Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book

July 3, 2007 at 1:32 am 424 comments

An A-Religious Commentary:


Circular Reasoning


I’ve been asked, when discussing with theists, to read their various holy books (usually the Bible) with an open mind. The implication is that, if I gave their book an honest and open minded look, I’d become convinced and start believing, as they do. Further it’s implied that I’m not as open minded as I claim to be but rather closed to religion because I do not carefully examining their various books with the agnostic (i.e. undecided) attitude.

Please don’t ask me to read your holy book with an open mind. I can describe my mind as open, but not so open that my common sense fails me. Don’t you see? There’s a fundamental flaw with this request, and it’s staring you right in the eyes. There’s a huge elephant in the room, and yet you close your eyes to it! This is the assumption that a holy book can somehow validate itself.

Let me reiterate what I consider myself to be. I am a skeptic. I am a naturalist (i.e,. I look for natural, as opposed to supernatural causes). I’m not a scientist in the sense that I work with science, but I’m a fan of the scientific method. What does this tell you about me? It should tell you that I will not take any book’s word for its own validity. By reading your Holy Booktm, I will only learn a bit about your brand of mythology. I won’t come to believe it.

Why is that? It should be obvious, but apparently it’s not. I don’t believe it. I will admit that I haven’t read the entire Bible. Does this mean I cannot be critical of Christianity? Does the fact that I haven’t read the Koran mean I cannot be critical of Islam? Absolutely not! I don’t believe them. The basic premise of these books is that they are of divine nature. They’re built on the assumption that they are inspired by or directly delivered from God, creator and all.

Naturally, I can’t find out if the premise is true by assuming the premise. That would be circular reasoning. It would be akin to me writing a book in which I describe myself as Messiah and I then assume that the book (coming from Messiah) is of divine nature and use that assumption to prove that I am, in fact, Messiah. Assuming the conclusion is not a way to prove anything. Actually, it’s valid. If we assume that a preposition is true, it follows that the preposition is true, but in no way have we justified the assumption.

What does this tell you? It tells you that I’m not close minded for not reading assuming your conclusion in order to assess your conclusion. If you want to prove that the Bible or the Koran, or any other Holy Booktm is really of divine nature, you must rely on other sources. This is where the conversation usually halts. “But Messiah said it requires faith to believe!” Obviously. This is the same mindset.

For example, in order to prove to me that Jesus was in fact Son of God, a Christian presented some Bible quote (I can’t remember where from and I can’t be bothered to look it up) that said something to the effect of, “if I [Jesus] don’t do miracles, don’t believe in me.” Miracles should be a sign that Jesus is Son of God. Then this person went on to quote other places in the Bible where Jesus does miracles. Taa-da! Instant Jesus-son-of-God! Of course, this is not how it works. This was all based on the assumption that the Bible was true to begin with.

This is some elementary advice to theists who wish to justify their faiths to nonbelievers or believers of other faiths: never rely on your conclusion to prove your conclusion. No matter how much you obfuscate and complicate matters, if your logic can be traced back from your conclusion to your conclusion, you have built a circle, and circular reasoning is never justification for the assumption it seeks to prove. The moment someone discovers this in your reasoning, they will recognize that you have nothing to come with. So, please, rely on outside resources, if you’d be so kind. It will save you lots of embarrassment.

Update: this comment field is way too long to expect readers to read through it all. I can’t possibly respond to all, but some of the more common criticisms are answered in this follow-up post: Frequently Voiced Criticisms.

- Simen

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Talking to Fundies: A Day at the Beach God’s Secret Handshake

424 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stephen  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:36 am

    Please don’t ask me to read your holy book with an open mind.

    Sure I’ll read it with an open mind, but not with an empty head.

    Actually about the hardest thing one can attempt is getting evangelical Christians to read their own holy book with an open mind. They “know” that Isaiah 7:14 is a prediction of the coming of Jesus, though if you read the whole of chapters 7 and 8 with an open mind it quickly becomes obvious that it is nothing of the sort. They “know” that the second half of Hosea 11:1 (yes, half a verse) is a prediction of Jesus’ flight into Egypt and are quite unable to read the whole chapter (let alone the rest of Hosea) with an open mind.

  • 2. dphodgson  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:08 am

    As a Christian priest (Church of England) I do not invite people to read the Bible in order that the truth of the Christian vision of life might be proved to them.I agree with what you say about circular arguments. Sounds like most of the Christians you are talking to are as locked into a positivist/empiricist approach to reality as you may be. I invite people to read the Bible in order that they might have some experience of what the Christian vision of life is. If what they read in the Bible inspires them and opens new doors of understanding for them that’s great – if not, so be it. Christian faith as a life-giving and ultimately life-saving vision of reality cannot be proved logically apart from personal experience. It is entered into through the awareness of others’ experiences, of which the Bible is the normative expression for Christians

  • 3. crankyfilipino  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:48 am

    I like how dphodgson tries to slip in some Bible promotion quietly. I also find it funny he says that you are “locked.” It’s true that with circular logic and reasoning you just look plain ridiculous. I really enjoyed reading this posting of yours and look forward to reading more. I’ve already done a thumbs up for this post in stumble and I’m going to bookmark your site. I find your writing style easy to read and persuasive. It’s like listening to you talk, instead of reading a boring essay. I myself am an Atheist and quite ironically I’m married to a Salvation Army christian. It’s a very interesting adventure. We argue every once in a while but all in all we try to keep religion away. The reason I have to do that, is because like you say, they say have an open mind but they don’t really have one. What they really mean is, have a mind like mine, and that ain’t gonna happen. =)

  • 4. Chris  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Came across this on StumbleUpon so thanks to the above commenter for thumbing it!

    I agree that you can’t come to a belief in God JUST by reading the Bible.

    The only way to become a believer is to either be brought up in the faith so that it shapes your world view or to have an experience that you attribute to God that you feel validates his existence.

    Jesus was a way to experience God first hand and he made believers of those who experienced his teaching and his supernatural powers. The difficulty people have now is that there is no longer a ‘face’ to ascribe these experiences to.

    If you follow a religion or read the Bible without the experience of God then you may as well not be a believer.

    The problem is with people being unable to reliably and consistently determine what is right and wrong and putting their own interests above those of others. Each religion represents an attempt by a group of people who have recognised this and tried to address the problems of their culture but there comes a point when a religion transcends its origin and becomes self-perpetuating. Then it becomes something that God would not recognise. Jesus was anti-religious too.

    A true christian is someone with a living faith that puts their belief into action in a way that isn’t self-serving and is non-judgemental. Its a balance between meeting the needs of others and meeting the requirements of God. An impossible task.

    I have a faith in God but not necessarily the Church. I’ve seen too many people become unquestioning robots who don’t think for themselves. I don’t think God appreciates mindless followers I think he wants to be questioned so that he can start a dialogue. God isn’t Supernatural as if he is divorced from his creation, he is as integral a part of it as anything else so it is very natural to assume his existence. Just because we can’t comprehend him fully or in part doesn’t mean he isn’t there.

    Apologies for going on about this on your blog as I know your opinions are different to mine and you’ve probably found peace with them but I hate being lumped in with unthinking religious followers without there being a recogniton of the fact that there are still plenty of people who have a belief but that get on with it quietly just trying to change the world one person at a time, starting with ourselves.

  • 5. Samma  |  July 3, 2007 at 8:01 am

    It’s the easiest thing in the universe. If you get to analize every other religion in the world, the premises they work with are simple and common to them all (but for D):
    A)Be a good fellow and procure your own salvation
    B)You’ll do so, firstly, being good with yourself and with god
    C)And to others
    D)Doing what we tell you to.

    And in most cases, D isn’t a panegyric to masochism or sadism as many intend to understand it. The conclusion it’s so, derives from assuming that some cultural axioms are implied in such and such a text. And it’s not so.

    Jesus Christ came simply to add an eleventh command: “love others just like you love yourself, and act consequently. C’mon, piece of cake… independently of you believing in him being god or not, you can’t say that he was saying a dooming sentence, or that it’d harm mankind at anyrate…

    Off the point, I’m sorry.
    Ok, so most religions in the world say the same thing, and most atheist people say, with a reasoning as valid as those given by religious people, Religion first started as
    A) A response from fear to deal with death
    B) A notion that this world fits us so perfectly that it has to be made for us. (Look for Douglas Adams in Youtube, Choose the one that pictures him and his birth and death dates)

    Well, for me, the first one it’s acceptable, the second one is acceptable too, though egotistical…

    Those who’ve said that you should read the bible as an explanation to christian god’s existance and accountability… Well, I think most of them were blindfolded or arrogantly ignorant of how to really deal with the situation of confronting you to their “real god”.
    Which is actually quite incredible, being as there is so many books that explain god’s existance with non circular arguments.
    But, they’ve referred you to a book that doesn’t give logical explanations, but a testimony (or many) of things that happen written down by people who saw it (I’m talking mainly about the new testament).
    I’d guide you, if I were to convince you that god exists, through Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. The introduction is a “brief” summary that explains why god has to exist…

    To you consolation, Jorge Luis Borges, considered to be the second or third greatest thinker of the spanish speaking world, loved to read the bible and the referred Summa Theologica, but he was never convinced of god’s existance. He said that theology and religion were “the most perfect expression of Fiction”, and therefore he devoted so many hours to its study.

    Me, well I believe in god, For a matter of culture, in the christian god, but in a heretic kind of way: though I think that what it’s said in the bible is true, I can’t really see my god any different from anybody who thinks that god is one.
    Kind of easy: I say that god is one and allmighty. Somebody else says so too, and we go on on oh so many notes that this god has…

    If A=F and B=F and C=F and D=F, being F the description and definition of god, eternal, allmighty, simple, one and perfect; then A=B=C=D; my god, jews’ god Islam’s god, Christian god and Wiccan god it’s the same god. The hierarchy, the Sephirots and whatever comes under him it’s concluded from some unclear little verses, too ambiguosly stated to take as a reference…

    Off the point…
    To read a non circular explanation of god’s existance, read Summa Theologica, Introduction, 5 ways to know god.

  • 6. ltb  |  July 3, 2007 at 8:08 am

    From your post:
    I don’t believe it. I will admit that I haven’t read the entire Bible. (paragraph 4)Since you have not read it, the statement that you don’t believe it must be an assumption, since it is not based on experiment.
    By reading your Holy Book, I will only learn a bit about your brand of mythology. I won’t come to believe it. (paragraph 3)But you have already concluded without experiment that you will not believe it. Now, we may be charitable and call it a hypothesis, or we may may return to the beginning of your post:No matter how bumpy the road, if I can trace your logic from your conclusion back to your conclusion, it’s circular.

  • 7. Cornerstone  |  July 3, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Very interesting discussion.

    By the way: A christian is any person who think that Jesus Christ, that son of a carpenter little jew, was god.
    Not “the son of god” but god himself, not the cousin of god either. Hitler was a Christian because he did -or claimed to- think that. I’m gay, awful sin to god’s eyes, and yet I do think Jesus was God.

  • 8. Amy Williams  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Um this is a very long speech. I like it but. Make it shorter I don’t know. Do what you want. It seems interesting though. The cirular reasoning thing was kinda funny. I liked how you explained it in the beginning!

  • 9. feliza  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Awesome pic of “circular reasoning.”

    What does this tell you? It tells you that I’m not close minded for not reading assuming your conclusion in order to assess your conclusion.

    Great point here. Given, I don’t know anymore about the Bible than has been crammed down my throat as a child, however it really is frustrating when someone tells me that I don’t have an “open mind” just because I’m not willing to convert.

  • 10. E_Henry  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:07 am

    It is not necessary to read the Bible in its entirety to refute it, however if it is predominant in your society you would do well to give it a quick scan at least.

    If you really want to hammer the book into the ground, ethically, morally and scientifically, simply read “Deuteronomy”. You’ll find that is sufficient to help almost anyone dismiss the Bible.

  • 11. BlameitonRio  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Do I know all the answers? Neither do you! Is the latest consensus of knowledge we call scientific understanding true? No, or yes, but maybe. Welcome to life. I find mortgaged religion primarilly political, probably even completely political. Rarely theological. I find most of the regailed sages of history, whom I admire, though to be against such closeted use of the human mind. The discussions by these people, written down because I can’t unfortunately listen directly, is filtered, abused and maybe even sometimes wrong. Are they madmen? I hope not. Could they be? Of course. But just because I know Dr. Who is a story, I like to think the universe is full of life. Do I know? No! and neither do you. and neither does any scientist outside of Stargate command.
    Science actually knows very little, and it surmises a lot. Theology knows actually even less. That, to an open mind should not make them an object of scorn. But to an enquiring mind it should encourage you to more discovery, or are you already dead? Scoffers are unintelligent sorry excuses for the fundamentally fearful. To not believe, or rather entertain the possibility of more, of anything, is just sad. Don’t use the failings of historical theological policy to justify what may exist. From what I read most of the better parts of most of the writings which entertain Supreme Being possiblities also suggest strongly that you can believe what you like. Most of it is to provide a means to move beyond fear, remembering that politicians (read priests) love fearful people. I rather see in the night sky, and in good heroic people working against the odds, that there may be more to the story than I have inherited or been told. At least that’s what science tells me.

  • 12. Jack Dangers  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:21 am

    1. “Hey mannnn, you don’t need the bible, just some amorphous personal experience that you are willing to only explain through fairy-power…” Why would you attribute your experience to “god” instead of tree spirits? You just choose the Christian bible to be the source of your explanation though you couldn’t pin down much beyond psychedelic revelation?

    2. Thomas Aquinas Summa as proof????!!!?!?! It’s an infinite regress or begs too many questions. The unmoved first-mover is proof? Hey – you can’t explain physics in the 13th century, therefore, Christian god and hence bible law? Come on. That’s not intellectually honest.

    3. If you redefine your gods outside of the holy books and with vague bumper sticker slogans, again what god are you talking about? God is the number 1481. Disprove that. HA God exists! See orbiting teapot or flying spaghetti monster.

    4. As far as needing to read the whole bible to not believe it. I know enough of it and about it to not believe it. You don’t need to drink a gallon of piss to know it’s not good to drink.

    You have to be open minded to deny religion. You have to be open to looking at all the fallacies. As the author is stating, you have to be closed off from honest review to blind yourself from accepting that it’s all a sham. A great, historical sham, but just a sham.

  • 13. Sarah-chan  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:28 am

    I like almost all of your essay, I really do. Still, you seem sort of young-ish maybe? Most of this is nice and straight forward, but at one point you almost started to ramble and it became hard to understand.

    “Please don’t ask me to read your holy book with an open mind. I can describe my mind as open, but not so open that my common sense fails me. Don’t you see? There’s a fundamental flaw with this request, and it’s staring you right in the eyes. There’s a huge elephant in the room, and yet you close your eyes to it! This is the assumption that a holy book can somehow validate itself.”

    Something about this paragraph caused a problem with me. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Still, good job, I’m glad you made the point about how we don’t need to read the book to understand the religion completely.

  • 14. Bernd  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:33 am

    If someone needs some proof, that christianity is a very dangerous and destructve religion, just read the Bible. You’ll find God ordering: Human sacrifice, mass rape, genocide…… If you need to find the right pages of the Bible look here: http://www.evilbible.com

  • 15. 2ndlearningjourney  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Just wondering if you’ve read The Case for Faith yet? An ex-atheist journalist goes all over America to find thinkers who are also christian to answer some of the toughest objections to christianity. There is a chapter where they put the bible’s authenticity to the test. Apart from the bible they did use other external sources too.

  • 16. Bernd  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Forgot to tell: I grew up in a very christian, german family and am married to a devoted christian wife. I have interesting discussions with the parson of her church who became a good friend of mine, and I’m living in Brazil surrounded by christianity and violence….which made me think a lot about religions. I think John Lennon was right: Only if we abandon all religions, we can have peace!

  • 17. BlameitonRio  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Say God, vengeful, personal and angry did exist. A big fairy if you will. Say this fairy wants love, knows its better than what you have got. After all the fairy exists. Could that fairy get close enough to communicate to someone who doesn’t know how to love? Ever tried to reason with a drug addict why its wrong to sell his grandmothers house from under her? Good luck. Say that fairy also knows, like you do, that the drug pushers, (even other users) don’t like all this talk of freedom from drugs.

    If darkness is all there is then drugs is the way to go maaannnn! But explain to me please why there is light in the darkness? Why has space got stars and galaxies? Is the universe expanding? Why do good people exist? Why do they care? Don’t pejoritise people who try their best as ignorant, closed minded. Most of them know the fallacies and failings but don’t find they can easily call God crap because of it. Give people who still live by faith of some sort some credit. And also ask the question why so many of these basically decent people still try every day to avoid the security of dark unthinking fundamentalist ‘knowledge of the truth”.

  • 18. rationalpsychic  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Where are all the Buddhist respondents? Buddhism is a philosophy which is more experiential in nature. Yes, there are texts to read, but none required unless you want ordination in one tradition or another. It’s about your experience in meditation trying to find stillness for your mind.

    Just putting that out there as an alternative to the credal, “required text” theory of most other faiths.

    rathionalpsychic.wordpress.com

  • 19. dylan  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Asking you to open-mindedly read something is not circular reasoning. You don’t have to already believe in something to test it’s validity. In fact, you shouldn’t already believe in it.

    “I can’t find out if the premise is true by assuming the premise.”

    No one is asking you to when they suggest you study the Bible. Your example of circular reasoning is correct, but it’s irrelevant to reading a holy book with an open-mind and objectively looking for truth.

    Your concern and frustration are warranted, but your rant is off mark, poorly focused, and illogical. You don’t need the Bible to understand the nature of god, but attacking it under the guise of objective investigation is useless and distracting.

  • 20. Tim  |  July 3, 2007 at 11:06 am

    This post makes several perfectly valid points.

    I think the biggest issue for Christianity today can be summed up with a quote from Ghandi: “It’s not your Christ that I have problems with… it’s your Christians.” Given how little (positive) difference the world can see between non-Christians and Christians, why should non-Christians bother reading any “holy book” if they don’t see something in the life of the theist that seems beneficial?

    It’s rather like the iPhone hoopla (and I’m a fan of Apple products). Show people a concrete way that the iPhone improves their day-to-day life. If you can, then they *might* look into buying it, but don’t ask ‘em to go wait in line at the Apple (or AT&T) store for 6 hours to buy something simply because Steve Jobs says it’s “insanely great.”

    Likewise, until Christians (me included) can visibly demonstrate something of value about their faith experience, a non-theist would be acting irrationally to give Christianity a second thought. People have seen the TV charlatans, read the tracts, and then watched the lives of “Christians.” Is it any wonder the reaction is “nothing to see here… move along”? – Tim

  • 21. Bernd  |  July 3, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Read the Bible!
    e.g.:Judges 11:29-40

    “At that time the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he went throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead, and led an army against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the LORD the first thing coming out of my house to greet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

    “So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave him victory. He thoroughly defeated the Ammonites from Aroer to an area near Minnith – twenty towns – and as far away as Abel-keramim. Thus Israel subdued the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter – his only child – ran out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. “My daughter!” he cried out. “My heart is breaking! What a tragedy that you came out to greet me. For I have made a vow to the LORD and cannot take it back.” And she said, “Father, you have made a promise to the LORD. You must do to me what you have promised, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.” “You may go,” Jephthah said. And he let her go away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children. When she returned home, her father kept his vow, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for young Israelite women to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah’s daughter.” (Judges 11:29-40 NLT)

    It’s insane !!! How someone has the courage to call this a “Holy Book” ? And how can Christians call their God “loving and merciful”?

  • 22. Noadi  |  July 3, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I wasn’t going to comment until I got to Bernd’s last comment. I have read the bible, every page of it and more than once. I studied Medieval History in college and there’s no way to understand that period of time without reading the Bible, the Apocrypha, and many of the major writings of the time like Thomas Aquinas. I have a fascination with mythology anyway, so it’s fun to compare and contrast it with other mythologies such as Greek or Norse.

    As I read through it completely for the first time my first reaction was pretty much “How could anyone believe this?” and the second one was “There’s no way most Christians have actually read this completely and thoroughly.” It’s passages just like that one which just appalled me, and totally put to a lie the whole loving god argument since what good loving god would require the killing of a young child or many of the other horrible things he commands in the Old Testament.

    It’s not that I find no value in the bible at all, much of what Jesus says in it about how to live and treat others is very admirable. I live my life very much on the principle of treating others I want to be treated but not because Jesus said so, but because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t need a holy book to tell me how to live a good life or be a kind loving person, if I needed a book to tell me that in order to do so what would that say about me?

  • 23. Tom  |  July 3, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    I was going to argue against dylan and his, ‘You don’t need the Bible to understand the nature of god,’ statement, but I think I agree.

    I would say you are better off not reading the bible and believing only what you are told to believe. This is what most christians do. They go to church or bible study where select passages are read to them and they nod their heads. They are fed a bunch of Pollyannaish rubbish about how great and loving god is, and leave out all the yucky stuff.

    The gospel of thomas was written in 149 C.E. but was left out of the book. I’ll leave you with a quote from that kooky Jesus and his pals.

    114. Simon Peter said to them, “Make Mary leave us, for females don’t deserve life.”

    Jesus said, “Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

  • 24. David  |  July 3, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    This circular logic problem is dealt with very effectively, and amusingly, in Kissing Hank’s Ass – http://www.jhuger.com/kisshank.php

  • 25. grant czerepak  |  July 3, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    What the most popular religions of the world offer us is a belief that the universe is an orderly system, advocacy of reciprocity and a set of norms for social conduct within which reciprocity is judged. The rest is baggage.

  • 26. Stakhanov  |  July 3, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    I loved the comment about not having to drink a gallon of piss to know it isn’t good for you. It always amazes me that Christians and other theists will tell me that by not reading the entire Bible, I am not allowed to have an opinion or not believe in their brand of religion. Few and far between are the theists well versed in any holy book besides their own….these same Christians and the like, love to criticize Islam and other religions….yet I doubt many have read so much as a verse in the Qur’an…

  • 27. Nick70  |  July 3, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Please don’t ask me to read your holy book with an open mind. I can describe my mind as open, but not so open that my common sense fails me. Don’t you see? There’s a fundamental flaw with this request, and it’s staring you right in the eyes. There’s a huge elephant in the room, and yet you close your eyes to it! This is the assumption that a holy book can somehow validate itself.

    If the Bible were simply one book then you might have a point, but seeing as how it is 66 (if we accept the Protestant canon) or 73 (if we accept the Catholic Canon) separate works composed by about 40 different authors then what we have is multiple attestation. So for example, Paul would be able to verify something that the author of Luke-Acts recorded in Acts. Multiple attestation is one of many criteria of authenticity that is employed in historical inquiry.

    … I’m a fan of the scientific method. What does this tell you about me? It should tell you that I will not take any book’s word for its own validity. By reading your Holy Booktm, I will only learn a bit about your brand of mythology. I won’t come to believe it.

    Umm… why this notion that the scientific method would be a appropriate way to test the validity Bible (or any other record of history for that matter)? The fact is that science is limited in what it can test — do you then treat all history as equally implausible?

    And I also wonder if the scientific method can support your positive assertion that all these holy books are truly mythological. =/

  • 28. mary  |  July 3, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    I think the biggest flaw in the theists argument that reading their holy book will convince people of God is that infact that (in my opinion at least) in order to be a true believer you should be able to see that your religion cannot be proven by your holy book or indeed by any other argument, the only reason, perhaps is could be argued the ‘purest’ reason for belief is though a word called “faith”. The christian God asks people to believe, just believe out oflove for God not because it can be proven in anyway.

  • 29. Nick70  |  July 3, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    it really is frustrating when someone tells me that I don’t have an “open mind” just because I’m not willing to convert.

    This comment caught my eye — It’s not valid to say someone is not open minded because they are not willing to convert — it is valid to say they are not open minded because they are not willing to examine. Which category do you fall into?

  • 30. Justin  |  July 3, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Unfortunately, this post does not carry any logical or intellectual argument/persuasiveness – it is a personal unsupported rant at best. But maybe that was the point?

  • 31. eye-of-horus  |  July 3, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    There’s no theistic shell that can’t be cracked. In order to defend a falsehood, one’s premises, assumptions, or logic *must* fail somewhere.

    eye-of-horus

  • 32. alvinmatias  |  July 3, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Maybe you can try browsing http://www.esoriano.wordpress.com and learn the Bible.

  • 33. munkii  |  July 3, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    EXACTLY! i hate fuckin theists who try to prove that god exists by reading from the bible! i say WTF people? the bible/quran is why i’m not a christian/muslim in the first place! thanks for posting

  • 34. Pooka  |  July 3, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Religion gives people beautiful architecture and exquisite wars.

  • 35. SurfaceEarth  |  July 3, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I enjoyed this post, despite my tendency to launch into flights of the supernatural. Some fellow bloggers have been tossing back and forth the question (and frustration) as to why people feel they must shove their brand of religion, or thinking for that matter, at you? There are some great posts over at MysteryofInquity at wordpress.com where she struggled with people jumping on the blog and commenting in an effort, apparently, to change her way of thinking. I’m happy to report from my review of her posts, it didn’t change a thing. Anyway, great post, going to go check out some more of your posts.

  • 36. cragar  |  July 3, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    wow, you guys made the front page at wordpress and the floodgates opened.

    Good post Simen, and I totally agree. Often I get into arguments with my wife or on the internet and they pull out bible quotes which doesn’t solve the problem. A very common occurence actually.

  • 37. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    I like what dphodgson had to say. It also argues that he probably isn’t American…our Evangelicals usually overwhelm the rational voices.
    I see nothing wrong with deriving lessons, beauty, etc from fiction, whether it be Shakespeare, Milton, the Bible, or Barbara Kingsolver. I don’t believe the Bible to be inherently worse than any other writing…just that some people use it as a work of nonfiction to oppress others…that’s their fault, not the book.

  • 38. Nia  |  July 3, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Believing is seeing. Religion is somewhat a pseudo-science. It can explain anyway anything. By the way, in this comment (at least) I am advocating Karl Popper’s Falsification Theory. So, because religion explains away everything, and takes no risks (actually… come to think of it… the risk is that they were wrong, innit? hrm… Is religion science?) therefore religion cannot be fully reliable, as there is lack of proper empirical evidence.

  • 39. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Of course…it is fiction. That is why Apologetics seems ridiculous to me. Why try to empirically prove the unprovable? And they always sort of sweep falsification under the rug.
    If you want to have faith, great, just don’t sully my science with it.

  • 40. mattdabbs  |  July 3, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Doesn’t assuming that everything has a natural cause lead to circular reasoning as well? You basically said that if it doesn’t fit a natural cause then it must not be true. Start with the premise that all things can be described through natural means and it will prove itself true as you discredit anything that doesn’t fit that schema. How is your reasoning any less flawed than what you fault religions for?

  • 41. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Aha…great question! The actual assumption is that all things should be describable by non-supernatural means…that any explanation should be falsifiable. The reason this differs from supernatural assumptions in circularity, is that the supernatural can ONLY be described by tautology. Naturalistic explanations are provable, and more importantly, disprovabee.

  • 42. Blog Author  |  July 3, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    So…. who asked you to read a holy book?

    I always thought it was a ”need to know” kind of thing.

    Like I can read a tech manual about a certain thing because I need to know. I already have in my mind something that I’m looking for, am trying to find, or the worse one yet… I’ll know it when I see it.

    A spiritual walk is just that — its with your spirit, not your mind.

    So take a breather… maybe its not your time to take that walk. When you do, you will be alone — just you and the spirit that you follow or seek. It just boils down to one thing or the other: are you for good things or are you for bad things.

    You know the drill.

    So take a deep breath and express your outward thoughts, feelings and words to be rooted in either the elevation of the human race or the destruction of the human race, and know that either one you choose, you will be accountable for to the higher power.

    Take it easy friend, rise above the sediment.

  • 43. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Hmm…interesting spirituality from The Realtor.
    Books are good. Bible, Dickens, lots of them. They make you think. But they don’t have to lead to faith.

  • 44. mysterymika101  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    the funny thing about people looking for a good reason to do the Right thing which means being fair and equal to his/ her fellow human being… these people are searching for Answers, codes of behavior and examples of how it is accomplished and Belief of some sort of Final Justice for their soul. They need to believe that wrong people will get what they have sewn and Good Golden Rule followers will be rewarded in the after this here on Earth Life.
    That’s the funny thing. Now here’s the Sad thing… without this code, Bible good rule book many are still lost, some others have exhibited that they understand what should be done better with a Bible. They can’t handle an open mind or responsibility of their actions. This is another reason that shark fin soup which really taste awful is a delicacy.

  • 45. societyvs  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Good post – me and Dagoods had a huge discussion on something similar – apparently it is circular reasoning once those texts hold no validity or claims to explaining something in history…if that is the case …tear away.

  • 46. David  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Simen,

    As someone who upholds the Bible as God’s word, let me encourage you not to read it.

    Forget about the Bible completely.

    Live your life 100% the way you want to. Embrace your rationalism to the furthest extent of its profitability for you. But if at any point you feel the need for a crutch, feel free to peruse its pages.

    The Bible offers wisdom only to those who realize they are fools, salvation only to the condemned, light to those in darkness.

    David

  • 47. Trishy  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    How about reading the bible with an open heart? Forget the mind. We only use 10% of it anyway.

  • 48. Thinking Ape  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    I think we use less than 10% of our heart too Trishy.

  • 49. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Well, it’s hard to say how much mind we use, as it is an emergent phenomenon of the brain. The whole 10% brain thing is an old canard, but a cool one.
    All books can be read with an open heart and mind, many have something to offer, and the more of them you read, the better.

  • 50. Sue  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Interesting…so I suppose that atheism is NOT a circular argument by implication…how is that?

  • 51. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    “Atheism is not a circular argument”. I will have to try to guess what that statement means, but lacking a belief in an unproved supernatural being is not a tautology.

  • 52. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    P.S. Is failure to believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn circular?

  • 53. Jack Spratt  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    You need to understand that you also come to this discussion with presuppositions. Your arguments are based on the belief that God doesn’t exsist. That forms your entire world view. But can you disprove that God doesn’t exsist? No, no one truly can. I believe in God, but I can prove his exsistence. Whether you want to believe it or not, you in some sense “have faith” that God does not exsist.

    Also, I do not think you represented the Christian perspective fairly. If you cannot be bothered to find an accurate quote by someone who disagrees with you, then you should not use it. For all I know, you are just making up that verse to prove your point.

    And in response to christians using the Bible to make their point: scientists do it all the time, basically. What I mean is that they teach evolution, etc. but there is no true and pure scientific evidence to back it up. True science is observable, measureable, and repeatable. Evolution isn’t. Scientists and Christians look at the evidence, but because we have different world views, we come to different conclusions.

    Also, if you would read other books written by “The Early Church Fathers” such as Athenagoras, Polycarp, Melito, and others from the early to mid 2nd century, you would find that those men (some of whom were taught by eye-witnesses of Jesus) also believed that Christ was the Son of God. Also, some of the writers of the New Testament books were eye-witnesses to Christ and His miracles. They saw what He did, they heard what He said, and they believed in Him. So it goes beyond just believeing what they bible says, you can look at the historical aspect as well.

    But in the end, this won’t change your mind. Whether you like it or not, in the end, your presupposition that there is no God is based on faith, the same basis that my presupposition that there is a God is based on. So are we both guilty of circular reasoning?

  • 54. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    No.

  • 55. Tim A. Blankenship  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Simen,
    It does all begin and end with God. if that is circular reasoning then it is quite good. It has a beginning and an end.
    If there is a God then what for you?

  • 57. cragar  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    @ David
    Forget about the Bible completely.

    Live your life 100% the way you want to. Embrace your rationalism to the furthest extent of its profitability for you.

    Your not the first one to post a comment similar to this but I always think that it is one of the most ludicrous statements. Just because one is an atheist doesn’t mean we are all looking out for #1 and be damned the rest of the world.

    Do yourself a favor and read some of the rest of the posts on this site (there are multiple writers).

  • 58. religionandatheism  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Atheism isn’t an argument, it’s a position. It is a combination of positions actually, and what the specific flavour of the combination is depends on its consituent parts: the objections to theism involved, and the metaphysics to name just two. For example, even Daniel Dennet and Susan Blackmore who are both advocates of the meme theory, don’t even agree about whether consciousness exists. Both are atheists though.
    For lots of interesting debates and videos on atheism, theism, god, religion, freedom of speech, Richard Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens and so on, have a look here:

    http://religionandatheism.wordpress.com

    Don’t be scared to browse the categories!

  • 59. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    In fact, don’t be scared to think about atheism rationally. I have no desire for anyone to give up their faith…just to understand that their faith isn’t the only way.

  • 60. musabryant  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    What you should do instead of speaking without any knowledge,

    should take the time to read the same books that you choose to

    criticize, and see for yourself what is true or false. The fact that

    someone like you could just easily say that you can speak about

    Islam, without ever reading the Qur’an makes you seem like an

    idiot. If you would have taken the time to read the Qur’an, you

    would know Allah speaks about things that no one had any

    knowledge of during the time that it was revealed.

    Some examples:

    1. Allah mentions that Human beings were created from Human

    Fallopian eggs.

    2. Allah describes location that semen exits the Human body.

    3. Allah speaks about the three Trimesters of Human pregnancy.

    4. Allah speaks about the development of the child as it is in the

    womb of its mother.

    None of these things were known to Humans previous to the

    revelation of the Qur’an.

    So, the next time you want to criticize something, I would suggest

    thatyou know what you are talking about, because right now you

    have no idea what you are spewing from your mouth.

  • 61. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I’m not sure how any of that has to do with faith and books. Interesting though. The medieval Islamic world was renowned for its learning.

  • 62. cragar  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    @ Jack Spratt

    But you are straying from the topic of the post. In many debates about theism/atheism theists use the Bible to reconcile their “fact.” At least with an atheist, say you are arguing evolution, since you brought it up. We can point you skeletal remains from millions of years ago that prove species evolve. Yet no evidence remains of any cataclysmic flood, that human beings ever lived to be more than 150 years old, that Joshua’s request to stop the sun ever happened, etc, etc.

  • 63. Christianity in Norway « The Nameless Blog  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    [...] in Norway One of the top posts today at WordPress.com is “Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book“, and I see in the comments of the post that several means the author have to read the Bible [...]

  • 64. Reverend Peterson Cekemp  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Hi There! I’m a brazilian discordianist, and I would like to translate this excellent text to my page. Is it ok?

    Thnks

  • 65. lostgirlfound  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Isn’t “faith” the evidence of things not seen? In and of itself, faith cannot be proved — circular reasoning or not. Plus, both sides of the discussion should be careful … how many things “proved” scientifically have been “unproved” as we have learned more and more about the world?

  • 66. supermannino  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    The Bible isn’t like a hypnotist in the sense that, once you read it, you’ll all of a sudden magically believe. God can reveal Himself in a number of ways. If you are stubbornly going to refuse reading the Bible to get the full picture of who God is, well, I trust that He will reach you in some other way.

    The term “agnostic” comes from the Greek phrase meaning “not knowing.” If you are proud of not knowing the truth about God and man, well, I guess no one can stop you. I’m actually trying to do the opposite. On my blog, I’m actually looking for the truth…

  • 67. David  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Cragar,

    Of course, we all know it would be impossible for Simen to utterly unlearn everything he had learned about the Bible. While you may have assumed I intended he resort to intentional ignorance, this was not my counsel. My implication was not that he “forget” in a completely cognitive manner; but rather he ignore the elements in it which compel him to live or think differently.

    In contrast with people of faith who demand that he immerse himself in Scripture in order to change his philosophy, I think he probably knows it well enough to realize it’s not what he wants. In that case, I say forget about it unless he feels he needs something that rationalism can’t offer.

    David

  • 68. kmp  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    i’m curious…why are “other sources” and “outside sources” considered credible when the Bible is not? is the Bible not a credible source for explaining and understanding Christianity, as it is written by those who were closest to Christ and helped spread Christianity?

    then what other source is credible? even if a person doesn’t believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God (which I do believe), it still provides the complete history and chronicle of Jesus’ life.

    i’m simply asking: why is the Bible not a credible source when discussing the life of Christ and history of Christianity?

  • 69. itsrhetorical  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    I won’t ask you to, didn’t ask you to. You’ve just written a long blog on a book you don’t want to read. Go figure. I’m going to go and review a painting I have neither seen nor understood

  • 70. Jack Spratt  |  July 3, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Cragar, there is evidence for global flooding, and there remains to be found any real evidence to support evolution. People who say that there is are mis-informed. You see fossils and say that they took millions of years to get that way. I see fossils and say that it was caused by a sudden cataclysmic event like a global flood.

    Go to http://www.answersingenesis.org/ for some better info on it than I can give

  • 71. Susie  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    all i want to say is: well said!!!

  • 72. astarwashere  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    I was raised catholic, and went through the various stages of non-practicing, then to agnosticism, and more recently radical athiest. I’m proud of the trials I’ve had to go through to finally become the person I am today. Now I’m out here fighting the good fight for things that can really carry humanity; the sciences.

    The bible is more contradictory each time I read it. The Judeo-Christian god is a wrathful bastard who kills and then proclaims “i am love”. I’m witnessing hundreds of people dying over “their” god daily. We’ve got fundamentalists harassing our kids when they don’t join in prayer. Don’t get me started on the crap they allow to be broadcast into our living room on Sunday.

    It’s too bad guys like me can go to school, become lawyer’s and eventually politicians, or we might never see the winds of change come. That was sarcasm.

  • 73. dale  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I read all these comments with interest. lostgirlfound I think has it right. Faith is basically believing in something (or is this case some one) even though logic can’t prove it. The Resurection of Christ is one of the very basic tenants of the Christian faith, yet no science will ever prove, or disprove it. All we have is the Bible to tell us about it.
    I am Christian. How I got to this point is irrelevant, and nobody really cares anyhow. But I became Christian without knowing the Bible. I also know people who read it for front to back. Several times. And still did not “see the light.” Religion I think defies logic, circular or otherwise.

