rampant hypocrisy in this article is amazing. I find it particularly offensive when someone says “your religion is stupid but mine isn’t”. Christianity, like all religion, is open to interpretation and even things that don’t make sense or appear to contradict – in other words it is socially constructed depending on people’s perceived relationship with their God or Gods.

    As an atheist (and a Pakeha), I say just leave it alone. People have the right to believe what they believe and we should be respectful. As an atheist I still respect other beliefs as who knows who is “right”. Given that Maori people are tangata whenua I say their religious beliefs take precedent. I also find it particularly amusing when people use words like “facts” when discussing a topic such as religion that consists a variety of views even within one denomination.

  • “Your gods do not exist. Your beliefs offend and anger the Living God.”

    THE SIN OF PRIDE HAS TAKEN YOU, TO ASSUME HIS MIND. LOVE GOD. LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR. JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED.

    TAKE BACK YOUR ANGER AND YOUR SUPERIORITY. CLOAK YOURSELF IN HUMILITY AND BEG HIS FORGIVENESS.

  • So basically you’re saying that your invisible friend is better than theirs? A shame then, that theirs was here first, huh?

    Those kids were respectful. They treated the beliefs of others the way they wanted their own beliefs to be treated. They were mature and intelligent. Ranting that their god was better would have just made them look like twats, much like you do now. They took the wisest road. Being petty and childish isn’t really what Jesus said you should do.

    It’s actually really tragic to see how hypocritical you are, and worse, how utterly unaware of it you are. You say your god is the best one? Has he regrown any amputated limbs lately? Oh, why not? Is he not able to? My money is on the god who can regrow a limb, whether he’s Zeus, Thor, Ganesh or Mr Burns.

  • With all due respect, M&M, John Tertullian’s views are limited to the conservative evangelical faction of Christianity. They are not shared by mainline liberal Protestants and liberal Catholics, who are committed to religious pluralism and freedom. I know many such individuals, although I am not one myself.

    And to be frank, JT’s tiresome diatribe against incorporation of Maori customary beliefs into civic observances and ceremonies reminds me rather of Michael Drake’s similar histrionics about Maori spirituality almost twenty years ago.

    New Zealanders live in a pluralistic society, with no one dominant philosophical or religious stance, fortunately. We do not live in a dictatorship, whether theist or nontheist, and no-one is under compulsion when it comes to matters of religious or secular alternative belief, conscience, assembly, worship, speech and broad areas of practice; except when the latter tangibly injures or harms others, which means that it must be restricted.

    Maori panentheist spirituality and its inclusion within civic ceremonies tangibly harms no-one. Given this, there is little substantive reason to restrict its practice or availability.

  • Precisely what I expected of this website, and precisely what I expected of most of the commenters: ill-informed and half-researched nonsense. As a resident of New Zealand I can vouch for the few posters on this board that have rational, reasoned views about New Zealand. So-called “Maori animism” is not prevalent here in any invasive way. The majority of people don’t take it seriously as a religion, but rather respect its place as a part of indigenous culture here. And to George in the comments, who said “Maybe when Mt Taranaki heals the sick, gives sight to the blind, causes the lame to walk, raises the dead, and rises from the dead itself, then maybe just maybe I’ll listen to the likes of DOC and their spiritual advisors,” I’d like you to try and prove any of those claims using anything but circular logic or falsified evidence. I put it to you that Christian theology is just as ridiculous and difficult to prove as Maori animism. This website is a haven for imbeciles and misinformation.

  • Max, I don’t criticise Dawkin’s for saying something which might upset or offend people. I criticise him for bad arguments, false premises and so on.

    I certainly don’t insinuate he is anti Semitic and so forth merely because he criticises the deity Jews believe in, and I don’t suggest that the state or the government should require he not say and do the things he does on public property.

  • Julian, so let me get this straight, the claim that there is only one God, who created the mountains and hence is separate from them and who alone should be worshipped. Is a minority extremist view, within Christian thought? Is that your position.

    Last time I checked this was called monotheism.

  • For me karakia and powhiri, while they can be tedious, are an important recognition of this countries heritage and the large role maori culture plays in our identity as NZers. It might help to consider the muskets and blankets as a down payment to the high standard of living we now enjoy and these symbolic nods to the culture who got here first as the AP you have to pay to stay here.

  • Louise “So basically you’re saying that your invisible friend is better than theirs? A shame then, that theirs was here first, huh?”
    Actually this is actually a matter of logic, if one believes there is one only God who created the mountains then it follows there are not many gods some of which are identical with mountains.
    Those kids were respectful. They treated the beliefs of others the way they wanted their own beliefs to be treated. They were mature and intelligent. Ranting that their god was better would have just made them look like twats, much like you do now. They took the wisest road. Being petty and childish isn’t really what Jesus said you should do.
    Louise above, you refered to YHWH as “my invisible friend” that is disrespectful to my beliefs, so your comment here actually tends to reinforce the point I have been making, you yourself feel quite entitled to dismiss often in disrespectful terms beliefs you disagree with and yet object if JT does this.
    It’s actually really tragic to see how hypocritical you are, and worse, how utterly unaware of it you are.
    Its also tragic to see how many intelligent people don’t realise that calling people names and attacking their character actually does not count as an argument against there position.
    You say your god is the best one? Has he regrown any amputated limbs lately? Oh, why not? Is he not able to? My money is on the god who can regrow a limb, whether he’s Zeus, Thor, Ganesh or Mr Burns.
    This assumes that the God of monotheistic traditions is simply the same as or on par with literal belief in olypian deities, as though the case for or against one is on par with the case for and against others. I doubt anyone actually familiar with the history of theological and philosophical thought could actually support this claim, can you?
    I can climb mount olympius look around and determine quickly that Zeus is not there hence there are compelling reasons for rejecting literal belief in olypian deities that do not apply to monotheism. Moreover, the detailed arguments about contingency by Alexander Pruss and Tim O Connor, or the discussions of Big Bang Cosmology and infinity by Craig, or the detailed arguments by Swinburne, for a monotheistic deity are vastly subtle and detailed. To suggest you can dismiss both simply by talking about imaginary friends really suggests its not me who is the ignorant one here.

  • David so are you saying that “we” I assume you mean NZer’s of european descent, have to “pay” to stay in NZ?

  • No, Matt. It is merely one subjectively held religious belief system amongst others. Certainly, its followers deserve to be treated with due civility and resoect, but they should provide reciprocal respect and civility toward those that they share this country with. Maori panentheist spirituality deserves to be treated with respect and acknowledgement, given such civic pluralism and cultural diversity. That way lies civil peace and the absence of sectarian and racist rancor.

  • @Matt NZers of European descent have benefited disproportionately from colonialism. You will be hard pressed to find any metric by which Maori are not behind Pakeha. And in case you missed the point, the last part of my post was a tongue in cheek way to make a real point – “for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”. If I go to someone’s house and they say grace… I don’t pray but I don’t object that they are praying. Also to the extent that traditional maori deities feature in karakia and porwhiri they normally feature as syncretic elements of a nominally Christian faith. Only 2,412 people identified Traditional Maori religion as their faith in the 2006 census.

  • Julian, sorry simply asserting that monotheism is a subjectively held belief amougst others proves nothing. Anymore than my assertion that naturalism is one subjectively held belief amougst others proves naturalism is false.

    As to reciprocal respect I agree, so do you think the state should demand atheists not say or do things that offend Christian beliefs on public property?

    Finally, you again play the “racist card” , sorry but if saying that Maori spiritual beliefs are false, irrational, and even morally questionable is racist, then anyone who says that Hebraic Christian God I believe are these things must be anti Semitic. This of course would make you and many of the commenters in here anti semites.

    Christians are as entitled to say these things about pagan beliefs as atheists are and regularly do about Monothiesm.

  • callum – thank god (oops) for reasoned argument and sensible rationalisation. this argument is really about cultural diversity, not about who’s worshipping what false idol. we, as in new zealanders (both of european descent and maori), are still a fledgling nation struggling to come to terms with meshing our cultures. yes, things are always going to be difficult – but your (maddy) need to drag a youth groups misadventure into the spotlight under christianity’s critical lens speaks volumes about your complete ignorance and intolerable attitude towards any person or culture that doesn’t share a common belief system with yours. shame on you – wars are started on this script, and played out more often than not under false guises. i won’t bother referencing examples (i refuse to accept that you are idiots). your religion is not based on facts, but on circular arguments of faith – since mr dawkins has been included in this thread, it may interest you to know that as a scientist, it is his duty to accept the possibility (however minute) of the existence of some omnipotent entity – so one can conclude that, as he is in the pursuit of facts (there’s that word again), he would be more qualified to make a rational argument for your entire way of life than you.

    p.s. maddy, you’re kind of cute.

  • @Matt, you seem to be confused. The Christian god is Abramic, but I doubt many Jews would support your assessment that HE is hebraic. Given that most christians give primacy to the NT over the OT, and that these books were originally written in greek, you could just as easily make the argument that you are a Hellenised Jew

  • Chris, your comments actually ignore the point I made, which is that Christians are just as entitled to criticise pagan deities as irrational, false, immoral as athiests are to offer the same types of criticism of the Old testament.

    The “you should not say offensive thing about others religious beliefs you fundamentalist ignorant, imaginary friend worshiping bigot” argument is simply a contradiction and a fairly obvious one.

  • Matt. Bro. Matt. Bro. Matt,

    Bro,

    Matt, I think what people are trying to point out is the ridiculousness of criticizing one group’s beliefs from the platform of a belief which could be considered equally ridiculous. I consider Christianity to be entirely as ridiculous as “John” does “Maori animism.” I think we all know that Ahura Mazda is the supreme divine authority.

    And for Louise to refer to God or YHWH or the Trinity or whoever as your invisible friend is entirely correct and should not cause you offense. You misquote her as saying imaginary friend.

    On a more serious note, I’d also like to point out that this is the most joyously and excellently pompous, humourless, and downright ridiculous blog I’ve ever come across. Thank you for giving the world this gem.

  • Let me try another angle Matt – if I may.

    MOST New Zealanders reading this blog post – and your comments upon it – are going to come away with a sour taste in their mouth and a negative perception of Christianity. This is the environment we live in. This post is not well suited to this environment.

    Does this help to bring the Word to as many people as possible? Is it more about you being “right” than about communicating the Gospel? Don’t answer. Just reflect on that.

    One could argue that posts like this are a disservice to Christianity as a whole – and as such (dare I say it) an affront to God. If one were inclined to think in such a way.

  • matt. my comments do ignore the points you made. thanks for clearing that up.

  • We’re just saying that your blog posted here is hate-mongering and as a result we hate it. While you have the right to freedom of speech, so do those who criticise this blog and so have acted accordingly.

    A majority of christians are awesome, respectful people. “Tertullian” and defenders of this blog are not.

  • Matt:
    While conservative Christians and Michael Laws are free to condemn Maori spirituality, such incivility of personal expression is unfortunate. It only leads to mainstream liberal New Zealanders of non-sectarian provenance to further conclude that conservative Christian belief systems are inimical to liberal democratic values in this country, whether nontheist, liberal Christian or otherwise.

    And unfortunately, there are plenty of past occasions when New Zealand conservative Christian pressure groups allowed themselves to be co-opted by the likes of the neofascist League of Rights over issues of Maori political aspirations and the expression of juvenile conspiracy theories about them. It happened quite frequently during the eighties.

  • From Josh;
    “On a more serious note, I’d also like to point out that this is the most joyously and excellently pompous, humourless, and downright ridiculous blog I’ve ever come across. Thank you for giving the world this gem.”

    That comment is awesome. It describes this blog perfectly. You should also check out MandM’s pal Glenno on Say Hello to My Little Friend, there is some pretty funny stuff there as well.

  • Totally agree, JT.

    I’ve just sent off an email to my son’s school principal about their powhiri that they want to start the school year off with. I refuse to allow my son to participate in a Maori religious ceremony, and made a blog post about this issue last year. I was hoping the teacher’s strike would mean that the ceremony would have been scrapped, but no, they’ve just moved to the next day.

    To everyone else, it’s all very well wanting respect for beliefs, but making everyone follow certain beliefs is going too far. What about one’s personal conscience and beliefs? Do they not count?

    I will tolerate the Maori religion (until they start sacrificing people to their gods again), but I don’t respect it, and expect not to be made to follow it. Just like I don’t respect New Age beliefs and just like I don’t respect Satanism or Voodoo-ism.

    Max,

    Those NZ’ers who go away from this post with a “sour taste” about Christianity would do well to remember that Christians tend to give their lives for their beliefs. Our faith is not compatible with other faiths that seek to dominate us. 150,000 Christians die every year for their faith in Jesus. The Christians in NT times were killed because they refused to light incense to the Roman Emperor. There were Romans in those times that most likely came away with a “sour taste” as well. Can’t be helped.

  • Dave, I am just pointing out that calling something “hate mongering” is really not a response to it.

    Is it hate mongering when an atheist says YHVH is an “invisible friend” or that Christians are “uncivil” and so on as has been said in here.

  • Julian, your point is? Some really bad groups might take something I say use it in a different context to say and advocate something I did not. So what, this can be done with any belief or statement a person expresses.

    The issue is whether what I or someone else says on a particular topic is true, are our arguments sound, the fact you and others want to turn it into a discussion of our character, or of someone else’s character who you can link to us in some indirect way, shows that its you not me who is engaging in the irrational knee jerk response here.

