Suspend your belief a while…

November 30, 2007 at 6:57 pm 106 comments

…what have you got to lose?

Jesus on the crossTake a walk with me for a moment – I’m not asking you to change your views, just to let your mind wander into hypotheses for a while. The Roman occupation was a difficult time and Jews were very open-minded about messiahs and were actively looking and praying for him. There were a number of messiah claims and rumors of messiahs at that time.

Jesus had, of course, come as a Jewish messiah. He was Jewish, and he was the man prophesied in Isaiah (or so you claim). He was there as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies – he had come to redeem the children of Israel, god’s chosen people. Yet the overwhelming majority of good, god-fearing, open-minded, ‘messiah wanting’ Jews decided, based on the evidence, that Jesus wasn’t the one. So much so that Paul and the other apostles decided that god was telling them to go preach to the gentiles. A cynical man would say that they came to that conclusion because the Jews were having none of the ‘messiah’ talk – so therefore god was ‘guiding them’ to try somewhere else (in the same way god guided me not to go out with Kate Moss).

How did the Jews come to this conclusion? They used the tools given to them by god (you’d say), their rationale and their reasoning. For them there was not enough evidence, even in the days, months and years after the event so intelligent, god-fearing, praying Jews came to the conclusion that Jesus was not the messiah. He was just another one of the ‘maybe he could be’. What would be the point of Jesus not leaving convincing evidence that he was truly the messiah?

Now think about what you’re asking of someone today in the early 2000’s. You’re asking us to examine the same evidence which did not convince the people who WANTED to be convinced, who waved him in to Jerusalem with palm leaves, and you’re asking us to examine this evidence through the distortions of time, translation and probable well intentioned re-remembering to fit the mission.

Now continue on this walk with me, and really ask yourself what it was which first made you move from a position of never hearing the name Jesus to deciding that the evidence was good enough to come to an earth shattering conclusion that he was the son of god. Think about the times in your life since when you’ve felt that god was speaking to you, guiding you, when you’ve felt “god’s hand” on a situation. Ask yourself whether there is an iota of a chance that in actual fact there is no father-figure god watching over you – or if there is – there isn’t enough evidence for it. Believing things on insufficant evidence is what leads to David Koresh, Scientology, Reiki, Astrology and the rest.

I submit that you must at least acknowledge that even if the resurrection did actually happen, it’s REASONABLE to come to the conclusion that it did not, and consider the implications of that. The implications for you will be too much for you to accept – but I humbly submit that as a thinking man you must give the notion some room, and that the notion can never be given room while you continue with the faith affirming rituals of the church and the logic-loop of praying to the god you only know through Jesus for wisdom to understand if/why Jesus is his son.

- Question Monkey

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Total Depravity of Humanity – The Outer Darkness Respect, Religion, and the Teddy Bear

106 Comments Add your own

  • 1. the chaplain  |  November 30, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Good post. Christians ignore, as much as possible, the reasons why the vast majority of Jews rejected the idea that Jesus was their Messiah. Your point that they were in the best position, a far better one than we are 20 centuries later, to judge the evidence is a strong one.

  • 2. Quester  |  November 30, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    True, but many Christians are able to dismiss these concerns quite easily. The Jews were looking for someone who would give them political, military and financial power once again, and free them from under Roman rule. Jesus did not provide what they were looking for, so they did not accept what they got as what God promised them.

  • 3. the chaplain  |  November 30, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Quester,
    What gave the early Christians to right to re-cast the Messiah’s role?

  • 4. Thinking Ape  |  December 1, 2007 at 1:20 am

    The Jews were looking for someone who would give them political, military and financial power once again, and free them from under Roman rule.

    And yet this is exactly what was promised by the prophets. The spiritualized kingdom of god was a superb invention by the early christians at the most crucial time in Jewish history.

  • 5. Quester  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:34 am

    I didn’t say it was a good reason; I said it was an easy one.

  • 6. Scavenger  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:45 am

    Go ahead and preach to the Muslim hordes why they should give up thier beliefs.
    Or are you scared of a Teddy bear called Mohammed?

  • 7. Limmy Larsen  |  December 1, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    I;m sorry, but this blog is midly ridiculous. Are you a Jew? Are you a Christian? Yeah, you’re not, mate. So, if they want to have those types of beliefs, let them! It’s a free country, hence the Revolutionary War.
    Are there beliefs bothering you? No. So should you dis other religions, based on this entry you know NOTHING about? Uh, no. This blog is offensive. Don’t you have better things to do or what?

  • 8. JJ  |  December 1, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    I agree with you Limmy.

  • 9. MajorMalfunction  |  December 1, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Nice post. Too bad all religious people are deluded. Pointing out rational reasons their belief system is sorta nutso is like trying to tell the shopping cart guy that he is not really hearing the voice of Batman from the sewer grate at Broadway and 23rd Streets at midnight.

    Good luck with that. Seriously, that was not sarcastic. I mean it — good luck. Those religious folks deliberately block out their reason. It’s the only way to accept this invisible friend stuff.

  • 10. qmonkey  |  December 1, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Limmy, why does it mater what religion i am… im just asking questions… and inquiring as to why i should or shouldnt belive the resurection… given that the Jews didnt seem too keen on it… and they were the ones most likely to be open to the evidence.

    Offensive… really? I’m not ‘dissalowing’ people from having beliefs – i know its a free country (what country by the way?) – but thought and discussion are important.

    You asume i know nothing… big assumption.

  • 11. Simen  |  December 1, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Limmy, I find it amusing that you write:

    Are you a Jew? Are you a Christian? Yeah, you’re not, mate. So, if they want to have those types of beliefs, let them! It’s a free country, hence the Revolutionary War.

    As if you mean that we should really let everyone have their beliefs to themselves, and we shouldn’t try to persuade them otherwise. But then you write:

    This blog is offensive. Don’t you have better things to do or what?

    Which is clearly the opposite of all you said above: taking offense at others’ harmless beliefs, trying to persuade them otherwise, and so on.

    I’m tempted to ask the same of you: don’t you have better things to do? If this is indeed a free country (why do you bring that up anyway? We’re on the internet, there are no borders, and how do you know the people you’re addressing are even in the same country as you?) then you are free to leave this website and never return. Problem solved, or what?

  • 12. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    JJ says:

    I agree with you Limmy.

    Of course you agree. You wrote from the same computer as Limmy. It is truly sad when the only person you can find who agrees with you is yourself.

  • 13. HeartQuest  |  December 1, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Using reason to deny something that has so much factual evidence, to me, is unreasonable. Take the resurrection; blind faith in an imaginary claim or could it have really happened? Non-Christian historic sources like Josephus and Tacitus write about this man Jesus, describing somewhat accurately the Jesus we read about in the Bible.

    Needless to say, we are a divided nation: red state/blue state; evolutionists/creationists; global warming/climatic cycle; OBL started the war on terror/Bush started it… Most people choose to believe what they do based on the facts as they are interpreted through their limited understanding. Where I might see evidence of God as Creator, someone else sees dust particles that ignited a Big Bang.

    All religions cannot be true (however politically incorrect that may be) because their views of God are totally opposed to one another, but it is true that all religions could be wrong. Where reason confirms to you that there is no deity, reason is what brought me to faith in Jesus and that His claims were true.

    Lee Strobel has a law degree and was an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune when he set out to prove that Christianity was false. In his investigation he was confronted with evidence that could not be denied. He admits to being an atheist until he was confronted with these facts. Check out this three minute video “Why would someone die for a lie, the disciples speak from the grave.”

    http://www.leestrobel.com/videoserver/video.php?clip=strobelT1065

    Just copy the link all on one line in your browser, no spaces.

  • 14. The de-Convert  |  December 1, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    HQ,

    Have you ever researched the supposed references of Jesus by Josephus?

    Here’s a good place to start:

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

    Paul

  • 15. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    HeartQuest says:

    Non-Christian historic sources like Josephus …etc

    You know, even as a Chrisitan I knew that Josephus reference was bogus. But even if it wasn’t, it does nothing more than imply that Josephus thought Jesus was the Christ.

    HeartQuest, nobody is doubting that Christians existed back then. So when you say there is “so much factual evidence”, just what are you referring to? Evidence for what?

  • 16. karen  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Lee Strobel has a law degree and was an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune when he set out to prove that Christianity was false.

    Lee Strobel’s Case For Christ has been thoroughly analyzed and pulled to shreds by skeptics, HeartQuest, and it is not very well-respected (to say the least). Here’s a critique you should read before you recommend that book to nonbelievers, because it’s not going to get you very far:

    http://www.bidstrup.com/apologetics.htm

    Oh, and a couple other Christian standards that aren’t received well, and have been critiqued thoroughly and found lacking (just so you know for future): C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell.

  • 17. qmonkey  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Josh and Ruby Goldsteen who were at the sermon on the mount (say), a lovely couple of people, do a lot of work for charty and love yaweh… they decided that there wasnt enough evidence for the resuection (along with the vast majority of their nice friends)… and they were in a better position than me to judge.. that’s all this post is really saying.

    If any one tried to ‘prove’ theres no god well, he’s a fool, you cant prove a negative… thats (something) 101! All im saying is, if reasonable intellegent good people at the time didnt belive it… its a bad sign… because the evidence certinly hasnt got BETTER over the years. (maybe the messiah will still come… im open minded)

  • 18. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    HeartQuest asks us:

    Just copy the link all on one line in your browser, no spaces….

    I just took 3 minutes out of my busy laundry schedule to watch this short video. Wow.. uh.. it was pretty bad. He made two statements that were just patently false.

    Mr Strobel claims that he looked all through history for somebody that was willing to die for a lie and found nobody. This, he says, is what makes the disciples of Jesus so different – they actually knew the truth and were willing to die for it.

    First, this is circular reasoning. Strobel is claiming that Jesus is the truth because the apostles were willing to die for him because he was the truth. You can’t argue that way.

    Second, it blatently ignores many cases where people were convinced they saw a man who claimed to be a Messiah figure, and willingly killed themselves for it. Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple in Guyana is my favorite example. I remember in 1977, over 900 followers poisoned themselves because they believed Jim Jones was the Truth.

    Cmon Strobel, you have to do better than that.

    The second real problem he makes is the assumption that the authors of the Gospels, or at the very least, Jesus’ apostles were actually martyred, and died these “horrific deaths” we always hear about. What is the evidence for this outside of apocryphal works that no Christian takes seriously otherwise? There is none. Everything we know about the apostles his hidden in the shroud of legend. We know nothing about how they lived, where they lived, or how they died. A great article which details the legendary deaths of each apostle with appropriate citations can be found here:

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/06/how-did-the-apostles-die.html

    Mr Strobel, we are smarter than this. The internet now allows instant verification of your claims, so you are going to have to do better. These apologetics were around in the 1970’s, I fell for them then, but they just ain’t gonna fly any more.

