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My Top 10 Problems With Christianity

June 29, 2009

I live on the buckle of the American “Bible Belt” and every once in a while I have evangelical Christians come knocking on my door at dinner time to tell me the “good news” (that I will be burning in Hell for all eternity). So I’ve decided that I should probably work out the major problems I have with Christianity so that my discussions with them will include less rambling and be more to the point (I don’t just slam the door in their faces because I enjoy making them squirm). Below I have listed my major issues with Christianity. However, it is primarily tailored towards the evangelical branches of Christian faith because those are Christians I deal with on a normal basis.

In no particular order:

  • Biblical literalism is inconsistent with scientific knowledge.
  • Biblical interpretation proves the book to be a human invention or the god to be incompetent.
  • Biblical law is immoral as it condones slavery, genocide, xenophobia, incest, rape, and misogyny.
  • Biblical scholars’ god is very different than the layman’s god.
  • We are fully capable of rational and critical thought yet we are only rewarded for blind faith and obedience.
  • Historical evidence for Jesus outside the bible is largely thought to be forgeries or too ambiguous.
  • Evangelical Christians give huge amounts of money to the church and are the poorest and least educated of all the major denominations. So much for the Prosperity Gospel.
  • If we are all loved equally by this god why was Thomas and Paul given much more evidence than me?
  • Many of the sins in the bible are arbitrary and lack any founding in reason.
  • The idea of Hell and an infinite punishment for a finite crime make very little sense when sinners could just be annihilated.

These aren’t my only issues with Christianity, but they are my most pressing problems at the moment. Do you have major issues that I haven’t mentioned? Put them in the comments!

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83 Comments
  1. June 29, 2009 12:34 am

    My (limited) experience trying to have a rational conversation with believers is that it’s like trying to nail down jello. No matter what I say, they always seem to have a pat answer. I think that’s what Bible Study classes are for — to fill their heads with pat answers.

    I know one very strong believer who owns handguns. I said, “What about ‘Thou shalt not kill’?” He had a pat answer ready — I forget what it was, but he told me specifically that if a burglar broke into his house, he was going to kill the guy. The Commandment didn’t apply in that situation. And he was comfortable with his answer. Smug about it, actually.

    So yeah, all of your points are good. But you probably won’t get anywhere.

    • June 29, 2009 3:42 am

      Personally, I think “Thou shalt not kill” is pretty straight forward. I don’t know how you can worm around that.

      I try my best to keep in mind that these people who knock on my door genuinely believe they are trying to help me. The least I can do is return the favor and have a civil discussion with them. Last time it was in my apartment buildings hallway, I doubt I’ll do it that way again but I did enjoy the discussion.

      • Mark permalink
        June 29, 2009 6:57 am

        Christians are a majority group in the US and always find a loophole to justify their antics. That’s what makes them a danger to minority groups. Don’t believe me? Ask a Jew.

        • June 29, 2009 10:48 am

          Agreed.

  2. Michael permalink
    June 29, 2009 2:48 pm

    My answer to them when rarely encountering them, because I live in an area where “SOLICITING” DOOR to DOOR IS DISCOURAGED BY my community’s management and by our local police, is to ask them, mainly JAHOVAH’s NITWITS, who Mary was banging when she got knocked up?!?! SINCE THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ANGEL WHO COMES DOWN AND F–KS PEOPLE. And….I tell them: I don’t believe in IMAGINARY ‘DOGS’!

  3. June 29, 2009 3:07 pm

    who Mary was banging when she got knocked up?!?! SINCE THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ANGEL WHO COMES DOWN AND F–KS PEOPLE.

    Sounds like she fell for a very farfetched pickup line.

    • June 29, 2009 3:42 pm

      Maybe she misunderstood “God’s gift to women”.

  4. June 29, 2009 4:02 pm

    – Biblical literalism is inconsistent with scientific knowledge.

    Straw man. Check Genesis for the number of stars, for example (countless stars, not the 1,100 most ancients believed), let alone the concept that the universe came into being at a point in time.

    – Biblical interpretation proves the book to be a human invention or the god to be incompetent.

    False.

    – Biblical law is immoral as it condones slavery, genocide, xenophobia, incest, rape, and misogyny.

    Only if you don’t know how to read it properly. Of course, as usual, the atheist worldview has no explanation to explain why these things are wrong.

    – Biblical scholars’ god is very different than the layman’s god.

    Sometimes true, but irrelevant.

    – We are fully capable of rational and critical thought yet we are only rewarded for blind faith and obedience.

    Straw man. The Bible applauds the use of reason and the faith in the Bible is not blind faith but faith in something with evidence to back it up — Open-mindedness and Christianity

    – Historical evidence for Jesus outside the bible is largely thought to be forgeries or too ambiguous.

    You couldn’t be more wrong. The existence of Jesus is a fact of history. Those who deny that tip their hand at either ignorance or disingenuousness.

    – Evangelical Christians give huge amounts of money to the church and are the poorest and least educated of all the major denominations. So much for the Prosperity Gospel.

    Wow, great example of abusing statistics. Oh, and the prosperity Gospel is a false teaching, so that point wouldn’t be valid anyway.

    – If we are all loved equally by this god why was Thomas and Paul given much more evidence than me?

    Good question. If you are serioiusly interested, go study the Bible in depth. Romans 1 is a good place to start (e.g., you’ve been given more evidence than you care to admit).

    – Many of the sins in the bible are arbitrary and lack any founding in reason.

    Says the clay to the potter.

    – The idea of Hell and an infinite punishment for a finite crime make very little sense when sinners could just be annihilated.

    Again, says the clay to the potter, plus the fact that life-long rebellion against an infinite God would not be a finite crime.

    • June 30, 2009 1:54 pm

      – Biblical literalism is inconsistent with scientific knowledge.

      Straw man. Check Genesis for the number of stars, for example (countless stars, not the 1,100 most ancients believed), let alone the concept that the universe came into being at a point in time.

      ~~~~~~Wait… Genesis says there’s countless stars, when most people thought it was 40, so the Bible knows everything in science? The universe came into being, and the Bible makes a fairy tale about it, so it knows everything about science? If I assert the correctness of some obtuse mathematical theorem that no one knows how to prove, and 2000 years later someone proves it, that means THEY know what’s up, not me…

      – Biblical interpretation proves the book to be a human invention or the god to be incompetent.

      False.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~Well, that’s just like, your opinion, man…

      – Biblical law is immoral as it condones slavery, genocide, xenophobia, incest, rape, and misogyny.

      Only if you don’t know how to read it properly. Of course, as usual, the atheist worldview has no explanation to explain why these things are wrong.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~There is no atheist worldview. “Atheists” never claimed these things were wrong. If you really think they are, make a good case. If you really think they are wrong, look at that Bible again, because it *does* condone them all. Just uhh, in the right context, when “God is smiling on you”. Which means no one smacks you down for doing it. You go try to pull some Hebrew shit in downtown New York and you’re gonna be in jail.

      – Biblical scholars’ god is very different than the layman’s god.

      Sometimes true, but irrelevant.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~This is quite relevant. The more you understand the Bible, the more you understand how riddled with holes it is. You’re not reading a burning bush, you’re reading translations and additions and subtractions and redactions.

      – We are fully capable of rational and critical thought yet we are only rewarded for blind faith and obedience.

      Straw man. The Bible applauds the use of reason and the faith in the Bible is not blind faith but faith in something with evidence to back it up — Open-mindedness and Christianity
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Uh… “we don’t have blind faith, we have evidence… I swear! Open your mind and you will see! Now stop talking before you start making sense.” Open-mindedness is the evidence of Biblical Truth(tm) ?? Christianity is the evidence of Biblical Truth(tm) ?? What the fuck does that mean? An empty claim does not have any evidence.

      – Historical evidence for Jesus outside the bible is largely thought to be forgeries or too ambiguous.

      You couldn’t be more wrong. The existence of Jesus is a fact of history. Those who deny that tip their hand at either ignorance or disingenuousness.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Because I say so. Dammit.

      – Evangelical Christians give huge amounts of money to the church and are the poorest and least educated of all the major denominations. So much for the Prosperity Gospel.

      Wow, great example of abusing statistics. Oh, and the prosperity Gospel is a false teaching, so that point wouldn’t be valid anyway.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~The idea of a false teaching is a false teaching, so you’re not valid anyway. Why is the idea of a false teaching a false teaching? Well, the Bible said so (I think it does, whether or not you do. LALALALALA). The Bible that backs up “Prosperity Gospel” just as much as “Virgin Birth” just as much as “water into wine” — ZERO. If you deny someone’s wisdom they gleaned out of this magic book, anyone else can deny yours in the same breath. Where did this idea of false teaching come from? Maybe a tactic to keep the sheep in line?

      – If we are all loved equally by this god why was Thomas and Paul given much more evidence than me?

      Good question. If you are serioiusly interested, go study the Bible in depth. Romans 1 is a good place to start (e.g., you’ve been given more evidence than you care to admit).
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Bad answer. I’ve been given loads of information supporting the existence of vampires… movies, books, comics, strange graffiti in the night, accounts from friends. THEY STILL AREN’T REAL.

      – Many of the sins in the bible are arbitrary and lack any founding in reason.

      Says the clay to the potter.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Says the parrot to the scribe. “Oh God is great and vast and how could we ever understand why shrimp are evil?” Get over yourself.

      – The idea of Hell and an infinite punishment for a finite crime make very little sense when sinners could just be annihilated.

      Again, says the clay to the potter, plus the fact that life-long rebellion against an infinite God would not be a finite crime.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Sounds like a vengeful sorta fella. Like a tyrant. Life-long rebellion against Caesar is punishable by interminable damnation because he is an immortal being. Anyone caught rebelling will be beaten and tortured until no one else wants to cross Caesar. This is a SCARE TACTIC. One more time. SCARE TACTIC. One more time. SCARE TACTIC. There’s this schizophrenic magic man in the sky that NEEDS you to love him as much as he loves you, and if you don’t, he’s gonna be friggin pissed and shoot nuclear weapons at you.

    • S.S. permalink
      August 10, 2009 10:36 am

      You can state ‘false’, ‘says the clay to the potter’ but in no way do you address or refutes what sisyphus said.

      “- We are fully capable of rational and critical thought yet we are only rewarded for blind faith and obedience.

      Straw man. The Bible applauds the use of reason and the faith in the Bible is not blind faith but faith in something with evidence to back it up […]”

      By definition faith is a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. The christian faith relies on unquestioning loyalty. And from all that I’ve read, and experienced, you are free to use reason, as long as you agree with the church at the end of the day — even it that means saying the earth is flat and all the universe revolves around it. That is, until science deomonstrates this to be untrue then, suddenly, the bible has been saying ours is a heliocentric solar systema all along!

      “- Historical evidence for Jesus outside the bible is largely thought to be forgeries or too ambiguous.

      You couldn’t be more wrong. The existence of Jesus is a fact of history. Those who deny that tip their hand at either ignorance or disingenuousness.”

      You couldn’t be more wrong … that is your argument? The existence of Jesus in not a fact but if I’m wrong, please direct me to where your fact is supported by evidence (no, you many use your bible, that would be begging the question). Stating something is fa act does not make it a fact.

      “- The idea of Hell and an infinite punishment for a finite crime make very little sense when sinners could just be annihilated.

      Again, says the clay to the potter, plus the fact that life-long rebellion against an infinite God would not be a finite crime.”

      The concept of hell is one that pre-dates christianity. Check out Gilgamesh.

      http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080207021516AAJt4Cj
      http://www.equipministry.com/studies/mythhell.htm

      You may believe in the bible and the god all you want but your arguements have no basis in fact at this point, just opinion and bible quoting. These in no way will make anyone rethink their stance, let alone sway them to believe as you do. I understand that you believe, have faith, but I do not. I question and poke and prode under the rocks to see what’s hiding there. I lack a belief and if I were to judge your reasons for belief on what you’ve stated here I’d have to ask … why?