  • 74. Tony  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    While I agree with your notions of circular reasoning, I personal feel that one cannot fully understand their own viewpoint until they study the other side of the coin. For example, I am a theist, but have openly read and continue to openly read atheistic works in order to understand other worldviews. While it will never convince me to change my mind, I believe it enriches my life, expands my knowledge, and makes me more tolerant. Great article by the way.

  • 75. bretmavrich  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    As a Christian, I invite people to read the Bible for the same reason John invited people to read his gospel: That you may see and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and in believing have life in His name.

    The appeal is very empirical: If you read the Bible openly and do not encounter the Living God in it, feel free to continue living your godless life (though it won’t be much of a life).

    Frankly, the only thing that is decidedly a priori is your hardline cynicism. If you aren’t even seeking God, you won’t be open to see if He really walks the pages of the Bible or not because of your assumption. But I’ll tell you this: He’s much stronger than your skeptical-naturalism.

  • 76. PalMD  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    So, in other words, the only way it is possible to believe in god, is to believe it god. Interesting.

  • 77. religionandatheism  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    A post above by musabryant claims that Allah revealed through the Koran facts about human biology that were otherwise unknown – a claim to God’s superior knowledge and revelation. One might wonder why it is that he stopped at human biology, whereas he could have revealed so many other wonders. For example, subatomic structure, the vastness of the universe, the speed of light, or useful knowledge of chemistry, or anti-biotics or that such a thing as Australia exists, or that other planets have moons too, or … well… you get my point.
    But no. The fact that gestation of human embryos happens over three trimesters is what we’re offered. That definitely proves not only the validity of the Koran, Allah’s existence but also his omniscience and wisdom.
    What nonsense!

  • 78. religionandatheism  |  July 3, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Jack Sprat above from answers in genesis claims there no evidence for evolution! What is this then?

    http://religionandatheism.wordpress.com/2007/06/27/evidence-for-evolution-and-against-intelligent-design/

    Intelligent Designers: don’t be shy in explaining the data!

  • 79. Laz  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    OK I won’t.

    “Former Christians”? No such thing my friend.

  • 80. Simen  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Whoa. This response is overwhelming. I’m about to go to bed (it’s 1 in the morning over here), so I’ll be brief now and try to address more of this later with a clear mind.

    To those who brought up/are thinking about bringing up evolution: it’s irrelevant. The fact that it is science, despite what you say, is a matter for a different post.

    To Sarah-chan, that passage is probably clunky because there are a lot of metaphors, some of which are maybe unnecessary. I’ll take it into consideration for future writings. And yes, I’m what you’d call young-ish.

    To those who complain that I am in fact using circular reasoning to justify scientific assumptions: show me some supernatural explanation that is (a) falsifiable, (b) explains a phenomenon better than any current scientific hypothesis and (c) backed up by solid evidence. I would think the fact that no supernatural explanation seems to conform to scientific principles is relevant.

    To those who say I cannot understand your viewpoint without reading your book: I know of the basics of your belief. I have read parts of the Bible. I even underwent a Christian confirmation with the Bible-reading and theology that accompanies that, for cultural reasons, and because I (perhaps mistakenly) believed that Christian values had much merit even without the supernatural component. It’s not just a rant about me not bothering to read your book. It’s the belief that reading the Bible will somehow validate it that bothers me.

    The Bible is built on certain assumptions. It contains an extraordinary amount of extraordinary claims. The evidence that suggests the things the Bible describes to be impossible or flat out wrong is overwhelming. Obviously, such cosmic events need cosmic amounts of evidence. Yet we find little to validate Biblical writings outside of the Bible.

    I’m tired of circular logic. As I’ve tried to explain, reading the Bible will certainly provide me with insight into the Christian mentality (though many Christians haven’t read and based their view on it), but it won’t validate the ideas within it and I know enough of the premises to reject them. I may some day decide to read through it all, because I recognize the enormous cultural impact it has, but I won’t do it so that some stranger on the internet will call me open minded.

    To you (or those) who claim I should do direct quotes: sorry, the person in question was on a Norwegian webforum, so I’m confident the majority here won’t understand it. It was some time ago, so I’m not sure I can track it down (remember, this post was written some time ago, for my personal blog). Also, the direct quote isn’t the point. The point isn’t to point out flaws in the Bible, but to point out flaws in the argument which goes something like “In here, the Bible says this. Over there, the Bible says that this happened! Woohoo! I just proved the biblical assertion!”

  • 81. sisteraddy  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    “Does the fact that I haven’t read the Koran mean I cannot be critical of Islam? Absolutely not! I don’t believe them” Criticism without knowledge of what you are criticizing?
    Thats not very scientific is it? Or rational, or logical for that matter. But I’m glad you’re honest. If science appeals to you, you would obviously be aware of the falsification test? Quran comes with its own falsification test, in Chapter (4: 82) where Allah (One God) says: “Do they not consider the Quran carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would sure have found therein much contradictions.” 1400 years since and science has only been able to prove its revelations correct.

    Why dont you admit, you too, believe, to not believe. Your belief system considers your desires, thoughts and emotions to rule your purpose of life. I wont mention knowledge, you obviously do not want to base your beliefs on knowledge, thats for certain. The fact remains that whether you like it or not, an Omnipresent God exists, and all of mankind will be resurrected to account for their deeds. God gave mankind a choice, to obey or disobey. Hence, here you are an atheist? Here I am a muslim, testifying that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah (One God) and that Muhammad was the last and final prophet of Allah. Why don’t you do yourself a favor and at least read about the book, the Quran, that you are criticizing? Are you so scared that you might be convinced to believe? Is it, purely because you dont want to, but your rational mind may prove you wrong? After all, I read your belief system, and I am even more convinced now that Islam is the truth.

  • 82. syd1953  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    As supermanino indicated, some of us are looking for the truth. I am from a Christian background but could not tell you if the Bible is true or if God or Jesus exist. But I am curious enough about this whole “religion” thing, Christianity, Judiasm, Islam, Tao, Buddhism, etc to find out for myself and to discover where my beliefs are. So I read as much as I have time for. And nobody, ever, said I have to believe everything that I read. Until I read everything, which will of course never happen, I will continue to try to learn and understand what makes people believe or not believe. It is only through education that we can become stronger in mind, body and spirit.

  • 83. Mal Bicker  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    I’m just curious why you are so focused on God and the Bible
    when it is all just a fairy tale. I sure wouldn’t spend a minute trying to prove there was no tooth fairy. Why are all your articles so God and Bible conscious? Don’t you have better things to think about and write about.

    Understand, I’m not slamming you. I think you are a deep thinker and probalby more intellectural than myself. I just wondered about these things as I read your blog.

    God’s best to you.
    Mal Bicker

  • 84. Simen  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Why indeed write about fairy tales and mythology?

    You will have noticed I don’t write much about Norse or Greek mythology. It has to do with the fact that there are next to noe believers in these mythologies, and so these beleifs have no influence in the world.

    Also, I like philosophy. It’s enjoyable.

    sisteraddy, understand, I won’t criticize a concept I don’t uderstand, and so I won’t criticize parts of Islam I know nothing about. I understand very well the concept of a monotheistic god, so I have no problem criticizing that concept.

  • 85. DANIEL  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Religion is the greatest con ever perpetrated upon mankind. That it is still a divisive force in the world is tribute to our continuing genetic primitivness, the mediocrity of our intelligence.

    Even children eventually give up believing in Santa!

  • 86. matt  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    disclaimer: i promise i’m not actually trying to prove anything.
    wouldn’t reading a holy book with an open mind mean reading it with the attitude that it might be true? if you go into something with an open mind, “open” has to mean that you do it with absolutely no presuppositions, right?

  • 87. Top Posts « WordPress.com  |  July 3, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    [...] Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book An A-Religious Commentary [...]

  • 88. The Reason You Come  |  July 3, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    No matter how much you obfuscate and complicate matters, if your logic can be traced back from your conclusion to your conclusion, you have built a circle, and circular reasoning is never justification for the assumption it seeks to prove.

    This is exactly the reason I stopped being a Christian, and then stopped believing in religion altogether. I read the bible, memorized phrases from it, even switched from Catholicism to the Baptist faith, all in the name of seeking the “true religion”. I read a numerous books and articles on other religions as well. I wanted to find answers to my questions, because most of the doctrines I was raised to believe as true didn’t make sense at all. When one question was answered, it would prompt me to ask another, and then another, and another. It seemed the answers contradicted each other. And the part that didn’t make sense the most was that all the answers had to come from the bible. You’re right, for you to believe what’s written in that book, you have to prove the premise by assuming the premise. You have to come up with something illogical in order to prove the illogical. I see the Christian way of quoting passages from the bible to prove a point as an excuse or a cover-up for the fact that they have no actual evidence to support their claims. When they have no real answers, the bible serves as their lifeline, and they’re confident that they can pass it off as truth because, well, who can refute what’s written there? Who has the audacity to do that? And if there is one, then what he’s doing is a sacrilege, and he must be evil. Don’t they ever ask themselves what if the bible was just a hoax? What then? There would be no basis at all for everything the Christian faith dictates. What will happen to “the faithful” then? Their world will crumble because the foundation of their faith, of their lives, has turned out to be nothing but a lie.

  • 89. Donny  |  July 3, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    I hated Christianity for years. I threw the Bible out the window and wouldn’t believe a word of it.

    What changed my mind about the Bible were some books that were suggested to me that gave more “context” to the Bible. So many take the english translation so literal. What a mistake! Doing a bit of deep digging to find out what it’s actually saying puts it in a whole new light.

    I think it’s impossible for a skeptic to believe a word it says without doing such digging. I know that was the case with me. Once I learned what it is REALLY saying I no longer have a problem with it.

  • 90. Simen  |  July 3, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    So tell me, Donny, what is the Bible really saying?

    You see, there are as many interpretations of the Bible as there are people who have read it.

  • [...] in Uncategorized at 8:41 pm by michellecwheeler The title of the post, Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book, caught my eye today while surfing around WordPress. I’m always fascinated to hear why people [...]

  • 92. Kelly Gorski  |  July 3, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    I just blogged about this the other day. It terrifies me how politicizd faith-based beliefs are becoming because the thinking will no doubt saturate other areas of life.

    I stumbled to your site. Rock on.

  • 93. itsrhetorical  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    sisteraddy, if you haven’t read the Koran you can’t criticise the Koran. You can criticise Muslims if their behaviour is immoral or criminal; but you can’t criticise a book you haven’t read.

    I’d also like to add, on the flood subject that I spent a lot of time on Mount Carmel in Northern Israel and their are fossils of marine creatures all over the place. How did marine life get up a mountain? And no, it hadn’t evolved legs. They had shells, Trilobites mainly.

  • 95. Rev. Peterson Cekemp  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Simen, my comment has been lost in a sea of comments.
    I’ll translate it, is there any problem?
    I think nope… Send you trackback later, ok?
    Hail Eris

  • 96. Thinking Ape  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    itsrhetorical says: “I’d also like to add, on the flood subject that I spent a lot of time on Mount Carmel in Northern Israel and their are fossils of marine creatures all over the place. How did marine life get up a mountain?”

    itsrhetorical,
    Take a look at this picture:

    I’m sure that even someone with a high school education can figure out why there would be marine fossils on a mountain that was created by shifting plate techtonics.

  • 97. Grizzled Adams  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    If Jesus could really “Do” miracles, slappin together a 57 chevy would have made me a true believer.

    Griz

  • 98. nocturnal  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Stalin once said that,

    IF YOUR THEORY DOESNT MATCH WITH FACTS THAN CHANGE THE FACTS.

    i think he was inspired by CHARLES DARWIN who had done exactly the same in order to prove his theroy,

    READ HERE ABT. THIS,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piltdown_Man

    further they(evolutionists) tempered with gorilla embroys to prove themselves right again their embroys were declared fake by the scientists.

    Biggest porblem with our ATHEISTS friends is that when you argue with them they behave exactly in the same way as bigoted believers.

    Einstein once said that ,

    Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”

    I think we should analyse things before jumping to conclusion, how can you declare anything false when you dont even knwo what it is actually about.

    I can say that DONT ASK ME to read Einstein RELATIVITY THEROY cuz i know its nothing but a crappy mathematics propsed by a mentally RETARDED PERSON, when teh reality is totally opposite.

    I qould like to recommend two books written by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, a french Medical doctor.

    1- Science and Islam
    2- QURAN, BIBLE and SCIENCE.

    following is the link to one of his books,

    http://www.submission.org/Q-science.html

  • 99. nocturnal  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    plz check these link abt the archealogical discovery,

    NOAH’S ARK FOUND ON MT. ARARAT, TURKEY by an American archealogist,

    following are some very interesting links for those who take interest in archealogy, as many things have been revealed through this,

    http://www.arkdiscovery.com/noah's_ark.htm

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y5ORpMTebI&mode=related&search=

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6XoYV-vgX-w

  • 100. nocturnal  |  July 3, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    first link in my above comment is dead, following is right link ,

    http://www.arkdiscovery.com/noah's_ark.htm

  • 101. hampster  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    The main point of this is to stir up debate, yet on both sides of this argument I see people convinced of their own perfect truth. Yet no one, including the person who posted this, has been able to PROVE a word of it. (And no, saying you can’t prove it, therefore I am right is not PROOF. That is illogical.)

    Science is science and faith (of a religious nature) is faith. The two are separate more often than not. Most scientists I have heard of keep well clear of that debate, intent upon learning
    about their surrounding world and universe. The opposite can be said of most ‘theists’, who are intent upon not disproving science, but accepting and learning more about their own individual faiths. Those who argue these points are in a debate they cannot win.

    On a separate more opinion generated thought, most people upon this forum who are non-faith based individuals seem to be under the presumption that everyone person in the world who is Christian believes the bible verbatim. That is a foolish presumption. Simply because you have been burned or met these people (who are the extreme) does not mean you should automatically assume all Christians are right for life, anti-gay individuals who will attempt to prove their religion to you by beating the bible upon your head in a vigorous fashion.

    “I would think the fact that no supernatural explanation seems to conform to scientific principles is relevant” In essence, “Your ideas of what is true do not conform to mine, therefore you are wrong.” In case you were wondering that is classified as an aggressively closed mind. To pre-empt your attack upon my post; NO, I do not believe that an open mind means “read it and than believe ’cause its da Truth!” Think of it this way.

    You hear a scientist has created a vehicle which will run upon pure water. The process, is unknown to you, but you have never heard of this and never seen the proof before your eyes. Before he can put it forth to the world in its finalized form, he dies and no one can find his notes or the vehicle. You decide, it must have been a hoax and go about your daily life. When others bring this up to you, you automatically say NOPE it was a hoax. “No one ever proved to me that it really existed, he just said it and disappeared.”

    This is a closed mind. Instead of attempting to see if the truth exists in the rumor or article you found. You decide that since the proof will not be presented to you, “Why should you be bothered to get up and look?”

    Your arguments: First is that Christians use fallacious logic to prove their points. Therefore, Christianity and Christians are wrong. – This is Fallacious. These Christians you speak of may be wrong for using falable logic, but that doesn’t make the belief wrong.
    Secondly Christians do not use the same thought process you do, so obviously they are wrong. – Well we don’t think alike, so you are wrong.
    Thirdly, this book they claim to follow says stuff they can’t replicate. Therefore it is wrong. – So you have been to the moon?
    Will your argument be here, “No, but others have?” If so, how do you know? You have seen them on the moon, with your own eyes? You have proof! If that was your argument, you certainly believe a lot of what others say without the proof you seem to demand from Christians and their ‘book.’

  • 102. Spoonman  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Here’s the problem, nocturnal…I grew up in a “catholic” household. My family was typical “catholic”, meaning we went to church for weddings and funerals. They also sent me to catholic grade school where I was taught the bible in great detail. I was constantly getting in to trouble because starting at a very early age, 6 or 7, I started to see inconsistencies with the stories and when I questioned them, I was told I’d understand someday. That I had to have faith. Eventually, I got tired of hearing the stupid answers and after trying hard to figure out how anyone could swallow this tripe, I finally had the chance to get out. I moved on to a secular high school where I learned how to THINK and reason. And, in that thinking, I came to the conclusion that all the stories you people tell each other are nothing more than the delusional rantings of people living with a shared psychosis. You’re like the coven of conspiracy theorists struggling to convince the world to believe your inane ramblings all the while you sit in your private places telling each other how smart you are and how doomed the rest of the world is because they don’t believe your bunk.

    Conversely, most atheist rants like the one on this blog are born more out of frustration from the closed-minded followers of a god who is said to be loving and forgiving, yet sends 3 bears to kill 42 children for making fun of his holy man’s bald head. They’re not the norm of our behavior. We know your stories, we know they’re crap. Most times, however, atheists are generally willing to sit and have a reasoned argument as to how you can be against abortion, yet worship a god who practices infanticide on a scale that would make Hitler squeemish? How is it that you have money to afford a computer to get on the Internet and spout your insane ramblings when your messiah clearly states you should give all that you have away? You just happened to catch this fellow on a bad day.

  • [...] 3rd, 2007 at 7:06 pm (Uncategorized) Here is the link, this is a lot of [...]

  • 104. hampster  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    “i think he was inspired by CHARLES DARWIN who had done exactly the same in order to prove his theroy,”

    Please, don’t insight a riot based upon words you give no evidence for. Prove that please.

  • 105. hampster  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    “1. Allah mentions that Human beings were created from Human

    Fallopian eggs.

    2. Allah describes location that semen exits the Human body.

    3. Allah speaks about the three Trimesters of Human pregnancy.

    4. Allah speaks about the development of the child as it is in the

    womb of its mother.

    None of these things were known to Humans previous to the

    revelation of the Qur’an.

    So, the next time you want to criticize something, I would suggest

    thatyou know what you are talking about, because right now you

    have no idea what you are spewing from your mouth.”

    Sorry for the back to back posts, but if you are still around, PLEASE prove that? I am truly interested.

  • 106. BlameitonRio  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    When I postulate a certain point of view, even one I believe in, the very fact that I speak it means that I want and desire to have a discussion. Some people, by personality, want a well ordered, polite and generally quiet discussion, others would rather a full on debate just short of all out war! But it is still discussion and I, probably by my non-meditative personality, find that more stimulating than sitting in a cave, alone, contemplating my navel.
    That is how I see scriptures of the types that exist. I know as a fact that I don’t know everything there is to know! Therfore I will beg steal and borrow the knowledge of others, and probably take on faith that they aren’t lying to me and try to learn the wisdom to choose the difference.
    Because here is ‘the rub’. I believe in one God. I can prove it. So can anyone. Millions have already and millions will in the future. How? I can die! I can prove ME wrong or right.
    The trouble is I don’t yet want to. I am not in any hurry on that score. So all I am left with is unprovable discussion and debate and doubts. This is actually what ‘faith’ is. Yet many contributions treat faith as the ‘hijacked’ religious term of collective set of do’es and don’ts. That isn’t helpful.
    But short of dying, why would I believe these writings. Simply because belief in a deity is cross-verifiable across gender, culture, history and very often against the contemporary tide of the day. As was said earlier, Science is not all knowing, all loving. Empiricism is extremely limited in application, just ask any psychologist. Oops, psychology of course isn’t REAL science! May I suggest not using science as God’s adversary. True science doesn’t write anything off. It is just some hypotheses are difficult to support and finding the right support is often about asking the right questions in the first place. 50 years ago physics did not have the right questions to entertain the possibilities of quantum mechanics. Did that mean these phenomena we are studying now didn’t exist! Maybe even circular logic, has its uses. Sometimes the conclusion may be about the journey rather than the conclusion, even in science.

  • 107. bry0000000  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    “Doesn’t assuming that everything has a natural cause lead to circular reasoning as well? You basically said that if it doesn’t fit a natural cause then it must not be true. Start with the premise that all things can be described through natural means and it will prove itself true as you discredit anything that doesn’t fit that schema. How is your reasoning any less flawed than what you fault religions for?”

    The difference is as follows. Simon’s objective with his naturalistic views, I believe, is to discover the source of truth. The natural actions of a human reveal his true being. Christianity is a religion and not an automatic mode of life, therefore cannot constitute itself as a self-proving truth. You cannot say Christianity is true just because Christianity is true.

  • 108. littleshao  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    I am a Christian and I find your views extremely interesting. If there are people interested in sorting out such opinions on worldview, religion and faith, I highly recommend you take a look at the website of ChinaHorizon by Reverend Samuel Ling, a speaker who deals with apologetics on the Christian faith, and might be of help to those who are curious or confused.

    http://www.chinahorizon.org/

    Circular reasoning is a flawed logical explanation for anything that we’re arguing regarding it’s value of truth. However, I hope to draw to some peoples’ attention that just as Christians and religious people do make assumptions, athiests and deconverts do make their own assumptions as well, and that definitely does NOT make any faith or religion or belief untrue or wrong.

    What I can say is that even though I’m not skilled at the art of apologetics or even to discuss such religious issues, I have experienced God in my personal life. Yes, there is no way to prove that a God does not exist. And if you let yourself into all the testimonies and lifealtering (i did not say 180* lifechanging) experiences of converts and believers, you will find that such personal stories testify to the existence of a divine God.

    It is logically flawed to use the Bible to prove itself. But dear friends, the Bible itself was written by so many different authors with different backgrounds, in different situations, and across a timespan of hundreds of years. I don’t believe Paul consulted John or Moses or Solomon before he wrote his epistles. And yet they all point to the same message of the same God and His same work of salvation. I thought that was interesting to note.

    Another thing we ought to note while undertaking this feat to sort out issues on faith and religion, is that it is undeniable that we human beings are limited. We do not know all. Science is great, and we have found out a lot more about the world we live in from it. But do we know every thing there is to know? No, we do not. Do we know for sure what will happen when we die and leave this world we live in? Do we know where we came from as human beings, from monkeys? Do we know how the universe works?

    Then to reach a conclusion that a God is simply not real and is merely a piece of man’s imagination is really quite frivolous. It requires much more thought than what we have arrived at today, yes?

  • 109. hampster  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    “is to discover the source of truth.” The source of truth? Or what is true? If one attempts to discover what is true, one must make damn sure that it is absolute. Truth is absolute.

    “The natural actions of a human reveal his true being.” What? Are you saying if I take a dump, therefore I am a piece of fecal matter?

    “You cannot say Christianity is true just because Christianity is true.” I have to absolutely agree with you here. Which is why I will point out that you cannot say Christianity is false because Christianity is false. When scientists hear of a way of doing something, whether that is chemical mixing for a certain reaction or a test of a health drug, they do not set out to disprove it. They do not say, “Ah ha! Today I shall disprove your cure for cancer.” They do say, “I would like to test, or attempt to prove that it works.”

    You claim Simon is attempting to discover the ‘source of truth’. You can do that by discrediting something you have not attempted to validate?

  • 110. Jacqueline  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Great writing. I really enjoyed this post.

    You are 100% right: you should NOT be forced to read with “an open mind”. That isn’t REALLY reading with an open mind, is it? You should not be put down for being atheist or agnostic; that’s just as bad as being put down for being a Christian, Jew, or whatever

    However, because I am a Christian, I must put in my two cents:
    The Bible is to be read as a symbolic book; it is not literal (i.e. the world obviously wasn’t created in 7 days. We know that). This is why I’m easily able to see that, in my opinion anyway, science is science and has vast amounts of authority, but who am I to say that God had no hand in nature, creation, whatever. For one who is not a “Bible thumper” swearing on every single word of that book to be true, religion becomes something that meshes wonderfully well with science.

    Second, I loved your “premise” paragraphs. Good stuff. Check out some of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings. He went through periods of huge questioning of his faith, and that questioning allowed him to utilize Greek philosophy to logically, step by step, prove the existence of some sort of higher being. It’s pretty neat reading if you’re a fan of philosophy (even if you don’t believe at all in any god). He does some great premise and cause/effect theories.

    Also, there are some very interesting writings from Romans that have recently been discovered (their carbon-dating is currently in progress) that testifies to the miracles that Jesus performed. Now, what reason would Roman soldiers have to validate that Jesus performed miracles? If nothing else, wouldn’t they want to deny/refute it? Again, nothing to put all your faith in, but just a reason to maybe not shut out all possibilities, you know?

    I’ve gone through my fair share of doubts and skepticisms, but something keeps bringing me back. I often wonder if it’s because I want that security of believing in an afterlife or the comfort of knowing someone (or something) is watching over me, but I find that some things in this world and in this universe are simply far too great to be just a coincidence.

    That was more than two cents… more like ten or fifteen.
    Anyway, keep writing; it’s good stuff. I’ll definitely visit again soon.

  • 111. seeker314  |  July 3, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Here is a scientist who converted to Islam. You may be interested in what he has to say…

  • 112. fiL3xtacy  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe. Allâh has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings…

    Al-Qur’an:6-7

  • 113. fiL3xtacy  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:10 am

    “How can you disbelieve in Allâh? Seeing that you were dead and He gave you life. Then He will give you death, then again will bring you to life (on the Day of Resurrection) and then unto Him you will return.” (2:28)
    “Evil is the parable of the people who reject Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses and signs, etc.) and used to wrong their own selves” (7:177).
    “Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’ân, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding it)?” (47:24).

  • 114. PalMD  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:13 am

    I find Christian Apologetics somewhat ridiculous. Jesus argued for faith, and Christianity is built on faith. Trying to PROVE your beliefs is, well, silly. Believe, find comfort, enjoy, and don’t forget to leave the rest of us alone. And don’t try to sully science with your faith….they both suffer.

  • 115. Anonymous  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:25 am

    This is really not that interesting a post. What’s the big deal? His arguments aren’t very concise or at all required reading. He makes a statement and then goes on to whine all over the place like his own diagram.

    WE GET THE POINT SIR, WE WON’T TRY TO MAKE YA LIKE JESUS, SORRY FOR TRYING TO SHARE SOMETHING THAT IMPROVED OUR OWN LIVES. Ok! Seriously! Sorry! Zomg!

    This has cheap intellectual written all over it. Guy needs to chill. Take some advice from Christ: Judge not lest ye be called on your bullshit.

  • 116. Billy Chia  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Jesus straight up loves you bro!

  • 117. tbelteshazzar  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:35 am

    This is really retarded. That’s all.

  • 118. itsrhetorical  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:53 am

    hampster, Al Quran is thought to have come from the 7th century AD. You never read Genesis where it mentions child birth? Genesis 4: And Adam slept with Eve.

    The Quaran is full of contradictions and errors, with Old Testament characters living as contemporaries with people (New Testament) who died hundreds of years after their death. Mohammad could not read Hebrew or Latin and so had to try to remember the stories he heard from Jewish and Christian merchants.

    no one can prove evolution or creation. it’s opinion based on faith in one or the other. You said so yourself. I agree with you there.

  • 119. N  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:12 am

    Hello,

    How do you judge something without having read the whole thing? :)

    I wouldn’t want a judge to judge on a trial who didn’t know all the facts. Isn’t that foolish and ridiculous?

    If you don’t believe it’s fine, but at least own up to it.

    But please believe because if the Bible is true, it’s gonna be scary. Too many prophecies have come true and the Book of Revelations speaks of the future.

    Swallow your pride and humble yourself before the One that created you. Don’t be like the person described in Revelation that shakes his fist at God on the Last Day, even when fire is being poured from heaven. Why? What do you have to prove? What power rests in you that you can change all the universe?

    Please get all your facts straight before you pass a judgement on something. Don’t let your emotions rule you. If we don’t let our emotions get in the way, Christianity is perfect logic with all of history, archaeological artifacts, and prophecies to support it. Nothing in the world has such proof. Nothing.

    This is the one faith that demands you test and probe. It is not a blind faith.

  • 120. N  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:18 am

    To all the people that keeps shouting “Jesus loves you” I wish you would stop. You are not helping the situation and just sound like a fool, a buffoon, and a moron.

    Jesus doesn’t not love everyone. It is not biblical to go around saying that. Those we do not repent are “objects of God’s wrath” Ephesians 2:3.

    Those who shouts such mind-less comments, think they are showing God’s love, but it’s so degrading and unbiblical.

    For those who profess to be Christian go to wayofthemaster.com and see the fallacy in the modern gospel.

  • 121. N  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:23 am

    Christians should not be attacking this guy for writing what he is writing. Rather we should be address eaching comment intelligently with proof and evidences. If we claim to hold the truth then show it, teach it. Don’t pounce on the guy. But my guess is most professing Christians don’t even know the Bible themselve, they just think they are religious and good because the ‘go to church’.

    http://www.wayofthemaster.com/videolessons.shtml

  • 122. N  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Here is the proof:

    Jesus died and rose again.

    He had eyewitnesses. These same men denied him when he was crucified. These same cowardly men completely changed and died preaching a risen Christ.

    If they did not see a risen Christ, then they died for a lie. Them seeing a risen Christ was evidence of their transformation.

    Christianity is not built on faith. It’s facts. Jesus Christ lived 2007 year ago. Died on a cross. Rose again on the third day. Made outrageous claims about himself and the world. Changed all of history.

    Christianity might be offensive and annoying, but it’s not a blind faith.

  • 123. The de-Convert  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:35 am

    Bernt,

    Also check out:

    http://literalbible.blogspot.com

    Paul

  • 124. Chris  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:36 am

    I believe that all of the books you mention are divinely inspired, but then so are Oprah, Mr. Rogers, and Elmo. I believe in God but not in “religion”. I believe we all have a spark of divinity within us, which is why we search for meaning and purpose in life. I have a profound respect for and interest in the writings and practices of all religions because I believe each represents a unique point of view in this search for meaning. There is value in coming to understand and appreciate a point of view–but that doesn’t make that point of view right and others wrong–it remains a point of view. About all we can say about it is whether it appears to be consistent or not.

    Having an open mind means being willing to learn about what we do not know, as well as a willingness to re-examine what we think we know. (Scientists do this all the time). Otherwise, all we’re left with is a stagnant set of beliefs about what we think “is” and, to me, that’s akin to death. Life is about growth and adaptation.

    We can grow through reading a good book (religious or otherwise) because in reading we are examining, contemplating and perhaps expanding the ideas of others. We can grow through the experience of art or expressing ourselves through art. We can grow through meditation. We can grow through soul searching, mathematics, music, poetry, philosophy, and science. I’ve learned a lot about life just taking 15 minutes to lie in a field and listen to a mockingbird sing with every fiber of its being.

    Open mind? Closed mind? What does it matter? We all choose to be where we are and no one can force us to be other than who we are. You choose not to read religious texts and that’s absolutely fine .

  • 125. PalMD  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:42 am

    Basically, the read-the-book issue was asked and answered. The main premise of the bible is supernatural. I don’t need to read the whole thing (although ive read most of it) to know I don’t accept it, as I don’t accept anything supernatural. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t valuable lessons collected in the bible, quran, etc, just that someone doesn’t have to read every word to be convinced that the supernatural is irrelevant in their lives.

  • 126. chasing shadows again  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:43 am

    [...] chasing shadows again {July 03, 2007}   Because Religious Commentary Fascinates Me…. Don’t ask me to Read Your Holy Book [...]

  • 127. moiette  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:45 am

    Do you hate religion?
    Good, so does God, religion is mans effort to make himself right with God, this is impossible.

    The Law That came from God is perfect – that’s why imperfect man cannot ever keep it.
    The Law was given purely to reveal sin.

    Atheism can often stem from realizing and seeing that religion is futile and hypocritical –
    it then often blinds us though to the truth that God does surely exist and that He has made a way perfect for each one of us as individuals to know Him and be reconciled to Him.

    If you don’t want religion then you are a good candidate for GRACE

    Grace – totally unmerited (un earned) favor

    the Law is HOLY
    sinners are CONDEMNED by it

    The Law is JUST – it cannot show mercy to the guilty

    The law prohibits
    Grace invites and gives

    Law condemns the sinner
    Grace redeems the sinner

    The law reveals sinfulness
    Grace atones for sinfulness

    by the law comes knowledge of sin
    By Grace is the redemption FROM sin

    The Law was given by God through Moses
    But GRACE and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ

    The law demands obedience
    Grace bestows and empowers us to obey

    The law says DO and DO NOT
    Grace says ‘It is finished’

    Law says continue to be Holy
    Grace says “It is finished”

    The law curses
    Grace Blesses

    The law slays the sinner
    Grace makes the sinner alive

    The Law shuts every mouth before God
    Grace opens the mouth to praise God

    The law condemns the best man
    Grace saves the worst man

    The law says, ‘pay what you owe’
    Grace says I freely forgive you ALL

    Law says, ‘the wages of sin is death,’
    Grace says, ‘But the Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’

    Law says that the soul that sins – it shall die
    Grace says, “Believe and LIVE!”

    The law is finished and done away with in Christ
    Grace lasts forever

    The law puts us under bondage
    Grace sets us free as the sons and daughters of God.

    THE DIVINE EXCHANGE
    MADE AT THE CROSS

    Jesus was punished that we might be forgiveness
    Jesus was wounded that we might be healed
    Jesus was made to become sin with our sinfulness
    that we might be made righteous before God with His own righteousness
    Jesus died our death
    that we might receive His life.
    Jesus endured our poverty
    that we might share His abundance
    Jesus bore our Shame
    that we wight share His Glory
    Jesus endured our rejection
    that we might have His acceptance with the Father God
    Jesus was made a curse
    so that we might enter into the blessing

    16For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

    17For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

    18He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation--he incurs no damnation]

  • 128. hampster  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:48 am

    “Those who shouts such mind-less comments, think they are showing God’s love, but it’s so degrading and unbiblical.”

    You are right. GOD HATES YOU! That is unless you believe in my version, in which case you may be worthy of gods love. Thank you, oh thank you prophet of the lord for telling us how to take a translation of a translation.

    You have absolutely no right to tell others how to live or to tell others that they are less or more in gods eye. Thou shalt not judge.
    I believe this is possibly the most underused verse in Biblical history and quite possibly one of the most important.

  • 129. PalMD  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:52 am

    Hey, i’ve got no problem with people being religious…just keep it to yourself. Your prosthelatizing is very offensive. Just let me burn in hell, ok? I’d rather not take Pascal’s wager and give up being a rational human being.

  • 130. hampster  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:56 am

    A quick add on as far as Sociological reasoning for religion go.

    Sociologically religion is created as a way for humans to set out a stringent set of controls upon other humans. We do this in order to keep peace within our own societies. Obviously, religion has started wars, so there is no need to point that out to me. My response is that humans were never meant to be in groups as large as we are, so religions will eventually conflict. However, the fact that all religions espouse nearly identical feelings of thou shalt not kill, maim, hurt, be mean so on and so forth seems entirely too coincidental to me. No one copied anyone else, we all have built in basic controls that tell us what is wrong for humanity and what is right. We violate these on a constant basis only because sometimes our ability to rationalize out grows our natural instincts (of which we have few).

    The point I am trying to raise is that all religions share a common goal (to the exclusion of a few) and that is to see to the well being of their communities. To attempt to FORCE someone to your religion is not only a horrible attitude, it probably goes against your religion in some way or some form. (Remember the above statements do not disprove a higher being, they only stipulate our own explanations for the religions we create)

    If someone wants to tell others that Jesus loves them, so be it. Who are you to judge?

  • 131. pointminister  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:16 am

    Your premise is sound. They do use circular reasoning.
    Many Christians just don’t look for explanations outside the Bible. You sound like you’d take just about any explanation outside the Bible.
    What if the Bible could be proven, to your satisfaction, as reliable? Would you give it a chance then? Honest question.

  • 132. bry0000000  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:28 am

    “The natural actions of a human reveal his true being.” What? Are you saying if I take a dump, therefore I am a piece of fecal matter?”

    No. I’m saying you’re human and you dump. Dumping doesn’t make you a piece of fecal matter. So yeah, we can set up the postulate that Humans crap. This is natural. Biologically natural. Nice try with the red herring though.

    “Which is why I will point out that you cannot say Christianity is false because Christianity is false.”

    No. I can say, though, that Christianity is false if it is not true. I can’t say Christianity is true because it is false, because Christianity cannot call itself true. I can’t assert Christianity is not true because I can prove it is true. I can say I believe it is false because logic demands it be false. On that point, I can say Christianity is illogical as a truth, but completely logical as, say, a system of power relation, which it is.

  • 133. D  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:33 am

    DIRECTED AT: the post
    (I intend no offense with this comment)

    I’m a Christian, and I hardly use anything but scientific reasoning to explain my beliefs. What makes you think that we Christians all use that system of explanation? I haven’t even read the whole Bible, but I can still explain my point. If you look into the Bible, AND into scientific reasoning, both with an open mind, you’ll eventually see our point of view.

  • 134. bry0000000  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:34 am

    “Here is the proof:

    Jesus died and rose again.”
    Says who?

    “He had eyewitnesses. These same men denied him when he was crucified. These same cowardly men completely changed and died preaching a risen Christ.”

    Perhaps. But isn’t it possible four of his apostles and followers either heard a false account themselves, bared false witness themselves, or simply put so much faith in the fact that Christ *HAD* (in their perspective) to have risen that they wrote it themselves?

    “If they did not see a risen Christ, then they died for a lie. Them seeing a risen Christ was evidence of their transformation.”

    Except they didn’t see it.

    “Christianity is not built on faith. It’s facts. Jesus Christ lived 2007 year ago. Died on a cross. Rose again on the third day. Made outrageous claims about himself and the world. Changed all of history.”

    Again, your problem is that your premise is built on something that is probably not true.

  • 135. PalMD  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:39 am

    We come back to the point of religious ideas lacking falsifiability…the “goddidit problem.