    Now back to my laundry…

  • 19. Quester  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    I am, still, a Christian, though it seems I am deconverting. I don’t want to, but I am. This blog is useful for people like me to hear from others who survived this intense and painful process.

    I am not, however, an American, and any arguments meant to sway me using my American patriotism are not going to work. I don’t have any.

  • 20. qmonkey  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    quester… i’m not an american either… im Irish, living in England.

    I’m not sure anyone here has actualy tried to use patriotism.

    I understand your painful process… id be very interested to know what is swaying you either way. Where you a christian as a child? or an adult convert?

  • 21. HeartQuest  |  December 1, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    My point is indeed confirmed that we are a divided nation (or world, for our friends in the UK), and we choose to believe or not believe based on the interpretation of evidence we discover.

    You have to admit that people can find anything on the Internet to support anybody’s claims. When we research the writings of early church fathers and early church history, we read about various books that were deemed fraudulent. Writers about 200 years past the events wrote about Jesus and His teaching in order to reinterpret the biblical gospel to support their own views of Gnosticism. The church fathers read these books and rejected them as divinely inspired texts of Scripture. It does not mean that every fact in these books must be inaccurate, but rather a lot of the writing contradicts information in known and accepted inspired texts. On a totally different subject, it is only in modern westernized civilization that we say, “wait a minute, the newly discovered books are really the accurate ones.”

    Putting aside any feelings that I interpret regarding Lee Strobel, granted, Strobel makes a blanket statement when he states he could not find one person in history who would die for a lie, because he does not have absolute knowledge. He stated twice, asking listeners if they got the difference between the Muslim extremist and the eyewitnesses of the resurrection. In his argument, I suppose that if someone were to put my head on the chopping block, and I new that I stole the body of Jesus (and the resurrection was indeed false) I’d fess up to save my life. That’s his point. This makes sense unless I am a delusional madman, AKA, Jim Jones. To view all the disciples as delusional madmen dying for a known lie seems unlikely. Your point seems to be that we have no authoritative record as to how the apostles died, except legend and church tradition. Who is to say the apostles did not die as described in the ancient books (the point is that these documents are simply not Scripture inspired by God)? We can glean information from all sorts of writings. Just because the Bible is silent on these matters does not mean the types of deaths recorded in tradition did not in fact take place.

    New Testament records some 512 people that claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus, so we can either believe in a mass hysterical delusion or that there must be some credibility to the resurrection claim. Or perhaps we can claim that the Bible is just flat wrong. This source (the Bible) is be based on eyewitness accounts, and written within a generation of the actual events. There would be people still alive to refute the claim if it were not so. Or maybe the early church covered up the truth in order to hold on to power (and Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code manuscript is true).

    In reading the commentary of The Case for Christ, if someone is predisposed to the position that Christianity is a lie, their objective opinion at the end is already biased against it from the beginning. He’s looking for a way to refute it… thus we choose to believe what we believe based upon our interpretation of the evidence as we see it.

  • 22. Quester  |  December 1, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Just Limmy, qmonkey, and not to sway me, personally, I admit.

    I was Christian as a child, my reading of the Bible is what’s swaying me away from Christianity, while spiritual experiences I can not seem to reason away are making me try to cling to, or search for, God, whoever or whatever God actually is.

    I’ve been trying to write a testimony to share, but it’s already 9,000 words in length, and I still have the last seven years to write about. It’s hard for me to put in just a few words.

  • 23. qmonkey  |  December 1, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    512 people saw jesus after he’d died? come on! why didnt he walk down to Jeruslem and say hi to Pilot or Herod, if he really wanted to give us evidence? Or why didnt he hang around for a year or two visiting people? as the title of the post says… try suspending your belief for a while… and thinking about it – it just doesnt add up.

    Joshua and Lydia Hersal and their family along with hundreds of thousands of other families at the time of Jesus were continually praying for the messiah. Christianity likes to paint Jews at the time as blood spewing bitter idiots who just didn’t get it, hypocrites who where blinded to the truth and put Jesus to death. There’s no evidence for this (outside of the N testament of course). These were reasonable people, hard working fathers and loving mothers… they assessed each Messiah claim on its merits – they used the tools of reason and rationale, tools which (they believed) god gave them… they analysed the evidence for Jesus and found it wanting.

    I think its hard to justify saying that it wasn’t reasonable for these people to come to that conclusion. If its reasonable for them to disbelieve the resurrection, then it’s even more reasonable for us. You’ll agree with me, i think that we don’t belive things just becuase we can’t prove they didn’t happen, we need evidence to positively belive it did. In which case, can we honestly say that there is enough evidence that the miracles and resurrection in the bible actually happened? If we start believing things with out sufficient evidence we get astrology, reiki, Scientology etc etc

  • 24. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    HeartQuest, I know I replied to you on your own site (in between my laundry and ironing, that is), but I will ask this of you here:

    New Testament records some 512 people that claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus, so we can either believe in a mass hysterical delusion or that there must be some credibility to the resurrection claim.

    The New Testament records 512 people – I assume the bulk of that is the 500 people referenced in 1 Corinthians 15. Can you name them? Could the ancient reader have tracked them down for further inquiry? Where did they live? When did they see the risen Jesus? Were they men? Women? Children? Is there any way possible for the ancient reader to follow up on this witness?

    If I testified to a judge and jury that 500 people witnessed the defendent rob the bank, and yet I could not answer the above questions, the case would be thrown out of court. Yet, 2000 years later, this same lame argument of 500 witnesses continues to be used! This testimony is absolutely worthless – it could say 500,000 people saw the risen Christ and it would not make a lick of difference. There is no way to check any of these ‘witnesses’!

    HeartQuest, you have to tell us why you find this testimony to be convincing when a similar argument posed to a modern judge and jury would be thrown out as worthless testimony.

  • 25. Quester  |  December 1, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Through my life as a Christian, I’ve seen the need to be willing to extend the benefit of the doubt about fairies, bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, magic, divination, reiki healing and the like. The proponents of these beliefs had as much evidence as I did, so I never called their beliefs false, just potentially dangerous.

    It wasn’t until recently that I realized that the beliefs I’ve held are also potentially dangerous, if for completely different reasons.

  • 26. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Quester:

    I’ve been trying to write a testimony to share, but it’s already 9,000 words in length, and I still have the last seven years to write about. It’s hard for me to put in just a few words.

    Good Grief!! Start your own blogsite, then publish your testimony there – small chunks at a time. I bet we would find it great reading.

  • 27. Quester  |  December 1, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    HIS, I may just do that, after Christmas when I’ve got some days off. A large number of those 9,000 words are from previous testimonies I’ve given as a Christian about my life with Christ that I’m now trying to put in chronological order and get rid of any repetition within.

  • 28. onlymoments  |  December 1, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    It’s not about what one swears is true. It is about history. When you skip 300 years and go directly to the “The Christ” as a diety you do a great disservice to a man who tried to reform Judiasm and bring a greater good to his religion at that time. The Pagan roots of Christianity go back as far as Horus in 5000 BC and Mithras in 1200 BC. Christmas is the celebration of “The Christ’s” birthday in 312 AD set from the old pagan birthdate of the Sun God Helios. The Emperor Constantine’s worship of ancient paganism was absorbed into Christianity (including the halo around Helios’ head) to provide this gullible King with the promise from the Pope of becoming a deity at the right hand of God after death, at the Council of Nicea. The East and West then merged to one empire for a short time.
    The Church never anticipated the arrival of the printing press and it’s effect on the educational standards of the general populace that rose above the common itinerant of the dark ages and found reason and logic from which to begin their own understanding of the history and how severely incomplete the codex called the Bible was pasted together by those bishops in 312 AD.
    I am grateful that the founding fathers-the majority of whom were pantheists, deists, and other sects that are exclusive of organized religion, saw fit to allow all forms of belief in this country as well freedom from religion as well. Now if we can just get these misguided fanatics to understand that God printed on money is not Jesus, but the spirit of what man’s best belief is the eternal, the sooner these supposed innocuous sounding emails about the placement of the word God in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the currency is not a license to proclaim that proves their God exists and be willing to make others suffer, kill for or die for the concept of a belief system.

  • 29. Sharer  |  December 1, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Big questions! World view/meaning of life stuff.

    Did Jesus exist? Absolutely! Even the Jews and Moslems attest to that.
    Was He resurrected from the dead? The evidence seems to point to that. If the Roman legions had allowed Him to escaped from His tomb, or for His disciples to steal His body, Pilate would have had them tarred and feathered. The testified to seeing the angels and collapsing in fear.

    The Jews?
    The Jewish people did accept Jesus as the Christ. It was their political leaders, in the dark of night, who rejected Him. They were into Political Correctness, and we know where that can lead. When you say the Jews didn’t believe He was the Christ, you neglected to notice that ALL the early Christians were Jews—The Apostles, the disciples, the 120 in the upper room, the 5000 at Pentecost. When the disciples began spreading abroad, they first went to the Jewish communities and give testimony in the synagogues.

    Many of the Jews were waiting for a suffering Messiah. Others, especially Sanhedrin, were expecting a conquering King. Isaiah 53 describes exactly what they should have been expecting. Also read Isaiah 9:6+. Then there is Psalms 2 and 69, Hosea 6.6. Then, the topper for the Jews is Jeremiah 30. What a prophecy that is. Point is that the Jews were expecting the Messiah and many of them found Him. Those who rejected Him are the subject of Jeremiah 30.

    Then, of course, there are the Magi, who come to find the prophesized King of the Jews, and proclaimed and honored Jesus as such. Interestingly, if you do enough research into the Magi, we go back to the prophet Daniel who was make chief of the priests by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Obviously, the Magi knew when to look and who to look for. Then, on top of that, interestingly, Pilate had written on a plaque, in three languages, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

    I’m not quite what the point is you are trying attempting to make. If the point is that there is no God (which it is obvious there is), then the discussions about Jesus (or Buddha, or Mohammed) is pointless. There are no atheists. There are believers, questers, and God haters. The fact that we are having this discourse proves that God exists. We are born believing and some of us spend the rest of our lives trying to convince ourselves that He doesn’t exist. He is built into our psyche from birth. He is the bread of life. Everything, EVERYTHING, produces after its own kind. Rocks create rock. Life creates life. Life is in God and He gives it to whomever He wishes. A rock has never evolved into living being.

