Ten Questions to Ask Your Pastor

The New York Times recently ran a depressing article about the obstacles faced by public school science teachers. I don’t envy teachers their job, as important as it is: between surly and unruly students, cash-strapped school districts, incompetent administrators, and the regimented, monotonous teaching needed to drill classes for standardized testing, they have more than enough to deal with. But this outrage may surpass all the others: religious students who have been programmed by their parents and churches to reject evolution and any other branch of science that infringes on their sacred superstitions.

The last question on the test Mr. Campbell passed out a week later asked students to explain two forms of evidence supporting evolutionary change and natural selection.

“I refuse to answer,” Bryce wrote. “I don’t believe in this.”

The article mentions “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution“, a tract written by the Moonie creationist Jonathan Wells, as one that some religious students are bringing to class. The National Center for Science Education has done a superb job answering these questions and unpacking the deceitful assumptions built into them (and the Talk.Origins Archive has a more in-depth response), so I won’t spend my time on that. I have a different idea.

If the creationist churches are prepping teenagers with arguments against science, I think it’s only fair that they get a taste of their own medicine. I think there should be a list of questions for Sunday-school students to ask their pastor – questions that cast light on the unsavory parts of Christian theology and raise the difficult, uncomfortable issues that most religious leaders prefer to avoid. Here are my suggestions for a list. I’ve done my best to raise issues that aren’t often addressed by apologists, or to phrase questions in ways that aren’t as susceptible to stock answers. If anyone has alternatives or additions, feel free to suggest them.

1. Why is God called loving or merciful when, in the Old Testament’s stories of the Israelite conquest, he specifically orders his chosen people to massacre their enemies, showing no mercy to men, women, even children and animals?

2. Does it make sense to claim, as the Bible does, that wrongdoing can be forgiven by magically transferring the blame from a guilty person to an innocent one, then punishing the innocent person?

3. Why does the Bible routinely depict God as manifesting himself in dramatic, unmistakable ways and performing obvious miracles even before the eyes of nonbelievers, when no such thing happens in the world today?

4. Why do vast numbers of Christians still believe in the imminent end of the world when the New Testament states clearly that the apocalypse was supposed to happen 2,000 years ago, during the lifetime of Jesus’ contemporaries?

5. Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain?

6. If it was always God’s plan to provide salvation through Jesus, why didn’t he send Jesus from the very beginning, instead of confusing and misleading generations of people by setting up a religion called Judaism which he knew in advance would prove to be inadequate?

7. Since the Bible states that God does not desire that anyone perish, but also states that the majority of humankind is going to hell, doesn’t this show that God’s plan of salvation is a failure even by his own standard? If this outcome is a success, what would count as a failure?

8. Why didn’t God create human beings such that they freely desire to do good, thus removing the need to create a Hell at all? (If you believe this is impossible, isn’t this the state that will exist in Heaven?)

9. Is it fair or rational for God to hide himself so that he can only be known by faith, then insist that every single human being find him by picking the right one out of thousands of conflicting and incompatible religions?

10. If you had the power to help all people who are suffering or in need, at no cost or effort to yourself, would you do it? If so, why hasn’t God done this already?

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://chromiumoxidegreen.blogspot.com Maria

    On question five, I found your essay on the ghost in the machine very well done. I just think it’s amazing, to consider all the facts that people readily accept, apparently without noticing that it either deals serious damage to, or right out refutes, their professed belief in a soul. Perhaps excluding scientologists, I haven’t encountered anyone who had a problem believing that these little molecules–adrenaline, caffeine, alcohol, methamphetamines, antidepressants–can have huge effects on a person’s thinking and behavior. Nor have I found anyone who refused to believe that a person could experience amnesia after a bad head injury, or that lobotomies do not severely change a person. But at the same time, it will never occur to these people to question the exisetence of the soul; it’s just taken as a given, no matter what other ideas show up.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Thanks, Maria!

    As Carl Sagan observed, the history of the human species is a series of great demotions. The first was the Copernican revolution, demoting Earth from the center of the universe to one planet among many. The religious conservatives fought against this for a long time, but for the most part, they’ve come to accept it. The second was the Darwinian revolution, making human beings just one species among many, rather than the apex of creation. The religious conservatives, for the most part, have refused to come to terms with this and are still fighting against it. The third one, I think, is going to be the neurological revolution – the one that shows our mind is the result of physical causes, rather than the product of a supernatural soul. For the most part, religious conservatives haven’t even felt this blow yet. But I think, when its full force is recognized, it’s going to be the most decisive one of all. The knowledge that the mind is a physical phenomenon strikes directly at religious belief, far more so than evolution or heliocentrism do.

    Incidentally, I’m a Binghamton alum. Good to see a fellow Bearcat. :)

  • Leum

    In hindsight, I now believe that the problem of neurology and of brain damage affecting behavior, which was brought to my attention in a high school Psychology class (mainly through discussions about aphasia), was probably the first or second step on my path to atheism. Realizing that brain structure plays such a pivotal role in behavior, thinking, perception, etc. is probably, as you said, the most crushing blow yet to the idea of a soul or a God who gave humans souls.

    I still remember the hours I spent trying to deal with the cognitive dissonance. I knew I had a soul, that I would live on after death (leading to terror-filled nights when I dreaded Hell), but here was evidence, really good evidence, that there was no soul. My brain went into rationalization overdrive, but it didn’t last. Had I read your essay on the Ghost in the Machine, I would probably have left theism even earlier.

  • John Burckardt

    I have mixed feelings about what you have written. As a Christian believer who has no problem with evolution or the Big Bang, it kind of drives a wedge into me. On one side is the part of me that believes that science gives us an understanding of the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to now.

    But on the other side, the article digs into some of the basis of Christianity, which hurts and leads me to wonder if the article could drive away a potential ally in opposing the infiltration of religion and politics into science.

    Also, I would question what value this would have to an expected audience of Christians would don’t believe in evolution. The more conservative Christians I know (including some in my denomination) would look at the tone of the questions and dismiss it, literally throwing it in the waste basket. Thus, it would have no influence on them or what they believe.

    Unlike more open-minded thinkers like me, those with unshakable strongly held beliefs are unlikely to actually take in your points and maybe alter their beliefs with benefit of a different perspective.

    I could go on to explain how some of your points don’t impact my faith, as I don’t depend on a literal interpretation of the Bible and my understanding of God is not bounded by the linear understanding of time that humans experience. But, let me instead say that science should be science and politics and religion should have no place in the scientific method.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Hello John,

    On one side is the part of me that believes that science gives us an understanding of the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to now…. But on the other side, the article digs into some of the basis of Christianity, which hurts and leads me to wonder if the article could drive away a potential ally in opposing the infiltration of religion and politics into science.

    First of all, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in Christianity, or any religion, and this article, like others I’ve written, is meant to explain why. As you’ll learn if you read my site or those of other modern atheists, we believe that the threat of creationism exists largely because society has internalized the idea that no belief born of religious faith should be seriously challenged or debated. This presumption of unearned respect for religious beliefs is precisely what has given creationists a foot in the door and enabled them to make the gains they have. I believe society is better off in the long run if all ideas are open to critical scrutiny.

    Second, I want to talk about this “driving away a potential ally” business. Are you saying that you can’t work together with people on issues where you find common ground, if you and those people disagree on other issues? Is your laudable support for science dependent on the rest of your beliefs going unchallenged, such that if an atheist criticizes your religion, you’ll abandon your support for evolution and head straight into the arms of the creationists? I don’t believe that for a second. I’m happy to work together with moderate theists on areas where we do agree – are you similarly worried about them driving me away if they speak out about why they believe in God?

    Also, I would question what value this would have to an expected audience of Christians would don’t believe in evolution. The more conservative Christians I know (including some in my denomination) would look at the tone of the questions and dismiss it, literally throwing it in the waste basket. Thus, it would have no influence on them or what they believe.

    I’m well aware that there are many believers who will refuse to read or listen to anything that challenges their faith. That’s unfortunate, but there’s nothing I can do about it, and I certainly don’t believe that it constitutes a reason for me not to speak my mind. In any group of people, there will be some who are willing to listen to a different perspective, even if many aren’t. Those are the ones I’m targeting.

    I could go on to explain how some of your points don’t impact my faith, as I don’t depend on a literal interpretation of the Bible and my understanding of God is not bounded by the linear understanding of time that humans experience. But, let me instead say that science should be science and politics and religion should have no place in the scientific method.

    That’s good to hear. But I think most of the ten points I’ve listed here apply equally to all varieties of Christianity, particularly 2, 5, 6, 8 and 10.

  • Brad

    I think these two pages are somewhat relevant to what you were talking about, Ebonmuse: (1) Quintessence of Dust (2) Egnor’s machine is uninhabited by any ghost.

    I wouldn’t say your questions aren’t without attempted answers, but in total they seriously challenge any believer to think holistically and try and actually understand what they believe. That’s an important catalyst for open-mindedness, setup for confrontation with personal beliefs, and ultimately a seed of doubt. Good idea!

    Whenever I walk past the Sunday school session rooms at my mother’s church, I feel bad about their indoctrination. I really hope kids’ natural curiosity and uninhibited minds can in some small way detect the lies they’re being spoon-fed.

  • http://kdegraaf.net/blog/ Kevin DeGraaf

    The third one, I think, is going to be the neurological revolution – the one that shows our mind is the result of physical causes, rather than the product of a supernatural soul. For the most part, religious conservatives haven’t even felt this blow yet. But I think, when its full force is recognized, it’s going to be the most decisive one of all. The knowledge that the mind is a physical phenomenon strikes directly at religious belief, far more so than evolution or heliocentrism do.

    I’m not nearly as optimistic. :-(

    The fundies will never be swayed by any evidence whatsoever; neuroscience will join biology, cosmology, etc. in the list of evil, godless sciences perpetrated by untrustworthy Hell-bound atheists.

    As for the moderate Christians, just as they reacted to heliocentrism and evolution by declaring the geocentric parts of the Bible and the Genesis stories as metaphorical allegories from which moral lessons are to be distilled, further evidence demonstrating the material basis for the mind will be rationalized away by moving the goalposts. The “soul” will be redefined as a magic component that God magically instills into humans (at conception, naturally), that magically works with the physically-based mind somehow, and that magically separates from the mind at death, to be sent to Heaven or Hell.

    In other words, those theists that pretend to care about evidence (as opposed to the flat-out “La-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” crowd) will take refuge under the cover of unfalsifiability, just as they always have when presented with contradictory evidence.

  • Stephen

    I would suggest that the Darwinian revolution was actually the third great demotion. The second was the demonstration, thanks to spectroscopy and parallax measurements, that the sun was just one out of millions of stars. The effect on the world-view of educated people must have been great, yet for some reason the religious fanatics never (as far as I know) attacked it to the degree that they attack the other demotions you mention.

  • mikespeir

    The more conservative Christians I know (including some in my denomination) would look at the tone of the questions and dismiss it, literally throwing it in the waste basket. Thus, it would have no influence on them or what they believe.

    If I may add to Ebon’s reply, it’s true that many Christians are as John describes them. I used to be one. And yet, here I am today, an atheist. Why? Because, although words like Ebon’s would have had no affect on me directly, the kind of thinking they reflect is becoming more and more a constituent of the atmosphere of this planet. They wouldn’t have worked on me, but they did work on people I knew: people I would listen to.

    Therein lies the value of Ebon’s work and that of others. The more this kind of thinking pervades society, the more society as a whole pulls back from religious fundamentalists, leaving the Fundamentalists isolated and stranded. Then you can bet they’ll notice. Indeed, they are noticing. And when they notice it starts to affect them in spite of themselves.

  • Leum

    As for the moderate Christians, just as they reacted to heliocentrism and evolution by declaring the geocentric parts of the Bible and the Genesis stories as metaphorical allegories from which moral lessons are to be distilled, further evidence demonstrating the material basis for the mind will be rationalized away by moving the goalposts. The “soul” will be redefined as a magic component that God magically instills into humans (at conception, naturally), that magically works with the physically-based mind somehow, and that magically separates from the mind at death, to be sent to Heaven or Hell.

    Except that neuroscience doesn’t just kill the idea of a soul during life, it also seriously challenges the idea of existence without a brain. Liberal Christianity was able to survive heliocentrism by claiming it didn’t matter, evolution by calling Genesis a metaphor, but the only way it can survive neuroscience is to call the soul a metaphor, and that more or less destroys the whole point. Once Christianity is left with nothing but metaphors, it isn’t really that different from atheism.

    But maybe I am being too optimistic. When I still believed I tried to do the whole “magic component” deal, but it was too difficult to resolve the problem, so I just called it a mystery. That doesn’t mean that everyone who considers the problem will be unable to come up with a more satisfying resolution.

    There is another way out of the problem, one that, from what I understand, is used by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. They say that after death nothing happens until God physically resurrects everyone at the Day of Judgment. This escapes the problem quite nicely, but may not be too appealing to Christians who see Revelation as allegory.

    I also wonder if neuroscience will ever become a part of the general knowledge in the way evolution has. Neuroscience is so much more obscure and complex than evolution, so it’s easier to dismiss it or claim that there’s no need to teach it in public schools. Really, it’s only in psychology classes that any attention is really paid to the brain, and psychology is not, as far as I know, required by most US schools. And until enough non-scientists are aware of the implications of neuroscience, there won’t be a third/fourth demotion of God in the public eye.

  • MS Quixote

    EM,

    I say “amen, brother” on questions 4 & 7 :)

    If anyone has alternatives or additions, feel free to suggest them.

    You might consider augmenting question 8 with an attendant difficulty. How did creatures created good sin?

  • Peter

    Your questions are great ones, but the biblical-minded will always find fluffy excuses and reasons of their own. You won’t get serious answers. I’ve tried often. People seem to know in their deep reptile brains that it’s all a scam, but they’ve been raised on bible-thumping and guilt and asking Jesus for things. They occasionally get them too. I have no idea how to get people from believing mythology except for patience in emphasising science, evolution and rational explanation all we can. Religion is a disease cured by sunlight. The depressing thing is that people enjoy being misled. They are afraid of the truth of mortality.

  • http://www.fullmoon.nu Harry Stottle

    Much as I sympathise with your motives, you’re wasting your time (which I suspect you’re fully aware of). The kind of kids who can be brainwashed into asking the creationist questions are psychologically unable to process contradictory information. If you manage to persuade a single creationist student to even read your questions, let alone address them to one of their “authorities” I’ll be massively impressed. ‘taint going to happen. Depressing as that conclusion is, you need to read:
    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    and what we all need to do is start figuring out how we deal with a world in which at least one third of the species is literally “beyond reason”. It really is a much much bigger problem than a battle over education – though that is obviously important. This is a battle for the soul of humanity.

    Welcome to the final war…

  • Brad

    > Why does God choose “progressive revelation” instead of full, complete revelation? Isn’t this unfair?

    > Why is it the Christian’s obligation to spread the word to the rest of the world, and not God’s?

    > Why doesn’t God actually talk to us? Why must he communicate in barely detectable ways? (If he personally communicates at all.)

    > Why doesn’t prayer work, when the Bible promises it should?

    > Why aren’t Christians doing bigger miracles than Jesus, when the Bible predicts they would?

    > How does a believer discern what to have faith in?

    I’ll add more of mine later.

  • Samuel Skinner

    I find the “driving away allies” odd. Haven’t such nay sayers heard that politics make odd bed fellows? If the Soviet Union, UK and the US could get along for 4 years to win WW2, I’m sure “moderates” can sway enough of their arrogance to get along with atheists. It isn’t aboutplatablity though- it is about forcing the atheists to shut up.

    Needless to say, atheists find it intensly insulting.

  • André Phillips

    I’d like to toss in my comment that I as well hang my head and sigh when I hear about stuff like this and the “were you there?” or “how do you know?” kind of brainwashing. Also, I too found number 7 very refreshing as a question I’ve never thought of or seen before. As for number 10, however, I can already hear them responding with the usual denials about how God has helped people by sending them the Bible and Christ and offering them Heaven, and that suffering in this life doesn’t actually matter and only leads to better times after death, etc. If I can suggest another one that I like to ask believers: How can God be omnipotent and omniscient at the same time? If he knows everything that has happened and will happen, how can he not be restrained from acting in any way contradictory to what he knows, which would only prove himself wrong? It’s just a spin on fate v. free will, and I don’t know, maybe it’s old and tired, but I always get a kick out of stumping people with it.

  • Christopher

    A couple new questions I would propose:

    1. How do you know that what mwe know as “reality” is indeed real? How do you know that your whole perspective of reality is indeed reliable and not just an illusion?

    2. Why does your religion have so many things in common with “heathen” belief systems (trinitarian being, blood sacrifice, magical thinking, etc…)?

    3. Upon what basis should I accept the reality of the “god” of your religion, but not those of others? What evidence do you have for your “god” that others lack?

    4. If their is only one “truth,” why is their so much diffision within the faith (not to mention outside of it…) as to just what that “truth” is?

  • Brad

    Christopher, I think your #1 isn’t well-aimed at Christianity or religion in general. Solipsism is for the philosopher. Now some more of mine:

    > Why is the Bible unclear on the requisites for salvation? Isn’t that an important point to communicate?

    > Is God the author of confusion or isn’t he?

    > Which ten commandments are the ten commandments?

    > Why didn’t God outright condemn slavery? Didn’t he have to save his chosen people from the evils of slavery?

    > Why does God have a chosen people? Isn’t that absurd?

    > Why should we believe Jesus literally rose from the dead?

    > How did the apostles die? Shouldn’t this be recorded better if they were so important?

    > Why doesn’t the Bible or God provide clear answers to divisive doctrines in Christianity?

    > Doesn’t God desire our understanding of his Word enough to use unambiguous diction?

    > Why is there no forty year gap in Egyptian history as prophesied in Ezekial?

    > Why is the Bible composed of the books it is? Why was the canon disputed? Why are there apocryphal texts at all? How do you know the Bible, as is, isn’t incomplete or have a blasphemous addition to it?

    > Why does God go to the lengths he does to hurt and kill innocent people? (God: 2,000,000+; Satan: 10)

    > Why are women regarded inferior so much in scripture? Why doesn’t God correct his people on these biases?

    > Why is faith a virtue? Why is skepticism a vice?

    > Is it okay to divorce or isn’t it?

    > What is the point behind sacrifices?

    > Why is the Earth indiscriminately placed within a vast universe?

    > Why did the human come about through evolution, having to suffer through 100,000+ years of high mortality rates, low age expectancy, horrible quality of life, et cetera?

    > Why doesn’t God believe in equal opportunity?

    > Why is God concerned about humans? What was the point in creating us, rats in a maze?

    > Why is there unnecessary suffering?

    Well, that makes 21 questions right there. I paraphrased a lot from James Bucker’s article Tough Questions for Christianity.

  • hb531

    Great list of questions. I’ll print and keep in my wallet!

    You might want to add one about the relative nature of religious morals with respect to non-literal interpretations of the bible. Or, you could mention Euthyphro’s paradox. That’s a good one for faith-heads to comprehend.

  • Christopher

    Spelling: “division” – sorry about that…

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    Good post, Ebon. You kicked off things with some good questions. Many of the additional commmenters’ questions have been good too. This will be a good page to bookmark.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    I know this isn’t your point, but… fail the kid. No one lets you get away with saying “I don’t believe in giant white whales.”

  • Brad

    I agree, Ridger. The purpose of a class is to teach you a subject matter and test your understanding of the material presented. There should be no test of what you actually believe, only that you understand what you’re given. If a student refuses to take the test then they give up their chance to prove their comprehension, and should be given no credit.

    On the flip side, I agree with Ebonmuse that research papers should include a sworn statement that the author(s) stand behind the reasoning and evidence they present in any paper. (See The Curiously Postmodern Modern Apologists.)

    One more idea I have to add to this article: ask your pastor how Christian dogmas apply to some extreme situations. For example, small children who die of a disease after a few years of living. How are they saved? How is their situation fair? And what about people who get brain damage and get their personality changed? What about people with amnesia who can’t even hold a thought, and can’t remember anything new? How will they be able to accept Christ? How come people people win sports tournaments, get job promotions, win the lottery, and receive political office because of God’s grace, but poor impoverished people aren’t given special help outside of human efforts? How come prayer heals some people but never amputees?