  • Josh Matt, I think what people are trying to point out is the ridiculousness of criticizing one group’s beliefs from the platform of a belief which could be considered equally ridiculous. I consider Christianity to be entirely as ridiculous as “John” does “Maori animism.” I think we all know that Ahura Mazda is the supreme divine authority. I pointed out that its simply not true that the intellectual case for monotheism is on par for the intellectual case for animism. Monotheism has quite detailed and sophisticated defences both today and through out intellectual history that animism does not have, that is simply a fact.

    But I note again that apart from name calling there really is no answer of substance here.

    I think its ridiculous to both (a) castigate conservative Christians as hate filled, bigoted, ignorant, incapable of proper research, linked with nazism, racist, colonialist and then in the same paragraph claim (b) its wrong to act disrespectfully towards others religious beliefs, and in fact the state should enforce this.

    That sort of contradiction is patently ridiculous. Its equally ridiculous from a logical perspective to write post after post which consist merely of ad hominen attacks on people and claim this is a “reasoned answer”.

  • “Those NZ’ers who go away from this post with a “sour taste” about Christianity would do well to remember that Christians tend to give their lives for their beliefs.”

    Yes – and THOSE Christians who give their lives for the right to practice their religion – ie. fighters for freedom AGAINST racism and prejudice I take my hat off to. … now what do THEY have to do with this whining blog? In what way do the oppressive Christians in a nation where Christians are the majority historically resemble them.

    “Our faith is not compatible with other faiths that seek to dominate us.”

    Who is dominating someone here? Which is the DOMINANT culture in New Zealand would you say? Hmmm?

    “150,000 Christians die every year for their faith in Jesus.”

    Yes – and some write whiny blog posts. Don’t get them confused in your head.

    “The Christians in NT times were killed because they refused to light incense to the Roman Emperor.”

    Different political environment. What worked then is not necessarily the same thing that will work now. How members of a religion act when they are a vast minority is not necessarily a good guideline for how they should act 2000 years later when they are a vast majority.

    Your comparison is way off the mark.

  • “So what, this can be done with any belief or statement a person expresses. ”

    Yes but some statements more easily than others. Yours more so than many,

  • Max, still wondering what the criticism here is supposed to be. That some people who hold neo nazi views, I don’t hold might be able to use something I do hold, to express an opinion I don’t hold, shows my view is false… How exactly???

    I am suprised you would give creedance to Julian’s tactic of trying to link views he disagrees with to Nazism and anti-Semitism. Its the left wing version of Mcarthyism and no more justifiable.

  • Matt:

    It is an empirical issue. It may be the case that something you are saying – even if it is true – may be used by other people to promote some evil doctrine. Are you claiming that this never happens?

    Seems an obvious and non-controversial claim to make.

  • Do I need to spell it out:

    John, and you, are making cliams like: Maori spirituality is false, primitive, evil, and linked to the Devil. Now (history lesson for you Matt) can you think of any situation where this sort of talk led to racism and violence. And you can ignore the Nazis if you like – go to any country colonized by the English.

  • It is an empirical issue. It may be the case that something you are saying – even if it is true – may be used by other people to promote some evil doctrine. Are you claiming that this never happens?

    No I am questioning its relevance as a criticism of the claims in question.

  • Now (history lesson for you Matt) can you think of any situation where this sort of talk led to racism and violence. And you can ignore the Nazis if you like – go to any country colonized by the English.

    Max, actually that talk by itself cannot lead to violence and certainly provides no justification for violence, of course if other premises and social factors are thrown in it can, but again I am inclined to ask so what.

    Look at it this way, some practises of maori religion were evil, human sacrifice is an obvious example, does acknowleging this mean one is racist, or inciting violence…. No.

    So why would the fact J T says this about another aspect entail this.

    Again this is an attempt to ignore the substantive theological point and try and smear the writer by finding indirect ways what he says might be linked to something someone else does thats evil.

  • Max, I could equally return the question, aren’t there conceivable circumstances in which calling religious fundamentalism evil, intolerant, irrational and so forth can lead to violence…. absolutely, does that fact alone invalidate such criticisms.

  • Max,

    Do you have sex with men?

    I ask, because typically, the only people in NZ who think Christians are “oppressive” (especially in NZ) are some of the more militant homosexuals here.

  • [...] This is a prime example. We’re just saying that your blog posted here is hate-mongering and as a result we hate it. While you have the right to freedom of speech, so do those who criticise this blog and so have acted accordingly. via Maori Animism: New Zealand’s Established Religion | MandM. [...]

  • “Max, I could equally return the question, aren’t there conceivable circumstances in which calling religious fundamentalism evil, intolerant, irrational and so forth can lead to violence…. absolutely, does that fact alone invalidate such criticisms.”

    Again you are back to the “two wrongs make a right” stance. Yes – all sorts of stances can lead to violence and racism – and if you KNOW this is the case with something you are thinking about saying… it would probably be a good idea not to.

  • Matt: No. Your “sophisticated defences” aren’t, except in your own head. What’s more, all they apply to is the possibility of the existence of a god, or more correctly a prime mover, that wound up the universe and then sat back. This kind of deistic belief has exactly nothing to do with your own belief that Jesus’ death was a blood sacrifice (“… a primitive religion, riddled with superstition…”) which, through arbitrarily defined belief, magically rids us of our sinful taint in the eyes of the contradictory, schizophrenic, jealous, murderous sky-father from the Old Testament.

    And what’s more, your “sophisticated defences” of monotheism do not apply to this utter, utter (unintentionally hilarious – this guy could write for the Onion) tripe:

    “Such idolatry ripens New Zealand and our people for judgment. It calls down the curses of the Covenant upon our land. Have we not already begun to taste His cup of wrath. Are we not being left once again in this country to demons from the ancient world?”

    I still can’t believe you seriously stand on this kind of hilarious rubbish to shout insults at another set of religious beliefs – and you can’t see the irony! It would be sad, if it weren’t so damn funny. Take out the plank in your eye, bro. I think it’s gone all the way through your frontal lobes.

  • Lucia:

    “Do you have sex with men?”

    Tell you what – you tell us all about the details of your sex life on a public blog and I will consider doing the same.

    “I ask, because typically, the only people in NZ who think Christians are “oppressive” (especially in NZ) are some of the more militant homosexuals here.”

    I don’t recall saying that Christians are oppressive… I think you have misread something.

  • No Max I am not arguing two wrongs make a right, I am pointing out that one argument is bad by showing that an another analogous argument is bad.

  • “No Max I am not arguing two wrongs make a right, I am pointing out that one argument is bad by showing that an another analogous argument is bad.”

    But you are not! For two reasons:

    (i) I think that people who go on rants about the evils of all religions are probably doing the world a disservice as well – so I don’t think the ‘analogous’ argument is bad and

    (ii) historically the sort of tripe being produced here (eg these people’s religion id of the Devil) has historically led to massive bloodshed, and still does – whereas for the most part people like Dawkins – however wrong he is – has not. So the argument is not even analogous.

  • “So-called “Maori animism” is not prevalent here in any invasive way.”

    Good to hear Callum, so it won’t interfere with a private picnic… oh wait too late.

    Guess you were wrong.

  • I still can’t believe you seriously stand on this kind of hilarious rubbish to shout insults at another set of religious beliefs – and you can’t see the irony!

    There are some seriously muddled up people here when it comes to the issue of irony or hypocrisy.

    Supposing that another person’s beliefs are not correct, while maintaining that yours are correct, is neither ironic nor hypocritical.

    In fact, saying that even though another person’s beliefs conflict with your own, they are still perfectly true, is a sign that there is something seriously wrong with you. Multiple personalities, some would even say.

  • Josh, sorry but its not just in my head, in fact even atheists who study these arguments grant they are sophisticated serious and worthy of consideration. The highly dismissive stance you take is not widely shared in the literature. Its common of course on internet science and popular science books, but that hardly proves anything.

    Second, your quite wrong about what they esthablish, cosmological arguments if successful esthablish the existence of a necessarily existent, eternal non spatial or temporal being who sustains the existence and brought it into existence. Moral arguments provide grounds for the existence of a morally perfect omnsicent being who orders the universe so that virtue and happiness ultimately coincide, metaphysical arguments suggest the existence of an eternal mind, design arguments suggest an intelligent mind behind ( not identical with the universe) arguments from religious experience support the existence of a perfectly God holy sacred person who is perfectly good powerful and so forth. The point is however that these provide support for a monotheistic deity which is not identical with mountains, so the suggestion that the case for animism and the case for monotheism is on par is simply mistaken, Perhaps you can show me where in the peer reviewed literature arguments anywhere near as important as these are offered or taken seriously for the claim that mountains are God. Where for example is equivalent of Swinburne’s trilogy published by Cambridge or Oxford for the claim mountians are gods and their summit are the gods head. The fact is the claim that animism and monotheism are on par intellectually simply does not stack up when you examine the literature.

    Apart from these false assertions the rest of your comments are simply a string of insults and pejorative terms thrown together and hence actually have no value as an argument or reason whatsoever, as always its interesting to see the so called free thinkers and rational sceptics using text book fallacies and insults as arguments.

    The point is people who suggest that belief in a superhuman adulterer called Zeus who lives on mount Olympus is intellectually on par with the theism expoused by Maimodes or Thomas Aquinas, or Descartes, make an obviously implausible claim. The fact its popular does not change its obvious silliness. I doubt anyone could seriously maintain this claim if they were actually informed about the history of philosophy or theology.

  • Glenn, it is quite odd, atheists, who think all religions are false somehow thing monotheists are hypocritical because they accept monotheism but no polytheism.

    last time I checked to be a hypocrite one had to fail to sincerely practise what you preached not to fail to accept what someone else thinks.

    I wonder if atheist are hypocrites because they accept their own particular secular beliefs are true and also those secular perspectives which contradict these are not true. Seeing you an I think all secular perspectives are false they must be hypocrites.

  • Max, my suggestion is that other argument is invalid, so the fact you think one has true premises and the other false premises is irrelevant.

    Like I said the argument that: X if false, because someone might take X, and combine it with A B C and when the combined it with A B C they will do abhorrent action Q. Seems to me obviously invalid.

  • @Lewis: “By Grace of God” and is “Defender of *the* faith” – the faith being the Church of England.

    I’m pretty sure the title was bestowed by the Pope … on Henry the Eighth … for writing something in favour of papal supremacy.

    So, I’m not sure this statement is correct.

  • @ Lucia Maria

    Considering the Catholic churches continued controversy with regard to sex abuse cover ups:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/18/vatican-irish-bishops-child-abuse?INTCMP=SRCH

    I feel you are the last one to be judging other peoples sexual orientation or to be hypocritically claiming which particular group in society might or might not be oppressive.

    Pot, kettle, black. Any of this sound familiar to you???

  • The suggestion that its crypto anti-semitic to believe it’s a sin to worship the creation as a God has got to be the most ironic comment I have heard in a long time.

  • Matt:
    You DON’T practice what you preach. The hateful, intolerant tripe you’ve written is completely against what Jesus stood for. Those climbers’ responses were far more mature than your recommendation, and far more in line with Jesus’ intentions in life.

    Also, I said “invisible friend” originally, not “imaginary friend” but it’s amusing that you misread it that way.

    You’re entitled to your beliefs, just as others are entitled to theirs. No one knows for certain who’s right and who isn’t – not even you – so don’t pretend you have the upper hand in any religious debate.
    The fact is, there is as much evidence for Christianity as there is for Hinduism, Greek mythology, and Pastafarianism. Heck, Christians pray to the same god as Muslims and Jews, just in different ways. Just because *you* believe in what the Bible says doesn’t mean it’s true.

    It’s very simple – treat the beliefs of others the way you want your own to be treated, and you’ll be sweet. The climbers know this, it’s a shame you don’t.

  • Hint for blog writer: the irony that everyone’s talking about is the part where you’re laughing at Maori for believing that they were eating on a god’s head, when you belong to a religion that believes in a zombie god who can teleport.

    All religions have weird ridiculous bits in them. Either you believe it or you don’t.

  • Louise, have you ever actually read the Gospel accounts of what Jesus said and did?

  • “It’s very simple – treat the beliefs of others the way you want your own to be treated”

    What? I should treat everyone else’s beliefs as true? Even when they conflict with my own?

    I wonder if you actually realise what you’re saying there, Louise. Why don’t you treat the author’s belief that Maori beliefs are crazy in the same way that you want your beliefs to be treated? Why don’t you live by that rule, and let the author live by his rule?

  • Louise,

    First, I did not write the above J T did, I myself would have written it very different had it been me.

    Second, your suggestion that the claim that its wrong to worship other Gods is “completely” against what Jesus stood for is news to him, seeing he himself cited the very portion of the torah which states it’s a sin to worship other Gods in temptations in the wilderness. I suppose the idea of a 1st century jewish rabbi who expounded religious pluralism might be nice liberal mythology but its not very likely.

    Third you assert there is as much evidence for Christianity as there is for Hinduism, Greek mythology, and Pastafarianism. But this is simply false and I pointed this out to you. One can show that the olypian gods don’t exist by climbing mount Olympus, certain forms of Hinduism entail contradictions by claiming all reality is one and all distinctions are illusory, other religions which don’t make this claim don’t have this implication and so on, the fact is different religious claims are not the same in what they claim and the evidential situation differs depending on the claims in question.