    The truly odd thing about those who profess to be atheists is that they just can’t let God go. If there truly didn’t exist a God, then we really wouldn’t really care. But if God does exist, then we need to justify our rebellion by opposing Him and demanding His demise.

    Before you go too far into your de-conversion, past the point of no return, consider asking this God, this Jesus, honestly from your heart, that if He truly exists, to show Himself to you, and for Him to do it today. Let Him know that if He really exists, and shows Himself to you, that you will be willing, for the rest of your life, to do whatever you can to learn about Him and to bring glory to His name. What can this hurt? If He “isn’t,” then He can reveal Himself and you have won your case.

  • 30. Jason  |  December 1, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    I commented on this blog before…I find rather interesting. And I appreciate the questions you, QuestionMonkey, are asking…they’re good questions that should be addressed.

    I can understand well why one may find the Biblical account of the resurrection to be “reasonably” false. I haven’t found anything on your blog that lays out the criteria for a “reasonable argument” for any of the questions. That leaves me, and probably others a bit lost/confused regarding what a “reasonable” response would look like. So I feel as though I’m shooting in the wind a little bit.

    But think about this…

    Stroble’s argument that someone won’t die for a lie is only partly complete. There is no denying that people – lots of people – have died for lies, false religions, cults, …whatever. But each of the groups listed in these responses (i.e. Jones Town, Branch Davidians, etc.) basically fell apart and ceased to exist shortly after their defining moments. In the case of Christianity, people were killed – martyred – almost immediately following Christ’s resurrection and ascension. The books of Acts (included in the Bible) recounts of a number of stories of early Christians being killed because of their professed belief in Jesus as THE Messiah.

    The historical example says that Christianity should have died out within a few years after Jesus…but it didn’t. The Church continue to grow – and not because their women were pumping little Christians. That is undisputable European history. That should also say something about the message being preached.

    There is more truth the fact the Jews were looking for a political Messiah than is typically given. The Old Testament (OT) prophecies about the Messiah were written using political language, but that doesn’t mean that Messiah was going to be political figure. Just to clear things up, Isaiah did not use this political language; he wrote using “spiritual” language when referring to the Messiah. Jesus himself quoted Isaiah when identifying himself, not the political-speak of some of the other prophets. So what was going on?

    The OT prophets who allude to a political-type Messiah are writing within the historical context of various captivities and occupations. Given the immediate context of the day, it’s relatively easy use the imagery of salvation from a political enemy to communicate a message about salvation from a spiritual enemy. The political “hell” the Jews were living in was used as an illustration – perhaps an allegory – of Hell itself (as Christians believe). It’s the best thing they had to relate everything to.

    Over time – @ 400 years – the message was distorted and tweaked and “re-applied” in a sense so that by the time Jesus arrived on the scene, everyone was looking for a Messiah that would free them from Roman occupation. The “Kingdom of God/Heaven” that Jesus and the 12 disciples so frequently spoke of was not a physical kingdom (see any of Jesus parables throughout the Gospels), it was spiritual — something akin to the body of believers today (which is different than the established, institutionalized church).

    Go back and read up on your history through guys like Josephus, Philo, Eusebius, and even documents such as the Letters of Clement and Pilot. The Bible – proven to be the most reliable historical document as modern day secular textual criticism can find – even makes clear that Jesus’ opponents never denied the reality of the resurrection. They tried to cover it up and downplay it in other ways, but no Christianity critic ever touched the death and resurrection or debated the validity of the disciples’ claims.

    If Christianity’s most aggressive critics of the day didn’t question it, Why then should we? They must have had a really good reason not to go after it. These were the people who had access to the tomb, who saw the disciples and heard them preach in the market places. Why didn’t they go after the “holy grail” of the Christian faith – the resurrection?

    We may have lost some “evidence” over the years, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t readily accessible 2,000 years ago. The best we can do today is read what they wrote.

    One last note to those who insist on “evidence” (and I’m assuming they’re speaking of physical evidence). The problem there is that no one will ever be able to show you evidence that you will ever find convincing. You demand evidence outside the Bible – despite its textual reliability – for what Christians profess to be true…but you cannot provide any evidence that supports your claims that this is a bunch of bunk. Historically, there is far more evidence in support of what we say, than there is to tear us down. Therefore, logically/reasonably, there are only two options: either you accept our message as true, or we forever find ourselves at an impasse being completely incapable of convincing by means of evidence one another of our respective messages.

  • 31. Jason  |  December 1, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    onlymoments,

    Someone’s been reading too much “DaVinci Code”…

  • 32. Sharer  |  December 1, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    To Ohlymoments.

    It ish’t ture that the founders of this country were mostly non-Christian. You need to go back and read the constitutions of the 13 orginal states. It is quite clear that they were not only Christians, but believed that this country could only survive as a democracy/Republic if it maintained Christian values.

    Have you noticed that all the countries on earth that share great blessings and freedoms are Christian and that the nations who suffer opression are not? Doesn’t that tell you something? Even if we are non-believers, how blesse we are to have Christians living in or midst.

  • 33. onlymoments  |  December 1, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Sorry Jason but history I point out I researched in the 1970’s long before Mr. Brown wrote his book.

    There is nothing in the constitution that proclaims Christianity is the basis for democracy. Ancient Greece was a the originator of modern democracy and they worhipped many Gods.

    If you steadfastly hold to concepts without doing the work of research yourself, then you are forever defending your beliefs and they are just that-beliefs that cannot be substantiated except with declarations and name-calling and the put-down of others that do not accept YOUR dogma.
    I am not anti-religion, I am not an atheist-none of this really matters does it? What matters is what kind of human being I am and how I treat others. Christians have a long history of bloodshed and violence to promote their own cause-just ask any Jewish person.

  • 34. HeartQuest  |  December 1, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Wow, I would not have brought up the non-canonical documents had I not read about them in your external link. I view them as having no authority for faith or practice.

    Yes, I have books of the “complete gospels” and have read much of what is in them. After a few pages you can see why they were rejected from the Canon. I have not memorized the stories as you have. But, while the Gospel of Thomas (for instance) has strange teachings that embrace Gnosticism, there are other verses that could almost be quotes of Jesus in our red-letter edition. That was my point: not every line in non-canonical books is inaccurate. The document as a whole was rejected even though a few parts appeared to be supportive of the accepted texts.

    Eusebius of Caesarea in the 4th century wrote that Paul was beheaded during Nero’s persecution of Rome. If I’m not mistaken, Catholic tradition even says Peter and Paul died on the same day (please forgive the lack of a source because I’m going from memory). Since my degree is not in church history, I do not recall where Eusebius got his information. Perhaps this is where the tradition was born.

    I do not base my entire belief system on how the disciples died, but I do regret invading your space. I choose to trust that what we have recorded in the Bible about Jesus is true, or He is not worth following at all. I choose to follow Him while your group does not. We each choose to believe what we want as we interpret the evidence for ourselves. Free thinkers expect it; perhaps unless someone’s free thought leads them to a different conclusion.

    Please forgive my intrusion. Here is where we part company.

  • 35. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    HeartQuest:

    Wow, I would not have brought up the non-canonical documents had I not read about them in your external link. I view them as having no authority for faith or practice.

    That is exactly my point. Nobody gives them any historical authority except maybe the rare Gnostic sect that I am not aware of. But strangely they *are* given authority when it comes to the deaths of the apostle’s deaths. Strobel, et al, continue to spout that the apostles would not ‘die for a lie’, yet the biggest problem with that whole arguement is their deaths are recorded in these non-conical documents that you otherwise claim have “no authority for faith or practice”!! Don’t you see where the special pleading is? This is why Strobel’s argument is bogus. We cannot use the witness of the apostles’ martyrdom to testify of Jesus resurrection, because in truth, the stories of their deaths are nothing but tradition and legend.

  • 36. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    HeartQuest, I was going to comment on you blog, but you erased both my comments. Everything I wrote, you erased. I said nothing inflamatory, insulting, disrespectful, etc.. I just argued your claims that the apostles ‘died for a lie’. The fact that you just erased my arguments while keeping your own for all to see is very dishonest, very disingenuous, and very telling.

    Of course, if is your site, and you can do as you please there. But as we used to say when I was a kid, “if you can’t play with the big dogs, get off the porch”. :-)

  • 37. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    onlymoments says:

    The Pagan roots of Christianity go back as far as Horus in 5000 BC and Mithras in 1200 BC. Christmas is the celebration of “The Christ’s” birthday in 312 AD set from the old pagan birthdate of the Sun God Helios. The Emperor Constantine’s worship of ancient paganism was absorbed into Christianity (including the halo around Helios’ head) to provide this gullible King with the promise from the Pope of becoming a deity at the right hand of God after death, at the Council of Nicea…. etc..

    Holy mackeral, where to start…

    You may not have read any Dan Brown, but what may I ask *have* you been reading? I see three or four things off the bat here that go against everything I have ever read regarding the history of Christianity. Seriously, where did you get this, and where have I gone wrong?

  • 38. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Sherar says:

    You need to go back and read the constitutions of the 13 orginal states. It is quite clear that they were not only Christians, but believed that this country could only survive as a democracy/Republic if it maintained Christian values.

    What ‘Christian values’ did the founding fathers state was vital for the future success of the new nation? According to the first amendment to our United States constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”, so in that context, I am not sure what “Christian values” you are talking about. In what Article or Section of what state constitution is this ever discussed? If it is not discussed explicitely, but rather implied, what implication leads you to think that your statement is true?

    And while I am at it, in which founding fathers do you see that their Christian religion was “clear”, and what statements or actions by them led you to this conclusion?

  • 39. TheNorEaster  |  December 1, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Very interesting site you have going on here. Logic without wisdom. Religion without spirituality. Determination without conviction. (Un)Belief without faith. It is certainly interesting that so many of you spend so much time and energy expressing your displeasure over a God you claim you no longer believe in. And yet, if you truly believe what you have said, I somehow doubt that you would spend so much effort trying to prove it. And so it is in your doubts that those of us who still do believe find the clarity and the certainty to believe. As Shakespeare once said, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

  • 40. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Sharer says:

    . Have you noticed that all the countries on earth that share great blessings and freedoms are Christian and that the nations who suffer opression are not?

    Which countries are those? If you are talking about blessings of wealth and prosperity, there have been many, many empires in history that were unbelievably wealthy and successful, but were in no way Christian.

    Here is a resource for you. The CIA factbook:

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/docs/profileguide.html

    According to this, Mexico and central america are predominantly Catholic, yet I would not call Central America models of liberty and freedom. Same thing with much of sub-sahara africa, except I do believe they are protestant. Go figure. Then there is the Philippines, South Korea….