  • mikespeir

    And what about people who get brain damage and get their personality changed?

    That’s always a good point, Brad. How can a person repent of his sins when he can’t remember them and when he is, in fact, an essentially different person from the one who committed them? Of course, some Christians will come back with Original Sin and say that, because we’re born in sin, personal sins are almost beside the point. But that’s a different subject–and a different problem for Christianity.

  • terrence

    Here’s one in the form of a two-parter:

    1) Was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ a bad thing or a good thing for humanity?

    2) If the answer is “good,” why aren’t Judas and Pontius Pilate designated as major saints?

  • lpetrich

    terrence’s point uses the Greater Good theodicy, that bad things happen in order to make various good things happen. So it could be stated:

    If one believes in the Greater Good theodicy, then Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate had done humanity a great service, and were thus heroes instead of villains.

    -

    And now for some questions:

    Why did Jesus Christ forbid name-calling yet do it himself?

    Why did he decree that you ought to love your enemies, but turn around and foam at the mouth at scribes and Pharisees and a certain fig tree?

    Why did he fail to practice what he preached, despite claiming that doing so was such a big sin?

    Why was he so angry at a certain fig tree for not being in season for figs when he was hungry? If he was God, and he could conjure up some bread and fish, then why not some figs?

    Why was he so anti-family?

  • TimJ

    Hi Adam,

    First time commentator here, but long time lurker. Most of the time, I’m too harried to actually think up and write comments, and your usual commentators are usually spot on anyway, so I feel like I would be fairly superfluous. But I feel like slacking a bit this morning :) . First, I’ve loved your essays on the ebonmusings site and think you are pretty much right on target. I may have some minor quibbles here and there, but nothing that really damages any of the arguments you’ve made, many of which I wish I’d thought of :) . I’ve given the address to your site to a few Christian relatives to check out, but haven’t heard back from them concerning it yet. :)

    But on to the main topic of this posting. Of course I agree with the principle ideas. One of the ideas being fleshed out in the comments is related to your excellently written “Ghost in the machine” essay on how the physical brain is the foundation of our personality, etc. I agree this is a revolution that undermines the common Christian ideas concerning dualism. However, as far as a revolution that changes the mindset of Christians…I remain skeptical. The origins of personality is a complex issue, as is how the brain itself works and relates to the development of personality. The problem that I see (and I could be wrong) is that most people unfortunately do not think that deeply. Dualism, from their point of view, is such an ingrained and “common sense” concept, that it is simply not questioned. Now, “man didn’t came from monkeys”…hey, that’s simple enough to rally around.

    One of your commentators mentioned that a resurrection makes the concept of the soul possibly unnecessary anyway. Should the physical basis of personality (beyond the enhancements already noted in the comments) gain notice in the popular discussion, this is certainly an argument Christians could make in an attempt to defend their faith. An omnipotent god could resurrect whoever he/she/it wants in whatever state is desired (Tipler touches on this in his “Physics of Immortality”.). Now, since the personality can change over time, most significantly with brain damage, one might ask which personality gets resurrected (similar to your “..Ghost..” arguments). Perhaps there is a buffet style resurrection where one gets to pick and choose whatever one wants. But given the dependency relationships in personality development, and the fact that making choices requires some personality to begin with…sheesh..I’m glad I don’t have to be the guy defending such nonsense.

    Just thought I’d throw in my 1 cent (not adjusted for inflation). Thanks for all the hard work in putting together all those essays. Keep ‘em comin’!

    cheers,
    Tim

  • Leum

    1. Why did Jesus deliberately conceal his teachings from those who were not yet his followers? (Matthew 13:10-13)

    2. Given Matthew 13:10-13, why don’t Christians attempt to keep unbelievers from reading the Bible?

  • Brad

    Hello, Tim!

    I think the overwhelming correlation between aspects of the physical brain and aspects of the mind are not so easy to casually dismiss, even by a lay person. Once major neurological concepts come into popular knowledge, these facts cannot lay dormant in the back seats of people’s minds. “Scientific materialism” will only grow more acknowledged by people as science advances in this direction.

    If dualism was true, then the soul should be much more independent of the brain than we see. The brain should be expected to act as the medium, not the full machinery. If a theist tries to make up some buffet-style resurrection theory, they still haven’t explained away neuroscience. In fact, under such a theory, they would be conceding the fact there is no unchanging soul.

  • TimJ

    Hey Brad,

    Well, I totally agree with your arguments concerning dualism and I do hope you are correct in your prediction that the overwhelming correlation ‘twixt brain and mind will be too much for the casual observer to ignore. Lately though, I’ve been somewhat underwhelmed by people’s critical thinking skills (especially during last week :) ). Still, there’s always room for hope. Humanity has, up to this point, actually made pretty good progress technologically and morally speaking. But there does seem to be quite a vocal bunch who would love to drag us back into the dark ages. But in any case, your last sentence corroborates my somewhat obscurely stated point. Even if the soul were, let’s say, “conceded away”, one fallback argument that Christians could make (I’m not saying its a good one :) ) is that the soul is unnecessary anyway because a physical resurrection somehow fixes everything. I don’t know of anyone actually making that argument yet, with the possible exception of Tipler (old book though and I don’t know if he’s thrown that argument out since).

    Going back to the original topic though (some great questions already posted), here’s my own meager contribution off the top of my head that I’ll just toss out there:

    1) If you had the choice in a military battle of having God on your side, or having iron chariots, which is the better choice?

    2) What did Moses see when God showed him his “backside”?

    3) What happened to all the resurrected saints at the time of Jesus’s cruxifiction/resurrection?

    4) Is infinite punishment for finite sin just?

    5) Why was it fair for God to kill a guy who accidentally touched the Ark of the Covenant when trying to keep it from falling over? (I remember reading that as a good Christian kid and thinking, “O.K. What the hell was that all about?”).

    6) If we are the crowning achievement of God’s creation, what is the vast majority of the universe for (most of which can not even be seen with the naked eye)?

    7) Why see a doctor when you are sick when according to James, “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up”? Why not some useful medical advice?

    8) General..but any question about dismantling any of the so-called prophecies of Jesus mentioned in Matthew (virgin birth, called out of Egypt, etc.) is pretty trivial (and left as an exercise to the reader :) ).

    cheers,
    Tim

  • Virginia

    I liked the idea of “tasting their own medicines” as well as the point that we should remove the internalized idea that any belief rooted from religious faith are not to be challenged.
    I think I can respect a personal choice of faith — at the personal level, period. That does not stop one from challenging it, openingly debating it or debunking it — though I know most friends of mine dreaded the idea of debating Christianity with me — because the process really hurts them, and to some extent the relationship.
    Of course, we should really work towards de-throning religious faith from the altar and in the end, stop its teaching in schools (at my part of the world, church found elementary and high schools teach the Bible as a subject!!)

  • Virginia

    Reading the NY Times article, I found I almost gushed out my tea upon reading this:
    In a stormy public comment session, Mr. Campbell defended his fellow writers against complaints that they had not included alternative explanations for life’s diversity, like intelligent design.

    His attempt at humor came with an edge:

    “We also failed to include astrology, alchemy and the concept of the moon being made of green cheese,” he said. “Because those aren’t science, either.”

  • terrence

    Let’s give Jesus a break on the fig thing. They’re kind of disgusting unless in the form of Newton dipped in milk, and even then only if Oreos aren’t available

  • http://corsair.blogspot.com corsair the pirate

    Why does God have only one Son (and god so loveed the world blah blah)?

    Why can’t he make another one (impotence?) and send him down here to do some good work?

    What happened to all the people who died before Jesus was killed? Or those who never heard of him? Heaven? Hell? Somewhere in between?

    If they were sent to heaven (because they didn’t know about original sin), wouldn’t it make more sense to not spread the good news and then everyone will go to heaven regardless?

    Why was God so scared of the Tower of Babel? Is heaven really attainable through bronze-age building techniques?

    Job get credit for not abandoning God when things get tough. Big deal, at least he was still alive! What is up with killing all the rest of the family!? They weren’t in on the bet!

    More later…

  • Polly

    I DID ask my (youth) pastor #1. I got a really stern look and a response like “You believe in the Bible or you don’t.”
    I also asked why King David, that wretched liar, got to kill Uriah the Hittite after committing adultery and was let off the hook while god killed an innocent baby. Boy, I tell ya’, they don’t like questions like that.

    Funny thing, I asked my best friend at that time the same questions, he just condescendingly said, all these notes (in my bible) and questions, don’t mean anything. He completely brushed aside the issue and added “I believe because I believe.” Anyone else here ever hear that bullshit answer!?

    As for evolution. I didn’t believe in “macro” evolution even in college (majoring in Biochemistry!) But, if I saw a question on a test having to do with evolution, I answered it according to what I’d studied. No big deal. It’s a theory that I thought was wrong. I didn’t feel the need to assert that TheWorld change its ways on the basis of my faith. I knew I had nothing much else. Though, I did challenge my prof with the old 2nd law of thermodynamics, ONCE. LOL!

  • Judy

    Here’s a question to ask: What “loving” god would allow such things as menstruation, childbirth, and mental illness to exist?

  • http://panicon4july.blogspot.com/ Will E.

    We must never cave in to the idea that simply because some people are going to find these points objectionable that we must not express them. Yes, many Xians may toss this list into the trash–but some will not. We *know* this happens, because many of us were once as they are. Imagine a world in which everyone second-guessed expressing their thoughts with “Wait, I might upset someone, I’d better keep my mouth shut.” That would get us precisely nowhere. Fundy Xians haven’t been afraid of offending poeple when screaming and yelling about persecution and how we’re all going to hell and the world’s gonna end for lo these 2 millenia; why should we atheists be shy about giving them a little grief now and then?

  • DamienSansBlog

    I agree with The Ridger and Brad. If a student leaves a question blank, their teacher has to mark it just as wrong as if he’d given an incorrect answer. Especially when said teacher has explicitly said, “I don’t expect you to ‘believe’ the scientific explanation of evolution that we’re going to talk about over the next few weeks. But I do expect you to understand it.’” If this Bryce character then decides to spout irrelevant statements about his “beliefs”, of course he fails the class! Where is the controversy here?

    On a separate note, I thought this was hilarious: “We see lizards with different-shaped tails, we don’t see blizzards — the lizard bird.”

    Clearly one of Mr. Campbell’s colleagues needs to catch up on the last 140 years’ worth of news: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeopteryx#History_of_discovery She better get crackin’.

  • nfpendleton

    Xianity, like all religions and cults, builds in a firewall that helps even the weakest believer deflect criticisms and questions. I’m sick of debating this, frankly. They just need to be told under no uncertain terms that their mythology, superstition and folklore are wrong. Period.

  • Brad

    To add on to Judy’s ideas, we can point to the fact we live in a World in Shadow.

    Pendleton, I say find a middle road between preaching and debating. We should explain atheism to people, so they can understand. We don’t need to tell them to believe what we believe, and we don’t have to fight for recognized intellectual victory. What we do need to do is fight for freethought.

  • Dr. X

    A question I had many years ago, and don’t see often is – What kind of sacrifice did God make if he knew his ‘son’ was going to be resurrected and was destine to be his right-hand man?

  • ex machina

    A question I had many years ago, and don’t see often is – What kind of sacrifice did God make if he knew his ‘son’ was going to be resurrected and was destine to be his right-hand man?

    No kidding. Hey, I’ve got a deal for you. You’ll be beaten and flagellated and crucified in the most painful way possible, but the perk is that you’ll only be dead for three days, and omnipotent for all eternity after that. Damn, I’d take that deal as it stands right there, the whole saving of all mankind would just be a side benefit!

  • terrence

    More questions can be found in HI-larious fashion- get on youtube and type in “Sunday Heroes” – the one on Lazarus is great…

    “So, am I immortal now?”

  • Edgardo Peregrino

    As an atheist I agree with everything that was listed and how God is really not as holy as many thought. However, there is one thing that was forgotten, if God loves us all, then why does he continue to label gays and lesbians as sinners. Gays and lesbians have committed no crime against them except trying to engage in marriage. As far as I am concerned I condone the homosexual community to marry and live joyful lives together without anyone’s approval but their own. It is funny that in the military gay men are more prevalent as Arab translators which are rare since the Army keeps discharging them. In conclusion, Christianity must not continue to preach this because our nation is a free society and do not condone such discrimination.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Ebon –

    Excellent as usual. The question about a merciful god might be made sharper by referencing eternal Hellfire, or at least a decade-long struggle with cancer — or why cancer even exists.

    But at the bottom, the real question is: how can a Perfect God create imperfect creation? Isn’t “perfection” actually the result of the perfect Agent, and not a quality of said Agent? In other words, it would seem to me that our imperfect world points — at very best — to an imperfect God.

    In short: “How can God be perfect when he created imperfect man?” Or, if you really want to poke ‘em in the eye: “Doesn’t a perfect carpenter [heh] build perfect cabinets? This’un’s pretty crooked.”

  • Jerryd

    Thumpalumpacus
    To take this perfection thing to its logical foundation: if God is perfect, and if he inspired the Bible, how can there be ANY questions regarding what is written there? A perfect writer (inspirer) produces a flawless, unquestionable document by definition.

  • DamienSansBlog

    Thumpalumpacus and Jerryd, it is conceivable that a “perfect” being — however you choose to define the term — could create something less perfect than they are, or that a perfect work can become less perfect over the course of time. The Christian notion of “The Fall” is an example of the latter, while the Jewish concept of “tzimtzum” is an example of the former.

    The real question is whether there is evidence of a perfect being…which of course there is not.

  • James

    “Science SEEKS the truth, Religon claims to HAVE the truth and in the end TRUTH is simply what you believe to be true.”

    James Nacy II 1999

    What Chrisitans and other religons need to understand is in the scientific world THEORY means exactly that! “Its the best explanation we have right now”

    Athiests need to realize Faith cannot be broken by fact. ”

    The Easiest answer for both Athiests and Christians is to go to the core beliefs of what each of you believe in and seperate them from each other. As a Christian for those of us who have read the bible, need to STAY OUT OF SCIENCE and POLITICS! Nowhere in any part of the Bible does it tell us to pickett or bash down ANYTHING! Really Christians, come on, its not OUR job to oppose Embryonic research, or abortions! If you are a man of Science, this could prove useful for a varity of life saving cures, as a Christian, you can deplore it, but it could not have been written more clearly “Let the Rightous be Rightous still, let the Evil be Evil still” or maybe “Let the Wheat grow with the tares util the Harvets” How ever you want to cut it, if your a Christian, Christ plainly tells you it is NOT your place to Judge others, thats his job. Christ NEVER went into the Helenistic schools of learning for the Jewish people built by the Greeks to tell them not to learn what they were teaching from Greek education, he went to the Synagouges and taught the RELIGIOUS people of the day. If the Christians are right, they will make merry at the White Thronw Judgement as all the Scientists are cast into the lake of fire. If the Scientists are right, they will make merry as they cure Cancer, revelutionize space tarvel and all the other wonders of science. So I suggest this, Chrisitians, preach your gospel, if those people do not except it, shake the dust from your feet and move on, you did your duty. Athiests, leave the Christians alone, they arn’t hurting you. If it makes a man feel better to get up in the morning and feel he is in the favor of the Divine Creator God, and it helps him lead a more productive life, why try and ruin it for him, it dosent profit you at all. So, if the Christian community wants there kids to be taught something different then what the public schools are teaching, then make your own schools and teach WHATEVER YOU WANT! Its no wonder our country has fallen in Science Education. This is a country of free speach and freedom to believe in whatever religon we want or not to at all, this works BOTH WAYS! I am not opposed to even offering Bible classes in public schools as electives or the like to prep students bound for Theology based colleges . Its only fair, but STAY OUT OF THE SCIENCE DEPARTMENT. In other words “THE BEST WAY FOR US TO GET ALONG IS TO WORK TOGETHER TO STAY APART FROM EACH OTHER.”

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    James,

    Athiests, leave the Christians alone, they arn’t hurting you.

    If that were true, I’d be more than happy to leave them alone. Problem is, it’s simply not true. There are religious groups that are trying to dominate all others, as you decry in the upper portion of your comment. Beyond that, some religious folks take us into war because god told them to, and that affects all of us. We have homages to god on our currency and in our pledge of allegiance and that negatively affects us. Xians are trying to overturn abortion rights, teach creationism in schools, etc, and that hurts us. So, yeah, Xians are hurting me and everyone else in the country – not all Xians are doing this, mind you, but enough.

    So, if the Christian community wants there kids to be taught something different then what the public schools are teaching, then make your own schools and teach WHATEVER YOU WANT!

    Who was this aimed at? Xians already have parochial schools, so are you telling atheists to make schools? That would be a ridiculous notion.

  • http://www.ateosmexicanos.com/portal/ Juan Felipe

    “Recientemente él New York Times publicó un deprimente artículo sobre los obstáculos a los que se enfrentan los profesores de ciencia en las escuelas públicas. (…) Pero la indignación de Mayo superan por mucho todas las anteriores: estudiantes religiosos que han sido programados por sus padres e iglesias para rechazar la evolución y cualquier otra rama de la ciencia que incomoda sus sagradas supersticiones”

    http://www.ateosmexicanos.com/portal/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30&Itemid=35

    Great post Adam.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Hi Ebon,

    I don’t come around here much, and I don’t want to be perceived as a troll or an annoyance, but today I came across this post and have to ask you something.

    You wrote, “The knowledge that the mind is a physical phenomenon strikes directly at religious belief, far more so than evolution or heliocentrism do.”

    How so? It seems to me your argument is, “Since man can explain the physicalities of such things, this is evidence against the existence of God.”

    To clarify – prod neuron X, Y or Z in the subject’s brain and I agree you’ll get a change – but I don’t see how any of this removes or refutes God, or the possibility that consciousness transcends death.

    Explaining how some process transpires is not the same as explaining why, if a reason “why” even exists.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    To clarify – prod neuron X, Y or Z in the subject’s brain and I agree you’ll get a change – but I don’t see how any of this removes or refutes God, or the possibility that consciousness transcends death.

    cl, I think you’re making a considerable effort to miss the forest for the trees here.

    My point was not in reference to the fact that individual neurons are material objects, but that the mind as a whole demonstrably arises from their collective functioning. By inflicting certain, specific types of brain damage on a person, you can cause predictable changes to their identity and personality. By altering the physical structure of the brain, you can change a person’s beliefs, desires, or preferences. You can provoke a person to change their religious beliefs, or lose them altogether; you can destroy the sense of self-control, of judgment, of social consciousness, or of the ability to tell right from wrong.

    This is just what we would expect on the hypothesis that the mind is a purely physical phenomenon. It is inexplicable on the hypothesis that the mind is, in whole or in part, a supernatural phenomenon not dependent on the brain. And this, in turn, undermines one of the most central tenets of most religions: the claim that human beings have a soul that survives the death of the body. It also removes any reason we might possibly have for believing that a mind can exist without a body, which is a conclusion that bears directly on the hypothesis of God’s existence.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Well, I wouldn’t call the effort considerable, but..

    I agree with your first paragraph completely. But when you say, “It is inexplicable on the hypothesis that the mind is, in whole or in part, a supernatural phenomenon not dependent on the brain.”

    That’s where I disagree. It may not be inexplicable to you, and that (to me) is no grounds to reject the potentiality of a potential “supernatural” component to the human mind. It’s similar to creationists who reject the potentiality of evolution because it’s inexplicable to them, or because it doesn’t jibe with what they think God could / should / would have done.

    To clarify, I’ll say that so long as we’re in a body, mind is dependent on the brain. Further, even if there is a “supernatural” (I hate that word) phenomenon behind the mind, this would not conflict with your assertions here. In other words, I guess I’m saying I think you present a false dichotomy.

    I’m simply saying that the facts you point out, that we can alter behavior by prodding neurons for example, do not support the conclusion that consciousness cannot exist outside of a physical brain.

    They do support the conclusion that our thoughts and our brains are inextricably intertwined.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    To clarify, I’ll say that so long as we’re in a body, mind is dependent on the brain.

    So you agree with me that any aspect of consciousness can be altered or terminated by destroying the corresponding part of the brain. I believe that, given this starting point, it’s a straightforward inductive conclusion that the total destruction of the brain results in the total destruction of consciousness.