  • 136. anungarrayididitdotcopas  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:42 am

    OK, I will not ask you to read my Holy Book, but only point out that without the circle of circular reasoning, we are all stuffed. Suck it.

  • 137. Stephen  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:54 am

    Good point,

    I don’t see how anyone could expect you to believe in a Book. It isn’t about a book, but the God that wrote that book.

    To continue the question that comment #130 started: what if you saw a real miracle? Im not talking about turning water into blood or causing infestations of frogs (Exodus 7). No, Im talking about the finger of God!

    You want to see it in your life? Do you really want to know if the Word of God is true? Then here it is… Leviticus 26:21-30. May HaShem do to you and more over because you have scorned His Name and have caused those that follow Him to fall away!
    This will be your miracle: that you will have every sickness that your ancestors have had. Whether it be cancer, tumor, liver failure, stroke… you get the point. It is because you have walked in the way of unrighteousness.

    However, if you break your heart of stone and repent then God will relent of destroying you. Joel 2:13

  • 138. PalMD  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:03 am

    Hmm…nice guy, the god dude.
    Anyway…until that miracle happens…

  • 139. ambour001  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:45 am

    “This is really retarded. That’s all.”

    Funny. Even though it’s been stated, the retardation continues.

    This really is retarded. This whole debate is entirely baseless. Entirely. Lacking. Relevance. To anything.

  • 140. Worthless « ru·mi·na·tions  |  July 4, 2007 at 5:11 am

    [...] Wed 4 Jul 2007 Worthless Posted by Joe under Ruminations , Christianity , Life , Rants  Here’s one for you… I’ve been asked, when discussing with theists, to read their various holy books (usually the Bible) with an open mind. The implication is that, if I gave their book an honest and open minded look, I’d become convinced and start believing, as they do. Further it’s implied that I’m not as open minded as I claim to be but rather closed to religion because I do not carefully examining their various books with the agnostic (i.e. undecided) attitude… If you want to prove that the Bible or the Koran, or any other Holy Booktm is really of divine nature, you must rely on other sources. This is where the conversation usually halts. “But Messiah said it requires faith to believe!”                                                                                   –de-conversion.com [...]

  • 141. Sofia  |  July 4, 2007 at 5:54 am

    I can ask you an other question, Way are we killing and hating each other so much we people.

    A person who belive in God, but give you full respect for not doing that.

    sofia

    i wonder way we people are killing each other. Soon, what is left to save

    http://sofiawinterborn.wordpress.com/2007/07/02/sofiawhen-did-human-beings-turn-into-brothers-in-arms/

  • 142. curtisschweitzer  |  July 4, 2007 at 5:57 am

    It is continually amusing to me that so many people posit so many challenges to the Christian religion as if they have discovered some new way to single-handedly wipe it from the face of the earth with a single blog comment

  • 143. curtisschweitzer  |  July 4, 2007 at 6:04 am

    …Excuse me, I hit submit too early, like an idiot. Let me continue:

    …wipe it from the face of the earth with a single blog comment. Much of the objections to the Bible and Christianity in this thread are far from original, and most Christians that I know (I went to a conservative evangelical university) are aware of them and have very substantial answers to them. I certainly wouldn’t expect them to change the minds of most critics here, but they nonetheless represent a community that is much more thoughtful than the flat misrepresentations that are peddled here.

    Likewise, the post itself, though well articulated is far less insightful or intriguing than it seems the author believes it to be. It is merely one long, fairly unfocused rant that adds little to the larger conversation.

    If you think Christians are idiots, read Alvin Plantinga. If, after 20 pages of straight syllogisms, you still think Christians are idiots, please write a book in response. I welcome it.

    If you still disagree with Christianity, fine. But please don’t be a dick about it.

  • 144. John Stein  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:01 am

    I AM SORRY

    Simen,

    I apologize for the experience you have had with Christianity. It is grossly prideful to think that your eloquence in words will get someone to “convert” over to your camp.

    I will say that the essence of Christianity is love. I does not sound like you have experienced that from the “bretheren”. This is sad and indicative of the state of the church today.

    No human will convert another human to Christianity. The same bible that people have used to sling words and scripture to get you to come over to our camp says that only God Himself can bring you to Himself. It is not a Christian’s job to convert. That is part of the role that the Spirit of God plays.

    Our role is to plant the seed, and let God do His work. Only He can do it.

    I do believe that application of truth is more of the issue here. It is quite amazing that the God of the universe would sacrifice Himself just for us. That makes no sense. Only love can do that. And, only Christianity has forgiveness of sins and love and redemption as its foundation. All other religions speak a different game.

    My guess is that those that have offended you have simply tried to let you in on what they know to be true – God’s love is amazing. They want you to experience this for yourself and are trying in their own humanness to convince you of this truth.

    My prayer for you today is that the Love of Christ reaches your heart. When the time is right, the bible will make sense to you in ways that it never did before. What you do with truth when it is presented to you is your choice. There can be no love without freedom of choice. This is the essence of God’s grace. We get to decide.

    So, my friend, I encourage you to keep seeking YOUR truth, whatever that may be, and I hope that those who know the Truth will be instruments of love.

  • 145. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:14 am

    Rev. Peterson Cekemp, if you want to translate this, fine, just remember to attribute it properly. If you want to translate other writings by the other authors (this is a group blog, in case you hadn’t noticed), you’ll have to take it up with them.

    It’s amusing how much people choose to attribute to me that I haven’t said. You seem to believe that I have taken upon me the task of single-handedly disproving all religions in the span of a blog post. Rather, I have a more modest goal: to point out a common, but by all means not universal flaw in religious reasoning. The fact that some Christians use this kind of flawed reasoning does not make all Christians wrong, that’s a fair point. Neither am I trying to make them out to be.

    hampster, we all (hopefully) know that we don’t have access to any eternal, absolute truth. I do however believe that it is rational not to believe in a god based on the evidence.

    To those who say that this post is useless, a long stupid rant with no intellectual merit, not insightful, or any number of other characteristics: thanks for your contribution. Most of you didn’t bother to explain why, but perhaps that is too much to demand.

    N, how do I address the Bible without having read the whole thing? Well, I simply stick with the points I have read. I’m confident with denying the key points in Christianity: creation, crucifixion, miracles, and so on. Contrary to what some of you (not specifically N) seem to believe, I’m not a complete stranger to Christian theology. I do know of your main points, and when I deny your foundation, I deny everything that is built on it. As for your proof, it’s circular in that it assumes something only the Bible confirms, namely that Jesus rose from the dead.

    Curtisschweitzer, I’ve read some of Plantinga’s online writings, and found them to be awful. I don’t believe he’s stupid, just that his beliefs are false. Christians aren’t idiots. Saying so of a so large group would be extremely ignorant. Some Christians are idiots, just as some atheists and Jews and Muslims are. I’m well aware of the contributions Christians have given to society, and I in no way consider them as people to be inferior.

    I do, however, as stated believe their beliefs to be inferior to mine.

    Since I’ve no way to answer all of this short of sitting all day at the keyboard (and, believe it or not, I have better things to do), I’ll try to summarize them into some sort of FAQ later.

  • 146. bovanne  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:17 am

    Paranoid people like crankyfilipino should not express any views, no matter if they are political, religious or social ones in public. Dewd, humans are not robotic beings, so you cannot expect them to be perfectly neutral. Pff…

    And whoever said the Bible was written by God has big problems understanding metaphors. The people who wrote did that under divine inspiration, but there still remains the human factor.

    Hearing simple and uneducated people speaking about religious subjects, no matter if they are about christianity, islam or other monotheistic religions makes me almost ill. But then again, nothing attracts more people these days than this kind of topics. Tu-la-lu guy and girls.

  • 147. kramii  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:18 am

    PLEASE DON’T ASK ME TO READ YOUR BLOG ENTRY ;-)

    The implication is that, if I give your article an honest and open minded look, I’d become convinced and start being sceptical, as you are. Further it’s implied that I’m not as open minded as you because I do not carefully examining your arguments with an agnostic attitude.

    There’s a fundamental flaw with this article, and it’s staring me right in the eyes: the assumption that a blog entry can somehow validate itself.

    Let me reiterate what I consider myself to be. I am a believer. I am a theist. I’m not a theist in the sense that I preach from a pulpit, but I’m a big fan of God. What does this tell you about me? It should tell you that I will not take any blog entry’s word for its own validity. By reading your Sceptical Blog ™, I will only learn a bit about your brand of scepticism. I won’t come to believe it.

    Why is that? I don’t believe it. I will admit that I haven’t read the entire article. Does this mean I cannot be critical of the article? Absolutely not! I don’t believe it. The basic premise of these article is that it is logical. It is built on the assumption that they are validated by the author.

    Naturally, I can’t find out if the premise is true by assuming the premise. That would be circular reasoning. It would be akin to me writing a book in which I describe myself as logical, and I then assume that the book (coming from me) is logical and use that assumption to prove that I am, in fact, using logic. Assuming the conclusion is not a way to prove anything. In no way have we justified the assumption….

    [I won't go on. I really didn't need to read any more]

  • 148. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:21 am

    John Stein said:

    I will say that the essence of Christianity is love. I does not sound like you have experienced that from the “bretheren”. This is sad and indicative of the state of the church today.

    On the contrary, I have. I don’t oppose religion because of some horrible experience with it. I oppose it because I believe it is a false foundation to be making decisions on, and I oppose the bad effects (but not the good) it has had on the world.

    By the way, I don’t believe my writings to be world-changing, once-in-a-lifetime magnum opuses. I don’t claim to be the first to discover the flaws in religious reasoning, far from it. Like in other subjects, greater men have commented on this before me, but it does in no way invalidate me saying something like that.

    I’m not trying to convert, by the way. Some of the commenters here appear not to have read what I wrote despite saying I should read what they (or their ancestors) have written. The objective of this blog post isn’t to dismiss all of Christianity or religion, but to dismiss a particular fallacious kind of reasoning that I’ve seen examples of in the wild.

  • 149. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:28 am

    Kramii, while I appreciate your satire, it doesn’t actually answer anything. Let me break it down:

    The implication is that, if I give your article an honest and open minded look, I’d become convinced and start being sceptical, as you are.

    I’ve stated that the point of this post isn’t to convert anyone, so this is just plain false.

    Further it’s implied that I’m not as open minded as you because I do not carefully examining your arguments with an agnostic attitude.

    This implication exists purely in your mind.

    There’s a fundamental flaw with this article, and it’s staring me right in the eyes: the assumption that a blog entry can somehow validate itself.

    If the Bible contained only valid arguments, then we could say that it “validates” itself in that it’s perfectly logical. Of course, the arguments might not be sound, in that they might contain false premises. The premises can’t be validated by the book.

    It’s easy for a blog post to present valid arguments and premise s and thus be true. I invite you to discover flaws in my argument and/or premises.

    Let me reiterate what I consider myself to be. I am a believer. I am a theist. I’m not a theist in the sense that I preach from a pulpit, but I’m a big fan of God. What does this tell you about me? It should tell you that I will not take any blog entry’s word for its own validity. By reading your Sceptical Blog ™, I will only learn a bit about your brand of scepticism. I won’t come to believe it.

    Fine. I didn’t ask you to.

    Why is that? I don’t believe it. I will admit that I haven’t read the entire article. Does this mean I cannot be critical of the article? Absolutely not!

    This is true. You can be critical of the parts that you did read. Unfortunately, your criticisms aren’t sound.

    I don’t believe it. The basic premise of these article is that it is logical. It is built on the assumption that they are validated by the author.

    Again, point out flaws if you can.

    Naturally, I can’t find out if the premise is true by assuming the premise. That would be circular reasoning. It would be akin to me writing a book in which I describe myself as logical, and I then assume that the book (coming from me) is logical and use that assumption to prove that I am, in fact, using logic. Assuming the conclusion is not a way to prove anything. In no way have we justified the assumption….

    You only have to read the post to find out if it’s logical. On the other hand, if it had contained empirical claims, you would be well within your rights to demand outside justification.

    The Bible, as we know, contains a whole bunch of empirical claims about the world.

  • 150. Melak Ta'us  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:36 am

    I love it. I got my BA in Religious Studies (almost) solely to have the clou to refute cricular reasoning. The whole “(my holy book) is the word of god, because (my holy book) says it is” rationale, is so boggling that I can only shake my head. I wonder what simian hierarchical itch is scratched by blind faith? Sensible people (at least sensible enough to keep themselves alive) blindly follow people that I wouldn’t buy a car from . Unless and until we acknowledge and accept that we’re monkeys, with all the inherent territorial and alpha dominance issues therein… we’re doomed to be led by the biggest brute, and ruled by the biggest asshole. We’re out of the trees, and through the looking glass. Embrace your inner Kong! ;)

  • 151. John Stein  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Simen said:

    “On the contrary, I have. I don’t oppose religion because of some horrible experience with it. I oppose it because I believe it is a false foundation to be making decisions on, and I oppose the bad effects (but not the good) it has had on the world.”

    We stand in the same camp, perhaps. I too have experienced the love of the church. But, the church is an organism not an ogranization. The spirit of religion wages war against Christianity. It refocuses peoples’ energy on the organization and its rules and regulations and gets people to confront each other along “relgious” lines.

    You can read the threads above and see it permeate the thoughts of many – mine included, perhaps.

    I would add that many people are turned off by Christianity by their horrible experiences. I too was agnostic and was raised Catholic. There were so many rules and “do this or else” – isms that one could never experience love. That was my own experience and not true for all Catholics, but it did lead me to run away, not towards God.

    When the power of God is released, it becomes far less important on what words suggest. Jesus is moving on this earth today. People do get healed. Blind eyes are opened. The deaf hear. And, demons are cast out.

    But, that opens up a whole discussion on unbelief, which is a faith of its own.

    Peace

  • 152. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:40 am

    John Stein, you seem to disregard all the miracles that have nothing to do with love, and all the other teachings.

    I wouldn’t have a problem calling myself a Christian if all I had to do was believe in love. Unfortunately, I also have to believe in crucifixion, ressurection, and all that crap.

  • 153. What religion am I? « unfinished and undecided  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:41 am

    [...] I logged on today, this article seemed to be calling out to me. Now, I don’t usually click on links before checking my blog [...]

  • 154. Ria  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:50 am

    Reminds me of some of the quotes I’ve seen on http://www.fstdt.com , involving people stating that clearly the Bible IS the direct word of God, because the Bible says so. Er, logic please.

    Religious study fascinates me. I’m currently on a bit of a personal quest to find out more about how the Christian religion has changed since its inception. But in learning more about it, I don’t expect to be converted all of a sudden. I’m sure there are people out there who do expect it of me, and will be disappointed when I’m not suddenly seeing the light. Or something. I can appreciate that they have the hope that I may be ‘saved’ in learning more about their chosen faith, but the amount that some Christians brow-beat others into believe . . .

    Right, this was supposed to be a comment, not a rant of my own. :/

  • 155. John Stein  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:57 am

    Simen wrote:

    “I wouldn’t have a problem calling myself a Christian if all I had to do was believe in love. Unfortunately, I also have to believe in crucifixion, ressurection, and all that crap.”

    Your comment suggests that miracles and belief can be separated from love. What I am saying is that God IS love. All miracles are a product of love. Love is the origin not a path.

    Why was there a crucifixion?
    Why would there be a need for resurrection?

    Please dont get me wrong. My faith is routed in Christ crucified and Him resurrected. He is my Lord and my Savior.

    But, I have also experienced and seen tremendous miracles that are not “biblical” in nature or extremity except for the fact that God lives, He likes us, He really digs us, He wants good for us, and nothing is impossible for Him. Sometimes, He just wants to shower us with something cool to help us grow in our relationship with Him.

    He does things for me just as I do for my children. And, that is routed in love.

    There is a big difference between words on a page, independent of what page you are reading and a living, breathing relationship with the Creator of everything.

    There is nothing greater than love, I would suggest.

  • 156. sturgo  |  July 4, 2007 at 8:31 am

    It’s important to question things. In-fact I’d say why not question everything around us? From spiritual beliefs to political values and and of course scientific data. Question it all and develop your own understanding of the world.

    Thanks.

    http://goldfusion.wordpress.com/2007/06/21/human-conditioning/

  • 157. kramii  |  July 4, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Simen, I appreciate your reply.

    >>The implication is that, if I give your article an honest and open minded look, I’d become convinced and start being sceptical, as you are.

    >I’ve stated that the point of this post isn’t to convert anyone, so this is just plain false.

    Your tag-line states that you are “resourcing…de-converting Christians”.

    Doesn’t this imply that the whole point of the Blog is to provide material to those who are interested becoming skeptical?

    Doesn’t this imply that one of the purposes of blog entry is to help people de-convert?

    >>Further it’s implied that I’m not as open minded as you because I do not carefully examining your arguments with an agnostic attitude.

    >This implication exists purely in your mind.

    Where else should it exist? The implications which you draw exist purely in your mind, too.

    >>There’s a fundamental flaw with this article, and it’s staring me right in the eyes: the assumption that a blog entry can somehow validate itself.

    >If the Bible contained only valid arguments, then we could say that it “validates” itself in that it’s perfectly logical. Of course, the arguments might not be sound, in that they might contain false premises. The premises can’t be validated by the book.

    I agree.

    >It’s easy for a blog post to present valid arguments and premise s and thus be true. I invite you to discover flaws in my argument and/or premises.

    Thank you for the invitation.

    >>Let me reiterate what I consider myself to be. I am a believer. I am a theist. I’m not a theist in the sense that I preach from a pulpit, but I’m a big fan of God. What does this tell you about me? It should tell you that I will not take any blog entry’s word for its own validity. By reading your Sceptical Blog ™, I will only learn a bit about your brand of scepticism. I won’t come to believe it.

    >Fine. I didn’t ask you to.

    No, but you did invite me to, by posting your views.

    >>Why is that? I don’t believe it. I will admit that I haven’t read the entire article. Does this mean I cannot be critical of the article? Absolutely not!

    >This is true. You can be critical of the parts that you did read. Unfortunately, your criticisms aren’t sound.

    You are yet to demonstrate a flaw. Simply stating something does not make it a fact.

    >>I don’t believe it. The basic premise of these article is that it is logical. It is built on the assumption that they are validated by the author.

    >Again, point out flaws if you can.

    It is a good article: as far as it goes.

    >>Naturally, I can’t find out if the premise is true by assuming the premise. That would be circular reasoning. It would be akin to me writing a book in which I describe myself as logical, and I then assume that the book (coming from me) is logical and use that assumption to prove that I am, in fact, using logic. Assuming the conclusion is not a way to prove anything. In no way have we justified the assumption….

    >You only have to read the post to find out if it’s logical. On the other hand, if it had contained empirical claims, you would be well within your rights to demand outside justification.

    I have no doubt that the article is well thought out. Howeve, it is not the article that is flawed. It is your faith in your own reasoning.

    Your own thinking is circular:

    You believe yourself capable of logcal thought. You build an argument. You believe the conclusion your argument becaues you believe that you are capable of logical thought.

    >The Bible, as we know, contains a whole bunch of empirical claims about the world.

    It does indeed. I am yet to find any that do not hold up in the real world.

  • 158. kramii  |  July 4, 2007 at 8:57 am

    sturgo:

    >It’s important to question things

    Is it? ;-)

  • 159. bovanne  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:09 am

    sturgo, saint Augustine said: dubito ergo cogito [ = I doubt therfore I think ]

  • 160. dreamaboutdream  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book

    ok Simen, you said [rely on outside resources]
    this is not need i just ask you to RELY ON INSIDE RESOURCES what make sound it to you? it asked to ASK YOURSELF

    there is no need to be open minded just ask to yourself WHO AM I ? perhaps is an old or a new quest for you but in real its a valuable question,but brother don’t be bias in quest of it… its a simple and answerable question it will lead you the truth of yourself the truth of this universe the truth of God, Jesus (pbuh) and what ever u thought…

  • [...] So I was checking out my blog and in general things going on in the blogworld of WordPress and saw that this particular essay and following comments about being a theist versus and atheist interestin…. I think some of the comments are as or more interesting than the essay. Talk about religion always [...]

  • 162. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Your tag-line states that you are “resourcing…de-converting Christians”.

    Doesn’t this imply that the whole point of the Blog is to provide material to those who are interested becoming skeptical?

    This is a group blog. I didn’t write the tagline or brand it, I simply write for the blog.

    You are yet to demonstrate a flaw. Simply stating something does not make it a fact.

    You make false assumptions about the purpose of what I wrote. That’s a big flaw. Another is that you have failed to identify any flaws. All you do is try to apply something which isn’t applicable to itself, to itself. The Bible makes empirical claims, which it cannot validate; on the other hand, I don’t make empirical claims, only logical ones, and you can verify the logic all you want, and point out the errors if you find any.

    Your own thinking is circular:

    You believe yourself capable of logcal thought. You build an argument. You believe the conclusion your argument becaues you believe that you are capable of logical thought.

    What? I believe I am capable of logical thought for a reason: because I understand logic. It’s not an unjustifiable proposition.

    Again, you’re welcome to point out real errors.

    It does indeed. I am yet to find any that do not hold up in the real world.

    Start with genesis, the miracles and the ressurection.

  • 163. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Bovanne, I’m pretty sure that’s Descartes.

  • 164. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:17 am

    dreamaboutdream, I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying. I can’t seem to find some coherent way to interpret what you’re saying. Could you try to clarify?

  • 165. The de-Convert  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Your tag-line states that you are “resourcing…de-converting Christians”.

    Doesn’t this imply that the whole point of the Blog is to provide material to those who are interested becoming skeptical?

    I think it says “Resources for….” not “resourcing….”

    Also, I believe the tag line implies its for those who are ALREADY skeptical…

    Paul

  • 166. bovanne  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Dubitat Augustinus. “Dubito ergo cogito” was used by st. Augustin sometimes in his writings. Descartes “cogito ergo sum” was inspired by that.

  • 167. dreamaboutdream  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:31 am

    thank for reply, u are from christianity. u believe in trinity.
    but believe in one GOD.

    mean i believe in myself. don’t follow the scriptures start thinking, first try to find yourself WHO AM I ? its a basic question for anyone mean in detail who am i? why i am here in this world? why i am not an air, water,plant, animal etc what things stay me alive? what is beyond this my life…

  • 168. kramii  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:32 am

    >This is a group blog. I didn’t write the tagline or brand it, I simply write for the blog … You make false assumptions about the purpose of what I wrote. That’s a big flaw.

    Actually, I made a reasonable assumption. Meaning cannot normally be divorced from context. Perhaps you should have better explained your position in your article.

    Then again, perhaps you did. I did not read it all.

    >All you do is try to apply something which isn’t applicable to itself, to itself. The Bible makes empirical claims, which it cannot validate.

    I don’t think that I have ever done this. My own reasons for believing the Bible is not its internal claims about itself. I believe it because, in my experience, (1) it is internally consistent (2) it is consistent with reality as I perceive it.

    >>Your own thinking is circular: You believe yourself capable of logcal thought. You build an argument. You believe the conclusion your argument becaues you believe that you are capable of logical thought.

    >What? I believe I am capable of logical thought for a reason: because I understand logic. It’s not an unjustifiable proposition.

    There it is. How can you be sure that you understand logic? By applying your own logic? What if that logic is flawed, and you do not understand logic?

    >Start with genesis, the miracles and the ressurection.

    As a single, unrepeatable event, neither Genesis nor the Resurrection are open to empiracle verification.

    OTOH, I have witnessed miracles.

  • 169. kramii  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:36 am

    The de-Convert:

    >>Your tag-line states that you are “resourcing…de-converting Christians”.

    >I think it says “Resources for….” not “resourcing….”

    My mistake.

    >Also, I believe the tag line implies its for those who are ALREADY skeptical…

    I am sure that the blog is a resouce for those who are already skeptical. However, “de-converting” suggests in the process of becoming de-converted, ie. those who are not fully persuated of the falsehood of theism. Hence my conclusion.

  • 170. An apology to all atheist « The Coliseum  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:39 am

    [...] so hard to discredit those of us who are followers of Christ.  When I came across this most recent blog, I was taken aback by how much emotional and intellectual energy had gone into coming up with this [...]

  • 171. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Actually, I made a reasonable assumption. Meaning cannot normally be divorced from context. Perhaps you should have better explained your position in your article.

    Perhaps you should have read what I wrote.

    I don’t think that I have ever done this. My own reasons for believing the Bible is not its internal claims about itself. I believe it because, in my experience, (1) it is internally consistent (2) it is consistent with reality as I perceive it.

    That’s reasonable. I believe both (1) and (2) to be false, of course, but if I’d say they’re good reasons to believe if they’re true.

    There it is. How can you be sure that you understand logic? By applying your own logic? What if that logic is flawed, and you do not understand logic?

    Well, do you think I understand logic? Do you find any logical flaws?

    As a single, unrepeatable event, neither Genesis nor the Resurrection are open to empiracle verification.

    Big Bang is a one-off event, yet there is evidence that it happened. I expect no less from the Bible.

  • 172. The de-Convert  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:41 am

    True… For those in the de-converting process, it’s a very confusing time. It’s nice that there are resources like this where they can discuss with others who are / have been there. In the past, it’s been a time of great isolation since most of their infrastructure may center around their faith. However, these virtual communities are helping them not feel so alone and guilty.

    Paul

  • 173. michael H.  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:46 am

    I am an evangelical, and I absolutely agree with you. It is obviously inanity to appeal to the Bible to prove its authenticity. I too am sick and tired of the brainless excuse for apologetics put forth by self-proclaimed spokemsmen for the faith. Keep challenging my wearily inept brothers and sisters with this type of logical scrutiny. They need a good kick in the ass, intellectually speaking.

  • 174. observantbystander  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:47 am

    It often seems to me that we (atheists/agnostics) are able to look at the other side and decide it’s not for us. But the believers are simply unable to see the world from any viewpoint but their own.

    Trying to convice me that they’re right isn’t going to work. And vice-versa.

  • 175. Miftach  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Quran absoltly Right :)

  • 176. kramii  |  July 4, 2007 at 10:20 am

    >>Actually, I made a reasonable assumption. Meaning cannot normally be divorced from context. Perhaps you should have better explained your position in your article.

    >Perhaps you should have read what I wrote.

    Didn’t you say, “I will admit that I haven’t read the entire Bible. Does this mean I cannot be critical of Christianity?”

    Well, I did not read your entire post. You can’t have it bith ways.

    >>There it is. How can you be sure that you understand logic? By applying your own logic? What if that logic is flawed, and you do not understand logic?

    >Well, do you think I understand logic? Do you find any logical flaws?

    From the article and your comments, I would say that you have a reasonable grasp of logic. But that, in itself, proves nothing.

    >Big Bang is a one-off event, yet there is evidence that it happened. I expect no less from the Bible.

    Nor I.

  • 177. Brad  |  July 4, 2007 at 10:20 am

    I have long believed, and this post simply reinforces it, that any logic proposed in a debate on religion or theology from differing sides is bound to be circular at some point by each.

    Wow.

    This post also illustrates that simple text will never replace an honest and in-person dialog. There is too much to pick apart, take out of context, and use against each other that the main point is completely lost.

    For those of you who are appealing to reason, freaking concede that logic can be applied to faith as well, but should never be divorced from heart. The same passion and zeal you feel for your own position should be allowed of others. No, it is not always verbalized well or inoffensively, but give others a break.

    For those of you appealing to faith, please remember that the bible was laid out in a logical, coherent way, and that it is OK to think and reason through it as well as apart from it. Break out of your box a little while still maintaining it’s priority of importance. It is not the strength of your faith that saves you or lends power to your argument, but the objective truthfulness of the message. In the same way, faith in Christ does not save anyway, Christ Himself does the saving. Said message is the power of God (Romans 1:16), so take rest and peace in that truth!

    For EVERYONE, relax, debate, relate. For good or ill, we’re all stuck on this rock with each other, so we may as well speak the truth in love (whatever you hold “truth” to be).

  • 178. BlameitonRio  |  July 4, 2007 at 10:27 am

    I don’t consider that the same ‘evidence’ that purposed the original writers of say the NT scriptures is the same ‘evidence’ to be found in the wonderful miracles professed, but extremely hard to verify, even by christians in the modern evangelical tents.
    I think a lot of life is what is termed ‘adaptive illusion’ in psychology where we refuse to believe that the robber will shoot us even though the gun is pointing at us. The trauma of different occurences is often our illusions being shattered by life events, rather than the event itself.
    Christianity is malformed as most human socio-political movements are. So is communism, but some always end up “more equal than others!”
    But when biblical reasoning is used to ‘reason’ in our modern world I think the modern experience is severlly lacking in ‘evidence’ which ‘convinced’ intelligent people of the past.
    Something happened. The writers ‘ask’ you to believe not because they want to start a movement, but because they naturally want to share something extraordinary.
    Now here is where I come from. I would be labelled Christian as the early Jewish sect were by the Romans, but I am pretty sure I am not privy to the same knowledge or experiences which turned so many different lives about back then. I do not think that I am guilty of ignorance, or stupidity or blindness when I, suspecting that something is worth digging for in scripture. I think it is all I’ve got objectively about this because my own experiences (Im not catholic, so ‘tradition’ doesn’t rate) are not invalid but always questionable. Even my senses are ‘interpreted’ from the data of the outside world.
    So in this light, I propose the measure of someone is not necessily the knowledge they have gained in their life, but are they prepared to get excited if they are proved wrong. I’m not saying athiests are wrong, or people of the book are right. Just that being prepared to be wrong is an absolute prerequisite to an open mind. Children get excited about new things, fundamentalists on the other hand circle the ramparts and protect what they have. As I said earlier, that is just sad!

  • 179. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Didn’t you say, “I will admit that I haven’t read the entire Bible. Does this mean I cannot be critical of Christianity?”

    Well, I did not read your entire post. You can’t have it bith ways.

    I didn’t write “It’s OK to make assumptions based on something you didn’t read.” I don’t criticize parts of the Bible I know nothing about. I don’t make assumptions about parts of the Bible I haven’t read. You did. That’s the difference.

  • 180. BlameitonRio  |  July 4, 2007 at 10:35 am

    By getting excited about being proved wrong, I didn’t mean looking forward to the anal probing as the UFO lands on the crop circle in the Mid-west cornfield. Just by way of clarification.

  • 181. Pollyanna  |  July 4, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Simen wrote:
    “I wouldn’t have a problem calling myself a Christian if all I had to do was believe in love. Unfortunately, I also have to believe in crucifixion, ressurection, and all that crap.”

    Pollyanna writes: That is true. It’s a package deal.

    Someone wrote:
    “This is what most christians do. They go to church or bible study where select passages are read to them and they nod their heads. They are fed a bunch of Pollyannaish rubbish about how great and loving god is, and leave out all the yucky stuff.”

    Pollyanna write: Thanks for enlightening me. I wondered what I did. And now I know.

    Someone else wrote:
    “I have no desire for anyone to give up their faith…just to understand that their faith isn’t the only way.”

    Pollyanna writes: How do you know?

  • 182. Brett  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:09 am

    This is one of the best discussions I’ve ever read – nice work. With that said, I confess I haven’t read all the comments yet (do I need to be more open-minded to that?).

    First, I think it’s important to know we all have a worldview that is not based 100% on fact. It’s not just reserved for Christians, or religion, or philosophy, for that matter. We all have biases, and those biases all affect what we believe. No way around that.

    I’m a Christian, and I will naturally disagree with some of your points, but I agree with your main point on how “being open-minded” can usually be translated as “just try to believe what I believe, even though you don’t have the same paradigm as I do.” Again, we see Christians do this a lot, but this is not a Christian problem – it’s a human nature problem.

    Gays and lesbians ask me to have an open-mind to their lifestyle, but I don’t want to.

    Hilary Clinton wants me to have an open-mind to her policies and promises, but I don’t want to.

    Some people want me to have an open-mind to Roger Clemens being the best pitcher of all-time, but I don’t want to.

    So, you’re right – it’s not a matter of having an open-mind. Most of us have made up our minds already about all kinds of things.

    At the same time, you want me to have an open-mind that everything can be explained naturally, but I don’t believe that. Doesn’t mean I don’t respect your take on it, or that I don’t see the logic behind what you believe, but I know it’s not what I want to believe. And at the end of the day, we all really do choose what we want to believe.

    Finally, we careful thinking you can be too critical of anything without knowing its principles. Above, you mentioned that you haven’t read the whole Bible, so does that mean you can’t be critical of Christianity? I don’t think so, but it obviously dilutes your argument to some degree because you don’t completely understand the point of view of the thinking you’re criticizing. Just like I base 90% of my views on Islam from something other than the Koran.

    One more thing – there are a few comments alluding to having the Bible shoved down their throats as a kid, and that obviously wasn’t fun. We’ve all been there. However, I think where a true open-mind can be seen is from someone who experienced that but who realizes that their issue is with the messenger, not necessarily the message. They can separate the two things.

  • 183. kramii  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Simen:

    >I didn’t write “It’s OK to make assumptions based on something you didn’t read.” I don’t criticize parts of the Bible I know nothing about. I don’t make assumptions about parts of the Bible I haven’t read. You did. That’s the difference.

    And yet, I was totally unaware that I was making those assumptions. My position was quite reasonable, given the parts of the post that I had read, and the context in which I had read them.

    Can you be sure that you are not doing the same with your understanding of the Bible (or any other “holy” book, for that matter)?

    Are we not really applying the same reasoning here?

  • 184. Open-Mindedness from an Atheist « Brett’s Blog  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:15 am

    [...] and wanted to pass it along. It’s at the blog De-Conversion, and it’s titled “Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book.” The discussion is amazing in the comments – you’ll find my comment somewhere around [...]

  • 185. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:15 am

    No, we’re not applying the same reasoning.

    If I criticize the concept of ressurection for the fact that there’s no evidence of it, I don’t need to read the whole Bible, because I just denied one of the basic premises of the Bible. I need only read the parts specifically about the ressurection and see if they match up with evidence.

    I deny the premise that the Bible is built on: that it is written under divine inspiration. I can find no plausible way to confirm this, and therefore conclude that it’s irrational to believe so.

  • 186. The Truth is… « Confessions of a Seminarian  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:25 am

    [...] some at DeConversion would disagree.  Right now, there is a debate going on there that has ignited almost 200 responses [...]

  • 188. kramii  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Simen:

    Now I see what you are getting at. Thank you for taking the time to explain.

  • 189. Chad  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:42 am

    This is a very interesting conversation. I would recommend reading The Case For Christ. It concerns most of the arguments on this post and also thiestic evolution. I could write for hours on here, but I will leave it at that. : )

  • 190. dougrogers  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:54 am

    RationalPsychic says:

    “Where are all the Buddhist respondents?”

    Not here, because arguing about Religion and Atheism and Agnosticism is a waste of time. (But I have some time to waste, I guess) and only really gets in the way of being.

  • 191. Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Blog Entry « All Wrong  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    [...] article on WordPress was entitled, “Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book“. The post has now generated almost 200 responses in less than a [...]

  • 192. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    You wrote ironically in your original post: “Naturally, I can’t find out if the premise is true by assuming the premise. That would be circular reasoning. It would be akin to me writing a book in which I describe myself as Messiah and I then assume that the book (coming from Messiah) is of divine nature and use that assumption to prove that I am, in fact, Messiah.”

    Substitute “messiah” with “source of all truth” and that’s pretty much what you’ve done. You assume that you alone in the universe can be trusted to collect, evaluate and draw conclusions good enough to be trusted. Then you arrogate to your own conclusions, the force of your God, “Science” and of its prophet, “The Scientific Method.” They become the starting place for you world view which lead you — guess where — back to your own “scientific” conclusions.

    For one who fears circles, it seems that you are helpless caught in the silliest of them of them all — one completely contained within your own head. Hence your dizziness.

    Though I suspect there is something else in your head. Flannery O’Conner described one of her characters in Wise Blood as “having Jesus buried in his head like a stinger.”

    I don’t suppose there is any point in trying to explain to you about how God invades our circles as I doubt you care to hear someday. Perhaps he will give you ears to hear at some point. Until then, enjoy that trip on your little hamster wheel.

  • 193. Deist  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.
    Where Am I?! Why is it so hot? And how did I get in this handbasket?!

    TV guide is a holy book! So is People Magazine. The National Inquirer and Playboy? They are holy as well. Holy means that the item in question is derived from a divine source.

    *IF* you are of the belief that GOD created EVERYTHING, then all things that come from that creation are DERIVED from god. WE ARE ALL HOLY…………and so is my porn!

  • 194. Thinking Ape  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Well done Simen, you seem to have brought out all the theists to participate. My only question is – as I scan through the almost 200 comments – if I responding to every single concern, in a reasonable manner, raised by a theist, would that convince them even one iota?

    It appears many are hung up on the “I don’t need to read your book” mentality. I agree with them, but what they don’t know is that you will simply find more ammo. It is well known that most atheists, and probably especially agnostics, are more likely to actually read the Bible than fundamentalist Christians.

    There are those that have commented using armchair philosophy concerning the comparison of theistic circular reasoning to a naturalist grounding. I would say this is comparable to the “fundamentalism of science” argument, would you not? Except perhaps that argument merely targets the “unwavering faith in evolution” or something in particular. The armchair philosopher, however, is going deeper than that: how can we trust even the material evidence? Isn’t your presupposition that things can be explained in a naturalistic way no different than basing it on the axiom of our holy book?

    Well, there is a difference. Everything in science is falsifiable – or else it isn’t science. The bible is not falsifiable in the eyes of many theists. This is a significant difference when it comes to presuppositions. Science is not a presupposition proper because it is not a strict noun, it is a mode of investigation. Science doesn’t do anything, scientists do science.