  5. June 29, 2009 4:06 pm

    “What about ‘Thou shalt not kill’?”

    It actually reads “don’t murder” in the original languages. Nothing wrong with self defense.

    If atheists have pat answers does that mean they are wrong? Most of what I get from them comes straight from the Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites and has little if any substance. Not to brag, but I’ve found that as wrong as atheism is I can argue for it better than most Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris types. They just trot out old, well addressed arguments but increase the volume.

    • seantheblogonaut permalink
      June 30, 2009 6:17 am

      You state this as fact when in fact its not as clean cut as that. The modern trend amongst some scholars is to translate the phrase as such but then it can be taken in some instances to mean unintentianal killing as well. One thing that most scholars do appear to agree on is that it isn’t referring to killing of one’s enemy’s in war.

      That being said it is widely taught as thou shall not kill in mainstream christianity – at least in my experience.

    • S.S. permalink
      August 10, 2009 11:02 am

      Actually, the precursor to the christian faith borrowed their laws from Hammurabi (ca. 1728 – 1686 B.C.)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammurabi
      http://www.commonlaw.com/Hammurabi.html

      As for your statement “Most of what I get from them comes straight from the Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites and has little if any substance.”

      Atheists don’t have an apologetic site from which to copy and paste pat answers. The reason you’re getting “old, well addressed arguments” is because they are constantly having to re-address old, well addressed arguments presented by christians. We don’t preach to you to convert or die; but we’re not going to sit silently and let you re-write history and present belief’s as fact either.

  6. June 29, 2009 5:13 pm

    Biblical literalism is inconsistent with scientific knowledge.

    Technically you can’t prove either side.

    Biblical law is immoral as it condones slavery, genocide, xenophobia, incest, rape, and misogyny.

    Does not.

    We are fully capable of rational and critical thought yet we are only rewarded for blind faith and obedience.

    Blind faith? There are plenty of reasons to believe the Bible is true.

    Historical evidence for Jesus outside the bible is largely thought to be forgeries or too ambiguous.

    Which is just a guess. Doesn’t really hold meat in any debate.

    Evangelical Christians give huge amounts of money to the church and are the poorest and least educated of all the major denominations. So much for the Prosperity Gospel.

    It’s because we aren’t so wrapped up in trying to know everything, because we understand we know all we need to know in terms of what is important.

    Many of the sins in the bible are arbitrary and lack any founding in reason.

    Which ones exactly?

    The idea of Hell and an infinite punishment for a finite crime make very little sense when sinners could just be annihilated.

    I agree to some point, but not totally. You’ve got to have some place for Satan.

    • June 30, 2009 1:25 pm

      ~ Biblical literalism is inconsistent with scientific knowledge.

      Technically you can’t prove either side.~
      They aren’t sides. Scientific knowledge has hundreds of years of corrections and new theories and new ideas meant to test the old knowledge so that we can either confirm it a bit more or toss it out. Biblical “knowledge” has hundreds of years of little kids yelling as loud as they can that they have the truth and it won’t ever change damn it!

      ~ Biblical law is immoral as it condones slavery, genocide, xenophobia, incest, rape, and misogyny.

      Does not.~
      Which Bible are you reading?

      ~ We are fully capable of rational and critical thought yet we are only rewarded for blind faith and obedience.

      Blind faith? There are plenty of reasons to believe the Bible is true.~
      Right… cause Pastor said so, cause the Pope said so, cause Mommy said so… those aren’t blind faith at all right?

      ~ Historical evidence for Jesus outside the bible is largely thought to be forgeries or too ambiguous.

      Which is just a guess. Doesn’t really hold meat in any debate.~
      Jesus is the guess. The Bible is presented by Christians as evidence supporting the guess. Historical evidence is evidence supporting the facts. The historical evidence, while it can tell you a million things, does *not* unequivocally tell you that the Jesus-man you may believe in ever actually existed.

      ~ Evangelical Christians give huge amounts of money to the church and are the poorest and least educated of all the major denominations. So much for the Prosperity Gospel.

      It’s because we aren’t so wrapped up in trying to know everything, because we understand we know all we need to know in terms of what is important.~
      You’re too wrapped up believing you know everything important to believe there’s anything else important to know. Really all you know is how to be a good sheep and keep bringing more into the fold.

      ~ Many of the sins in the bible are arbitrary and lack any founding in reason.

      Which ones exactly?~
      Don’t eat shrimp. Don’t be homosexual. Don’t speak to a woman on her period. Don’t exert yourself on Saturday (Sunday? OH shit!!! now we’re screwed)… The list goes on in fact to include *ALL* of the sins in the Bible. Try to find one with a justification (not one that YOU made up, or that your pastor made up, the one PROVIDED BY THE BIBLE… but there aren’t any right? Just believe cause YAHWEH the magic and great said so, we think…).

      ~ The idea of Hell and an infinite punishment for a finite crime make very little sense when sinners could just be annihilated.

      I agree to some point, but not totally. You’ve got to have some place for Satan.~
      No you don’t. Satan lives in your heaaaart :)

  7. rox0r permalink
    June 29, 2009 5:17 pm

    ===
    Straw man. Check Genesis for the number of stars, for example (countless stars, not the 1,100 most ancients believed), let alone the concept that the universe came into being at a point in time.
    ====

    That’s not what a strawman is. He hasn’t built up a weakened version of any argument, ignoring the stronger points, and then knocked it down trying to act as if it refutes all of the points. Just because you can find an example where the bible isn’t in conflict with scientific knowledge doesn’t mean that it doesn’t conflict somewhere else.

    If anything your answer to the following is a strawman:
    Biblical law is immoral as it condones slavery, genocide, xenophobia, incest, rape, and misogyny.

    What makes you say that the atheist worldview doesn’t have a moral framework? We could discuss your arbitrary Christian moral framework, but most Christians’ heads explode when they hit the dilemma of goodness by Fiat or goodness by intrinsic value. (ie: rape is bad because god says so (fiat), so he could make it good by saying it is good — instead people suffer)

    Anyway: Only if you don’t know how to read it properly.

    Of course. Truth is only there for those that follow the dogma. Otherwise your vision is obscured. Too bad the holy spirit is the only way you can get faith, so why not give faith to all of the atheists?

  8. June 29, 2009 5:33 pm

    My point about the “Bible is in conflict with science” claim being a straw man is that the evidence typically qualifies it as such (though no evidence was provided above). I usually see things like “The Bible says Pi is 3, so there!,” which ignores that rounding is not an error (if the Bible said that Pi to two decimal points was 3.00 then that would indeed be an error).

    “Of course. Truth is only there for those that follow the dogma.”

    That isn’t what I said. Most of the objections to the Bible can be understood by anyone with basic reading skills — provided that they are willing to use them.

    “What makes you say that the atheist worldview doesn’t have a moral framework?”

    It has no foundation to back it up. It always sneaks some sort of morality in the back door — e.g., “such-and-such helps the perpetuation of the species” — but never demonstrates why the alleged foundation is true (e.g., if materialism is true then species coming into being or dying out aren’t moral or immoral).

    Atheism is a strange bedfellow with postmodernism, rarely going three consecutive sentences without a moral claim yet never adequately explaining why anyone should care about your personal opinion of morality.

    • S.S. permalink
      August 10, 2009 11:09 am

      “That isn’t what I said. Most of the objections to the Bible can be understood by anyone with basic reading skills — provided that they are willing to use them.”

      I could draw the conclusion here that you lack basic reading skills, or are unwilling to use them. You make a bold assumption here that atheists have not read your bible. Think about it. Try to concider that we HAVE read and and that is a large part of why we don’t believe it. But I read your statement again and I do understand the objections to the bible as I have more than basic reading skills. What is your point then? I understand fully the objections to the bible …. do you?

  9. June 29, 2009 10:42 pm

    “That isn’t what I said. Most of the objections to the Bible can be understood by anyone with basic reading skills — provided that they are willing to use them.”…??

    Oh really? So, I guess anyone who read it, and came to a differnt conclusion than you must just not know how to read? or isn’t willing to read it the RIGHT way??

    UGH.

    Why is it so freaking hard to understand that just because you believe something different doesn’t make you smarter, or “better” than the next guy?? I wrote about this (not nearly so scientifically as here) on an OLD post here (if anyone’s interested):

    http://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/04/14/whos-to-say/

  10. June 30, 2009 5:01 am

    Just because a text is capable of being misunderstood doesn’t mean it is incapable of being understood.

    I’m not saying all of it is easy or clear. Some passages can take a lot of work to understand the context and original meanings.

    But so much of it couldn’t be more clear yet people deliberately misunderstand it or don’t care to be corrected on their objections.

    The “kill” vs. “murder” discussion above is a good example. Does that guy really want to know what the original text said? It isn’t that hard to go back to the Greek or Hebrew to clear up this confusion about what he allegedly finds so troubling.

    But will he do it? Will he see for himself then say, “You know, I thought that was a contradiction / inconsistency for the Bible and Christians, but now I see that in the original language there was no confusion at all. I still have my doubts, but I won’t use that example again.”

    Maybe he’ll prove me wrong, but I’m skeptical of the motives of most skeptics. I can diagnose it by how they react when confronted with facts.

    Re. what we believe making us smarter or better: Who said that? I meet many more arrogant atheists online than Christians. Yes, many Christians are poorly informed and don’t read the Bible as they should, but that doesn’t disprove Christianity any more than poorly informed atheists prove that there is a God.

    Do you seriously read Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. and find them to be humble? Hitchens gets crushed in debates with Christians. Oh, he gets some laughs and some digs in, but ridicule is not an argument. He typically dodges the real subjects — http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/debates-and-lectures/ .

    • S.S. permalink
      August 10, 2009 11:21 am

      “I’m not saying all of it is easy or clear. Some passages can take a lot of work to understand the context and original meanings.”

      You see, this is where I start poking under rocks. You do not question the inscrutable bible and word of your god — but I do.

      I ask myself … why.

      Why would a being so powerful, so all-knowing allow such a work to stand for him in the realm of fallable humans. Why would this being put the stamp of approval on a document that speaks for him to beings he himself thinks of as simple children. It makes no sense that such a being would send into the world of mortal idiots a compilation of chapters that takes a lot of work to understand? He did it so that there would have to evolve a priest class to decide what it means who then tell it to the ignorant, unquestioning, faithfully bleating sheep?

      Hand your bible over to a child and see just how much of it they comprehend — I can not in good conscience follow blindly any being, let alone one that raises so many fundamental questions and offers only one answer: have faith (or die).

  11. June 30, 2009 5:40 am

    Neil,
    What about ALLLL the people who DID read and study the bible, and came up with different conclusions/understandings of it than yourself (or other Christians). TO think that non-believers just didn’t “bother” to “try” to understand is a bit off base. I’m sure there are atheists who never cracked open the bible, but, any that I know have a pretty good knowledge of it. Matter of fact, I could quote more of it than most of my Christian friend… because I USE to be Christian, and I really DID try to study and understand it. On the “de-conversion.com” website there are stories from folks who use to be preachers, pastors, religious teachers, etc., who are no atheists. One recent story is from a missionary’s kid: http://de-conversion.com/2009/06/27/a-silent-departure-my-de-converstion-story/

    The big difference between Christians and Atheists when they debate that *I* notice, is that to Chrisitans, this is a matter of life of death. They (you?) most likely think that if I don’t believe as they do, that I’m probably going to hell. Whereas, I might think you’re wrong – but, I’m not worried about “saving” you. So, no matter how you slice it, someone telling you that you are so wrong that you are going to hell, is gonna come off as a tad bit arrogant, judegemental, and/or condescending. And, I guess, to you, someone who dismisses this life or death belief of yours, is going to seem pretty stupid and arrogant themselves.