    Or take it another way. Let’s say we enumerate all the various regions of the brain, labeling them A through Z, and all the various aspects of consciousness, labeling them A’ through Z’. We’re agreed that when you destroy brain region A, you remove aspect of consciousness A’. Destroy brain region B, and you remove aspect of consciousness B’, and so on. Given these facts, I conclude that when all brain regions, A through Z, are destroyed, then all aspects of consciousness, A’ through Z’, are destroyed as well. But in your case, although you agree with every individual step of this reasoning, you disagree with the conclusion. That belief does violence to basic principles of logic.

  • Brad

    Within this domain, we have empirically observed that the mind is dependent on the brain. As Ebonmuse shows, this means it cannot “survive” death, although technically there’s no contradiction with logical or empirical facts in the idea that it is resurrected after death in some other domain. There’s also technically no contradiction in the idea that a Teapot orbits in the Asteroid Belt.

    If there’s some kind of “black box” component to the mind, we have yet to see it in any way. And shouldn’t all the other known components in the mind – identity, personality, cognition, memory, mood, etc. – be very religiously significant? Either these aspects of the mind have no religious bearing in salvation and afterlife, or there should be important religious implications for mere physical processes. Both of these mutually exhaustive hypotheses are damaging to religious belief. In the end, neuroscience strains religious belief.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Ebon, you say, “Given these facts, I conclude that when all brain regions, A through Z, are destroyed, then all aspects of consciousness, A’ through Z’, are destroyed as well.” Again, I don’t have much a problem with that. When you remove / terminate region A, B, C or whatever, of course there’s going to be a physical effect. Kill brain regions A-Z and of course my consciousness will cease – does that mean it ceases forever? My argument is that these facts do nothing to ‘disprove’ or even confront the idea that our consciousness can transcend death. All your proving is that within this domain, changes in brain chemistry alter consciousness to one degree or another, and I say so what?

    What I don’t see is how any of that poses a threat to religion or God or whatever. You and Brad argue that neuroscience strains religious belief, but I find the argument unconvincing. Tell me why. Tell me what current neurological findings contradict the idea of God, or the possibility of consciousness transcending death?

    I think Brad unintentionally echoed my argument when he said, “…technically there’s no contradiction with logical or empirical facts in the idea that it (consciousness) is resurrected after death in some other domain.”

    His statement sits perfectly well with your argument, too.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Kill brain regions A-Z and of course my consciousness will cease – does that mean it ceases forever? My argument is that these facts do nothing to ‘disprove’ or even confront the idea that our consciousness can transcend death.

    What do you mean by saying that consciousness can “transcend” death?

    I think it’s well established that consciousness is dependent on the proper functioning of the brain, and that there is absolutely no reason to believe in any aspect of consciousness that can persist past the physical dissolution of the body. That alone is sufficient to disprove a belief – the existence of a non-corporeal, rational soul that can be separated from the body, and more generally, the existence of such a substance as “spirit” – that is fundamental to most of this planet’s major religions. If your belief is sufficiently different from theirs that it’s not affected by this argument, then please feel free to explain in more detail what you’re proposing.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    That “consciousness is dependent on the proper functioning of the brain” does not directly support your conclusion that “There is absolutely no reason to believe in any aspect of consciousness that can persist past the physical dissolution of the body.”

    IMO, nothing in this post or thread supports that conclusion; as stated it’s an unfalsifiable construct.

  • Alex Weaver

    That “consciousness is dependent on the proper functioning of the brain” does not directly support your conclusion that “There is absolutely no reason to believe in any aspect of consciousness that can persist past the physical dissolution of the body.”

    IMO, nothing in this post or thread supports that conclusion; as stated it’s an unfalsifiable construct.

    Two words: “Occam’s Razor.”

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Ebon,

    I wasn’t sure where to put it, and didn’t see a link to email you on the original page, but I have taken a stab at your essay titled, “Theist’s Guide To Converting Atheists.”

    It’s currently the top post on my blog, and thank you for letting me express myself here.

    Alex,

    and your point?

  • Brad

    … there is absolutely no reason to believe …

    But there’s still a logical possibility (just like with hovering pasta), and that is the point cl is making. (I intentionally made this point, cl. Don’t read past my words.) It is still unreasonable to believe it, by parsimony (to echo Alex).

    What I don’t see is how any of that poses a threat to religion or God or whatever. You and Brad argue that neuroscience strains religious belief, but I find the argument unconvincing. Tell me why. Tell me what current neurological findings contradict the idea of God, or the possibility of consciousness transcending death?

    How does it strain religious belief in God? I’ll just quote Ebonmuse’s essay A Ghost in the Machine:

    For example, why would God create an immutable soul-nature and then make it subject to the changeable and imperfect nature of a fallible material body, and judge it for the actions committed by that body? Why do we even need such bodies, if at best they can only allow the true nature of the soul to shine through unaltered, and at worst obscure it? Are we to believe that, for example, in a person with Capgras syndrome, their soul recognizes their parents and friends and wants to respond with love and affection, but is prevented from doing so by the flawed brain which instead instructs their body to angrily denounce them as impostors? This raises the question of in what sense the soul can be said to control the body at all. Even in people without neurological disorders, the desires of a flawed material body can compel the soul to commit sins: greed, gluttony, lust, anger. Under materialism such conditions make perfect sense – we are our bodies – but no theist yet has explained God’s rationale for imprisoning our souls in bodies and holding them responsible for the uncontrollable irrationalities of those bodies. As the Christian Gospel of Matthew says in verse 26:41, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Exactly.

  • Brad

    Also, cl, I gave a brief comment on your site. You might be interested in checking it out.

  • Mike Cleverley

    Jesus healed a leper and a blind man. He cast out evil spirits, from one man and raised one dead child from the dead.

    Jesus was God or the Son of God.

    Why not cure leprosy and cataracts. Why are mental hospitals full and dead children stay dead.

    In the light of his supposed omnipotence why are Christians satisfied that he did so little; how far would medicine have advanced if scientists were so timid.

  • http://www.heavingdeadcats.com/ Neece

    Great questions! A nice, concise selection of issues. Thanks for doing this.

  • Jay

    Am I missing something? Are you seriously suggesting that neuroscientists can explain how the physical workings of the brain translate into conscious thought, memory, creativity? To imply that just because we know what the destruction of a structure results in change in behavior means that every brain function can be physically explained I find unconvincing. I’m not saying that one day these might be understood, but what we know today does not necessarily prove a purely mechanistic understanding of behavior, morality, etc…

  • mikespeir

    Jay,

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting we have the brain understood that well yet. What’s being claimed is that because consciousness can in principle be explained mechanistically it has the edge on dualistic “explanations,” which cannot be proved or disproved even in conjecture. At the very least, in light of this, no one can insist we buy into dualism, given the evidence before us.

  • passing through

    Very quick answer because I don’t have time to do an extensive bible study. Many of these questions can be easily answered by correct Bible exegesis. Do you know how to properly interpret sacred scripture? Quick answer….probably not. Have you studied theology?, ancient languages?, sacred scripture? How are you on early Church history? Do you even know how the bible came to be? I’ve been working at all of this for the past 1.5 years at a Catholic Seminary (the Catholic church did produce the bible so why not learn how to read the book properly by asking the church who produced it) I also have a degree in medical science. I can tell you there is a LOT more involved in correct Biblical exegesis than merely taking passages out of context and interpreting each of them literally. Each passage of scripture has to be put into correct historical context. You also have to consider the author and the types of literary devices used. Fundamentally, you have to put all this …and much much more… together to get to the heart of what that particular author of that passage of that book of the bible was trying to convey. Then this is put into context of the whole bible. Then there multiple ‘senses’ of scripture meaning that each passage may convey meainings on different levels (literal, spiritual and so on). There is also a LOT more to Theology than God created everything and be nice to people. In studying Theology you are also schooled in subjects such as philosophy and logic. All this nonsense about Science and Faith being in opposition to each other is such garbage. Certain popular atheists keep trying to argue this old and tired fallacous argument. Nothing I have learned in my studies at the seminary has caused me to abandon my knowledge in science. Please. That’s such a tired argument.

    I cringe when I see these so called stumper questions from atheists concerning theology or Sacred Scripture. BTW, these questions are nothing that a 1st year Theology student or seminarian couldn’t answer. The problem is that most of you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to Theology or Sacred Scripture. If you did, then there wouldn’t be lists like this. I know you hate hearing that but swallow some pride and admit the truth. You aren’t going to understand a Chemistry book without ever having taken a science class. If you are going to attack the Bible or Catholicism or Theology, attack it for what it really teaches and WHY it teaches any particular thing. The way Christianity is portrayed by popular atheist apologists and like minded people is so far off from the truth it’s no wonder people make lists like this. Study some theology or learn how to interpret scripture the way it was meant to be interpreted. You may want to ask the Church who produced the bible.

  • mikespeir

    Passing through,

    I suspect you’ve already “passed through” and we won’t see you again. That’s convenient for you, because, frankly, you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Speaking for myself, I was a Christian from childhood until I was 48. I taught the Bible for years. Implications of questions like these caused me to abandon my faith. I’m hardly alone here. We’ve heard from the best apologists Christianity has to offer, not just first year seminary students, and remain convinced that they’re kidding themselves. To be blunt, if you see shallowness here, the shallowness probably resides within yourself. You’re simply not grasping the deeper implications.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Thanks to Passing Through I’ve come up with a couple:
    Why does

    Each passage of scripture has (have) to be put into correct historical context.

    ?
    And why do

    You also have to consider the author and the types of literary devices used

    ?
    You’d think an omnimax god would have been less ambiguous surely?

  • Brad

    Passing Through, first you say that to correctly study the Bible we have to study context and history as well. I agree with this wholeheartedly. We only differ in our conclusions on this matter. I don’t think, as Steve Bowen here says, that we have to rationalize God’s alleged actions and teachings based upon the history surrounding the Israelites, though. We have to be open to the possibility that the Hebrews just had an invented god they worshiped.

    In studying Theology you are also schooled in subjects such as philosophy and logic. All this nonsense about Science and Faith being in opposition to each other is such garbage.

    But faith is independent of evidence and reason. You can have faith in true or false things just the same! To discern what to have “faith” in, you have to do some free-thinking based upon empirical evidence and rational reason. If you just go where your heart leads you, you’re believing based upon wishfull-thinking. If you think the Catholic Church has a good intellectual standing and so we should trust it, then that is believing based upon authority.

    I cringe when I see these so called stumper questions from atheists concerning theology or Sacred Scripture. BTW, these questions are nothing that a 1st year Theology student or seminarian couldn’t answer.

    So you cringe because of our ignorance? You may not have time to do “extensive Bible study,” but if these questions could be answered by a year of study in theology (which you say you have), then why not answer them here? We atheists have been told time and time again that we are stubborn and ignorant, but you have not provided answers for these questions. I do not agree we are ignorant. Many of us, like mikespeir apparently, were heavily involved in religion, theology, and Bible-study for quite some time before doubting and deconverting. You might be interested in reading some of Ebon Musings, or even better yet, presenting it to the Catholic Seminary so that we can get real answers.

    Questions 1,3,4,6,7 are based on correct Biblical interpretation and agree with Christianity’s theology. The other questions utilize more than just the teachings – they correspond to facts of reality that are contradictory to or suspiciously unexplainable by Christianity. Like I said before,

    I wouldn’t say your questions aren’t without attempted answers, but in total they seriously challenge any believer to think holistically and try and actually understand what they believe. That’s an important catalyst for open-mindedness, setup for confrontation with personal beliefs, and ultimately a seed of doubt.

  • CunningLIngus

    I notice the myth lovers always answer with ” i don’t believe that part of the bible should be taken literally .. it’s open to interpretation ” .. seriously WTF ! .. if they can take a certain passage or paragraph from the bible then transform it to fit into their own interpretation why the hell give ANY part of the stupid book any credence at all. One of my christian friends always comes up with ” how could the big bang have happened if there was nothing there to start with ” yet she gets royally pissed off when i reply if there was nothing there to start with, how did god spring into existence? .. ” he just was .. it’s called faith ” .. apparently her faith in a supreme being is the ultimate trump, and a christians faith must of course supercede an athiests faith … hell it’s in the bible !

  • allenc

    From comment #4 by John Burckhardt:

    I have mixed feelings about what you have written. As a Christian believer who has no problem with evolution or the Big Bang, it kind of drives a wedge into me. On one side is the part of me that believes that science gives us an understanding of the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to now.

    But on the other side, the article digs into some of the basis of Christianity, which hurts and leads me to wonder if the article could drive away a potential ally in opposing the infiltration of religion and politics into science.

    “Christians” such as John puzzle me. I’m an atheist but I do know the Bible a bit, and I fail to see the relevance of Genesis, the Creation, to the message Of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount was not about Genesis. The Passion was not about Genesis. Genesis is an irrelevance. Take away the history and myths of the Jewish people, indeed, for me, the whole lot can be reduced to a single sentence, the same one that is common to all the major religions: Do unto others as you would be done by. Simple, commonplace, common sense, and difficult to do. Who needs the Creation? Or Heaven? Or Hell? Or any of all that other claptrap?

  • Ubi Dubium

    There’s a question that I have not seen asked often of christians, but I would like to hear their response:
    “If Jesus was the son of god, and knew that the message he was bringing was the most important one ever delivered to mankind, why didn’t he write it down himself? (Or at least dictate it to a scribe the way Muhammad did.) Why leave such an important message to be written down many years later, second or third or fourth-hand, by people who weren’t even there? Why do we have four different versions of the story, which disagree with each other in many respects?”

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    That’s a great question. And, Jesus should have been able to read and write, or will Xians claim that god was illiterate? So, even if he dictated it, he should have been able to proofread it to make sure the copier got it right. Also, he would know of all the troubles that the scriptures would cause in the future by people arguing over which version was correct.

  • Perry Killion

    Commenting about the seminary student:

    It’s easy to be a Catholic in seminary. It’s easy to think you have all the answers when you surround yourself with those who agree with you. The “hit and run” M.O. was standard procedure for me for the 30 years I tried to defend Christianity; it’s just not honest though.
    Learning the right way to interpret scripture (i.e. the Catholic way) serves only to place the “right” interpretation into the hands of Catholic authority, as if they have some insiders connection with God. Claims of authority are no more provable than God.
    As to scripture and its “right” interpretation: There are many other worthy and dedicated Biblical scholars that come up with different interpretations than Catholics.
    All that pondering of scripture, its origin, history, context, etc. etc. provide no measurable proof of God’s existence. Just more rhetoric about human constructs. Looks that way to me.

  • JD

    After a long childhood of religion, Christian summer camps, Bible study awards and church every Sunday – I find myself questioning my religion. Although I’ve not been brought up in a stick Catholic household, I still feel a sense of guilt for bringing up any of my questions with a Pasteur or someone of faith due to my inner respect for their faith. For the past six years, I’ve questioned the bible and what is written.. slavery, stoning women. Why would a religion enforce laws that allowed and supported slavery? Racism and prejudice is something that I’ve lived my whole life fighting against… and frankly, would give my life to fight. Yet, it is written in the bible. Granted, we are encouraged to connect the bible with our everyday modern lives and seek application to have it apply to our current day events.. but I don’t feel right living by the bible, written by men, who believed in slavery and oppression of women who believed in my God.

    Jesus, I have loved him, believed in him, saved by him, accepted him info my life since I was little. And, to this day have a sense of faith in him. Believing and having faith he was and is real – was never my problem. He was the son of god, who came to earth in human form and died for our sins. He died after lashings, nails through his hands and feet and was hung on a cross – dying of asphyxia. Today, children are beaten, raped, starved then die of things done to them that are a worse death then Jesus. People for ages have been torched, slaves hung, women believed to be witches burned to death. Christians torn apart or killed by lions. Some dying as martyr, standing up for their god and religion causing their ends. How are their deaths less important or less known? Last Easter, I felt lost. I was sitting there, hearing for two hours about how Jesus died for our sins… about the sufferings he endured at death. A father is dying around the world right now for his children, a mother is raped and killed in front of her child so that maybe he will let her child live. How can I praise one if so many have endured the same torchers in death and worse. Why? Because he is the son of God, who died for our sins… is what I have known my life.. that is not the answer I am looking to receive again.

    Thank you so much for reading my thoughts, without judgment.

    Best,
    JD

  • http://www.answerbearer.blogspot.com Karla

    I post answers in two separate post on my blogspot to these questions. I guess the consensus so far is that they are inadequate by the many atheists posting, but I would like your opinion, Ebon, as well. Maybe I could revise and try again if need be.

  • http://www.answerbearer.blogspot.com Karla

    JD, I think you should be able to ask those questions. If what you believe is true, it will stand up to the inquiry. Even some of the most renown believers asked deep questions of God. It’s okay to ask and to seek those answers. I’ve posted some answers to these questions on my blog and I welcome you to read and ask any question you like. I am a Christian and I think Christians should think about why they believe what they believe. Francis Schaeffer, a long time Christian author and defender of the faith spent a year away from it all where he examined the deep things and questioned everything. He re-read the Bible. He questioned why he wasn’t seeing it lived out in churches. He questioned everything. He came out of that and wrote “True Spirituality” that should his progression back to the foundations of truth. His home in the Swiss Alps is still open today for those on spiritual quest to seek out answers without being bothered by anybody and find their place in the journey of life.

  • Perry Killion

    I sympathize JD. I have just recently resolved the same problems you are having now.
    It was the Bible itself that caused me to reject Christianity.
    There are many good and true messages in the Bible. But those messages are mixed in with many bad ones. The problem comes when we call the Bible the word of god, thereby implying that the whole thing is right. This makes for us a head full of contradictions. In my opinion, it impairs the very brain functions needed to see beyond the sham. We are made prisoners to falsehood via fear and guilt.
    The very first premise given in the Bible (god exists)has defied any measurable proof even though countless have sought this proof for thousands of years.
    The second premise in the Bible is that humankind is fallen, supposedly causing death to come into the world. The truth is, death has been in the world for billions of years, long before any human existed. Chaos, order, birth, death, peace and violence, etc., etc, have existed as long as can be measured. Sin itself, appears to me to be a primitive way to explain that which we don’t like about ourselves, as if there was some golden time when everything was hunky dory. No such time has ever existed as far as anyone can prove. If my assertions are true, then everything is exactly as it has to be. No one to praise, no one to worship, no one to blame, and no need for a savior. For me, it took a tremendous weight off….no longer needing to fear and please an ambiguous god. On the other hand, if things will be better, each of us must do his part. I believe this is best accomplished by throwing off the ignorance of the past, devoting oneself to learning and sound reasoning while collaborating with others similarly motivated. I have discovered that the feeling of being lost depends entirely upon the ideas that god exists and we are separated from him. Both I believe to be false assumptions. My life got a lot better when I dumped those two ideas. That may not be your solution yet, but if you relentlessly pursue the truth, I’m pretty sure you’ll come to the same place I and many others have.
    I wish you success in your search and relief from your sorrow.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    I guess the consensus so far is that they are inadequate by the many atheists posting…

    That’s an understatement.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    **DISCLAIMER: I would really like to continue conversation with people who asked me questions on other threads, but my censorship restraints only allow me to respond once per 24 hours, so I apologize to anyone I’ve left hanging, particularly D, Leum, and Felicia Gilljam. I’ll try to get back, I promise, but my shackles only reach so far! And about those shackles – Ebon – you said the logic was “one comment per 24 hours,” yet my last comment was made at 8:09pm, Tuesday, right? Assuming DA is on NY time, the time difference between here and there is 3 hours. So, anytime past 5:09pm Wednesday, my time, constitutes 24 hours. Yet, it’s 5:56pm Wednesday, my time, and I’m still on lockdown. Please explain.

    Ebonmuse,

    5. Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain? (OP)

    The knowledge that the mind is a physical phenomenon strikes directly at religious belief, far more so than evolution or heliocentrism do. (Ebonmuse, September 6, 2008, 1:20 pm, to Maria)

    I disagreed and still do, on the principle of false opposites, which in all honestly seems to be a recurring theme in many of your arguments, Ebonmuse.