    So, can you clarify your claim that Christianity is what makes nations thrive and prosper?

  • 41. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    TheNorEaster says:

    It is certainly interesting that so many of you spend so much time and energy expressing your displeasure over a God you claim you no longer believe in.

    Who said had displeasure, nor no longer believe in God? I think I am an honest searcher and seeker of spirituality, truth and meaning. I am just tired of bad arguments and bogus claims, and am exasperated that I once swallowed all those bad arguments.

  • 42. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Jason says:

    The historical example says that Christianity should have died out within a few years after Jesus…but it didn’t. The Church continue to grow – and not because their women were pumping little Christians.

    That is an interesting take on it. Indeed most cults quickly wither after (and if) the cult leader has been killed by higher authorities. Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc…

    But are you throwing Jesus into that camp?

    If you are, there are a few differences. 1) Not only did Jim Jones, David Koresh, et al die, but all their followers died with them. Not so with Jesus. According to the Gospel accounts, he died alone. His martyrdom of his followers supposedly occured much later. Also consider Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, et al. They are long gone, but their followers flourish to this day.

    2) The Christian religion was borne of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The passion of Jesus is what keeps the religion valid, what keeps it going. It is the necessary fuel. Not so with your garden variety cult leaders like Koresh, Jones, et al.

    You also have to consider that martyrdom was considered a *virtue* in the early days of Christianity. I mentioned the martyrdom of Peter in another comment. The account of his supposed martyrdom by inverted crucifixion depicts him joyously turning himself in to the Roman authorities to be voluntarily martyred! Not that I believe the story, it is legend, but it does show the example that the author wanted to set. Elaine Pagels, in her book The Gnostic Gospels goes to great lengths to show the virtue laid on early Christian martyrdom. They strangely considered their deaths a selling point to join the new and flourishing Christian religion!!

  • 43. onlymoments  |  December 1, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Jason,
    You wrote
    You may not have read any Dan Brown, but what may I ask *have* you been reading? I see three or four things off the bat here that go against everything I have ever read regarding the history of Christianity. Seriously, where did you get this, and where have I gone wrong?

    I did my college thesis with a show entiltled “As One” that showed all religions, even African and Polynesian tribal rituals all acted the same through the specific crises or “doors” of life. That was thirty years ago this summer. I tire of the arguments of people who blindy and forcefully insist that because the Bible says it, it is so. Well the Rig Vega and many other texts predate that codex. The best show I have ever seen on Jesus was narrated by Peter Jennings and was on The Learning Channel last year. Rather than telling you how I researched all of this and trying to uncover notes of thirty years ago, I suggest you find that program. It was very well documented. I have no beef with anyone that wants to believe anything they want, but don’t try and state absolutes because there are none. I also have the advantage of having died twice and gone over out-of-body and I live with the confidence of knowing what’s there and what isn’t and as I will not tell anyone how to lead their lives, I’m not afraid of what is there. Google those subjects and you will find your answers that used to be in encyclopedias. Mankind has been around for many many more years than Christians. Don’t you think you are shortchanging all those ancient civilizations by declaring them ignorant of God or a Supreme Deity?

  • 44. HeIsSailing  |  December 1, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    onlymoments, is this the video you are referring to?

    It looks like it is broken into several parts. I will watch them tomorrow night. I am always willing to give something a read or a listen!

  • 45. onlymoments  |  December 2, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Yes Jason that is it, however even that show holds a bit back so as not to offend people, but you will get the general idea. The cult of Mithras was borrowed by early Christianity (more than likely Paul) and provides the Trinity, the virgin birth, the resurrection and many of the “miracles” of Christ. Most are word for word. Google cult of mithras and include yahoo threads to see the many discussions regarding this subject. To sum Mithras up here’s the ancient beliefs:

    Mithra was sent by the Father God down to Earth to confirm his contract with Man.
    Mithra was born of a Virgin by Immaculate Conception – He was born of Anahita, an immaculate virgin mother.
    Mithra was born in a stable – We celebrate his birth on Dec 25th.
    Mithra was visited by wise men bearing gifts.
    Mithra had 12 disciples – He was called the Messiah.
    Mithra was also the god of Darius, conqueror of Babylon, He was called – – Messiah – – or Christos by Jews during their Captivity.
    Mithra made a Contract (or Covenant) with Man confirming an older contract with God – The Persian word Mithra literally means – – Contract. – –
    Mithra celebrated a last supper with his disciples before his death.
    Mithra died to atone for the sins of man.
    Mithra was resurrected on a Sunday.
    Mithra ascended into Heaven to rejoin his Father.
    Mithra will return to pass judgment on mankind – He was known as the judger of souls.
    On judgment day, the dead will arise and be judged by Mithra.
    Mithra will send sinners to Hell.
    Mithra will send the faithful to Heaven.
    On judgment day there will be a final conflict between evil and good. – The forces of evil will be destroyed and the saved will live in paradise forever.
    Mithra is part of a holy Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that took human form.
    Mithra is depicted as having a halo, (a circular band of light around his head).
    Mithra followers drink wine and eat bread, which represent his blood and flesh.
    Mithra followers are baptized.

  • 46. onlymoments  |  December 2, 2007 at 12:56 am

    oops, sorry HelsSailing I getting confused with the threads with Jason
    enjoy the videos

  • 47. TheNorEaster  |  December 2, 2007 at 1:19 am

    TheNorEaster says:
    It is certainly interesting that so many of you spend so much time and energy expressing your displeasure over a God you claim you no longer believe in.

    Who said had displeasure, nor no longer believe in God? I think I am an honest searcher and seeker of spirituality, truth and meaning. I am just tired of bad arguments and bogus claims, and am exasperated that I once swallowed all those bad arguments.

    This site certainly gave me the impression which I had commented about originally. However, if the impression that I got was wrong, you may very well rest-assured it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. There is, of course, often–if not always–a difference between a writer’s intent and an reader’s interprtation. But, since you are “an honest searcher and seeker of spirituality,” the only suggestion I’d have would be to peruse thenoreaster.wordpress.com
    At the very least, I think you’ll find it…interesting.

  • 48. HeIsSailing  |  December 2, 2007 at 1:59 am

    onlymoments:

    The cult of Mithras was borrowed by early Christianity (more than likely Paul) and provides the Trinity, the virgin birth, the resurrection and many of the “miracles” of Christ. Most are word for word.

    Just for the record, my name is not Jason.

    That is quite a list you have there. I hope you understand why I should be skeptical about such claims. I am not a Christian, but many of the ‘Christ Myth’ theories I see floating around the Internet don’t hold much water for me.

    You do realize that the Mithraic cults, by their very nature, were mystery religions. They left behind numerous underground grottos throughout the Roman empire, but as far as I know, left very few writings behind. So most their beliefs and practices have to be inferred through their iconography and what they believed about astrology. Origen wrote a bit about the Mithraic cult in his apologetic work to Celsis. I think there were some paralells with Christianity, since these beliefs were coincident with each other. However to claim that Christianity derived all its core practices from Mithraism is dubious at best.

    Again, since the Mithraic cult left behind few writings, their beliefs must be inferred through the art and iconography left in their underground grottos, and this gives numerous interpretations. It seems they were a salvation cult that flourished between 100-300 CE, they did perform a eucharistic ritual of some sort, and Mithras was born on Dec 25 based on astrological interpretation of the iconography. But it is all based on very speculative interpretation.

    Let’s take an easy example:

    Mithra died to atone for the sins of man.
    Mithra was resurrected on a Sunday.
    Mithra ascended into Heaven to rejoin his Father.

    I am thumbing through my book, “The Ancient Mysteries, A Sourcebook of Sacred Texts”, edited by Marvin Meyer, which contains ancient works describing a variety of cults including Mithraism. There is nothing about death for atonment for the sins of man. No resurrection on Sunday. No ascention into Heaven to rejoin the Father. So when you say this is “word for word”, what are you talking about? Word for word with what? What ancient Scriptures are you referring to?

    I guess I am just asking what I have asked several people to do tonight – cite your sources.

  • 49. HeIsSailing  |  December 2, 2007 at 2:16 am

    TheNorEaster says:

    There is, of course, often–if not always–a difference between a writer’s intent and an reader’s interprtation.

    I enjoy discussing issues of religion especially Christianity, my long history with it, and the effect it has on people, society and cultures. I have a love/hate relationship with Christianity, I see the good it has done in this world, but it also sometimes resembles a bad car wreck that I cannot look away from.

    Just because I discuss, debate and critique Christianity and religion in general in no way means I am hostile towards it, nor does it mean I am ‘protesting too much’. That is just absurd.

  • 50. LeoPardus  |  December 2, 2007 at 2:23 am

    NorEaster:

    You’ve already said that you may have gotten some wrong impressions here. Thank you. I hope you will not mind if I respond to a few things you said, in hopes of clearing a few things up for you.

    It is certainly interesting that so many of you spend so much time and energy expressing your displeasure over a God you claim you no longer believe in.

    It’s not God we may express displeasure over and more that we express displeasure over fairies and elves. What we may express displeasure over are such things as hypocrisy among believers, our own former beliefs in things we now see as error, bigotry borne of religion, and so on.

    And yet, if you truly believe what you have said, I somehow doubt that you would spend so much effort trying to prove it.

    By this logic apologists may not truly believe in their faith. Right?

    And so it is in your doubts that those of us who still do believe find the clarity and the certainty to believe.

    Glad we can help.

  • 51. onlymoments  |  December 2, 2007 at 2:31 am

    I did already apologize for the name mixup, just scroll up a thread to see it. Sorry about that. The sources for the partial essay are from the Book of Mithra – Book of Zoroaster, Avesta – Persian History, Prior to Islam and History of Roman Empire (any encyclopedic source for both)–
    This was also a subject for a PBS sponsored discussion on the origins of Mithras and Christianity’s sources of myth. All religions are based in myth and those common myths appear chronologically through the ages passing from war victories, population movement etc. I suggest you study Joseph Campbell as he is probably the leading authority of mythological studies that I have ever read, and he is missed since passing on. I have no agenda other than living a life free of the dogma of absolutes that people attempt to shove down my and other’s throats. To quote the Rig Veda: He who knows all things, He knows……or does he know?

  • 52. HeIsSailing  |  December 2, 2007 at 2:39 am

    onlymoments suggests:

    I have no agenda other than living a life free of the dogma of absolutes that people attempt to shove down my and other’s throats.