    Fourth, you claim no one knows “for certain”. That’s true but irrelevant. No one knows for certain that wife beating is wrong either, there are sophisticated moral theories which deny this just as there are sophisticated positions other than Christianity, I don’t let lack of certainty stop me taking a stance and neither do you.

    You tell we have a duty “treat others beliefs” the same as one treats ones own. Well I take it then you consider your beliefs to be “intolerant hateful tripe” after all that’s what you said about my position and seeing, we should treat all beliefs the same, it follows your beliefs must be this as well.

    The very fact you criticise my stance as incorrect suggests that in fact the only person who is not practising what they preach here is you. By criticising me your suggesting my beliefs are wrong, hateful and so forth, the very think you criticise me for doing.

  • Madeleine wrote:
    “No. They are representative of the Christian view generally. God’s word is applicable regardless of one’s skin colour (and regardless of the date and regardless of political correctness and so on).”

    Then, phds or not, I don’t think I would want to become a Christian if that’s what you believe and that’s how you behave.

  • Hint for blog writer: the irony that everyone’s talking about is the part where you’re laughing at Maori for believing that they were eating on a god’s head, when you belong to a religion that believes in a zombie god who can teleport.

    Accept, Fi fails to note that christians don’t believe in Zombies they believe in a man who rose from the dead. Like many he seems to think describing a position with pejorative language is an argument, its actually called poisoning the well and is a fallacy.

    Second he fails to note that the claim that mountains are gods who can walk is not the same as the claim that a God outside of nature brought a man back to life, this is because the laws of physics apply in a closed system, if natural entities like mountains are gods then god is part of the system and hence its closed. if God created and transcends the system its not closed, hence miracles in a monotheistic context are not incompatible with the laws of nature in the way they are in an animist context where nature is identified with God.

    Finally he fails to note that claiming there is one God who transcends nature contradicts the claim that there are many gods who are nature, hence to suggest people who believe in one are compelled to believe in the other is false.

  • Paul, so would you embrace atheism if you discovered atheists believed religion is irrational stupid and evil, which is of course what they typically do believe.

  • Matt wrote:
    “One can show that the olypian gods don’t exist by climbing mount Olympus, certain forms of Hinduism entail contradictions by claiming all reality is one and all distinctions are illusory, other religions which don’t make this claim don’t have this implication and so on, the fact is different religious claims are not the same in what they claim and the evidential situation differs depending on the claims in question. ”

    So why isn’t everyone Christian then ?

    The key, I think is in your answer – depending on the question the evidence can go either way. I don’t think that a Christian, by virtue of his Christian faith, is in any better position to deny the truth of another faith nor is that believer in that other faith in a better position to deny the truth of Christianity.

    You’re all Christians because you believe it’s true. Which is fair enough. But you’re getting into difficulties if you’re telling others that they must be wrong, and even more difficulty if you do not respect their faith but demand respect for your own.

  • Matt wrote:
    “Paul, so would you embrace atheism if you discovered atheists believed religion is irrational stupid and evil, which is of course what they typically do believe.”

    No, I came to atheism via a long, long path away from Christianity. It is not that Christianity is evil, nasty, horrible, eats children, and farts in bed.

    It’s that I’ve experienced enough of other faiths to not be confident that Christianity is exclusively true.

    I’ve read of bits of some faiths that are actually quite humane and therefore pleasant and make sense, even to an atheist, so while I recognise that some aspects of some religions are not very nice, it’s too much of blanket statement to condemn all of one, or all of the whole lot.

  • “I don’t think that a Christian, by virtue of his Christian faith, is in any better position to deny the truth of another faith”

    Paul – imagine that a person knew that Christianity was true. Maybe you don’t think anyone knows this, but imagine they did.

    OK, now is that person in a position to deny that other religions are true?

  • Glenn wrote:
    “Paul – imagine that a person knew that Christianity was true. Maybe you don’t think anyone knows this, but imagine they did.”

    I’m interested in your definition of ‘knew’. Please expand on that.

    Let me return the question – imagine a Muslim or a Jew knew that their faith was true – how would you deal with that ?

    If you’re going to cite revelation then this should be fun.

  • Phil Mohi should cheer up. Neither indigenous nor endangered species were harmed in the fry-up on the summit. That’s what DOC is about isn’t it? No wait…. got to protect the kehua on the summit. Must. Protect. Kehua.– from kids…

    Either that or thay can take the Hawaiian Queen,Kapi’olani, as a role model. When the volcano erupted with lava, the superstitious Hawaiians believed Pele was angry and needed to be appeased. Around 1820, Queen Kapi’olani put her faith in Christ and then did something very bold and courageous for her time. To show the people that Pele was not a god at all, she went to the “forbidden place” on Hawaii, now Volcano National Park, and lived to tell about it.

    At the rim of the caldera, she ate Pele’s sacred ‘ohelo berries and threw stones into the molten lava, in essence “spitting in Pele’s face.” Amazingly, nothing happened to Kapi’olani. She survived the encounter, proving Mt. Kilauea was merely a geologic wonder instead of a demoness. Pele was a fake, and the door opened for her descendants and the common people to trust Christianity

    Go figure. Mt Taranaki; Geological wonder or the dwelling of some spirit thats allergic to cooking odors?

  • @ Paul
    I”m missing something, where does Christianity claim that other beliefs have no measure of truth in them? It does claim that man is incapable of saving himself and that God acted on our behalf in the person of Jesus Christ. Consequently, being reconciled to God is only possible through Jesus because there is no other way that God has made for men to approach God.
    This does not mean that other people cannot be realistic about human nature, it doesnt mean they cant be nice, kind , understanding people. Nor does it mean no one else can know good/true things and how to apply them in life. Of coursethere can be “bits of some faiths that are actually quite humane and therefore pleasant and make sense” The fundamental and critical difference between Christianity and everything else, is God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. God bridging the gap between Himself and us because it is simply beyond us. To put it in more religious language, we can have a relationship with God by trusting Him but never by trying to impress Him and never by trying to buy or earn such a relationship.

    So back to JT’s somewhat intemperate comments on a picnic and a DOC official’s response. There would appear to be one valid question in there.

    Where does a DOC official get off using his authority as an employee of a supposedly secular government to berate these teenagers [ who by all acounts behaved in a very environmentally responsible manner] for not conforming to the tenants of his religion?

    So far the debate here appears to be more about JT, his character , the language used and his bombastic style [ i guess this really didnt help] rather than the question raised.

    I cant speak for Matt and Madeliene but given some of their recent posts i suspect the above question is the reason for guest posting JT’s commentary, not racism, facism, colonialism or Christian snobbery.

  • @ Jeremy:
    “I”m missing something, where does Christianity claim that other beliefs have no measure of truth in them? It does claim that man is incapable of saving himself and that God acted on our behalf in the person of Jesus Christ. Consequently, being reconciled to God is only possible through Jesus because there is no other way that God has made for men to approach God.”

    No, I think that’s having your cake and eating it.

    Which truths would you as a Christian accept about Judaism, Islam, Budhhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Jainism, to give just a few examples ?

    Would you further accept that non-Christians can have miracles that do not, and are not intended to be, influences upon the recipient to become a Christian and which therefore reinforce their non-Christian faith ?

    Why would your Christian God do that ?

  • I’m curious as to Richard P, Julian’s position
    What made you guys select the Liberal Humanistic Secular view vs. the Marxist Totalitarian type, the Fascist-Nationalist type or the Nihilist-Anarchial type form of secular thought? where instead of tolerance as modus operandi, its excision, suppression or forced assimilation to statist values of all religions whether animist, monotheists etc.

    Also, why condemn Matt’s view of being exclusivist in respect to his Christian view vs maori religion when all the while, your group are perfectly ok to brush aside offensive art, language, hate-speech about the god of the bible and Christianity, while also secretly condemning Maori religion to be as superstitous, trite and just as plain silly as the Christianity that is openly ridiculed in the media?

    Is it kind of hypocritical on your group?

  • ” the fact you think one has true premises and the other false premises is irrelevant.”

    And you just declared yourself entirely divorced from reality… the fact that I think something about the real word is false is NOT irrelevant as to whether your conclusion is true. I will assume you were just tired when you wrote that!

  • “One can show that the olypian gods don’t exist by climbing mount Olympus, certain forms of Hinduism entail contradictions by claiming all reality is one and all distinctions are illusory,”

    Come on Matt! This is the sort of simplistic understanding of another religion that you would never allow with respect to Christianity.

  • Come on Matt! This is the sort of simplistic understanding of another religion that you would never allow with respect to Christianity. Max, you seem to not be following the discussion here, other people ( not me) brought up the simplistic caricature of a literal belief in Olympian gods, they suggested that the intellectual status of Christianity is the same as this simplistic caricature.

    Above I am showing that its not.

    So I agree with you the reference to Zeus and so on is a simplistic caricature that was my point.

  • Max you wrote And you just declared yourself entirely divorced from reality… the fact that I think something about the real word is false is NOT irrelevant as to whether your conclusion is true. I will assume you were just tired when you wrote that!

    Actually Max you know full well that the mere fact a claim is true or even a set of premises are true does not entail they are relevant to the conclusion being discussed. We were discussing the difference between validity and soundness only a few days ago.

  • Paul, as an atheist you believe no gods exist, thats what being an athiest entails, denying any gods exist.

    As a monothiest I believe one creator God exists, that entails that other gods do not exist. Thats what being a monotheist entails.

    Your suggestion that a person can believe in monothiesm but not be in a position to say other gods do not exist is on par with saying that a person can be an atheist and at the same time not say god does not exist. Its contradictory nonsense.

    Also the idea that a person can justifiably say a subset of religions is false but can say they all are is quite obviously silly, if they all are false then the subset is also false. If the subset is not false then they are not all false.

    All we have in here is a series of atheists who by there own admission claim that Maori gods do not exist and that this is irrational, complaining that on this issue Christians share there opinion. Apparently agreeing with them makes us hate filled bigots.

  • “As a monothiest I believe one creator God exists, that entails that other gods do not exist. …”

    I am not sure this is strictly speaking true. Many Christians have and still do believe in other intervening non-human super natural entities. Call them angels if you like (or Demons if you like…) but the idea that there are other super-natural, but non-creating beings is not contradictory with monotheism.

    Whether they are ‘gods’ is a matter of definition. For instance it could be accepted that there is a guardian angel attached to a particular mountain – and this makes the mountain sacred – at the same time as believing that there is one Creator of the entire universe.

  • Max, sure I agree, however monotheists would state that one should not “worship” the guardian angels and so forth.

    In fact J T’s idea that these deities are demons, is actually an example of what you are talking about.

    What I was getting at though is the kind of position that seems to being elaborated is one that says people who believe one religion is true cannot or should not believe religious doctrines that contradict it are false. No atheist would sensibly adopt this position himself, he would not claim he believes God does not exist but he cannot or should not claim that religious doctrines which affirm the existence of God are false. If he did not affirm that he would not be an atheist.

    Similarly if Christians did not affirm that mountains are not divine and should not be worshipped, without qualifying in the way you suggest they would be polytheists or animists not monotheists.

  • Matt, the zombie reference was a *joke* to explain that, to an outsider, your beliefs are just as ridiculous as the Maori “animism” you’re getting so ranty about. Every religion has its weird stuff. You’re used to the Christian stories, so they sound less weird to you.

    You’re still missing the irony. Oh well, that makes it funnier for everyone else.

    And by the way, I’m, a girl, so I’d rather not be referred to as a he. Next time, you could try responding to me directly, rather than speaking to everyone else about me in a desperate attempt to sound like an authoritative lecturer. It’s called “not being patronising”. New concept for you? :P

  • “Max, sure I agree, however monotheists would state that one should not “worship” the guardian angels and so forth.”

    Yes. But you might venerate them in some manner – as people venerate places attached to particular saints. The veneration of saints is of course aimed ultimately at worshiping God the Creator. Now a Christian could consider this mountain in the same way. Another group venerates a mountain top as a way or praising God. By disrespecting this – one would actually be disrespecting God.

    “In fact J T’s idea that these deities are demons, is actually an example of what you are talking about.”

    Yes it is. But, isn’t it interesting that it is the Demon route that JT chooses to take when it comes to Maori spirituality? This is telling. He could have gone the other way and seen Maori spirituality as being a legitimate extension to Christianity (as I believe many Maori Christians do… thought I am no expert in this area)

  • FI:

    Zombie I can buy… but as a matter of interest why teleporting?

  • @ Matt:
    “Paul, as an atheist you believe no gods exist, thats what being an athiest entails, denying any gods exist. ”

    Ok, I’ll respond more fully tomorrow, but the definition of an atheist that you’ve posted, although common, is not exclusive. Other definitions of what an atheist is are also available.

    Your description of some of my views is not unexpected, especially from a Christian.

    I’m looking forward to going into this in alot more detail with your group.

  • Max,

    You said that “I don’t recall saying that Christians are oppressive… I think you have misread something.”

    Here is what you said in this conversation in your previous comment to me: “In what way do the oppressive Christians in a nation where Christians are the majority historically resemble them.

    And you’ve answered my original question about your sexual preferences by seeking to not answer it (something a heterosexual man would not do). Which puts your arguments here into context, as I don’t think you really care about Maori religion, but you do care that Christians condemn certain sexual practices as wrong.

    Therefore any religion that does not condemn certain sexual practices as wrong, and is able to dominate Christianity (as the Maori religion is attempting to do here in NZ) in your mind is a good thing, freedom of religion be damned.