    To clarify – prod neuron X, Y or Z in the subject’s brain and I agree you’ll get a change – but I don’t see how any of this removes or refutes God, or the possibility that consciousness transcends death. (cl, September 17, 2008, 5:50 pm)

    Ebonmuse replied,

    My point was not in reference to the fact that individual neurons are material objects, but that the mind as a whole demonstrably arises from their collective functioning. By inflicting certain, specific types of brain damage on a person, you can cause predictable changes to their identity and personality. By altering the physical structure of the brain, you can change a person’s beliefs, desires, or preferences. You can provoke a person to change their religious beliefs, or lose them altogether; you can destroy the sense of self-control, of judgment, of social consciousness, or of the ability to tell right from wrong.

    This is just what we would expect on the hypothesis that the mind is a purely physical phenomenon. It is inexplicable on the hypothesis that the mind is, in whole or in part, a supernatural phenomenon not dependent on the brain. And this, in turn, undermines one of the most central tenets of most religions: the claim that human beings have a soul that survives the death of the body. It also removes any reason we might possibly have for believing that a mind can exist without a body, which is a conclusion that bears directly on the hypothesis of God’s existence. (September 17, 2008, 7:29 pm)

    Okay, first, where do I agree? I agree that we can poke and prod the brain and induce drastic changes. I also agree that this is just what we would expect on the hypothesis that the mind is a purely physical phenomenon. Yet that we can poke and prod the brain resulting in predictable changes to personality in no way entails that consciousness is purely physical and cannot survive death. Such is a biased and overly-charitable extrapolation of the available data. Nor is the fact that we can poke and prod the brain with predictable results inexplicable on the hypothesis that soul / spirit occupy fundamental aspects of human consciousness. Just because Ebonmuse can’t get his head around something doesn’t render it inexplicable, folks.

    I’m simply saying that the facts you point out, that we can alter behavior by prodding neurons for example, do not support the conclusion that consciousness cannot exist outside of a physical brain. (cl, September 17, 2008, 7:43 pm)

    Ebonmuse replied,

    So you agree with me that any aspect of consciousness can be altered or terminated by destroying the corresponding part of the brain. I believe that, given this starting point, it’s a straightforward inductive conclusion that the total destruction of the brain results in the total destruction of consciousness.

    Or take it another way. Let’s say we enumerate all the various regions of the brain, labeling them A through Z, and all the various aspects of consciousness, labeling them A’ through Z’. We’re agreed that when you destroy brain region A, you remove aspect of consciousness A’. Destroy brain region B, and you remove aspect of consciousness B’, and so on. Given these facts, I conclude that when all brain regions, A through Z, are destroyed, then all aspects of consciousness, A’ through Z’, are destroyed as well. But in your case, although you agree with every individual step of this reasoning, you disagree with the conclusion. That belief does violence to basic principles of logic. (Ebonmuse, September 17, 2008, 7:58 pm)

    You conflate consciousness with its expression. I say, “Destroy brain region A, and you interrupt / suppress / alter expression of consciousness A.

    Regarding the last sentence, why the snooty attitude? Why do so many atheists pull this card? The, “I don’t see the logic in what you’re saying, so it’s illogical” card? It’s quite presumptuous, and lends well to the perception of arrogance. At any rate, I maintain that I do agree with every step of said reasoning, and I still disagree with the conclusion, and no, my belief does not do violence to basic principles of logic. However, Ebonmuse’s approach arguably does violence to basic principles of cogent debate.

    Is it cogent to assume the claim we’re trying to prove? I don’t think so. Here’s my reasoning:

    That all aspects of consciousness cease upon destruction of corresponding brain regions A-Z will always be true when we assume as you do “that the mind as a whole demonstrably arises from their collective functioning.”

    What evidence do you have for your cherished assumption? What happens if you remove your cherished assumption? The best we can say is, “What we call consciousness is systematically related to brain function.” Nothing therein challenges dualism, tripartism, or religion, because what it really gets down to is this: Is the soul / spirit currently falsifiable? Yes or No? If no, your entire argument fails even harder. If yes, by all means, call the labs and universities ‘cuz you’ve got yourself another book! I can see it now: “Popular atheist concludes the soul is falsifiable.” Ha! Some of your peers would think you’d flown the coop. Seriously, though, as it is, your conclusion assumes the very claim it attempts to prove, and you say my approach violates logic? Hmph.

    I guess that’s the problem with excellent writers – even their circular arguments can appear rationally square.

  • Brad

    Well, let’s try this again.

    Let’s say we enumerate all the various regions of the brain, labeling them A through Z, and all the various aspects of consciousness, labeling them A’ through Z’. We’re agreed that when you destroy brain region A, you remove aspect of consciousness A’ [-Ebonmuse]

    One-to-one correspondence is a bit oversimplistic, methinks. There is a remarkable degree of that kind of correspondence that has been proven in neuroscience, but the generalization to the whole mind-brain construct has not. The structure could be a lot more nested than this, and there could also be part(s) of the mind/brain that are independent of the brain/mind (respectively). Think graph theory or maybe neural networks.

    You conflate consciousness with its expression. I say, “Destroy brain region A, and you interrupt / suppress / alter expression of consciousness A. [-cl]

    I think that’s the most clearly you’ve expressed yourself so far, cl. I think I get what you’re saying. Something to the effect of a radio transmission from an immaterial source. Of course, your ideas can also be interpreted with physicalism: if mind is a physical phenomena, then the normal manifestation of the mind by the brain is interrupted / suppressed / altered just the same.

    Nothing therein challenges dualism, tripartism, or religion, because what it really gets down to is this: Is the soul / spirit currently falsifiable? Yes or No? [-cl]

    First we’d have to figure out what we’re talking about with the words “soul” or “spirit.” I mean, what, effectively / operationally, are we referring to with these terms? With electricity, magnetism, gravitation, and nuclear forces we can describe how matter is affected. Bonus: it happens that the effects of these forces can be observed by the human eye or inferred from other various means of detection. What exactly is it that should cause us to come up with the concept of spirit for it? Surprisingly, or not so much, it’s been a pretty slippery task trying to define terms about the subject, such as “consciousness,” “self,” “person,” etc.

    Second, yes, there are challenges to religion in the findings of neuroscience. There are some doctrines in the religious sphere that become false or absurd in light of the facts Ebonmuse mentions about identity, personality, beliefs, desires, preferences, religiosity, self-control, judgment, social consciousness, and moral sense. The religious thinking of a significant number of people will have to change in order to accommodate these facts, or else will fall apart.

  • Ziddina

    (Please excuse the occasional caps in this message, I’m hyper and excitable…)
    Good list, although I agree with the posters who commented that the reference to changes in brain chemistry disproving the existence of a ‘soul’ may be too technical for the average Christian. But I think that a list like this (with some modifications) might be useful to hand out to family members trying to guilt-trip one into going back to church, or the occasional Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon who comes to your door. I SomeWHaT agree with John Burckardt – a fundamentalist wouldn’t be fazed by some of those questions.

    A little background here; I’m a former Jehovah’s Witness, and I didn’t have trouble with the religion’s specific tenets as much as I did with the bible itself. So, here is what DID bother me as a very young child being – well, forced is probably the best word for it – into the JW religion:

    As mentioned above by Timj (09/08/08 2:19AM), I too thought that killing the guy who tried to keep the wagon carrying the ark from tipping over was a nasty over-reaction of this god. Even before that, when I first heard about Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, (I was only 5 or 6) I got a REALLY bad feeling about this god. Later on, I figured out why. Ask any normal person in any culture that does NOT practice child sacrifice to do this, and what would be that person’s FIRST response? “What, are you NUTS!!??!” That’s when I figured out that, in order for Abraham to meekly agree, “O-k, Lord, I’ll go kill my firstborn” (not “Why, you must be a FALSE GOD to ask this horrific sacrifice of me!!”) he MUST HAVE BEEN PART OF A GROUP OR CULTURE THAT BELIEVED IN AND PRACTICED CHILD SACRIFICE!! Or, at the very least, familiar with the concept and accepting of it… That’s when I looked again at this myth of Jesus being sacrificed and realized that the god of the bible demands human sacrifice. And to the response that “God killed his Son for YOU!” – well, if memory serves me correctly, all good Christians are supposed to pick up their torture stakes/crosses and follow Jesus into death, dying for their faith if needed. Mass human sacrifice, even though it’s not ritualized.

    The story of the serpent in Genesis didn’t even begin to be consistent with Moses raising up a bronze image of a serpent in Exodus for “true believers” to be saved. I remember searching the bible’s pages after that Exodus story, saying, “Where were they punished for (in effect) WORSHIPPING A GRAVEN IMAGE??!! Not only were they NOT punished, but that very story was used as a basis/prophesy for Jesus ‘being lifted up on the cross/stake’. MAJOR contradiction! Later on, as I began to research the origins of the bible, I was shocked to learn that I’d been worshipping a MIDDLE EASTERN god, and that many of the holy symbols, stories and people in it were plagiarized from older, PAGAN religions. That, plus the hypocrisy that I saw in ALL branches of Christianity, caused me to exit the religions completely. Having learned that Buddah’s life was probably a blueprint for some of the stories about Jesus, I decided I didn’t want to worship Buddah, either – and so on. So, I think that when one is dealing with fundamentalists, your most powerful tool is to use the bible itself against the bible – especially if you can effectively show where the teachings originated in Pagan religions.

    Add to all of this the fact that I took up belly dancing and began to see the attitudes of Middle Eastern men towards women – whew! Many, many scriptures that I didn’t understand before became brutally and repulsively clear to me afterwards!! Why ANY WOMAN would follow a Middle Eastern male god is beyond me!

    (Speaking of which… Frankly, I find Judy’s comment dated September 8, 2008: “What “loving” god would allow such things as menstruation, childbirth, and mental illness to exist?” mysogynistic and scary – perhaps she suffers terribly from PMS…? Judy, take calcium, zinc and Vit C – it really helps! BTW, the menstrual flow IS the “River of Life”, since all mammalian life [do platypuses menstruate?] exists due to its function – a belief that was incorporated into many forms of Goddess worship and then co-opted and misrepresented by the bible writers…)

    Well, I’ve used up a lot of space on this post… Hope someone finds it interesting.

  • Ziddina

    Whoops! Besides using the bible against the bible, the science or sciences that I was most changed by were archaeology [ACCURATE archaeology, not those digs paid for by Xian groups!], psychology, vulcanology, geology, and paleontology. But then, I was a rockhound before I was introduced to the bible (at 5).

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Brad,

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought Ebonmuse’s A-Z analogy was oversimplistic. I’m also glad I’m not the only one who thought that Ebonmuse is conflating and/or arguing circularly. It’s also a plus in both these cases that you’re presumably atheist (correct me if I’m wrong), so we can exclude partisanism as a motivating factor in your agreement.

    I think I get what you’re saying. Something to the effect of a radio transmission from an immaterial source.

    Sorta, but no need to exclude materiality. Not necessarily an immaterial or material source; just not this material source. The words intra and meta come to mind as do analogies of the electromagnetic light spectrum, in the sense of a limited range of perceptible vibrations. As far as defs and distinctions on soul and spirit, I have my own ideas and I know what the Bible reasonably entails, but I don’t always know what other folks necessarily mean when they use the words soul / spirit. Here’s a snippet from two of those pieces, of four responses to AGITM to date:

    Consider 1 Thessalonians 5:23 which reads, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless…” We can reasonably deduce from Paul’s words that the whole person consists of spirit and soul and body. Hebrews 4:12 makes a similar distinction that is also explicitly tripartite. Presuming one accepts the triune interpretation of God, these positions are further consistent with the idea expressed in Genesis that man was created in God’s image. The God in question is posited to be tripartite, as are the humans. Regardless of what we ultimately decide about soul / spirit, at a bare minimum, we must concede that these are instances of internal consistency from both the Old and New Testaments on the matter. (Part 1)

    Continuing with the analogy of a lightbulb, I’ll again reason that artificial light (soul) is a product of a physical scaffolding or bulb (body) and electrical impetus (spirit). Now, let’s continue with Ebonmuse’s idea. Is every aspect of light entirely dependent on and completely determined by the bulb? Of course not; however, if you break the bulb, indeed the light might cease to shine… That light can be put out by breaking the bulb does not entail that light is entirely dependent upon and completely controlled by the bulb. This argument is tantamount to, “Because the light stops when I break the bulb, the light must be caused by the bulb.” (Part II. Note that the word ‘bulb’ should be replaced with ‘filament’ in the interest of full accuracy)

    Admittedly, an apparent weakness in the lightbulb analogy is that we don’t plug ourselves into the wall to exist. A critic could reasonably posit a counterstatement that human beings are self-contained energy processing units, and within such units we find both the impetus and the scaffolding, so when the brain is destroyed, we essentially destroy everything. But are there any givens in this counterstatement? I believe there are. Aside from being a circular argument, the claim that human beings are self-contained energy processing units is unfalsifiable. How could we state empirically, for example, that our bodies don’t engage in some process not unlike being plugged into an energy source? (Part II)

    You said,

    Surprisingly, or not so much, it’s been a pretty slippery task trying to define terms about the subject, such as “consciousness,” “self,” “person,” etc.

    I agree, and I think this hurts more than helps the materialist / reductionist with absolute faith in his or her claims.

    Second, yes, there are challenges to religion in the findings of neuroscience. There are some doctrines in the religious sphere that become false or absurd in light of the facts Ebonmuse mentions about identity, personality, beliefs, desires, preferences, religiosity, self-control, judgment, social consciousness, and moral sense.

    Shoot from the hip, I’d love to hear ‘em. I might not be able to get back to you super quick due to my shackles, but I’m into it. As it is, I’ve already written upwards of 10K in reply to AGITM. I can assure you that whatever truth it does reasonably entail, it suffers from substantial weaknesses and AGITM poses no threat to a reasonable outlook on the concept of soul / spirit. People will either see what I’m saying or not.

    The last thing that sorta bugged me about AGITM was it felt more like the ‘muse was preaching to me, rather than just showing objective evidence and allowing me to make a more fully-informed decision. It was like, “Here’s the facts that support materialism / reductionism, now go be an atheist.” Although science itself is not absolutely conclusive on the matter, we can be sure Ebon is, and we get 12+ examples he thinks prove his point, with none that suggest he might be wrong. Believe me, they’re out there, if you’re looking.

    I probably won’t jump back on this thread for at least a few days. I wanna answer some folks on some other threads. If you want “up to the minute coverage” as they call it, hit me on my blog where there is no speech curtailment.

  • andrew

    I just thought I’d point out here that the Bible does NOT teach (Dspite teh common misconception otherwise) that a persons soul ‘flys off to heaven’ wehn we die. The idea actually comes from Plato. Actually according to the Bible our reward isnt a disimbodied existance, but a new ressurected body when the ‘end of times’(for lack of a better word) comes.

    I dont blame skeptics for this misunderstanding though. Since many Christians have uncritically accepted Platonic philosophy. But regardless, the Bible’s teaching isnt inconsitant with the idea that our personality comes from our brain.

    While he wasnt dealing with this subject specificly, N. T. Wright’s excellent book “Surprised By Hope” is a great source for understanding the Biblical teachings on heaven, death, the afterlife and end of times.

  • mikespeir

    Don’t say that we’ve “misunderstood,” andrew. This is a subject that has been debated among Christians for centuries. Christians themselves haven’t agreed on the matter. The Platonic notion has had the upper hand for a long time, though there are those who don’t think that way. Regardless, when we atheists address that thinking, we’re addressing what the majority of Christians believe. A religion is as it’s believed and practiced; ergo, it can hardly be said that we’re not addressing genuine Christian beliefs. If you disagree with any of those held beliefs, you need to persuade your fellow Christians (Am I correct in assuming you’re a Christian?), not us.

  • andrew

    I will say skeptics have ‘misunderstood.’ As have most Christians. Just because most Christians believe it, dosent mean much in my book.

    I think it is a touch ironic though, that when the Bible says Jesus was supposed to return within the lifetime of his followers, and most Christians dont believe it, you jump on it in an attempt to make Christians look foolish, but when the Bible teaches a physical ressurection, and most Christains dont believe it, you shy away from the issue.

  • mikespeir

    But we don’t misunderstand, andrew. We understand your take on the matter and we understand theirs. Where’s the misunderstanding? If we argue against them, don’t assume we’re making the mistake of thinking all Christians believe like they do. But if we argue against your position, then they’ll come in and protest that we “don’t understand.” In fact, we don’t believe either belief has any basis in reality.

  • andrew

    Well, in that case, I would remove questions 4 and 5 from the original post from the list. Since these are issues still hotly debated by Christians.

    Maybe 7 too. Since not all of us believe the majority of humanity is going to hell.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    I will say skeptics have ‘misunderstood.’ As have most Christians. Just because most Christians believe it, dosent mean much in my book.

    What makes your belief more authoritative than the belief of any other Xian? Are you infallible? If not, then don’t you think you could be wrong about this piece of doctrine? How do you know that you have it right and all those other Xians have “misunderstood?”

  • mikespeir

    But, andrew, those questions deal with what many–perhaps most–Christians believe. Why shouldn’t they be addressed?

  • andrew

    What makes your belief more authoritative than the belief of any other Xian? Are you infallible? If not, then don’t you think you could be wrong about this piece of doctrine? How do you know that you have it right and all those other Xians have “misunderstood?”

    I could be wrong. But if I am, I expect somebody to show evidence that I am. The fact taht ‘most Christains believe it’ isnt enough. Espeically when not all Christians are unamious on this point.

    But, andrew, those questions deal with what many–perhaps most–Christians believe. Why shouldn’t they be addressed?

    I didnt say they shouldnt be addressed, but not in a letter/article/book/whatever addressed to a general Christian audience. Stick to issues where all Christains(or at least all but the tinieist minority) agree. Also most Christains DONT believe #7. Maybe Jack Chick and other hyper-fundimilists do, but that isnt something I think most Christians would accept.

    When you do address those controversial issues, make it clear thats all your addressing, and try to avoid the implication that you’re addressing Christainity in general.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    I could be wrong. But if I am, I expect somebody to show evidence that I am.

    What would constitute evidence that you are wrong? And, why do you not feel that you need to show evidence that you are right (or do you)? The problem is that your views on your version of Xianity are based on your interpretation of the Bible and I presume on your subjective experiences. Another Xian has her own views on her own version of Xianity based on her own interpretation of the Bible and her own subjective experiences. How will we ever determine which of you is indeed correct in your interpretations of Xianity?

    The fact taht ‘most Christains believe it’ isnt enough. Espeically when not all Christians are unamious on this point.

    But, as Mike already pointed out, it’s not wrong to argue against what other Xians believe. If we don’t, then they will claim that their interpretations are not being addressed and that YOU don’t represent true Xianity. And, if you are going to address Xians in general, it makes sense to address the most popular views.

    Also most Christains DONT believe #7.

    Which part(s) don’t they believe?

  • mikespeir

    Stick to issues where all Christains(or at least all but the tinieist minority) agree.

    I doubt that’s possible. Maybe some questions aren’t relevant to you or your sect, but it’s not unreasonable to aim for the center of mass. I realize mischaracterization is possible, but the above questions address issues that are characteristic of many, if not the majority of, Christians–especially the, uh, noisiest ones.

  • mikespeir

    Okay, I goofed up the blockquotes again, but, you know….

  • andrew

    What would constitute evidence that you are wrong?

    How about that the ‘ressurection’ the Bible speaks of isnt suppposed to be physical? Or that the ‘New Earth’ means some non-physical relm.

    And, why do you not feel that you need to show evidence that you are right (or do you)?

    I do, and if you asked I could point to verses which clearly show that the final ressurection is supposed to physical, that God has promised us a new earth, not some mystical spirt relm. Or I could point out the fact that the idea of a ‘spirtual ressurection’ would have been seen as an oxy-moron to the ancient world.

    The problem is that your views on your version of Xianity are based on your interpretation of the Bible and I presume on your subjective experiences.

    My reading of the Bible, yes. Subjective experences, no. I’v never had a religious experence.

    How will we ever determine which of you is indeed correct in your interpretations of Xianity?

    The same way we determine who’s correct on any subect. We look at the case each side makes and see who’s more convincing.