    Don’t worry, I am with you on that one. I have been meaning to read some old Campbell, but my reading list is quite long at this point.

  • 53. lousirr  |  December 2, 2007 at 3:11 am

    Hear!
    Hear!
    Why will you not hear?
    Is your heart made of stone?

  • 54. onlymoments  |  December 2, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    My heart is a diamond
    It shines in all directions
    reflecting my pure soul
    without your judgment of righteousness

  • 55. Heard of God  |  December 2, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Talk about your circular logic. Just because the Bible didn’t say what you wanted it to say, you don’t believe it.

    I have decided that the best way to convince someone of truth is not by objective evidence but by giving them a prize. People like prizes; cookies, candy, hugs, and the freedom to participate in any gross and sexual sin that they want without any severe repercussion. There, that should cover it. Except it would be against the standard of the “truth” as described by the Bible so we can’t offer the last of the list of prizes. Sorry. Wait where are you going? Oh! I see the real problem, now. It wasn’t the cookies, candy, or hugs that you really wanted. Okay, take some of the things you like and we’ll create our own religion. Maybe this time we can get rid of deity altogether.

    People will believe what they want to believe and then label it “The Truth”. But isn’t that what you keep telling me? I’ve heard all of your arguments and consider myself fairly read in the “truth” as you would tell it but that is still subjective as long as you want to be free from the repercussion of sin. Funny how that argument is brought up on both sides. I’ll just be content with being free from sin as the Bible describes it so that I won’t have to worry about the repercussion.

    You say “contradictions”: I say “tomato”. Objective evidence could go a lot farther than I thought, and definitely a lot farther than your propagandistic, logic based, subjective, blah blah blah. Especially when it’s coupled with your “voice of experience” drivel that is nothing but elitist. Yes that means it didn’t impress me because sarcasm, and arrogance, among other things, aren’t objective.

    I’m not saying I’m smarter or anything. But your going to have to do better than what all of you have done so far. Think “objective”….

    Show me your faith without deeds, and I’ll show you mine by
    what I do.

    Peace,
    Sam

  • 56. wayne  |  December 3, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Christianity is not easy, there is a battle that rages every moment of the day, I say if it were not real, it would not have such a battle.

    I have said before, God has come to me many times and again last Friday night. Seek and you shall find. If I were seeking strife and contoversey, I would find it. Instead I seek God and I do find Him.

    But I did not read all the comments here, but did anyone say that David predicted centuries ealier in the Psalms that they, the Jews, would not recognize Him as their own? And what of the predictions about the way Jesus died?

    Why all the questions? Good ones I’ll admit, but you guys seem to just want the controversey that you stir up. Good job at that BTW. I guess I praise God that I am not this smart.

    I have a question… do you guys celebrate Christmas anymore?
    How does that work now?

    Regards,

    wayne

  • 57. Sojourner  |  December 3, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    There are very few posts that warrant any sort of response. Occasionally though, I happen upon a post that seems to strike me. As I begin to read and realize the content of the original post and comments that follow a desire to write forms. So, allow me to respond.

    Though raising an interesting proposition, the entire premise is wrong. You (QMonkey) are raising a rational/practical impossibility. And for someone who is so concerned with logic, this seems to cause a problem. By now you should realize that it is impossible to “suspend belief.” No matter how hard we try we always carry our presuppositions with us (which, I believe, is the basis another post about “de-converting”). Though often argued for, it is impossible to be a “tabula rasa.” There is no blank-slate.

    And another thing that seems to cause some difficulties for this post. How would you respond if someone asked you to “suspend you unbelief?” Would you be able to do it? Sure, you may say that you have already been down that road, but was it ever a belief? Or was it just foisted upon you by some well meaning parents? Yes, I do not know you and have no clue of your background, but this scenario is hypothetically speaking.

    While you argument is somewhat skewed and seems to lack a historical accuracy in viewing the Jewish culture of the time, you raise some interesting points. Yet, a similar, logical argument can be posed from the other side. There are implications that must be considered for both.

    Still, though I view this post as somewhat erroneous, interesting …

  • 58. qmonkey  |  December 3, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Sojourner – thanks for the response.

    i assume by historical accuracy… you mean… the 2000 years of christian narrative.. deamonising hte jews. When in fact they were hard working loving mothers and fathers… longing for a messiah… but who used their god given rationale to decide that jesus wasnt the one (along with the loads of others they rejects)

    Belive me… i was a true beliver… you make it too easy on yourself to paint me as someone who wasnt really ‘saved’. Doesn’t mean im any more correct though… all i ask for is evidence.

    I admit we all have prepositons. But i think its a good start… to assume magic stuff didnt happen, with out pretty good proof.

  • 59. Sojourner  |  December 3, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    By assuming that by my meaning of “historical accuracy” that I was referring to some perverted form of history, you are going a bit too far. I was referring to secular history. Believe it or not, there are sources about Jewish culture, religious sects, and the Jewish mindset apart from the 2000 years of “Christian” Narrative. All it takes is a little bit of general research to realize the misunderstanding of the Jews’ own Prophetic account of a “Messiah” and the general assembly of political and religious ruler’s desire to avoid annihilation by the Romans. (Sorry for the convoluted sentence. I am sure I broke some grammatical rules there.)

    Furthermore, reading back over what I had previously written, I don’t believe that I tried to paint you as someone who wasn’t “saved.” By this you seem to be implying my desire to discredit you as if I have invested interest in the outcome of this discussion. I merely, through inference, was questioning the definition of “belief.” Is belief something that can simply be laid aside?

    Well… until next time.

    ~Sojourner~

  • 60. qmonkey  |  December 3, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    >>Is belief something that can simply be laid aside?

    it’s actualy a brilliant question…. my respect for you has grown alot… the nature of belief… hmmm

    not wanting to plug my blog (its pretty inane)… but i asked this very question..

    http://qmonkey.wordpress.com/2007/10/20/blessed-with-faith/

  • 61. Jersey  |  December 3, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    Could the Jesus we know today really be a combination of different messiah “wannabes” from back then, like some claim our idea of the mythological King Arthur may have eventually led up to one man really prepresenting three or four different heroes with similiar life tales?

  • 62. onlymoments  |  December 3, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Logical thought Jersey
    Now do the research following Paul’s conversion and background from Tarsus. Mirthras, Cybele and the far east play heavily in history. All religions spring from myth, therefore follow the myth back through the roads travelled and you will find what you seek, it you seek it.

  • 63. onlymoments  |  December 4, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”
    -Marx
    It means you cannot take away something that has been conditioned and you cannot criticize it as to do so is to break a taboo placed around it, making it sacred ground not to be tread upon. It is the capacity for illusion that must be taken away and that is much harder than the illusion itself.

  • 64. karen  |  December 4, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    It means you cannot take away something that has been conditioned and you cannot criticize it as to do so is to break a taboo placed around it, making it sacred ground not to be tread upon. It is the capacity for illusion that must be taken away and that is much harder than the illusion itself.

    Excellent point! It explains a lot for me.

  • 65. kerrin  |  December 5, 2007 at 1:21 am

    @onlymoments,

    don’t try and state absolutes because there are none.

    uh, that’s an absolute.

  • 66. kerrin  |  December 5, 2007 at 1:37 am

    @onlymoments,

    by saying *absolutely* that their are no absolutes you are directly contradicting your claim.

  • 67. onlymoments  |  December 5, 2007 at 11:23 am

    The context is, that in the quest for a religious dogma there are no absolutes. The quote written is neither an absolute or a theory. It is an opinion that makes sense. An absolute is Jesus is God there are no others.

  • 68. Matt  |  December 5, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    You act like Christians don’t suspend their beliefs, that’s as silly as saying atheists don’t suspend their disbeliefs for a while. C’mon we all have imaginations, we all use them, whether we admit it or not.

    I

  • 69. qmonkey  |  December 5, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    >>>You act like Christians don’t suspend their beliefs, that’s as silly as saying atheists don’t suspend their disbeliefs for a while.

    may sound silly to you… but if you read above you’ll find there are people saying that its silly to ask people to suspend their belief.

    anyway… of course everyone has beliefs… but some people suject their beliefs to a lot less evidencial rigur. I believe a plane will fly because of the laws of aerodynamics… christians belive jesus rose from the dead becuase the bible says so.
    i simplify of course… but you must see the difference.

  • 70. Matt  |  December 5, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    I can imagine Jesus rising from the dead, coming back Godzilla style. I can even imagine a Godzilla with a Jesus head. Imagination is amazingly powerful.

    I like imagination.

    I’m Christian, so I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, although I know that it’s highly unlikely. I choose to believe anyway, despite rationally it could be perceived impossible. There doesn’t happen to be a law of resurrection (yet, but hey, maybe in the year 3,000 we might learn something about it)

    Anyway, to me, honsetly, whether he rose from the dead literally or not, I like a lot of what he taught, and that’s what I try to follow.

    As far as hell goes, nope sorry don’t believe in it. Miracles? Sure, if you consider something that happens which cannot be explained scientifically (which of course, could be explained, maybe someday)

    But I think it’s the hope stuff I hold on to. I like Spirituality, and I dont think its necessasry for every person to have it. I’m just wired that way, to use my creative imagination to connect with a God who may or may not exist.

    But whether he exists or not isn’t a problem for me, because honestly I can’t say I know for sure, what I do know is, I need support and community, and I find that through a religious outlet, and it’s not anything close to “fundamental” – nor does it have to be.

    I was athiest for a bit, but, I couldnt find the support I needed. I’m living this life not to know the truth, but to live in peace. I know some of you hardliner atheists are “living for the supposed truth” – but keep in mind, fundamental muslims and Christians are doing the same. When I look at you, and them, I see neither being right.

    So It’s not about whose the smartest or whose correct for me, it’s about where I can find peace of mind and work on becoming a better person, emotionally and physically. I’ll add spiritually too, but that might not make sense to you hardliners.
    Doesn’t make you any more right then scientists saying it’s impossible to light salt water aflame. Nothing’s impossible, everything is possible, the only thing that’s not impossible is that which can’t be proven.. yet..

  • 71. kerrin  |  December 5, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    @onlymoments, To refute the “religious dogma”:

    Jesus is God and there is no others

    by saying “it is an absolute” therefore it is not true, would mean the opposite must be true: Jesus is not God and there are others. Which ends up being an absolute. My point is that it is intellectually dishonest to dismiss Jason’s points with the opinion:

    don’t try and state absolutes because there are none.

    Your logic based arguments would be more honestly stated as opinions if they are in fact opinions.

    Wisdom from Aristotle:

    Nothing can be and not be at the same time in the same respect — Aristotle

    I mean no disrespect and only hope to further help and frame the discussion.