    The ironic difficulty in taking the circular argument against science is that theists have no problem with science if it benefits them. This generally isn’t the case of evolution (although you do have the occasional mistake that is quickly picked up on by scientists themselves – ie. Piltdown man). It is the case, however, with your car, with knowing the weather, and that pretty computer you are reading this. These things all work on the same scientific presuppositions about the natural universe as evolution or other problematic areas for fundamentalists.

    Granted, scientists cannot observe God. I part with someone like Richard Dawkins in his arguments to apply the scientific method to theism. He has his philosophy, which makes him an atheist, and I have mine, which makes me an agnostic. Essentially, science should really have nothing to do with one’s view on religion. Religion collapses on its own contradictions, immorality, and lack of observable evidence.

  • 195. jgrubbs  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I agree with you, but then again I never read your post to begin with, so I’m not sure what I’m agreeing to. Just a weak attempt @ a little sarcastic humor…

    Btw, Christianity is not about a religion, which is based on man’s ability to work or be moral enough to justify God’s love. Genuine Christianity is about a relationship w Jesus Christ who gave His perfect life to free man from eternal damnation.

    Christ Jesus stated: I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the Father but by me…

    I thought you may find it interesting that no other self proclaimed prophet in any religion, since the beginning of time ever made this claim.

    At the end of the day, I can believe with all my being that the earth is flat, but the world remains round – in spite of what I believe or don’t believe.

    Chief of Sinners…
    Jon

  • 196. nareddish  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    good essay ^_^

    i’ll not ask you to read my holy book
    my god will not force you to read the holy book
    my god told me that salvation comes without any force
    it’s up to you
    and i’m sure you’re a blessed with a lot of ability to (always) find the truth
    keep the good work!

  • 197. Thinking Ape  |  July 4, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    jgrubbs says, “Christ Jesus stated: I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the Father but by me…I thought you may find it interesting that no other self proclaimed prophet in any religion, since the beginning of time ever made this claim.”

    Sir, this is because it is blasphemous in most religions, including, of course, Judaism. Not only that, but one would like to see proof of this claim. Even in Scripture Jesus was known to skirt the issue of giving signs due to “the lack of faith” – maybe the Pharisees were just being reasonable.

    And actually there have been at least 4 people in my short lifetime that have claimed to be god – anyone remember David Icke? Maybe we should have all believed him because… he said it?

    Also, I noticed that you picked up that gem from the Gospel of John. Why doesn’t Jesus make this all important claim in any of the earlier synoptic gospels? Why rely on one sentence of a proto-gnostic gospel in defiance of the other three? If Jesus really made that claim then don’t you think we would see it in the other gospels?

    Of course, none of that will convince you – but don’t make such silly claims and expect people to believe it.

  • [...] 4th, 2007 by mvdg Simen writes: I’ve been asked, when discussing with theists, to read their various holy books (usually the [...]

  • 199. Doug Wildman  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    I completely agree with you sir. This approach has less to do with faith than it does with modernism. Faith cannot be proved by scientific method, nor should it be. After all, faith is “the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11).

    Scientific method has served us well over the years, but it does require a measure of faith to believe in as well. The assumption is that if something is true it needs to be observeable and measureable. It also assumes that we are able to comprehend the meaning of what we observe. In short, we cannot assume something to be untrue just because it doesn’t seem to be. The “evidence”, in my case, has less to do with empirical science than it does with a radical inner transformation. I have experienced things that science could never believe or comprehend.

  • 200. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Personal experience is a poor indicator. Firstly, it’s impossible for outside observers to know anything about it without subjecting you to an MRI or something. Secondly, a personal experience isn’t proof. You just assume a priori that it is a divine experience, but if you had never heard about religion, would you then have credited Jesus or God with it?

  • 201. erichaynes  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Simen,

    Thanks for visiting my blog (www.erichaynes.wordpress.com)…I responded back to you there, but since then came up with some more questions…I am very interested in how people who consider themselves atheist come to their belief system.

    You’ve definitely created some discussion…I won’t even attempt to read all 200 posts from the opposing sides of this discussion, so I apologize if I ask something that someone else already wrote. Feel free to refer me to a specific numbered comment.

    I was curious why your blogsite seems to single out Christianity? Is that true or am I not coming across some parallel blogs regarding Islam, Buddhims, Hinduism, etc. Is your concerns about false religious influences (to paraphrase what you wrote on my blog) extended to all religions or to Christianity specifically?

    Would you say that your argument would be more against what the “Holy Books” say or how they are interpreted and lived out by their followers?

    I believe that the vast majority of our deepest convictions come from an emotional response (an awful lot of research and marketing theory seems to back that up), so I’m still curious about what in your life story has brought you to a desire to discredit religion (whether Christianity, or all religions) through this blogsite and/or others, with such passion and intense (but well-formulated) scrutiny.

    What do you do with the timeless adage: “There aren’t any atheists in foxholes?”

    What do you do with highly educated, normal Americans of every socio-economic strata who have a clearly explored belief system based on not only their “Holy Book”, but in their daily life and experiences that point them to God? Are they to be discounted because they follow the teachings of someone like Jesus? How do you avoid an intolerance, even if those belief systems (as they have) influence the daily experience of all Americans?

    What do you do with someone like Mitt Romney or a George Bush (or the deceased Mother Teresa)? Are they simply idiots to the mind of an atheist, even though they have acheived great success in their life while lifting up their relationship with God?

    I’m also curious how you respond to those who may point out that the Bible, as a historical document, is the most important and verifiable archeological document in existence…does this impact the circular argument somewhat because there is no other document that has been recovered that is as close to the original source documents as the Bible, even those of writings as recent as Williams Shakespeare’s? We don’t seem to argue as a society the validity of the writings of Shakespeare in terms of errors being introduced over time, but we do with the Bible, even though it is much more verifiable than Shakespeare’s.

    Thanks for the discussion!! I tend to avoid these dialogues because people get so overly heated (and most of it is regurgitated half-truths anyway on both sides of the discussion), which takes out any ability to truly converse, but the questions kept popping into my head all day.

    Eric

  • 202. Doug Wildman  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Kind of circular reasoning isn’t that Simen? You are wanting me to measure my faith experience by scientific method and calling it a “poor indicator” if I can’t. On the other hand you critisize those who have tried. I don’t get it. I don’t recognize scientific method as a good indicator of faith issues any more than you recognize the Bible as proof of God.

  • 203. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Thinking Ape wrote:

    “The armchair philosopher, however, is going deeper than that: how can we trust even the material evidence? Isn’t your presupposition that things can be explained in a naturalistic way no different than basing it on the axiom of our holy book? Well, there is a difference. Everything in science is falsifiable – or else it isn’t science. The bible is not falsifiable in the eyes of many theists. ”

    True. Science is falsifiable and religious faith is not, apriori. But Simen does not just believe scientific facts, which upon their repudiation can be replaced with better ones; he rather seems to believe in science in a religious way. If his facts are shown to be wrong, Science is still the Way, the Truth and the Life. Science, unlike Christianity, enjoys the luxury of being excusably wrong much of the time. Otherwise, the worship of God and Science are subjectively similar.

  • 204. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Erichaynes,

    I was curious why your blogsite seems to single out Christianity? Is that true or am I not coming across some parallel blogs regarding Islam, Buddhims, Hinduism, etc. Is your concerns about false religious influences (to paraphrase what you wrote on my blog) extended to all religions or to Christianity specifically?

    That’s probably because the writers here are most familiar with Christianity, and we all (I believe) live in Christian-dominated societies.

    That said, many of the same objections can be raised about other religions.

    Would you say that your argument would be more against what the “Holy Books” say or how they are interpreted and lived out by their followers?

    Both.

    I believe that the vast majority of our deepest convictions come from an emotional response (an awful lot of research and marketing theory seems to back that up), so I’m still curious about what in your life story has brought you to a desire to discredit religion (whether Christianity, or all religions) through this blogsite and/or others, with such passion and intense (but well-formulated) scrutiny.

    I couldn’t give you a precise psychological reason.

    I enjoy writing and reading philosophy, and I enjoy discussing eternal questions (so long as the discussion is serious and the participants have a minimum of intelligence; some of the comments here display this, others don’t).

    I also think decisions should be made on a true basis, and not on false premises.

    I said in another comment that I don’t write much about Norse or Greek mythology because those mythologies are widely recognized as false and the few if any believers in them have no influence on society.

    What do you do with the timeless adage: “There aren’t any atheists in foxholes?”

    I think it’s false, and I also hope you realize that it’s not an argument for the existence of God. There could be some evolutionary explanation to god-belief.

    What do you do with highly educated, normal Americans of every socio-economic strata who have a clearly explored belief system based on not only their “Holy Book”, but in their daily life and experiences that point them to God? Are they to be discounted because they follow the teachings of someone like Jesus? How do you avoid an intolerance, even if those belief systems (as they have) influence the daily experience of all Americans?

    I think that whenever someone makes a faith based argument in public debate, criticizing the basis of their faith is fair. If someone says homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry because the Bible says it’s a sin, it should be fair to challenge the authencity of the Bible and its moral teachings.

    Apart from that, I don’t think believers should be discounted solely because of what they believe. That would be unfair and fallacious.

    I’m also curious how you respond to those who may point out that the Bible, as a historical document, is the most important and verifiable archeological document in existence…does this impact the circular argument somewhat because there is no other document that has been recovered that is as close to the original source documents as the Bible, even those of writings as recent as Williams Shakespeare’s? We don’t seem to argue as a society the validity of the writings of Shakespeare in terms of errors being introduced over time, but we do with the Bible, even though it is much more verifiable than Shakespeare’s.

    I don’t agree that the Bible is an authentical, historical document. It contains so many extraordinary claims that the burden of proof is enormous.

    Also, Shakespeare never claimed his writings to be true.

  • 205. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Mistabicka, if you can find any support for your claims in what I wrote, I might take it you more seriously.

  • 206. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Simen,
    Are they incorrect?

  • 207. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Yes.

  • 208. religionandatheism  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    MIstabicka is on the right track. Materialism, naturalism and rationalism all rest on axioms, just as any thought system does. Science rests on axioms and axioms aren’t falsifiable by definition, though that does not invalidate science. Everything that comes after the axioms is supposed, at least according to Popperian theory, to be falsifiable. This does not mean that only science is falsifiable. Religious faith can be falsifiable if the faith makes claims that are in contradiction to available evidence (though you have to be careful how you define terms here, since that process could also be a form of science) and it can be falsifiable in quite a different way: that one is no longer able or willing to believe certain things. These are quite different interpretations of the verb “to falsify”. Many people today prostrate themselves at the altar of science, just as many do at religion’s. Some manage both, and of those quite a few try to demonstrate that that is the way forward for all and sundry. That is a form of religious belief, and it is a form of religious belief about religous belief itself. Strange how often we find these infinite regresses, eh? Hume would be proud.

    http://religionandatheism.wordpress.com

  • 209. Doug Wildman  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    So then, you are admitting then that we are both arguing from a position that is essentially subjective? That is interesting. The problem comes in when we use our subjective position as a way to opress those who disagree. People on both sides of the line are guilty of this.

  • 210. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    I’d like to remind people that I here have addressed a single faulty way of defending faith. I haven’t claimed any of the following:

    Believers are stupid.
    Science is an (the) objective truth.
    All religion is circular.
    and so on…

    Fascinating as those are to discuss, you can’t attribute them to me by means of this post.

  • 211. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Then Simen, by necessary inference, you cannot trust science to be a reliable position from which to attack theism.

  • 212. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    How so?

  • 213. Dipan Patel  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    to those who are arguing the theistic argument, read Sam Harris (End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation), Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), and Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great) latest books.

  • 214. erichaynes  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for answering my questions…that helps clarify some stuff.

    Comparing the Bible with Shakespeare’s writings were less about the truth (fact or fiction) of what they contained, as much as the verifiability (if there is such a word) of their being accurate to their original source. I would argue, that for historians, much of what is written in the Bible from a historical perspective, can and is a guide for continued archeological discovery. Many of the recent historical digs in the Holy Lands seem to keep verifying people, places, and events recorded in the Bible. My question then, in context of this discussion, is whether there is (outside of continued archeological findings) any other writing available today that could possibly serve as outside verification of the truths of the Bible? Therefore, since I don’t think there are, if the circular argument is true (which I’ve not come to a full agreement yet), then is there any way to escape it at this point? Historically speaking, it is the most accurate document recording the events that exist. To not give it some credit then is to deny any valid history written until the time of Josephus. One could argue an earlier comment you make regarding the Big Bang, that any validity of that event is even more suspect because the evidence — what very little there actually is — is so old as to be suspect and it only confirms itself, because nothing else existed before that to verify it. But we don’t want to throw out the possibility that the Big Bang is the right answer to the beginning of the universe, any more than we want to systematically throw out the Bible as having no merit of ever being true. At what point do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt?

    Whew…don’t know if any of that makes sense…I’m clearly not a debator or given to brevity…just marbles bouncing around in my wee little brain…

    Did you suspect that you’d get this kind of response on a 4th of July holiday? What did you give up today to keep up with all these responses?

    Eric

  • 215. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Because Simen, if you do not place your faith in science as objective truth, broadly and axiomatically, and regard it only as a collection of atomistic facts, then you have no consistent epistomology from which to criticize the most ancient and epistomologically consistent of beliefs.

  • 216. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    I regard it as the closest approximation (besides logic) we have.

  • 217. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Then it seems like a pretty shaky foundation for thought or life.

    Give me Jesus Christ.

  • 218. Elisa  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Excellent, well-articulated article. Good for you to express what is fast becoming, at least over the internet, non-politically-correct: having an open mind.

    There was a response earlier from a christian, which stated that the only way for someone to be brought up in religion was to be raised within it, or have a miraculous experience that I would call a “burning bush” moment.

    I actually quite agree with that assesment – the only way someone can so easily swallow the science fiction of the Bible is to be indoctrinated at a VERY young age.

    Before logic and reason can develop.

  • 219. erichaynes  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Wow Elisa…whereas, as a follower of Christ, I completely disagreed with the person you quoted regarding how people come to faith, your assessment of indoctrination was about as close-minded as anything that has been written today. I did not come to know Christ until as an adult. I did not know much about God, let alone Jesus, as a child, yet my experience is that God is real and has interacted in ways that I wouldn’t begin to expect you to understand or appreciate.

    How can any of us expect anyone to listen to our thoughts if we blanket each other with half-truths and personal zingers in an effort to show ourselves better than someone else. Next, we’ll start launching WMD’s at each other (and you don’t want the President to step in!).

    Eric

  • 220. Fundamentalism « Silly Old Bear’s Grins and Grumps  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    [...] Jul 4th, 2007 by Silly Old Bear All fundamentalism is Religious in nature. The MO of Fundamentalism is the same regardless of whether it is Evangelical or Marxist-Atheist. Both approach the world from the position of “I am right everybody else are wrong!” “Please don’t ask me to read your holy book with an open mind. I can describe my mind as open, but not so open that my common sense fails me. Don’t you see? There’s a fundamental flaw with this request, and it’s staring you right in the eyes. There’s a huge elephant in the room, and yet you close your eyes to it! This is the assumption that a holy book can somehow validate itself.” Don’t ask me to read your holy books. [...]

  • 221. futurenow77  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    How can anyone even hypothesize that religions look to inform or even contemplate about the nature of what God is. God can only be related to the ultimate creator of all that is, and Love of presence and allowing all that is to be and to become more.
    Religions are only concerned with Power and ruling over the hearts and the minds of men – creating punishment and Devils and Hell – you know hell is an ancient term for a shallow grave that’s all it ever was. How can anyone in this day and age still believe in that sh-t. You don’t need anyone’s holy book to uncover the mystery of God – look deep within yourself and you will truly find it. There can be no separation from God except that which Religions have created. And any time you listen to any Christian you are listening to those that at one time would have burnt and enslaved any woman-such as your mother or your daughter or your sister if they desired, calling them soulless and the Devil’s work – enslave is what they know. So today women can only feel they are worth anything if they can flaunt and if they are found attractive by others because they weren’t allowed the freedom to THINK.
    Power and Pedofilia and the abusement of all sacred things including taking away the right for all people to be equal in the name of God is what Christians are Good for. If you cannot accept another’s voice or opinion you certainly cannot accept a truly loving, all-forgiving, all being God. So they have Created God in their own ruthless image and people buy into that.

  • 222. erichaynes  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Would that be the same as arguing that if you are talking to anyone white and American, then you are talking to someone who would have taken a black person as a slave and beaten him? Or anyone who you are talking to who is of German descent, has blonde hair and blue eyes is someone who would have slaughtered a Jew or burned him in an oven? To say that every person who meets that criteria would have been or was guilty of those atrocities is a fallacy and reveals a bitterness that borders on the mentally unstable.

    What exactly brought you personally to see people in such black and white terms?

    Eric

  • [...] 5th, 2007 by vivkhemka This post over at De-Conversion, a blog for de-converting or former-Christians, has been at the top of the [...]

  • 224. Thinking Ape  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    mistabicka wrote:
    “Then it seems like a pretty shaky foundation for thought or life.
    Give me Jesus Christ.”

    Give me Buddha.
    Give me Zoroaster.
    Give me David Icke.

    If I ask you on what basis is Jesus the “truth”, you say the Bible. If I ask you on basis does the Bible is correct, you say…

    is it a) the Bible says so
    b) god revealed it to be so
    c) you simply believe it so or
    d) you find evidence to believe that it is so

  • 225. futurenow77  |  July 4, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    response to221. erichaynes | July 4th, 2007 at 2:30 pm
    following from 220. futurenow77 | July 4th, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    A lot of people who consider themselves religious do not even ponder to think of what their religion is really representing, it’s ok to defend some of its values but not all? I mean most so called Catholics I meet, are like “Yeah I’m Catholic, but not actively”. Why must you have a religion then, why must you associate yourself to an institution in order to leave yourself with some sort of identity. I am sure most Christians are not fond of that sort of enslavery but they don’t even actually consider that they themselves are enslaved to thinking that they must act and think in a certain way because of the type of Fear they are embedded with by accepting this foolish Dogma.
    Now if you want scramble my words and if that serves your ego go right ahead. But if you read what I wrote it compares in no way to discrimination of any sort, people choose if they are going to put their lives in the hands of what religious cults pursue for them or not which is in no way similar to someone who is born in a specific country or who’s skin is of a specific race. Giving up the need for religious dependency, social status, fashion, or whatever is your addiction makes you an individual, all those cults turn you into a non-thinking, follow the herd, fearfull person and reduces any sort of creative thinking.
    My love sincerely goes out to you all. Love.

  • 226. erichaynes  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I agree completely with your first paragraph…I fell into that category for several years after I came to know Christ…I figured because I knew how to follow the Lutheran liturgy, then I must be a Christian…how wrong was that!! And I could write whole paragraphs on my agreement that virtually all of us react daily out of fear…to say that we don’t is to be a fool.

    But I didn’t scramble your words one iota…you laid out an assumption that wasn’t logical, fair, or valuable, but merely bigoted, intolerant, and unforgiving, and you lumped in every Christian in the world into that statement. What does my ego have to do with it? I don’t understand how my belief system — just because it doesn’t match yours — makes me the victim of a cult. How do we know that YOU aren’t the victim of a cult? What makes your thinking so right? Can I see your God credentials please?

    Eric

  • 227. tj  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    “never rely on your conlusion to prove your conclusion”

    So, I guess your point is that you don’t believe the Bible because of your worldview…but you come down on people who are readily able to believe it based on theirs???

    I don’t really care what anybody believes, but this argument is kind of weak and a little contradictory. But hey what do I know?

  • 228. drsubrotoroy  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Hello, you will find of interest my 2004 lecture “Science, Religion, Arf and the Necessity of Freedom”, available at http://www.independentindian.com.

    SR

  • 229. angllhugnu2  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you for this extraordinary piece.

    I have come to understand, from my own experiences, what others often do ask of me is a request with which they are challenged. And, to feel better about the challenge of holding closed the door of their yearning to be more open, they ask of me to read “something” with an open mind. In not so many words, they would want from me what they feel too much fear to do for theirself. At first, I am somewhat offended. I want to say in return, “Open your own damn mind! BUT, when I calm myself to hear what it is they are saying, I listen. I listen to what their need really is. It is not for me to read with an open mind. It is for me to try and help them with their struggle to understand a God they fight so hard NOT to understand. Given that I probably do somewhat the same in my own struggles….I listen with my heart and create a friend.

    http://www.booklocker.com/books/2980.html

  • 230. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Comparing the Bible with Shakespeare’s writings were less about the truth (fact or fiction) of what they contained, as much as the verifiability (if there is such a word) of their being accurate to their original source. I would argue, that for historians, much of what is written in the Bible from a historical perspective, can and is a guide for continued archeological discovery. Many of the recent historical digs in the Holy Lands seem to keep verifying people, places, and events recorded in the Bible. My question then, in context of this discussion, is whether there is (outside of continued archeological findings) any other writing available today that could possibly serve as outside verification of the truths of the Bible? Therefore, since I don’t think there are, if the circular argument is true (which I’ve not come to a full agreement yet), then is there any way to escape it at this point?

    If there aren’t, the Bible, describing such world-changing events that surely someone else must have notices, is on very shaky ground.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Historically speaking, it is the most accurate document recording the events that exist. To not give it some credit then is to deny any valid history written until the time of Josephus.

    Again, it makes such extraordinary claims that it would be extremely weird that they left no marks outside of the Bible.

    One could argue an earlier comment you make regarding the Big Bang, that any validity of that event is even more suspect because the evidence — what very little there actually is — is so old as to be suspect and it only confirms itself, because nothing else existed before that to verify it. But we don’t want to throw out the possibility that the Big Bang is the right answer to the beginning of the universe, any more than we want to systematically throw out the Bible as having no merit of ever being true.

    Big Bang is not a historical event that is written about in a book of the supernatural. The evidence is there, to this day, and it was not written by humans, but by the powers of nature (alternatively, if you believe, by God). We can test it today.

    Did you suspect that you’d get this kind of response on a 4th of July holiday?

    Not at all. This was originally published some months back on my personal (now on indefinite hiatus) blog, and there it got probably a hundred hits and 8 comments.

    What did you give up today to keep up with all these responses?

    Little. I’m not American, so this day holds no special significance. School doesn’t start for another one and a half month, and I don’t have any work or duties besides painting the house, and today is such a hot day that I can’t be bothered to do that.

    Frankly, I’m so drained of energy because of the heat (we’re not used to it ’round here) that sitting in front of the computer like a sack of potatoes is just about all I can do today.

  • 231. hampster  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    “the force of your God, “Science” and of its prophet, “The Scientific Method.””

    Stop while you are behind. To claim that scientists or any non-believers think that Science is their God is foolhardy, unless they have claimed such themselves. You seem to base this comment on the ‘law’ that everyone HAS to have a god, so since you won’t admit to mine or any other religion, you can have Science.

    This one is for you futurenow77

    Congratulations, you have officially insulted every religion on the planet without actually partaking in every single one of them. I know plenty of people who know no FEAR of a religion and are not “non-thinking, follow the herd, fearfull person and reduces any sort of creative thinking.”

    For Instance. J.R.R. Tolkien? Epic writer, amazing individual who created something entirely his own. Hence CREATIVE THINKING. Oh yeah, he was religious.

    You basic argument is that in order to be a creative and independent person, who can think on his/her own, you must absolutely not be religious. Because it will SUCK your brain dry and make you less individual. Really? Is that what this comes to? Insulting religions because you really have no idea what you are talking about?

    (I read through your bottom post first and the one slightly above it second. So I shall respond to it in that order.)

    Your basic thought process is that you are allowed to judge others religions based upon the horrid examples of the past, in what could possibly be other religions.

    It is true that some dogmatic religions, used others fear of death to stave them the right direction and than took their valuables to save others from sins.

    It is also true that Mother Theresa was a Catholhic and yet somehow she managed to spread love even where she did not spread the religion she followed.

    It is true that people have killed and will kill again in the name of religion.

    It is also true that people have shown great love and care in the name of religion and will continue to do so.

    Your claims aggressively claim that people who follow religions are sheep and should be ‘set free’ of this dogmatic tripe. Your proof is that you say so.

  • 232. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Dear Thinking Ape,

    In answer to your multiple choice question, I believe the Jesus is the Truth (and yes, the Way and the Life,) because God has revealed it through the Bible objectively and to me subjectively, in my heart. My heart, or soul, if you will, is that which makes me God’s image bearer, which of course you don’t have, unless of course, you are not actually an ape as you claim. If by chance you are human, you may at some point sense the Almighty crashing through into your thin veneer of ontological independance. If this happens to you, it is Jesus Christ knocking at your door. Invite him in at once as he will not knock forever.

  • 233. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    In answer to your multiple choice question, I believe the Jesus is the Truth (and yes, the Way and the Life,) because God has revealed it through the Bible objectively

    This is the circular reasoning I’ve been pointing out. The Bible is true because it says it’s true.

    and to me subjectively, in my heart.

    What the hell does that even mean?

  • 234. hampster  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    “If there aren’t, the Bible, describing such world-changing events that surely someone else must have notices, is on very shaky ground.”

    I am assuming that the flood is your primary example. Take a look around the internet, that flood is associated with many different cultures in history. Verbal and written. Does that mean that it was sent down from a God? No, not from that perspective. However, it does mean that you cannot claim the book has no historical context, or was fictionalized by the authors simply because the proof doesn’t bear a sign saying “Hey! Over here! I have proof!”

    “Big Bang is not a historical event that is written about in a book of the supernatural.”

    Which means, since it was recorded by scientists therefore it is real?

    “The evidence is there, to this day, and it was not written by humans, but by the powers of nature (alternatively, if you believe, by God). We can test it today.”

    The evidence that something happened is there. I point to Quasars as proof. However, we have no idea if they were moved by the big bang or not. At this point, until much more valid proof is ascertained, it is nothing more than Theoretical science. While Theoretical science is not a miniature law, it is as close to low as you can get without being a law, that does not make it absolute.

    I would ask you though, based upon your arguments, who do you feel about Stonehenge?

  • 235. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    What about Stonehenge?

    I am assuming that the flood is your primary example.

    And the miracles. And genesis. Ressurection. Ascention to heaven. All that jazz.

    As far as BB goes, check out this.

  • 236. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Yes, I admit some circularity in my epistomology, at least phenomalogically. But its a big circle with objective, if not scientifically falsifiable, external truth. Yet by faith, it is transmitted in a linear fashion from God to me, both objectively and subjectively.

    I did not expect you to give assent to any subjective recognition of God or the truth as the whole of your comments in this discussion have demonstrated your desparate refusal to admit such a thing is possible. It will take someone a lot bigger than me or you to get you to focus your attention on what you cannot experience with your five senses.

  • 237. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    It will take someone a lot bigger than me or you to get you to focus your attention on what you cannot experience with your five senses.

    I’d very much like for the Big Guy up there to, if he exists and wants me to believe, give me some clue.

    So, gods out there: any hints appreciated :)

  • 238. covari  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    The author’s comments are more a response to christians trying to convince a non-believer that they are missing something because they don’t believe in Jesus. While the author has choosen to follow the logic and reproducable truths associated with science, he is not necesssarily telling readers they can’t or should not believe in the concept of god. God does not have to be the omnipotent, creator of man and earth (in the US and W. Europe: often an old, white man with a long white beard) but instead has broader context of “some higher intelligence” or even an energy however, all the judeo-christians seem to find the possibility that god could be anything else than they imagine him to be reprehensible. They will then try to convince the non-believer to read their holy book in hope that this person will see god as they, the believer, see him. This is done purely to alleviate any personal fear and stress due to the possibility that they have picked the wrong the god. Deep-down, all adherents of any religion associate with others of the same faith because they need reassurance that they are not wrong in interpretting what will happen to them, and thier loved ones, when they die. These fears have been used for political and military gain since the dawn of man. This fear and the inability to comprehend they have been, and continue to be, used as pawns in a game they don’t control is the real closed mind that needs to be opened.

  • 239. Mistabicka  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    I will pray that he does.

  • 240. Annointed Non-Believer  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    I felt it necessary to provide some background information before I responded fully to this blog entry – just so everyone is clear about the foundations of my opinions on this subject. I was raised in a VERY strict, Christian upbringing. Sunday school began soon after I began walking, followed by all the usual steps throughout childhood, eventually landing me in a private, Christian school where I would remain until I graduated High School. The happiest day of my life was my Confirmation – when I was finally considered an “adult” in the church, capable of making my own decisions…because I vowed on that day NEVER to step foot inside the church again.

    I witnessed unbelievable acts of hypocrisy, emotional and physical abuse during those years and can personally attest to the absence of Christ in a great many Christians. In college, finally free from all that nonsense, I declared myself to be an agnostic and surrounded myself with other agnostics who helped to heal my spirit and help me find my way back into reality.

    That’s not to say I didn’t lose my faith though. I do believe in a “Creator” if you will. In college I learned that even the most rigorous scientific approaches to the Universe eventually leave questions that can only be answered with faith. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. You cannot create something from nothing. Simple principles that beg the question “Where did all of this stuff come from anyway??” My children ask me this now and I have no answer better than “The Creator. An intelligent force far beyond our understanding that had the power to create something from nothing.” So that’s where I have come from, where I am now, and what has led me to agree with 99.9% of your blog entry, Simen. (I can’t tell you how excited I was to find this…really GREAT stuff!)

    Please don’t as ME to read your Holy Book…as I probably already have. During my college years, surrounded by intelligent agnostics, we did not turn our backs to the subjects of faith and religion, rather we delved deeply into it.

    I had already read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations MANY times but we went through it again anyway. It’s a marvelous piece of fiction – perfectly suited at the time of its writing to explain the Universe in simple terms to a very simple people.

    I have read the Qur’an, but don’t feel comfortable commenting on it at length for what I think must be obvious reasons at this time in the evolution of our human society. I will only say that I have a MUCH greater understanding of certain viewpoints and the actions of a few having been through the text. I will also say that I find it very depressing that I cannot comment on this book at length – because I did actually enjoy the experience. I will welcome the day when I can share that experience without fear.

    Through a very precious friend I had in my early adult life, I was introduced to the works of Bahá’u’lláh. Truthfully, until that time, I had never even HEARD of the Baha’i faith, which is a fairly good indicator of how isolated I was as a child. What a WONDERFUL experience! I did unfortunately find the premise to be ultimately flawed; however, as it was described to me that they believe humanity has reached an age of “spiritual maturity”. As a husband and father now, humanity, as I see it, is presently experiencing what I can only call a “temper tantrum”. We should all look to the day when we reach spiritual maturity and can discuss subjects such as faith without hatred and isolationism erupting.

    I wish I could speak more fully to the Tanakh, the Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim…but that truly takes a lifetime to fully wrap your mind around. What I will say is that I found it refreshing to finally read texts that more closely speak to the human condition and how we should act as a people in concert with some kind of manifest design….very humanistic.

    I could go on, but suffice to say there is too much text and too little time to go over everything in detail. I will give you this one summation though, that I now give everyone who brings up this subject. The source for this summation was my 8 year old son. He had just finished reading “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and he came in and asked me – “Daddy, Aslan is Jesus, isn’t he?” Mind you, my son is extremely gifted, but still – for an 8 year old to draw the parallels is frightening. I replied that he was correct. He went further “And Edmund was Judas, wasn’t he?” Again…scary. Then it dawned on me. Faith, today is almost always based on the one God, the human spokesperson for God and some derivative text that speaks to our relationship with God. They all have different names…but they all mean the same thing. And isn’t that exactly what you’d expect to happen? We all come from different societies, with different text and languages. Why WOULDN’T there be different names for exactly the same thing?

    I read all those books, looking for the one “correct” answer or viewpoint…never realizing they were all basically trying to get at the same thing. As adults, unfortunately, we’re simply not as equipped as an 8 year old to see it.

    So, again, please don’t ask me to read it…because, basically, I already have!

  • 241. Samanthamj  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    I keep running into this with a good friend of mine… who even told me she felt like maybe it was her “mission in life to save me”. ??? She finally apologozed for always getting on my back about asking me to reading the bible… to give it another try (she thinks I’m a “backslider”.)

    She went on to say, “It’s sort of like when you see a really good movie, and you want someone else you care about to watch it too because you think they will like it too”…

    And, I said, “yes – but, what if they have already seen the movie, and they hated it. Do you ask them again and again to watch it??”.

    We agreed to drop it….

    =)
    ~smj

  • 242. pj11  |  July 4, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Simen – Great topic. I agree that most theists use circular reasoning to justify their faith in Scripture. But I don’t think that’s the only way to do it. Let me give you another way …

    The doctrine of biblical inerrancy, as most of its scholarly adherents today would defend it, is not arrived at inductively, but deductively. Inerrantists freely admit that no one reading through the Bible and keeping list of difficulties encountered along the way, whether inconsistencies or mistakes, would come to the conclusion at the end of his reading that the Bible is inerrant. He would likely conclude that the Bible, like almost every other book, has some errors in it. But inerrantists have maintained that belief in biblical inerrancy is justified as a deduction from other well-justified truths. For example, one might argue for inerrancy by means of the following two syllogisms:

    1. By virtue of His divine attributes, whatever God teaches is true.
    2. Historical, prophetic, and other evidences (such as the evidence for the empty tomb) show that Jesus is God.
    3. Therefore, whatever Jesus teaches is true.
    4. Whatever Jesus teaches is true.
    5. Jesus taught that the Scriptures are the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
    6. Therefore, the Scriptures are the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

    You may not agree with premises 1 or 2, but the logic is sound and certainly not circular. The claim here is that we have good reasons to think that the Bible, despite its difficulties, is the inerrant Word of God and therefore we should accept it as such. As Friedrich Schleiermacher once put it, “We do not believe in Christ because we believe in the Bible; we believe in the Bible because we believe in Christ.”

    When confronted with biblical difficulties, the inerrantist will attempt to show that alleged mistakes are not really mistakes after all and to provide plausible harmonizations of apparent inconsistencies. Where this cannot be done, he will honestly admit that he doesn’t know the solution to the difficulty but nonetheless insist that he has overriding reasons to think that the text is accurate and that were all the facts to be known the alleged difficulty would disappear. Such an approach has served the inerrantist well … example after example could be given of supposed biblical errors identified by previous generations which have now been resolved in light of more recent discoveries. One of my favorite examples is Sargon II, an Assyrian king mentioned in Isaiah 20.1. Earlier critics claimed that the reference to Sargon was an error because there was absolutely no evidence that an Assyrian king named Sargon II ever even existed—until, that is, archaeologists digging in the region of Khorsabad unearthed the palace of one Sargon II! We now have more information about Sargon than about any other ancient Assyrian king.

    I welcome your thoughts.

  • 243. Shakir Mumtaz  |  July 4, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Hey every one has a right to see the things his or her own way but we are not as independent as we assume or feel. A deleberate thinking ,even if circular, would lead one to some conclusion whether wrong or right.The simple reason for that is that what one gets is the result contontingent or hinged upon or filtered through and shaped by several factors such as…..one’s aptitude,attitude,upbringing,surrounding,education,experiences from the ovem till this point. Therefore the condlusions drawn are the absolute reflection of what one has emerged, moulded due to all these conditioning factors.

    However, it can change with deleberate efforts and the first step would be to brake away from that conditioned persona and start thinking outside the box of conditionalities of which one is manifestation at the moment.

    Simplest examples would be the effort to break away from smoking,alcohalism,drugs,depression laziness etc. It is hard. is not it?

    second would be to learn how to criticize oneself
    make an opinion and then criticize it, deny it. that will open another window of thought direction. With Continued and sustained practice eventually a point would arise when things and views can be seen and felt from a most unbiased, uncontaminated, unconditioned perspective. when someone can develope that kind of approach then probaly any question or the questions such as God exists or not and which religion provides the best or is religion necessary etc could easily be tackled and most probably understodd with conviction. My personal experience is that if one has adapted a detached thinking process most of the things can be understood and viewed with much more clarity than in the normal circumstances.
    Example: Venice William and Sharapova are playing tennis match why should one side with one and not the other and enjoy the competition especially, when one has no control over the outcome? we do our bidding because of our conditioning to reflect our personality and thereby seek a satistaction or thrill of our developed false ego.

    Think…Think… & Think make life easy.

  • 244. Empirically Determined Empiricism « Chapel Door  |  July 4, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    [...] July 4th, 2007 Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book « de-conversion [...]

  • 245. Poem: The Scientific Enquiry « All Wrong  |  July 4, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    [...] Scientific Enquiry I wrote this on 16th May 1994. Given all of today’s excitement at de-conversion.com, it seemed like a good time to publish this [...]

  • 246. Anonymous  |  July 4, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    “What about Stonehenge?

    I am assuming that the flood is your primary example.

    And the miracles. And genesis. Ressurection. Ascention to heaven. All that jazz.

    As far as BB goes, check out this”

    Miracles. Okay, so turning water into wine. You are expecting what exactly? The likelyhood of an even that small passing on in embedded in the stars is highly unlikely.

    Stonehenge is a mammoth historical site, obviously. How was it built? Was it actually built or did it just arrive there from ‘somewhere’?

  • 247. Simen  |  July 4, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Obviously it was built. How else would it get there?

    pj11,

    Where this cannot be done, he will honestly admit that he doesn’t know the solution to the difficulty but nonetheless insist that he has overriding reasons to think that the text is accurate and that were all the facts to be known the alleged difficulty would disappear.

    So a blatant contradition in the supposedly inerrant book is staring you right in the face and you will still insist on its inerrancy? That’s the definition of fudamentalism, right there.

  • 248. Dave2  |  July 4, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    pj11,

    The argument isn’t strictly circular, but it’s certainly question-begging against atheists. Arguments resting on premises that hold no plausibility whatsoever for those who reject the conclusion… those are bad, question-begging arguments.

    It would be like a Muslim trying to convince a Christian to eschew alcohol with arguments resting on premises asserting the infallibility of the Qur’an. Not circular, but seriously question-begging.