    But don’t assume that just because folks don’t believe in God, and/or the bible – that they never ONCE did, or never TRIED, or never studied or read the bible. That’s just wrong.

    I wish you well.

  12. seantheblogonaut permalink
    June 30, 2009 6:21 am

    If only we knew how to read it properly?

    How do you know you are?

    • S.S. permalink
      August 10, 2009 11:24 am

      And what is the point of an all-powerful god publishing a book none of his flock can read or when they do, they can’t all agree on what it’s saying?

      How do you know you’re reading it properly? What is the “proper” way – yours? Mine? Who knows.

      Let’s all give thanks to the almighty god.

  13. June 30, 2009 2:12 pm

    Neil,

    It’s confusing to me to have so many arguments going on simultaneously, so I hope you don’t mind if I drill down one just to make sure I understand where you are coming from.

    You mentioned something in Genesis to support the idea that the Bible does not conflict with science…

    Consider the part where God protects the entrance to the garden of Eden by placing a flaming sword which turns to keep people from getting in:

    Genesis 3:24 “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

    Do you think that there is a place on the earth that is being protected by a flaming sword?

    If we went there, would a skeptic like me, be able to see this sword and/or the Cherubims that are guarding the tree of life?

    If not, why not?

    • Brandon permalink
      December 16, 2009 2:42 am

      hello i enjoy reading this blog. i am a Christian i believe in God and Jesus. i know that nothing i say will change anyones opinion but i would like to point out the obvious.

      Conversational Atheist:”Do you think that there is a place on the earth that is being protected by a flaming sword?”

      yes their was a sword… was being the key word. about four thousand years ago their was a great flood that destroyed the earth. it drastically changed the world that we live in. the garden of eden is below all those sedimentary layers that cover the earth that atheists “believe” display millions of years.

      my God is an all powerful, terrifying, loving God. who created a perfect earth. an earth that had more oxygen and more pressure one where humans lived to over 900 years. where dragons (dinosaurs) lived with man. where their was a creature that was so fierce and strong one that blew flames from its mouth called a leviathan. where the stars displayed the coming of Christ (dec. 25 is Jesus b-day because dec.21 the sun reaches its lowest point and stays there for three days and then rises representing the birth of the son of God on the 25th. isn’t my god cool) then Eve ate the forbidden fruit and Adam loved her enough to also eat the fruit. then the earth became so evil that their was only one family who still feared and loved God. before the flood their was a layer of ice that completely surrounded the earth keeping all the harmful rays of the sun. also before the flood it never rained so as noah was building the ark for 130 years they thought he was crazy. it started to rain… well the fountains of the deep(water that is under the crust of the earth) broke forth it shot up into the stratosphere and beyond creating the rain that covered the earth and the super cold snow that was attracted to the north and south poles freezing the mammoths instantly. after the flood our life span started to dwindle down until it is at the point that it is at today (120 yrs if you eat healthy fast and don’t get the vaccines that WILL KILL you). Jesus is real and he loves you he will be coming back before i die (i am 21 i wish i would live till i was eighty but i believe i have less then 5 years. you atheists have seven more years than i but those years will really stink lol) and if any one is falling back on the idea that they know enough about God that they will be saved after the rapture your wrong if you had a chance to be saved before the rapture you wont after.

      please forgive my horrible writing skills math is more my subject.

      i love everyone i honestly do i pray that i will see you in Heaven.

      • December 16, 2009 5:55 pm

        “i know that nothing i say will change anyones opinion but i would like to point out the obvious.”

        Saying a bunch of nonsense won’t convince people — and it shouldn’t.

        If you have any evidence of anything that you wrote, I’m all ears.

        One quick note: “dec. 25 is Jesus b-day because dec.21 the sun reaches its lowest point and stays there for three days and then rises representing the birth of the son of God on the 25th. isn’t my god cool”

        What should we make of the fact that the sun is at it’s highest before retreating on December 25th in Australia? Maybe God is a Northern Hemisphere God?

  14. June 30, 2009 2:33 pm

    Interesting discussion, but nothing new from the literalists. I’m a former evangelical and still consider myself a Christian (in the sense of a follower of Jesus) but I gave up Biblical literalism long ago. Here are my comments on a few of the points:

    On the existence of Jesus, a presentation by well known Jewish scholar from U of Missouri in a class I took confirmed that Josephus mentions a Jesus that was executed and had attracted a good following. I don’t think there’s too much scholarly doubt about his existence. On the details, of course, there’s lots of controversy. The 4 gospels show a growth in the legends of his life over time, from the earliest, Mark, to John, which was written in the early 2nd Century.

    On the Bible as a human document, there is no doubt. For confirmation I suggest NT scholar Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus”, John Shelby Spong’s “Born of a Woman” and “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism” for detailed documentation. That doesn’t mean it’s worthless – I consider it a great source of teaching stories and interpret it metaphysically, not literally, as one does with hero’s journey stories. It’s a great example of 2,000 year old mythic thinking.

    On the Bible being inconsistent with scientific knowledge, I submit the creation story in Genesis, Noah’s ark, Jonah in the whale, the sun standing still for a day in Joshua, the two different virgin birth stories and the 4 different bodily resurrection stories as just a brief sampling.

    On Biblical law being immoral, how about Exodus 21:20 in which it’s OK to kill your slave as long as it takes a day for them to die? We get two immoralities in one verse – murder and slavery!

    But my favorite immoralities are the two that enabled me to break free from that literalist thinking. First, a god who plans to burn innumerable souls in a lake of fire for eternity. When my kids misbehaved I couldn’t even conceive of holding their hand in a pot of boiling water for 5 seconds, much less a lake of fire for eternity. Are we so much more moral than god? And second, that god would kill his only son because a sacrifice was required. I concluded that any god that would do those things was not a loving god, but a sadistic psychopath. I decided that even if that story was true, I couldn’t worship a god like that. And wouldn’t.

    Fortunately when we tunnel down through the Bible texts to get close to what the scholars think Jesus actually taught, we find a different God, one that he said sent “rain on the just and the unjust” and whose pleasure it is to give us the kingdom. He called God “Abba” which is an Aramaic term of endearment which is used with both males and females, and which can be translated “beloved.” Ain’t no stinking lake of fire here!

    For the fundamentalist atheists in the crowd, I would point out that there are many theists who follow paths where science and spirituality are seen as totally consistent, in the sense that they are both attempts to describe the universe and our place in it. The extent that they differ illustrates our remaining ignorance. A scientist (like Dawkins, for example) who declares as an article of faith that there is no truth to any kind of spirituality, without knowing or caring what the options are or the evidence for them, is making the same mistake as the young earth creationists. And is just as wrong. IMHO, of course!

    • June 30, 2009 2:50 pm

      What exactly is a fundamentalist atheist?

      • June 30, 2009 7:16 pm

        Fundamentalism is a mindset that can be found in any belief system. It is primarily characterized by a belief that one has the correct point of view, that any intelligent person must agree, and that anyone who disagrees is not only wrong, but stupid, or evil, or both. I’ve run into the occasional fundamentalist on science blogs. Most atheists and most theists are not fundamentalists, but the fundys tend to make the most noise.

    • S.S. permalink
      August 10, 2009 11:43 am

      I have enjoyed reading your well thoughtout comments. I find a vast difference between religious belief and spirituality. I’m glad you brought this up; we could go on for pages discussing the different thoughts on spirituality and their many nuance’s and it would be enjoyable, I suspect.

      I freely confess to being spiritual but I suspect what I think of as spiritual and what others think varies; however, at the core the ‘feeling is pretty much the same.

      You have put it well, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the bible is more like aesops fables .. for teaching and correction (that is from the bible I do believe) but not for literal interpretation. It also reveals the mindset of the time; the asperations of a civilization as it was two thousand years ago and how they saw themselves at that time, and in the future. This has how I’ve come to view the bible and to some this may be the improper way to read it.

      Science and spirituality can walk the path together; but I see spirituality as different than religious belief. Do you see science and religions being consistant?

  15. June 30, 2009 3:56 pm

    Don’t eat shrimp. Don’t be homosexual.

    I deal with that canard thoroughly here — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2007/11/24/favorite-dish-of-liberal-theologians-skeptics-shellfish/

    Don’t feel bad, even liberal Christians use that bit.

    I’d answer more but am short on time. Also, I seriously question whether it will matter.

    Re. the flaming sword — good question. Oddly enough I was just thinking of that yesterday. I assume God removed it at some point. Mock that if you like, but I have countless reasons to believe the Bible (I used to be a skeptical atheist and have examined more Bible difficulties than I can count).

    @ Wes — it is hard to take someone seriously who takes Spong and Ehrman seriously. I’d broaden your reading a bit if I were you. Ehrman plays a cute game but is an intellectual sissy: His claims are obviously theological but when pressed he reverts to his role as textual critic.

    I also scoff at the “literalist” label. I read the Bible in context, not literally. But it sure is easy to dismiss your opponents instead of addressing their reasoning when you label them as literalists, eh?

    “On the Bible being inconsistent with scientific knowledge, I submit the creation story in Genesis”

    LOL. Yeah, just a lucky guess on the part of Moses that the universe wasn’t eternally existent. Now we know it isn’t scientifically, but the Bible taught all along that it came into being at a point in time. The Bible gets lucky a lot.

    “And second, that god would kill his only son because a sacrifice was required. I concluded that any god that would do those things was not a loving god, but a sadistic psychopath. I decided that even if that story was true, I couldn’t worship a god like that. And wouldn’t.”

    It would be more intellectually honest of you if you didn’t pretend to know the basics of Christianity. Jesus is God and went to the cross willingly.

    He is your only hope for forgiveness of sins. Keep your pride up about how you are better than God and have a better plan to rescue people from the wrath of a perfectly holy God. It will last about 0.00000001 seconds when you die and face judgment. Just sayin’.

    Or pretend that there is no God then ask yourself why you are so incredibly irrational to even debate this topic. After all, if God doesn’t exist and materialism is true, then these random chemical reactions are 100% responsible for Christians seeing this “evidence” and “logic” for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. You have no foundation to explain the concept of good or evil, even though you can’t go 3 sentences without making moral claims.

    • June 30, 2009 7:08 pm

      Interesting that rather than looking at the historical records used by Spong and Ehrman you just go instantly ad hominium. In case you don’t know, Ehrman is a graduate of Moody Bible Inst and Wheaton College. He came to his views on the Bible starting at your perspective and he became an expert by looking at lots and lots of evidence. I’m sure you know what a textual critic is, and that it doesn’t mean someone who seeks to find text wrong. However when I was an evangelical that was the way the term was used – to disparage scholars whose conclusions did not agree with the evangelicals. I was told not to read people like that because they were out to destroy the true faith. That’s like covering your eyes and ears and saying “I can’t hear you!”

      The creation story includes Adam & Eve as first humans, a garden, a fall from grace, the expulsion, and the flaming sword, which you guess that God must have removed. Unfortunately the billions of years of fossil evidence are missing in the story, as you would expect from a Mesopotamian creation myth. Of course it doesn’t agree with science.

      A literalist is one who take words literally. The Garden was a real garden, the sword a real sword, the ark a real boat, etc. If you are not a literalist you’ve got me fooled. There’s wonderful spiritual lessons in all those stories, but they’re not history. Unless you’re a literalist.

      So Jesus was not God’s Son who died to forgive our sins but God Himself who killed Himself to forgive our sins? Oh, that’s much better! LOL I guess John 3:16 got it wrong too.

      At least you admit that your god is a wrathful god and not a loving one. Why you want to worship a sadistic psychopath is beyond me. I don’t have to have a plan to “rescue ” people from your wrathful god, because I believe he’s a creation of mythical consciousness from thousands of years ago, the same god that they used to throw virgins into volcanos to appease. I prefer the loving God that Jesus called Abba.