  • 72. onlymoments  |  December 5, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Kerrin
    I will try to state this as obvious as I can make it.
    In the realm of the unknown, when beliefs take over from what is known to be, has been tested and proven to be, that which we all expect it to be, there are no absolutes. No, the opposite does not immediately take over in lieu of that thought. Many schools of thought that involve science use the word theory as “a best tested result” and that word has been hijacked to mean an “untested” theory in the revisionist creationist view of how old the universe is.
    The statement Jesus is God and there are no others, merely state that in that instance there is a declarative stating an absolute. That there are other Gods is a given, because in the world, there are other who practice different faiths. To deny that is to deny all other religions and we know that is not the case. Now whether it is the same God that’s a debate for someone else to take up and ponder. I don’t need to do so, I absolutely know that I don’t know.

  • 73. karen  |  December 5, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    But I think it’s the hope stuff I hold on to. I like Spirituality, and I dont think its necessasry for every person to have it. I’m just wired that way, to use my creative imagination to connect with a God who may or may not exist.

    But whether he exists or not isn’t a problem for me, because honestly I can’t say I know for sure, what I do know is, I need support and community, and I find that through a religious outlet, and it’s not anything close to “fundamental” – nor does it have to be.

    Matt, your honesty is refreshing. Thanks for your comments. I understand how the support and community aspects of religion are highly important to a lot of people, and might even outweigh the considerations about truth or falsity.

    For some of us – I guess you’d call us “hardliners” – the truth of the proposition is paramount. We have this incredible need for honesty, and a desire not to fool ourselves, or others, or go on pretending something that we are no longer convinced of. I don’t think I could do it, even if the need for the church community was a big thing in my life (which it’s not). I think going on trying to pretend that I believed would probably make me physically and emotionally sick because of the stress involved.

    Thankfully, there are many other places to find support, community and an opportunity to do good for one’s fellow humans outside of church. But if you find what you’re looking for there, you’ll get no beef from me, especially with your easy going attitude.

  • 74. Matt  |  December 5, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Karen, thanks for reading my post, wasn’t sure how it would be received here. I am being as honest as I possibly can, hope that helps.

    As far as church and community goes, I think I stumbled into a good one. By good one, I mean they embrace agnosticism, and allow a lot of room for opinions and debate. I think the biggest reason between an atheist and an agnostic is that the atheist gave up.

    To be honest, I’m still seeking. Still hoping, still wanting, and seeking hard. I haven’t given up on an idea I desperately want to be true.

    The truth is, for me at least, absolute truth, is knowing what is certain, for now. And that’s who I am at the core. I am always subject to change. Will I believe what I believe today tomorrow? Probably not. Every day my beliefs change, if so ever subtly, and I modify them based on experience and then retrospect.

    I fully understand and comprehend the atheist argument. Intellectually it makes complete sense to me. I cannot refute it, and label an atheist as crazy.

    The problem I have with atheists, is when they act as though they have it all figured out. that’s the hardliner atheist for me. The atheist who does just what any fundemantelist would do, and go beyond their boundary and say they’ve got it all figured out, everyone can just stop seeking, searching, and just believe what they’re saying. That pisses me off so much. I hate it when Christians do it, and I hate it when Atheists do it. I hate it when non metaphysical philosophers do it (diet philosophy, exercise philosophy, coding methods, ETC) I can’t stand it when someone acts like they have it figured out and everyone else is wrong. If you can relate to that, then why go on a crusade to end religion? Perhaps it should be a crusade to end narcissistic selfish know-it-alls? I mean, they’re the ones who will thump a bible harder than anything, blow up clinics, or scream down and crush peoples’ hopes with visions of a flying spaghetti monster.

  • 75. Matt  |  December 5, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    I just wanted to end with the fact that I have a lot of respect for atheists, with the exception of anti-theists, who have caused me just as much inner turmoil as fundie preacher pulpit bullies.

    The whole “I’m right everyone else is wrong” attitude, that’s all. Other than that, I think atheism is a good answer for some people. I think that they find peace in deciding that they reject supernaturalism. They’re wired to find peace in knowing the truth as best as they possibly can.

    I am wired to seek out a God, it’s something I want to do, it’s something I want to believe in. I find peace in this, but I know without a shadow of a doubt, that I could be wrong, that I don’t have it figured out, but even when I was an atheist, I felt just the same. The only difference is that I can partake in a community of people that are like me. Intellectual Christians, the emergent church, it’s very nice. It allows so much room to ask questions, and not feel guilty for asking them, and I love that so much. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

    If the atheists could really offer support in a local commuinity, with gatherings and free food, a faculty and small interest groups, I would definately check it out. With dinner parties where people discuss philosophies, and where nobody is treated as an idiot if they see things a different light, then atheism would look Soooo much more attractive to me.

    Thanks for hearing me out. I appreciate this alot.

  • 76. Anonymous  |  December 6, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    @onlymoments,

    In the realm of the unknown, when beliefs take over from what is known to be, has been tested and proven to be, that which we all expect it to be, there are no absolutes.

    Now whether it is the same God that’s a debate for someone else to take up and ponder. I don’t need to do so, I absolutely know that I don’t know.

    What you “don’t know” would be in this realm of the “unknown”, so how can you know it absolutely?

    Arisotle’s philosiphy that I quoted earlier is a “tested” and “proven” theory. Why would it not apply here?

  • 77. kerrin  |  December 6, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    onlymoments, sorry I wasn’t logged in for some reason. That was me above. I didn’t mean to post as “Anonymous”.

    I appreciate your answers to my questions and comments… they are helping me think allot.

  • 78. LeoPardus  |  December 6, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    Matt:

    If the atheists could really offer support in a local commuinity, with gatherings and free food, a faculty and small interest groups, I would definately check it out. With dinner parties where people discuss philosophies, and where nobody is treated as an idiot if they see things a different light, then atheism would look Soooo much more attractive to me.

    I’d love that too. But there just hasn’t been much luck with forming the First Church of the Apostates. :)

  • 79. kerrin  |  December 6, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    the First Church of the Apostates

    I thought this was what the local bar was.

    cheers!

  • 80. onlymoments  |  December 7, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    kerrin,
    I was absolutely breakin your stones with the last line I wrote…..

  • 81. Matt  |  December 7, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Kerrin, I dont like the bar scene, for many reasons. Main being I don’t like alcohol. My dislike for alcohol isn’t religious either, as I don’t think drinking is a sin. My dislike for alcohol is becuase of years of alcohol abuse.

  • 82. kerrin  |  December 7, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    oh, well…. ouch… they were broken. good play.

    so how can we know this:

    In the realm of the unknown, when beliefs take over from what is known to be, has been tested and proven to be, that which we all expect it to be, there are no absolutes.

    ?

    Don’t you have to believe this? It doesn’t seem like this is self-evident. How is this statement “tested” and “proven to be”?

  • 83. kerrin  |  December 7, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Matt,

    i was just just kidding about the bar. i understand your dislike and respect the choice you have made based on your past.

  • 84. onlymoments  |  December 7, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    kerrin
    go to http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2007/12/there-is-no-one-way-to-god.html for that answer.

    In the scientific sense “proven” and “tested” are the key postulates that build the case for the next postulates. People confuse terms that are used in science as “absolutes.” What I know is sum of what I experience and in that sense yes you are correct, but where does that line of reasoning stop. If I follow your endgame then nothing is true, nothing is fact and we know that not to be the case. Some threads should end danging like participles, in midair because there just isn’t an answer to the “unified field theory” of man. (See Einstein for more details)

  • 85. karen  |  December 8, 2007 at 12:46 am

    The problem I have with atheists, is when they act as though they have it all figured out. that’s the hardliner atheist for me. The atheist who does just what any fundemantelist would do, and go beyond their boundary and say they’ve got it all figured out, everyone can just stop seeking, searching, and just believe what they’re saying.

    There are actually very few atheists that do that, Matt. Most atheists are what is called “weak” atheists. This means that they do not hold any belief in a god or gods. This does not mean that they declare “there is no god.”

    The latter example is a “strong” atheist, and while there are some around (Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller comes to mind) they are a small minority.

    I’m a weak atheist. I haven’t stopped searching, as you assume. I’m still looking for evidence of god, staying curious, staying up on the latest examples and controversies in fields like science, religions and philosophy. So far, my search hasn’t turned up any good evidence, so I’ll stay a (weak) atheist for now.

    But my mind’s absolutely not closed, nor is the mind of the vast majority of atheists. We’re well aware that there is a lot out there that we still don’t understand. To imagine that we’ve got it all figured out would be impossibly arrogant.

    If the atheists could really offer support in a local commuinity, with gatherings and free food, a faculty and small interest groups, I would definately check it out.

    Apparently this is actually starting to happen, in small ways. One of the best atheist bloggers around, EbonMuse, wrote about this just a couple days ago in “Building a Secular Community:

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/12/building-a-secular-community.html

  • 86. Sam  |  December 8, 2007 at 4:25 am

    qmonkey wrote # 69 <<<anyway… of course everyone has beliefs… but some people suject their beliefs to a lot less evidencial rigur. I believe a plane will fly because of the laws of aerodynamics… christians belive jesus rose from the dead becuase the bible says so.

    Doesn’t the Bible say so because it is a collection of contemporary writings that were preserved for the sake of telling the original story of the witnesses? And aren’t there more witnesses to this event than any other event in history (that is, history where we’ve had to rely on handwritten documentation)? Don’t you think that if the tomb wasn’t empty that that would have been heralded as much as Christ’s resurrection, therefore stamping out the brush fire movements of Christianity of their day? I’ve never heard of any movement trying to refute the Apostles claims until 2000years later. The Jews of Jesus’ day didn’t even refute that there was power associated with Jesus’ ministry, because the Talmud records that he was tried for sorcery. The Jews just claimed another source was at the root of it all.

    I understand that fleshly desires can lead someone to see the works of his own hands and the food on the table and money in the bank and in none of that, a god who cares. I can see how that can build a case for someone who doesn’t have faith because he never had any to begin with and he’s doing fine anyway. Likewise, you would have to admit that if it were a question of probability, there is a fountain of evidence that lends credibility to the Bible, making it less stupid than you implied above.

    I think that a faith in something based on one’s selfishness is very simple, but elitism is disingenius. Matt has a point.

    It would appear that the tomb is empty without any other explanation. Is there anything your reading attempting to explain, or does it just deny? Maybe the Bible saying so is a very good reason to depend on it. Maybe it’s the only thing saying so. That makes it invaluable to the one wanting to explain rather than deny.