  • 249. Gary  |  July 4, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    The existence of God cannot be proven with logic or texts or anything else that is as limited as human beings. It would be like using a ruler to measure the universe, or an eye dropper to measure the ocean. You can’t prove or disprove the infinite with finite tools.

    Having said that, I would also point out that atheism is itself unable to be proven logically, that it is in fact, just another form of faith, though it is a pessimistic or negative faith. It is belief based on one’s own internal feelings and instincts, which may or may not be true.

  • 250. Mal Bicker  |  July 4, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Simen, Christianity works! I put my trust in Jesus as a young boy.
    I’m now 74. Have pastored small churches for 52 years and am still pastoring. I’ve never made much money. Never was in it for the money. My biggest joy is sharing Jesus with others.My wife and I I have two sons and a daughter and now 11grandchildren.
    My oldest son is your friend, Mista Bicka. All of them love the Lord.
    Life has not been a bowl of cherries, but in every difficult time, Christ is always there. Rejecting Jesus is not an intellectual problem. It is a moral problem. People don’t want God or anyone else telling them what to do. Once you’re broken before God,
    the intellectual problems disappear. I invite you to visit my website http://www.alamedabiblechurch.com I have articles there on just about any topic that interests you. My prayer for you is that you will discover the joy of knowing and loving Jesus. You will be amazed how the Bible opens up to you and it all makes sense.
    That you may know Christ,
    Mal Bicker

  • 251. pj11  |  July 4, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Simen:
    You wrote:
    “So a blatant contradition in the supposedly inerrant book is staring you right in the face and you will still insist on its inerrancy? That’s the definition of fudamentalism, right there.”
    First, remember that Christians only hold to inerrancy in the original writings (“the autographs”), not today’s transmitted text. Although today’s New Testament has more documented support for reliability than any other ancient text of its day, there are still many instances of errors in the transmission. These are continually being examined by textual critics for clarification. Still, no major doctrine of the faith is affected by the relatively small number of errors under examination. So can I look at apparent contradictions and not worry? Yes, I can. Maybe the problem is with me, the reader … and not the text. Several things are possible: (1) it could be an error in transmission (2) it could be an issue of language and culture which I don’t fully understand (3) I may be misinterpreting the passage and creating a contradiction which isn’t really there … a contradiction which might be cleared up through additional research.

    If you take a second look at my argument above, you’ll see that it’s based on two key premises which you no doubt reject – A divine Being (God) has spoken to mankind … and Jesus is God. If these are true, than the Bible in its original form is inerrant.

    Dave2:
    You wrote:
    “The argument isn’t strictly circular, but it’s certainly question-begging against atheists. Arguments resting on premises that hold no plausibility whatsoever for those who reject the conclusion …”
    Let’s make sure we’re playing on a level playing field of logic. It’s legitimate for you to reject my two key premises – that’s your right. But it’s illegitimate to say I can’t state premises because you’ve already arrived at a conclusion based on a set of presuppositions!

    For both of you guys … thanks for your feedback. Again, my point wasn’t to prove the Bible is inerrant. I can’t prove that to you or anyone else – to a certain extent, this must be held by faith (although I would say a “reasonable faith”). My point was to provide an example of a non-circular way of dealing with the issue of inerrancy.

  • 252. Dave2  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    pj11,

    I never said you can’t “state premises”. I’m just saying the argument you’ve given is question-begging. And it’s no great advance to go from blatant circularity to merely begging the question.

    Of course, if you can support those premises with other more neutral premises (say, by citing relevant historical evidence and engaging the standard Humean difficulties with testimony concerning miracles), then you’re forgiven.

  • 253. Dave2  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Mal Bicker, Scientologists will tell you that Scientology works. (And I’m being serious, they say this all the time). Since there are a great number of religious traditions that ‘work’, and these religions are inconsistent with each other, then we cannot use ‘working’ as a test of truth.

  • 254. BlameitonRio  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Well. Isn’t it funny how things grow? 250+ replies and still going.
    Simen, for a questioning mind I applaud you. Much of the reaction against anything is the ‘forcing’ of an opinion. We are born fighting a battle between needing to ‘feel’ safe, secure and directed and the need to be independent. The former makes for a foundation, but the latter with the former leads to well rounded, adventurous and sometimes scary human beings.
    Many of the answers are so good I have plagiarised them and squirrilled them away for my own use. There are some very smart people out there and I am suitably amazed.
    In terms of many perceptions in intrigues me how much of any endeavour may be circular. I am not talking about the religious inanity so prevalent many shallow ‘believe’ and therfore be saved discussions. But maybe, if post death offers more than nothing, the conclusion may be a simple belief such as children have. The crime I think for a created or ‘random-chance’ human being is not to reject a belief. But rather to accept any shallow belief which plays into our child like need for safety and security.
    It is possible that there is more, and gold does exist but if one finds an excuse to stop on a journey than to engage in a circular argument, without using intellectual rigour to ‘break’ out of it, that i think is the crime. If one chooses to place one’s value into any system that is your choice. The choice may be inherited as in many religions, but to not break out is simply a choice to remain in.
    Sorry I am rambling a bit. The point is I think that even if a person goes in a circular manner from: religious-athiest-religious or from athiest-religious-athiest, in their belief system over their life the final person who arrives at their beginning is a better person for the experience. I just love the way we are living in the world where discussions, without religious or corporate or scientific censorship are possible. Historically this is a rare time to be alive!

  • 255. Dave2  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Gary, everything you’ve written about God and theism applies just as well to fairies and ghosts and reincarnation and wizards. So something has gone wrong. In particular, I’d point out that it can be reasonable to deny the existence of something (at least to not take its existence very seriously) even if there are no mathematical proofs of its nonexistence.

  • 256. Top Posts « WordPress.com  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:58 pm

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  • 257. Peter  |  July 4, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Amen.

    To that, I am an athiest Christian who wants to believe in God but through corruption in the church I can no longer trust the religion itself. Most preachers do not actually teach to the congregation from the bible, because they are too busy trying to bring in worldly ideals, same sex marriage and many man made ideas of worship. Many people think they need to write books proving that the bible is correct, but the fact is God says the Bible is all the proof we need, those people are frauds and are after your money. People who try to “trick” you into joining a religion just want more people in their church for more offering for again, more money.

  • 258. kesela  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Wow. Very interesting Opinion, and even more interesting discussion. Your thoughts are well presented and well supported, but I have to disagree with a few of your presumptions. Firstly, If you’ve never read anything about a re;igion, how can you critisize? Know thine enemy. Secondly, If you go into a religious study with the preset that you won’t believe it, then you have engaged in a collossal waste of time. For, if you start out thinking you won’t believe it, then you most certainly won’t. That’s what is generally meant by ‘open-minded’. It is to attempt to accept. Read the book, think about it, do research. If you still find that you don’t believe, then you’re good. At least you can say that you tried.

    I definitely agree with the fact that the Bible cannot be used as credible scientific proof, if that’s what you’re looking for. However, I would add that it is a credible spiritual resource. There are historical and factual errors in the Bible. This is understandable, considering that it was written by several different groups of people with differing ideas about the identity of God. The conceptuals, however, are conformed. The overall ideas contained in the New Testament are similar. The Old Testament is useful to read because it contains the roots of Christianity. I cannot speak for the Koran, but of the Bible, at least, this is true.

    In Conclusion, I would tell you, at the risk of getting a verbal beating to be open-minded about religion. Think of all the aspects, and don’t approach it with a ‘crap attitude’. As in most aspects of life, it gets you nowhere.

  • [...] God is relevant because He is our Creator! (he’s using circular logic, that seems to be the Christians trend when they debate an argument they can’t [...]

  • 260. PalMD  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Simen, If I had some power to give out blog awards, you’d get one. I’m linking to this from my blog. You opened yourself up to all kinds of whoop-a**, and I’m proud of ya’. Thank you.

  • 262. krissnp  |  July 4, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    You are a wise person, as you believe in reasoning.
    Regards.

  • 263. euphrosyne1115  |  July 4, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Obsess much?

    I can appreciate your stance; in fact, I agree with it. But you seem to have the passion for proselytizing that marks both the unthinking fanatic and the recent convert… religion and its effects make for strange rhetorical bedfellows, huh?

    Keep the faith. Or whatever.

  • 265. Briggitte  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:12 am

    I too have stumbled upon your post. Frankly, reading the bible in my opinion does not “convince” anyone to accept Jesus as the Son of God, or Messiah. Reading the bible is meant to educate, uplift and edify the reader and to help them develop a deeper relationship and understanding of the Creator and His Son. For this reason, I do not ask anyone to read it for the sake of becoming a Christian. I understand you are an aetheist – and as I do not really know much about aetheism, could you tell me what your stand on God is? I mean, do you reject Jesus as the Son of God or do you reject His existence?

  • 266. Audrey  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:17 am

    I have refrained from commenting for a couple of days now. But, I cannot remain silent a moment longer.

    Just so you can get a little bit of where I’m coming from….

    I am personally am in a state of limbo when it comes to religion. I was raised Mormon, but have since fallen away from the church. At this point in my life I can’t see myself a part of any other religion, Christian or other, even though I find them all interesting. I’m not agnostic or atheist either. Nor am I opposed to religion in general.

    Why? Because, even though I cannot agree to everything every religion has to say, and even though I know there is indeed politics and personal agendas among religious leaders (maybe not all, but it has been known to happen), I just can’t believe that there isn’t something more; that there is absolutely no God. (Run on sentence anyone?)

    A lot of the things I was taught while actively going to church had a great influence on my character and personal beliefs. Unlike others who fall away from their childhood faiths, I am not ungrateful for what I learned. I think I am a better person for it. Nor was I brain- washed with fundamentalism. So point being I just can’t dismiss everything and say, “Nope every religion is a crock of shit and there’s no God and everyone who thinks so are idiots, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera……”

    Now like every one else, I want a logically explained world. (Well, wait let me be politically correct, maybe there is someone out there who doesn’t want a logically explained world. I dunno…)So for that I cannot rely on the Bible. I just can’t believe everything was created in seven days. Is it an important part of mankind’s history, especially for the Western World? Most definitely. So, though religiously a person can justify dismissing it, THE BIBLE IS STILL IMPORTANT for other reasons. (The same can be said of other holy books)

    As you probably already gathered, I personally do not believe the Bible is to be taken literally, nor should it be used to explain the world…people, maybe, but not the natural world. . So that leaves us with science.

    Science is absolutely wonderful! It’s brought us out of the dark ages and into an era where we are no longer (for the most part) a primitive superstitious species. Science allows us to see that the Black Plague was not caused by the wrath of God for mankind’s iniquities, but rather from disease carried by flees on rats. Science has shown us the world is much older than we thought. Science is a good and wonderful tool.

    Nevertheless, there are some things science just cannot explain. Or maybe some will say that there are just some things science can’t explain YET. Now I don’t think all those things that are unexplainable are supernatural or anything, but as humans, we just can’t understand everything at once. It takes us a while to think things through. How long was it before we realized that Earth wasn’t the center of the universe? What’s also disrespectful is people using science to dismiss religion and vice versa; there has to be a balance between science and religion/ spirituality.

    Which brings me to the real reason I wanted to comment. (Man, I am long winded…definitely need to work on that!) Like any sort of discussion, there have been some great comments that have been made by some very intelligent people. Others, not so much…which is why I didn’t want to comment. My favorite has to be Anointed Non-Believer’s contribution. (BTW if you are still following this, I visited your blog, but you haven’t written anything, and I simply CAN’T WAIT until you begin to post regularly.)

    Now, let me explain why his has stuck out so much. His comment, in my opinion, has been the most intelligent thus far. Not only that, he actually acted in a civilized manner when sharing his views. There was no feeling of hostility in his remarks. Which cannot be said of every person who commented, or even the poster himself. It’s not every day you come across a person who can discuss such mature topics with decency and respect. For that, I applaud him and thank him for making it worth my time to read a blog post and over 260 comments. I don’t feel like I wasted my time entirely.

    And as a side note, I just personally liked that Anointed Non-Believer seemed to have come to the same sort of conclusion as I have in my own personal quest for truth. There has to be a balance. He also seems to have the same sort of intellectual curiosity about religion as I do. I just found that so amazing.

    Whew! *wiping sweat from my brow*

    I have said my peace and now I can rest easy.

  • 267. Stephen  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:19 am

    Number 137:

    However, if you break your heart of stone and repent then God will relent of destroying you. Joel 2:13

    If your god destroys people who refuse to close their eyes to reality and accept his existence, he is a complete and total jerk.

    Actual evidence would force me to acknowledge his existence. But if you’re describing him correctly, the moral position would be to NOT worship your celestial dictator.

  • 268. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:51 am

    Dave2:
    You wrote:
    “it’s no great advance to go from blatant circularity to merely begging the question.”
    Dave: Let me help you understand the nature of argumentation and logic. I don’t know what training you’ve had in this area, but look again at my original argument … what you call “begging the question” was actually a pair of syllogisms which are in a perfectly acceptable form of deductive argument … ask a true philosopher and he will concur. An argument “begs the question” when it somehow smuggles the conclusion into one or more of the premises. I did not do this. I simply stated a series of premises which led to a logical conclusion. What you object to are my premises … you don’t see enough evidence to accept them. Fine. We can debate those two premises at another time … but don’t tell me its “begging the question.”

    Since Simen’s original post had to do with the foolishness of circular reasoning in proving the credibility of a holy book, I think you’re wrong … it’s a great advance to move beyond circular reasoning to a deductive argument for the theistic position on Scripture.

  • 269. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 3:02 am

    Stephen:
    You quoted Joel 2:13 as follows: “However, if you break your heart of stone and repent then God will relent of destroying you.”
    Stephen: I’m not sure which bizarre Bible you picked up, but you got this one wrong! Llet me give you the closest translation of the Hebrew in Joel 2:13: “Rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.”

    Hmm … much different than the ugly picture you painted. You wanted us to believe that God is a “complete and total jerk” and a “celestial dictator” … but instead, the verse says the exact opposite. He desires that man be contrite and humble in heart and not just externally religious. He is patient with mankind. He desires to be gracious and merciful toward man. He abounds in love.

    Care to retract your statement?

  • 270. Dave2  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:28 am

    pj11, first of all, it’s rude and presumptuous to insinuate that I am not a “true philosopher”. After all, I’m a complete stranger to you. Second, being deductively valid doesn’t keep an argument from keeping circular or question-begging. After all, the argument form ‘p, therefore p’ is deductively valid, and it’s obviously circular. So even if your arguments are deductively valid, it doesn’t follow that they’re not question-begging. Third, an argument needn’t be strictly circular in order to be question-begging. Suppose I provide an atheist with an argument for theism, and suppose this argument rests on the premise that everything the Bible says is true. This is a textbook example of begging the question, but it’s not a case of strict circularity. The argument isn’t circular, but it rests on a premise so questionable as to be worthless to anyone with doubts about the conclusion — and that’s roughly what it is to beg the question.

    Perhaps you think ‘question-begging’ is synonymous with ‘circular’, and if so, then we agree about the substance of the matter — we agree that your argument is not circular. But I insist that there is something wrong with your argument — it rests on premises so questionable as to be worthless to anyone with doubts about the conclusion. And that, in the jargon of philosophers, is begging the question.

  • 271. Open Mindedness Doesn’t Exist « The Coliseum  |  July 5, 2007 at 7:39 am

    [...] Having watched and participated in a discussion about the truth of the Bible on another blog, I was struck about how both sides of any issue demand that the other side be more “open [...]

  • 272. erichaynes  |  July 5, 2007 at 8:04 am

    Simen,

    A question hit me this morning as I was reading and journaling on the Bible: “Doesn’t the argument against the supposed circular reasoning break down since the 66 books of the Bible were written separately over the course of 400 years?” The Bible can’t be taken as a singular writing (for which the argument that the Bible can’t use itself as validation of itself is valid). The Bible is actually 66 different books, epistles, and letters that work together to validate each other over the course of time. Would we be having this same discussion if they were discovered in separate locations, different archeological digs, etc. and appeared to confirm each other (except for a few seeming contradictions)?

    Thanks!

    Eric

  • 273. FVC (Frequently Voiced Criticisms) « de-conversion  |  July 5, 2007 at 8:08 am

    [...] 5th, 2007 After the overwhelming response on my last blog entry, I figured I finally had material for a FAQ. Then I realized many of the comments would be [...]

  • 274. agnosticatheist  |  July 5, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Please see Simen’s response to some of these comments on his new blog entry:

    Frequently Voiced Criticisms (FVC)

    aA

  • 275. Brad  |  July 5, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Eric,
    That is an EXCELLENT question. We also have neglected that (thanks to the wonderful “documentary” of the Da Vinci Code) the canon was established independently across then known world and then formally recognized at the Council of Nicaea, as opposed to being argued and voted on by politicians pushing their own agenda.

    Also, I’d like to ask all the non-Christians in the room the following:

    On what basis is subjective truth in line or in accordance with the scientific method?

    I ask this because a recurring theme seems to be that objective truth claims made by Christians are attacked by:
    1.) Labeling them close-minded, discriminatory, or hateful (depending on the vehemence of the accuser), and
    2.) They obviously cannot be true because science has proved them wrong.

    It seems that both of these claims (that there are both multiple truths, yet science denies the objective truth claim of Christianity) are in conflict with each other. Please clarify.

    And then, once at this impasse, where does science disprove the existence of God? For if we can acknowledge that a creator existed, is it really out of his power to reveal himself in any way He chooses (i.e. the bible)?

    -Brad

  • 276. Top Posts from around WordPress.com « The TOP BLOGS  |  July 5, 2007 at 10:33 am

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  • 277. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Dave2:
    First, I apologize for coming off rude and presumptuous … after I re-read my post, I can see why you felt offended. Please forgive me.

    At the risk of boring the other readers with the nuances of logic and argumentation, I must take issue once again with your last post. I’m no dummy in this area … I hold a Master’s Degree in Philosophy of Religion, so I’m not making stuff up (not intended to puff myself up, just to provide some credibility).

    For an argument to be successful, it must possess validity, soundness and cogency. Validity has to do with correct form. For an argument to be sound, its premises must be accepted as true. Cogency is achieved when the reader accepts the conclusion of the argument. I realize you don’t see my argument as sound or cogent … granted. I was only striving for validity – an argument in proper form which was not circular (according to Simen’s original challenge).

    You wrote: “‘p, therefore p’ is deductively valid.” That’s incorrect. “p, therefore p” is invalid because it commits what is known as an informal fallacy. Examples of informal fallacies are “begging the question,” “equivocation,” “ad hominem,” “straw man,” etc. If an argument commits any of these fallacies, it cannot be labeled “valid.”

    You wrote: “I insist that there is something wrong with your argument — it rests on premises so questionable as to be worthless to anyone with doubts about the conclusion.”
    Dave: I was trying to keep my argument concise for the sake of addressing Simen’s original post. I never believed that my two syllogisms with 6 steps were going to convince people that Scripture is inerrant … I was focused on form and validity only. If you’d like, I could back up and provide you with a detailed valid argument that would address my first two premises (What God teaches is true … and Jesus is God). This would be quite long and require a vast list of historical and literary references. It woud turn my simple 6-step argument into about 48 steps! I didn’t think this site was the place to get so technical, so I kept it simple.

    Believe it or not, there are some brilliant philosophers, historians, archaeologists, physicists, and geologists who can argue persuasively for the existence of God, the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, and the Resurrection. We’re not all a bunch of empty-headed nitwits! You may not believe this … but, all things considered, Christianity is a very reasonable faith. No, it can never be “proved” to the satisfaction of most atheists. There are some things in this life and universe which will never be “proven” in a technical sense. But I would suggest that even the most hardened atheist lives his daily life by the standard of reasonable faith – not scientific proof – whether he knows it or not!

  • 278. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:53 am

    pj11, don’t you accept that an argument is valid if its onclusion follows from its premises? In that case, if we accept the premise p, then it is obvious that p is true.

    But it adds nothing to the discussion, of course, since we all know that if p is true, p is true.

  • 279. Stephen  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Hmm … much different than the ugly picture you painted. You wanted us to believe that God is a “complete and total jerk” and a “celestial dictator” … but instead, the verse says the exact opposite. He desires that man be contrite and humble in heart and not just externally religious. He is patient with mankind. He desires to be gracious and merciful toward man. He abounds in love.

    Care to retract your statement?

    No.

    I was responding to the person (and the belief) that God punishes everyone who doesn’t happen to believe in him, regardless of their actions. If the original person misquoted the verse, that’s fine. He seems to believe it anyway.

    My position stands: any being who judges thought over action with the threat of eternal torture at worst and complete annihilation at best, is a jerk.

  • 280. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    “I’m no dummy in this area … I hold a Master’s Degree in Philosophy of Religion, so I’m not making stuff up (not intended to puff myself up, just to provide some credibility).”

    Sir, I am sorry, but you are either lying or you are intent on destroying your credibility as a scholar. The fact that you claim any association of a philosophy degree is dangerous due to a very simple logical fallacy you committed in your above claim (argumentum ad verecundiam) – not to mention poor taste. I have yet to meet a professor of philosophy, a graduate, or even an undergraduate that would feel the need to proclaim one’s academic status to give credibility. Your work is suppose to do so.

    This is such a basic principle that I highly doubt your claim.

  • 281. waterlooville  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    !!Thinking about it!!

  • 282. Icelander  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    I’m an atheist, but I recommend reading the Bible. If you don’t read the Bible, how else do you find tidbits like Ezekiel 23:20 or the Song of Solomon.

    The Bible is a dirty, violent, disgusting book, and therefore is great for anyone who likes that sort of thing.

  • 283. Icelander  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Christianity is a very reasonable faith.

    Yes. Believe in it or go to hell. Very reasonable indeed.

    No, it can never be “proved” to the satisfaction of most atheists.

    In other words, your omnipotent god can’t convince certain people of its existence and, therefore, those people must be tortured for all eternity.

  • 284. Salvatore Iozzia  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    This is just a point of view and I don’t agree with this circular explanation.

  • 285. riderforjc  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    I agree. You do not have to read the bible. But I will challenge you on this – Ask God to reveal Himself to you. I challenged Him on that 30 years ago – before I even read the bible.
    If you truly want to know if God exists and that He knows all about you – then talk to Him.
    Forget the bible for now. That will come much later.
    Rider

  • 286. Stephen  |  July 5, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    If you truly want to know if God exists and that He knows all about you – then talk to Him.

    I’ve always been a little amused by this argument. If you change your attitude, and with a purely open mind ask an invisible force to “reveal itself,” you will be “finding” evidence everywhere. One will interpret the smallest, most irrelevant things as signs of the invisible force when you start looking for it. I think you can even use this argument to prove the existence of the tooth fairy.

  • [...] over at De-Conversion, an atheist/agnostic blog, has a post entitled “Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book”.  In this post he takes issue with one of the leading arguments which many Christians use to prove [...]

  • 288. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Simen:
    You wrote:
    “don’t you accept that an argument is valid if its onclusion follows from its premises?”
    Simen: No, in terms of logic and argumentation, you’re speaking of soundness, not validity. An argument can be valid in form, yet fail to persuade … thereby making it “unsound.” Yet it still remains “valid” because its form is free from fallacy.

  • 289. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    This is exactly what I’m saying. An argument is valid if its conclusion follows from its premises, and sound if it’s valid and its premises are true.

    That’s how I understood it, anyway.

  • 290. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Thinking Ape:
    You wrote:
    “I have yet to meet a professor of philosophy, a graduate, or even an undergraduate that would feel the need to proclaim one’s academic status to give credibility.”
    Ape: Have you ever been to a philosophical debate or witnessed a formal debate online? Do the two opponents produce a curriculum vitae to establish their credentials? Does that curriculum vitae list their advanced degrees and in what field(s)? Of course … it’s standard procedure.

  • 291. riderforjc  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    The little things may reveal God too. But thats not what I am talking about. I asked Him to reveal Himself to Me years ago…and He did. That was my experience. Yours certainly will be different. All I know is that God loves a challenge. Especially from someone who wants to know Him.
    The people here who are preaching punishment should be flogged. We have an incredible Loving God. And that is coming from a man who has experienced enough pain in this lifetime to fill volumes on the subject of pain.
    The original writer of this blog is searching – although you would think he is not. God will pursue him. He never gives up.
    riderforJC at wordpress

  • 292. astarwashere  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    ride the half pipe, don’t smoke the crack pipe

  • 293. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Stephen:
    You wrote:
    “God punishes everyone who doesn’t happen to believe in him, regardless of their actions.”
    Stephen: You couldn’t be more wrong … if you choose to be a critic of Christianity, please do your research. God punishes sin. Every sin will be accounted for and punished. This is what defines God as “just.” If God did not punish sin and simply let things go, you would say he is “unjust.” Surely you believe that a Hitler or Stalin ought to pay for their crimes against humanity. Or should God let that slide?

    You and I both commit sin every day … lust, greed, pride, selfishness, covetousness, etc. Each of these crimes must be accounted for and punished if we are to declare God to be “just.” If he let you or I slide, he would be “unjust.” The crux of the debate is this … what currency do you possess which will pay for your crimes?

    Your good deeds cannot pay for your crimes. If you run a red light and get a ticket, try saying this to the judge: “I’ve gone through 300 green lights in the last year, therefore, I shouldn’t have to pay for the one red light I went through!” He’ll laugh you out of court. When you sin, you must pay up, even if most of your deeds have been good. Again, what currency do you possess which will pay for your crimes?

    The answer Christianity provides is this … only God Himself possesses the currency to pay for sin. If God Himself pays the fine, your record is washed clean. If Jesus of Nazareth was God, incarnated in flesh, then He has the currency to pay for sin … His suffering and death are the currency for the payment of sin. This currency is appropriated by personal faith (belief). His death becomes a substitution for yours and the penalty for your sin is nullified because he took it upon himself.

    You can claim that God is a wrathful “jerk” … but what I just described is a tremendous act of love on the part of God. The only question is … will you receive that love or remain hard-hearted and be forced to pay for your own sin with your eternal soul?

  • 294. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    pj11 wrote: “Have you ever been to a philosophical debate or witnessed a formal debate online? Do the two opponents produce a curriculum vitae to establish their credentials? Does that curriculum vitae list their advanced degrees and in what field(s)? Of course … it’s standard procedure.”

    Yes I have. And yes it is standard procedure, but this is not to establish some sort of credibility in logic. It is to give the spectators, and opponents, a background into what that person’s specialty is. You, on the other hand, did not give a CV. You pronounced some sort of intellectual prestige rather than relying on your own argument. This is not a formal debate and we have no clue to whether you are who you say you are.

    And Philosophy of Religion, is that a degree in Christian Studies, Religious Studies, Philosophy, or Humanities? Where did you attain this MA and where did you attain your BA (that should be in your CV as well)?

  • 295. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Icelander:
    You wrote:
    “Christianity is a very reasonable faith. Yes. Believe in it or go to hell. Very reasonable indeed.”

    Icelander: From a pure logic standpoint, why is it unreasonable for God to require your belief in him and obedience to him … or punish you for your failure to obey his ordinances?

    Similarly, do you believe its unreasonable for law enforcement to require your obedience to a set of laws? Is it unreasonable for them to punish you if you fail to believe in their laws and follow these laws?

    The issue is one of authority. If God is … he has authority over all things and the absolute right to demand your obedience … or punish you for your rebellion.

    Go ahead and try “disbelieving” in law enforcement today … do whatever you want. Surely you won’t be punished!

  • 296. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Thinking Ape: You’re right … I didn’t produce an entire CV … didn’t think a blog necessitated a full-blown CV. But, since some of my opponents on this blog (and perhaps some spectators) didn’t seem to grasp my position, I thought giving them an idea of my educational background might help them … sorry if I offended by doing so.

    In response to your questions … my BA is in history from UCLA (specializing in ancient civilizations – Greek, Roman, Turkish) and I have two MA’s – one in theology (specializing in historical and systematic theology) and one in Philosophy of Religion … both from Talbot Theological seminary. That may not help me in your eyes … but it is what it is! :-)

    pj11

  • 297. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Whatever your credentials, your arguments are lousy.

  • 298. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you, it does help and I agree that a CV of any nature is not necessary on any blog, but as a student of philosophy the first things we learn is that our arguments must be weighed by themselves. If someone is not grasping your position, they are either dense or you did not explain you position properly. To say that you, excuse my paraphrase, know your shit is simply unnecessary and I will hold that it lacked integrity.

  • 299. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Simen, I don’t think it is necessary to pick on his credentials. Talbot’s missions statement is as follows:

    “Talbot is committed to the development of disciples of Jesus Christ whose thought processes, character and lifestyles reflect those of our Lord, and who are dedicated to disciple-making throughout the world.”

  • 300. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    I’m not picking on them, I’m saying I don’t care about them, because I will judge what he says on its own grounds.

  • 301. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Simen:
    You wrote: “Whatever your credentials, your arguments are lousy.”

    That’s very scholarly, Simen.

  • 302. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    It’s true.

  • 303. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Simen: So we’ve thrown out scholarly debate and now we can just declare something is “lousy” and move on?

    OK, I’ll play. Your original post on circular reasoning sucked. There, I’ve proved my case!

    I had higher hopes for you and this site, Simen.

  • 304. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I was commenting on you choosing to present your credentials as if they somehow made your point any more valid. I think they are, as I’ve said, lousy.

    For instance, you suggest that it’s reasonable to believe a book you have never read (the original version of the Bible) to be inerrant, despite having only read copies that contain flaws.

    You also claim that it’s reasonable to believe in Christianity even though you cannot in any way back up that belief.

  • 305. Stephen  |  July 5, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    I apologize for not “researching” your particular brand of Christianity. Since just about everyone I talk to seems to have a different understanding of salvation, you’ll have to understand “Christianity” is a little vague.

    Surely you believe that a Hitler or Stalin ought to pay for their crimes against humanity. Or should God let that slide?

    Yes, but they will eventually have served their time. Even in our human justice system, we sentence murderers to finite sentences and give them the opportunity to reform. Even with life sentences, the idea is that after they pass away, their crimes will have been paid for, and they will have made their peace with society.

    If God Himself pays the fine, your record is washed clean. If Jesus of Nazareth was God, incarnated in flesh, then He has the currency to pay for sin … His suffering and death are the currency for the payment of sin.

    So Jesus is basically doing the time for our crimes. Again, the human justice system is morally and ethically superior to that of your god. If I committed a murder, and my mom and didn’t want me to go to prison, could she go to jail for me? No, a suffering innocent could never atone for a true criminal.

    I stand by my previous comments. The “jist” of what you’re saying is that if you don’t accept Jesus’ gift of salvation … believe in him … you will suffer eternally for the finite sins you have committed. God is judging whether or not you have that BELIEF. Like I’ve mentioned before, a truly just god would judge our finite actions. He would account for every sin, and once we’ve made our peace, he would stop punishing us and everyone would be happy.

    However, the biblical system of “believe or eternally account for your sins regardless of their severity” is that enforced only by a jerk.

  • 306. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Simen: Thanks for engaging beyond “your arguments are lousy.” That helps the process.

    On your first issue … is it reasonable for me to believe in a book I’ve never read (the original version of the Bible) and choose to trust in a copy with flaws? That’s actually a good question, but not a new challenge to Christianity.

    Do you believe that the Athenians and the Spartans fought in a series of conflicts in the late 5th c. B.C. called The Peloponnesian Wars? Historians today accept the account of Thucydides (an Athenian) as authentic and reliable. We have only a handful of Thucydides’ manuscripts … the earliest being 1,300 years between his original writing and the copies. That’s a huge amount of time between the events in question and the manuscripts. As a result, there are a number of disputed sections of Thucydides’ work. It definitely has some flaws, but by and large it’s a reliable account of the basic framework of the conflict. And many of its features have been confirmed over time by archaeology.

    Now, compare this situation to the 6,000+ manuscripts we have for the New Testament … some as close to 200 years from the autographs. The evidence for the New Testament is more reliable than any other ancient text … no question about it. And archaeology continues to unearth more support for the biblical accounts. Do we have inerrant copies today? No, but we have overwhelming manuscript evidence which shows that the basic framework of the Bible is reliable and authentic. Even by liberal standards, less than 10% of today’s Bible is disputed, and most of those disputes center on grammatical issues, not doctrinal issues. No essential doctrinal tenet of Christianity is in doubt.

    So, yes, I can comfortably accept today’s copied Bible as reliable. If you disagree, then to remain consistent you must disregard the works of Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Thucydides, Herodotus, Tacitus, Livy, Plutarch, Josephus, and more.

  • 307. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    How could you possibly suggest that no essential doctrinal tenet of Christianity is in dispute?

    The biblical creation and ressurection stories, along with the miracles and all of its ethics, has been in dispute since their conception, and continue to be.

    I simply can’t believe how you’d even suggest something like that. All the supernatural and ethical components of Christianity are highly controversial.

  • 308. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    By the way, a large number of texts should indicate that the texts should indicate that the texts are close to the original documents, no? In that case, the timespan in which errors could be introduced is much shorter, and consequently the likelihood of all errors sneaking in during copying or translation approaches zero.

  • 309. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Stephen:
    Of Hitler and Stalin, you wrote:
    “they will eventually have served their time. Even in our human justice system, we sentence murderers to finite sentences and give them the opportunity to reform. Even with life sentences, the idea is that after they pass away, their crimes will have been paid for, and they will have made their peace with society.”

    Frankly, I’m stunned by that statement. You really think Hitler “served his time” and “made peace with society” for 6 million murders by taking a cyanide pill? Yikes! Talk about injustice!

    On your second point … think about the nature of retributive justice. The penalty for any crime is directly proportionate to the being you’ve sinned against. Thus, if you kill a bug, you suffer no penalty. If you kill a dog, you might incur a civil liability (possibly criminal, depending upon the circumstances). But if you take a human life, you possibly forfeit your own. It gets more serious as you scale the ladder of the intrinsic value of the offended party.

    Now … what if you sin against an infinite God? What is the penalty on the retributive justice scale? Answer: it’s beyond what you can pay. Only God Himself has the currency. If Jesus is just a regular guy, you’re correct … he has no power to atone for a criminal’s sin. But if he is God incarnate, he does possess that authority and power.

  • 310. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Simen:
    You wrote:
    “How could you possibly suggest that no essential doctrinal tenet of Christianity is in dispute …”

    Simen: Stay on topic … you suggested that the copies of the Bible we have today are not reliable in relation to the original writings. I wasn’t attempting to convince you that the spiritual content of the Bible is true … only that the manuscript evidence gives us an accurate and reliable transmission from the original writings to today. In the sense of transmission from then to today, there are no disputes over any essential doctrine.

  • 311. Dave2  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    I’m happy to see the conversation move towards a discussion of real evidence, but I feel compelled to point this out: an argument is valid just in case it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion to be false. That’s why, in logic classes, you test validity by writing out a truth table and trying to find a row where the premises are true and the conclusion false — no such row, and you’re dealing with a valid argument. Naturally, it’s no great praise of an argument to say that it’s valid. Plenty of terrible arguments are perfectly valid.

    (Inductive arguments are by their nature invalid, and there are a lot of terms available for the inductive equivalent of validity. ‘Cogent’ is a very common one. It applies to arguments where the premises offer strong inductive support to the conclusion)

    An argument is sound if it’s not just valid but also possessed of true premises. So you can always say this on behalf of sound arguments: they’ve got true conclusions. But sound arguments can be bad arguments in other ways: by being circular, by being question-begging, or by having whichever problem it is afflicting this sound argument: ‘Some cats are black. If some cats are black, then the sun exists. Therefore, the sun exists’.

  • 312. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    By your own admission, there are errors. What makes it rational to believe that these errors were all introduced after the original manuscripts?

  • 313. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Or, in other words, the more reliable a text is, the less likely deviations from the original is. Now, if the Bible is a pretty reliable document in that sense, then it follows that it’s very unlikely that all the errors in it were introduced in copying/translation.

    In other words, inerrantism is irrational and unsupported by evidence.

  • 314. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Simen:
    You wrote:
    “By the way, a large number of texts should indicate that the texts are close to the original documents, no? In that case, the timespan in which errors could be introduced is much shorter, and consequently the likelihood of all errors sneaking in during copying or translation approaches zero.”

    Simen: I wish it were so … it is very difficult to find papyrus or ostraca that have survived back to the time of Christ. That’s why we don’t have surviving original manuscripts of the New Testament writings or from any of the ancient Greek or Roman historians. The materials simply didn’t survive the conditions, the weather, the wars, etc. As materials improved over the centuries and people took copying and preservation more seriously, we see a gradual increasing number of manuscripts. By the way, this is what makes the Dead Sea Scrolls such a find … they were carefully preserved in an environment which assured their survival.

  • 315. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    It seems inerrantists have trouble in any scenario.

    If the likelihood of deviations from the original is high, the credibility of their claims about the original is low. If the likelihood of deviations from the original is low, the errors are more likely to be original.

    By the way, what do you think about the Bible’s reliability?

  • 316. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Simen wrote:
    “If the likelihood of deviations from the original is high, the credibility of their claims about the original is low.”

    In Christian thought, the concept of “inspiration” (God superintending the inerrant writing of a human being without overtaking his will or personality) is mentioned in the text itself and built upon a series of premises about God which I don’t expect you to accept. But this idea has never extended to the subsequent copying of the text over the centuries.

    Thus, Christians can affirm the inerrancy of the originals by faith (stop salivating … I know you don’t agree) but fully understand that an abundance of errors might be made in the transmission of the original text to today. In other words, the existence of errors in the text today in no way impacts our view of the inerrancy of the autographs.

    This is why textual criticism is such an important part of Christian apologetics … many people have devoted their lives to harmonizing variants in the thousands of manuscripts we have in our possession today. You won’t find any ancient text so closely scrutinized!