    But, as Mike already pointed out, it’s not wrong to argue against what other Xians believe. If we don’t, then they will claim that their interpretations are not being addressed and that YOU don’t represent true Xianity. And, if you are going to address Xians in general, it makes sense to address the most popular views.

    I didnt say it doesnt make sense to address what other Christians believe. I said it dosnt make sense to address subjects Christians are in dispute over, in someting addressed to a general Christian audience. If you want to address something Christians disagree over, address it seperately. Is it that hard to understand?

    Which part(s) don’t they believe?

    The part that the majority of humanity is going to hell.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Andrew,

    How about that the ‘ressurection’ the Bible speaks of isnt suppposed to be physical? Or that the ‘New Earth’ means some non-physical relm.

    So, IOW, no evidence can convince you you are wrong.

    I do, and if you asked I could point to verses which clearly show that the final ressurection is supposed to physical, that God has promised us a new earth, not some mystical spirt relm. Or I could point out the fact that the idea of a ‘spirtual ressurection’ would have been seen as an oxy-moron to the ancient world.

    Considering that many Xians don’t agree with your interpretation, it’s obviously not clear.

    The same way we determine who’s correct on any subect. We look at the case each side makes and see who’s more convincing.

    And, how will you make your case? That’s the whole point. There’s no good way to determine which interpretation is correct, since you both use the same source material and you both come to different conclusions about what it says/means. Hence, there’s no way to conclude that one view is better than the other. (I assume that by “convincing” you don’t simply mean which person argues better or some other superficial thing, but which presents better evidence for their view…which doesn’t necessarily get us closer to the truth.)

    I didnt say it doesnt make sense to address what other Christians believe. I said it dosnt make sense to address subjects Christians are in dispute over, in someting addressed to a general Christian audience.

    If that were the case, then one would not ever address a general Xian audience, so no two people have the same beliefs.

    The part that the majority of humanity is going to hell.

    And your evidence for such statement is?

  • andrew

    So, IOW, no evidence can convince you you are wrong.

    Wrong, if somebody were to present evidence that the Bible doesnt teach a physical ressurection, I would change my mind on the subject.

    Considering that many Xians don’t agree with your interpretation, it’s obviously not clear.

    I dont see how Christains disagree= its not clear. Especially when most Christains tend to be ignorant on the finer points of issues like this.

    And, how will you make your case?

    Exactly as I said above. I’d point to where the Bible clearly refers to the ressurection as physical. I’d point out that the ancients would have considered the idea of a ‘spirtual ressurection’ as contradictory. And that no ancient used ‘ressurection’ as a metaphore for a disimbodied existance after death. And then I’d deal wiht ojbections as my oppenit made them.

    That’s the whole point. There’s no good way to determine which interpretation is correct, since you both use the same source material and you both come to different conclusions about what it says/means. Hence, there’s no way to conclude that one view is better than the other.

    Please, yes we’ll be using the same source material, but that doesnt mean that all interpertations are equally valid. Thats nothing but politically correct BS.

    If that were the case, then one would not ever address a general Xian audience, so no two people have the same beliefs.

    No, but there ARE things that all Christains(or at least all but a tiny minority) agree on. Such as the existance ofr God, the divinity and ressurection of Jesus, that his death was an atonemnt for sin, and that certain actions are sinfull.

    And your evidence for such statement is?

    The fact taht I personaly dont know any Christians who belive it, even among fundimentlists. that it seems to only belong to the Jack Chick hyper-fundies.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    Wrong, if somebody were to present evidence that the Bible doesnt teach a physical ressurection, I would change my mind on the subject.

    And what possible evidence would that be? It’s all about interpretation. How can one possibly point to the same passages that you read and somehow give evidence that a counter-interpretation is more correct than what you believe to be correct?

    I dont see how Christains disagree= its not clear. Especially when most Christains tend to be ignorant on the finer points of issues like this.

    Seriously? If people are disagreeing on something, it’s generally because it is not clear, else there wouldn’t be such a disagreement. And, I would say most Xians’ opinions come from what’s supposed to be a learned source, meaning their preacher, pastor, priest, whatever. Are you claiming that those sources are ignorant and that they can’t decipher clear teachings that you somehow can?

    Exactly as I said above. I’d point to where the Bible clearly refers to the ressurection as physical.

    And they would point to their favorite Bible verses and say, “You’re wrong.” Because it all hinges on interpretation of a book that is vague at best, you’ll not gain ground. Tell me this, why do Xian sects split off? How many have ever reconciled after splitting and rejoined the fold they left?

    Please, yes we’ll be using the same source material, but that doesnt mean that all interpertations are equally valid. Thats nothing but politically correct BS.

    I don’t disagree that one interpretation is potentially more valid than the other, but what you don’t seem to understand is that you don’t have any good way of determining which one that is. Until you can do that, there’s no way to differentiate which is better. So, which should I choose if I’m making a choice? Both of you use the same “evidence” taken from the same source and both make arguments about what the source says/means?

    No, but there ARE things that all Christains(or at least all but a tiny minority) agree on.

    Oh, so how small a minority does it have to be before we can comment on it?

    Such as the existance ofr God

    But, which god? What are the attributes of this god?

    The fact taht I personaly dont know any Christians who belive it, even among fundimentlists. that it seems to only belong to the Jack Chick hyper-fundies.

    Ah, so only anecdotal evidence. I personally know Xians who do believe it, so there you go.

  • Andrew

    And what possible evidence would that be? It’s all about interpretation. How can one possibly point to the same passages that you read and somehow give evidence that a counter-interpretation is more correct than what you believe to be correct?

    Agreed its all about interpertation, but not all interpertations are equally valid. One would need to demonstrate their interpertaion is better supported by the wording of the text(not only the english words but also the orignal Greek/Hebrew) or fits better with the social/philosophical beliefs of the time it was written. Or possibly with the writing style/beliefs of the author. Simply reading a text and saying “this is wahat it means” is NOT a valid interpertation, especiallly when dealing with writings from another time/culture.

    Seriously? If people are disagreeing on something, it’s generally because it is not clear,

    No, I find its generally because people are looking at the evidence through they’re own presuppositions. That and most Christains are largely ignorant of the teachings of the Bible.

    And, I would say most Xians’ opinions come from what’s supposed to be a learned source, meaning their preacher, pastor, priest, whatever. Are you claiming that those sources are ignorant and that they can’t decipher clear teachings that you somehow can?

    And I would say pastors, priests, and preacers are not ‘learned sources’ at least not on issues of linguistic/historical scholarship. They’re education and training is generally geared more towards preaching and counciling than actual historical/literary thinking. And where they do learn to do exgisis is generally more about ensuring they know the ‘proper’ doctrines of their denominations than actual literary criticism.

    And they would point to their favorite Bible verses and say, “You’re wrong.”

    and I would answer their objections, its called debate.

    I don’t disagree that one interpretation is potentially more valid than the other, but what you don’t seem to understand is that you don’t have any good way of determining which one that is.

    The same way we determine a valid interpertation of any other work: The one that best fits with the linguistics of it, as well as the historical and social context it was written in.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    Agreed its all about interpertation, but not all interpertations are equally valid.

    It simply ends up being layer upon layer.

    No, I find its generally because people are looking at the evidence through they’re own presuppositions.

    Well, yeah. That’s what religious belief is.

    That and most Christains are largely ignorant of the teachings of the Bible.

    No argument here.

    And I would say pastors, priests, and preacers are not ‘learned sources’ at least not on issues of linguistic/historical scholarship.

    Considering that theology is the study of made up stuff, good point.

    and I would answer their objections, its called debate.

    And that “debate” goes nowhere because it’s all based on interpretation rather than empirical evidence and fact. This is why it’s a losing cause, and why you can’t claim that your interpretations are better than other people’s interpretations. You can claim that you think your interpretations fit the linguistics better and the historical and social context, but so does everyone else who disagrees with you. Do you really think that you have superior knowledge to all other Xians?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew, let me ask you this:

    How many Biblical scholars agree with your interpretations? How many of them disagree? Do Biblical scholars ever have disagreements over interpretations?

  • goyo

    Andrew:
    To sum up your comments:
    1. One cannot simply pick up a bible and understand it. You need the proper education in ancient languages and cultures.
    2. The majority of clergy, pastors, priests, etc. are wrong in their interpretations of the bible.
    3. You,of course, have the correct interpretation.

  • Perry Killion

    As to the existence of God. There are many atheists in the world to whom it is not evident. Most other people believe there is some supernatural being or beings…. but no universal agreement about his/her/its/their attributes. However you will not likely find even one of those believers or atheists who will deny the existence of the sun. Because the sun can be measured objectively no matter what your religious persuasion or lack thereof may be. THAT is the very nature of things that are REAL. The knowledge of real things is based upon facts that can be verified by consensus. They stand apart from the fairy tales we use to explain what we don’t understand. While theists have no way to prove God’s existence or arrive at a consensus, their best rebuttal is: “You can’t prove that god doesn’t exist” This very same argument could be used to support a belief in leprechauns. Strange company for an almighty god. Don’t you think?

  • mikespeir

    That’s a good point, Peter. I’ll take it a slightly different way. There are any number of things eminently less “doubtable” than the rudiments of Christian beliefs. Ask any Christian whether he doubts the Sun will come up in the morning and he’ll look at you like you’re nuts. Of course the Sun will rise in the morning! Then, ask him whether he’s ever doubted, even for a fleeting moment, whether Jesus is the Son of God and rose from the dead. If he’s honest, he’ll admit that he has. Clearly, the latter propositions are more dubious than that the Sun will rise. And yet, not believing the Gospel propositions is, in the minds of at least many Christians, grounds for [insert your favorite flavor of eternal unpleasantness]. Would anyone think it right to punish people in the same way for doubting the Sun will rise?

    So, doubting things that only an insane person would deny will, at worst, get you institutionalized. But doubting absurd and unverifiable claims made by men thousands of years ago gets you into eternal trouble with God himself? And we’re supposed to lose sleep over such foolishness?

  • mikespeir

    I apologize, Perry. I read your name as “Peter.”

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Well, at least Ebonmuse’s theist-sweeping bulldogs are consistent, in that they do in fact bite every theist that comes to this site!

    andrew,

    Good catch and good comments, especially February 16, 2009, 3:15 pm. Stuff like that abounds here. See here for a recent example that fits the bill, too. And I see you’ve met the boys. Have fun, especially with OMGF:

    I don’t like grape lollipops… (andrew)

    Oh, so you hate all lollipops and all fruit then, eh? I see. (OMGF)

    No, that’s not what I said. What I said was that there’s no scripture that justifies the idea that grape lollipops are the best… (andrew)

    So how can we know that any lollipops are worth eating then? Huh? Come on, tell me that..

    Well, we can take a look and read, it’s pretty basic..

    Yeah, but someone else might say strawberry lollipops are the best, and when religious people disagree on something we’re justified in saying it’s false..

    That’s just politically correct BS… (andrew)

    On and on this wheel of stupidity will go if you let it, andrew! And they will criticize you for your tenacity, not your opponents for their inability to see in degrees finer than either/or.

    mikespeir,

    If we argue against them, don’t assume we’re making the mistake of thinking all Christians believe like they do. But if we argue against your position, then they’ll come in and protest that we “don’t understand.” In fact, we don’t believe either belief has any basis in reality.

    How do you feel when someone makes the mistake of generalizing about all atheists? Show familiarity with a range instead of selective focus on barreled fish and other easy targets.

    OMGF,

    What makes your belief more authoritative than the belief of any other Xian? Are you infallible? If not, then don’t you think you could be wrong about this piece of doctrine?

    Surely you disagree with other atheists on certain issues. What make your belief any more authoritative than the next atheist’s? Are you infallible?

    Considering that many Xians don’t agree with your interpretation, it’s obviously not clear.

    If disagreement entails lack of clarity in any or all cases, then why are you an atheist? Is unclear that there is no God? Is it unclear that evolution is correct? Many scientists don’t agree with Miller’s interpretation of early-Earth’s atmosphere, is it unclear that abiogenesis is correct?

    I don’t disagree that one interpretation is potentially more valid than the other, but what you don’t seem to understand is that you don’t have any good way of determining which one that is. Until you can do that, there’s no way to differentiate which is better. So, which should I choose if I’m making a choice?

    Do you really need another person to tell you which is the better of two choices? Now I’m convinced you’re not a freethinker. There is a very easy way to see which interpretation of two or more claims is most likely to be correct. It’s called reading and reasoning. If a verse says that believers are going to receive a physical body with which they will live for 1,000 years on the new Earth, that’s pretty clearly in favor of physical vs. spiritual resurrection, no? One could go to the Greek for further consideration in their case as well, but the one who pre-decides that no decision is possible is the one who has forfeited critical thought. In this case, that’s you.

    If that were the case, then one would not ever address a general Xian audience, so no two people have the same beliefs.

    Totally false, illogical argument. There are lowest common denominators of “Christian” beliefs. Further, when there are not, it is perfectly logical and scholarly to respond to many or even all known possible interpretations of a scripture or doctrine. Ebonmuse has done this well in some areas, for example, in Foundation of Sand, which makes his recent failure on Love Is No Sin all the more surprising.

    And that “debate” goes nowhere because it’s all based on interpretation rather than empirical evidence and fact. This is why it’s a losing cause, and why you can’t claim that your interpretations are better than other people’s interpretations.

    You’re descending into sophistry and solipsism here. If debate over interpretation of scripture goes nowhere, how did Fred Pearson, the “Christian” pastor whom Ebonmuse dedicated an entire post to recently, come to change his views on the teaching of hell? Why can astronomers claim one theory of dark matter makes more sense than another? How do courts of law reach convictions in America every day? Imagine if a judge simply let purported murderers go on the idea that somebody else could look at the evidence and arrive at a different conclusion as the prosecution.

    I’m glad judges and scientists use real logic, and not yours.

    Perry Killion,

    Gee, the leprechaun trope is an original one we’ve never heard around here. Thank you for your depth of thought, and note that the “you can’t prove it” trope also applies to the claim that matter and energy are all there is.

  • Andrew

    You can claim that you think your interpretations fit the linguistics better and the historical and social context, but so does everyone else who disagrees with you.

    And I’m willing to listen if they can demonstrate as such.

    Do you really think that you have superior knowledge to all other Xians?

    No I think my knowldge is limited compared to Biblical Scholars like Ben Withington, N. T. Wright and Craig Bloomberg.

    How many Biblical scholars agree with your interpretations? How many of them disagree? Do Biblical scholars ever have disagreements over interpretations?

    I cant give exact numbers, but from what I’v read most Biblical scholars agree with my interpertations. And yes Biblical scholars disagree, but scholars also disagree on interpertaion of Shakesphere, Dante, Homer, Sun Tzu Plato ect.

    Ultimately, though, the question isn’t “Who do most scholars agree with?” but “who’s better supported by the evidence?” The works of scholars are usefull because they’re more likely to be familar with the subject and how to think about the issues involved, but ‘scholars say so’ should never be mistaken for an argument. Instead examine they’re reasons for saying so, and see if it holds up.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Oh look, cl has come galloping in and intentionally misrepresenting all of our arguments and making claims that support us unintentionally. Own goal. What a moron.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    And I’m willing to listen if they can demonstrate as such.

    How many times have I heard that one!

    I cant give exact numbers, but from what I’v read most Biblical scholars agree with my interpertations. And yes Biblical scholars disagree, but scholars also disagree on interpertaion of Shakesphere, Dante, Homer, Sun Tzu Plato ect.

    But, you seem to be saying that we can come to a definitive answer vis-a-vis the Bible, so why not all those other authors? Hell, with Dante, et. al., we are only dealing with one author, not many authors and many copies passed down by hand through centuries of not necessarily the best copying, and we can’t use your technique to come to a specific answer? And yet, you claim you can do that with the Bible when the experts can’t?

    Ultimately, though, the question isn’t “Who do most scholars agree with?” but “who’s better supported by the evidence?”

    I’m still unsure as to how you will give evidence for what god wrote.

    The works of scholars are usefull because they’re more likely to be familar with the subject and how to think about the issues involved, but ‘scholars say so’ should never be mistaken for an argument. Instead examine they’re reasons for saying so, and see if it holds up.

    Agreed, but “hold up” to what? What are you holding it up to?

  • Andrew

    But, you seem to be saying that we can come to a definitive answer vis-a-vis the Bible, so why not all those other authors? Hell, with Dante, et. al., we are only dealing with one author, not many authors and many copies passed down by hand through centuries of not necessarily the best copying, and we can’t use your technique to come to a specific answer? And yet, you claim you can do that with the Bible when the experts can’t?

    Wow, I wonder if the give rewards for missing the point. I never said we couldnt come up with valid interpertations of Dante(to use him as an example). Quite the contrary actually. People disagree on interpertations of Dante but nobody claims that means that all interpertations are equally valid, or that theres no way of knowing which ones are better. So to make this claim of the Bible is nothing more than special pleading.

    Agreed, but “hold up” to what? What are you holding it up to?

    Evidence. Other arguments.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Wow, I wonder if the give rewards for missing the point. I never said we couldnt come up with valid interpertations of Dante(to use him as an example). Quite the contrary actually. People disagree on interpertations of Dante but nobody claims that means that all interpertations are equally valid, or that theres no way of knowing which ones are better. So to make this claim of the Bible is nothing more than special pleading.

    Nice try. 1. I never said that all interpretations are equally valid. In fact, I agreed with you that they probably aren’t. 2. How will you know which interpretation of Dante is better? You still haven’t answered that. How will you get into Dante’s mind to show what exactly he meant?

    Evidence. Other arguments.

    What would constitute evidence? Oh yeah, I’ve already asked this, which led us to this circle. So, maybe this time you’ll actually tell me what “evidence” you would use to decipher the Bible and god’s mind?

  • andrew

    Nice try. 1. I never said that all interpretations are equally valid. In fact, I agreed with you that they probably aren’t. 2. How will you know which interpretation of Dante is better? You still haven’t answered that. How will you get into Dante’s mind to show what exactly he meant?

    I did answer that. Try paying attention: We come to an interpertation of ANY text by looking the text itself, the social/social political situation of the time and place it was written and what we know about the author. None of these, of course, can get us ‘inside the persons head’ to tell us EXACTLY what they ment. But they can reasonably extrapolate what they probably ment. And we can certainly weed out waht they didnt mean.

    What would constitute evidence? Oh yeah, I’ve already asked this, which led us to this circle. So, maybe this time you’ll actually tell me what “evidence” you would use to decipher the Bible and god’s mind?

    And I alreawdy answered it. In fact my answer is the same as above, the text of the Bible itself, the social-political situation of the time that particular book was written. And in the cases of the books where the author is known, we can use what we know of them to help our case too.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    I did answer that. Try paying attention: We come to an interpertation of ANY text by looking the text itself, the social/social political situation of the time and place it was written and what we know about the author.

    And you admitted that it hasn’t worked in the case of other authors.

    BTW, who is the author of the Bible? Is it god or a bunch of men?

    And we can certainly weed out waht they didnt mean.

    Sometimes. Try James Joyce for an example of how difficult an exercise this is and how we can come to different interpretations about an author’s work. And Joyce wrote just last century.

    And I alreawdy answered it. In fact my answer is the same as above, the text of the Bible itself, the social-political situation of the time that particular book was written.

    And we go round and round…And, I spoke to that. When you use the “text of the Bible itself” so do others, and they come to different interpretations. Hey, maybe you have a secret pipeline to god hisself, but all the rest of us don’t.

    And in the cases of the books where the author is known, we can use what we know of them to help our case too.

    Is the author god or some human? If it’s god, then we don’t know the author. If it’s a human, then who cares about anyone’s interpretation of the fantasy that some author had in guessing about some god?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Andrew,
    Perhaps I should help you along?

    When I ask for evidence, I’m not talking about simply reading the Bible. What specific facts would you use? Using the Bible text is useless, because that’s the thing you are trying to decipher! When a question comes up about what verse X means, and there’s two (only two?) competing ideas, it doesn’t do any good to say, “Well, look at verse X, it obviously means Y.”

    If you want to look at the time-frame it was written, then the authorship becomes very important. I still wonder what facts you would use to support the assertions you make, however. Even if it was not common custom to believe in proposition A, that doesn’t mean that that wasn’t what was meant. How many people today don’t follow exact dogma as it is laid down?