    I’m sure Christians believe the same about a plane flying as you do. That was a nice attempt to make yourself seem more consistent.

  • 87. Matt  |  December 8, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Thank you Karen, I have met some really great atheists in my life time. There was a time when I thought atheists were nothing but people who wanted excuses to “sin”a nd not have eternal punishment. I was wrong. I’ve met and worked with many atheists and agnostics who want to live a life with great moral standards.

    Anyway, I haven’t seen any Athest community centers or anythin like that in my city, Cincinnati, OH. If so, I’d check it out. Critical THinking sundays sounds interesting. But leave room for those interested in art and music (like me!!!) too!

  • 88. karen  |  December 8, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    There was a time when I thought atheists were nothing but people who wanted excuses to “sin”a nd not have eternal punishment.

    I believed that too, because I heard it from every pastor whose church I attended. It’s a very common line that keeps fundamentalists and even more moderate Christians thinking of atheists as the “dreaded other” – someone who is lost, angry, scary, and morally corrupt. No one wants to become one of those awful “others” so they get “vaccinated” early on against non-belief.

    If religious authorities and even the bible did not teach so much that is negative (and blatantly untrue) about atheists, we’d have a lot more harmonious and happy society. That’s the beauty and the promise of our new-found Internet technology – it connects so many of us who would never connect in our daily lives, and wipes out those negative stereotypes that keep us apart and afraid of each other.

    I was wrong. I’ve met and worked with many atheists and agnostics who want to live a life with great moral standards.

    Good for you for recognizing that! Just about every Christian (hard line and not) I’ve come across who makes the effort to truly understand the atheist/agnostic viewpoint comes to this same conclusion you did. I find it very promising for the future of our society.

  • 89. Sharer  |  December 9, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that something you don’t believe in occupies so much of your time and your conscious mind? You just can’t simply let it go and not believe. The reason is that God has called everyone. Truth gnaws at our souls. Once again, your are the proof that no one is truly an atheist. The knowledge of God is built right in, even though we deny it.

    His resurrection is legally provable. But that isn’t the answer to anything. The root subject isn’t the resurrection but faith. His sheep know His voice and they follow Him. To everyone else, this all sounds as foolishness. Yet you search because everyone is called though few respond. Most who warm church pews are nothing more than wells without water, clouds carried by the wind. That is probably the source of your confusion and doubt.

    You also seem to be confusing faith with religion and Catholicism. The practices of the teachings of Christendom and the teaching of the scriptures are not the same. True Christians are taught to love both their neighbors and their enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use them—that isn’t an attribute you find in most prominent denominations.

    If truth is what you’re honestly seeking, the answer is simple and you have absolutely nothing to loose but a few moments of time. Simply ask the truth giver, God himself, to reveal himself to you and to give you knowledge of him. If He does, your whole life will change. If He doesn’t, then there’s no need to continue wasting your time continuing your search for a God who doesn’t exist.

    My hope is that you find your answers while there is still time (in the spiritual sense, that is).

  • 90. Sharer  |  December 15, 2007 at 8:07 am

    Some quotes from our founders
    George Washington, in his farewell address, said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.”

    Patrick Henry, “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, people of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” (May 1776 Speech to the House o Burgesses).

    James Madison, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, for from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity . . . to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” (1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia).

    Thomas Jefferson, God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? [That] they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” (1802 at a Danbury, CT, Baptist Sunday School Association). Same speech in which he used the phrase “Wall of separation” meaning to keep the State out of the business of religion.

    Samuel Adams, “He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all . . . Our forefathers opened the Bible to all.” (State House in Philadelphia).

    “Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating little boys and girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of Deity . . . and leading them in the study and practices of the exalted virtues of the Christian system” (October 4, 1790).

    Again, if you take the time and read the preambles to the constitutions of the original 13 states, you will find that each and every one of then bases their state governments of the beliefs and practices of Christianity.

  • 91. The Barefoot Bum  |  December 15, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Sharer: Your quotations are mostly lies (they might all be; I got bored with source checking after the third lie). See Unconfirmed Quotations by David Barton.

    In any event, it’s completely irrelevant what the founders thought. They are no more prophets than any other natural person. What is important are the text of documents and interpretations to which we ourselves subscribe. If the founders had wished to establish a specifically Christian nation, they did so in a curious way: by explicitly excluding any nontrivial mention of Christianity, God or religion, explicitly stating that the authority of the Constitution comes from the people and explicitly prohibiting the government from establishing a religion.

    And why lie? As you note, there is ample evidence that most of the nascent United States was Christian; Specific sects of Christianity were legally established by many of the individual states.

    Again, if you take the time and read the preambles to the constitutions of the original 13 states, you will find that each and every one of then bases their state governments of the beliefs and practices of Christianity.

    This is again a lie. I took some time…

    Rhode Island, “We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy…”

    Religious, and probably unconstitutional, but there’s no mention of Christ or Christianity.

    Massachusetts: “We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe…” Again, no mention of Christianity.

    New York: “We the People of the State of New York, grateful to
    Almighty God for our Freedom, in order to secure its blessings, do establish this Constitution.”

    Vermont: No preamble! Article 3 does establish (stupidly and unconstitutionally) acceptable Christian practice.

    Maine: “We the people of Maine… acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe…”

    I stopped checking. Other than Vermont, not a single preamble or constitution even mentions Christianity, not a single one specifically privileges Christianity.

    One can only assume by these sorts of trivially transparent lies, readily disprovable by anyone with a search engine, that you are indifferent to the truth: that, in Frankfurt’s sense, you are bullshitting us.

  • 92. Sharer  |  December 15, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Question Monkey Wrote:
    Now continue on this walk with me, and really ask yourself what it was which first made you move from a position of never hearing the name Jesus to deciding that the evidence was good enough to come to an earth shattering conclusion that he was the son of god. Think about the times in your life since when you’ve felt that god was speaking to you, guiding you, when you’ve felt “god’s hand” on a situation. Ask yourself whether there is an iota of a chance that in actual fact there is no father-figure god watching over you – or if there is – there isn’t enough evidence for it. Believing things on insufficant evidence is what leads to David Koresh, Scientology, Reiki, Astrology and the rest.
    Solid logic! Wasn’t it Captain Kirk who said to Mr. Spak that logis is an organized approach to draw the wrong conclusion with confidence?

    You are absolutely correct that if there was no ressurection there is no Christianity. The Apostle Paul agrees with you and said, “Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith. In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Therefore those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have placed our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone (1Cor 15:12-19 HCSB).

    Proof of the ressurection is the Bible itself. Unlike religious books, the Bible’s account of creation isn’t spun like a fary tale but one that makes reasonable sense. It isn’t about fish or louts blossoms or corckadiles or giant tortises or elephants or &c, but is a reasonable and scientifically verifiable creation account. Its order of the creation is consistant with scientific knowledge. The biblical account isn’t one spun in fantacy like you find in the Samaritian and Babylonian and other accounts.

    It is interesting to note that religion represents man’s attempts to reach up to God, to earn His approval and good will. They are man’s attempt to sway the scale so that our good works outweigh our shortcommings. Christianity is about the good will of God reaching down to man to raise him up because, since the fall, man is incapable of doing it himself. Chriatianity is about a compasionate God who cares for His creation and, inspite of their rebellion, He is reaching out to them to bestow on them His righteousness and eternal life. A free gift to those who believe. No strings attached.

    Christianity is about the Golden Rule, stated over and over again throughout the New Testament. It is the love of God expressed through us, the ecclecia, the Church. Christians, although they may warn people of their sinful state and God’s disapproval, aren’t judgmental. It’s important to note that the Church is NOT all the people sitting in the pews each Sunday (or Saturday). It is made up of people in every denomination and of those whose shadow never crosses a churches threshold. It is estimated that only 10 to 20% of all those who profess to be Christians actually are. Our number is very small. I sometim wonder if after the rapture anyone will even notice—so many pasters and lay people won’t be taking the journey. And of us who are Christians we run the gammet of maturity. Some are grass green and barely know the way. Others are battle worn and sure. Each spends time as often as possible reading God’s Word. After all, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

    Unlike foundational documents of religions, the Bible is filled with prophecy, and prophecy is ABSOLUTE PROOF of the tuthfulness and accuracy and integrity of the Word of God. If prophecy fails so does Christianity. Daniel alone is amazing in the accuracy of its predictions of the conquests and defeats of the Babylonians, Meads/Persians (the Bible even names Cyrus long before he arrived on the world scene), Greeks (especially Alexander the Great), Romans, etc. In Deuteronomy the fait of Israel is revealed in detail. In Jeremiah (especially chapter 30) the fait of Israel is prophecised. Ezekiel 37 describes the rebirth of the Jewish nation and 38 and 39 discusses the apoclypse. All this and much more are historically verifiable. Critics would love to be able to discredit the Bible, but they simply CANT! Truth is truth. Isaiah 53 tells of the suffering the Messiah would go through. Daniel 9 predicts exactly when Messiah would come and verse 26 reveals that he would be killed. In fact, there are over 600 prophecies fulfilled in Jesus alone—a mathamatical impossability, unless it is true.

    If the Bible can be believed,then ALL the Bible is ture. If there is one error, then the entire book is a useless work of fiction. I the past 2000 years many have tried yet none have been able to sustain a discrediting of the Bible. Many who have attempted have instead, become Christians—CS Lewis, Hugh Ross and Walied Shoebat just to name a few from very different backgrounds.

    1 Cor 2:12-16 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order to know what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. HCSB.

    The way to test if this is true is simple and you have nothing to loose but eternity in darkness. On the other hand, you have everything to gain.

    “God, if you are real and Christ exists, I assume You can make it known to me. So, I ask You, if you exist, to make it known to me. And if You do, I will believe You and trust You and follow You for the rest of my life.”

  • 93. qmonkey  |  December 15, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Sharer…

    thanks for your input… you’ll be unsurprised to know that i disagree wholehaetly with a lot of that… but can i maybe just focus on one part for now…

    >>If the Bible can be believed,then ALL the Bible is ture. If there is one error, then the entire book is a useless work of fiction.

    Do you mean that litterally? both OT and NT… eg if Jonah didnt survive for days in a whale or if Noah didn’t collect all the animals in the world in a big boat… then for you, its game over?

  • 94. OneSmallStep  |  December 15, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Sharer,

    I’m curious about the quotes you provided in terms of the founding fathers.

    George Washington, in his farewell address, said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.”