  • 317. justawatcher  |  July 5, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I’m the first to admit that at times my mind is not as open as it should be. When someone tells me to ‘have an open mind’ it often puts me on guard that they are going to tell me something that makes zero sense. Its one of those warning bells! It doesn’t matter if its religion, or something else, if they say ‘now, have an open mind’ – I immediately want to ask if them “why? Are you about to sound crazy?” :) Very good read, by the way.

  • 318. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Ah, so it comes down to faith. Glad to have cleared that up.

  • 319. Dave2  |  July 5, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I think there might be an equivocation on two senses of ‘reliable': (1) reliable as in faithfully representing the original manuscripts, and (2) reliable as in faithfully representing the historical facts. Even if the NT documents are reliable in the first sense, this doesn’t help to show that they are reliable in the second sense.

    The great number of extant NT manuscripts and the early dating of these manuscripts aren’t very surprising. Christianity has had a lot of authority and influence over the years, and it’s no surprise that people would take care to preserve NT manuscripts moreso than, say, the works of Aristotle. As a result, we moderns are blessed with an abundance of manuscripts, and we can be pretty confident that they more-or-less match the original manuscripts. But it doesn’t mean that the original documents themselves were reliable history or free from mythological embellishments.

  • 320. Donny  |  July 5, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    So tell me, Donny, what is the Bible really saying?

    You see, there are as many interpretations of the Bible as there are people who have read it.

    I don’t mean to sound arrogant or ignorant or anything else I may be accused of when I say this, but here goes:

    I have neither the time nor energy to educate you on what I’ve been discovering about the Bible. To me, I don’t really care whether or not you believe. I’m just telling you that I used to hate the Bible and all Christians, but now I’ve started digging deeper and am very encouraged by what I’ve found.

  • 321. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Then surely you understand that, to me, that’s just an empty assertion.

    Have fun with your newfound faith, though.

  • 322. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Simen wrote: “Ah, so it comes down to faith. Glad to have cleared that up.”

    Why so smug, Simen? Your faith in atheistic principles is no more absurd than my faith in theistic principles. Now go live your life with a reasonable expectation that you’ll wake up tomorrow and breathe!

  • 323. Simen  |  July 5, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    There is no such thing as atheistic principles.

    Also, as you are probably well aware, you can justify anything with faith, so faith alone is a poor justification for belief.

    That said, I’ll leave you with your faith and you can leave me with mine (or lack thereof).

  • 324. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Donny says, ” don’t mean to sound arrogant or ignorant or anything else I may be accused of when I say this, but here goes:

    I have neither the time nor energy to educate you on what I’ve been discovering about the Bible.”

    You know what, that does sound arrogant and ignorant, not to mention indifferently heartless and unbiblical.

  • [...] response to an Agnostic Atheism Wager July 5th, 2007 — whatthecrap? Agnostic Atheism Wager: Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, [...]

  • 326. PalMD  |  July 5, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Atheistic principles…hmm…remember the Flying Spaghetti Monster et al? Why do I have to prove there is not godish thing out there? Why should the default belief be some sort of theism? With that kind of reasoning, might as well say “Anyone who doesn’t believe that I’m the messiah has to prove it now.”

  • 327. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Simen wrote: “There is no such thing as atheistic principles.”

    Apparently you’ve told yourself this enough times that you’ve come to believe it! So you’re not “for” anything? You live by no set of positive principles?

    Are you for secularism? Are you for separation of church and state? Are you for spreading the message of evolution in public schools? Are you for a naturalistic explanation of all unexplained phenomena? You get the idea …

    I know … give me a naturalistic explanation for the beginning of the universe … and then I’ll know at least one of your atheistic principles for sure!

  • 328. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    pj11, “You live by no set of positive principles?”

    Non sequitur.

    One cannot live by a negative principle, but atheism isn’t a belief, it is a lack of a (one) belief. Atheists, at least the majority of the contributors of this blog, are usually secular humanists. This is a positive belief, but it is not directly related to atheism.

    Are you not challenged by Russell’s Teapot? Saying one is an “atheist” is comparable to saying one is an “ateapotist.” It doesn’t mean anything other than one does not believe in the teapot circling the globe. One might wish to develop a lifestyle based on this negation of a satellite teapot, but what would that mean?

  • 329. John Harris  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    There is something bigger than me (and you) I call it (Him) God. Starting with the understanding that I’m not the center of the universe, I believe God to be beyond my ability to fully grasp, so I look for the revelation of God. Also believing that this God would be good (a blatant presupposition, but one that if incorrect, then it doesn’t really matter anyway), and would therefore reveal Himself to me. So what God seems best? Christian God, He claims to be beyond everything and not part of this life. That seems to fit best with reality. If there’s a God, He’s beyond everything, and Christian God is the one claiming that. You could say the same about Jewish God, but it’s more explicit in Christian God. Beyond that, arguments seem to start with the idea that I’m smart enough to figure-out God, and if I could, then I’d be God – and that’s silly.

  • 330. pj11  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    TA:

    Rather than debate teapots, I’d prefer a brief answer to a very real issue which strikes at the heart of the theistic/atheistic debate … will you please provide your naturalistic explanation for the beginning of the universe? Thanks in advance.

  • 331. HeIsSailing  |  July 6, 2007 at 12:26 am

    pj11 sez:
    “will you please provide your naturalistic explanation for the beginning of the universe? Thanks in advance.”

    I am not completely satisfied with the origins of the Big Bang which have been proposed as a consequence of Superstring Hypotheses, but that seems to be the model that most physicists who specialize in that area are moving toward.

    Although I do not work in this area, I am a physicst. I can tell you with no hesistation that we do not have an answer to your question. If however we do find a causal agent for the Big Bang, we still have no answer to your question because you will continue to ask for a beginning.

    The same goes your way, pj. All you have to offer for the origins of the universe is “God did it”. You may add that he did it as an expression of his glory. But this is no answer. It is a dead end either way. At least cosmology admits an infinite regression, one that hopefully converges to an ultimate beginning. We often ask ourselves why there is matter at all in the first place! Christianity claims that God, who is without beginning, created the heavens and the Earth. Period. The rest is a mystery – and that is not an answer.

    The Bible makes certain claims about how God went about creating the universe. The Bible is not a science book, but it does make scientific claims. These claims fail in the face of everything we know about cosmology, origins, and the scale of the universe. They are wholly incompatible. The Bible’s explanation of “God did it” simply does not fit what we observe, and does not work as a scientific model.

    We have no certain naturalistic explanation for the beginning of the universe. Nor do we need one to discredit the claims of the Bible. The Bible should stand on its own as a foundation for Christian faith. But God did not get the science right. Time to move on.

  • 332. Stephen  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:57 am

    Frankly, I’m stunned by that statement. You really think Hitler “served his time” and “made peace with society” for 6 million murders by taking a cyanide pill? Yikes! Talk about injustice!

    Completely missing the point. What I wrote about life sentences was a separate example. Let’s pretend Hitler was tried, though. He probably would have gotten a few hundred, maybe thousand years for each murder. In theory, he would have paid his debt to society after however many billion years of suffering that is. Maybe he would even feel sorry. We don’t know, and it’s quite honestly irrelevant in the biblical justice system: he still has an eternity of torture to anticipate.

    On your second point … think about the nature of retributive justice. The penalty for any crime is directly proportionate to the being you’ve sinned against.

    Alright … but proportionate to what? I happen to believe crimes are proportionate to the harm inflicted upon the victim.

    Thus, if you kill a bug, you suffer no penalty.

    Because the bug doesn’t really feel it. It doesn’t have a family, emotions or that complex of a nervous system.

    If you kill a dog, you might incur a civil liability

    Because dogs are larger mammals who have a more developed sense of pain. There’s also the emotional harm done to the owner.

    But if you take a human life, you possibly forfeit your own.

    Because killing a fellow human is not just terminating his non-existent soul, it’s breaking up a family; making a widow, orphans and ending dreams.

    So the severity and consequence of a crime is determined by the amount of pain and suffering the crime renders.

    Now … what if you sin against an infinite God? What is the penalty on the retributive justice scale? Answer: it’s beyond what you can pay.

    Bzzt. Wrong.

    God is traditionally considered omniscient, omnibenevolent and (here we go) omnipotent. Nothing a puny human can do would ever harm or shake his perfect nature. Just like a wrathful jerk, he is infinitely punishing crimes that had absolutely no effect on his perfect, omnipotent self. This is not justice.

    But if he is God incarnate, he does possess that authority and power.

    His authority and god powers are irrelevant when asking “is it just?” Jesus can have all the authority there is, and still not change the fact that the only person who can serve and “do the time” for their crimes is the criminal himself. Anything else would be a misdirection of justice, and downright immoral. With Jesus taking care of our misdeeds, we’re minimally – if not at all – responsible for anything.

    The concept of an eternal hell remains a real, serious objection to the morality and mercy of the Christian god.

  • 333. Thinking Ape  |  July 6, 2007 at 2:33 am

    pj11, is that how you would answer a student or a prof? Ignore, change subject? Hmmm….

    I agree with HIS, I have yet to be completely satisfied with the Big Bang (or the Big Bounce of the string theory), although I’m open to learning about it and interested in the results that quantum physicists are coming up with. (Check out this article from tuesday at NG Online: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/07/070703-big-bounce.html)

    You, however, appear content with a god of the gaps. This is fine for your own personal faith, but is hardly rationally convincing. I, on the other hand, am not trying to solve the answer to everything. For all I know, “God” clapped his hands really really loud and the universe began on its way. Although it would be nice and easy to believe this, I will remain skeptical.

    Now, anyone for tea?

  • 334. Simen  |  July 6, 2007 at 7:22 am

    pj11, you commit a fallacy I don’t know the name for, but which I’ve seen called “arguing by default”. You presume that if your opponent cannot explain one phenomenon, you must be correct. This is not logically or scientifically valid. It doesn’t matter whether or not we have a naturalistic explanation for the universe, because we do know that the theistic explanations we have don’t line up with reality.

    When you talk about principles, you don’t talk about atheistic principles. Those are principles that some atheists have, but they’re not necessary to be an atheist. There are no atheistic principles, but atheists certainly do have some principles.

    It’s like the fact that science doesn’t provide a system of ethics. Does this mean all scientists are amoral? Scientists have a lot of different ethical codes. Does this mean those ethical codes are scientific?

    The answers are not yes.

  • 335. HeIsSailing  |  July 6, 2007 at 8:25 am

    ThinkingApe suggests:
    “Check out this article from tuesday at NG Online: ”

    I believe the oscillating universe model (or Big Bounce) is older than string theory, and is not taken very seriously anymore by the majority of cosmologists. It is always good to look at alternative models, but I think the inflationary model of the universe holds the most support.

    Sorry – back to our regularly scheduled topic.

  • 336. HeIsSailing  |  July 6, 2007 at 8:31 am

    John Harris sez:
    “If there’s a God, He’s beyond everything, and Christian God is the one claiming that. You could say the same about Jewish God, but it’s more explicit in Christian God. ”

    I think Islamic God is even more explicit!

    He is Allah besides Whom there is no god; the Knower of the unseen and the seen; He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is Allah, besides Whom there is no god; the King, the Holy, the Giver of peace, the Granter of security, Guardian over all, the Mighty, the Supreme, the Possessor of every greatness Glory be to Allah from what they set up (with Him). He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner; His are the most excellent names; whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares His glory; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. – Qu’ran 59:22-24

    Wow! The claims of Allah are mighty impressive! Why not choose him?

  • 337. HeIsSailing  |  July 6, 2007 at 8:57 am

    kramii sez:
    “My own reasons for believing the Bible is not its internal claims about itself. I believe it because, in my experience, (1) it is internally consistent (2) it is consistent with reality as I perceive it.”

    Funny, the very reason I don’t believe the Bible is because I find it to be internally INconsistent and INconsistent with reality as I perceive it.

  • 338. Reflections: God is Alive! « The Coliseum  |  July 6, 2007 at 9:14 am

    [...] on the Bible , Spirituality , Christianity , Religion , Life , General  To all my new-found atheist friends, to all those friends that I encounter daily who aren’t interested in spiritual matters, to [...]

  • 339. Thinking Ape  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    HIS says, “I believe the oscillating universe model (or Big Bounce) is older than string theory,…”

    Really? I’m a relative youngin and even moreso when it comes to all this legitimate science stuff (only been un-indoctrinating for the last 7 years). I have come to understand a theory within string theory that includes some sort of Big bounce (I can’t remember if that article I posted had anything to do with it or not), where the universe was created by the bouncing (or crashing?) of two superstrings. I’m only getting this from Brian Greene’s “Elegant Universe” animation and it looked like a “bounce” :P

    ANYWAY… lol

  • 340. Simen  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    We’re yet to see experimental support for string/M theory, so it remains very much a conjecture.

  • 341. Thinking Ape  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Simen, it took many years to PROVE heliocentrism (in fact, some would say it wasn’t proven until we went into space and took pictures – but that was in a hollywood basement :D ) and many years to PROVE gravity, and many others. I’m not saying that string/M theory is as solid as these examples (although we don’t know how sure those early scientists actually were – hindsight and all), but it is falsifiable and practical experiments are underway.

    The fact is, the beginning of time and space is so messed up that even the oddest of claims can be plausible – including a god. Its just that we haven’t seen much of “god” since then.

  • 342. Simen  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    How, exactly, do you falsify them?

  • 343. Thinking Ape  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    kramii sez:
    “My own reasons for believing the Bible is not its internal claims about itself. I believe it because, in my experience, (1) it is internally consistent (2) it is consistent with reality as I perceive it.”

    Seriously? I’m not doubting you have read it, but if you cam across a contradiction, would you not explain it away no matter what?

    Some of these are just plain silly, but if you are claiming there are NO contradictions than there must be no “combination of statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another” (i.e. the definition of a contradiction).

    So even if you can excuse some (some you really can’t), this does not change the fact that there are contradictions, it just says that some contradictions are not problematic.

  • 344. Thinking Ape  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    ack, hopefully that gets fixed

  • 345. Thinking Ape  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    simen says “How, exactly, do you falsify them?”

    I have no clue, I don’t even know how the experiments work. I’m just spewing forth my fundamentalist science views. Maybe in a life where I wasn’t raised a fundie christian I would have gone into the sciences.

  • 346. Simen  |  July 6, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    If I’ve understood correctly, that’s kinda the problem: the only way to falsify string theory requires so much energy that you’d need to build a particle accelerator the size of the galaxy.

    Also, there’s the “string landscape”, which contains billions of variations, with the hope that one of them “out there” will correspond with our world.

  • 347. Thinking Ape  |  July 6, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    That maybe the case, but that wouldn’t be much different then trying to falsify gravity, would it not? Again, I’m not a scientist, nor do I particularly subscribe to string theory – its just really seductive to those of us who have grown up in platonist mindsets.

    And I wasn’t joking about spewing scientific fundamentalism. I am not a scientist, but I do commit to scientific theories. If I read that s/s really is not being investigated in a scientific way, then I will dismiss the science of it (or change the hypothesis?).

  • 348. Simen  |  July 6, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Gravity isn’t a theory, gravity is a fact which theories purport to describe.

  • 349. pj11  |  July 6, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    HlS: Thanks for an honest and well written response to my question. You and I agree … the athiest (or secular humanist) cannot explain the beginning of the universe. In my opinion, it will remain unsolvable from a naturalistic perspective. You and I also agree on some of the facts surrounding the Christian perspective. Yes, it is a matter of reasonable faith that I am a creationist. While neither you nor I can prove our case with certainty, I believe an intelligent first cause is more plausible than spontaneous generation of matter or an infinite regression that leads anywhere. Big Bang cosmology remains riddled with a number of unsolved difficulties. For the athiest (or secular humanist) to affirm it with certainty would be exhibiting a level of reasonable faith similiar to mine. I do applaud you for resisting such an affirmation … it shows that you are consistent in your non-belief.

    By the way, as a physicist, you might enjoy reading some of the latest works on cosmology from a theistic perspective … Dr. William Lane Craig has some very technical articles here:

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/articles.html

    I do take issue with your suggestion that the Bible makes scientific claims that ought to be judged by contemporary scientific standards. If you ignore the historical and grammatical context of the ancient text, you end up misunderstanding the doctrine of divine inspiration. The human authors of Scripture were not dictation machines in God’s employ. They were writing to a particular audience within a particular historical context … so it wouldn’t make sense for Moses to espouse the nuances of contemporary cosmological studies in the year 1,500 B.C!

    Thanks again for your response.

  • 350. Dave2  |  July 6, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    pj11, just curious, are you a ‘creationist’ in the sense of thinking God created the universe, or in the sense of denying the tenets of evolutionary biology?

  • 351. HeIsSailing  |  July 6, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    pj11 sez:
    “I do take issue with your suggestion that the Bible makes scientific claims that ought to be judged by contemporary scientific standards.”

    pj11, I understand the ancient biblical authors would never have understood anything about quantum mechanics, and that is not what I am talking about.

    The Bible claims that the universe and everything in it was created in the span of 6 days, and implies that this event occured 6000 years ago. This flies in the face of every dating method that we have considered. Now, God could have easily stated in Genesis that it was created some 13.7 Billion years ago, by whatever numerical method that was available at the time. The ancients may have been mystified, but the prophets themselves claimed they did not know what they were writing other then that it was the word of God. Had this simple statement been placed in Genesis, modern cosmologists would have been blown away with the implications. And so would I.

    But God instead chose to state that the universe was created in a span 6 days, and to imply that this event occured 6000 years ago.

    This is a scientific claim which is in the Bible, and it is a gross scientific inaccuracy.

    This is just in the first chapter of the Bible. It does get worse…

  • 352. Thinking Ape  |  July 7, 2007 at 3:36 am

    Simen says: “Gravity isn’t a theory, gravity is a fact which theories purport to describe.”

    I find that a linguistic distinction more than a meaningful one – may I correct myself and say “PROVE gravitational laws”?

  • 353. religionandatheism  |  July 7, 2007 at 7:36 am

    That things fall to the earth from above it, given the chance, is a factual observation, not a theory. It is an inference (an inductive one) to say that things will always do this in the future – that is a hypothesis which is not provable. There is no way of proving that the next thing won’t behave differently to the ones that came before it. The mathematical description of HOW things fall to the ground is a theory, which is based on particular assumptions, and which is therefore limited in accuracy. The better the assumptions, the better the description and the better the accuracy of the theory. Thus Einstein’s theory of gravity supercedes Newton’s. Neither are “proven”, but they have been tested by experiment. Einstein’s is closer to the mark, because it has more accurate predictions. Scientific theories cannot be proven.

  • 354. Thinking Ape  |  July 7, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks religionandatheism – such technicalities escape the curriculum of homeschooled fundamentalists, Bible college students, and humanities graduates :P

  • 355. hampster  |  July 8, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    According to the boundaries of logic, a law can only exist if it has been proven everywhere. Meaning, on every square inch of the planet and every other planet on which we push such boundaries upon. Until such a time as that happens, it will remain a theory.

    “Now, God could have easily stated in Genesis that it was created some 13.7 Billion years ago, by whatever numerical method that was available at the time. The ancients may have been mystified, but the prophets themselves claimed they did not know what they were writing other then that it was the word of God.”

    So what you are saying, is that God should have based the bible off of what we think today. Keep in mind that time is relevant and that the numerical system upon which operate is simply a marker created by man. An imperfect marker besides, considering the necessity to correct it. Also, I would point out that, we may not have the same thoughts as we do now 2000 more years from this date.

  • 356. hampster  |  July 8, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Stephen: “Because the bug doesn’t really feel it. It doesn’t have a family, emotions or that complex of a nervous system.”

    You have obviously spoken to a bug recently, know that they have absolutely no feelings and don’t mind in the least being crushed.

    “Because dogs are larger mammals who have a more developed sense of pain. There’s also the emotional harm done to the owner.”

    However, you incur no civil liability from killing a squirrel which also fits into your own argument about a larger mammal that has a ‘more developed sense of pain’. Your claim here is bordering on the completely illogical. Society dictated that there would be civil liability for killing any ‘pet’ type of animal, or any animal called a ‘pet’. Simply because of whatever uses the owner of such pet put that animal too. Emotional pain by the owner is a new thing, recently considered within the last 50 years or so.

    “Because killing a fellow human is not just terminating his non-existent soul, it’s breaking up a family; making a widow, orphans and ending dreams.”

    You have no proof that humans have no soul, just as bible thumpers have no proof that we do. As such, the only logical answer to ‘do we have a soul’ is “We don’t know.” Than state your own view point. As for “breaking up a family and so on”, that has almost nothing to do with it. This is a psychological and sociological concept that makes up why humans punish the way we do. Killing another human being is close to having sexual relations with your sister/brother. For some reason, every culture on the planet has some kind of law forbidding this kind of sexual relation. Even thinking of it gives people (myself included) shivers up the spine in a very gross sort of way. What is more, is that it has nothing to do with the offspring which it may produce. It’s in our psyches, just as killing others is against a small part of our own psychological make up. However, there are those who would go against both internal messages and the farther we have commenced in human history the more we have fought against one of this internal messages.

    “God is traditionally considered omniscient, omni benevolent and (here we go) omnipotent.”

    This would be an argument against why he wouldn’t punish you, since he knows you are going to do it ahead of time.

    “Just like a wrathful jerk, he is infinitely punishing crimes that had absolutely no effect on his perfect, omnipotent self.”

    Putting human emotion upon a ‘god’ is about as useful as putting human emotion on a dog. You cannot ascribe human emotion to everything you see, we are a complex organism, not the universes ‘feelers’. Your whole argument is based upon how things ‘feel’. They don’t ‘feel’ anything to which we can relate. That is not to say, however, that they feel nothing all together. Bear that in mind the next time you think it is cool to run over a squirrel or kill a bug, just because you suffer no civil liability.

  • 357. Simen  |  July 8, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    According to the boundaries of logic, a law can only exist if it has been proven everywhere. Meaning, on every square inch of the planet and every other planet on which we push such boundaries upon. Until such a time as that happens, it will remain a theory.

    What’s this boundaries of logic thing you refer to? You seem to be making up imaginary boundaries to avoid the conclusion you don’t want.

    Natural laws are not proven using deductive logic, they’re entirely based on inductive reasoning. Meaning, you don’t prove them, you just observe them. For instance, we observe gravity everywhere we can observe something, so it counts as a law. It is not a theory – a theory is something which purports to explain laws and facts and predict new observations. A law is simply something we have observed to be true everywhere, anytime, always. Now, since this is inductive logic, we have no guarantees that there is gravity where we can’t observe. However, we assume it’s there, because nothing suggests that the universe is qualitatively different places we haven’t been.

    As for the age of the universe, God could easily state in a way that would be as valid now as it was 2000 years ago. He’s, after all, God.

  • 358. hampster  |  July 8, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    What’s this boundaries of logic thing you refer to? You seem to be making up imaginary boundaries to avoid the conclusion you don’t want.
    Natural laws are not proven using deductive logic, they’re entirely based on inductive reasoning. Meaning, you don’t prove them, you just observe them. For instance, we observe gravity everywhere we can observe something, so it counts as a law. It is not a theory – a theory is something which purports to explain laws and facts and predict new observations. A law is simply something we have observed to be true everywhere, anytime, always. Now, since this is inductive logic, we have no guarantees that there is gravity where we can’t observe. However, we assume it’s there, because nothing suggests that the universe is qualitatively different places we haven’t been.
    As for the age of the universe, God could easily state in a way that would be as valid now as it was 2000 years ago. He’s, after all, God.
    First of All; “In scientific usage, a theory does not mean an unsubstantiated guess or hunch, as it can in everyday speech. A theory is a logically self-consistent model or framework for describing the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena.”
    Basically, gravity is a theory. I quote wikipedia in this and would ask you to just click this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_gravitation
    Second of all; “The appeal to probability is a logical fallacy, often used in conjunction with other fallacies. It assumes that because something could happen, it is inevitable that it will happen. This is flawed logic, regardless of the likelihood of the event in question.”

    ”they’re entirely based on inductive reasoning”

    Inductive reasoning is used by scientists because deductive reasoning would be much more difficult to create a law. I believe it should remain that way. Just to be able to create a law by observing something and state that because you saw it happen that way (no matter how many times) means that will happen that way no matter what, every where. Science is about proof, not about making things up. If you want to prove that will happen every where, go every where and prove it. Otherwise, keep it as a Theory.

    “Formal logic, as most people learn it, is deductive rather than inductive. Some philosophers claim to have created systems of inductive logic, but it is controversial whether a logic of induction is even possible.”

    As it stands, your basis that Gravity is a law lacks Cogency. Much the same as saying that; “I pulled 8 coins from a bag of 10, all the coins I grabbed were pennies. Therefore the next coin I grab will be a penny.” This is only cogent if the next coin you grab is a penny. There for your use of inductive logic would not hold up in this light. Inductive logic is simply guess work, as in the penny example above, which has a higher probability of being right. However, a ‘higher probability’ does not make it so.

    “However, we assume it’s there, because nothing suggests that the universe is qualitatively different places we haven’t been.”

    So, basically, we have ‘been’ to the moon and to a few other planets besides (if you count landers, which I will give to you). Out of a few ‘zillion’ planets, you are saying it will all remain the same. Man, that’s not even very good odds for inductive reasoning.

    “You seem to be making up imaginary boundaries to avoid the conclusion you don’t want.”

    You are right, I am making things up. Wow! It’s almost like I used inductive reasoning, huh? I saw you make an illogical argument and I assumed that every other argument you made would be illogical. That’s how that works, right?

  • 359. Simen  |  July 8, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Basically, gravity is a theory. I quote wikipedia in this and would ask you to just click this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_gravitation

    Newton’s and Einstein’s theories of gravity are indeed theories, but gravitation is a law. In a pedantic way, Iguess you’re right, because “In scientific terminology gravitation and gravity are distinct. “Gravitation” is the attractive influence that all objects exert on each other, while “gravity” specifically refers to a force which all massive objects (objects with mass) are theorized to exert on each other to cause gravitation.” (wikipedia), but I don’t think that’s what you meant. You seem to think that the existence of gravity (used in the everyday, interchangable way) at all is a theory.

    Inductive reasoning is used by scientists because deductive reasoning would be much more difficult to create a law. I believe it should remain that way. Just to be able to create a law by observing something and state that because you saw it happen that way (no matter how many times) means that will happen that way no matter what, every where. Science is about proof, not about making things up. If you want to prove that will happen every where, go every where and prove it. Otherwise, keep it as a Theory.

    Since you’re found of linking to wikipedia, I will too:

    In mathematics, a proof is a demonstration that, assuming certain axioms, some statement is necessarily true. A proof is a logical argument, not an empirical one. That is, one must demonstrate that a proposition is true in all cases before it is considered a theorem of mathematics.

    Link.

    Proof is not a term that’s much used in science.

    As it stands, your basis that Gravity is a law lacks Cogency. Much the same as saying that; “I pulled 8 coins from a bag of 10, all the coins I grabbed were pennies. Therefore the next coin I grab will be a penny.” This is only cogent if the next coin you grab is a penny. There for your use of inductive logic would not hold up in this light. Inductive logic is simply guess work, as in the penny example above, which has a higher probability of being right. However, a ‘higher probability’ does not make it so.

    It’s more like: every time anyone has seen a coin, in history and today, at all times and all places, it’s been a penny. However the penny analogy is bad, because one can make coins other than pennies, but one cannot violate a natural law.

    The wikipedia article you’re looking for, by the way, is Physical law.

    Wow! It’s almost like I used inductive reasoning, huh? I saw you make an illogical argument and I assumed that every other argument you made would be illogical. That’s how that works, right?

    No.

  • 360. Dave2  |  July 8, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    I think you guys are misusing ‘law’ and ‘theory’. It’s not like a theory is inferior to a law, or like a theory ‘graduates’ and becomes a law. It’s not like the way a bill becomes a law in Congress.

    A law is like F=ma, pV=nRT, V=IR, F=-Gm1m2/r^2. Roughly, a law states a relationship holding between certain physical quantities. It’s like a formula or an equation. A theory is a big explanation or explanatory approach or framework. Theories consist of models, laws, experimental techniques, concepts, …, all sorts of stuff. Even if a theory becomes extremely successful, it doesn’t become a law, because theories are just completely different kinds of things from laws. At best, a theory becomes “an extremely successful theory”.

  • 361. Li  |  July 8, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Yet another person who found this discussion through Mozilla’s “Stumble!” button. I find the discussion of whether or not god exists to be a fascinating subject, so of course I just spent 20 minutes reading through this whole page.

    Let me share a little of my background with you. I’m Cherokee. I wasn’t raised Christian, instead, I was told all the lovely little myths and fables that surround our culture, about the Great Apportioner, Kanati and Selu, the Thunder boys, etc (just to name a few of the more known stories). I didn’t come across Christianity until I was about 6-7 years old, and my father had to move to Philadelphia for work, and I was put into private school. Of course, in Philly, almost all private schools are Catholic.

    My view on Christianity is the same as it has always been on the stories my parents told me when I was little. The stories aren’t true, they’re just fables. In ancient times, people didn’t have the scientific processes we do now, to see that a warm and cold front coming together were what was causing the thunder and lightening they were afraid of. So they made up the explanation of ‘god’ or several ‘gods.’ Just like when someone dies and we say “It was their time” or when we meet that special someone, we say “It was fate.” It made sense to ancient man, that if the sky was lighting up angrily, and horrid sounds were coming from it, that ‘god’ must have been angry.

    Truth be told, there is NO religion in the world that is less valid than any other. They’re all based on the same concept: “A” is happening, so “god” must be happy/sad/angry/furious. Newer religions, such as Wicca (nothing personal, just an example, and my opinion), were invented by people who assumed (and sadly, were correct) that they could make a buck off of other people’s spiritual unhappiness and self esteem issues, blatantly lying to them to get them to think that magic and the supernatural could change their lives like turning the page of a book.

    I think Christianity probably started the same way. Many religions use scare tactics to keep their followers, but in Christianity, the amount of them is ridiculous. Imagine a nun telling a 7 year old child that if they didn’t get baptized so they could participate in the first holy communion and later, confirmation, they were going to go to hell for all eternity. It happened to me. And of course, I went home crying to my parents about it, thinking that Sun would punish me if I listened to the nun, yet thinking that if I didn’t, I’d spend eternity with my pants ablaze!!

    Anyway, point being, All religions bear the same validity, and if Christians are going to insist that others read the Bible, as “proof” that their god exists, then they need to read all other religion’s holy books and take them as proof that all other religions are as valid as their own.

    -Li

  • [...] 9th, 2007 On July 3rd, Simen’s post “Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book” graced this blog. The post was originally written on the April 29th for his now defunct [...]

  • 363. kramii  |  July 10, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Thinking Ape:

    In #168 I wrote:

    My own reasons for believing the Bible is not its internal claims about itself. I believe it because, in my experience, (1) it is internally consistent (2) it is consistent with reality as I perceive it.

    In #343 you wrote:

    Seriously? [...] if you cam across a contradiction, would you not explain it away no matter what?

    Sorry not to have replied earlier. I have just notticed your question.

    Thanks for the link to evilbible.com. This is a long list and a lot of these are new to me. As you say, some of them are silly. Others, less so. Obviously, it would take me a while to work through them all. (It would have been helpful if there were more Bible quotes in the scripture, or at least links to the Bible text). Are there any that you are particularly concerned about?

    Of course, one person’s “explaining away” is another’s “explaining”.

  • 364. Thinking Ape  |  July 10, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    kramii,
    I re-read your initial statement and I realized that you did you the term “consistent” rather than “without contradictions” and that I specifically attacked “contradictions”. Whether this is a problem or not for you, we could also deal with, but I suppose we really need to address the issue raised in your final sentence of your latest comment.

    “Of course, one person’s “explaining away” is another’s “explaining”.”

    This can be very true, but I see, and have always seen, a very real difference. Explaining, explication, elucidation are all just terms to illuminate a subject. In order to do this, one must have understanding of what he or she is illuminating. I wouldn’t want someone to explain to me something that they really don’t understand. This is the reason I entered bible college. I wanted to be able to explain the Bible to other people. I wanted to explain the contradictions that some people found (those that have actually read it rather than just talk about it).

    “Explaining away.” Explaining away is not explaining. There is little attempt to elucidate anything. Explaining away is the practice of wrapping up words in meaningless rhetoric and impossibly abstract concepts. Explaining away hides rather than shows. It creates ambiguity and vague ideas rather than clarifying the issue. It grasps not for the facts, but for the explanation itself.

    You seem like a rational person. In fact, I think most Christians are rational people. I think most people are rational. This can certainly be disputed, but at least we all have the potentiality for rational decision making. The problem, however, occurs when we are unwilling to apply a litmus test to our faith. We do this for any number of reasons (scripture tells us not to, we fear losing the basis on which we believe, comfortability, etc.), but without a litmus test there can be no honest way to tell truthfulness from falsity, faith from denial, explaining from explaining away.

    At which point do the OT “prophecies” become grasping attempts to paint Jesus as the Jewish messiah? At which point does the synoptic problem really become a problem? At which point does a characteristic of YHWH clash with another characteristic of YHWH? I am asking for specific answers to these questions (I have a feeling I might end up for them). The point is that without the boundaries of a litmus test, we will just go on explaining inconsistencies away.

    As for the list of contradictions – You’ll notice that I royally screwed up. Here is a shorter, but better, list:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html#good_to_all

    The most important inconsistency, however, that began my questioning in bible college was not even that of a Bible, but of church doctrine – the doctrine of the trinity. However, there is no way to even scratch the surface of this one in this format, but do you think there might be a litmus test for this one?

    John 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

    Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knows no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.

  • [...] further the coinkydinks in this little series the featured Blog on WordPress today was “Don’t ask me to read your Holy Book.” in a Blog titled deconversion. Sooo I feel compelled, almost directed by the powers that be (HA!) [...]

  • 366. Scavella’s Blogsphere De-Conversion «  |  July 10, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    [...] I can’t remember whose I went to that linked me there, but then I discovered that the post Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book was one of the WordPress.com top posts.  I read the post, but better yet, I read the [...]

  • 367. Anonymous  |  July 10, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Thinking Ape:

    In #363 I wrote:

    Of course, one person’s “explaining away” is another’s “explaining”.

    In #364 you said:

    This can be very true, but I see, and have always seen, a very real difference.

    I quite agree, and think you have explained the difference well.

    I wouldn’t want someone to explain to me something that they really don’t understand. [...] This is the reason I entered bible college. I wanted to be able to explain the Bible to other people.

    I am sorry if this disappoints: for my own part, I understand very little. You probably already know the Bible far better that I am ever likely to.

    The problem, however, occurs when we are unwilling to apply a litmus test to our faith [...] The point is that without the boundaries of a litmus test, we will just go on explaining inconsistencies away.

    By litmus test, I assume you mean some kind of benchmark against we test our explainations for validity? According to which we accept or reject a given explaination? In principle, I agree. Unfortunately, even if we were to come up with such a test, others may be quite unwilling to accept the validity of that test.

    OTOH: By suggesting some kind of test, we at least have a point of reference.

    How about this: some people say that the Bible should be its own litmus test. “Let scripture interpret scripture”?

    Thanks for the short list of contradictions. I will start looking at them.

    The most important inconsistency [was] the doctrine of the trinity. [...] but do you think there might be a litmus test for this one?

    John 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

    Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knows no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.

    If I understand you correctly, you understand these scriptures to be inconsistent with the concept of the trinity?

    As I understand things, Jesus became a man with normal human limitations. As a man, he would not be all-knowing. In that sense, at least, he would have been less than the Father during his earthly ministry.

    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philip. 2:3-7)

  • 368. kramii  |  July 10, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Thinking Ape:

    Doh! I forgot to log in.

    For all it is worth, I claim post #367 as mine.

    Regards.

  • 369. Heather  |  July 10, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Krammii,

    **If I understand you correctly, you understand these scriptures to be inconsistent with the concept of the trinity?**

    I think the basic problems many have with the Trinity is that there is no clear and explicit definition of the Trinity in the Bible. Even a majority of Trinititarian scholars will admit this. Concepts such as the word ‘Trinity’ ‘three-in-one’ ‘same substance’ are not found anywhere. Rather, the word ‘Trinity’ was not used until around the second century, and the creed itself was not determined and made orthodox until the 4th century. If that was such an important premise to Christianity, why did no one state so in the Bible in plain language? Such as God is known as: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Does Paul at any point ever say, word for word, “God the Son?”

  • 370. pj11  |  July 10, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Darn! I tried staying away … but then I checked back … and I can’t seem to help myself … aaagggghhh.

    Heather: Well done … your church history is correct. The term “Trinity” was indeed coined by a brilliant Carthaginian scholar named Tertullian in the 2nd century (Latin: Trinitas). However, your conclusion is not necessarily correct. The absence of the term “Trinity” in Scripture does not in itself invalidate the concept. Here’s a parallel example which might help: the O.T. describes the structure of Hebrew society as a combination of government and religion. Today, we call this a “theocracy.” Does the absence of the term “theocracy” in Scripture mean it wasn’t true of Hebrew society? Of course not. The word was coined later to describe a set of circumstances which we observe in Scripture. Same thing with the Trinity.

    TA began to doubt the Bible because he saw a problem with this church doctrine. However, I would posit that the problem isn’t with the church doctrine … TA’s problem is with the text of Scripture itself. Tertullian saw in Scripture the following two clear statements: (1) God is one; (2) there are three “persons” called “God” in Scripture. Now, Tertullian’s choices were: (1) label the Scripture contradictory and toss it out as a fraud; or (2) attempt to resolve what appears to be a very difficult problem. TA decided on option 1 … Tertullian decided on option 2.

    Do I have it right, TA?