  • andrew

    And you admitted that it hasn’t worked in the case of other authors.

    Correction: it hasnt given us EXACTLY what they mean. But it has helped us figure what thehy MOST LIKELY ment, and what they certainly DIDNT mean.

    BTW, who is the author of the Bible? Is it god or a bunch of men?

    A bunch of people who where inspired by God(btw before you comment, ‘inspiration’ doesnt mean ‘direct dictation’).

    Sometimes. Try James Joyce for an example of how difficult an exercise this is and how we can come to different interpretations about an author’s work. And Joyce wrote just last century.

    I didnt say it was easy, or an exact science. But this is not excuse to just throw our hands in the air and go ‘well, we cant ever know exactly what they ment, so why bother trying.’

    And we go round and round…And, I spoke to that. When you use the “text of the Bible itself” so do others, and they come to different interpretations.

    And again that doesnt mean that their interpertations are equally valid. Especially if all they’re doing to reading the Bible in english with no social-historical background research.

    You’ve alreawdy agreed to this. So why do you keep coming back to this bs ‘but other people have different interpertations’ line?

    Is the author god or some human? If it’s god, then we don’t know the author. If it’s a human, then who cares about anyone’s interpretation of the fantasy that some author had in guessing about some god?

    Unless its people(not just one person, ‘the’ Bible is actually an anthology of various books) inspired by God.

    When I ask for evidence, I’m not talking about simply reading the Bible. What specific facts would you use? Using the Bible text is useless, because that’s the thing you are trying to decipher! When a question comes up about what verse X means, and there’s two (only two?) competing ideas, it doesn’t do any good to say, “Well, look at verse X, it obviously means Y.”

    Well it depends, if the Bible says X, its not really reasonable to say it means ‘not X’ or ‘something completely irrevelnt to X.’ Unless theres something in the immidently surrounding text, or something in the social-political background it was written to that suggests otherwise. Thats why the evidence of authorship and social-historical understanding are important. But the text itself is always a good place to start, then you can apply your other tools.

    If you want to look at the time-frame it was written, then the authorship becomes very important.

    I can agree with that.

    I still wonder what facts you would use to support the assertions you make, however.

    I already answer the question of what evidence I would use.

    Even if it was not common custom to believe in proposition A, that doesn’t mean that that wasn’t what was meant. How many people today don’t follow exact dogma as it is laid down?

    But what if it wasnt just a case being ‘uncommon’ but wasnt believed at all? Yes, the Biblical writers could have invented the idea of a ‘spirtual ressurection.’ But if they did, THey would have needed to do a great deal of explaining since everybody who heard them would have thought they were talking nonsense. But we dont see any such explaning. And we see them affirming the physicality of the ressurection(I Cor. 15 is perhaps the best example of this).

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Correction: it hasnt given us EXACTLY what they mean. But it has helped us figure what thehy MOST LIKELY ment, and what they certainly DIDNT mean.

    Not always.

    A bunch of people who where inspired by God(btw before you comment, ‘inspiration’ doesnt mean ‘direct dictation’).

    Then, what does it mean?

    I didnt say it was easy, or an exact science. But this is not excuse to just throw our hands in the air and go ‘well, we cant ever know exactly what they ment, so why bother trying.’

    Maybe you should if you have no good means of exacting the truth.

    You’ve alreawdy agreed to this. So why do you keep coming back to this bs ‘but other people have different interpertations’ line?

    Why do you assume that if everyone looked at the historical background that all would be clear and everyone would agree with you?

    Unless its people(not just one person, ‘the’ Bible is actually an anthology of various books) inspired by God.

    Again, what does “inspired” mean?

    Well it depends, if the Bible says X, its not really reasonable to say it means ‘not X’ or ‘something completely irrevelnt to X.’

    That settles it. The universe and the Earth were indeed formed in 6 days. The Bible plainly says it.

    But the text itself is always a good place to start, then you can apply your other tools.

    You’re just not going to get it are you?

    I already answer the question of what evidence I would use.

    Yes, you would read the passage in question and make a definitive assertions about what it means. Then, you would look at the history of the time period and assert that people could only think what others of that time thought, even when “inspired” by god. I can’t possibly see how someone might not come to your conclusions.

    But what if it wasnt just a case being ‘uncommon’ but wasnt believed at all?

    Don’t some argue that Xianity is true because the beliefs are unique? Are you admitting that the beliefs of Xianity are simply derivations of the mythologies of the time?

    Yes, the Biblical writers could have invented the idea of a ‘spirtual ressurection.’ But if they did, THey would have needed to do a great deal of explaining since everybody who heard them would have thought they were talking nonsense.

    So, Xianity is based on what people wanted to believe at the time?

    And we see them affirming the physicality of the ressurection(I Cor. 15 is perhaps the best example of this).

    I Cor. 15 also speaks of spiritual bodies.

  • andrew

    Maybe you should if you have no good means of exacting the truth.

    But I do, they’re not perfect, but why should they be?

    Why do you assume that if everyone looked at the historical background that all would be clear and everyone would agree with you?

    I dont think EVERYBODY would agree with me.

    Again, what does “inspired” mean?

    That they were writing what God had revealed to them. They still wrote with their own words, and may have interposed their own ideas at times.

    That settles it. The universe and the Earth were indeed formed in 6 days. The Bible plainly says it.

    No it doesnt actually. The Hebrew wording could mean ‘days’ or it could mean a longer period of time. Especially since there was no sun for hte first few ‘days’

    Don’t some argue that Xianity is true because the beliefs are unique?

    Not taht I know of. Something doesnt have to be unique or original to be true or usefull.

    Christianity grew out of first century Jewish beliefs. The unique part of it is the belief in Jesus as the messiah.

    Are you admitting that the beliefs of Xianity are simply derivations of the mythologies of the time?

    No, actually, what I’m saying is that if somebody held an otherwise unknown belief, we would see people spending a great deal of time and energy trying to explain or defend their belief from people who would think thehy were talking nonsense. We dotn see early Christians doing that with regards to a spirtual ressurection.

    So, Xianity is based on what people wanted to believe at the time?

    No, but it did grow out of early Jewish beliefs(which also held a to a final, physical ressurection). But if they DID believe in something else, they would have needed to defend it, which they never did.

    I Cor. 15 also speaks of spiritual bodies.

    No it doesnt.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    That they were writing what God had revealed to them. They still wrote with their own words, and may have interposed their own ideas at times.

    So, which parts come from god and which parts come from humans? Until you can figure that out, making appeals to the author of the document are meaningless. And, more importantly, why should any of us care what some warlike, nomadic peoples wrote thousands of years ago?

    No it doesnt actually. The Hebrew wording could mean ‘days’ or it could mean a longer period of time. Especially since there was no sun for hte first few ‘days’

    Why would they believe that god could not do those things in a day and would have to spend “a longer period of time?” It’s settled, and we can safely disregard the Bible since it’s clearly wrong on this issue.

    Not taht I know of. Something doesnt have to be unique or original to be true or usefull.

    Although I agree with you that something need not be unique, there are Xians who make the argument that I stated. You should meet them sometime and tell them what I told them (which is what you wrote in your second sentence) as they might actually listen to a fellow Xian – although most likely they wouldn’t listen to you either.

    No, actually, what I’m saying is that if somebody held an otherwise unknown belief, we would see people spending a great deal of time and energy trying to explain or defend their belief from people who would think thehy were talking nonsense. We dotn see early Christians doing that with regards to a spirtual ressurection.

    Actually, there were lots of pagan writings attacking the early views of the Xians. We know they existed because there are some writings that answer some of those attacks.

    No it doesnt.

    Verse 44 for instance does.

  • Leopold

    Theologians have spent millennia postulating about god. Their arguments go round and round just like they do here and will continue to do so for a long time. One can speculate about god forever because he doesn’t show up to either prove or disprove your ideas about him. And even if you think he has informed you, he hasn’t done so with those who disagree with you. That’s why it’s so easy to start another religious group. PEOPLE might tell you your ideas are wrong but the absent god does not. Where no relevant facts exist, everyone can be right and every group can think they’re more right than every other group. They can just entrench themselves in their arguments and wait around for god to show up to set things straight. These religious entrenchments have gone on since prehistory and yet have yielded no VERIFIABLE information about god or his attributes. This is true about ALL human fantasies.
    Science on the other hand, continues to discover new truth,that can be verified objectively and applied in real ways while discarding incorrect ideas. This process has unseated many dearly held religious beliefs over the last few hundred years and continues to do so at an increasing rate.
    To be fair though, religion helped create the cradle from which science has grown. Religion does one thing very well. It provides a sense of order and security to sooth our existential angst. From my own experience I can say it gave me a structure for my life when I was ruled by fear and ignorance. It provided a reasonably healthy way to live until I learned enough to stand on my own two feet. At a certain point religious belief was no longer a welcome and needed structure but rather a congested little box that kept my mind running in circles through a theological maze. It appears to me that apologists are stuck in a holding pattern that’s way better than nothing but way short of the truth.

  • goyo

    andrew:
    If it wasn’t a day exactly how much longer a “period of time”?

  • andrew

    So, which parts come from god and which parts come from humans? Until you can figure that out, making appeals to the author of the document are meaningless. And, more importantly, why should any of us care what some warlike, nomadic peoples wrote thousands of years ago?

    I’m not sure what you by ‘which parts came from humans?’ It all came from humans because humans wrote it. But they were writing things God had revealed to them.

    Why would they believe that god could not do those things in a day and would have to spend “a longer period of time?”

    For that matter why did God needed six days when he could have dont it in an instant? Rather than speculate on why God did waht he did, lets focus on what Genesis says he did.

    It’s settled, and we can safely disregard the Bible since it’s clearly wrong on this issue.

    Well aside from the fact that its not clearly wrong. This is not a discredit of the ‘The Bible.’ Since ‘The Bible’ isnt a singualr work, but an anthology of 66 seperate books(more if you count the Apotherica). At best this is a discredit of Genesis.

    Actually, there were lots of pagan writings attacking the early views of the Xians. We know they existed because there are some writings that answer some of those attacks.

    Oh I know Christians had to defend their beliefs. But we never see them defend the idea of a spirtual ressurection.

    Verse 44 for instance does.

    “sown a natural body, raised a heavenly body.”

    A ‘heavenly body’ isnt a spirt. Actually its still a BODY. Although an immortal body

    If it wasn’t a day exactly how much longer a “period of time”?

    The Hebrew word doesnt denote a specific period of time. It could have been days or it could have been billions of years. I tend the latter because the universe is billions of years old.

  • goyo

    Andrew:
    Do you see what we’re talking about here? If a day can mean anywhere between one literal day and billions of years, how do we know when we’re interpreting it correctly?

  • Leopold

    “A ‘heavenly body’ isnt a spirt”

    Who says there is any difference between a ‘heavenly body’ and a spirit?
    Since neither one is subject to any kind of testing, whose to say they aren’t the same thing…..or….that they exist at all?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    I’m not sure what you by ‘which parts came from humans?’ It all came from humans because humans wrote it. But they were writing things God had revealed to them.

    Seems to me like you’re trying to have it both ways. The Bible is inspired by god, so it’s important, but any time we have issues with it it’s written by men? Sorry, but that’s trying to have your cake and eat it too. If we can casually say this part or that part was written by man and god’s word was corrupted, then why do I care what the Bible says? I have no assurance that any of it is what god intended.

    For that matter why did God needed six days when he could have dont it in an instant? Rather than speculate on why God did waht he did, lets focus on what Genesis says he did.

    What goyo said.

    Despite your protestations that the Bible is clear in its writing and that we can simply read it to discern its meaning, is that the case here? Obviously not according to you.

    Well aside from the fact that its not clearly wrong. This is not a discredit of the ‘The Bible.’ Since ‘The Bible’ isnt a singualr work, but an anthology of 66 seperate books(more if you count the Apotherica). At best this is a discredit of Genesis.

    Actually, it is wrong in the order, etc. Either way, it’s still a case of eating your cake while still having it. It’s all inspired by god, but if we find one piece wrong, then we claim it’s written by humans and we can only throw out that one piece?

    Oh I know Christians had to defend their beliefs. But we never see them defend the idea of a spirtual ressurection.

    We honestly don’t know what they had to defend or not defend. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. Maybe it wasn’t as outlandish as you are making out.

    A ‘heavenly body’ isnt a spirt. Actually its still a BODY. Although an immortal body

    Young’s uses “spiritual” instead of heavenly, and no, it’s not clear that heavenly or spiritual body means a physical body.

    The Hebrew word doesnt denote a specific period of time. It could have been days or it could have been billions of years. I tend the latter because the universe is billions of years old.

    Well, I’m glad that you at least accept the age of the universe as determined by science, which puts you a step up from many apologists. This still leaves us without a good way to interpret what the Bible says. Many think it really does mean days. Another good interpretation is that day actually meant thousand years, since god says something to the effect that Adam and Eve will surely die from the apple. Since Adam lived to be about 1000 years old, that would denote that the day lasted 1000 years, else god would have lied. I’m sure you’re familiar with this argument. But, taking our current level of knowledge and imparting it back to the Bible to conclude that that’s what it meant all along is not correct.

  • Andrew

    Seems to me like you’re trying to have it both ways. The Bible is inspired by god, so it’s important, but any time we have issues with it it’s written by men? Sorry, but that’s trying to have your cake and eat it too. If we can casually say this part or that part was written by man and god’s word was corrupted, then why do I care what the Bible says? I have no assurance that any of it is what god intended.

    Actually I would say the whole thing was written by man, but inspired by God.

    If somebody inspires me to write a novel, that doesnt mean they wrote it for me. DO you undestand what I’m saying? I’m not sure if its coming out clear.

    Despite your protestations that the Bible is clear in its writing and that we can simply read it to discern its meaning, is that the case here? Obviously not according to you.

    I NEVER said understanding the Bible was easy. Actually quite the contrary, to understand the Bible(or any complex work, especially one from another time/culture) takes work, it takes an uderstanding of history, lingustics, and social systems of the time. And I doubt we’ll ever be able to completely understand it.

    Perhaps your confused because I said the text of the Bible is always a good place to start with our understanding. The problem is we should never think a ‘plain reading’ is enough. Espeically if the ‘plain reading’ is somewhat unclear.

    Actually, it is wrong in the order, etc. Either way, it’s still a case of eating your cake while still having it. It’s all inspired by god, but if we find one piece wrong, then we claim it’s written by humans and we can only throw out that one piece?

    Well for me, at least, my faith doesnt stand or fall on the inherency of the Bible. Even if its not 100% flawless, doesnt mean its 100% false either.

    We honestly don’t know what they had to defend or not defend.

    Even though we have their writings where they attempt to defend their faith?

    Young’s uses “spiritual” instead of heavenly, and no, it’s not clear that heavenly or spiritual body means a physical body.

    I have to admit, I’m not certain on the Greek here. But the rest of the chapter makes it clear Paul is talking about a body that’s immortal, but still physical.

    Well, I’m glad that you at least accept the age of the universe as determined by science, which puts you a step up from many apologists. This still leaves us without a good way to interpret what the Bible says. Many think it really does mean days.

    Yes, its espeically difficult it COULD mean days. I admit this is one area where there really is no good answer.

    Another good interpretation is that day actually meant thousand years, since god says something to the effect that Adam and Eve will surely die from the apple. Since Adam lived to be about 1000 years old, that would denote that the day lasted 1000 years, else god would have lied. I’m sure you’re familiar with this argument.

    Yes, and I also know some who the think the ‘thousand years’ verse uses the number symbolicly, and that it means that the ‘days’ of genesis could have been any ammount of time.

    I’m also aware that either way its a complete butchering of the verse in 2nd Peter.

    But, taking our current level of knowledge and imparting it back to the Bible to conclude that that’s what it meant all along is not correct.

    I can actually agree with that. However if the wording could mean a longer period of time, then its not at all unreasonable to take it to mean that when we find out thats what the age of the earth is.

    Interestingly, the idea that the ‘days’ in genesis could be symbolic for a longer time isnt a new one. Thomas Aquanis complained about people who insisted that it HAD to mean 6 literal days. And suggested it could have been longer periods of time.

  • goyo

    Andrew:
    You’re not far from agnosticism. Take the step, brother.

  • Andrew

    You’re not far from agnosticism. Take the step, brother.

    Why would I take a step towards something I dont believe?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    If somebody inspires me to write a novel, that doesnt mean they wrote it for me. DO you undestand what I’m saying? I’m not sure if its coming out clear.

    In all honesty, no. I don’t know what it means to say that the Bible was written exclusively by man but inspired by god. Does that mean that god came down and told them what to write or that they were filled with inspiration by the spirit or idea of god or what?

    I NEVER said understanding the Bible was easy. Actually quite the contrary, to understand the Bible(or any complex work, especially one from another time/culture) takes work, it takes an uderstanding of history, lingustics, and social systems of the time. And I doubt we’ll ever be able to completely understand it.

    Perhaps your confused because I said the text of the Bible is always a good place to start with our understanding. The problem is we should never think a ‘plain reading’ is enough. Espeically if the ‘plain reading’ is somewhat unclear.

    I agree that there are parts we will probably not fully understand. But, it’s putting the cart in front of the horse unless we iron out what “inspired” means.

    Well for me, at least, my faith doesnt stand or fall on the inherency of the Bible. Even if its not 100% flawless, doesnt mean its 100% false either.

    We’ve strayed way off topic, but (briefly) what does it stand on then? You’ve said you don’t have subjective experience, and from what it sounds like you don’t rely on the Bible. AFAIK, those are the only two sources that are cited as evidence by most believers for the Xian god.

    Even though we have their writings where they attempt to defend their faith?

    I think we’ve lost a lot of them to destruction through various means (including Xians purging some of the information).

    I have to admit, I’m not certain on the Greek here. But the rest of the chapter makes it clear Paul is talking about a body that’s immortal, but still physical.

    I disagree and I can see how others would take it to mean spiritual, as I see no reason to believe he meant an actual body instead of simply using the term “body” for lack of a better one, or some other possible explanation.

    I can actually agree with that. However if the wording could mean a longer period of time, then its not at all unreasonable to take it to mean that when we find out thats what the age of the earth is.

    That’s exactly what I was saying, that it is unreasonable, because it is post-hoc reasoning. You’re imparting modern knowledge back on the authors who would not have this knowledge unless god gave it to them. We have no evidence to suggest this is the case, except to force an interpretation that allows for them to have been correct all along? Sorry, but that’s logically fallacious.

    Interestingly, the idea that the ‘days’ in genesis could be symbolic for a longer time isnt a new one. Thomas Aquanis complained about people who insisted that it HAD to mean 6 literal days. And suggested it could have been longer periods of time.

    Actually, I believe he’s one of the (if not the first) progenitors of the day = 1000 years idea. It came from the passage I described above. I don’t remember the specific verse off the top of my head.

  • Andrew

    In all honesty, no. I don’t know what it means to say that the Bible was written exclusively by man but inspired by god. Does that mean that god came down and told them what to write or that they were filled with inspiration by the spirit or idea of god or what?

    Perhaps the best way to explain it is this: The authors of the Bible either saw or heard about something God had done, or had an experence involving God, and because of that decided to write what they did.

    We’ve strayed way off topic, but (briefly) what does it stand on then?

    The ressurection of Jesus.

    You’ve said you don’t have subjective experience,

    I havent.

    and from what it sounds like you don’t rely on the Bible.

    Correction, I dont rely on the INHERENCY of the Bible. The Bible could contain errrors and still be correct about the ressurection and divinity of Jesus.

    I know this is going to turn into a debate over the ressurection now…

    I think we’ve lost a lot of them to destruction through various means (including Xians purging some of the information).

    I’ll admit we dont have a lot of records from that time, but thats no reason to speculate on what they ‘might have’ or ‘could have’ been saying.

    Specualtion like that is the hallmark of conspiricy theorists. Ask somebody if they have any evidence that the ancients knew about space travel or atomic power and you get the answer ‘well no, but they we dont know what was in the library at Alaxandria’

    and yes there really are people who believe this stuff.