  • All we have in here is a series of atheists who by there own admission claim that Maori gods do not exist and that this is irrational, complaining that on this issue Christians share there opinion

    I don’t read that at all. What people are saying is that, in a pluralistic society people should respect others beliefs. When the cost of respecting a tapu is as vanishingly small as bringing a packed-lunch instead of a barbecue it’s kind of hard to take the original post seriously.

    The closest thing the post had to a point was the idea of a DoC employee making “religious” comments. But Mr Mohi didn’t demand anyone believe the mountain top was tapu, or a god, only that it was disappointing that the kids in question didn’t realise their actions would be offensive to some people. DoC are charged with managing our heritage sites, and I don’t think it’s a problem at all that a DoC employee would explain the cultural significance of some of the land they manage.

    (It’s also kind of funny for one religionist to be berating another religion as superstitious in one paragraph and blaming social woes on daemons in the next. But that’s not really the point)

  • “the definition of an atheist that you’ve posted, although common, is not exclusive.”

    LOL if all else fails, redefine the meaning of atheism

  • Wow, you reeeeally missed my point.

    I never said you were wrong in your beliefs, Matt. No one can prove what happens after death. But those kids did the right thing in their response, and it showed tolerance and maturity. Your response did not. You’re welcome to think my beliefs are hateful if you choose, but I get the feeling that you only believe I’m hateful because you don’t like being told you’re being a dick.

    My point was, there are a lot of religions in the world, and until one is conclusively proved, you should treat others with respect.
    Argue that all you want, but it’s pretty basic. I believe the Bible says something similar – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    Other people have just as much “evidence” for their faiths as you have for yours (except probably Scientology!). I know you don’t like that, but it’s true. For all we know, a giant panda in the sky makes miracles happen.

    “One can show that the olypian gods don’t exist by climbing mount Olympus”
    Just because they’re not at home when you visit doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Gods are completely capable of turning themselves invisible when a mere mortal comes to visit. There’s no sign of hellfire deep within the ground, but that doesn’t stop people screeching about it.

  • Max,

    Yes I said “In what way do the oppressive Christians in a nation where Christians are the majority historically resemble them. ”

    - ie. I was talking about a subset of Christians who are oppressive. This I confess to. Maybe I am one of them? But this is not the same as saying that Christians as w hole are oppressive – or that Christianity is necessarily an oppresive religion. Read more carefully.

    “And you’ve answered my original question about your sexual preferences by seeking to not answer it (something a heterosexual man would not do).”

    Is that right. No heterosexual man objects to personal questions about their sex life! ALL heterosexual men are happy to discus their sex lives on a public blog! I just think my personal life is irrelevant to this discussion. I have no idea who you are, and no desire nor obligation to answer your personal question. Please stop asking them. Thanks.

    “Which puts your arguments here into context”

    My arguments stand on their own whatever the context. Please address what I have said rather than trying to reject what I have said by making up motivations for why I may or may not have said something. It is a cheap and nasty trick.

    “…as I don’t think you really care about Maori religion”

    Why not ask me then? Then you would know. I have stated my opinions on the issue in several places.

    “… but you do care that Christians condemn certain sexual practices as wrong.”

    Amazing! I make a statement about the relationship between Christianity and Maori spirituality and YOU interpret it as being about Christian attitudes towards sex. I think that it is becoming clear that this is your obsession and not mine. If you want to discuss sexuality issues I am sure there is another post/blog where you can do this. This post is dedicated to another issue.

    “Therefore any religion that does not condemn certain sexual practices as wrong…”

    Again not really the issue – but I have no idea what traditional Maori religion has to say on the issue of sexuality – and no, you are wrong, this had nothing to do with any of my comments. Now I am done with this side issue.

  • And yes, Glenn, I’ve read much of the gospels about Jesus. Interesting how Jesus never said a word about gay people! Pretty awesome dude really. He wanted everyone to share their money with the poor. I think he would’ve been all for universal healthcare and welfare. Solid dude. I wonder how he would vote in the 2011 election…

    “What? I should treat everyone else’s beliefs as true? ”
    Course not. Just respect that they believe it. I’d wear a headscarf if I went to Iran. i don’t like it, but I’d do it. I’d remove my shoes in a temple, even if I didn’t believe in their god. But if they were ranting about the stupidity of other religions whilst pretending their own was above teasing, I’d laugh. Just like now.

    “Why don’t you treat the author’s belief that Maori beliefs are crazy in the same way that you want your beliefs to be treated?”
    I have done that. If I ripped into the beliefs of one religion while pushing my religion as fact, I would absolutely expect to be called out. Matt is welcome to delete my comments if they’re getting to him.

  • The lady doth protest too much …

  • [...] religion of NZ. I commented on this yesterday, but the argument has continued overnight. The comments tell more about the dark underbelly of secular intolerence. Curious Presbyterian agrees with the [...]

  • @Paul

    ‘Which truths would you as a Christian accept about Judaism, Islam, Budhhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Jainism, to give just a few examples ?”

    Budhism’s understanding of the human condition and problems.
    Islam’s monotheism and personal resopnsibility and culpability.
    Jainism’s peacefulness and inherant respect for others.

    Lots of people know lots of truth, even atheists. Christianity does not claim to be the sole repository of truth and of course there are mutually exclusive differences [points where if Christianity is true, others must be false]. But to repeat the key difference is God reaching to man to enable what men could never do for himself, ie reach God.

  • Lucia:

    The offer is still out there. You tell the world details of your sex life and I will happily answer your question. After all no heterosexual would object to this remember?

  • Max:
    Jesus can appear to anyone, anywhere, at any time instantly, and he can magically remove believers to Heaven when the rapture comes. Apparently people will just vanish. Sounds like teleporting to me! :)

  • “Jesus can appear to anyone, anywhere, at any time instantly, and he can magically remove believers to Heaven when the rapture comes. Apparently people will just vanish. Sounds like teleporting to me! ”

    OK – not sure these are really biblical ideas. But if that is your personal belief who am I to question it ;)

  • Oh dear. To be brutally frank, I find the Old Testament and Gospel claims to historical authenticity and non-mythological status very questionable. There is considerable archaeological debate about the actual existence of the “Historical Israel” and similar historiographical and theological debate about the “Historical Jesus”.

    It is true that some biblical narratives have grounded great movements for human liberation, such as that against African-American slavery, even if there is no historical proof that the Exodus even occurred.

    On the positive side of this absence of historicity, it means that the Canaanite genocide that many thoughtful conservative evangelicals are commendably aghast at never took place either. From memory, Hazor is the only such site of classical Canaanite settlement that shows evidence of substantial devastation, which was carried out by aggressive Egyptian pharaonic era expansionism.

    Again, this doesn’t mean conservative evangelical critiques of the ‘Canaanite genocides’ are pointless. It would be an interesting exercise to trace the murderous exegetical justifications used by those who cite these purported ‘historical’ events to justify contemporary acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide. I’m sure Matt could write an excellent paper on the subject, if he so desired.

    Even if the ‘Canaanite genocide’ was historical fiction, though, it doesn’t paint Yahweh in a particularly pleasant light. In fact, that section of the Old Testament reads like one of the more bloodthirsty accounts of the Phoenician deity Moloch and his penchant for human sacrifice.

    When conservative evangelicals get all hot under the collar about ceremonial recognition of Maori panentheism, let me point out that the Enlightenment and social secularisation occurred for a reason.

    Indeed, Maori panentheism might have resulted in local acts of brutality and bloodshed in limited incidents of tribal warfare before the arrival of European colonialism in this country.

    There’s a matter of scale and magnitude to contemplate here, however. The Crusades resulted in brutal ethnic cleansing and sectarian religious massacres. When it came to the Catholic/Protestant Wars of Religion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, innocent children and noncombatants perished on both sides of the confessional divide.

    German Lutheranism and Catholicism contributed to the ultimate obscenity, that of the Nazi Holocaust. Granted, confessional polarisation has been exaggerated in Northern Ireland’s “Troubles’, but look at the misery of the Balkan Wars of the nineties.

    Institutional Christianity has been invoked to justify genocide, hideous acts of ethnic cleansing and sectarian violence, or its most significant figures have remained shamefully silent, or even condoned such acts. While there have been Catholic and evangelical critics of such inhumanity, they are far fewer.

    I’m not saying Islam is any better. Certainly Canadian “Muslim refusenik” Irshad Manji is as fierce a critic of the faith that she left, and there are some ‘post-Hindu’ nontheists who are heartsick at sectarian and violent expressions of their former faith.

    When it comes to pluralist expressions of religious diversity in ceremonial contexts, then, I must conclude that Maori panentheism is far less culpable for large-scale human bloodshed and mass murder than conservative Christianity.

    For that reason, I refuse to accept Christian claims to sectarian civil religious primacy or the imposition of sectarian dogma as public policy that is contradicted by historical, archaeological, scientific and medical evidence to the contrary.

    Believe it if you want, but don’t expect mainstream nontheist liberal inhabitants of Aotearoa/New Zealand to share your subjectively based a priori nostrums if they lack substantive empirical merit.

  • Max,

    I am a married woman who only has, and has only ever had, sex with her husband.

    Happy?

  • Craig, I suggest you read Kenneth Kitchen’s work on the OT, you’ll see the picture is not as obvious or straightforward as you paint it.

  • if a bunch of me and my friends decided that (lets say it’s really scorching hot out side) a bit a shade and some stained glass windows would be a pretty lovely setting for our picnic I can be pretty sure there would be complaints for setting up a portable BBQ on the church steps, the alter or even under the trees in the grave yard. t does no harm to respect other people’s cultural and spiritual sensitivities even if you do not subscribe to them yourself. This is an extremely selfish unloving of fellow humans article and I, in contrast to your attitude, hope that one day you will mature into a more compassionate human being who respects more than one sole tenant of your faith. Alternatively I’ll simply hope following generations will have better understanding of the richness and creative diversity that is stimulated by cultural and spiritual multitudes of living here on earth with the human conditions we all experience.

  • @Erica
    “if a bunch of me and my friends decided that (lets say it’s really scorching hot out side) a bit a shade and some stained glass windows would be a pretty lovely setting for our picnic I can be pretty sure there would be complaints for setting up a portable BBQ on the church steps, the alter or even under the trees in the grave yard”

    I can see one big difference…,
    Taranaki/ Mt Egmont is a National Park [ ie public land] and the young people in question were legally entitled to be there having no doubt followed the reqired proceedures. To do what you suggest would be tresspass unless you first had permission to enter and use private land.

  • Julian,

    … Catholicism contributed to the ultimate obscenity, that of the Nazi Holocaust.

    That is totally false. The Nazis followed a strange, pagan religion. Kind of what we are protesting on this thread.

  • Matt, you ignored this last time so I’ll just post it again.

    This kind of deistic belief has exactly nothing to do with your own belief that Jesus’ death was a blood sacrifice (“… a primitive religion, riddled with superstition…”) which, through arbitrarily defined belief, magically rids us of our sinful taint in the eyes of the contradictory, schizophrenic, jealous, murderous sky-father from the Old Testament.

    Do you believe Jesus died for our sins or not? Or do you just believe in a vague montheist god? Because if you believe in the died for our sins part, you’re buying right into the superstitious blood sacrifice barbarian nonsense (like Christians are supposed to.) You don’t get to choose a comfortable “intellectual” monotheism to quietly sweeps away all the vicious, contradictory trash in the Bible. You’ve got to take the Bible as the Holy Word of God, bizarre warts and all, or your faith is nothing intellectual pandering. Clanging gongs, etc.

  • Julian,

    The Crusades resulted in brutal ethnic cleansing and sectarian religious massacres.

    So did the Islamic attacks that preceded and followed the Crusades. They were a defensive war during a time that Islam was expanding into Christian territory.

  • Would you like to explain why that matters Jeremy?

  • “Max,

    I am a married woman who only has, and has only ever had, sex with her husband.

    Happy?”

    Really. So how many times do you have sex a week? What are your favorite positions? I only ask because I can’t possibly understand your views on other issues or work out whether the arguments you use are valid without knowing these details.

  • @ Anon

    “the definition of an atheist that you’ve posted, although common, is not exclusive.”

    LOL if all else fails, redefine the meaning of atheism

    No doubt you’ve neatly ignored that this exactly is what theism has been doing for the last 2000 years or so.

    On this blog alone Matt will happily inform you of such gems as:

    “They fail to appreciate, for example, that Ancient Near Eastern conquest accounts employ highly figurative rhetoric, which hyperbolically describe victories in terms of total annihilation of the enemy.”

    Looks very like, if all else fails, redefine the meaning of the bible (or whichever holy book you subscribe to) when you don’t like the interpretations your critics are making of it!

  • @Josh
    (“… a primitive religion, riddled with superstition…”) which, through arbitrarily defined belief, magically rids us of our sinful taint in the eyes of the contradictory, schizophrenic, jealous, murderous sky-father from the Old Testament.

    given your highly perjorative language maybe you could define what you are talking about more clearly, please explain preferably with relevant examples
    primitive
    superstition
    magically
    contradictory
    schizophrenic
    murderous

  • @David
    it matters because the young people involved were legally entitled to do what they did and they did so innocently and without setting out to be offensive.
    Ericas suggestion on the other hand would fail on all these criteria, it would be illegal, unentitled and knowingly offensive.

    Furthermore i cant help but notice no one has even tried to answer the question…

    “Where does a DOC official get off using his authority as an employee of a supposedly secular government to berate these teenagers [ who by all acounts behaved in a very environmentally responsible manner] for not conforming to the tenants of his religion?”