      I happen to strongly believe that God exists, but not one that is anything like yours. Not one that’s just a bad-tempered human with supernatural powers. Not one whose plans for the human race, which he created by the way, make Hitler look like a saint. Not one who intervenes in human affairs if you beg long enough.
      That was the best they had thousands of years ago, but not today.

    • June 30, 2009 7:23 pm

      Re: Neil.

      Ok, if I understood your answer to my questions your answers are the following, please correct me if I misunderstood:

      > Do you think that there is a place on the earth that is being protected by a flaming sword?
      >> No, but there used to be.

      > If not, why not?
      >> I assume that God removed it at some point.

      You assume that God removed the flaming sword and Cherubims that guards the tree of life in the Garden of Eden? Or you assume that the entire Garden of Eden was removed from the face of the earth (flaming sword and Cherubims included)?

      It strikes me as odd that you seem to think that God updated His solution for keeping people from getting to the Tree of Life — especially since there is no scriptural basis for this view. It looks suspiciously like “after the fact” reasoning. A flaming sword and Cherubim who guard a tree would not only give credence to a rather fantastic story in the Bible, it would also tell us the location of the Garden of Eden itself.

      I have never seen anything that has suggested to me that a supernatural force is at work. I gladly admit that if I came across a flaming sword and Cherubims protecting a tree that I have good reason to believe that something supernatural is going on — especially if this was a persistent phenomenon that others witnessed, etc.

      Just to double check — you do think that the Garden of Eden was a real place, that Adam and Eve were real people, that the flaming sword that turned every which way was a real sword that kept people from getting to a real Tree of Life. (If a skeptic like me could go back in time and film these things with a video camera, bring it back and show it to everyone.) And that now we have no evidence of these things because God, even though He went through the trouble of setting up a guard for this whole area, scrapped that plan and removed all evidence.

      Have I got it wrong anywhere?

      By the way, thanks for continuing this discussion with me.

  16. July 1, 2009 7:17 am

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 7/1/2009, at The Unreligious Right

    • July 1, 2009 10:43 am

      Awesome! Thanks!

  17. July 1, 2009 5:39 pm

    “I happen to strongly believe that God exists, but not one that is anything like yours. ”

    I agree that you have made up your own god. And what a surprise, he thinks you’re swell and you don’t have to be accountable to him.

    And the facts you have to offer to substantiate your god? None, just what you made up.

    Bad idea.

    “So Jesus was not God’s Son who died to forgive our sins but God Himself who killed Himself to forgive our sins? Oh, that’s much better! LOL I guess John 3:16 got it wrong too. ”

    I appreciate you tipping your hand that you know so incredibly little about what you are choosing to critize. Perhaps in all of your learning you never heard about how Jesus is fully God and fully man?

    Really, I can argue against Christianity better than people like you.

    Conversational Atheist — I love the arguments from incredulity and the demands for specific evidence and ignoring the evidence you’ve been given. Those always self-destruct on atheists, who have to explain creation, evil, life, etc. but have to do so without evidence — just “something from nothing, life from non-life.” Oh, and then you get to explain why you can trust reason and make moral judgments without foundations to explain them.

    • July 1, 2009 5:55 pm

      Neil,

      I hope that one day you will directly answer a question that I ask. You do realize that I haven’t yet made an argument, right? I was just trying to find out exactly what your position was on these various ideas before I started arguing — just seems like a sensible thing to do. For now, I’ll assume that my impression of what you believe is roughly accurate unless I get corrected by you (always willing).

      Now, you had quite a shotgun blast of claims in that last paragraph. How’s this for accommodating: I’ll drop my previous questioning and move to a topic of your choosing. You said that I get to explain how I “make moral judgments without foundations to explain them.”

      Let me begin by asking (and please answer): Can humans reliably discover what is right and wrong on their own?

      PS Sisyphus — if this discussion grows annoying, let us know and we’ll relocate elsewhere.

      • July 1, 2009 7:23 pm

        I don’t mind at all, I don’t personally argue with Neil, because he is condescending and callous, like so many atheists are claimed to be. I’d ban him from posting because he annoys the shit out of me with his attitude but I just don’t have a good enough reason yet.

        • July 2, 2009 2:17 pm

          “Let me begin by asking (and please answer): Can humans reliably discover what is right and wrong on their own?”

          Your question is too vague. There are universal rights and wrongs, of course (e.g., it is always wrong to torture moral relativists / atheists until they admit that it is always immoral to torture moral relativists / atheists just for being moral relativists /atheists).

          Do you get to make up your version of right and wrong? In a legal sense, I suppose. Slavery was once legal. Abortion has always been immoral but is now legal.

          The existence of morality is just one of many evidences for God (see Mere Christianity, among others).

          The atheist worldview has no foundaton for morality. It just comes down to majority rules or who has the power. It always sneaks some alleged moral good in the back door (e.g., perpetuation of the species), but that begs the question.

          I’ll bow out since I’m obviously not welcome. Thanks for the (ironic) concession speech — again.

  18. July 1, 2009 5:44 pm

    “At least you admit that your god is a wrathful god and not a loving one. Why you want to worship a sadistic psychopath is beyond me. I don’t have to have a plan to “rescue ” people from your wrathful god, because I believe he’s a creation of mythical consciousness from thousands of years ago, the same god that they used to throw virgins into volcanos to appease. I prefer the loving God that Jesus called Abba. ”

    More ignorance. Those who trot out the “vengeful” OT God and the “loving NT God” canard have either not read or didn’t understand either book. Reminds me of the liberals who love-love-love the sermon on the mount but miss the point of how “judgmental” Jesus is in criticizing their worship, giving, praying, etc. and calling out false teachers. Who does He think He is, God? He also talks about judgment and Hell more than the OT did. And God is merciful over and over in the OT.

  19. July 2, 2009 2:43 pm

    Re: Neil

    (First of all, I don’t see a “REPLY” button on your last response to me — is there a limit to how nested these things can get??)

    Next, thank you for trying to answer the question. I meant the question as a “What do you think, Neil? Can humans reliably discover what is right and wrong on their own?”

    You mentioned that there exist universal rights and wrongs. All right, I’ll grant you that. The question remains, can we humans reliably discover/find out/reason out/intuit/attain in some way what these universal rights and wrongs are on our own?

    If you think that humans can do this, then what is your problem with atheists correctly discovering and applying these universal rights and wrongs?

    But, perhaps you do NOT think that humans can do this.

    Let me know either way.

    >> “I’ll bow out since I’m obviously not welcome. Thanks for the (ironic) concession speech — again.”

    I do not want you to bow out, and I have not implied that you are not welcome. I hope you stick around to continue our discussion.

  20. July 2, 2009 3:28 pm

    Yes, humans can discover universal rights and wrongs. My point is that atheists have no rational explanation to hold others accountable for them, other than power and personal preference. The nothingness-to-molecules-to-man worldview just doesn’t support the notion of anything being truly “good” or “evil.”

    The “bow out” part was addressed to the blog owner, not you. Sorry that wasn’t clear. You’ve been quite cordial, but I don’t want to spend more time on his blog.

    Peace,
    Neil

    • July 4, 2009 3:47 am

      Neil,

      Sorry for my delay — looks like you’ve been busy in my absence. I’m not sure I understand your response.

      You said that, “Yes, humans can discover universal rights and wrongs.”

      In response to my asking, “If you think that humans can [discover universal rights and wrongs], then what is your problem with atheists correctly discovering and applying these universal rights and wrongs?”

      And I don’t have a sense for it.

      “My point is that atheists have no rational explanation to hold others accountable for them, other than power and personal preference.”

      Do atheists have a rational explanation for devising traffic laws? I’d say (in general) yes — there seem to be some very obvious reasons for organizing roads, laws, etc. in a certain way. You certainly don’t think that traffic laws are divinely inspired, right? Can a molecules-to-man theory give us a rational basis for determining traffic laws? No. Is this a problem for an atheist city planner? I don’t think so.

      “The nothingness-to-molecules-to-man worldview just doesn’t support the notion of anything being truly “good” or “evil.””

      Are the laws of mathematics universal? Yes. Are they discoverable by humans? Yes. Can a molecules to man theory account for mathematics? No, and maybe I’m being dense, but I fail to see the problem.

      What is your problem with atheists correctly discovering and applying universal rights and wrongs?

  21. Jrod permalink
    July 2, 2009 7:03 pm

    My theory has always been this:

    Let’s take st Nicholas, a man that was said to have done good things. Add about 1800 year of folklore, myth, and legend and now you have a fat man that’s lives forever at the north pole comanding an army of “elves” That make toys and delivers these toys on a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer to kids all over the world on one day…..

    Now let’s take a man that may or may not have existed but was said to have done good things and was killed for his beliefs by an installed goverment that saw him as a threat. Now add 2000+ years of folklore myth and legend and you have the son of god.

    Just as a kid eventually learns that the santa they so despreately tried to appease in order to get rewarded at the end of the year turned out to be complete B.S.

    We as a people need to understand and grow up to realize the “god” that we so desperately try to appease in order to get rewared at the end of our lives is also B.S.

    Now I’m not saying toss out the whole thing, use it as a guide line and go on from there, stop making clergy men rich while they protect pedifiles with the money people give them.

    Watch religiolus by bill maher. Good movie. Only the closed minded fearfull of what’s outside of their closed minded world will balk at the idea of flaws in their little world and will refuse to watch it.

  22. jrod permalink
    July 2, 2009 7:20 pm

    The concept of right and wrong can be understood in one “rule” found in religion and just plain logic. “Treat others as you would like them to treat you” You don’t like your stuff stolen, don’t do it to others. You don’t like the idea of being killed, don’t do it to others, etc etc etc…… I feel people that are not completely brain damaged can understand this concept and don’t need threats of “eternal damnation” in order to to keep them in line.

    In the past the church used this threat of hell to inflict war, death and destruction and override peoples logic that this is, well, wrong. But the church instilled this in people to control them.

    I’m glad the church no longer has this much power, but this still exisits today in other religions that use heaven, other worldly rewards, and hell to inflict war on others…. To sum it up, religion any more is a bad thing.

  23. July 2, 2009 8:35 pm

    Now let’s take a man that may or may not have existed but was said to have done good things and was killed for his beliefs by an installed goverment that saw him as a threat. Now add 2000+ years of folklore myth and legend and you have the son of god.

    Sorry, just had to respond to this one. I need to quit reading my the WordPress “My Comments” page.

    That comment demonstrates a common misconception of Christianity.

    Even skeptical textual critics (i.e., atheists) concede that we know what the original writings of the New Testament say to 99.5% accuracy (and the differences are basically typos and such). They all say that Jesus is the only way to salvation about 100 ways and that He is God. That doesn’t make it true, but it does demonstrate the falsehood of saying that these core beliefs developed over 2,000 years.

    I can’t believe you took Religulous seriously. How many orthodox, thoughtful Christians did he seek out to get answers to his “tough” questions? If I make a movie by interviewing the dumbest atheists I can find will that prove that there is a God?

    You also don’t understand the concept of sin in the Christian worldview. Christianity teaches that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. You can try to “be good” but your good deeds don’t undo your bad ones. You can be nice all year but you still go to jail if you commit one armed robbery. Christianity teaches that God offers a pardon through Jesus. I know that many Christians don’t understand that either and it causes much confusion.

    I hope you do some more research before making such broad conclusions about God.