    I disagree and I can see how others would take it to mean spiritual, as I see no reason to believe he meant an actual body instead of simply using the term “body” for lack of a better one, or some other possible explanation.

    The only way somebody could come to this interpertation is by cherry picking it out of the chapter. The chapter as a whole affirmes the physicality of the ressurection.

    Paul is responding to a group of people who denied the future ressurection because ‘dead people dont come back to life’(sound familar? There really IS nothing new under the sun). Is his answer ‘no no, you dont understand I’m talking about a spirtual ressurection’? Nope, his answer is(paraphrased) “well if dead people dont came back to life, then Jesus didnt come back to life, and if thats the case then everything you believe is a lie.” He then goes on to explain how our ressurected bodies will be like Jesus’s ressurected body.

    So…iow he affirms teh physacality of our future ressurection bodies, despie a perfect opportunity to deny it. Yes, you can cherry pick verses to say otherwise, but the entirity of I Cor. 15 couldnt be any clearer.

    That’s exactly what I was saying, that it is unreasonable, because it is post-hoc reasoning. You’re imparting modern knowledge back on the authors who would not have this knowledge unless god gave it to them. We have no evidence to suggest this is the case, except to force an interpretation that allows for them to have been correct all along? Sorry, but that’s logically fallacious.

    Im not saying they necessarly had ‘modern knowldge’ in the sense of knowing about carbon dating, or the distances to the stars(or maybe they did and it was destoryed with the library at alaxandria…)

    What I’m saying is that if something is unclear but could be read to mean X and we know X is true, then its reasonable to think they ment X.

    Admittidly I could very easily be wrong on that. Maybe Moses really did only mean ‘day’ at the beginning of Genesis. But without good reason to think so, I see no reason assume he must have.

  • goyo

    Andrew:
    What about if something is very clear (like the blood of birds heals leprosy;lev.) that we know is not true? Those were specific laws given to man from god. Are those wrong?

  • Andrew

    What about if something is very clear (like the blood of birds heals leprosy;lev.) that we know is not true? Those were specific laws given to man from god. Are those wrong?

    Can I say I have no idea what you are talking about?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Andrew,

    Perhaps the best way to explain it is this: The authors of the Bible either saw or heard about something God had done, or had an experence involving God, and because of that decided to write what they did.

    If the words don’t come from god, then why do I even care what they wrote?

    The ressurection of Jesus.

    So, you base it on the inerrancy of the resurrection of Jesus? All other parts you think could be wrong, but this one must be right?

    I know this is going to turn into a debate over the ressurection now…

    I have no desire to go there, because it’s well-worn ground, and I can’t see how anyone can think it actually happened.

    I’ll admit we dont have a lot of records from that time, but thats no reason to speculate on what they ‘might have’ or ‘could have’ been saying.

    I’m not saying that. I’m saying that we simply don’t know what they did or did not talk about. To declare that they didn’t talk about X is to try and prove a negative.

    The only way somebody could come to this interpertation is by cherry picking it out of the chapter. The chapter as a whole affirmes the physicality of the ressurection.

    Again, I disagree, and this is what we were talking about before. You can’t simply point to the disputed passages and declare that they affirm your interpretation when it’s in dispute.

    Paul is responding to a group of people who denied the future ressurection because ‘dead people dont come back to life’

    I’m not sure that the ancient Jews believed in life after death at all, spiritual or bodily (they didn’t have hell as that was a Xian invention). So, there’s no need for Paul to be speaking only about a bodily resurrection.

    What I’m saying is that if something is unclear but could be read to mean X and we know X is true, then its reasonable to think they ment X.

    No, it’s not. That’s post hoc reasoning.

    Admittidly I could very easily be wrong on that. Maybe Moses really did only mean ‘day’ at the beginning of Genesis. But without good reason to think so, I see no reason assume he must have.

    A lot of people do think there’s good reason to believe it literally meant “day.”

  • andrew

    If the words don’t come from god, then why do I even care what they wrote?

    Because they were writing what God had revealed to them. Just because the words dont come from God doesnt mean God didnt reveal the things they wrote.

    Although even from a non-religious perspective, I think the writings that compose the Bible are worth reading for the same reason Homer, Shakesphere, Dante et al. are worth reading. they’re still great writings and give us some real insight into the world and history.

    So, you base it on the inerrancy of the resurrection of Jesus? All other parts you think could be wrong, but this one must be right?

    I’m not sure what your getting at here. One doesnt need believe in inherency to believe in the ressurection.

    I have no desire to go there, because it’s well-worn ground, and I can’t see how anyone can think it actually happened.

    Its quite easy once you drop the naturalistic presumptions.

    I’m not saying that. I’m saying that we simply don’t know what they did or did not talk about. To declare that they didn’t talk about X is to try and prove a negative.

    And what I’m saying is that unless you have records showing that they did in fact write about a particular subject, its reasonable to assume they didnt. Especially if we have other writings in the same vein(ie. you already agreed we have writings of early Christians defending their beliefs).

    Can I prove that the diciples didnt write in defense of a spirtual ressurection? No, but I also cant prove they didnt writea about Atomic fission. I hope you’ll agree they almost certainly didnt discuss THAT.

    I’m not sure that the ancient Jews believed in life after death at all, spiritual or bodily (they didn’t have hell as that was a Xian invention). So, there’s no need for Paul to be speaking only about a bodily resurrection.

    The Jews believed in a final ressurection. Although exactly what they believed in regards to that isnt completely clear, but my guess is that Paul drew this from Jewish theology at the time.

    Also in the ancient world, ‘ressurection’ could ONLY involve a body. The Greek philosophers who believed in spirtual afterlife never described what happens to our souls after death as ‘ressurection.

    A lot of people do think there’s good reason to believe it literally meant “day.”

    They have reasons, whether they are good reasons is another matter.

  • goyo

    andrew:
    I’m not trying to belabor the point here, just referring you to scripture that says “the lord spoke…” then gives some ridiculous statement that we know is not true. I was referring to Lev. 14, the famous blood-bird cure of leprosy. Do you believe god really gave those rules to Israel, or are they just made up by fallible man? If made up, then where does it stop and how do you know?

  • andrew

    Cleansing Skin Diseases
    1 The LORD spoke to Moses: 2 “This is the law (A) concerning the person afflicted with a skin disease on the day of his cleansing. (B) He is to be brought to the priest, (C) 3 who will go outside the camp (D) and examine [him]. (E) If the skin disease has disappeared from the afflicted person, [a] 4 the priest will order that two live clean birds, (F) cedar wood, (G) scarlet (H) yarn, and hyssop (I) be brought for the one who is to be cleansed. 5 Then the priest will order that one of the birds be slaughtered over fresh water in a clay pot. 6 He is to take the live bird together with the cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop, and dip them all into the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the fresh water. 7 He will then sprinkle [the blood] seven times on the one who is to be cleansed from the skin disease. He is to pronounce him clean and release the live bird over the open countryside. (J) 8 The one who is to be cleansed must wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and bathe with water; he is clean. Afterwards he may enter the camp, but he must remain outside his tent for seven days. 9 He is to shave off all his hair [again] on the seventh day: his head, his beard, his eyebrows, and the rest of his hair. He is to wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; he is clean.
    10 “On the eighth day he must take two unblemished (K) male lambs, an unblemished year-old ewe lamb, a grain offering of three quarts [b] of fine flour mixed with olive oil, and one-third of a quart [c] of olive oil. 11 The priest who performs the cleansing will place the person who is to be cleansed, together with these offerings, before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 12 The priest is to take one male lamb and present it as a restitution offering, (L) along with the one-third quart [d] of olive oil, and he must wave them as a presentation offering (M) before the LORD. 13 He is to slaughter the male lamb at the place in the sanctuary area where the sin offering (N) and burnt offering (O) are slaughtered, (P) for like the sin offering, the restitution offering belongs to the priest; (Q) it is especially holy. (R) 14 The priest is to take some of the blood from the restitution offering and put [it] on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. (S) 15 Then the priest will take some of the one-third of a quart [e] of olive oil and pour it into his left palm. 16 The priest will dip his right finger into the oil in his left palm and sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before the LORD. 17 From the oil remaining in his palm the priest will put some on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the restitution offering. (T) 18 What is left of the oil in the priest’s palm he is to put on the head of the one to be cleansed. In this way the priest will make atonement for him before the LORD. 19 The priest must sacrifice the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be purified from his uncleanness. (U) Afterwards he will slaughter the burnt offering. 20 The priest is to offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. The priest will make atonement for him, and he will be clean. (V)

    21 “But if he is poor (W) and cannot afford [these], (X) [f] he is to take one male lamb for a restitution offering to be waved in order to make atonement for him, along with two quarts [g] of fine flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering, one-third of a quart [h] of olive oil, 22 and two turtledoves or two young pigeons, whatever he can afford, [i] one to be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. 23 On the eighth day he is to bring these things for his cleansing to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting before the LORD. 24 The priest will take the male lamb for the restitution offering and the one-third of a quart [j] of olive oil, and wave them as a presentation offering before the LORD. 25 After he slaughters the male lamb for the restitution offering, the priest is to take some of the blood of the restitution offering and put [it] on the right earlobe of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 26 Then the priest will pour some of the oil into his left palm. 27 With his right finger the priest will sprinkle some of the oil in his left palm seven times before the LORD. 28 The priest will also put some of the oil in his palm on the right earlobe of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the [same] place as the blood of the restitution offering. 29 What is left of the oil in the priest’s palm he is to put on the head of the one to be cleansed to make atonement for him before the LORD. (Y) 30 He must then sacrifice one type of what he can afford, [k] either the turtledoves or young pigeons, 31 one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, [sacrificing] what he can afford [l] [m] together with the grain offering. In this way the priest will make atonement before the LORD for the one to be cleansed. 32 This is the law for someone who has [n] a skin disease and cannot afford [o] the cost of his cleansing.”

    Cleansing Contaminated Objects
    33 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron: 34 “When you enter the land of Canaan (Z) that I am giving you as a possession, (AA) and I place a mildew contamination in a house in the land you possess, [p] 35 the owner of the house is to come and tell the priest: Something like mildew contamination has appeared [q] in my house. 36 The priest must order them to clear the house before he enters to examine the contamination, so that nothing in the house becomes unclean. Afterwards the priest will come to examine the house. 37 He will examine it, and if the contamination in the walls of the house consists of green or red indentations [r] that appear to be beneath the surface of the wall, 38 the priest is to go outside the house to its doorway and quarantine the house for seven days. 39 The priest is to return on the seventh day and examine it. If the contamination has spread on the walls of the house, 40 the priest must order that the stones with the contamination be pulled out and thrown into an unclean place outside the city. 41 He is to have the inside of the house completely scraped, and the plaster [s] that is scraped off must be dumped in an unclean place outside the city. 42 Then they must take different stones to replace the [former] ones and take additional plaster [t] to replaster the house.
    43 “If the contamination reappears in the house after the stones have been pulled out, and after the house has been scraped and replastered, 44 the priest must come and examine it. If the contamination has spread in the house, it is harmful mildew; the house is unclean. 45 It must be torn down with its stones, its beams, and all its plaster, and taken outside the city to an unclean place. 46 Whoever enters the house during any of the days the priest quarantines it will be unclean until evening. 47 Whoever lies down in the house is to wash his clothes, and whoever eats in it is to wash his clothes.

    48 “But when the priest comes and examines it, if the contamination has not spread in the house after it was replastered, he is to pronounce the house clean because the contamination has disappeared. [u] 49 He is to take two birds, cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop to purify the house, 50 and he is to slaughter one of the birds over a clay pot containing fresh water. 51 He will take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn, and the live bird, dip them in the blood of the slaughtered bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He will purify the house with the blood of the bird, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet yarn. 53 Then he is to release the live bird into the open countryside (AB) outside the city. In this way he will make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.

    54 “This is the law for any skin disease or mildew, for a scaly outbreak, [v] 55 for mildew in clothing or on a house, 56 and for a swelling, scab, or spot, 57 to determine when something is unclean or clean. This is the law regarding skin disease and mildew.”

    I assume the bolded part is what you are refering to. But I dont see the birds blood being used as a ‘cure’ for skin disease(not just leopracy). Indeed the sacrafice is ordered “If the skin disease has dissappeared from the afflicted person”

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    Because they were writing what God had revealed to them. Just because the words dont come from God doesnt mean God didnt reveal the things they wrote.

    I feel like this is going in a circle. You seem to want to hold the words of the Bible up as some sort of divine guide to life that is revealed by god, while simultaneously claiming that you can disregard anything that you dislike or anything that is erroneous as simply that part that was written by man. You are trying to have it both ways.

    Although even from a non-religious perspective, I think the writings that compose the Bible are worth reading for the same reason Homer, Shakesphere, Dante et al. are worth reading. they’re still great writings and give us some real insight into the world and history.

    Actually, the writing isn’t that great.

    I’m not sure what your getting at here. One doesnt need believe in inherency to believe in the ressurection.

    But, your statement was to the effect that your faith hinges on the resurrection. If the resurrection is wrong/did not happen, I presume you would think hard about whether you would still be a Xian?

    Its quite easy once you drop the naturalistic presumptions.

    You mean, once you drop the idea that evidence is necessary? Yes, once you admit the un-evidenced possibility of supernatural elements, then you can believe in anything. Hell, you can believe Jesus was really a leprechaun and the fairies moved the rock so that he could ride out on a unicorn.

    And what I’m saying is that unless you have records showing that they did in fact write about a particular subject, its reasonable to assume they didnt.

    Normally, this would be so, except that we’re pretty sure that there are lots of lost records of things they did talk about.

    Also in the ancient world, ‘ressurection’ could ONLY involve a body. The Greek philosophers who believed in spirtual afterlife never described what happens to our souls after death as ‘ressurection.

    That’s a bit of a stretch to conclude that resurrection must include a body. We don’t know in what sense they are using the word “body” to begin with, especially when they talk about a “spiritual body.” Second, he was making a parallel to the resurrection of Jesus, so it would be entirely appropriate to speak of “resurrection” even in a spiritual sense.

  • andrew

    If the resurrection is wrong/did not happen, I presume you would think hard about whether you would still be a Xian?

    Actually I would cease to be a Christian.

    You mean, once you drop the idea that evidence is necessary?

    No I mean once you stop assuming ‘miracles cant happen’ and actually follow the evidence where it leads.

    Normally, this would be so, except that we’re pretty sure that there are lots of lost records of things they did talk about.

    Therefore the ancienct Greeks knew about space travel and nuclear fission, and we’ve lost all records talking about it.

    That’s a bit of a stretch to conclude that resurrection must include a body.

    Not really, if a word is only ever used one way, It’s not at all a streach to think it could only mean that.

    Second, he was making a parallel to the resurrection of Jesus, so it would be entirely appropriate to speak of “resurrection” even in a spiritual sense.

    BUt then again, it makes absolutely no sense to bring up Jeuss’s ressurection if he was talking aboout a spirtual event.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Andrew,

    No I mean once you stop assuming ‘miracles cant happen’ and actually follow the evidence where it leads.

    Following the evidence where it leads emphatically does not lead to anything supernatural. It never has.

    Therefore the ancienct Greeks knew about space travel and nuclear fission, and we’ve lost all records talking about it.

    That’s equivocation and not at all what we are talking about. We know that early Xians had to defend all kinds of ideas from those who disagreed with them. We also know the Greeks didn’t develop space travel and nuclear fission. Good try. Come to think of it, up to now I’ve just been taking your word for it that this is something that they would have to defend, etc. That’s not at all been shown, especially since you’ve admitted that the Jewish notions of the time are not completely clear.

    Not really, if a word is only ever used one way, It’s not at all a streach to think it could only mean that.

    Except that you are asserting that this case is the one in which the word is ever only used in one way.

    BUt then again, it makes absolutely no sense to bring up Jeuss’s ressurection if he was talking aboout a spirtual event.

    Then I suppose that you think it doesn’t make sense to use analogies?

  • andrew

    We also know the Greeks didn’t develop space travel and nuclear fission.

    And why do we know that? Because we dont have records of it.

    We can postulate all kinds of whild theories based on non-existant evidence, thats been lost/destroyed/covered up/conviently edited/stolen by aliens ect. As I said this tactic is a hallmark of conspiricy theoriests of all stripes. From people who believe the ancient Greeks(or Atlantis) had space travel and fission power, to people who believe the government hasnt released all the records they have on Kenedy’s death. The example I used is extreme, yes, but it’s an example of the exact same kind of reasoning.

    That’s not at all been shown, especially since you’ve admitted that the Jewish notions of the time are not completely clear.

    Correction: its clear the Jews believed in a physical ressurection. It’s not as clear exactly what that would entail.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    We can postulate all kinds of whild theories based on non-existant evidence, thats been lost/destroyed/covered up/conviently edited/stolen by aliens ect…The example I used is extreme, yes, but it’s an example of the exact same kind of reasoning.

    No, it’s not. We know that they were defending their religious ideas. We know that they destroyed some of those defenses. We simply don’t know what they wrote. To say that they didn’t defend idea X because we don’t have records of it is to assert that once something goes down the memory hole, it never happened. I’m not saying that they did, I’m saying that we don’t know what they did or did not defend or even have to defend. This isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s plain acknowledgement that we are ignorant of the extent of their writings/arguments.

    Correction: its clear the Jews believed in a physical ressurection. It’s not as clear exactly what that would entail.

    Yet, your argument hinges on it being clear that it is a specific type/kind of resurrection. If we can’t say for sure what was believed, how can we make arguments that they believed in X? If anything, it throws doubt on your assertions that we can definitively say that the meaning of Bible passage Y is what you say it is. There is room for people to disagree on the meanings and it is not cut and dried.

  • andrew

    No, it’s not. We know that they were defending their religious ideas.

    Agreed.

    To say that they didn’t defend idea X because we don’t have records of it is to assert that once something goes down the memory hole, it never happened.

    No what I’m saying is that its not reasnable to speculate they might have spoken about something, unless yu have evidence to back it up. Otherwise you can ‘prove’ anything by imagining up non-existant evidence and reasons why we might not have it anymore.

    I’m not saying that they did, I’m saying that we don’t know what they did or did not defend or even have to defend. This isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s plain acknowledgement that we are ignorant of the extent of their writings/arguments.

    Ok I can acknolwdge taht we cant KNOW that they argued to defend this particular belief. Would you agree that, unless further discoveries are made, its not reasonable to assume they did?

    Yet, your argument hinges on it being clear that it is a specific type/kind of resurrection.

    Actually, no, my arguemnt hinges on it being a physical ressurection, which is teh one thing that IS clear about early Jewish belief. The specifics of immortality, not being subject t disease ect. arent particularly relevent.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    andrew,

    Ok I can acknolwdge taht we cant KNOW that they argued to defend this particular belief. Would you agree that, unless further discoveries are made, its not reasonable to assume they did?

    I’m not assuming that they did. I’m also not assuming that they didn’t. If your interpretation is wrong, then maybe they did mean spiritual bodies, and maybe they did have to defend that (although I’m not even sure they would have had to defend it) and we simply don’t know. Proclaiming that they obviously didn’t defend it and that means that they obviously aren’t talking about it is just as wrong as claiming that they did and put it down the memory hole.

    Actually, no, my arguemnt hinges on it being a physical ressurection, which is teh one thing that IS clear about early Jewish belief.

    It’s not clear to me or to many others that study the Bible.

  • andrew

    It’s not clear to me or to many others that study the Bible.

    Well this particular arguemnt is based less on the Bible itself and more on other early Jewish works.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    And many people still don’t find it to be as clear as you indicate.

  • Andrew

    Most people who don’t arent familar with the Jewish background of the NT.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    When you can support that statement, then we’ll talk.

  • Andrew

    What about the Jewish background of the NT, or that most people(at least who disagree on the physicality of the ressurection) arent aware of it?

    The former I can support, though you’ll have to wait till after my classes end today. the latter I admitidly can only show through antocedents. Though I can give some of those.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Both really.