    Such behaviour would be completely unacceptable from a Christian.

  • Right,

    But no one is saying they didn’t anything wrong, the kids were mature enough to say they wouldn’t have had the barbecue if they’d known it was offensive. The post goes of on this weird rant about what the author thinks they should have said, and that’s what people are objecting to.

  • Max,

    Now you’re just showing yourself to be an idiot.

    Anyway, you have satisfactorily answered my question, by steadfastly refusing to answer it. The normal male response would have been an emphatic no, followed by smugness that my position was now invalidated.

    However, if you are struggling with unwanted desires, you have my sympathy, and therefore I can understand why you would be averse to stating publicly where you stand.

  • @ Lucia Maria

    You said: “However, if you are struggling with unwanted desires, you have my sympathy”

    It would appear that your catholic indoctrination is swaying your views here once again me thinks

  • “Now you’re just showing yourself to be an idiot.”

    No. I am showing you that you are an idiot.

    “Anyway, you have satisfactorily answered my question, by steadfastly refusing to answer it.”

    I am waiting for you to fulfill your half of the deal first. Although why you are so interested in my sex life I have no idea. Must be that catholic obsession with sex thing?

    “The normal male response would have been an emphatic no, followed by smugness that my position was now invalidated.”

    Ah – so you are now an expert on the “normal” male mind are you? Amusing.

    “However, if you are struggling with unwanted desires, you have my sympathy, and therefore I can understand why you would be averse to stating publicly where you stand.”

    Indeed. The same way you refuse to discuss your perverse sexual positions?

    Still waiting for your answers.

  • Actually I think a little more needs to be said:

    Basically you see someone who disagrees with you and your instant response is to ‘accuse’ them (if that is the right word) of being homosexual – try to bully them into outing themself – and claim that their opinions are worthless because of their supposed sexuality.

    I hope a lot of people are reading this and can see what a nasty and frankly pathetic person you are.

    For the record, I am in a happy relationship with my girlfriend – and I only say that so that you will hopefully shut up and stop ranting your nonsense.

  • It was just a question, Max.

    A simple no would have put an end to it.

  • I stand by what I just said.
    And like I said I am sure the people reading this can see you for what you are.
    Go on: keep talking. Dig yourself a deeper hole:

  • Max,

    Honestly, when it gets to very long threads like this, very few people have the stamina to read them. It’s generally only those that are commenting and a few interested bystanders.

  • You must be relieved.

  • @ Jeremy

    I find dogmatically monocultural straight and narrow discussion of Maori culture by Pakeha that avoids all of the complexities of the Treaty – the main reason we (I am 100% Pakeha myself) have to be here and completely ignores tikanga Maori really deeply frustrating.

    Firstly Taranaki is owned by the local Maori having been returned to them in 1978. It had been confiscated by the Crown following the 1860s-70s Taranaki wars that disrespected the Treaty of Waitangi. The same act that returned the land to local hapu returned it to the Government as a ‘gift to the Nation’. This is controversial as a subsequent Waitangi Tribunal has discussed. Areas of land gifted by Maori in NZ for the enjoyment of all have been done working within the limitations of Pakeha understandings of land ownership and are still to be respected as land with huge significance to all and to all Maori.

    One reason it is relevant is that before NZ was suddenly swamped in boatloads of Europeans in the 1800s Maori lived in the landscape. The duality of indoor and outdoor inhabitation of Europe with cold winters and controlling richly developed social conventions is in dramatic contrast to the spectrum of spatial occupations of traditional Maori life. The ‘house’ only a small portion of daily occupation and primarily used for sleeping. Social processes and movements were carried out over space and reinforced over generations building engagement and respect of ancestors and land and ever accumulating history. Europe has stone ruins and physical traces of history that meant the past is encountered and triggered through objects even when peoples have been forgotten. Maori with their past in the Pacific islands – a environment where physical history is exposed to the combined powers of salt, sea and cyclones – maintains the past most strongly in oratory and experience. The past of Maori in New Zealand is tightly woven with experience in and in relation to landscape. Taranaki is one of the most significant landmarks in the North Island and the excitement when it comes into view when on an unknown route is common to all who appreciate our landscape. It isn’t surprising that the peak of the mountain is tapu. It also isn’t surprising that people so easily forget the possibility that something of beauty and presence for so many might deserve reverence, nor, with the multitude of cultural histories of the NZers that some might think it fitting to honour that mana/ physical majesty/ beauty of God’s earth with a feast. Those kids did the right thing.

    Such contrasting cultural uses of landscape would have been difficult to appreciate at the time of the Treaty and are still difficult for many now. It is why DOC is acting responsibly when they ensure places of cultural significance are respected. Not all heritages are physically quantifiable (eg erosion of stone etc both on a pa site or a cathedral) and cultural shapings of use of landscape are particularly vulnerable and something that distinguishes this area of the world. It’s cool if you don’t really want to engage with it but that doesn’t mean tapu and noa aren’t deserving of the same respect as a historically significant site/object eg an Eygptian sphinx. An example of an area that inspires common behaviour alterations that might be easy to relate to is a grave of one long dead and forgotten. It may have effectively reverted to ‘public land’ but it is to many still a place of reverence of life and respectful behaviour as interpreted by in individual. For me that would mean not stepping on it, not eating around it, talking quietly politely (no swearing) and not talking about inappropriate topics (again a cultural interpretation). Areas of tapu are not always associated with urupa but if the histories and significance of that spot mean enough to Maori for it to be tapu it is deserving of our respect too. Even if (as someone above mentioned) the circumstances of the significance include actions you disagree with the place is not only about that one moment in time. It is a socially living thing too that has become part of people’s lives since then. Tapu can be lifted but then too it is done respectfully and with awareness of the past and the time that has passed since.

    Respect of tapu does not preclude Christain faith.

    Languages and other non physical heritages are great creations of humanity and are worth fighting to maintain into the future. Lose it and we lose a connection to the past – a positive enriching past not just a burdening capitalist post enlightment understanding of past.

    See for instance: Bill McKay’s academic article http://www.library.uq.edu.au/ojs/index.php/fab/article/viewFile/120/157

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1978/0038/latest/DLM21219.html

  • Looks very like, if all else fails, redefine the meaning of the bible (or whichever holy book you subscribe to) when you don’t like the interpretations your critics are making of it!

    Except Paul, I did not “redefine” the meanings of the bible I argued this with evidence from studies of ANE texts, moreover as I noted its simply not true that the hyperliteralistic view is the standard one which has only recently been redefined.

    On the other hand atheism has a standard meaning in the literature. When atheists claim it means something else they are offering a stipulative definition without any basis.

  • Perhaps the athiests who cite the requirement to “respect others beliefs” can respond to the following real life example.

    M attends a student union meeting at Vic, M is told on the first day by left wing activists that she must not sit on any tables in Vic because it violates the sacred beliefs of Maori, 24 hours into the conference, a Maori activist starts uttering blasphemous curses quite loudly, M asks him to stop, he responds “you have your beliefs I have mine, don’t impose your religious beliefs onto me” .

    M gets up and in front of everyone sits on a table.

  • “Where does a DOC official get off using his authority as an employee of a supposedly secular government to berate these teenagers [ who by all acounts behaved in a very environmentally responsible manner] for not conforming to the tenants of his religion?”

    @David hopefully the post above answers this. There is clearly however some history to your frustrations regarding protocols etc. I am perfectly happy going to powhiri as they are more about formalising arrival and acceptance/inclusion. I did however find karakia before starting class difficult as I was not religious but I was in a Maori language class at an Anglican school so I didn’t really have a choice. As the comment long ago pointed out the whole constitutional monarchy thing does mean Anglicanism is nominally the religion to be used at the commencement of things where people feel the need for a blessing. Next time you’re at one listen out for wairua tapu (holy spirit) and Amene Karaiti (Christ) and you can be pretty sure you’re listening to a Christain prayer. I personally prefer the traditional karakia as many of them are pretty much a-religious and simply positive wishes for the day or future (as are many prayers).

    Otago University has gathered many here:
    http://maori.otago.ac.nz/reo-tikanga-treaty/te-reo/karakia

    (a small side comment that’s unashamedly pro max’s position: )

    @Max and Lucia Maria (btw fantastic super religious name. it has a good ring to it no matter one’s religiosity)
    How odd that someone would think sexuality or sexual practise had any relevance whatsoever. Some churches require couples to maintain a sheet between them at all times to not stray from procreation into the sins of the flesh. Asking for details is the most bizzare question I’ve heard two strangers ask each other.

  • Matt:

    I once had domeone visiting MY flat tell me not to sit on MY table…

  • Josh and Erica. You do know that we know, right?

  • @glenn

    all I know is that you’re pulling at straws and sounding weak

  • I have a rule at my house that you may not sit on any table… if you are wearing a grass skirt and no underpants.

  • This one-eyed article completely misses our calling as Christians to honour one another. Its sad that as the Treaty of Waitagi celebrations come up, a document that assures cultural survivance to maori, there is such talk of how this culture should not be tolerated, in Christ’s name.

    Did Jesus die just to watch a whole heap of petty squabbling over how we shouldn’t accept other’s faiths or cultures (in maoridom, this is inseparable) because they impinge on our perceived rights?

    I think Christ would rather see us behind maori culture, supporting it. we are called to take care of our vulnerable. Why don’t you all think about how we are called to honour the Treaty of Waitangi, and if THIS is the best way to go about it.

  • oh and matt, your story about the student union episode shows exactly how asserting your ‘rights’, and asserting a ‘i’ll only respect you if you respect me’ is not what Christ called us to do.

  • I agree cj… and to beat the same old drum… it is that “two wrongs” thing all over again. A better response would have been to do better than the disrespectful person – not emulate him.

  • @ cj and Max
    In one way i agree, sinking to the lower level is not a Christian response.
    However in the example given the “activist” clearly establishes the protocol , no respect given, none expected. The response by “M” wasnt a case of sinking to the same level rather an active commentary to make the rather ironic point that respect previously asked for was not being reciprocated.

  • @Jeremy

    I’m pleased to see you’ve taken an interest in the meanings of words. May I suggest starting here? http://oxforddictionaries.com/

    @Matt

    Please answer my question, which you have been conspicuously avoiding: Do you believe Jesus died for your sins?

  • @ Erica
    “Respect of tapu does not preclude Christain faith”

    Are you sure of this, i gather from your comments you are not Christian or from a Christian background.

    Christianity and Judaism [long before contemporary Western culture came a long] delineated very clearly between created and Creator. The created is not entitled to any respect due to God. The OT is very specific that God is actually offended when people give respect to things He has made or that people have made when that respect is His due. He calls this idolatry.

    Now you dont have to believe in or accept God, this is a free choice He has given you, but from a Christian perspective respecting tapu is actually to compromise our respect for God
    .
    I agree that JT’s expression is rather OTT and i would never suggest that anybody deliberately go out of their way to offend someone but these young people didnt do this. They had a legal, fun, outdoor experience, they were careful to be tidy kiwis, they gave no offence, they had nothing to apologise for .
    Paul Mohi rather than choosing to be offended should wish that more visitors to Taranaki/Mt Egmont were as careful and respectful as these young people were.

  • @Josh
    sarcasm from someone who started by being rather rude and clearly knows little of what he is being rude about is somewhat unbecoming.

    yes i do know what all those words mean, i rather wondered if you did?

    For the record i do believe that Jesus Christ died [voluntarily] in substitutionary atonement for my sins that i might be reconciled to God. I do not in any way accept your misunderstanding of this as characterised by your repeated use of perjorative adjectives.
    Excessive rudeness suggests a lack of coherent argument.

  • Cool, so you think Jesus’s blood was the key ingredient in a magic spell that erases your sin and makes you good to join the heavenly hive-mind? That’s okay, I’m down with that. I used to believe it as well. Very, very sincerely, in fact. Then I realised that the plot of the Harry Potter books actually made considerably more sense than the Christian stuff I was frantically trying to rationalise. (Harry Potter was also more enjoyable to read, but was clearly just as fictional.)

    “Clearly knows little of what he is being rude about is somewhat unbecoming.”

    Oh dear. “Somewhat unbecoming.” You don’t even know how pompous you are. You poor thing. Let me tell you something. I read JT’s article in hysterics. Then I dropped by the comments section specifically to wind up the most pompous bunch of pompous asses I’ve come across in a long time. It’s worked wonderfully and I’ve had an excellent time. You and your fellows on this blog are beyond even the wildest dreams of satirists. You live in a wonderful parallel universe where animism is rightly viewed as primitive, but your own special brand of blood sacrificing death-defying three-headed zombie gods aren’t, for some reason. You dismiss legitimate questions about the nature of your faith by attacking the irreverent manner in which they are framed You have no concept of irony, of humour, of a gentle ribbing. And I’d like to say one more thing: you wouldn’t know “rude” if it came up, smacked you on the arse and said “What’s up, sexy legs?”

    And on that note, a hymn of praise to Loki, the Living God! Please feel free to sing along.

  • “death-defying three-headed zombie gods”

    Dude! You should be an evangelist. I have never heard Christianity sound so cool before!

    :)

  • goodness Jeremy if giving respect to people and places that are of meaning to them is idolatry and against the word of God then I am astonished it has managed to survive as an organised world religion of any scale.