  24. jrod permalink
    July 2, 2009 11:43 pm

    Nothing broad about it. They didn’t even deifey him untill 600 years after his death, and then attempted to
    write the scriptures from the hand me down stories. They don’t even know when he died or when he was born. Dec 25 was chosen because no matter what they did they couldn’t keep pagans from celerbrating winter solstice a time where pagens brought in symbols of life unending (evergreen trees) and decorating them with lights, symbols of the coming of longer days and more light (important in the times of no electricity) and the sharing of gifts mainly food to help family get through. So they planted christ’s birthday on it so the christians would have something to celebrate. And now we have a christian/pagan holiday with images of you know who in a red suit. While parents tell their kids that jesus is the reason for the season.

    Hearing back lash about this is no different than a young child that finds out santa isn’t real and desperately tries to cling to what their mindless parents brainwashed them into believing. People will question and eventually will walk away from religion once they realize the extent of B.S. and lies were pounded into their heads and the blood soaked past of their faith. Only a person with no argument and no grounds to stand on will cite god, and faith when presented with questions they can’t answer. And as he said in the end of the movie “saying I don’t know is far more humbling” Can you? Or are you going to defend all the genocide, death and people burned at the stake in the name of religion? I won’t.

  25. jrod permalink
    July 3, 2009 12:01 am

    The New Testament was edited and compiled by men claiming divine authority several centuries after his death, so I HEAVILY question it’s 99.5% accuracy.
    Then they made a concentrated effort to see to it that nothing made it into the edited version, that didn’t fit their world view. Ever hear the gospel according to nicodemus and mary? The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Judas, The Epistle of Barnabas, The Epistle to the Laodecians, and many Gnostic texts were selectively suppressed by the church… often many centuries later.

    First this IHSus is a fictional creation, an amalgam of various mythical and historical creatures.

    In fact the name in the Greek is not Jesus but Joshua, Jerome and Augustine conspired to translate it into IESus, from the Greek signet for Dionysos (the word itself means son of god) of IHS, to which the male generative ending of “us” was added, but Latin doesn’t have an equivalent to the Greek Eta or “H”, which serves as both a consonant and a vowel as other Greek letters did. The Eta has a rough breathing E sound so they created IESus from IHSus. IHSus, of course, has his precedent in the various saviour gods of Egypt and the mid east including Dionysos (God of wine who turned water into wine) Osiris/Bacchus, even Ba’al whose passion so eerily resembles the passion of Christ.

    If that isn’t enough your Matthews, Marks, Lukes, Johns all of them are made up characters.

    Take Luke for example. There never was a man named in Greek Loukas, any more than we have men named Texan or Georgian. The adjective is territorial and simply means “a man from Lucania” a region of which the capital city was Luca, modern Lucca, south of Piso in Italy.

    Further more. How does one reconcile the vicious, vengeful, unforgiving and weak war god of the Old Testament (and he was weak because he needed his chosen people to wipe out his “enemies”. and the whole idea of an omnipotent omnescient creator god having enemies, especially ones he needs to genocide is beyond the pale), with the loving, forgiving god of the New Testament. Did this god grow up, mature, have a personality change?

    The god of the Old Testament can not have been, could not be the god of the New Testament. The two gods are as different as night and day, either that or god is a schizophrenic or he was a teenager that finally grew up.

    I’ve done my homework.

  26. July 3, 2009 6:27 am

    I’ve done my homework.

    Not even close.

    Nothing broad about it. They didn’t even deifey him untill 600 years after his death, and then attempted to
    write the scriptures from the hand me down stories

    If you are going to base your theology on the Da Vinci code, you should try to get the errors straight. Dan Brown tried to say that Jesus’ divinity was decided at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., not 600.

    And among many other flaws, Brown was wrong on the most important point: The theology being challenged wasn’t Jesus’ divinity, it was his humanity. Got that? The Gnostics thought Jesus was God but not man. You have it backwards. More here — http://www.4simpsons.com/DaVinci.htm

    They don’t even know when he died or when he was born.

    Agreed. That isn’t exactly newsworthy and has zero to do with the Bible.

    People will question and eventually will walk away from religion once they realize the extent of B.S. and lies were pounded into their heads and the blood soaked past of their faith.

    That’s odd, I know countless highly intelligent people who came to faith as adults after asking lots of tough questions.

    I see you like the “blood soaked past” sound bites. The problem is that anyone with critical thinking skills should realize that you don’t judge an ideology by those who violate its tenets. I’ve read the Bible a few times and can’t find anywhere that Jesus, Paul or anyone else said to advance Christianity with violence.

    If you are criticizing Islam, Hinduism, etc., then go right ahead.

    And of course, if you think there is no God then you have no foundation to critize anyone for anything. After all, Darwinian evolution would have “created” all religions so you’d have to blame it.

    More here — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/what-about-the-crusades-and-the-inquistion-etc/

    The New Testament was edited and compiled by men claiming divine authority several centuries after his death, so I HEAVILY question it’s 99.5% accuracy.

    To be clear, my claim — supported by atheist textual critics — is that we know to that level of accuracy what the original writings of the Bible said.

    Yes, I’ve heard of the other “gospels.” I’ve studied church history. There are many sound reasons why those weren’t included in the Bible, namely that the early Christians knew them to be false. Your objection is akin to someone claiming that science textbooks are false because they don’t include information about unicorns.

  27. July 3, 2009 6:28 am

    If that isn’t enough your Matthews, Marks, Lukes, Johns all of them are made up characters.

    Well, I’ll credit you for creativity. I’ve heard countless objections to the Bible but never that one. You might want to do a little more research on that one.

    Re. the Old Testament / New Testament God — that’s a common fallacy. Don’t feel bad, I’ve seen many Christians repeat that canard — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/03/11/old-testament-god-new-testament-god/

    The popular myth that Christianity borrowed from other religions fails on many levels — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/copycats/

  28. jrod permalink
    July 4, 2009 1:14 am

    Yes, I’ve heard of the other “gospels.” I’ve studied church history. There are many sound reasons why those weren’t included in the Bible, namely that the early Christians knew them to be false.

    What? They are false because they paint and different view of things? If it was all fact all “gospels” would be the same… Or are they all just tall tales of something that happened centuries before they were born. Funny how it’s the gospel according to [insert name here] Considering the word gospel derives from the Old English god-spell (rarely godspel), meaning “good tidings” or “good news” Doesn’t sound like the words “Historical Records”. Stories change from generation to generation, how do you think st nicholas was transformed into the immortal fat man in a red that flys around on dec 25th…. Heck the so called “real” stories (gospel/legend) says a butcher lured three little children into his house, where he slaughtered and butchered them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher’s horrific crime but also resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers. Now class, what story seems more far fetched?

    Your objection is akin to someone claiming that science textbooks are false because they don’t include information about unicorns.

    Wow, so if science books didn’t include information about unicorns, but left in “information” on zombies, goblins, and magic that it’s ok and it is somehow fact then and we should believe it? Find me a unicorn and I’ll get it into a science book. Until then all the “faith” and “belief” in the world doesn’t make it real nor fact.

    I see you like the “blood soaked past” sound bites. The problem is that anyone with critical thinking skills should realize that you don’t judge an ideology by those who violate its tenets. I’ve read the Bible a few times and can’t find anywhere that Jesus, Paul or anyone else said to advance Christianity with violence.

    But they did, still doesn’t undo the fact people died because of it’s push through history. Fact is still a fact and it’s still hypercritical B.S. to preach love and peace while still killing people that don’t agree with them.

    They don’t even know when he died or when he was born.

    Agreed. That isn’t exactly newsworthy and has zero to do with the Bible.

    Very newsworthy. If you can’t even tell when someone was born or died you certainly cannot speak of his life, deeds and so called teachings as fact or even real. They seem to clearly paint an image of what happened the day he died/killed, just seems someone forgot what date it happened. Kind of strange when people were studying astrology at the time. Must not have been that important.

    If you are criticizing Islam, Hinduism, etc., then go right ahead.

    How very christan of you. It’s ok to be criticizing of another faith. But don’t you dare criticize mine. Pathetic.

  29. jrod permalink
    July 4, 2009 1:25 am

    midiguru

    My (limited) experience trying to have a rational conversation with believers is that it’s like trying to nail down jello. No matter what I say, they always seem to have a pat answer. I think that’s what Bible Study classes are for — to fill their heads with pat answers.

    I very much agree, it’s futile….

  30. July 4, 2009 7:48 am

    Jrod, this is where you get to decide if you have intellectual integrity and follow the facts where they lead or if you will just continue to read from your Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites.

    I demonstrated where you were completely, horribly wrong about the dating of the Bible and the “debate” over Jesus’ divinity — i.e., you bought the Da Vinci Code lie hook, line and sinker and believed that it was some political move that made them say Jesus was divine, when in fact the controversy was over a group claiming He was only divine and not human.

    So meditate on that for a bit. Where did you get that information? Why did you believe it? Why were your sources so incredibly unreliable about a basic fact of history? If you were wrong on that, is it possible that you were wrong about other elements of the Christian worldview?

    At a minimum, will you stand corrected or will you trot out that error in other forums? Or will you just give out the “pat” answers that you are so critical of? Isn’t it Jello-like of you to ignore the corrections about the Council of Nicea? If you think my information is wrong, please correct me.

    Same thing for midigure above and his misunderstanding about “thou shalt not kill.” Will he use that misrepresentation again, or will he go to the next alleged issue in his list, or will he consider the possibility that he has been misinformed?

    What? They are false because they paint and different view of things? If it was all fact all “gospels” would be the same… Or are they all just tall tales of something that happened centuries before they were born.

    I really can’t believe you are using that argument. By your reasoning, anyone who wrote a book with “Gospel” in the title could claim that it should be added to the Bible. If you are really interested in the truth, check out The Church History by Eusebius. He documents much about what was included, what was not, and why.

    Stories change from generation to generation

    Yes, but that proves nothing. Don’t take my word for it, go to some research on textual criticism. The New Testament is the best documented book from antiquity, with thousands of manuscripts from all over the world. If you think of how they made copies and how those copies traveled around the world it is impossible that anyone could have rounded them up and changed them all. Impossible. Yet here we are with virtually identical documents.

    And we know from the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Old Testament hasn’t changed.

    Fact is still a fact and it’s still hypercritical B.S. to preach love and peace while still killing people that don’t agree with them.

    Hey, we agree on something! But I’m not sure what you think that proves. If I misquote you and disobey what you taught, does that mean you were wrong or does it mean I was wrong? In the same way, if people disobey Jesus that doesn’t make him wrong.

    How very christan of you. It’s ok to be criticizing of another faith. But don’t you dare criticize mine. Pathetic.

    Please permit me to clarify. I wasn’t saying you couldn’t criticize Christianity. I was saying that your criticism of it for being a violent religion were baseless since the primary writings about it don’t even hint that it should spread through violence. Go ahead, read the whole NT and find me a verse that proves me wrong.

    My point was that Islam started with violence, spread through violence and it violent to this day and most importantly, the violence is taught in the Koran. That’s why you can criticize it for being violent.

    What is your problem with atheists correctly discovering and applying universal rights and wrongs?

    Nothing personal, but you have yet to properly digest my comments and I have no idea what your point is. Please don’t be offended if I don’t respond to repeat comments. My point is that you can’t explain the foundation for right and wrong in a nothingness-to-molecules-to-man worldview. I didn’t say you couldn’t see the laws. In fact, I know that deep down you know moral laws and about God and choose to reject him and them (see Romans 1).

  31. jrod permalink
    July 4, 2009 3:47 pm

    I never once stated the Da Vinci code. Never saw the movie, never read the book….

    Oh I see, since one religion is more violent than the other the one that is less violent is ok? Christians have wiped out entire clutures because the people didn’t want to be apart of it. I don’t want any part of any religion that kills in the name of spreading it’s teachings while turning a blind eye to these atrocities.

    Go ahead, read the whole NT and find me a verse that proves me wrong.

    In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is quoted as saying that he had come to bring the sword, to “set father against son and mother against daughter” (Luke 12:53) and called on his followers to “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27).