  • 371. Thinking Ape  |  July 10, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    kramii,

    “How about this: some people say that the Bible should be its own litmus test. “Let scripture interpret scripture”?”

    I really don’t know who these people are, but you can probably see how this can be faulty reasoning. Culturally speaking, this line of reasoning will give truth to almost every sacred book on the planet and I have just as much reason, if not more, to follow the works of Vimalakirti or Santideva.
    Critically speaking, this is also a problem because Christians have co-opted another religion’s scripture for their own. Would it not make sense for me to view the early Christian writings and especially the old testament through the eyes of those who wrote them – Jews (and/or Judaizers)? Already during the life of Jesus there were various way of interpreting Scripture, Jesus (or Paul?) simply gave another one.
    Logically speaking, it is circular reasoning. Although this is convincing enough for skeptics, it is really the above two criticisms that have any significance for Christians.

    “…In that sense, at least, he would have been less than the Father during his earthly ministry.”

    I do understand where you are coming from and I used that same line of reasoning with the trinitarian model many times. The problem is, how convincing is this? The Phillipian correspondance, as you may know, was Paul’s apologetic against the Judaizers/Jewish Christians. Paul had been emphasizing the divinity of Christ early on in his ministry, the problem is that we only have Paul’s works – we have nothing from the leaders of the early church (i.e. James and Peter). I personally think Paul was taking up the issue as well – but is it convincingly sound? Does it not appear that Paul is grasping?

    Where is the litmus test? There is none. There can be none. I am not even suggesting that there SHOULD be one. Part of the reason that I said what I did is because I think Christians have become consumed with empirical proofs where there is none. Christians, of course, are not alone – it tends to plague religions of “the book.” It helps the religion survive, yet kills the religion at the same time. Kramii, do you honestly think that a litmus test SHOULD be applied to faith? Would it still be faith?

    Honestly, I don’t think anyone can logically convince anyone to be a Christian. Or an atheist. We tend to make these decisions based on our emotions (of course, affected by our graspings at knowledge).

    I said, “The problem, however, occurs when we are unwilling to apply a litmus test to our faith…but without a litmus test there can be no honest way to tell truthfulness from falsity, faith from denial, explaining from explaining away.”

    Just because we can’t doesn’t mean we should be unwilling. Does that make any sense? Its kind of like just because we can’t be perfect doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And so I emphasize that final point: there is no honest way to tell truthfulness from falsity. Not in matters of faith. We can roll with probabilities, but that is it. This is what makes faith, faith. This doesn’t make me a relativist or a subjectivist – it just means that I am a subjective perceiver of an objective truth (which I can’t know because I am a stupid ape :P).

  • 372. Thinking Ape  |  July 10, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    pj11 says, “TA decided on option 1 … Tertullian decided on option 2.”

    Well, not really. As I said, I BEGAN to doubt. BEGAN is very important. There is no one thing in the Bible or in church doctrine that can make anyone “label the Scripture contradictory and toss it out as a fraud”. That doubt, however, festers. If there is little reason to doubt more, then one could, as I did, take Tertullians route and figure out something that made sense to me (I eventually decided to rule it as a matter of faith and divine paradox, that satisfied me).

    But what happens when it is one thing after another? What happens if you take a look back at your reason for using the Bible as a presupposition starts to seriously falter. What happens if you have to actually use REASON to interpret matters of FAITH? Wouldn’t it be best to use that REASON when it is called for and FAITH when it is called for? It is called the long road of spiritual disillusionment and agnosticism.

    Again, there is rarely even one thing that makes you throw out the only belief system you have ever known, losing family, friends, etc.

  • 373. Heather  |  July 10, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    pj11,

    **The absence of the term “Trinity” in Scripture does not in itself invalidate the concept. ** The concept of a theocracy isn’t deemed essential to Christian salvation. Plus, a theocracy has a clear definition, which you stated. The concept of the Trinity is considered essential to salvation, and yet everything that is used to define Trinity is not found in the Bible: three-in-one, the same substance, a clear reference that all are co-equal. And again — where does the the Bible state, in plain language, God is the Son? Or God is the Holy Spirit? Not an inference, because that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Plain, no way to interpret otherwise, language.

    If this is so important to Christian theology, why was no term coined until the 2nd century? Why was it left vague in the Bible, and up to interpretation?

  • 374. pj11  |  July 10, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    TA wrote: “…In that sense, at least, he would have been less than the Father during his earthly ministry.” I do understand where you are coming from and I used that same line of reasoning with the trinitarian model many times. The problem is, how convincing is this? The Phillipian correspondance, as you may know, was Paul’s apologetic against the Judaizers/Jewish Christians.”

    TA: I think you’re overstepping your bounds here. You’re a good philosopher but a biblical scholar … no so much. :-) First, Paul’s letter to the Philippians is not a polemic against the Judaizers … you’re probably thinking of Galatians.

    More importantly, you’re missing the point on the explanation of the passage referred to above (John 14:28). If you want to explain why Jesus said “the Father is greater than I,” you have to start by looking at the entire text of Scripture. It is clear in the N.T. that Jesus is given credit for creating the universe (John 1:1-3, Col 1:16-17, Heb 1:1). It is also clear in the N.T. that Jeus claimed the power to forgive sins (Matt 9:5-8). It is also clear that Jesus claimed the power to grant eternal life (John 10:27-29). Jesus claimed a pre-incarnate existence for himself (John 8:58). These are statements which place Jesus on the same level as “God the Father.” There is only one “God” and there are no “levels” of Godhood – you’re either God or you’re not. So Jesus is claiming to be fully God and the authors of Scripture clearly grant him that status (if you want more examples, I can keep ‘em coming all day long!). So, using that truth as a foundation, the theist has to look at John 14:28 (“the Father is greater than I”) and resolve what appears to be a puzzle. We’re back to trying to understand the nature of the Trinity just like Athanasius and Arius in the 4th century.

    If Jesus is homoousious (“of the same substance”) with the Father, in what sense can the Father be “greater?” The answer would have to relate to His functional status (not his ontological status) within the Trinity. Parallel example: the President of the U.S. is “greater” than me functionally, yet we remain ontologically equal in substance. One of the roles of the Son within the Trinity seems to be manifesting the decrees of the Father “in the flesh.” While in the flesh, there is no question that the Son has submitted Himself to the will of the Father (he says so himself). In the process, the Son has laid aside the voluntary use of his divine attributes (He “emptied himself according to Phil 2). He “picks them up” only upon the instruction of the Father. Thus, Jesus can be sleeping at one moment (like any ordinary man) and calming the seas with his voice (like God) in an instant.

    Look, TA, there are no new challenges to the biblical text! These types of passages have been debated for centuries and good answers have been provided. There are some brilliant apologists out there who would knock your socks off in debating the biblical text (not me … I remain an amateur!)

    If it means anything to you, I agree with your assertion that no one can logically talk another into Christianity … it is a matter of weighing evidence and locating a threshold of conviction. You and I are on different sides of that threshold. So let the debate continue!

  • 375. pj11  |  July 10, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Heather wrote: “where does the the Bible state, in plain language, God is the Son? Or God is the Holy Spirit? Not an inference, because that can be interpreted in a variety of ways.”

    Heather: check out the references I gave to TA above … Jesus claims for himself all kinds of divine powers and the authors of Scripture attribute divine powers to him – he creates, he forgives sin, he grants eternal life, he has a pre-incarnate existence, etc. If you’re looking for exact words (“Jesus is God”) than you’re placing unrealistic demands upon the text. Of course, there are these statements which are pretty close: “The Word was God” (John 1:1), “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:15), “our God and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:1). These are not difficult interpretations or issues of language … they say what they say.

    In terms of the Holy Spirit, the evidence is less clear. See Acts 5:3-5 … Ananias “lied to the Holy Spirit” and then Peter says to him, “you have not lied to men but to God.”

    Hope that helps.

  • 376. Heather  |  July 10, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    ** It is clear in the N.T. that Jesus is given credit for creating the universe (John 1:1-3, Col 1:16-17, Heb 1:1)**

    Except John 1 says through the Word, all was created. It doesn’t necessarily translate into the Word creating all things, or Jesus getting credit. It’s equally valid that God used the word to create all things. Same with 1Col — in him, all things were created. HEbrews 1 says that God created all things through the Word.

    **It is also clear in the N.T. that Jeus claimed the power to forgive sins (Matt 9:5-8). ** And that power could’ve been bestowed upon him by God — just as Jesus said that in John 20:23, if the disciples have the Holy Spirit, they too can pronounce sins forgiven — ie, be given the authority to declare sins forgiven or not.

    ** Jesus claimed a pre-incarnate existence for himself (John 8:58).** Technically? Everyone would have a pre-existence, since God knows when all will be created. But in this case, if the Word in fact was existed from the beginning, then yes, Jesus had a prior existance. But that dosen’t translate into Jesus saying he was God — especially because of how fluid the “I am what I am” translation works out to in Hebrew. Plus, it looks like the Greek in that translation gets a little messy, too.

    I don’t want to do this with every single verse — there are books and websites out there that you can research, to see the alternative perspectives. The point of my response is to show that it’s not a clear-cut doctrine. Your interpretation of the verses above is based on the fact that you support the Trinity. My interpretation shows me that they can go other ways. You interpret ‘the Father is greater than I’ as not something that Thinking Ape does, but it’s altered by your Trinitarian beliefs. Whereas Thinking Ape would take that verse and filter other verses through the concept of Jesus as not being God.

    ** it is a matter of weighing evidence and locating a threshold of conviction. ** Okay, but Thinking Ape did just that in terms of ‘The Father is Greater than I’ and you basically said that he missed the point. But he missed based on presuppostions that you are reading back into the Bible — Thinking Ape is not, and thus reaches a different conclusion. From the evidence he has gathered, he doesn’t find the Trinity valid.

  • 377. Heather  |  July 10, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Pj11,

    ** If you’re looking for exact words (”Jesus is God”) than you’re placing unrealistic demands upon the text.** How is it placing unrealistc expectations on the text when much of Christianity says to deny that is to not be a Christian? If it’s that key to salvation, then interpretation isn’t necessary. If it’s so key, then I should see it plainly stated in the Bible. Something so pivitol should not be left up to interpretation, and a fact stated 200 years afterwards.

    **The Word was God” (John 1:1), “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:15), “our God and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:1). These are not difficult interpretations or issues of language … they say what they say.**

    No, that’s what translations say. They don’t say what they say, they say that based on the translator and how the text goes. Looking below for the latter two verses shows a multitude of translation possiblities. And I just picked three or four out of a lot.

    Titus 2:13 (not 2:15)

    of the great God and our SAvior — Revised STandard

    of the great God and our Savior — Revised Version

    ‘the glorious return of our great God and our SAvior Jesus Christ’ or ‘The return of Jesus Christ, who his the glory of our great God and Savior’ — Contemporary English version.

    — of the great God and our SAvior Jesus Christ — King James version.

    2 Pet 1:1

    Our God and the Savior — Revised Version

    Our God and the Savior Jesus Christ — Revised Standard Version

    Of our God and our SAvior Jesus Christ — King James Version

    And there are more.

    John 1:1

    This one gets a little more in depth. From what I’ve learned, there is no definite article in front of ‘God’ in terms of ‘The Word was God,’ so it was more of describing the godlike characteristics of the Word. IT’s also been translated as ‘the Word was divine.’

    The other complication comes from the following:

    The Word dwelt with God, and what God was, the Word was.

    When the Bible refers to God, it’s either referring in Hebrew terms, or God the Father. So when it says that the word dwelt with God, what does it mean by the word ‘God?” To me, it’s as God the Father. The word dwelt with the Father. It doesn’t really make sense in a Trinitarian aspect, if ‘God’ there refers to the Trinity. Because then it’s reducing ‘God’ to just the other two aspects of the Trinity, and the term ‘God’ can’t be used in that fashion.

    It goes ont to say that what God was, the Word was (in most translations). Okay, but if using ‘God’ as ‘God the Father,’ that doesn’t work, because the Word is not the Father. But God can’t be used as God the Trinity, because the Word is not the Trinity. So I don’t find that a clear-cut example at all.

    Essentially, if in a Trinitarian fashion

    There’s probably a note of frustration in my posts at this point. This is mostly because you don’t seem to have investigated reasons as to why people might have difficulties with the Trinity, or Jesus as God. I could be wrong: you may be very familiar with the alternative viewpoint. Butin offering Titus and Peter, it comes across as though you’re unaware of the grammar behind it or all the different translations for those verses. If unaware, then it is gonig to be frustrated to be told by you that we’re not interpreting correctly, when we seem to have researched this more than you. If you have done so in-depth, then I apologize for my assumption.

  • 378. Thinking Ape  |  July 10, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    pj11: “TA: I think you’re overstepping your bounds here. You’re a good philosopher but a biblical scholar … no so much. :-) First, Paul’s letter to the Philippians is not a polemic against the Judaizers … you’re probably thinking of Galatians.”

    Umm… yes it is. Now if I left it at this, that would be basically your argument. The Philippian correspondence is full of rhetoric against circumcision and Pharisaic-style spiritual “spiritual perfection” (especially in the “third” letter fragment of Phil. 3:2-4:9). But yea, if you want to accuse me of something, then seriously trying to discredit me by “it is not”…

    But like Heather said, I am treating you like a skeptic and you are treating me like a fundamentalist. Perhaps we give each other too much credit (or perhaps it is impossible to get outside of one’s paradigm).

    I will not use the Bible as evidence for anything except that it is the literature of a particular set of the early Jesus movement. So will I engage in theological debates? No. Theology is highly speculative, absurdist, unfalsifiable, and arrogant (theology: the study of the nature of God – seriously – how pretentious can people get?). If you want to talk about what Paul thought, James thought, the authors of the gospels thought, that is a different story – but thats not what this is, is it?

  • 379. Stephen  |  July 10, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    hammy

    You have no proof that humans have no soul, just as bible thumpers have no proof that we do.

    You’ve forgotten where the burden of proof lies. Until you can establish humans have a soul, we probably don’t have one, just like we probably don’t have horns sticking out of our heads.

    Your whole argument is based upon how things ‘feel’. They don’t ‘feel’ anything to which we can relate.

    Than you have an odd sense of justice. This was all in response to a person who seems to think that the seriousness of a crime relates to the size or lifespan of the victim, therefore it’s just for God to eternally punish his minions. In reality, we punish people based on the harm they’ve inflicted on the victim, whether it be an individual person or society in whole. However, I’m not going to walk you through the justice system. God is omnipotent and hence, cannot be harmed. This is not emotion, it’s definition.

  • 380. pj11  |  July 11, 2007 at 3:52 am

    Heather: You forced me to do this … I apologize to the rest of the readers for what’s to follow. Doing technical theological work via websites without proper training in hermeneutics, the original languages, and systematic theology can be very dangerous. Whether you realize it or not, you have the ability to lead people astray with the click of a mouse. Let’s make sure the folks get good information that is rooted in scholarship. Yes, I know the blog police are on the way to tell me I cannot claim any titles, degrees, or training. So be it.

    Heather says: “Except John 1 says through the Word, all was created. It doesn’t necessarily translate into the Word creating all things, or Jesus getting credit. It’s equally valid that God used the word to create all things. Same with 1Col — in him, all things were created. HEbrews 1 says that God created all things through the Word.”

    John 1:3 affirms that apart from Christ nothing came into being that has come into being. We need not torture ourselves trying to twist this to mean anything except what it clearly says – the Son was the agent of creation. It is proper to say that the Father was the source of the created order and the Son was the creative agent. Now, in Scripture there are four types of “beings” – God, angels, man (male and female), and animals. Do you ever see God creating through the agency of angels? Do you see men or animals given the ability to create? Of course not on both accounts. So if Jesus is not “God,” how is it that he earned the right to partner with the Father in creating matter ex nihilo? Would you like to make up a fifth type of being? Would you like to say Jesus is “a god,” but not “God,” and therefore fall into the Arian heresy? If Jesus is not “God,” please explain to me what it means that Jesus is the agent of creation of all things.

    Heather says: “**It is also clear in the N.T. that Jeus claimed the power to forgive sins (Matt 9:5-8). ** And that power could’ve been bestowed upon him by God — just as Jesus said that in John 20:23, if the disciples have the Holy Spirit, they too can pronounce sins forgiven — ie, be given the authority to declare sins forgiven or not.”

    You’ve done the work yourself here … in John 20:23, the text says that the authority was bestowed on the disciples by an external source. In Matt 9:5-8, Jesus claims it for himself, no external source necessary … and then he heals the paralytic to prove that he possesses that authority.

    Heather says: “** Jesus claimed a pre-incarnate existence for himself (John 8:58).** Technically? Everyone would have a pre-existence, since God knows when all will be created. But in this case, if the Word in fact was existed from the beginning, then yes, Jesus had a prior existance. But that dosen’t translate into Jesus saying he was God — especially because of how fluid the “I am what I am” translation works out to in Hebrew. Plus, it looks like the Greek in that translation gets a little messy, too.”

    How many finite beings can you name who existed before time and space where created? How many human beings can exist in the flesh in the present, yet claim to have existed prior to a man who lived 2,000 years before the present? Come on, Heather … this is obviouly a claim to divinity … you may not believe that claim, but he was clearly claiming to be God. Just look at the next verse – the crowd picks up stones to kill him for his statement. Later in John 10:33, what do the crowds say when they try to stone him? “because you, being a man, make yourself out to be God.” It’s not hard to figure out what’s going on here! By the way, can you read and/or translate koine Greek … or are you just reading off a website? John 8:58 is not at all “messy” in the Greek: prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi (“before Abraham became, I am.” Not difficult to translate.

    Heather says: “** If you’re looking for exact words (”Jesus is God”) than you’re placing unrealistic demands upon the text.** How is it placing unrealistc expectations on the text when much of Christianity says to deny that is to not be a Christian? If it’s that key to salvation, then interpretation isn’t necessary.”

    Here’s what I’m saying … it’s unrealistic for the text to say “Jesus is God” in the exact word order that YOU demand of it. If instead the text says “our God and Savior Jesus Christ,” that ought to suffice. But you desire to look away from the obvious because of your own agenda (just as you accuse me of a Trinitarian agenda).

    Heather says: “Something so pivitol should not be left up to interpretation, and a fact stated 200 years afterwards.”

    This is one of the biggest mistakes made by the enemies of Christianity. To say that Jesus’ divinity was not stated until 200 years later is an absolute lie (or simply ignorance). First, as I’ve pointed out, the apostles who walked with Him were saying it in the first century. Second, if you learn how to translate from Greek to English and then get a hold of the writings of the earliest church fathers – particularly Ignatius, Justin Martyr, or Irenaeus, you’ll see that they are already attributing divinity to Christ and doing preliminary work on Trinitarian ideas. If you can read Latin, the work of Tertullian (160-220) is the best source of early work on the terms Trinity, Person, and Substance.

    Heather says: “**The Word was God” (John 1:1), “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:15), “our God and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:1). These are not difficult interpretations or issues of language … they say what they say.** No, that’s what translations say. They don’t say what they say, they say that based on the translator and how the text goes.”

    Going to the English translations and claiming some kind of “translator bias” is a typical ploy. Again, how much koine Greek do you know to make these claims? Titus 2:13 is not difficult – tou megalou theou kai soteros emon Christou Iesou (“of the great God and Savior of us Jesus Christ”). 2 Pet 1:1 is similar – tou theou emon kai soteros Iesou Christou (“of the God of us and Savior Jesus Christ”). In both cases, there is only one definite article governing the two nouns, God and Savior, meaning the titles refer to the same person – these are meant to stress the deity of Christ!

    Heather says: “John 1:1. This one gets a little more in depth. From what I’ve learned, there is no definite article in front of ‘God’ in terms of ‘The Word was God,’ so it was more of describing the godlike characteristics of the Word. IT’s also been translated as ‘the Word was divine.’

    No verse in the Greek NT has been more closely examined than John 1:1 – kai theos en ho logos (“and the Word was God”). This is a very long discussion that I don’t have time for. If you haven’t studied the distinctions between articular nouns and anarthrous nouns in the Greek, you’re not going to understand anyway. Suffice to say … a lot of scholars have looked closely at this one over 2,000 years. The early church fathers who spoke koine Greek as their mother tongue understood exactly what it meant.

    Heather says: “you don’t seem to have investigated reasons as to why people might have difficulties with the Trinity, or Jesus as God. I could be wrong: you may be very familiar with the alternative viewpoint. Butin offering Titus and Peter, it comes across as though you’re unaware of the grammar behind it or all the different translations for those verses.”

    Truth is … I sweat blood and tears over many years in school to earn my stripes as a student and teacher of God’s Word. And, yes, I’m aware of the alternate viewpoints. There are no new challenges to Christianity … they simply recycle themselves in every generation. Whatever objection you have to the text, you can find accomplished linguists and theologians who can provide you with good answers. But I don’t think you really want good answers … you want to be comfortable in your non-belief. That I cannot help you with.

  • 381. pj11  |  July 11, 2007 at 4:14 am

    TA says: “Umm… yes it is. Now if I left it at this, that would be basically your argument. The Philippian correspondence is full of rhetoric against circumcision and Pharisaic-style spiritual “spiritual perfection” (especially in the “third” letter fragment of Phil. 3:2-4:9).”

    No serious scholar looks at the Philippian letter and categorizes it as a polemic against Judaizers. In direct contrast, the overall theme of the letter is one of deep friendship designed to encourage the believers struggling to live out their faith in a Roman-dominated colony. Yes, Paul addresses the Judaizers in vv. 3:2-11, but I wouldn’t call it a dominant theme of the epistle.

    TA says: “So will I engage in theological debates? No. Theology is highly speculative, absurdist, unfalsifiable, and arrogant (theology: the study of the nature of God – seriously – how pretentious can people get?).”

    As I said earlier, TA, you are a good philosopher. But when you and your cohorts attempt to engage in theology and hermeneutics, you stumble. You won’t engage in theological debate because you’re ill-equipped. Perhaps that’s good … a man’s got to know his limitations.

    Your opinion of theology is sad and historically ignorant. Surely you realize that most universities in Europe and the U.S. were originally founded upon theological study (“the queen of the sciences”). Oh, but they were absurd and you’re so balanced. They were arrogant and pretentious … you are so humble! lol.

  • 382. Heather  |  July 11, 2007 at 5:40 am

    Pj11,

    I didn’t force you to do anything. Those de-converts on this website have already done more than enough research on their own. They would not accept any claim I would make simply because I’m making it — they would investigate both sides on their own. That research is the very reason why so many are not Christians at this point. Those that are not de-converts tend not to listen to us, anyway.

    **Doing technical theological work via websites without proper training in hermeneutics, the original languages, and systematic theology can be very dangerous. Whether you realize it or not, you have the ability to lead people astray with the click of a mouse. Let’s make sure the folks get good information that is rooted in scholarship. ** Simply because my interpretation differs than yours, I lack good scholarship? What this is doing is saying that no one should take my claims seriously, rather than just focusing on the claims, themselves.

    All of the information I have comes from that scholarship: the way in which the translations work, the way in which the texts differ from each other, the way in which an interpreper’s perspective can alter something (and that is not a ‘ploy,’ that is a fact. Stuff gets lost in translation, no matter what is being translated). I am going off of a combination of websites and books by scholars, and yes, I have studied this in-depth, including books on those who are familiar with the Greek.

    ** Yes, I know the blog police are on the way to tell me I cannot claim any titles, degrees, or training. ** If you have a degree in theology, then yes, you can claim it. If you’ve gone to school to study and have a degree, yes, you can claim it.

    **So if Jesus is not “God,” how is it that he earned the right to partner with the Father in creating matter ex nihilo?** If I say, “Through the machine, everything was created,” that doesn’t mean that the machine is solely responsible for the creation: I made the machine with the specific purpose to create. The responsiblity ultimately lies with me in the creation. That is how the ‘Through the Word, all was created’ verses come across to me. God using the Word as the agent of creation, not the Word creating, itself. Such as God speaking at the beginning of Genesis — through the Word.

    ** prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi (”before Abraham became, I am.” Not difficult to translate.** It has to do with the ‘I am’ and whether it refers to a set period in time, or if it refers to the Word existing from Abraham to the point in which Jesus is speaking.

    **it’s unrealistic for the text to say “Jesus is God” in the exact word order that YOU demand of it. If instead the text says “our God and Savior Jesus Christ,” that ought to suffice.** It’s still not unrealistic. The writers of the letters were from a Jewish perspective, and if saying that Jesus was God or even using the Trinity, they were completely going against Judaism itself. They would’ve wanted to frame that very, very carefully.

    **So if Jesus is not “God,” how is it that he earned the right to partner with the Father in creating matter ex nihilo?** Even the concept of the creation in ‘ex nihilo’ is up for debate by scholars, based on the Hebrew translation.

    **In Matt 9:5-8, Jesus claims it for himself, no external source necessary … and then he heals the paralytic to prove that he possesses that authority.** And in Jesus’ baptism, the HOly Spirit had descended. For all we know, that’s when Jesus received the power. He simply says that he has the authority to forgiven sins — it can mean thta the authority was given to him.

    **Suffice to say … a lot of scholars have looked closely at this one over 2,000 years. ** Yes, and much of 2,000 years, people were killed or attacked for heresy or drifting from creeds. They weren’t exactly allowed to interpret freely.

    **Going to the English translations and claiming some kind of “translator bias” is a typical ploy. Again, how much koine Greek do you know to make these claims? ** I would think the fact that the translation is not clear comes from the variety of ways in which the words are translated.

    **The early church fathers who spoke koine Greek as their mother tongue understood exactly what it meant.** The early church fathers were also reading it from a Greek perspective, and not a Judaic perspective.

    **in John 10:33, what do the crowds say when they try to stone him? “because you, being a man, make yourself out to be God.” ** Which has also translated into “You have made yourself out to be *a* God, and Jesus later says that God had said to the men of Israel, you are ‘elohim,’ so why is he being stoned for saying he’s the son of God?

    **To say that Jesus’ divinity was not stated until 200 years later is an absolute lie (or simply ignorance). ** No, I am stating on the concept of the Trinity, not Jesus’ divinity. I said that the concept of the Trinity wasn’t first mentioned until 200 years after the fact.

    ** sweat blood and tears over many years in school to earn my stripes as a student and teacher of God’s Word. And, yes, I’m aware of the alternate viewpoints. **

    Okay. What I am saying is that your previous responses to me and Thinking Ape do not indicate that. If aware of the alternative viewpoints, and it’s clear that I am aware of them, I would’ve expected your responses to be framed in such a way that already answered them.

  • 383. kramii  |  July 11, 2007 at 6:42 am

    Heather,

    In #369 you said:

    I think the basic problems many have with the Trinity is that there is no clear and explicit definition of the Trinity in the Bible.

    In one way, I do understand this probem. It would be useful if there were such a definition!

    On the other hand, that does not mean that the concept was not present in the Bible. Personally, I am not even sure that the writers of the Bible were aware of the concept, but that does not mean it was not there.

    By analogy, the term “short term memory” is relatively modern, but most psychologists agree that everyone has one. They may not be aware of it, but it is there nevertheless.

    If that was such an important premise to Christianity, why did no one state so in the Bible in plain language?

    I can only speculate. It may have been a ‘given’. It may be that the Bible writers were concerned with the practicalities of their faith, rather than theology. I really don’t know.

  • 384. Heather  |  July 11, 2007 at 6:55 am

    Pj11,

    **If you haven’t studied the distinctions between articular nouns and anarthrous nouns in the Greek, you’re not going to understand anyway.**

    The thing is, I’m not aruging that the translation should say, ‘the Word was a god’ and thus have there be more than one god. From what I’ve been able to determine of anarthrous nouns, it can also apply to a qualitative state, which would then lead to the translation, ‘the Word was divine,’ or ‘What God was, the Word was.’ It lays out the characteristics that the Logos possesses. Given that Jesus had a unique role as laid out by God, and was the only begotton son of God, then that son would have certain characteristics of God.

    I also have difficulties in ascribing Trinitarian terms based on John 1:1as laid by how the word ‘theos’ is defined from the word was with God to the word was God, as I explained earlier.

    Kramii,

    ** can only speculate. It may have been a ‘given’. It may be that the Bible writers were concerned with the practicalities of their faith, rather than theology. I really don’t know.**

    I can understand where you’re coming from. The difficulty for me again lies in the fact that the Trinity pretty much makes or breaks one’s stance as a Christian for many Christians. And yet we don’t see as laid out in the Bible, that holding to the definition of the Trinity is of vital importance. It would simply logically follow that if the Trinity ‘makes or breaks,’ then it should be almost pre-packaged within the Bible.

    Actually, I should really say New Testament — and that’s another difficulty I have with the Trinity. The OT makes up about 2/3rds of the Bible, and the idea of God as three-in-one or the Son/Holy Spirit is not present. If so, Judaism would’ve reflected that.

  • 385. kramii  |  July 11, 2007 at 7:12 am

    Thinking Ape:

    In #367 I wrote:

    How about this: some people say that the Bible should be its own litmus test. “Let scripture interpret scripture”?

    In #371 you wrote:

    Culturally speaking, this line of reasoning will give truth to almost every sacred book on the planet and I have just as much reason, if not more, to follow the works of Vimalakirti or Santideva.

    Possibly. I am not (here) arguing for the truth of scripture. Only that it it is internally consistent. I am sorry, I have not read the works you mention.

    Critically speaking, this is also a problem because Christians have co-opted another religion’s scripture for their own. Would it not make sense for me to view the early Christian writings and especially the old testament through the eyes of those who wrote them – Jews (and/or Judaizers)?

    Unfortunately, a significant number of Christians do forget that the OT was essentually a Jewish book (I am a product of my culture – I do it, too). It would be very helpful to understand the Jewish perspective on their own books better. That said, I am not sure that invalidates a Christian understanding of scripture. The Jews who actually wrote the OT are long gone.

    Logically speaking, it is circular reasoning.

    Not necessarily. If the Bible says (1) A is always B and also says (2) A is not always B, then there is an in consistency. If, OTOH, it outlines a set of circumstances for (1) and another for (2) then we have no inconsistency. I don’t see a circle here.

    I personally think Paul was taking up the issue as well – but is it convincingly sound? Does it not appear that Paul is grasping?

    It does not have to be convincing. It has to be possible.

    Honestly, I don’t think anyone can logically convince anyone to be a Christian. Or an atheist. We tend to make these decisions based on our emotions (of course, affected by our graspings at knowledge).

    On the whole, I agree. OTOH, I think some one can be logically convinced NOT to be something.

    Just because we can’t doesn’t mean we should be unwilling. Does that make any sense?

    Absolutely. Otherwise, all we’d all stop working towards something better.

    And so I emphasize that final point: there is no honest way to tell truthfulness from falsity. Not in matters of faith. We can roll with probabilities, but that is it….it just means that I am a subjective perceiver of an objective truth.

    Agreed.

  • 386. Heather  |  July 11, 2007 at 8:08 am

    kramii,

    **It would be very helpful to understand the Jewish perspective on their own books better. That said, I am not sure that invalidates a Christian understanding of scripture. The Jews who actually wrote the OT are long gone.((

    In a way, I feel the christian understanding is … well, not necessarily invalidated, but doesn’t take the Judaic perspective into consideration. There was a specific set of qualifications that someone had to have in order to be the Messiah. That hasn’t hcanged for them in the past 2,000-3,000 years. These qualifications are precisely why they don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah. That perspective hasn’t shifted for them at all. And they needed those qualifications so they wouldn’t be deceived by false Messiahs. So simply because the Jews who wrote the OT are gone does not mean their perspective is also gone.

    **If, OTOH, it outlines a set of circumstances for (1) and another for (2) then we have no inconsistency. I don’t see a circle here.**

    I think what Thinking Ape is referring to here is the circular reasoning that uses, “I know the Bible is inspired by God because one of the book of Timothys says that it is inspired by God.” It is using the Bible to prove that the Bible is valid, rather than applying outside criteria.

    ** personally think Paul was taking up the issue as well – but is it convincingly sound? Does it not appear that Paul is grasping?

    It does not have to be convincing. It has to be possible.**

    But couldn’t this criteria apply to any other religion, as well? Because every religion is possible. But I assume you don’t follow the others because you’re not convinced by their claims, even though the claims are possible.

  • 387. pj11  |  July 11, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Heather: I’m saddened by your responses. I will not throw any more pearls before you (Matt. 7:6).

    It is not courageous to simply raise objections to everything … at some point you need to arrive at some healthy convictions. You avoided answering one key question … who is Jesus? Based on your interpretation of NT Scripture, is he God, an angel, a man, or an animal? Those are the only choices. Please teach me … and please support your conclusion with evidence.

  • 388. Heather  |  July 11, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Pj11,

    **Those are the only choices. Please teach me … and please support your conclusion with evidence.**

    What would be the point of even trying? So far, you’ve given the impression that any interpretation opposed to yours is not serious scholarship, we’re simply someone following our own agenda, would rather be comfortable in our unbelief than see your viewpoint, and are enemies of Christianity. And now there has been a reference to ‘dogs and swine.’ This is very much drifting into the ad hominem area. Are you addressing the arguments? For the most part. But your methods of discreditng them are not relying on proof alone, but are also a mild attack on the person, as well. Serious scholars do hold a position of Jesus not being God.

    And simply because one does not believe in the Trinity does not equal objection to everything, or abandoning Christianity altogether.

    **avoided answering one key question … who is Jesus? Based on your interpretation of NT Scripture, is he God, an angel, a man, or an animal?** He was a man with a much better understanding and connection to God than any previous person.

    In terms of the Trinitarian perspective — I was not accusing you of a Trinitarian agenda. If it came across that way, I apologize. I was using it in terms of a paradigm. As you hold that view, you will naturally interpret the verses in that light.

  • 389. Thinking Ape  |  July 11, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    pj11,

    “But when you and your cohorts attempt to engage in theology and hermeneutics, you stumble. You won’t engage in theological debate because you’re ill-equipped. Perhaps that’s good … a man’s got to know his limitations.”

    I will not engage in theological debate because of my philosophical and reasonable belief that humankind is ill-equipped to do so. Anyone engaging in theological practice ends up arrogantly proclaiming to know god. See below.

    I did not mean to say that Philippians as a whole was a polemic against Judaizers, but you didn’t even bother to look at it yourself. No letter of Paul’s is ever just against one thing. You say things like “no serious scholar”… yet what you appear to think as “scholarly” is stuck in the 18th century. Do you seriously want me to start listing off names of scholars that would agree with me? Because I will do it. You may not agree with them, but to simply say they don’t exist is amusing for someone who considers himself a theologian – but this doesn’t really surprise me, I doubt you actually read any of the journals published by the SBL or AAR (if you did, you probably wouldn’t be so flippant about Philippians).

    “Your opinion of theology is sad and historically ignorant”

    Sad. Maybe. Historically Ignorant. Hardly. Yes, most universities were set up as theological schools. Again, another century and yes, things progress. This, however, is like comparing a Model T to a Bugatti. Even my own discipline of Religious Studies was started by comparative theologians who wanted to convert Muslims and try to figure out how they could trump Buddhism. This does seem a little arrogant in my eyes. But this has nothing to do with the concept, does it?

    Think about it. There is a limitless being. Does it not seem so pretentious to even you that humble little human beings who can’t even use their full brain can attempt to understand something so infinite? Theology almost always ends up in gnosticism. It is antithetical to faith, no matter what one great theologian might say about it.

    You obviously consider yourself a theologian of some type. You are right, I am not. I have theological training but I gave up that path for philosophy, Biblical criticism, and the sociological and anthropological study of religion. I am not a philosopher. Where you get this idea, I do not know.

  • 390. Thinking Ape  |  July 11, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    kramii,
    First, after all the discussions I have been in on here over the past week, I must say you offer the most civilized and constructive debate. Thank you for being one of the only Christians on this board to act in a Christ-like fashion.

    About the Christianity “vs.” Buddhism scripture –
    I was merely pointing out that you find truth because of internal and external consistency. Setting aside the issue of whether it is actually consistent or not, the requirements do not seem very high. I purposely pointed out Vimalakirti and Santideva because of their value and their comparison value to Christianity (Vimalakirti even uses a mustard seed and mountains parable). Why then would you apply your requirements only to one book?

    “That said, I am not sure that invalidates a Christian understanding of scripture.”

    It certainly does not invalidate it – it was merely a reference used for our discussion on litmus tests (I think, I’m starting to lose track).

    In reference to Scripture interpreting Scripture I had several things in mind (thanks Heather for helping me out), but this is the underlying principle. If you want to read into something, you will. You are told in the NT that it is fulfillment of the OT. So you go back to the OT and find things that support the NT. Except that we aren’t really told this about the NT. Some of the books certainly do. But not all of them. But because we have bound them up in a Canon, suddenly this is much easier to do, isn’t it? But no serious Christian believes that the NT was just dropped on our laps.

    “It does not have to be convincing. It has to be possible.”

    Of course it has to be convincing! Do you put stock in something that is merely possible? Do you trust your life on that! I did at one point. But as things get less convincing, the less one is inclined to believe. This isn’t science and this is why I hate when scientists try to apply their rules to religious beliefs (sometimes). Possibility only matters in math – but my personal beliefs are not based on possibilities, they are based on what I find convincing.

    “I Agree… Absolutely…. Agreed.”

    I love happy endings. See – civilized debate does help us with some conclusions. We are all on a journey and I do believe that honest truth seekers will find what they need in life – those who think they have found the truth can sit on their theological pedestals until the cows come home, but they will only turn the honest seekers away and invite the dead-minded sheep into their flock.

  • 391. pj11  |  July 11, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Heather says: “who is Jesus? Based on your interpretation of NT Scripture, is he God, an angel, a man, or an animal?** He was a man with a much better understanding and connection to God than any previous person.”