    The oxford dictionary someone snarkily referenced defines respect as both
    1 [mass noun] a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements
    2 due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others:

    2 would in this case be most relevant

    Idolatry in constrast is EXTREME
    worship is idols: extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone

    I’m agnostic because I personally couldn’t care less about what happens after life as I believe what is done here and now is most important but because of that I understand that isn’t the view of everyone. I’d describe myself as of Christian heritage and education. I suppose the Anglican understanding of tapu respect and idolatry are far different to yours. Bishop Bay for instance is one cool chap. I am glad to have had positive relationships and exchanges with many Christians and shall formally state that I thoroughly, deeply, fundamentally disagree with your take on the world. It’s a shame because I don’t think it’s asking much of you to show just a little regard for the feelings of others. I think the world would be in an unfortunate antagonistic and angry place if all thought like you.

  • @Max

    Heh. I used to get told I should be an evangelist all the time when I was a kid. For a long time it was my number one career ambition.

    You might get some mileage amongst the metal kids with “three headed death-defying zombie god.” Kind of sounds like a couple of tracks from a Slayer album. Come to think of it though, a hell of a lot of metal bands love them some Biblical imagery.

  • As G.K. Chesterton once said, we live in an age when Christians are expected to praise all faiths except their own.

  • @Josh
    If you actually asked a legitimate question, i guess it would be framed in a manner that showed you wanted an answer. Rather your language indicates derision, so poor little ignorant me tends to assume you are not looking for answers.

    “Cool, so you think Jesus’s blood was the key ingredient in a magic spell that erases your sin and makes you good to join the heavenly hive-mind?”

    Since i know no Christians who believe this i can assure you of your ignorance, or maybe you are deliberately trying to be offensive. Your choice, but it says more about you than about me.

    And you like baiting people, thats someting to be proud of!! I bet you bully handicapped people and pull the wings off flies.
    Well you go ahead and enjoy yourself.

    By the way JK Rowling said she wrote the Harry Potter series as Christian allegory. If you found that understandable , maybe the simplification was just what you needed.
    Have a pleasant evening.

  • btw Josh loved the “What’s up, sexy legs?” Golden.

  • I like baiting pompous, arrogant, self-righteous people. Flies I just swat.

    You believe that Jesus, the son of God, died for your sins, in the manner of a scapegoat. It is his blood being shed that provides cover for your sins and purifies you before God. Your belief in this process is your salvation. It is a just-so story; the only way for this to work is supernatural meddling – which I choose to refer to as magic. Otherwise it’s just a decent, forward-thinking man being tortured to death by Romans. But for you it’s a blood sacrifice that fixes sins. For some reason. You absolutely cannot wriggle around this: it’s stated very clearly in scripture. You have been washed in the blood of the lamb. Magic god-blood. (For an added bonus, if you’re Catholic, you believe that wine and wafer magically turn into god-blood and flesh every mass. Nom nom nom.)

    Harry Potter is not Christian allegory, mein dude. JK never said that. It’s a moral story that can certainly be said to contain Christian elements, but allegory it ain’t. The Narnia stories, which I also enjoy, are a good example allegory.

  • @Erica thank you :D

  • It’s nice to see people with graduate degrees not bow down to Political Correctness. Most people I know who get a Masters or Phd cave into the pressure of the academic environment. It seems to suck the spine right out of them. How do I know there are not just more enlightened than me, a less educated person? Because they don’t argue facts, but resort to ridicule, derision, and ad hominem attacks (very big red flags).

  • Sorry Jeremy I appear to have skim read this section of you point. “The OT is very specific that God is actually offended when people give respect to things He has made or that people have made when that respect is His due. He calls this idolatry.”

    The reason why I would wish you to condescend to tolerate and mildly alter your behaviour around tapu sites is because it is not to my way of seeing things misplaced respect when it ought to be (if one is of the Judeo-Christian faiths) directed to God in the Highest. It is a social construct as much of life on earth is. It is both a way of remembering and maintaining the past and sometimes more of a health and safety mechanism. Toilet and burial areas are tapu too and require special behaviours.
    The hurt that could be made by deliberately ignoring tapu when you know it exists in an area is like disrespecting a grave. I cannot see that as idolatry; I see it more as wilfully hurting other people.

  • Discussing the natures of someone’s legs is hardly offering a sound argument.

  • You believe that Jesus, the son of God, died for your sins, in the manner of a scapegoat. It is his blood being shed that provides cover for your sins and purifies you before God. Your belief in this process is your salvation. It is a just-so story; the only way for this to work is supernatural meddling – which I choose to refer to as magic. Actually throughout history several different quite worked out understandings of the atonement have been made, none of the correspond to the view you present in your comments.

    So once again all we see is caricature and then ridicule of the caricatures made.

  • oh goodness matt you are right where did i get all this blood sacrifice nonsense from oh that’s right the bible

    “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14 (KJV)

    and this bit here

    “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22 (KJV)

    oh and that bit in revelation where

    “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11 (KJV)

    Stop trying to wriggle out of it. Jesus’ death was a blood sacrifice. It says so in the Bible in quite a few places, so it must be true! You’re being mocked by your own holy book.

  • Josh, sorry quoting a few passages and then constructing a “magic” theory of the atonement out of it is a caricature.

    For centuries theologians have offered numerous accounts drawing from biblical passages explaining how it works, any book on the history of theology says so.

    You might think quoting a few passages from an english translation counts as theology, it doesn’t.

  • The Bible says it right there, in black and white, but you’d rather ignore that and defer to a hazy “theology,” which I’m taking to mean in this instance “twisting what the Bible actually says in order to make it look less ridiculous.”

    I put it to you as a question: do you believe Jesus’ death was a blood sacrifice for our sins? Yes or no?

    You simply can’t get out of this. It is not caricature. It is what the Bible has to say about the atonement. The fact that it resembles caricature really isn’t my fault.

  • I believe that metaphor is used yes, the metaphor of ransom is also used in other passages, the idea of substitutionary punishment is hinted at in others, and so on, in some passages the image of blood washing and purifying is used, so what?

    Josh when you actually want to talk about Christianity and what it teaches rather than simply taking individual passages and then asserting “they say X”. let me know.

  • @ Anon:
    ““the definition of an atheist that you’ve posted, although common, is not exclusive.”

    LOL if all else fails, redefine the meaning of atheism”

    Considering how Matt defines his Christianity would you like to remove your head fromyour rear passage and rethink ?

    Or should I describe Matt as a hypocrite because the definition of Christianity that I’m used to is exemplified by the Westboro Baptist Church ?

    Please continue.

  • @ Matt:
    “But I note again that apart from name calling there really is no answer of substance here.

    I think its ridiculous to both (a) castigate conservative Christians as hate filled, bigoted, ignorant, incapable of proper research, linked with nazism, racist, colonialist and then in the same paragraph claim (b) its wrong to act disrespectfully towards others religious beliefs, and in fact the state should enforce this. ”

    That would be in your opinion, Matt. I think that alot of the points made criticising the OP are valid and pertinent.

    The OP could easily have been written by the BNP or the EDL. It’s a shame that you guys can’t see that, or the damage that OPs like this are doing to your faith.

  • Oh. A metaphor. How disappointingly wishy-washy.

    I’m not “asserting” that the passages say anything. They say what they say. The writer of Hebrews was quite clear where he stood. You, apparently, aren’t. Jesus’ death being a literal blood sacrifice to atone for sin is very well established in theology. You seem to be pretending it isn’t, because believing in something so patently barbarian makes you look… just a wee bit silly.

  • Josh you think name calling and impunging motives counts as an argument it doesn’t.

  • Josh, actually the passage you cite suggests this, first note the passage

    “the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God!

    What the text states is that just as in ancient ceremonies the blood to cleanse something from dirt. Christ’s blood cleanses our concscience’s from acts that lead to death. Obviously consciences can’t literally be cleansed with blood, nor can consciences literally be “cleansed” from acts which lead to death. Acts don’t literally “stain” ones conscience, which is not a physical thing. And even if they were tdid certainly aren’t literally cleansed with Christs blood given the crucifixion was 2000 years ago. This is obviously a metaphor

    Note also you are selective because the next verse states

    For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant

    Here the passage uses a different metaphor that of a ransom, and it does so in the very next verse.

    As to Hebrews 9:22, this actually does not say anything about Christs death as being a blood sacrifice at all it states

    When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[e] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies.22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

    This simply states that under the Mosaic law forgiveness of sins required a blood sacrifice of animals as part of its ceremonies.

    Hebrews as an epistle uses a whole lot of temple imagery to describe and explain Christ’s ministry. The book is full of such imagery as anyone who reads it notes. It’s a book to the “Hebrews” who practised temple worship. Other epistles which are to different audiences use different images.

  • “Josh you think name calling and impunging motives counts as an argument it doesn’t.”

    Oh I see what you did there, you ignored what the Bible says in favour of your wishy-washy whitewashed intellectualised theologised pseudo-Christianity. (This sentence is meant to be sung to the beginning of the tune of the Monorail Song from The Simpsons) Never mind. I didn’t come here to argue. I came to to wind you up. Consider yourself wound, sexy legs. :D

  • Whatever Josh, your welcome to think that when people talk of washing a conscience from the stain of acts with Christ’s blood they are speaking literally. Don’t be surprised if no one else takes you seriously.

    Most people know that this is simply a metaphorical way of saying Christ’s death removes our guilt. Which is why for 2000 years no one ever adopted the understanding of the atonement you attribute to Christians above.

  • “Christ’s death removes our guilt.”

    Oh, of course! It wasn’t the BLOOD that removes the guilt! It was the DEATH! That makes everything way less bizarre and now it makes perfect sense! Consider me re-converted, sir!

  • Josh, some people have this utterly bizarre stark raving fundy mad idea that people doing things can change our status in some way.

    Why, just the other day I met someone who believed that paying DOLLARS could make me debt free with the bank.

    NUTS I say!

  • Of course, Glenn. The use of money in exchange for goods and services has everything to do with Jesus dying so Matt won’t go to hell because of the arbitrary decision of the Man Who Lives In The Sky.

  • Josh, what? At least make sense!

    I’m just saying – I agree with you in condemning the views of crazy people who think that other people doing stuff can change our status in some way. Crazy stuff, as any sensible person will agree!

  • I also agree that such things are nutty and “arbitrary,” as you say, Josh. I mean the very idea of some bank employee arbitrarily deciding that cash makes a difference. Completely arbitrary nonsense. What an arbitrary basis for a decision!

    Stick it to them Josh!

  • Hahaha Glenn. So many comments, yet you’re saying nothing.

  • So many comments, so few people behind them. ;)

  • @ Jeremy:
    “Budhism’s understanding of the human condition and problems.
    Islam’s monotheism and personal resopnsibility and culpability.
    Jainism’s peacefulness and inherant respect for others.”

    That’s it ? I was expecting a bit more than that.

    “Lots of people know lots of truth, even atheists. Christianity does not claim to be the sole repository of truth and of course there are mutually exclusive differences [points where if Christianity is true, others must be false]. ”

    That’s the difficult bit, and I’m not sure that I would agree that Christians do not argue that Christianity is the sole repository of truth. I’ve read a few fervent Christians who do advocate such a point of view.

    It’s interesting to compare faith healings (as an example)
    If a Christian is doing it then it’s the work of the Holy Spirit, but if it’s a non-Christian doing it then it’s the work of the devil.

  • @ Matt:
    “What I was trying to ascertain is wether people would support the principle they propose her if it were consistently applied, for example would David, or Paul, or Richard, or Julian, and so forth support a state official telling Dawkins he can’t use the language he used in the GD in his talks at public universities or public halls. or would they support the state telling Te Papa, to not display a virgin in a condom or the state denying public funds to such art, and so forth. I suspect that when the issue is not Maori spirtuality, most of these people would not support this.”

    Well, actually I would. But your comment does seem to reflect the current vogue for painting the picture of Christians cowering in the trenches facing unrelenting secular attack.

    I’m happy to stand up for Christians when Muslims unfairly attack, or vice versa, or the Jews or the Pagans, or the Sikhs or the Hindus.

    Would you do the same ?

    Remember the international outcry at the destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afhanistan by the Islamic Taliban ?

  • Paul,

    Was there even a comparable response by the international community or the western countries to the persecution of Christians in the muslim countries? Matt’s point is clear at the fact, there wasn’t even an outcry or protest from secular governments and humanist organizations against the mis-treatment of iraqi or coptic christians that were jailed and executed for their faith. And its true, that christians everywhere are being oppressed on both sides of the hemisphere.

    fundy secu-atheists psychologically abuse and alienate western believers whilst fundy muslims, hindus and communists kill eastern christians. This is no vogue thing, christian persecution has always been around since the time of paul.
    But what is clearly hypocritical are claims made by secularists that they value freedom of religion, right to life and equality of persons to all. Yet when a UK christian aid missionary was killed for spreading her faith, irreligious bloggers were quick to denounce her as having a colonial mind-set, naive, even some saying she deserved it because she has no business spreading her religion in an Islamic country because it wasn’t politically correct!

    Taiji dolphins being hunted and killed would generate more publicity in the secular west than Iraqi civilians being killed in a day bombing because some callous irreligious prick reading the papers think its just the routine people experience over there. apparently some deaths are worth more equal than others.

    Its doublespeak to claim that secular philosophy respects all religions and expressions yet condemn religious expression (prosyletization, hijab) and thought as politically incorrect, dangerous and bigoted etc.