    These words have, in the history of Christianity, been enacted in bloody reality many times – starting when an important political rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church took on a religious slant – leading to the split in European Christendom between Catholic and Protestant. This split sparked off a series of religious wars which were ultimately to be responsible for the death of nearly a third of the entire White race.

  32. jrod permalink
    July 4, 2009 5:56 pm

    Try reading every page before making statements like that. It seems you only read parts that support what you want them too.

  33. Havok permalink
    July 4, 2009 7:23 pm

    Neil: when in fact the controversy was over a group claiming He was only divine and not human

    And here I thought the first council of Nicea decided on the Arians vs Homoousians. The Homoousians asserted that Jesus was of the same substance as the father. The Arians asserted that Jesus was a creation of the father, though perhaps the first/most perfect of all.
    The gnostics, who seem to have thought Jesus was entirely divine, don’t seem to get a look in.

    Perhaps you need to look into your own sources of information, Neil? ;-)

  34. July 4, 2009 8:42 pm

    Oh I see, since one religion is more violent than the other the one that is less violent is ok?

    Ah, I see you are deliberately misunderstanding me. Once again, I’ll point out that the issue is whether the Bible teaches to spread by violence or if people committed violence in disobedience to Jesus’ teachings. But you knew that, right?

    In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is quoted as saying that he had come to bring the sword, to “set father against son and mother against daughter” (Luke 12:53) and called on his followers to “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27).

    Re. “father against son” — As always, it is helpful to read the verses in context. Does that passage speak of evangelism and threatening to hurt people who don’t convert? Not at all. Remember the rich young ruler? Jesus loved him, but the man walked away sad because he loved his money more than Jesus. Did Jesus force him to follow? No.

    The first passage you mentioned just points out that families will be divided over Jesus, and that is true.

    Luke 12:51-53 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

    Re. Luke 19:27 — let’s look at that context as well. Read the whole passage before it. It is the parable of the 10 minas and is about whether followers will be faithful about what they have been given. It is about Jesus’ judgment, not evangelism.

    I never once stated the Da Vinci code. Never saw the movie, never read the book….

    Regardless of the source of your misinformation, you are misinformed and are misinforming others. Now the test of intellectual integrity comes: What will you do now that you’ve been corrected on some core facts that you’ve used to dismiss Christianity? Do you reconsider whether your other information might be flawed? Do you stop repeating hte falsehoods?

  35. July 4, 2009 8:53 pm

    Havok’s assessment is worded more accurately than mine, so I’ll concede that re. the Gnostics (that was a separate heresy). Here’s a good overview of Nicea– http://www.gotquestions.org/council-of-Nicea.html .

    Hey, see how that works? Someone corrects your facts and you concede them without changing the subject.

    My main point stands, though: It is spectacularly well documented that He was considered deity very early, and not that it was made up 600 years later as you claimed.

  36. July 4, 2009 8:54 pm

    P.S. You might like this site for your other questions — http://www.gotquestions.org/

  37. jrod permalink
    July 4, 2009 10:11 pm

    So far all you have been doing is misinforming, repeating falsehoods, using redirection and using cop outs. I have stated historical facts about the christian wars, st nicolas, quotes from the new testament that you said don’t exist. Jesus told his followers to kill. Unless you mean the bible isn’t true. Or should they have left that gospel out? So I’m not misinforming, I am informing. Something you want desperately for me to stop doing. I have never seen such a case for denial in my life. It doesn’t matter how you try to carve it up and make it seem less than what it means, loss of life has happened because of it. A fact you will not even touch. You know it’s true, hundred of thousands have died in the name of this religion.

    Deny this.

    An Intellectual Genealogy of the Just War:
    A Survey of Christian Political Thought on the Justification of Warfare

    Augustine and the Concept of the Two Cities

    It was Ambrose’ student Augustine (354-430) who combined Roman and Judeo-Christian thought. He explains the existence of war as one of the unavoidable consequences as well as remedy caused by human sin, although the right end of society is peace and justice, even in war. He alters Cicero’s definition of the state as “an assemblage of reasonable beings bound together by a common agreement as to the objects of their love” (Holmes, 61). In order to have justice, man had to serve God, and the only object worthy of love is God, therefore to truly be a “people” individuals must be “bound together by higher interests” (Holmes, 62) because only God and the law of God can truly command the soul and reason. The soul and reason by themselves are incapable of controlling the vices. Augustine cites David and Moses from the Old Testament (who were commanded by God to fight), soldiers being baptised by John and a centurion from the New Testament whom Jesus does not instruct to change his profession as a tacit approval for soldiering. He has no problem approving of violence towards “him who rebels and resists”, but advocates showing mercy to “the vanquished or the captive” (Holmes, 63). He argues that Christ’s command to turn the other cheek is an inward disposition rather than a bodily action (Holmes, 65). According to Augustine, it is not war-making that the Bible prohibits, but the violence, cruelty and lust for rule that accompany war (Russell, 16). As Ravitzky argues:

    “Augustine, the chief spokesperson for this [just war] doctrine, buttressed his arguments by citing the sayings of the prophets in their literal, original senses; the pacifist verses in the New Testament, however, had to be given a new, nonliteral interpretation. Here too, this was done by way of spiritualization – not, however, of texts that called to battle, but of those that rang with pacifism. The latter were interpreted as referring to man’s inner state, to the depths of his spirit, and not to concrete historical reality” (Nardin, 124-5).

    Regarding authority, Augustine has God as the highest authority that might compel men to engage in war. The monarch is also delegated a legitimate authority to wage war for the safety and peace of the community (Holmes, 65) and all this must be in obedience to God. He reasons that soldiers are to have impunity because they are following orders from a higher authority – the King. Even if the King is misguided or ungodly, since obedience is the duty of a soldier, he is still morally innocent. In some ways war is cited as something that brings people together, because they become more unified within the Empire, and an imposed common language may also strengthen a bond of peace between people (Holmes, 71). He describes peace between man as “concord among citizens”. A perfectly ordered peace, however, can only be found in the heavenly city. He says “ there may be peace without war, but there cannot be war without some kind of peace, because war supposes the existence of some natures to wage it, and these natures cannot exist without peace of one kind or another” (Holmes, 71). Even things that are evil (including the nature of the devil himself) have some good. He notes that war is temporal, and that periods of war also give way to periods of peace, which may be longer than those periods of war, but nonetheless, these conditions are mortal and they necessarily shall pass away (see Holmes, 79). He says that “the earthly city, that does not live by faith, seeks an earthly peace”, achieved usually by “the combination of men’s wills [read: commonwealth] to attain the things which are helpful of this life” (Holmes, 78). In other words, the state system itself is a result of the imperfection of the earthly plane whose imperfection originates in the Fall of Adam, for the heavenly city has no such seemingly arbitrary “diversities” (Holmes, 79).

    Augustine still had to deal with the New Testament precepts of ‘turn the other cheek’ (Matt. 5:29) and ‘give place to wrath’ (Rom. 12:19). He developed the doctrine by which war, broadly described as the punishment of a sinner, was motivated by love of the sinner (Russell, 57). Augustine thus transformed the Christian notion of love (caritas) into a motivation for waging war. A private citizen or cleric, however, could not kill an attacker, even in self-defence, since this would entail loss of love. Therefore, the pacifism of the early Church still extended to civilians. Because state leaders had the sole authority to make war, the need for legitimate authority was later emphasised as necessary to wage a just war. The actual justification of war came from the need to avenge injuries, or to punish wrongs by members. This seems similar to the Ciceronian view that the aims of the just war are to address grievances and secure compensations for loss, and to return the aggrieved part to the status quo ante bellum. However, Augustine went further, since his definition of justice extended beyond simple legal rights and included a respect for divine rights. Therefore, the justification of war was also made possible in cases where Christian law, or Christian orthodoxy or the rights of Church hierarchy were violated. This eventually paved the way for the Crusades which synthesised holy war with the just war (Russell, 19-26, 38). Church canon law would eventually come to codify the support for the Church to combat against heretics, excommunicates, enemies of the peace and infidels. Around 1085, Anselm of Lucca published the Collectio Canonum which justified coercion against the enemies of the Church. The Crusades, being directly authorised by the Pope became the Church’s ultimate just war (Russell, 38-39).

  38. July 4, 2009 10:44 pm

    So far all you have been doing is misinforming, repeating falsehoods, using redirection and using cop outs. I have stated historical facts about the christian wars, st nicolas, quotes from the new testament that you said don’t exist.

    OK, I’m done. You aren’t even trying, you’re just falsely accusing me for the very things you’ve done.

    I didn’t recall that St. Nicholas was in the Bible.

    You misquoted the NT, you didn’t quote it.

    Falsehoods? Like Jesus’ deity being made up 600 years after the fact? Still waiting for you to concede that one.

    I’m not sure what your quote about Augustine was supposed to prove, other than that you are still dodging your errors and changing the subject.

    Thanks for demonstrating the classic close-mindedness of atheists who pretend to follow the facts where they lead but just repeat their false sound bites ad nauseum and refuse to be corrected. You make my points better than I can.

    Once again, you don’t judge an ideology by those who violate its tenets. If atheism is true then your beloved Darwinian evolution is the “creator” of all religions, including Christianity, and you have no philosophical grounding to criticize anything. I’m just a bag of chemicals who went from atheism to Christianity because these random chemical reactions make me “think” that I see evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the truth of the Bible. Meditate on that.

    If you follow the facts you’ll find that the best explanation for the historical data is that Jesus rose from the dead, confirming his deity — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/a-unique-way-to-approach-defending-the-christian-faith/ . You are a sinner in need of a Savior and deep down you know it. Eternity is a might long time.

    All the best, everyone. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to demonstrate how false information gets spread about Christianity and how people in rebellion will refuse to concede the most basic of facts (e.g., that Jesus was considered to be God as early as the first century).

    Remember that your propped-up pride will mean nothing when you face God to give an account for your life. If you think you can claim ignorance you have another thing coming.

    Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

  39. Havok permalink
    July 5, 2009 7:11 am

    Neil: Falsehoods? Like Jesus’ deity being made up 600 years after the fact? Still waiting for you to concede that one.

    ]
    Well, it seems most of the Christ cults accepted Jesus as “non-human” early, but they didn’t have the same distinction between natural/supernatural and human/divine we have today. And it seems that there was a large difference in opinion on the ” Anointed Saviour” very early on. Sure, in the council of nicea they decided on the Arian heresy, but lets not imagine it was the only difference of opinion :-)

    Neil: Thanks for demonstrating the classic close-mindedness of atheists who pretend to follow the facts where they lead but just repeat their false sound bites ad nauseum and refuse to be corrected. You make my points better than I can.

    Atheaists are as closeminded as non-christians, or non-stamp-collectors. It’s not a positive belief, remember? :-P

    Neil: If atheism is true then your beloved Darwinian evolution is the “creator” of all religions, including Christianity, and you have no philosophical grounding to criticize anything. I’m just a bag of chemicals who went from atheism to Christianity because these random chemical reactions make me “think” that I see evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the truth of the Bible. Meditate on that.

    And so, again, you display your ignorance of things such as the modern synthesis, determinism and free will.
    You realise contra-causal or libertarian free will fits the “random” tag much better right? :-) (Which Christianity asserts, but which further investigation shows to be unfounded)
    Oh well… ;-)

  40. jrod permalink
    July 6, 2009 7:31 pm

    The bit on Augustine is how they manipulated the context of the bible to commit evil atrocities and justify “holy war” and the deaths they caused. A subject you still will not touch.

    I used St Nicholas as a basis of comparison how stories can change, distort and warp over time into mystical and magical hocus pocus. I never said he was in the bible. He is just another name in the chapters of christianity. Jesus raised a person from the grave, St Nicholas raised three that were chopped up in barrels, and he isn’t even the “son of god” and/or god himself.