    Heather – Thank you for an honest, forthright answer. I’ve read many examples of your position and so I know it’s not uncommon. However, may I challenge you? As you probably know, C.S. Lewis addressed your position and called it “patronizing nonsense” because of the many claims Jesus made to His own divinity. According to Lewis, Jesus hasn’t given you the option of “just a man.” I agree with him. Doesn’t your position compel you to cherry-pick certain verses which speak to his humanity and avoid the passages that speak of his divinity? What do you do with the three passages I cited earlier where Jesus is said to be the Father’s agent of creation? How does a human being earn the right to create things in the beginning and then appear in the flesh thousands of years later? How can he be just an enlightened man? Surely you see the problem here. So what is he? Is he “God” or “a type of God?” or is he some type of being we’re not aware of?

    Heather says: “simply because one does not believe in the Trinity does not equal objection to everything, or abandoning Christianity altogether.”

    I understand what you’re saying here … but to be a “Christian” in any historical sense must include holding to a set of essential doctrines, including the Trinity. You have all the freedom to pick and choose your beliefs, but that does not give you the freedom to identify yourself with historical Christianity. The same goes for Mormons today … they desire to be called “Christians,” yet they deny several key tenets of the faith … therefore, they are something other than “Christian.” I’m not trying to demean you … I’m just saying pick another title because “Christian” is not true of you if you deny the Trinitarian nature of God.

    Peace.

  • 392. pj11  |  July 11, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    TA says: “I did not mean to say that Philippians as a whole was a polemic against Judaizers, but you didn’t even bother to look at it yourself. No letter of Paul’s is ever just against one thing.”

    Granted … the epistles of Paul are multi-faceted. However, after 2,000 years of research and study, there is general historical consensus about overarching themes in all of Paul’s works. You know this to be true. All I’m saying is … a polemic against Judaizers is not mentioned in the conversation about Philippians. I could go back to the earliest church fathers to Calvin to the most recent scholarship and several things stand out in Philippians … most of them focus on the high Christology of chapter 2, but you’re probably not a big fan of Christology!

    TA says: “Do you seriously want me to start listing off names of scholars that would agree with me? Because I will do it.”

    Yes. Give me the scholar and where he/she teaches and the journal citation where he/she cites the Judaizers as an overarching theme in Philippians. I would take your word for it … but since you threatened to provide the answers, go for it!

    TA says: “Yes, most universities were set up as theological schools. Again, another century and yes, things progress. This, however, is like comparing a Model T to a Bugatti.”

    This is flawed thinking, TA. You say theists are arrogant and presumptuous, but by rejecting all the thinkers that have gone before you as a “Model T” to your “Bugatti” … this is the height of arrogance! Are you really that clever? Were they really that stupid? Most importantly, what will your position say about YOU in 50 years? Will you be a stupid Model T in the eyes of the next generation? If so, why should I put any stock in what you say today … it’s already a bunch of outdated crap. According to your own position, you don’t matter.

  • 393. Heather  |  July 11, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Pj11,

    **As you probably know, C.S. Lewis addressed your position and called it “patronizing nonsense” because of the many claims Jesus made to His own divinity. According to Lewis, Jesus hasn’t given you the option of “just a man.” ** That’s a false dictomy, though (and I’m probably spelling that wrong). It discounts the option such as Jesus might’ve not said everything in the Gospel of John.

    Plus, would we consider Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi ‘just a man?’

    **What do you do with the three passages I cited earlier where Jesus is said to be the Father’s agent of creation? How does a human being earn the right to create things in the beginning and then appear in the flesh thousands of years later?** I already answered this. God created through the Word — Ephesians 2:8-10, in the comment about grace, says that people are God’s worksmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. The example I used before: if I say, “Through the machine, the dog was created” does not mean the machine is the creative agent. I am, through creating the machine to perform a specific act.

    Therre is also a distinction between the divinity and saying Jesus is God, or that the Trinity is valid. The Logos being made flesh does not mean that the human personality of Jesus was pre-existent. I am interpreting these, to the best of my knowledge, in terms of Jewish thought. Much of the way Logos functions mimics the concept of Sophia, or Jewish wisdom. There’s a section in proverbs that makes wisdom a creative agent, as well.

    ** I’m just saying pick another title because “Christian” is not true of you if you deny the Trinitarian nature of God.** Except Jesus was very clear as to how to identify his followers: those who loved each other. The sheep/goats parable shows that actions matter much more than beliefs. The Good Samaritain parable shows that as well, as the most Christ-like person was the heretic. Jesus called people to follow him, not worship him.

    And in your comparison, you say that I cannot lay claim to historical Christianity. I’m not trying to. I am taking the New Testament’s Jewish writers, and trying to interpret it through a Jewish lenses. They were absolute that God is one, and that God cannot become a man. And yet the Jewish followers had no problem shedding that belief, yet still struggled with following the Law. That simply doesn’t make sense. If they had no problem believing God was a man, then the Law should’ve been easy to toss aside. There was no concept of God being a Son or the Holy Spirit, and if this was necessary to salvation, there would’ve been hints of it in terms of what was necessary for a Messiah.

  • 394. kramii  |  July 11, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Heather:

    In #385 I wrote:

    The Jews who actually wrote the OT are long gone.

    In #386 you wrote:

    There was a specific set of qualifications that someone had to have in order to be the Messiah. That hasn’t hcanged for them in the past 2,000-3,000 years. These qualifications are precisely why they don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah.

    That is really very interesting. I had not idea. As I said, I am a prosuct of my culture. I know shockingly little about the Jewish perspective on the Bible. I would be very interersted to know what those qualifications actually are, if you have a reference.

    I wrote:

    If, OTOH, it outlines a set of circumstances for (1) and another for (2) then we have no inconsistency. I don’t see a circle here.

    You replied.

    I think what Thinking Ape is referring to here is the circular reasoning that uses, “I know the Bible is inspired by God because one of the book of Timothys says that it is inspired by God.” It is using the Bible to prove that the Bible is valid, rather than applying outside criteria.

    Quite possibly. The threads of these comments are getting quite tangled. To clarify, however, I must say that I largely agree with Simen’s original post. Circular arguments are arguments for nothing.

    My concern here is to defend my position that I am yet to find inconsistencies in the Bible. Not that I have any claim on being a a great Bible scholar or anything. I am probably one of the least qualified here to comment on such things.

    In #371Thinking Ape said:

    personally think Paul was taking up the issue as well – but is it convincingly sound? Does it not appear that Paul is grasping?

    I replied:

    It does not have to be convincing. It has to be possible.

    And you said:

    But couldn’t this criteria apply to any other religion, as well? Because every religion is possible. But I assume you don’t follow the others because you’re not convinced by their claims, even though the claims are possible.

    I am sorry, I really should have been more clear what I was responding to in my last post. Again, I am not defending Christianity nor the Bible’s truth (although I am persuaded by both). Rather, I am defending the aparent consistency of the Bible.

    My argument is that: If it is possible that the Bible itself provides a reason for the apparent inconsistencies, then I think it should be given ‘the benefit of the doubt’, so to speak.

    Interestingly, in a discussion I have had with Simen (in the comments above and those of the FVC that followed), he has argued that the burden of proof is with the positive claim. If I we Simen’s arguments (and if I understand them correctly) then the burden of proof is with those who claim that the Bible is inconsistent.

    Regards.

  • 395. kramii  |  July 11, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Thiniking Ape:

    In #390 you said:

    I must say you offer the most civilized and constructive debate.

    Thank you for saying so. I think that the same can be said of many here, on both sides of the debate.

    Why then would you apply your requirements only to one book?

    I agree that we should apply the same kinds of requirements to any similar book. Actually, I have great respect for Buddhism – at least the little that I have encountered first hand.

    If you want to read into something, you will.

    This is a problem, indeed. How can we be sure that we are not seeing faces in the clouds? Personally, I start believing when the faces start talking to me. By this I mean that, when the evidence stacks up, you find yourself becomming convinced.

    In #385 I wrote:

    It does not have to be convincing. It has to be possible.

    You replied:

    Of course it has to be convincing! Do you put stock in something that is merely possible? Do you trust your life on that!

    No, you don’t trust your life to it. But neither can you reject it. To recap, I am talking of the consistency of the Bible here. If it could be be viewed as consistent, then I think we should give it the benefit of the doubt. Otherwise, how can we be sure that the inconsistencies we think we see are really there at all? What is the litmus test here? Perhaps they are the faces in the clouds?

    You said:

    I love happy endings. See – civilized debate does help us with some conclusions. We are all on a journey and I do believe that honest truth seekers will find what they need in life

    Quite so.

    However, you also said:

    – those who think they have found the truth can sit on their theological pedestals until the cows come home, but they will only turn the honest seekers away and invite the dead-minded sheep into their flock.

    Unfortunately, you see, I rather think that I am on a bit of a pedestal, too. For I am persuaded that I have glimsed the truth. It is partly because of that truth that I keep asking questions, keep challanging myself. It is because I believe in Almighty Truth that I know I could be wrong – have often been wrong – and may still be quite wrong. Even about Him.

  • 396. pj11  |  July 11, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Heather says: “would we consider Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi ‘just a man?’”

    Of course we would … do you have evidence that King or Gandhi was an angel or a “god?” They were men who did some wonderful things, but remained finite and imperfect just like you and me. Ask Mrs. King if MLK was imperfect! lol.

    Heather says: “if I say, “Through the machine, the dog was created” does not mean the machine is the creative agent. I am, through creating the machine to perform a specific act.”

    OK, let’s go with your exegetical position. So this guy gets the privilege of being “the machine” in eternity past to perform the specific act of creating all things within time and space. Then the same guy shows up many thousands (perhaps millions) of years later in the flesh as a Jewish rabbi … a Jewish rabbi who many claim to have fulfilled the description of the long-awaited Messiah. And you don’t think that’s a bit coincidental and beyond the scope of normal human existence? Yea, he’s just an enlightened man who can bounce around from eternity past to the present … and maybe to the future like a comic book hero! lol again.

    Heather says: “Therre is also a distinction between the divinity and saying Jesus is God, or that the Trinity is valid. The Logos being made flesh does not mean that the human personality of Jesus was pre-existent. I am interpreting these, to the best of my knowledge, in terms of Jewish thought.”

    There is no evidence of a pre-existent human personality in the Son. He is God from all eternity and took on an additional nature (human) at the point of incarnation. This is why the text says he “existed in the form of God” but “took the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2). By the way, Paul was Jewish and an OT scholar in the tradition of the Pharisees. He understood Jewish thought better than you, me, or any modern scholar.

    Heather says: “Except Jesus was very clear as to how to identify his followers: those who loved each other.”

    Is that it? I don’t have to believe anything … I just need to love the people around me? So I can believe that I am God … or that the alien mothership is coming to get us tomorrow to take us to Heavenly Mother … or I can reject God completely … but as long as I love other people, I can be a “Christian.” Ummm … both the OT prophets and the NT apostles might have a problem with that!

    Heather says: “They were absolute that God is one, and that God cannot become a man. And yet the Jewish followers had no problem shedding that belief, yet still struggled with following the Law. That simply doesn’t make sense. If they had no problem believing God was a man, then the Law should’ve been easy to toss aside.”

    Remember that in several key places in the OT we see God physically and visibly manifesting himself to people, so it’s not beyond the Jewish mind at all. The fact that God is One does not preclude him from appearing in a particular way in a burning bush, in the Holy of Holies in the Wilderness Tabernacle, in the form of an angel, or in the form of a man. God’s omnipresence and oneness is not diminished by any particular presence in one location.

    Heather says: “There was no concept of God being a Son or the Holy Spirit, and if this was necessary to salvation, there would’ve been hints of it in terms of what was necessary for a Messiah.”

    You’re familiar with Deut. 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is One!” The word translated “one” in Deut. 6:4 is the Hebrew word echad. It expresses the idea of oneness in the sense of a compound unity. Another example is Genesis 1:5 – “and there was evening and there was morning, one (echad) day.” Here we see two distinct parts (evening and morning) that are defined as “one.” Same with Genesis 2:24 – “man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one (echad) flesh.” The two distinct individuals here constitute a unity. This concept of a compound unity is also found in Genesis 1:26 when God says, “Let US go make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness.” Even Hebrew scholars admit this idea of plurality in Genesis … their only answer is that God must be referring to angels. Oy.

  • 397. Heather  |  July 11, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Kramii,

    **I would be very interersted to know what those qualifications actually are, if you have a reference.**

    I have a link, but I’d like to give you a warning about them, first. Their in response to Christian claims about the Messiah and the Jewish religion and such. I’m not posting it in an attempt to convert you to Judaism, but just because it’s the most direct list available and is easy to navigate.

    http://whatjewsbelieve.org/

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/jewsandjesus.htm

    **My argument is that: If it is possible that the Bible itself provides a reason for the apparent inconsistencies, then I think it should be given ‘the benefit of the doubt’, so to speak.**
    I can see what you’re saying. It just seems to be that those of one religion tend to give their book an extra ‘benefit of the doubt,’ whereas if the same material where in another religion, they’d say it would make that religion inconsistent.

    ** If I we Simen’s arguments (and if I understand them correctly) then the burden of proof is with those who claim that the Bible is inconsistent.** It would depend on what one means on ‘consistent.’ If you’re using it in reference to be ‘inerrant,’ then I would say the claim should lie on the one saying the book has no errors. Because that is a out-of-the-ordinary claim, if that makes sense.

  • 398. Heather  |  July 11, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Pj11,

    **Of course we would … do you have evidence that King or Gandhi was an angel or a “god?” They were men who did some wonderful things, but remained finite and imperfect just like you and me.** Saying a man is elevated is not the same as saying he is perfect, or something other than a man. But it means he is beyond what we would define as an ordinary man.

    **So this guy gets the privilege of being “the machine” in eternity past to perform the specific act of creating all things within time and space.** I am not saying that the Logos did the creative acts independently. As in, I am not saying that God gave the Logos the power, and the Logos went to create. I am saying that *God* did the creative acts through the Logos, in the same way that I would do the creative acts through the machine. God used the Logos as a tool. For the machien to walk, I must activate it, or program it to activate at a certain time. It becomes a tool for my service.

    **This is why the text says he “existed in the form of God” but “took the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2). ** I don’t think this can be taken literally. First, God is a Spirit, so what form does this refer to? Does God even have a form/shape/some type of confinement? If we are created in God’s image and likeness, do we not also exist in some way in the form of God? And why not just say that the Logos existed as God?
    This also says that he did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. Except if they are co-equal, why worry about grasping, period? In Trinitarian terms, the Logos already had that equality. And isn’t the whole point of the Eden story that Adam/Eve did grasp at the equality with God? And yet if Christ is the new Adam, then that equality is exactly what he would not be grasping, since he did what Adam couldn’t.

    **By the way, Paul was Jewish and an OT scholar in the tradition of the Pharisees. He understood Jewish thought better than you, me, or any modern scholar.**
    And we’re reading that thought 2,000 years after the fact. And since he was Jewish, logic would dictate that he would be very, very clear on the concept of Jesus as God, given how much he wanted to convert the other Jews. From what I’ve learned, the Jewish concept would be translated that Jesus had access to God’s powers and the Spirit, which then showcased God working throughout the world. As I said earlier, the concept of the Logos seems to function much like the concept of Wisdom/Sophia.

    **Is that it? I don’t have to believe anything … I just need to love the people around me?** Then it reduces salvation to merely believing the correct traditions, and one is saved. First, this puts the power of salvation in the hands of the person. God may do 99% of the work through everything else, but that last 1% is up to you. This also reduces salvation to a matter of works, because you do something to earn salvation: you hold to the correct beliefs.
    And I again point you to my examples in terms of Christian behavior. With the sheep/goats, dogma and doctrine had no part in who Jesus defined as ‘sheep.’ Who is the more Christ-like: the Muslim who loves all her neighbors, or the Christian who believes correctly and yet ignores her neighbor?

    **Remember that in several key places in the OT we see God physically and visibly manifesting himself to people, so it’s not beyond the Jewish mind at all.**

    A manifestation is not the same as God becoming a man. God becoming human was not a part of Jewish thought, nor was the Messiah being part of the Trinity consistent with Jewish though.
    I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not a man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. [Hosea 11:9]
    God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the Son of Man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? [Numbers 23:19]

    **You’re familiar with Deut. 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is One!” The word translated “one” in Deut. 6:4 is the Hebrew word echad. It expresses the idea of oneness in the sense of a compound unity. Another example is Genesis 1:5 – “and there was evening and there was morning, one (echad) day.” Here we see two distinct parts (evening and morning) that are defined as “one.” Same with Genesis 2:24 – “man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one (echad) flesh.”**
    And from this, one can get the Trinity? Nothing about this suggests a three-in-one God. Does it also express the idea of oneness in a compound unit in Deuteronomy 17:6? At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one (echad) witness he shall not be put to death.
    Or: Ecclesiastes 4:8 There is one (echad) alone, without a companion; yes he has neither son …

    **This concept of a compound unity is also found in Genesis 1:26 when God says, “Let US go make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness.” Even Hebrew scholars admit this idea of plurality in Genesis … their only answer is that God must be referring to angels. Oy.** Yes, in the concept of the heavenly court. The angels were existence at the time, given how later in Genesis, immediately after God says that man knows good/evil, the cherebiums guard the gate. It can also indicate a ‘plurals of majesty.’ Have you read the support they use on this claim?

    The problem is with both concepts is that they don’t speak for themselves – the Trinitarian concept is read back into them. If in fact those verses do support a plurality within God, there is nothing that indicates that plurality stops at three.

  • 399. kramii  |  July 11, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Heather:

    In #394 I asked a reference to Jewish qualifications for the Messiah.

    In #397 you were kind enough to provide links.

    Thanks for the warning about these purpose of providing these links being different from the intention of the site.

    I have briefly scanned the documents. I will try to give them more attention later.

    You also said:

    It just seems to be that those of one religion tend to give their book an extra ‘benefit of the doubt,’ whereas if the same material where in another religion, they’d say it would make that religion inconsistent.

    Sad, but true. I am sure I have a tendency to do that, too (not that I have read many ‘holy books’). Hopefully, an awareness of the trap will help us not to fall into it. It was good of you to warn me.

    In #394 I suggested:

    If I we Simen’s arguments (and if I understand them correctly) then the burden of proof is with those who claim that the Bible is inconsistent.

    In #397 you replied:

    It would depend on what one means on ‘consistent.’ If you’re using it in reference to be ‘inerrant,’ then I would say the claim should lie on the one saying the book has no errors. Because that is a out-of-the-ordinary claim, if that makes sense.

    Perhaps I misunderstand the “burden of proof” argument, but I am not so sure.

    Incidentally, it seems foolish to suggest that the Bible is without any errors, given the fact that there are minor variations between the most anchient texts.

    That said, the errors that I am aware of appear to me to be relatively inconsequential. Typos do not seem good enough reason to call the Bible “inconsistent”. (Not that I am saying that anyone here would do so, but because some of the Bible “contradictions” on other sites seem to be nothing more than a copyist’s mistake – not a reason to discredit the whole library).

    Regards.

  • 400. pj11  |  July 11, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Heather says: “I am not saying that the Logos did the creative acts independently. As in, I am not saying that God gave the Logos the power, and the Logos went to create. I am saying that *God* did the creative acts through the Logos, in the same way that I would do the creative acts through the machine.”

    Heather: I need you to focus on the question at hand, because your exegesis is getting all mixed up. Follow my logic, please. For the sake of staying clear-minded, let go of John 1:1 and the logos for a moment … it seems to confuse you. In Col 1 and Hebrews 1 (passages we’ve discussed already), the biblical author is making this point: “The Son” is in some way a part of the process of creation. Although I disagree with you that he was a passive instrument, let’s assume that for the sake of discussion. This means “The Son” existed and was present in the beginning before the creation came into being. Now, thousands (or millions) of years later, “The Son” is present in the flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Whether he created independently or was just a cog in the machine is not the issue. He was present in the beginning and this same being was present again in the flesh thousands (or millions) of years later. That’s pretty unique! Further, Col 1 says “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” So this same person has some ongoing role in maintaining the creation. Passive or not … that’s pretty spectacular! Now, go back to my original question – with all this in mind (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg) … HOW CAN HE BE “JUST A MAN?” Can you name any other man or woman who has a role in creation and maintenance of the universe? Please tell me that got through to you!

    Heather says: “**This is why the text says he “existed in the form of God” but “took the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2). ** I don’t think this can be taken literally.”

    Based on what heremeneutical principle?

    Heather says: “God is a Spirit, so what form does this refer to? Does God even have a form/shape/some type of confinement?”

    Yes, God is spirit, which is a “form” or “presence.” Theologically, he has a “virtual” presence which manifests itself through a power of operation. He has no spatial extension – his presence is repletive. In other words, he fills a place but cannot be contained or defined in any way by that place. This is an indication of his omnipresence and his immensity (unlimited and immeasurable). So, in Phil 2, Paul is saying that The Son existed in the form described above prior to taking on flesh. Still, in taking on human form, the Son did not give up his attributes as God (otherwise he ceases to be God). Rather, he retains his omnipresence, but is locally and particularly present in the body of the man, Jesus of Nazareth.

    Heather says: “If we are created in God’s image and likeness, do we not also exist in some way in the form of God?

    Yes, we reflect certain communicable attributes of God in a very limited sense (we can love, show mercy, etc.) But we are not “God” in any true sense because we cannot manifest his incommunicable attributes (omnipresence, omnipotence, etc.). Plus, as soon as we commit one sin, we are no longer “holy” as he is.

    Heather says: “And why not just say that the Logos existed as God?”

    Hello? See John 1:1 … kai pros ton theon kai theos en ho logos. That’s exactly what John wrote!

    Heather says: “And since he (Paul) was Jewish, logic would dictate that he would be very, very clear on the concept of Jesus as God, given how much he wanted to convert the other Jews.”

    He said it as clearly as one can say it – he referred to him as “our great God and Savior.” What more do you want? He said Jesus “existed in the form of God” before taking in flesh. What more do you want?

    Heather says: “Then it reduces salvation to merely believing the correct traditions, and one is saved. First, this puts the power of salvation in the hands of the person. God may do 99% of the work through everything else, but that last 1% is up to you. This also reduces salvation to a matter of works, because you do something to earn salvation: you hold to the correct beliefs.”

    I didn’t peg you for a Calvinist! In the reformed tradition, even the ability to believe (to trust or place faith) is a gift from God, therefore, God does 100% of the work, not just 99%. But you must admit something … it’s absurd to come to the conclusion that you can believe in ANYTHING and still be considered a Christian.

    Heather says: “And from this, one can get the Trinity? Nothing about this suggests a three-in-one God.”

    Not trying to prove the Trinity here … you asked about “Jewish thought” and I wanted to show you that the idea of a compound unity is a part of the language. Yes, it doesn’t prove a three-in-one … it could be a twelve-in-one, but it lays a foundation for multiple Persons within a Godhead. That mystery would be more fully developed in the NT.

    Heather says: “n the concept of the heavenly court. The angels were existence at the time, given how later in Genesis, immediately after God says that man knows good/evil, the cherebiums guard the gate. It can also indicate a ‘plurals of majesty.’ Have you read the support they use on this claim?”

    Yes, I’ve read the arguments in detail. Problem is, there is ZERO evidence in Scripture that a finite being such as an angel or a man has the power to create ex nihilo … or that God somehow granted them that power. Creation ex nihilo is reserved for the Almighty alone … he will not share his glory with another.

  • 401. I’m not religious, I’m a Christian! « de-conversion  |  July 11, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    [...] it is based on a relationship was used numerous times on the same thread (the now infamous, “Don’t Ask Me To Read Your Holy Book.” Yet as you can see from the three definitions above, is this really an issue? As far as I know, [...]

  • 402. Heather  |  July 12, 2007 at 5:33 am

    Pj11,

    At this point, I’m going to stop the conversation. Otherwise, I feel like I’ll just end up repetaing myself, as seen by below:

    **that’s pretty spectacular! Now, go back to my original question – with all this in mind (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg) … HOW CAN HE BE “JUST A MAN?” Can you name any other man or woman who has a role in creation and maintenance of the universe? Please tell me that got through to you!** I’ve explained here the false dictomy to Lewis’ approach, in lunatic, liar, or lord, the concept of not taking the Gospel of John as historically accurate, and thus more of a reaction to what Jesus demonstrated (the last part I didn’t state outright, it would’ve had to be an inferrence). I also explained the concept of how the Logos works in terms of God’s presence in the world, and Jesus having a unique access to that.

    **But we are not “God” in any true sense because we cannot manifest his incommunicable attributes (omnipresence, omnipotence, etc.).** Even here — I did not say we are God, I said that we could exist in the form of God, given that we are in his image and likeness.

    **Hello? See John 1:1 … kai pros ton theon kai theos en ho logos. That’s exactly what John wrote!** I’ve explained my approach to this statement.

    **He said it as clearly as one can say it – he referred to him as “our great God and Savior.” What more do you want? He said Jesus “existed in the form of God” before taking in flesh. What more do you want?** I’ve already shown my approach to this statements, as well the question why it was not clearly stated in a plain approach, “Jesus is God.”

    **Scripture that a finite being such as an angel or a man has the power to create ex nihilo …** Here, I’ve earlier said that the ‘ex nihilo’ concept is debateble.

    Essentially, we are not approaching this in the same perspective. But I feel that you are trying to interpret me through your perspective, rather than trying to set your perspective aside, and see mine (based on what I’ve just said I’ve already explained). I don’t think you’re trying to see where I’m coming from or why I reached the conclusions I did, but trying to show me why I’m wrong. This question is not meant to be an attack, but when you read an opposing viewpoint, do you read it out of curiousity to see what they say, or read it sure that you hold the truth and must find the falsehoods? If it’s the latter, then it’s going to be really hard to relate to the opposing view, if you don’t try and follow their line of thought. Perhaps I am doing the same, but I feel I am approaching this in the sense of showing you *why* some find the Trinity invalid, not trying to make you personally see the Trinity as invalid.

  • 403. pj11  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Heather: Thanks for the dialogue … I agree it’s a good time to part ways. I’m sorry I couldn’t make my points more cogent and understandable … it seems we just can’t connect!

    I wish you the best in your search for truth.

    pj11

  • 404. HeIsSailing  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:59 am

    pj11 sez:
    “I’m sorry I couldn’t make my points more cogent and understandable”

    pj11,
    I have been following the dialog but not participating. I think your points were plenty understandable and congent, and I even agreed with several of them. But I think Heather is right in that we are approaching the subject from different perspectives.

    The main thing that I can see is that you interpret the Bible as a monolithic whole – that is a verse in a Pauline letter can expand on a point made somewhere in Matthew, or that a troublesome passage in Genesis can be clarified by an obsure reference in 2Peter. I think many of us here think this is a valid heremeneutical approach in some instances, but on the whole view the Bible as being by separate authors, with separate opinions and agendas.

    I don’t want to discuss this topic here – I think > 400 comments is enough! But I mention this just as the main difference that I see between our two perspectives based on your discussion with Heather. I hope you stick around our humble site – I enjoy reading your POV.

  • 405. pj11  |  July 12, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks, HlS … I appreciate the sentiment and your perspective on our disconnect regarding Scripture. I will stick around. It’s easy for Christians (particularly pastors) to get stuck in a purely Christian world and forget that there are other worldviews out there. Your site helps keep me sharp in this area.

    Thanks, again.

    pj11

  • [...] Não me peça pra ler seu livro sagrado Por Simen [...]

  • 407. Scott  |  August 6, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    The author assumes that religion must be justified through some, albeit non-circular, reason. He also assumes that an assumption based simply on faith is circular which it isn’t. Believing that reason is the only valid form of knowledge and then using reason to justify that belief would be an example of circular reasoning.

  • 408. Thinking Ape  |  August 6, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Reason isn’t a form of knowledge, it is a mode to make judgments.

  • 409. rockeast  |  August 9, 2007 at 10:57 am

    There r more than 800 prophecies were prophesied by all that were given inspiration by GOD.What other book has been written 2,000 yrs ago can claim 100% of prophecies that were 2 b fulfilled 2 date have been ?There R NONE ! Scientist’s evaluated the odds of all 8 prophecies about JESUS CHRIST that were fulfilled by witness confirmation (some 1,000 years b4 His birth) could b fulfilled by just 1 person was 10 2 the 17th pwr.(thats 1 & 17 0’s 100,000,000,000,000,000)
    now u can deny CHRIST & the truth of GOD’S word but 2 me any intelligent & logical minded person can C that JESUS CHRIST is as He says The Truth the Way and the Life,Without HIM No one goes to the Father! Now some r truly being deceived & blinded by the prince of this world/satan the master liar & deceiver.For as it says n Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,against the rulers of the darkness of this world
    And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:! Please read the TRUTH of GOD’S word for it is His desire that not 1 of us should perish with eternal death but,find the peace,joy,love & eternal life found through CHRIST JESUS My Lord & Savior & He wants 2 b yours 2,I pray with all my heart that all will find Him NOW! You can never find a friend like JESUS when u come 2 know & Love Him intimately.
    against spiritual wickedness in high places.;13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.;14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked

  • 410. rockeast  |  August 9, 2007 at 11:09 am

    THE PROBLEM WITH ALL YOU UNBILEIVERS IS THAT GOD LOCKED U ALL UP IN YOUR OWN SO CALLED MERE COMMENSENSE OR LOGIC OR INTELLIGENCE WHICH U HOLD IN UR HEART OF HEART BECUASE UR SINS ARE NOT 4GIVEN UNLESS U ACCPT CHRIST.MOREVER THE FACT THAT U LIVE IN SUCH A TIME OF STRONG DELUSIONS GOD SENTS FROM EVERY SIDE SO THAT THE WICKED MAY STUMBLE HAS MADE U ALL SCOFFERS OF JESUS CHRIST WHO HIMSELF IS THE WORD OF GOD AND IS GOING 2 COME BACK WITH GREAT POWER AND GLORY!ALL UNBELIEVERS ARE DOOMED 2 HELL!!!(WW3 WILL COME WHICH WILL DESTROY UR ATHEISTIC SOCIALIST CULTURE AND CHURCH OF GOD SHALL COVER THE WHOLE OF EARTH….BUT EVEN THEN MANY WILL CHOOSE NOT 2 BELIEVE BCOZ THEY WILL FIND IT LESS INTELLIGENT,WHEN ACTUALLY THEY THEMSELVES ARE LESS INTELLIGENT COMPARED WITH THE BELIEVER!HOPE GOD WILL OPEN THE EYES OF ALL WHO READ THIS!

  • [...] 19, 2007 When I wrote about demanding that one read some holy book, such as the Bible, I got a good deal of criticism for [...]

  • 412. Jalf  |  December 24, 2007 at 12:32 am

    This isn’t an attack on the Heather previously debating. In general terms, she said Jesus could be akin to a machine that God turned to create the universe. I’d have a problem with that considering I’d be swearing my life to an unthinking robot. I would think that the arguement that Jesus was just an instrument of God to save us would be out of character with the core belief of Christianity. It would come down to what makes a suitable sacrifice to God that exists in our reality. An instrument or tool would be a poor sacrifice to forgive the maginitude that existed, exists now, and for the magnitude yet to come.

  • 414. Happy 1st Anniversary to d-C « de-conversion  |  March 2, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    [...] Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book [...]

  • 416. Kristal  |  October 18, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    You dont have to be a believer to see that the Bible is the only book with predicted prophecies, scientific proof. One example amongst many: Job 26:7 “He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.” The Bible was the only book that said that the world was suspended over nothing. which is the case. The book of Job was written 2000 yrs ago at a time where Hindus were saying that the earth was on an elephant on top of a turtoise, while Greeks said that the earth was being pulled by a man named Atlas. The Bible is right, everything else- wrong.

    you dont need to experience a personal connection with God to see that His word is true and divinely inspired. Science proves it is. Archeology proves that it is. HIstorians prove that it is. Christians are not building their faith upon feelings. Christianity has a firm foundation rooted in facts. I have more if anyone needs them. Futhermore, God bless you all.

  • 417. Quester  |  October 18, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Oh. bravo, Kristal! The book of Job is the first place I go for my scientific knowledge, too! Let’s look at this book, shall we? God kills an innocent man’s family (including ten children), his “large number” of servants and livestock (including seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys) to prove a point to Satan. After everything is destroyed, this cruelly punished man says that the northern skies are spread out over empty space, the horizon is marked out on the waters as a boundary between light and darkness, and the pillars of heaven quake at God’s rebuke. In the midst of all this poetic nonsense that doesn’t seem to mean anything, the man mentions that the world is suspended over nothing. A scientific fact! The earth is, indeed, well, I suppose it isn’t “suspended”. Nor is “nothing” really a correct term, and I’m not sure what “over” applies to in these circumstances. But there’s none of those scientifically inaccurate tortoises in Job! Unicorns, sure (Job 39:9 KJV), but Christian archaeologists are going to dig up a unicorn skeleton any day now!

    Therefore, science proves that the Bible is divinely inspired! Christianity has a firm foundation rooted in facts! The cheque is in the mail! One size fits all! Your table will be ready in just a minute! This will hurt me more than it hurts you! I’ll start my diet tomorrow! I’ll respect you in the morning!

    Good, grieving gravy. Job?

  • 418. Ubi Dubium  |  October 19, 2009 at 6:56 am

    But wait, there’s more! The Bible also says that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is equal to three and that locusts have four legs! That’s sure where I’m going to get my science answers from. And Ezekial said that Tyre will be utterly destroyed and never rebuilt. Let’s ask the residents of Tyre about the accuracy of that. It’s definitly still there. So much for history. Archaeology? How about the compete absence of any findings in Egypt or the Sinai of the presence of large numbers of Hebrews at any time?

    Kristal, have you ever heard the phrase “cherry picking”? That’s what you are doing. You are pulling out a few small passages of your book, and claiming that because those passages are true (sort of) that your whole book is perfect and divinely inspired. You are ignoring the whole rest of the book.

    Well I can pull out the Iliad. Mycaenae and Sparta and Troy all actually existed. That’s historically true! They had kings, that’s true too! So the whole book must be divinely inspired, and Athena really exists! No? Your argument is not any more convincing to us than that.

  • 419. HeIsSailing  |  October 19, 2009 at 9:58 am

    ubi dubium rants:

    and claiming that because those passages are true (sort of) that your

    not even sort of. If Job would have said that Earth is suspended in the fabric of space-time (which is not ‘nothing’ anymore than turtles and elephants are), I would have been more impressed.

    But ubi dubium is correct Kristal. What you are doing is classic cherry picking. I am certain that you read Job 26:7 from some apologetic site, because it is a favorite of folks like CARM, Answers in Genesis, etc.. But I am also certain that you, Kristal, have not read anything else in Job 26 – because if you had, you would not be so quick to claim the Bible is scientifically accurate.

    Job is speaking of the greatness of God –

    Job 26:5-6

    5″The departed spirits tremble
    Under the waters and their inhabitants.
    6″Naked is Sheol before Him,
    And Abaddon has no covering.

    This speaks of the primaeval giants who are trapped in their underwater prison by God. This is an ancient mytheme that is found in nearly all ancient religions – the God who kills or imprisons the chaos monsters and creates the world from their carcass. More of this ‘scientifically accurate’ theme is covered in verses 12 and 13

    12″He quieted the sea with His power,
    And by His understanding He shattered Rahab.
    13″By His breath the heavens are cleared;
    His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.

    Job is loaded to the brim with this mytheme. I wrote more about that here:

    http://de-conversion.com/2007/09/18/yhvh-conqueror-of-the-chaos-monsters/

    Let’s read some more from this ‘scientifically accurate’ chapter

    8″He wraps up the waters in His clouds,
    And the cloud does not burst under them.

    This confuses me. Is this saying that it never rains or that clouds never disperse? I’m not sure – I looked on Ken Ham’s site for help, but he does not include this verse. Drat.

    9″He obscures the face of the full moon
    And spreads His cloud over it.

    This speaks of veiling the face of the moon with the clouds. Beautiful poetic imagery, but is it ‘scientifically accurate’? Well, no – it pictures the clouds and the moon traversing on the same dome of the heavens. Before you object, just move on to the next two verses:

    10″He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters
    At the boundary of light and darkness.
    11″The pillars of heaven tremble
    And are amazed at His rebuke.

    You will never find these verses on CARM, Answers in Genesis, etc. Can you guess why? The circle refers to the circumference of the flat earth, which is in all ancient cosmologies. This also forms the boundary of the dome of heaven which is supported by pillars. ‘Heaven’ to the ancients, is the sky, and is divided into layers, upon which the clouds, sun, moon and stars traverse. Earth may hang on nothing, but the sky needs pillars to support it.

    How does the Fundamentalist answer this? I already know – because I was once one. I would have said:

    “This portion of Scripture records the words of Job, a human who was expressing his own limited and inaccurate understanding of the world”.

    I already know that tactic. But Job also said that the world suspends on ‘nothing’, and you are willing to use that to support the claims you make about the Bible. Again, classic cherry picking.

    Kristal, educate yourself. There are reasons why we do not accept the Bible as in any way authoritative.

  • 420. LeoPardus  |  October 19, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Nice responses guys. Too bad Kristal was just another drive by..

  • 421. Cindy Mulvey  |  December 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Why do we need a Bible, I guess Christian, do not trust GOD to speak , indirectly.

    Man is what he believes.’
    — Anton Chekhov
    ‘I think, therefore I am.’
    — René Déscartes

    Perception is everything. Everything is relative. Reality is what we make it.

    Liberty is not Freedom, Liberty is given by man.
    Freedom is given by GOD.

    AMEN
    GOD IS not a process to read…………..

    My mind is my Church Let go let GOD show you, nothing to Figure, Read or research GOD is………

    AMEN GOD IS

    All deist means is a GOD Believer

  • Good article. I will be facing many of these issues as well..

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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