    Per religious tolerance.org: “Washington is known to have made some official statements of public piety, but this is not one of them. Though this assertion is very widely reported to have been said in Washington’s Farewell Address (17 September 1796), this is not actually the case, as any search of the documents would reveal.”

    Patrick Henry, “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, people of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” (May 1776 Speech to the House o Burgesses).

    Per both religioustolerance.org, and here: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp, that quote is questionable, as it’s not found in any of Patrick Henry’s writings.

    As it is, I believe the date you mean is 1765? I also read that some find the quote suspicious based on the fact that there was no “nation” until after the Revolutionary War was won and everything was settled.

    James Madison, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, for from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity . . . to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” (1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia).

    Per this link: http://members.tripod.com/~candst/tnppage/misq1.htm, it says that none of the James Madison biographers have run across this quote. Not only that, James Madison was a huge advocate of church/state seperation.

    Thomas Jefferson, God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? [That] they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” (1802 at a Danbury, CT, Baptist Sunday School Association). Same speech in which he used the phrase “Wall of separation” meaning to keep the State out of the business of religion.

    He was more deistic, and the quote above was in reference to slavery. Not only that, but he re-did the Bible, in terms of the sayings of Jesus without all the miracles and such.

  • 95. OneSmallStep  |  December 15, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Unlike foundational documents of religions, the Bible is filled with prophecy, and prophecy is ABSOLUTE PROOF of the tuthfulness and accuracy and integrity of the Word of God.

    But this is essentially using the BIble to prove itself, if using the life if Jesus as verification for prophecies. As it is, the prophecy is in the eye of the beholder. If you go by Hebrew prophecies, then Jesus failed. If you go by Christian ones — well, take the virgin birth one. In context, it’s speaking of someone who would be born at that time, to a young woman. It doesn’t specify any sort of special birth.

    If the Bible can be believed,then ALL the Bible is ture. If there is one error, then the entire book is a useless work of fiction.

    This is like saying that if science can be believed, then all science must be true. If there is one error, then science is useless and does nothing. It’s a false dictomoy. The Bible can have errors in simply for the fact that the people didn’t know as much at that time, such as the earth was round, or older than 6,000 years. Or that the sun went around the Earth. That doesn’t make the Bible useless.

    The way to test if this is true is simple and you have nothing to loose but eternity in darkness. On the other hand, you have everything to gain.

    So this should be done in order to escape hell? That makes the focus all on the person, and it’s then asked for selfish and fearful reasons — to escape punishment. It’s also a rewards system. You do this in order to get something out of it.

  • 96. Sharer  |  December 22, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Qmonkey
    Prophecy isn’t circular reasoning using the bible to prove itself. It is using history to verify the bible.

    Jesus claimed to be the Son of God—in the most divine sense. Either He is or He’s a mad man, in which case the bible is as a religious document.

    There is no such state as de-conversion. Either you are converted or not. All of us are born unconverted. Some never consider converting and others would like to be but the enticements of the world draw them away, and those who take root. Once the conversion occurs in the heart it is irreversible, because the indwelling Spirit comes to reside in the heart. There are many fewer Christians out there than you think. The commission of Christ isn’t social rebellion and the legislation of morality. That can’t be done. It is simply to share the Good News—God is evident, just, merciful, loving, compassionate, eternal. Christians don’t hate, don’t accuse, don’t hold grudges. If you don’t want to believe their message, that is OK. It may break their heart but they won’t condemn—that isn’t to say that there aren’t some immature Christians out there who still need to grow into this truth.

    You did prove that any of us can go on line and find apparent evidence to support whatever position we take. Without going to the source documents, who knows? Me too! Below are excerpts from three of the original states constitutions only to illustrate that the founders of this country did believe in God and expected communities to respect Him. Yes, the founders believed in the separation of church and state. They did not want the state to establish a church like happened in Europe. But even the United States Constitution provided for a Christian chaplain for the Congress.

    Thank you for this discourse. You have taught me much. In the end, it all comes down to belief. May God bless and keep you regardless of whatever direction your life takes and may He help you to find the answers you are seaking. Sincerely, Sharer.

    Maine
    Objects of government. We the people of Maine, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for our mutual defense, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity, so favorable to the design; and, imploring God’s aid and direction in its accomplishment, do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the style and title of the State of Maine and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government of the same.

    Massachusetts
    Article II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship. [See Amendments, Arts. XLVI and XLVIII.]
    Article III. [As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.
    Vermont
    Art. 3rd That all men have a natural and unalienable right, to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understandings, as in their opinion shall be regulated by the word of God: and that no man ought to, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of his conscience, nor can any man be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments, or peculia[r] mode of religious worship; and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship. Nevertheless, every sect or denomination of Christians ought to observe the Sabbath or Lord’s day, and keep up some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God.

    Pennsylvania
    WE, the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

  • 97. Anonymous  |  March 3, 2009 at 12:45 am

    let’s see. In all of history including the greatest minds that ever lived such as Augustine and Aquinas and luther etc., etc. The fact that man has no idea, and I mean clueless as to how or why he is here.Even Einstein said that if the universe had a beginning then it had a creator. What starts a beginning. You don’t know at all do you. Yet you who knows not a thing I should believe over the bible that has endured thousands of years. Walk with me here. Why should I even consider your opinion. You use reason to deny but probably not to accept that all of existence just didn’t happen. I have seen many big bangs but have never seen an explosion produce trees, oceans, people and animals. So tell us oh nimble one just how did we get here.

  • 98. Joshua  |  March 3, 2009 at 1:02 am

    “What starts a beginning.”

    Nothing.

    “Before” is only a term that applies inside of time. So saying “before” the universe is meaningless.

    “So tell us oh nimble one just how did we get here.”

    Why would any man be so arrogant as to claim to know?

  • 99. GeorgeZ  |  September 25, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Qmonkey,

    Nice try. Here is the problem. No one knows? Why not? Check out walied shoebat on youtube. Listen to his take on Islam. Creation vrs. ev is another target for ath and agnostics. Fine, there are great minds on both sides.

    Argue all one like for evolution. This is only part of the arguement.

    We won’t go deep into it, but the state of man as an evil being, knowing good, but evil at the core. You know your own mind gets hit with all sorts of thoughts you did not summons. The arive. Most people deal with them, hold them off. Many do not. The sin nature, the dual nature of man is what separates us from all other beings. Free will vrs the directed will of all other animals and creatures on this planet.
    Behe, Darwins Black Box, and counless others from Cal Berk, MIT and Stanford believe in ID.

    You are so consumed with trying to disprove God in your own life, and in others. How sad. You live in a nation raised by God to be in place when the Jews were to return to Israel.

    May 14, 1848. The clock started ticking again. Since you do not understand the Bible, the book of Daniel, for one, you do not understand the role of this nation. The fall of this nation, which is upon us, you are naive beyond reason. Blind by your own choice. The Bible states it plainly, “The fool has said in his heart, THERE IS NO GOD.”

    THERE YOU HAVE IT. IF THE SHOEBAT FITS, WEAR IT.

    If you do not understand the purpose of the Jews on this planet, how sad again.

    Israel is the timeclock for humanity. The Bible is the only accurate acount of the nation of Israel, its past and its future.

    We are the generation to see Israel reborn as a nation. w

  • 100. GeorgeZ  |  September 25, 2009 at 9:25 am

    We are the generation to see Israel reborn as a nation. Do you not understand the Abrahamic Covenant? Do you not know why Islam and Jews claim Abraham as their father? They are both correct. Ask Satan, he understands. Oh, that’s right, you don’t belive in the boogie man, you lose again. Satan is alive and well on planet earth. Actually, according to Jesus Christ, Satan is the power of this age. Don’t understand the murders, some in the millions, others one by one? Sexual perversion, all maner of evil?

    How naive do you want to stay? You work overtime trying to disprove God using reason? Are you kidding? You know you are a mess in your own mind, confused and lost. Admit it, you are. You are the blind leading the blind.

    Jesus Christ is the only being that has ever lived on this planet that you cannot be neutral about. You are either for him or against him. The claims are simple, you have a choice. Either he died for you, and you claim it, his blood for your sin, or you trample the blood of Christ under foot, as the Bible states.

    It is one or the other, your choice. The blood sacrifice set for the Jews, until the temple was destroyed in 70AD, is no longer required by God because of the death, burrial and res. of Jesus Christ from the dead.

    This is a bodyless religion. Produce the body, either the Jews, or Rome, it is over. Are you so naive to think that the band of cowards that were with Jesus for 3 years stole the body, then later all died a maytars death. They died for a lie? You are a fool by choice.

  • 101. qmonkey  |  September 25, 2009 at 9:33 am

    >>Ask Satan, he understands

    Just asked him, he told me that you’re nuts.

    (i’m not quite sure what it means to be a fool by choice. but, ok, thanks)

    have a nice day.

  • 102. GeorgeZ  |  September 25, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Thanks, going to have a nice day. Just talked to God, he told me you are nuts.

    You do not understand what it means to be a fool by choice? Lets review:

    Since I believe the Bible def. of man, I also believe God inspired the Jews to record what He wanted to reveal about himself, and give a roadmap to relationship with him.

    Interesting that you miss the point of Jesus Christ death. Where is the body? It would have been a one day religion.

    Do you deny that Jesus Christ was crucified?

    There is more records than just the Bible. Even Jews do not deny his death.

    THE FOOL HAS SAID IN HIS HEART, THERE IS NO GOD, the verse quoted before. Yes, Satan understands, did not realize you had such a connection, but not totally shocked.

    The other point was also simple. If his followers had not seen him alive, why did they die for a lie. It was not money. Have you read there accounts?

    What about the prophecy of the Old Test regarding the Jewish messiah?

    If you really want to understand what I believe is going on, get on youtube, Walied Shoebat. Also check out, on youtube, What the west need to understand about Islam.

    Also, think trough why Israel was reborn as a nation. This is all you need to figure out. Maybe you can come up with a good reason.

    You have a nice day yourself

  • 103. qmonkey  |  September 25, 2009 at 10:52 am

    You’ve got me worried now. What you’re saying obviously makes a great deal of sense to you, but to me it sounds like the ramblings of a paranoid conpiracy theorist or cult member.

    But if the bible says that im a fool for not believing the bible, then who am i do argue with the bible?

    Maybe you’re right then, i’m a fool. I’m not smart enough to understand and accept the evience you have so skillfully presented. I still (in my foolishness) think that you’re nuts.

    What’s to be done, are fools like me not able to be christians?

  • 104. Joshua  |  September 25, 2009 at 11:00 am

    You have a nice day yourself [but you know you are going to burn in hell while I worship the God who created hell every day for eternity]

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

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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