    That is the main problem. If it’s on paper, someone can change it. if it’s a passed on story, someone can alter it.

    Am I an atheist? No. If I had to categorize myself I guess would be closer to a deist. Is is possible that a god/s exist? Maybe. I don’t know. There are too many religions, gods, and tall tails to say one is right. There are roughly 2500 deities in the various known religions, as well as some religions which have individual household deities, not to mention so-called kitchen gods like mother nature, the grim reaper etc. Then in hinduism and the ideal of pantheism, then everything is god. The sun, earth, rocks, animals, dust, everything is. Even the keys on your keyboard is god. So if you want a faith to follow, pick one. And not just a faith that has killed the most people to spread it’s influence.

    And that being said, I’ll quote Epicurus:

    (The Question from Evil)

    “Is God willing to prevent evil but not able, then he is not omnipotent.

    Is God able but not willing, then he is malovent.

    Is God willing and able then wence commeth evil.

    Is God neither able nor willing, then why call him God?”

  41. July 7, 2009 7:44 am

    I like your reasons because it contains some reasons I haven’t think of, like “Thomas and Paul given much more evidence”. I’ll add them to my list. Garret Oden (the guy who made a response to your list) is really missing the point. I have no time to respond to his view but anyway, people who look at his post can see it by themselves. He seems blind, probably blinded by his faith and that’s sad.

  42. Terry permalink
    July 15, 2009 9:17 pm

    I love reading these blogs and forums. So much debate and chatter, I really enjoy them.
    I am a christian. I choose to not get into debates like these. I am also not as versed as some on the translations of hebrew and greek, which can make a difference in many cases.
    I do however want to throw out a few things.

    As a christian, I personally believe that the first thing that people get from me is love an compassion first. Jesus displayed these traits above all else with those who required it first. I also believe that if they can not see this first, then the words out of my mouth will carry no weight.

    I also believe that healthy discussion is fun and challenging with learning thrown in. Notice I did not say debate, I said discussion. When I have discussions on my beliefs or areas of the bible I think people walk away enlightened or encouraged, not discouraged or frustrated. Christian/Atheistic debates go no where.
    I also believe these debates go along way towards perpetuating the stigma that in this day and age is carried with the term”christian”

    I agree with Neil on the topic of context. Many times verses are used to defend a a point and they have been taken completely out of context, altering the intended meaning at times. I have seen this done from Pastors, in church and non-believers. I believe this is common and downright irresponsible, especially from a church.

    I loved the comment in regard to the golden rule above, that was classic.
    Many times people read this and say as the author above if you don’t want bad things done to you, don’t do it to others. However Jesus says treat others as you want to be treated. I see it like this, its much easier to NOT be bad to someone than it is TO BE good to someone. We should be good to others cause that is what we would like, not ill try not steal his stuff and I hope he doesn’t steal mine.

    And finally from the Christian perspective, the question has to be asked what if what the bible teaches and what many Christians believe is right. Where does that leave the nonbeliever. Its not a statement intended to spark debate. Its a statement intended to provoke real thought. What if…

    And finally Penn from Penn and Teller and is a devout atheist posted a video blog sometime back This video blog is in relation to his encounter with a Christian. It by no means gives proof to either side, or backs up either argument. I thought it was quite refreshing to hear of someone approaching this scenario in this manner and refreshing to not encounter the debate or arguments, but encounter the person to person contact with love and respect.

    Sorry for the length

  43. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2009 4:25 pm

    As a believer I can appreciate questions. I have not always been a believer and at one time had many questions myself. I also know that there is nothing I can write in any blog that will change your mind on your stance. The ony proof that would satisfy would the be the physcical manifestion of God himself. I do appreciate your insight. I have many problems with Christianity myself. I probably even have questions that I could add to your list. My problems lie with today’s version of Christianity. We do not always put our best foot forward.

    However, your questions lie not so much in what you see lived out in front of you but with the theology of what you have read. Many of your questions have answers. Most of them lie in your misunderstanding of what the Bible really says. I stopped reading at number 3 because though that is what it may seem to you, those are all untrue statements. For instance, the things you mentioned in point 3 are all found in the Bible but in no way are they condoned. One last point I would like to make. Someone replied about killing. Please at least read the Bible in context if you would like to comment on it. The Bible DOES NOT say “Do not kill.” It says, “Do not murder.” That is not simply a matter of symantics either. I believe that most would agree that there is a significant difference between killing and murdering.

    Thank you for your post. There are some very realy questions out there that need answers. I would love to post some, but just as you right now are thinking I am approaching this with a bias you in turn would read my answers with one.

    • jrod permalink
      December 25, 2009 12:09 pm

      Bible in Basic English:

      “And as for those who were against me, who would not have me for their ruler, let them come here, and be put to death before me.” (Luke 19:27).

      OR

      International Standard Version (©2008):

      But as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king-bring them here and slaughter them in my presence!'”

      Sounds like murder to me….

  44. problematic permalink
    February 5, 2010 8:26 pm

    The biggest problem I have with Christianity is that one has to die before going to heaven (or hell). Christ said that who ever believes in me will have eternal life. What is also ironic is that if you don’t believe in him you will also have eternal life but you will go to hell. Jesus never explained anything perfectly. Every time someone asked how does one get into heaven, he always had a different answer.
    If Jesus is God, and God is perfect, than everytime someone asked him that question it would had all been the same answer.
    So getting back to my biggest problem with Christianity is this: Why must I first die to know for sure if eternal life or heaven exists? And why hasn’t anyone out of billions and billions that have died ever came back to tell us that it is true?

    • Suzi permalink
      March 21, 2010 3:20 pm

      First off, to quote Ayn Rand: “Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it.”

      Religions require followers to set aside reason and replace it with faith. With faith there is no need for proof or evidence; without it, there is no heaven .. no god. Faith is the foundation of religions because it requires belief without evidence; you, a reasoning man, need evidence.

      Since Christians deny reason the two of you will never find a common ground where they may be swayed by your questions and arguments or you may see the reason in believing without proof or, reason.

      So, to answer your question, ‘Why must I first die to know for sure if eternal life or heaven exists’ is: you must not question it, just believe it and have faith it exists. If you do this, it will come to be. If you try to find reason in it, it’ll forever evade your grasp.

      It’s as good of a scam as when Abram, Sara and their god pulled a confidence scheme on the pharaohs for goods, money and land. If you want life after death you must never question, never demand proof — the very act of it will keep it from you.

      Belief and faith are very much magical spells, a ‘build it and they will come’ conjuring. If believers stop to allow reason to catch up with them, all the fantasies disappear in a small puff of smoke. Imagine risking having your fears overtake you, to come up against the solid wall of reality, that we all die and nothing exists beyond that veil. Like birds in gilded cages, they’ll not be coaxed out of the safe haven to fly in the open where real dangers lurk.

      Christians deny reason: life after death, invisible gods, planned events can’t survive the light of reason .. reason to them is the fantasy, it has no substance, and it will never convince them. Many thinkers have pondered reason … there are some good quotes here:

      http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/reason.html

  45. You're all conforming to xenophobia permalink
    March 1, 2010 3:06 am

    “..is immoral as it condones slavery, genocide, xenophobia, incest, rape, and…” Woah woah woah, wait a second, you ridicule it’s xenophobia, then it’s incest? Hypocrite! I hate people like you, who assume incest is wrong… “because incest is wrong” circular “because incest is gross” Irrelevent and subjective “Genetic mutations” again, irrelevent, and mid aged peoples’ kids have as much mutations as 1st cousins’ kids, we don’t stop that 40 year olds from fucking, do we?

    • April 13, 2010 12:26 pm

      Hey if you want to fuck your sister then by all means have at it Billy Bob.

  46. April 3, 2010 11:16 pm

    Boy, following all the reasoning here is hard work for me. I guess I’m just a simple fellow. The arguments are fine, for and against, but there is a bit of an assumption here, that nobody seems to have a quarrel with. I do a bit. Permit me to raise a point.
    One of my favorite verses is in Proverbs: “The lord pondereth the heart”. That comes first. Not the intellect, the skill at arguments. The heart, for me, as in ‘compassion’.
    You don’t have to be a super intellectual, ferociously well read, up to speed on all the clish-clash cut and thrust, plus have a degree in Biblical History, A Master’s in Advanced Atheism, and an ability to spout and debate like a pro.
    The head is good. To read, discuss, think, argue is good. Very good. We should.
    But in the final analysis, there is something you just feel. Some call it Faith. Others call it superstition. You can be a very simple fellow, like me, without all the text book pat answers, and be content to struggle with intellectual doubts, but nonetheless believe intuitively.
    For me, that’s an important point: too much debate, arguing, and polemics creates the illusion that it’s ALL a matter of the head and intellect. Yes… that part is important. But it’s NOT the be all and end all.
    I also feel a certain coldness in the arguments of some of the presumably Christian, Pro-God speakers here. Academic Condescension, even. You cannot argue anybody into belief. It’s a huge mistake to try. Speak the truth as you see it quietly, but be gentle, is what I’d say.
    Make sense…?
    http://www.writersharbor.org/work_view.php?work=190

    • Suzi permalink
      April 4, 2010 8:56 am

      Well said yet, I feel you are wrong. As a jury member sitting on a murder trial I do feel he is guilty so I’m going to go with that just like last week when I felt my husband had been unfaithful to me so I left, taking his two children from him.

      Feelings are great but they are mostly motivated by what we think or fear. I wonder if, before full understanding of nature, people felt the sky was falling in when a tornado ripped through their lives and, fearful of it happening again, felt they should try to appease that spinning entity with offerings and worship …..

  47. April 4, 2010 9:21 am

    Suzi/S.S./others
    howdy-dowdy
    “Religions require followers to set aside reason and replace it with faith. With faith there is no need for proof or evidence; without it, there is no heaven .. no god. Faith is the foundation of religions because it requires belief without evidence; you, a reasoning man, need evidence. ”
    Nicely phrased. My instinct is that you are correct that some religions do that, and in Christianity (wide term) MANY people do. But many also do not.
    For those who have a quiet, steadfast Christian faith, don’t jump up and down shouting “Jesus saved me!” at the top of their lungs, don’t read a lot, don’t study a lot, and don’t get involved in polemics: I say, good for you. Provided you’re not doing risky stuff like kissing rattlesnakes to prove something.(materialism again)
    For those who like to reason, read, debate, follow blogs like this one, and who enjoy using the gifts of the intellect, and the power of reasoning, I say: “Wonderful!”
    But I just suggest we tread softly. What the hell do we really know? (pun intended)
    There are some awfully simplistic rituals out there, you follow them, and “Poof!” you’re saved? Really? That easy? Hmmmm….. That can end up transparently shallow.
    Yes, there are plenty, plenty failings on the parts of Christians and other Religionists.
    A counter productive, lecturing, haughty, judgmental arrogance for one.
    But are all Atheists perfect and right? Can you just casually dismiss the whole God thing with an irritated wave of the hand? Not worthy of further investigation?
    If you study quietly on your own, without any agenda to convert people to your point of view, then I’ll be surprised if you can’t find plenty, plenty of reasoned evidence that points to there being much, much more going on than we simple ones see, hear, and think we understand. Tread softly. Don’t jump to conclusions, either way. Above all, don’t close your mind. Many Atheists make that mistake. And so do many Christians, who have decided that they know all the answers, and that anybody who disagrees is a terrible person, who (yawn) is gonna jolly well rot in hell…
    I haven’t even remotely figured it all out, but I’m working on it. And having fun.
    http://www.writersharbor.org/work_view.php?work=57

  48. Suzi permalink
    April 5, 2010 5:45 pm

    Francis Meyrick you said:

    “But are all Atheists perfect and right? Can you just casually dismiss the whole God thing with an irritated wave of the hand? Not worthy of further investigation? If you study quietly on your own, without any agenda to convert people to your point of view, then I’ll be surprised if you can’t find plenty, plenty of reasoned evidence that points to there being much, much more going on than we simple ones see, hear, and think we understand. Tread softly. Don’t jump to conclusions, either way. Above all, don’t close your mind. Many Atheists make that mistake.”