  • @ Alvin:
    “Was there even a comparable response by the international community or the western countries to the persecution of Christians in the muslim countries? “

    Ok, state each instance, including date. That way I can source news reports and we will see if you’re correct. Given the privileged position of the Christian church in the West, particularly the USA, you may have to eat your words.

    “Matt’s point is clear at the fact, there wasn’t even an outcry or protest from secular governments and humanist organizations against the mis-treatment of iraqi or coptic christians that were jailed and executed for their faith.”

    again, please supply some dates. If this was the recent attacks then that will be easily rebutted (I’ll let you have the UK Hansard links too if you need them).

    “fundy secu-atheists psychologically abuse and alienate western believers”

    Sorry, but are you posting that as a serious comment ?

    This is no vogue thing, christian persecution has always been around since the time of paul.

    Indeed, usually by other Christians. We can trade stats if you like.

    “Yet when a UK christian aid missionary was killed”

    details please, name and dates should help.

    “Its doublespeak to claim that secular philosophy respects all religions and expressions yet condemn religious expression (prosyletization, hijab) and thought as politically incorrect, dangerous and bigoted etc.”

    Are you advocating the wearing of the hijab in the West ? Please do go on, this is fascinating.

    Aside from that, if you are going to assert that Christians are being generally persecuted by a secular West then you need to supply specific cases so that the allegations can be checked.

  • @ Alvin (2):

    Whenever I read an allegation of Christians being persecuted I’m reminded of the passage in Gibbon and it leaves me with a nice warm feeling, like a pagan temple being burned to the ground.

    The success of his first experiments against the Pagans encouraged the pious emperor to reiterate and enforce his edicts of proscription: the same laws which had been originally published in the provinces of the East, were applied, after the defeat of Maximus, to the whole extent of the Western empire; and every victory of the orthodox Theodosius contributed to the triumph of the Christian and Catholic faith. ^25 He attacked superstition in her most vital part, by prohibiting the use of sacrifices, which he declared to be criminal as well as infamous; and if the terms of his edicts more strictly condemned the impious curiosity which examined the entrails of the victim, ^26 every subsequent explanation tended to involve in the same guilt the general practice of immolation, which essentially constituted the religion of the Pagans. As the temples had been erected for the purpose of sacrifice, it was the duty of a benevolent prince to remove from his subjects the dangerous temptation of offending against the laws which he had enacted. A special commission was granted to Cynegius, the Praetorian praefect of the East, and afterwards to the counts Jovius and Gaudentius, two officers of distinguished rank in the West; by which they were directed to shut the temples, to seize or destroy the instruments of idolatry, to abolish the privileges of the priests, and to confiscate the consecrated property for the benefit of the emperor, of the church, or of the army. ^27 Here the desolation might have stopped: and the naked edifices, which were no longer employed in the service of idolatry, might have been protected from the destructive rage of fanaticism. Many of those temples were the most splendid and beautiful monuments of Grecian architecture; and the emperor himself was interested not to deface the splendor of his own cities, or to diminish the value of his own possessions. Those stately edifices might be suffered to remain, as so many lasting trophies of the victory of Christ.

    from
    Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism. – Part II.

    What a nice cuddly religion early Christianity was.

  • @Paul
    “That’s the difficult bit, and I’m not sure that I would agree that Christians do not argue that Christianity is the sole repository of truth. I’ve read a few fervent Christians who do advocate such a point of view.”

    Well regular readers of this blog will know atheist scientists that appear to argue that science is the sole repository of the truth. Does this mean all or even most do so?

    WRT my previous examples, my three quick examples were sufficient to prove my point, not and exhaustive list.

    WRT to faith healings, God’s concern and effort to make a way for people to be reconciled to Him doesnt prevent other agencies from lying to people and diverting them from God.
    In a previous comment on this thread i said…

    “Christianity and Judaism [long before contemporary Western culture came a long] delineated very clearly between created and Creator. The created is not entitled to any respect due to God. The OT is very specific that God is actually offended when people give respect to things He has made or that people have made when that respect is His due. He calls this idolatry…

    I might add when others usurp that respect.

    A lie that is apparently good and/or mostly truth will always be more effective than one that is clearly evil and false.

  • @ Paul
    “What a nice cuddly religion early Christianity was.”

    So are you suggesting that the people in the quote should have stood back an allowed ongoing human sacrifice in the name of religious tolerance.
    Are you seriously suggesting that you having the power to stop something you knew [ or even just believed] to be wrong would stand back and let it continue?

  • Jeremy that’s because scientists live with doubt much more happily. Truth is a very difficult matter. Socially defined truth or truths held by people are so very subject to interpretation, viewpoint, bias and personal emphasis of value. That does not discredit one individual’s opinion – you wanting to be/having been raised/converted a fundamentalist for instance does not even clarify the exact nature of your truth. Every person in your congregation will have differing views and understandings of the same passage of the bible. It is why people like to discuss things so much.

    Pure Mathematics studies mathematical truths as the numbers are entirely devoid of the plethora of unknown variables any practical experiment (in the world) will be subject to. Beyond pure mathematics scientists should as a matter of discipline be very cautious in using the word ‘truth’. All science is an attempt to understand the world with constant critically engaged scepticism. Atheists just extend that to the bible too. At least we play fair – people wrote it so it cannot be perfect. Although if you only believe in the Old testament at least you’re not interested in the newer additions to the bible that were written by people who as people could not be perfect (a very OT concept that is still influential in the West)

    I dislike the dogmatic retoric of Dawkins much like many others. The response to his lecture at Auckland University was not an all embracing meeting of fanatics who could not see weaknesses in his presentation or disagree with his view that countering religion is a fight. The invited letter of response from Dr Graeme Finlay, from the Department of Molecular Medicine published in the Alumni magazine is worth reading (page 4)

    http://www.alumni.auckland.ac.nz/webdav/site/alumni/shared/publications/ingenio/2010-autumn-ingenio.pdf

    If God is all knowing why would he have only visited one small corner of the Globe? Why would only one tiny group “find the way”. That would seem rather deliberate – even a deliberate source of entertainment for millenia. I prefer to think that didn’t happen. If he visited one group I would hope he visited others scattered around the world and explained things in a way they understood resulting in all this confusion between groups now but at least without malice. Or I can just believe it was just people trying to understand life. And (to me) life deserves to be appreciated as a wondrous thing no matter your spiritual persuasion.

  • comment responding to the 8:48 comment not the subsequent one.

    re allowing death in the name of religious tolerance a more current example would be the world wide reaction against the practice of stoning to death. The case of Sakineh Ashtiani has been strongly fought by international officials (PMs and presidents etc)and groups such as amnesty international to try to rebuild a precedent for others facing similar brutality.

  • Glenn: ooh so does that mean you and Matt are the same person? If you’re not, you should hang, you’d boost each other’s egos awesomely.

    Lucia Maria would probably start to insinuate that you’re gay – it seems to be her de facto insult. :D

    But I’m off now anyway. I’ve laughed at this thread enough. Good luck convincing everyone to ditch other savage religions and convert to yours. Christianity is definitely my second favourite story after Buddhism. Their cuddly fat god is more fun than your petty, grumpy one, but their followers offer less hilarious nonsense.

  • Fi: You’re off? Good idea. Now the cat’s out of the bag (or at least now that you know it is), you might want another place to lose credibility as a duplicitous huckster. :)

  • Paul

    From Canada – http://catholicexchange.com/2008/06/09/112825/

    The UK Missionary – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1078997/She-died-doing-Lords-work-Mothers-grief-aid-worker-killed-Taliban-Christian.html – Commentary has been cleaned out since article was old, yet I’ve seen condescenscing comments from people whom I’ve assumed are irreligious make snide and insensitive remarks.

    And yes, don’t go on telling me that the taliban is worse than the secularist because of this event, its simply red herring to state that given atheistic secularism is on topic for bigotry.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2005/dec/05121303 – how bout this, looks to me paul, you need to re-educate your own ilk on the finer points of hate speech

    From the states – http://www.verumserum.com/?p=12615

    http://www.meforum.org/2824/media-on-christian-persecution – media indifference; http://www.persecution.org/2011/01/27/anti-christian-bias-is-ok-at-the-bbc-says-former-presenter/ – BBC anti-christian bias

    How long do you think, your group gets hijacked by fanatics and imposes its own totalitarianism given the signs? with the uncommitted indifferent agnostics waving their hands saying whatever, seems to me you’ll be looking at the next acceptable prejudice anti-christianity. Look for a book on the subject written by philip jenkins (Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice)

    Yep I know Christians have persecuted other Christians, yet what’s so ironic about this is other secularists joined up and killed both christian groups (protestants and catholics) e.g. you know Mao and pals, not to mention even their own people (anti-trotsky purges) So again, you’re being ignorant of your own history. Just because you were raised in a secular tolerant west does not discount you from inheriting the sins of intolerant totalitarian forms of secular philosophy, government or ideology. Besides in the skeptic’s standard, your group are just as prone to in/out group-think just as the religions you so love to condemn. I’m just using the typical bullshit argument skeptics employ when blaming christianity as evil because hitler did so and so, klu klax klan blah blah blah.

    So like I said secular atheism, Bigoted. Hypocritical. Flawed. Clear? Good.

  • Paul,

    I’m ok with the veil, as long as its not forced or used as an impediment vs security identification. Some Muslim women willingly want it so why not?

    or if you’re really fanatical about tolerance, try imposing your cultural views to ban the veil so that muslim women would loose their right of expression. They did it in secular france and you’d like secular france right Paul?

  • Don’t worry Glenn,

    Fi has zilch, nil, nada credibility since her favorite past time is zoning out to the Nirvana of nothingness. Hell-Arious!

  • This entire thread just reasserts the evidence that religious groups of all forms can encourage individuals to feel justified in their prejudice, intolerant defensiveness and hypocritical world view. (why you think bundling NZers in with Mao’s actions aginst Christians is at all relevant is beyond me but you’re so defensive that everything must be a conspiracy of worldwide co-ordination. Most call that paranoia and delusion)

    You guys have spouted more whinging about various branches of Christianity than anyone trying to discuss the article. I have Catholic and Anglican family and have seen the destructive nature of prejudice first hand. It’s down to you as individuals to be bigger people and to be supportive of those following your world view rather than perpetuating the damage fanaticism creates. You guys are only going to entrench yourselves further into your hard and fast ways. I pity you for the people you will not meet, the people you don’t discover have so much to give, the wasted energy spent on anger and frustration and the embarrassment and awkwardness you put your offspring through.

    I hope you guys have positive rewarding lives and figure out that letting others do the same isn’t really that hard.

  • Erica, once again your comment is simply a string of calling people names, accusations of prejudice, impunging motives, and so forth.

    Its interesting to me that educated people think that this constitutes a rational criticism of a position. Because it almost certainly does not.

  • that’s what happens when you’re acting like 5 year olds. I didn’t see any rebuttal of my points either. You’re obviously happy in your insulated world. Perhaps we both don’t see the point of each other’s comments because I had felt I was making an effort to be constructive and maintaining space to find some sort of partial common ground. You don’t seem to. That’s just tough bikkies I s’pose.

    Grow up and Cheerio

  • I’d be curious what on you mean by “inpinging motives” but I doubt it’s discussing respect of tapu of Maori gifted land in a New Zealand National Park. I couldn’t care less about your belief system as long as you’re not tryiong to excuse being stridently insensitive.

    I won’t be replying as I’m out of here.

  • This thread has exposed some parts of our national psyche that are frankly ugly.
    Most (not all) of the conservative people said their thing,,, some tried to explain.
    Many (not all) on the left called people names, were illogical, and then (when the opposition did not agree with their illogic) left… angrily.
    Which I find interesting. This is Mad and Matt’s place. They allow free reign of ideas — they are not scared of people who disagree with them.
    I think the Kaumatua was trying to speak from the authority he would have if animism was a state religion (when you give land away, you have no rights on it. A church who has sold their land cannot complain if it becomes a mosque — or a rationalists’ hall). However, one can usually challenge Kaumatua and that’s OK. I’m not sure if some of the guests and Matt’s house really want to be challenged

  • Matt,

    Is there an argument in the original post? If there is it’s hidden under a lot of animus, bombast and nonsense. Most of it is presented from a pretty narrowly defined religious position, so unlikely to sway non-religious people. As I said before, the closest thing I could discern for a point in at all was the idea that a government employee shouldn’t be making religious proclamations. But, of course, no such thing happened.

  • Erica, I assure you I live in a world where I regularly engage with people who disagree with me. However, I simply expect people who do so to actually address my points with reasons and argument, and not engage in name calling such as calling people a 5 year old, this is called being rational, and I don’t apologise for sticking to these standards.

    You can believe your conclusions with all the passion in the world, but if you don’t actually provide reasons againsts the views you disagree with you have failed to provide those who hold them with any reason for giving them up. If someone where to do so, they would be changing there beliefs for reasons of peer pressure or intimidation.

    I am unwilling to give up any belief I hold merely because a lot of people will insult me for holding it, I have changed my position on things when good reasons have made be reconsider it. But I do not respect or take seriously any skepticism which is based on caricatures and name calling.

    I

  • David, first, this is a theology blog so I am not terribly concerned if J T appeals to theological premises which are not accepted by all. The question, I think those who don’t share these premises should ask is this, what are the premises that person holds, how does it fit with there view and given they are true do they have a point.

    Second, even if JT merely asserted his position, my comments still stand, one does not show an assertion is false by calling the person names, attacking his character, credentials, calling him a racist and so on, one refutes an assertion by providing arguments against it from premises its plausible to claim are true.

