OK. As I promised, I tried the Resurrection Challenge. That’s an effort to harmonize the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus as depicted in the four Gospels, the beginning of Acts, and a short passage in I Cor 15. Of course it’s impossible to harmonize them, so what I’ve done is list each event in the order they occurred and given them numbers to show that order. Where more than one thing happened at one time, or where I couldn’t tell what happened, I added a letter to the number. So for events 1,2,3 the accounts accord OK. Then you hit 4a-d where more than one story comes out of the different accounts. As you’ll see, these differing accounts are usually mutually exclusive. Really and truly these contradictions cannot be reconciled.
Resurrection rectification effort:
1- Some women went to the tomb early Sunday morning. (Mary, Mary, Salome, more?)
2- Before the women got to the tomb, the stone was rolled away. This involved an angel descending, an earthquake happening, and guards being stunned. The guards recovered and ran off.
3- The women arrived at the tomb.
4a – (Matt) The women saw an angel outside the tomb and he told them to go in a see that it was empty…
RL Wemm recently posted this analogy here on de-conversion.com in response to an anonymous theist. It seemed worthy of being its own article, so with a few touch-ups (including two italicized additions of my own), here it is. (Thanks RL.)
Imagine if the people you trusted and looked up to believed that the Lord of the Rings was a work of fact, and imagine that you had lived your early life as if this were true. Then imagine the turmoil you would feel as you gradually discovered that the stories just did not gel with reality without an unacceptable degree of “special pleading”. Imagine your consternation and discomfort upon recognizing that Gandalf’s self-sacrifice made no logical sense given the other properties which he was supposed to have; that Sauron is an unrealistically one-dimensional character (all bad); that the archeologist who discovered the site of Rivendell was likely to have been mistaken and that Frodo may not have actually existed.
Then imagine that your community has deified Bilbo as the Real Son of Gandalf, and Frodo as the Real Son of Bilbo. Imagine that Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, and Sauron have been imbued with a whole lot of magical and personal characteristics that are at variance with the descriptions of these characters provided in many sections of the Holy Books of the Rings. Imagine that your community tells you that it is the Evil Mind of Sauron that makes you aware of these inconsistencies and that dwelling on them is a sin that will result in eternal torture for you in the furnace of Mt. Doom along with the Unholy Ring…
So this Sunday we had a guest priest do a sermon. [For those who don’t know, I go to church because my family believes, and because there are good people there whom I count my friends.] The priest rambles a little, then gets to what he really wants to tell us about. Two “miracles” that he has seen in the last few months.
“Miracle” 1: A ten-year-old girl had a stroke and was comatose. The priest went to see her in the hospital a day or two after the stroke. While he was praying, he gets to a point in the prayer where any Orthodox knows to cross oneself. The little girl, though still comatose, crosses herself. At the end of the prayer she does so again. (This is labeled “a miracle”.) Over the next days and weeks the “miracle” continues as she wakes up, sits up, and begins to regain control of her body.
“Miracle” 2: The priest is at a shopping center and is in his car. He puts the car in gear and pulls out of his parking spot to go across the lot to pick up his son, who he believes is playing in the snow at the far end of the lot. The priest feels his front and back wheels bump over something and jumps out to see what it is. Unbeknownst to him, the boy was right next to the car and was knocked down and run over by the wheels (at <5 MPH obviously). The priest panics and yanks the boy off the ground into a big hug and cries out. The boy gives a gasp and opens his eyes; he is apparently unharmed. They go to the hospital and doctors confirm that the boy has suffered to harm.
Now I’ve had emergency medical training and have been a biomed researcher for years. So out of curiosity, do those of you without benefit of such background see some problems with labeling these two events as “miracles”?…
This is a very well done piece on critical thinking.
For more brilliant stuff by the same fellow, go to his YouTube page and browse around.
…. According to a New Survey
This is being reported in numerous news agencies. Here is a link for the report itself: http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/
This survey had 54,461 respondents and was conducted over 10 months. So it’s not one of those worthless, “barely 1000 surveyed with one afternoon’s phone calling” polls.
- Summing up those who said of the existence of God “There is no such thing”, “There is no way to know”, “I’m not sure”, & “There is a higher power but not a personal god” gives as 24.4% of all respondents! Of course there is the downside that there are still 69.5% who said, “There is definitely a personal God”. But that first number is a vast improvement over what was seen 15+ years ago.
- Those who identify themselves religiously as “none” amounted to 15% of respondents. Up from 8.2% in 1990!
- 27% do not expect a religious funeral at their death.
There’s still a long way to go, but this is great progress. I would like to hope that it’s a sign of increasing sense and honesty among people, but I’m NOT that optimistic (naïve?).
:D – LeoPardus
The taller, louder half of the magic and comedy act Penn and Teller, tells what the absence of God means in his life. [The bits of emphasis are added by me at points I though particularly cool or poignant.]
I believe that there is no God. I’m beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy — you can’t prove a negative, so there’s no work to do. You can’t prove that there isn’t an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word “elephant” includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?
So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy.
But, this “This I Believe” thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life’s big picture, some rules to live by. So, I’m saying, “This I believe: I believe there is no God.” Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I’m not greedy.
I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it’s everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I’m raising now is enough that I don’t need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day…