    People are people on all sides of any issue so I will grant there are those who think themselves ‘perfect and right’ but as for atheists in general, that is a grand assumption and your part and a bit of a back-handed slap on your part. Atheists do not think of themselves as perfect and as for right, they make choices that are right for them, just as you do. This is a rather petty statement to make. Then you follow it up with an assertion that atheists are irritated with the whole god thing and think it not worth looking further into .. you assume atheists know nothing of religion(s) or the christian bible — you couldn’t be more wrong. Most have been raised in the religion, some have been deeply involved with preaching, teaching and witnessing; they know the religion and it’s tomb very well indeed. It’s the thinking person who keeps asking questions who finds so many pitfalls, so much that contradicts, plenty of problems that they eventually can’t continue to deceive themselves. The default stance on anything which requires one to feel the rightness of it — have faith in it, not question it or give up understanding to an unseen entity — is to not complicate the vista with that which is not seen, not provable, not demonstrable. Ergo, no gods until there is evidence of such. No apollo, thor, ptah, kamui, coatlique, viracocha, horus, ra, isis, amun, brahman, jehovah, etc. An atheist and you are the same except the former believes in one less god than you.

    If I were to say you your daughter committed a crime, you’d want me to prove that; if I said give me your money and I’ll invest it so you will enjoy great returns, you’d want evidence I can and I’m trustworthy; if I said the earth revolved around the sun, you’d want that demonstrated. In none of these scenarios would you just take my word for it or, my saying my god said so so you can take that as proof enough.

    Believers, doubters, skeptics and unbelievers are arguing apples and oranges (and dates and pears). Someone who will simply believe, have faith without question, cannot and will not see it any other way. Someone who needs proof cannot and will not believe without evidence. The best we can do is explain and show who we are and accept each other for what we are and not equate atheism with satan worship or confuse religion with spirituality.

  49. April 6, 2010 9:01 pm

    Hiya Suzi,
    I would respectfully disagree that I made the sweeping general (and simplistic) assertions that you somewhat hotly attribute to me. “Many” does not mean “most” and it certainly does not mean “All”. With what seems like a strange eagerness to jump on the barricades, and unfurl the battle flag, you seem anxious to label me dogmatic, and equally anxious to wrap my position up in a small box, neatly labeled “judgmental/intolerant of Atheists”. I sense a need to attack, and hence the need to attribute to your “opponent” a conveniently untenable position.
    I puzzle over the tightly coiled spring. Relax. I sense you have been attacked over these issues before, and are hair triggered towards favoring both barrels with buckshot…
    I have re-read my previous post, and am content that it is -in my humble opinion- not without merit, and does not deserve to be interpreted as denigrating or unkind to the view point of Atheism.
    Moving on to your point:
    “you assume atheists know nothing of religion(s) or the christian bible — you couldn’t be more wrong.”
    Duh. I’m really impressed you got that out of my previous post. No matter how hard I try, I can’t possibly come anywhere near that reading… In any case, it is far, far, from both my experience, and far from my opinion. Is it I who is assuming, ma’am, or is it you…?
    (wink)
    Moving on, let me address this comment of yours:
    “Ergo, no gods until there is evidence of such”
    Ah. But how much evidence do you need? Are you saying, as presumably a dedicated researcher and reader, that in all your travels, and all your studies, you have found the sum total of zero evidence? No hint, no indication, nothing noteworthy? The box that says “Evidence of A God” is empty? You have found nothing in the bible that struck you as remarkably un-human? When Jesus said “He of you who is without sin may cast the first stone”, you felt that was just a good guy talking? And that Man, especially in those days, was well capable of such noble thinking? If so, I’m skeptical. Jesus for his times, was pretty revolutionary. We’re used to all that verbiage today, but in those times…?
    How about archeology? A fascinating field. From the Dead Sea scrolls to Isaiah. The way I read it, archeology has tended to strangely back up the Bible. Not discredit it.
    How about the really interesting people you have met, kind, patient, wise, compassionate, who were also dedicated Christians? Often brilliantly educated. Are you just saying, “well, they are all mistaken, tough cheddar”?
    Isn’t that just a little bit like the attitude you attribute to me? And I don’t mean that unkindly.
    Again, in my previous post. Let me come back to an issue, that is related to your demand for “evidence”. What sort of evidence? Formulaic? Photographic? Something you can feel, touch, measure, weigh? I think you might be wearing the wrong spectacles.
    Assume, just for mischief, that there IS a God. A Supreme Being, capable of Love, Anger, and with an awesome Patience. Who, hopefully, (for hoodlums like us), has a good sense of humor. Now, how is he going to communicate his Presence? On his terms, or on your terms? If you want to measure him, weigh him, photograph him, analyze him in a laboratory test tube, or punch him in the eye, maybe he has a different idea….
    Yes, you come across as articulate, intelligent, and with a penetrating mind. I suspect you are well educated. But are we saying that your (intellectual) way is the only way? How about the simple folk, who can barely read, never mind frame an intellectual argument, are they just plumb outta luck? That doesn’t seem very fair.
    You see the point I’m trying to make? Maybe not very well, but sincerely.
    Exactly how God does it… heck, I don’t pretend to know. But I suspect He does it, on a different unique level, for everybody. And I also strongly suspect, that he is much, much happier with the dedicated Atheist, who is actively thinking about it, grappling with the issues. As opposed to the lukewarm, shallow, “Yeah dude (yawn) I’m saved, course I am…”
    ritualistic “Christian” whose faith is more like an insurance policy.
    In summary, I’m skeptical of us telling God the way he had better come to the table. On our terms. Proverbs says: “The Lord pondereth the Heart”. Not the intellect…
    Over to you. And please don’t be mad. I’m not a bad old spud, really.

    • Havok permalink
      April 7, 2010 7:45 am

      Francis: Ah. But how much evidence do you need?
      Apparently more than you :-)

      Francis: Are you saying, as presumably a dedicated researcher and reader, that in all your travels, and all your studies, you have found the sum total of zero evidence? No hint, no indication, nothing noteworthy? The box that says ‘Evidence of A God’ is empty?
      Pretty much. There doesn’t seem to be anything where “a god” is the best answer/explanation. The Christian God doesn’t even seem to get a look in.

      Francis: You have found nothing in the bible that struck you as remarkably un-human?
      Nope. And your examples below aren’t all that good.

      Francis: When Jesus said ´He of you who is without sin may cast the first stone¡, you felt that was just a good guy talking?
      Could have been said by any number of people in numerous times, places and cultures (and a similar sentiment likely has been). I’m not sure what strikes you as “inhuman” or “unhuman” about it.

      Francis: And that Man, especially in those days, was well capable of such noble thinking?
      Perhaps you need to do a little more reading. It seems that “in those days” there were a few who were capable of such noble thinking. Some of them even bothered to record their own thoughts instead of leaving it to others, decades later, to provide a pretty fragmentary, contradictory story (if the 4 gospels are taken together).

      Francis: If so, I’m skeptical. Jesus for his times, was pretty revolutionary. We’re used to all that verbiage today, but in those times…?
      How about the Cynics? Musonius Rufus? Apollionus of Tyana? I could go on (and that’s just in the area near “Jesus” geographically and temporally)

      Francis: How about archeology? A fascinating field. From the Dead Sea scrolls to Isaiah. The way I read it, archeology has tended to strangely back up the Bible. Not discredit it.
      No more so than any book written in history. Funny, but the Noah’s flood, the exodus, the conquest of Canaan and various other pivotal parts of the biblical “story” aren’t supported by the evidence. Whoops!

      Francis: How about the really interesting people you have met, kind, patient, wise, compassionate, who were also dedicated Christians? Often brilliantly educated. Are you just saying, ‘well, they are all mistaken, tough cheddar‘?
      Pretty much.
      You seem to casually dismiss all of the really interesting, etc, people who are buddhist, hindu, muslim, jewish, Zoroastrian, neo-pagan, agnostic, atheistic, etc etc?

      Francis: Isn’t that just a little bit like the attitude you attribute to me? And I don’t mean that unkindly.
      You seem to think that Christianity is the only game in town. From the outside I see no way to choose between them, and plenty of reasons to not choose any of them *shrug*.

      Francis: What sort of evidence? Formulaic? Photographic? Something you can feel, touch, measure, weigh? I think you might be wearing the wrong spectacles.
      Compelling logical argument, empirical evidence, scientific theory, etc. Not just personal subjective testimony and old stories. That doesn’t cut it for either of us regarding Ahura Mazda. For some reason it is enough for you regarding Yahweh|Jesus. I find it curious.

      Francis: Assume, just for mischief, that there IS a God. A Supreme Being, capable of Love, Anger, and with an awesome Patience. Who, hopefully, (for hoodlums like us), has a good sense of humor. Now, how is he going to communicate his Presence? On his terms, or on your terms? If you want to measure him, weigh him, photograph him, analyze him in a laboratory test tube, or punch him in the eye, maybe he has a different idea….
      Communicating in any terms would be a start, but that’s probably too much to ask. Surely such a being would know that inspiring people to write books which are historically and scientifically inaccurate is NOT the way to convince.
      You seem to assume such a deity HAS to be the Christian god. As I said above, I find that proposition to be laughably implausible and improbable. If there is a deity/power/whatever, I would think it would value rational investigation over belief/faith.

      Francis: And I also strongly suspect, that he is much, much happier with the dedicated Atheist, who is actively thinking about it, grappling with the issues. As opposed to the lukewarm, shallow, ´Yeah dude (yawn) I’m saved, course I am…‘
      Even though his own supposed word claims the contrary? I really don’t see the use in treating the Christian bible reverently if you’re simply going to disregard sections of it you don’t like.

  50. April 7, 2010 6:48 am

    On a light note, the mischief making side of my brain (the part that doesn’t face Mecca), is reminded of an old scribble I once scribbled. Nothing too serious….

    http://www.writersharbor.org/work_view.php?work=85

  51. Geoff Brady permalink
    June 9, 2010 12:03 am

    I am not a Christian or religious. I was once a fundamentalists Christian but thanks to John Shelby Spong I was cured of that. It is tempting for me to become a Fundamentalist Athiest Evolutionist (FAE). FAE’s attack the bible which is too easy but they don’t look at the growing problems with evolution such as how did the first singe cell molecule come about, and how does an evolving organism gain genetic information, and further the idea of irreducible complexity. Don’t you dare call me a creationist. These are just huge question marks and I see as an non partizan student that still have no adequate explanation. (I’ve seen all the mouse trap pro’s and cons but I am not convinced either way). Just make sure your science is not a partizan science, but pure and can admit we dont really know the truth about many things.

    • Havok permalink
      June 9, 2010 12:38 am

      Geoff Brady:

      There is much being done in origins of life research, and several promising hypothesis being pursued. “Proto-cells”, being simple lipids layers, aren’t too difficult to construct, as it happens.
      The evidence that “genetic information” can increase through nothing more than standard Darwinian mechanisms is available, regardless of how the ID camp tries to paint the picture. This paper (behind a paywall, sorry) is a start. There’s also this research.
      The concept of irriducible complexity, while perhaps interesting, has not been demonstrated to be present in any biological system, at least in the sense of “could not have come about by blind darwinian mechanisms”.

      Why does there being no definitive answer to something, such as biogenesis, lead you to accept the propanga and PR of the ID crowd, who seem bent on ignoring the literature and the critiques of other experts?

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