    Third, your response kind of reinforces my point. Your comment, simply uses a serious of pejorative terms to describe J T’s position. You then hope by poisioning the well in this way people will have an unfavourable picture of J T’s claims and then reject them. The problem is this is fairly evidently an irrational way to discuss such claims.

    Whats clear from the thread above is that there is an element of secular types who think that fairly personal name calling and attacks on peoples character, as well as ridiculous sterotypes, defamation and ridicule, some how counts as a rational justification for there position. They apparently believe bullying people in this way to submit to their position is appropriate. I do not, and anyone who calls himself a scientist and is commited to reason should share this conclusion.

  • Oh, of course! It wasn’t the BLOOD that removes the guilt! It was the DEATH! That makes everything way less bizarre and now it makes perfect sense! Consider me re-converted, sir!

    Lets assume one can’t see how someones death would remove my guilt, so what?

    For centuries its been a mystery how people can have concious thoughts, even today philosophy of mind struggles to make sense of this, does it follow that the claim we have concious thoughts is “nonsense”.

    Many people who are ignorant of cars, have no idea how turning a key starts a car, does it follow its nonsense that its can. No

    So your comment here really does not follow.

    Moreover, as I pointed out, there are actually several carefully worked out models in the literature as to how Christs death does this. If you have not examined the best examples of this and tried to understand them, your claim to not know how it works proves nothing at all. Its like a person who refuses to look in the cupboard and then says there are no cups in the cupboard because he can’t see any in there. Of course he hasn’t he hasn’t looked.

    Self imposed ignorance is not a pretty thing, when its covered up with sarcasm , insults and nastiness it boarders on bigory.

  • I didn’t attempt to “poison the well” so much as suggest when one person writes an emotional diatribe you shouldn’t be surprised that most of the responses are largely emotional. That’s not an excuse to call someone names, or go out of your way ridicule someone’s beliefs, but it’s what tends to happen.

    Anyway, I only really commented because, although I agree with very nearly nothing you’ve ever said, I enjoy reading this blog. You actually make arguments (mudslinging is hardly limited the irreliguous side of these debates) and write in way that is clear enough for some biologist to understand. But the inclusion of these sorts of posts really dilutes the quality. (Obviously it’s your blog, and you can do what you please, just letting you know).

  • “there is an element of secular types who think that fairly personal name calling and attacks on peoples character, as well as ridiculous sterotypes, defamation and ridicule, some how counts as a rational justification for there position.”

    Although i MUST point out that the most ridiculous example of this came from a certian catholic with their “do you have sex with men” argument… the secularists were not quite that brainless.

  • Max, I don’t condone that comment either.

    But I do think the suggestion one is anti semtic or racist is not much better.

  • David, thanks for the feedback, we are experimenting a bit.

    As to JT I myself would not use his strident style and was apprehensive about publishing, it at the same time I think the theological content JT has is frequently excellent and I thought he made some important points worth being made. Madeleine noted that the dean of the school of Law at Auckland has noted similar paradoxes in religious freedom practises in NZ.

  • [...] Play the ball, not the man (Nihil ad hominem). The above statement is not to be adjudged as correct by any reader because Matt wrote it. Check out the thread to see if he was correct. [...]

  • Wow. To an outsider, this pretty much reads as, “My made-up deity is way better than yours!”

    I suppose the mountain has one advantage over the Biblical god, simply by having an objective existence – maybe not as a god, but that’s still a bit more solid than imaginative literature.

    Gotta say, I find it kind of offensive that people wouldn’t just go up the mountain to appreciate the awesome beauty of the natural world, on its own terms, without having to make up some religious rubbish to go with it, as if that somehow makes communing with nature legitimate. Maybe I should start speaking out…

  • Thats pretty much what those kids did and then got told off for it

  • Dormant dragon, of course if you assume both deities are made up you might draw that conclusion, but even if you do make that assumption, the conclusion you appear to draw does not follow.

    The fact is, that even between two false claims, one might be more rational and supported by the facts that another, for example steady state theory is false, the claim that there are flying unicorns on mars is false, but that does not mean the two are on par.

    Hence even if one simply asserts ( as you do) that god is “made up” and “imagined”, its not true that one religious claim can’t be more rationally defensible than another.

  • Matt, Glenn, Mads, Jeremy

    As a sympathetic deist, I don’t agree with everything you say about the nature of God and the Bible. But its good to know that you guys stand up for the exclusivity and objectivity of truth, whatever that means…

    Its better to be divided by it than united with lies. So Keep up the Good Fight and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise

  • @ Alvin:

    “I’m ok with the veil, as long as its not forced or used as an impediment vs security identification. Some Muslim women willingly want it so why not?”

    So, if a person wears the hijab and you cannot identify them then that would be a valid reason for requesting it’s removal ?

    How would you determine whether the wearing of the veil is forced or voluntary ?

  • @ Alvin:
    “They did it in secular france and you’d like secular france right Paul?”

    Alvin – I’m English, which means by definition that I do not like the French.

  • To Matt and Mads
    Sometimes i wish there was a way to like or dislike a comment..
    Paul just made a funny and clever comment and although we have been mostly on opposite sides of the current debate it would be nice to be able to “like” the comment as in FB.

  • A slight complaint – I tried to post a long response to Alvins list of links but it hasn’t appeared. I did save a copy locally and tried to repost but it’s been flagged as a duplicate.

    Is there a problem ?

    If it is then I’ll post it on my own blog.

  • [...] the national anthem. Yet, I fear for my nation. We now have people saying that we should worship on any rock and tree. We have people advocating the death of the unborn child. We reward the feckless and the [...]

  • Right, to clear up some points.

    I was one of the fated group who ascended the summit for the purposes of the barbeque. I would like to clear up a couple of points regarding this issue.

    1. Phil Mohi is being portrayed in a poor light. Following the events we had a meeting with him, he is a very amicable man and not as ‘extreme’ as he was portrayed in the media. He was NOT outraged, just wanting to educate people about the maori beliefs, but he stressed our right to exercise our own freedom in our decisions.

    2. The maori were gifted the mountain under the treaty settlement, they chose to gift it back to the public under the condition that their beliefs would be respected.

    3. the mountain is their ancestor, not their god. Small distinction.

    In general the public have supported us in our actions so thank you for your support.
    I did enjoy reading the article, i think its a cool point to use the controversy as a medium for getting a gospel message across to NZ, regrettably at the time we simply went for a placatory stance.
    God does own all land and peoples and we do need to understand that, but maybe there is a place for respect of beliefs of others, not from fear, but from love. Maybe in order to tell them the glory of God we should respect their belief and tell them they can be free from their constricting beliefs at they same time and live in the law of liberty.

    Peace out

  • Wouldn’t it have saved alot of sturm and drang if Chris has posted the OP and not John ?

    Perhaps Matt and Madeleine should have a think about that ?

  • who said your god was living! where the hell is he when so much crap is going on in our world. i believe in the maori atua also , and give thanks to them everyday.i am not maori, but i also believe in faeries! i believe u follow the christain path because u are too scared not too, sad. arohanui suzie

  • John, your piece was pointedly put — I laud your sentiments in what I thought was a wasteland here bereft of strong Godly believers.
    That 1000 Ib gorilla nestled nicely in its niche of never-say-aught-about-me- Maori idols, has long been an affront to GOD.
    It wouldn’t mean much, except brother you have unknowingly struck upon the ONE issue that changes ALL THINGS FOR THIS GENERATION. IT IS CLOSING TIME. The party is over and indeed what happened at Christchurch was GODS opening salvo: “Judgment begins in the House of the Lord”.
    Add in: legalized abortion,( govt funds?) brothels( govt oversight)/prostitution, same sex ‘unions’…. lets see, what’s missing.. cannibalism?! Hello!: GOD has said in one of the 119 Prophecies at AMIGHTYWIND -NONE of which has ever failed incidentally!- that this too WILL be indulged in CHURCHES during the Great Tribulation. So NZ? you are merrily shuffling right down that nasty, slippery path. WAKE UP! !
    Thank you John for tweaking the hapless, torpid citizenry.

  • With all due respect – countless battles have been waged because so-and-so claimed that God gave them this land while so-and-so said actually, no, God had given it to them (only in this case the land happens to be their god).

    You said “when it comes to a choice between offending the Living God, on the one hand, or man on the other, Christians must offend man a thousand times over” but I would argue that as we are all God’s creations isn’t needlessly offending other fellow creations, even those who are lost (including using such derogatory speech against them) by extension offending Him?

    Sure, all this land is the Lord’s creation, but the reality is, we can’t go storming into everyone’s place of worship demanding we be allowed to have a nice Christian bbq there.

    I live in Malaysia where there are more Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus than there are Christians. The various indigenous tribes have their own spiritual practices. I firmly believe that God wants us to respect each other and live peacefully even amongst those we disagree with. Love thy Neighbor.

    Respect the mountain as a place of worship, even if it not your own. This does not mean you have to respect it as God. It is not our place as mere humans to condemn them for their beliefs- instead we should pray for them.

  • hello!,I love your writing very a lot! share we keep up a
    correspondence more approximately your post on AOL?
    I need an expert in this space to unravel my problem.
    May be that is you! Having a look ahead to look you.

  • At long last someone speaking up against Maori mythology. I was shocked after spending 23 years overseas upon arriving back in NZ to see all the maori motifs etc. at the airport and woven into *every* part of NZ life. Even in primary school the children are taught how to bow down and worship the various Maori gods. These demonic entities (tikis and so on) have brought a terrible curse upon the Maoris of this land. Yes, Pakeha have their curses too-but none stand out as prominently as that of Maori. Read the list of curses God promised to those who indulge in idolatry, in Deuteronomy 28. “You shall be few in number,” poverty, sickness, death, “the tail and not the head,” etc etc. God has brought all the curses of idolatry upon the Maoris (other than the Christian ones of course.) It hurts me for them. He even promises, “a trembling heart and failing of the eyes,” (anxiety and depression-both of which seem rife among Maori.) I am grieved for them. When I stood up in our prayer time in church and prayed that God would wake up the Maoris to their false beliefs and so bring them out from under the curse, I was told to be quiet and sit down by the Leader. It turns out that her husband has a quarter percentage of Maori in him and had used it to claim entitlements due to Maoris. He became the leader of “his” Iwi and receives a fortune in NZ Taxpayers dollars, simply for attending Maraes and Tangis and saying the odd speech to praise up Maoris. He and his wife bought a fabulous home on huge acreage and have expensive holiday trips whenever they want and the best in clothing etc.
    I am grieved about it, especially as they are both such a likeable couple. I wonder where are the true Christians who will pull down the idols of the land?!
    My belief is that the leaders of the Iwi tribes and others within them, should be shown (in typing) the verses against idolatry and the various curses associated. They should be given the opportunity to consider these things. Many will repent I believe.
    The Maori (for all that they are generally speaking, hot-headed,) are also very reasonable in my experience.
    I am 64 and have emphysema and a bad heart, there doesn’t seem much I could do. But I long that someone speak up and warn them.
    Would the writer of this article be prepared to draught a letter that would warn the Maori? I dont believe it need be done in a John the Baptist style, but respectfully and openly.
    Anyone at all out there?

  • Typical Christians really look at the mocking tone, look at how he degenerates our people, they raped our woman, destroyed our culture still not enough for you christians, is it, because you are greedy, seriously the heavenly father wants you in heaven, then it must be misery, in that place, all the same colour ..white little fantasy world .. too all you Maori read this !! white mans god!! what has is done except misery for ur people, white mans god .. is a lie! .. God has forsaken us, for the materialistic racist people of nz

    Oh dear. Such ignorance of tikanga Maori. But then Pakeha are so good at that, aren’t they? Being ignorant of the beliefs of others and denigrating their beliefs, but expecting other people to accept and abide by their particular take on things. Sigh. How disappointing to see such disrespect – on both sides.

  • May the GOD of all creation, the only FATHER of all that is in existence visible and invisible BLESS you and your words in the glorious name of our only LORD and SAVIOR JESUS of Nazareth the CHRIST and only beggotten SON of GOD. you rock !

  • By the way, I am currently on my 45th day without eating in protest at carvings of the FALSE maori gods that have been placed on the Blenheim courtroom wall, and all through the social welfare building and even on an outside wall of a (supposed) christian owned food bank (Johns kitchen). I have written to the court asking for its removal on 2nd may (still I have not recieved a reply) and I have lost a lot of weight (to much) please pray ! I have spoken to all the churches yet their response is (its only ART) I am willing to die for this,and so far it seems I am going to (SAD). Also I have put my concerns about this (including the protest) to the ombudsman, and the minister of courts Stuart Beressford, the NZ Police (blasphamous liable and perverting the course of justice) and the Blenhiem council, and many other so called churches throughout NZ, all so far to absolutely NO preval. Even the book of Romans states the consequence of GOD giving a punishment of (men with men and women with women) civil union.know them by their fruits, and stiill nothing. So far I have been threatened with arrest for speaking against them in the courtroom office foyer, and have been arrested on quite a number of times reading the HOLY BIBLE out loud on my own doorstep (under the pretense of disturbing the peace).In the flesh it seems im on my own, but praise be to Jesus for His Holy spirit to help me continue. The LORD bless you and thanks for your awesome posts, you give me hope of which I have nearly lost all, THANKS

  • and as for using the LORDs name in vain,I have foundthat (nearly) every movie does it