    This will be especially difficult considering the phrases that you point to “heavenly” or “spiritual” body are yet to be defined as specifically physical bodies. In fact, the wording seems to suggest otherwise. I’d also council that you should take into consideration that the Xians were a break-away sect, meaning that they didn’t necessarily follow the exact ideas of the Jews of the time, else they would not be breaking away. Also, you should point out what documents we have that show the Jews as only believing in a physical bodily resurrection, when they were written, and how you know that’s exactly what they were talking about. Finally, tie it all in and show some statistics that “most people” only believe in a spiritual resurrection because they don’t know the evidenced (supposing that you do evidence it) Jewish background, etc. Also, explain how you know that Paul was not using analogy to explain what would happen, which would explain his reference to bodies.

  • Andrew

    Also, explain how you know that Paul was not using analogy to explain what would happen

    Actually Paul WAS using it as an analogy. But It would make little to no-sense to use what was clearly a physical event to describe a spirtual event.

    I’ll comment more in a bit.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Um, that’s what analogy is for, to use similar but analogous events. It makes sense to talk about Jesus being resurrected and use that as an example for talking about how others will also live on after death. There’s no need to use an analogy if he’s saying it’s exactly the same.

  • Necrolius

    Have anyone ever wondered all these talks about theism and atheism, its really the theists who really have to beware of their own kind. Atheists won’t make it to heaven…..that’s fine with us. We dun give a hoot. Remember…..God was betrayed by a theist, Lucifer and never an atheist. It only shows that the highest evil is one that can only come from the highest good. A heaven where regression and rebellion can take place is FAR from perfect.

  • Kyle Crawford

    Another one: Why is faith the only method by which a person can come to salvation? Put differently, why is God biased against knowledge and why does he punish humans for seeking it as He did when he cast Adam and Eve from the Eden? Why is unbelief the only sin that cannot be forgiven? Christianity is an absolute joke.

  • iMonkey

    Christians would answer your last question by saying that suffering is good for you. Personally I think that idea is sick and depraved. Just look at what that demon (figuretive of course) mother Teresa actually did to those poor Indians.

  • Jackie

    Hi, I came across your website on accident but I did scan through your 10 questions to ask the pastor and I have to say those were questions that crossed my mind at one time. I am now a believer in the Bible and Jesus Christ. All your questions should and can be answered, they are all in the Bible. I recommend the King James Version. I hope that you will explore for yourself.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    The KJV is well known for being inaccurate nor does it provide answers to these questions. If it does, then we aren’t seeing the answers, and I would suggest that you point out the places where the answers are or tell us what they are.

  • lpetrich

    Jackie, waving the Bible is not an argument. You ought to give us your answers to each of those questions, and to do so without treating the Bible as an unchallengeable authority.

  • Jackie

    Hey guys, it does provide all your answers. The amazing thing about the Bible is if you read it from Genesis to Revelation you will have all your answers. You can’t pick one thing that you don’t agree with and expect to know God’s nature. You are making judgments about Him. And I never said I was trying to make an argument, I’m just someone that has found truth in my life that came from accepting Jesus in my life. I’m not a pastor but I am a believer and I do know that God will not force Himself on anyone and I’m not trying to either. God created mankind with a freewill and it’s up to each person to accept Him or deny Him. God is deep. He created everything. Can you even imagine that?? I can’t either. I am recommending reading the Bible so you can get a picture of God the Father in the Old Testament and why He sent His son for us in the New Testament. The Bible is for every generation and is yet to be fulfilled. The answers to your questions are deep and in order to fully understand I know for myself reading the entire Bible was mindblowing.

  • Jackie

    My Pastor is preaching out of town right now but I can print your questions and let Him answer them for you. Your questions are very important to me and I feel led to have my Pastor answer them, as he is trained to do so. I do not want to leave anything out. It may take a little time, we consider this a serious matter and it’s not going to be dismissed or answered swiftly. If anyone wants me to do this please let me know.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Jackie,
    Why do you assume that none of us have read the Bible? Most people here have read the whole thing, in better versions than the KJV even. You can’t very well claim that reading the Bible answers these questions when most here have read the Bible and don’t find the answers you claim are there. That was my point, that we obviously aren’t seeing the answers that you seem to think should be there, so you should help us out by pointing to the answers. If you’d rather have your pastor do so, that’s fine.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Aside from the obvious circularity of citing the Bible to prove God’s existence, the Bible is so self-contradictory that it impugns itself as evidence.

  • Jackie

    Oh, do I have a website for you! – johnankerberg.org – I like the Science blog and the 2000 articles tab. Anyone with questions please check it out, there’s so much awesome info from qualified people. Hope this helps someone.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Jackie: Well, a cursory look at some of the pages (amusingly filed under “science”) shows that he’s less wrong than the Answersingenesis crowd. That’s something, I guess.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Why don’t you start with Coyne’s Why Evolution is True? In the very least, it will help to illuminate just how far off the mark people like Kerkberg are.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    lpetrich,

    You ought to give us your answers to each of those questions,

    Honestly though, what difference do you think it would it make? Even when theists make cogent arguments here, ground is rarely ceded; I just don’t see the point. I mean, I gave in-depth answers to question 5 for example, both here and on my own blog and to the point that even other atheist commenters agreed I had some ground to stand on. Yet, nothing seems to change, and nobody seems to listen; I still here the same old rebuttals to claims I’ve already challenged, only tossed to different theists. I’m not trying to “come at you” at all here, I just honestly want to understand what sort of incentive anyone thinks theists have to debate here – mockery?

    Jackie,

    My Pastor is preaching out of town right now but I can print your questions and let Him answer them for you. Your questions are very important to me and I feel led to have my Pastor answer them, as he is trained to do so. I do not want to leave anything out. It may take a little time, we consider this a serious matter and it’s not going to be dismissed or answered swiftly. If anyone wants me to do this please let me know.

    I think it’s a great idea. I’d be interested in hearing your pastor’s responses.

    OMGF,

    Why [does Jackie] assume that none of us have read the Bible?

    I can’t speak for Jackie, but one of the reasons I sometimes wonder is because sometimes you’ll say stuff like, “In Romans 1:27, Paul claims ‘the natural use for women’ is ‘…as sexual objects for men,’” when a reasoned reading of the verse permits no such thing. You don’t like the subset of creationists who mention crocoducks, right? Well, then why treat the Bible like they treat science?

    Thumpalumpacus,

    Aside from the obvious circularity of citing the Bible to prove God’s existence, the Bible is so self-contradictory that it impugns itself as evidence.

    What about the obvious circularity (not to mention hypocrisy) of asserting your own unfounded claim to establish the self-contradictory nature of the Bible – in the very same sentence you chastise a believer thusly?

  • Caiphen

    I have questions for a Pastor.

    1) Can you please provide evidence that the bible has any scientific substance?

    The following question is inevitable.

    2) Isn’t the bible scientifically baseless?

    3)If you are concerned about being truthful shouldn’t you be concerned about teaching an unsubstanciated book?

    4)What is your view on brainwashing?

  • XPK

    Oh Caiphen, I am in the middle of reading a book for recovering cult members and your question 4 about brainwashing is so so so so so important. I am not a recovering cult member myself, but for some reason I was drawn to the book and decided to pick it up. While I have been reading it I have been struck by how various religious traditions are cult-like, and how Jesus and the disciples were a cult. Another interesting thing to read were how many references there were to Scientology as a “cult”. Amazing how 15-20 years (the book was written early 90′s) and more famous and numerous members will give you a religion!

  • Caiphen

    I’m recovering from a cult (aka religion). So suffice to say, this subject is close to my heart.

    Without changing the topic too much, the best way to knock religion off its high horse is to make scientific method education, with a particular emphasis on TOE, compulsory in all schools. This should be done irrespective of the general opinion of the school’s community or general opinion of the school board. Imagine how society would evolve if this happened? Imagine the vastly hastened possibilities.

    Sorry for the diversion.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Does anyone take cl’s overblown rhetoric seriously anymore?

    Jackie,
    Is there any specific article or anything else that you think answers one of the questions (or more of the questions) from that website you listed?

  • Jackie

    For everyone that has read the Bible you would know that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. And the lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him: And that thou mayest tell in the ears of the son, and of the son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done amongst them; that ye may know how that I am the Lord. Exodus 10:1-2 It is an issue of the heart. I can explain the Bible to you, I can give you scripture, I can ask my pastor to explain the Word to you, BUT, until God softens your heart it’s just gonna be nonsense to you b/c you may not be ready or willing to receive the Word of God. But, I pray that each one of you reading this will one day come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

  • Caiphen

    Here we go. Again.

    Hello Jackie

    I served the church for 16 years of my life. What did I get for it all? Scientifically baseless nonsense. A fairy story.

    Society has evolved drastically in the last 150 years. This is an age of unprecedented growth in humanity. Why? you may wonder. Please open your mind. Life is too short not to. The scientific method is why. Look at humanity through the dark ages. Why were they so dark? What caused this darkness? I’m sure you can answer that yourself.

    The formula is simple. Scientific method= Human advancement

    Every atheist is worried about our future, that is why we bother doing this. You are right, we don’t have faith, we observe facts and act on what we can critically analyse. Anything else only leads to delusion. I’m proud to be a doubting Thomas.

    All I ask is for you to rationalise your belief.

    Guys

    Am I out of line here? Let me know if you disagree with what I’ve said to Jackie.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Jackie,
    If none of us can come to god unless god “softens [our] hearts,” then isn’t it a bit unjust, unfair, and cruel to cast us into hell for not believing? IOW, we’ll be cast into hell by god because he didn’t take the time and effort to allow us to believe in him. This is sadistice and cruel and certainly not moral.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Caiphen,
    Spot on.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    OMGF wrote:

    Does anyone take cl’s overblown rhetoric seriously anymore?

    cl wrote:

    What about the obvious circularity (not to mention hypocrisy) of asserting your own unfounded claim to establish the self-contradictory nature of the Bible – in the very same sentence you chastise a believer thusly?

    I do. I was absolutely crushed by this devastating rejoinder.

    Anyway, my assertion is not unfounded — my evidence is the book itself. Furthermore, it is not circular to use the book as evidence against itself. And hypocrtical? Pfft. Get real. I’m a hypocrite because I use the Bible to impugn it? Are you really advancing this argument, or am I simply misunderstanding you?

  • XPK

    @OMGF – I work hard at remaining open-minded to cl’s viewpoint. He appears well versed in the art of philosophy (which I am most certainly not well versed), but I find most of his remarks overly semantic. I’m a deconstructionist myself, so I find semantics infinitely infuriating at times especially in relation to defining the untestable beingness of an invisible unmoved mover (continue semantic gymnastics ad naseum a la Karen Armstrong) as “God”.

    @Caiphen – If we are defining religion as a “cult” then I must admit that I am also recovering cult member. In fact my parents were cult leaders, as was my grandfather. I agree with your thoughts about the scientific method being compulsory education. Also, you might want to listen to the song “Doubting Thomas” by the band Nickelcreek. One of my favorite songs ever.

    @Jackie – If you need to have your pastor come and explain everything you claim to know and understand than I have to wonder why you even started commenting in the first place. Many of us have read the bible and consider it to be nothing more than desert mythology with the occasional positive moral point. However, most of the book is morally destitute, absurd and violent. When I hear people claim, “all the answers are in the bible”, I shudder at what questions people are trying to get answered.

  • Jackie

    Guys, wow there is just so much I can say. I don’t even know where to start. That is why I am giving info to you b/c i can’t possible answer everyones questions. Faith-the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Period. A Christian has so have faith. If God meant to leave all the answers and proof for everyone faith would have no role in salvation. Any relationship that one has, two have to be involved. I would never say to my husband you have to answer all my questions and prove things and give evidence before i can have a relationship with you. Like i said before the Bible is for every generation, if God revealed how He created everything and left it written somewhere in the Bible people couldnt possible begin to comprehend what He was talking about and where would the faith be if He did. He shouldnt have to prove Himself. He did just enough to start a church and a faith that has been for 2000 years. There are outlets where pastors answer questions on TV, Ask The Pastors. They answer questions about the Bible, u can email or phone in questions ask@tct.tv.
    The answer to question 1 is God hates sin and the children of Isreal were disobedient time and time again.And for the darkness question, And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Jackie,
    Why do you feel that faith is a good thing? Why should I believe in something for which I have no evidence? Do you extend that same idea to other gods or supernatural entities, like leprechauns or faeries? How can I decide whether I should simply have faith in your god or a different god, like Allah?

    And, if we should all simply believe, why even bother answering these questions?

    The answer to question 1 is God hates sin and the children of Isreal were disobedient time and time again.

    I’m not seeing how this answers the question. It seems that you are claiming that since god hates sin he demands no mercy, even though he is supposedly loving and kind as well?

    And for the darkness question, And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2

    Is this in response to Caiphen’s question perhaps? You do realize that he’s speaking of the period in history in Europe starting in the 5th century (fall of Rome) and lasting for a number of centuries, right? It’s not a question about Genesis.

  • Jackie

    Like I said before the answers to your question are in the Bible no other god died for all our sins, read Isaiah. I not here to argue I know where I stand.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Isaiah16:11 Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.

    Ah. Yes. It’s all so clear now.

  • Caiphen

    Jackie

    Please try to answer my question as clarified by OMGF.

    And since you brought up Genesis. What’s your view on creation?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I not here to argue I know where I stand.

    Jackie, if you’d like to have a discussion or a debate with us, you’re welcome to stay and do that. We welcome the friendly exchange of views.

    However, Daylight Atheism does have a strict no-preaching policy. If your only intent is to quote the Bible at us, or to “witness” to us or otherwise try to convert us, then I don’t think anything will be accomplished by that and I’d have to ask you to leave. (Quoting the Bible would be a waste of everyone’s time, really, since most of us have read it already.)

    So, which is it to be?

  • Caiphen

    Guys

    It seems like Jackie isn’t coming back. This is an example of what the rationally minded are up against.

    Since I’ve become atheist I’m more concerned than ever for humanity. We are fighting for a noble cause. I now see why Richard Dawkins has nothing but complete contempt for religion.

  • Telescopius

    Questions like these are nothing new. They have been asked for at least 2000 years, and many more like them, as well. Intelligent people who encounter claims about an omnipotent, omniscient creator God who bothers to take notice of mankind respond first with doubt and disbelief. The mind balks at the information that doesn’t fit, in a process that can be compared to the stages of grief. Atheism may be viewed as the first stage on the way to belief, not a final static one.

    History shows that people who asked these questions recieved answers that were satisfying (or not) and then they died, making way for the next generation to ask them all over again. The preponderance of questioners in history, however, found answers that allowed them to continue in the faith, and Christianity has prospered across the generations. Western civilization, prodded on by the values of truth and goodness promoted by the faith it adopted, evolved to dominate the world, and gradually supplanted the influences of barbarism and the frequent wars that it spawned even for small populations.

    Of course, each generation has its own standards as to what constitutes a satisfying answer. But satisfaction is still a binary relation, which partitions the population into two sets. That won’t change. This generation seems to be better informed about the natural world, and the scale of the universe and history. The cosmos is far bigger and older than the ancients could have known, how can they have any knowledge useful to an advanced civilization like ours?

    I recognized a few years ago a concept I call “universal ignorance,” by which I mean that everyone is ignorant, regardless of group affiliation or intelligence. Some just won’t recognize that. There is way too much stuff to know for anyone to know it all. I’m told that every electron has a rest mass of 0.511 MeV, though I have never measured it myself. I accept on faith that if I did I would arrive at that value — maybe one day I’ll check it out. Some people who contribute here understand what an MeV is, but in general most people don’t. As long as the light comes on when they flick the switch that’s all that matters. And it is. Utility is enough. Spare me the physics and the mathematics and the construction from first principles, just make it work.

    The thing with atheists is that they are generally right. They work hard at being right, because it’s important to them. Truth is an intrisic value, and no one wants to be wrong. Theists also wish to be right(eous), and seek to hold on to the belief system that is the fittest to reality. So righteousness is a shared value between the two groups. From the point of view of Christians, however, atheists tend to get carried away with Occam’s razor, and manage to trim off some of the most important phenomena of reality. Having excised those regions of information, they generally refuse to acknowledge that the trimmings had any value at all.

    What is important to acknowledge in the debate is the time of history that we are living in. This generation is poised between the previous one and the one to come. We have been inundated during the past century and a half or so by a flood of information from researchers in every field. Some individuals have became early adopters, while those with more conservative tendencies have remained faithful to the previous status quo, resulting in a cultural need to define and identify polar groups. There is a kind of energy borne in this polarization that will bring about changes in both extremes in the next generation.

    What I find interesting, is that somehow learning the finest details of creation is supposed to negate the existance of the creator. No, instead what it really does is to change the expectations of what comprises satisfying answers to the same old questions. But if one group poses questions to another group, and each is ignorant of the special domain knowledge held by the other, how can a satisfying answer be constructed?

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Western civilization, prodded on by the values of truth and goodness promoted by the faith it adopted, evolved to dominate the world, and gradually supplanted the influences of barbarism and the frequent wars that it spawned even for small populations.

    If you mean it informed a wave of cultural imperialism that relied on slavery and the exploitation of indigenous peoples for profit, I agree with you. If you are implying that the judeo christian faith was the driving force behind the moral improvements since; well no.

    every electron has a rest mass of 0.511 MeV, though I have never measured it myself. I accept on faith that if I did I would arrive at that value —

    Are you trying to compare religious “faith”, essentially belief in something despite (or because) of lack of evidence for it, with “faith” in the ability of scientists to measure the mass of fundemental particles? because if you did check out the mass of an electron you would find that the results do confirm what you have been told. The two “faiths” are not equivelent.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    The preponderance of questioners in history, however, found answers that allowed them to continue in the faith, and Christianity has prospered across the generations.

    I would say that the preponderance of Xians didn’t (and don’t) ask these types of questions, and when faced with them simply assumed (assume) that answers must exist.

    Theists also wish to be right(eous), and seek to hold on to the belief system that is the fittest to reality.

    Which is why such a large percentage of Xians deny evolution?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The unwritten premise in this statement is that non-believers are ignorant of the tenets they argue against. I doubt that you’ll confirm that, at least in this forum.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Er, the statement I’m referring to is from Telescopius:

    But if one group poses questions to another group, and each is ignorant of the special domain knowledge held by the other, how can a satisfying answer be constructed?

  • Telescopius

    From Steve Bowen:

    Are you trying to compare religious “faith”, essentially belief in something despite (or because) of lack of evidence for it, with “faith” in the ability of scientists to measure the mass of fundemental particles? because if you did check out the mass of an electron you would find that the results do confirm what you have been told. The two “faiths” are not equivelent.

    What I mean is that faith is part of the human condition. It is a response to the fact of incomplete knowledge that accompanies us continuously. I can walk across a metal grate in the sidewalk and not expect to fall into a hole because I have faith that it is properly mounted, or eat in a restaurant without expecting food poisoning. Other people have the evidence of prior inspections, and in these cases maybe the only indication I can judge by is a placard on the wall (depending on the restaurant). All the evidence available to me is a posteriori, i.e. I did not in fact fall in to a hole or get ill, so my faith-trust-action was well founded.

    One of the principles of science is that any experiment should be repeatable by other researchers, and should produce the same results under the same conditions. But only those researchers in the same discipline usually actually do so. The rest of us rely on the journals or popular reports or other secondary sources. A reliable way to stay informed, but still one that is divorced from first hand experience. So, we hold to scientific facts by means of a process that involves faith.

    Religious faith is not especially different, except that it is based on the reports of observers who lived a very long time ago, and were recorded in a professional journal that conforms to different standards than we accept today. But its the best source available.

    On the tangible effects of practical Christianity on civilization, I do mean to suggest that moral progress was achieved by the specific influence of Christian values. Man’s inhumanity to man notwithstanding, a shared value system imposes on a culture a kind of gradient that propels it in the aggregate in some definate direction. It defines a selection metric that determines what behaviors will survive into the next generation. Love thy neighbor, be a peacemaker, don’t steal or slander — these standards inform the individual and the community as to how to distribute rewards and punishments. Those who tend to conform to the standard tend to prosper more than those who don’t, and communicate the standard to those who follow.

    If the civilization that is guided by these influences prospers, then they have been proven to have practical merit. Whatever doubt there may be suggested about its origins, the value system of Christianity is way beyond the clinical trials stage.

  • XPK

    Telescopius – So how does your faith argument relate to the after-life, or heavenly hosts, or hell, or the angel Gabriel, or Jesus being born of a virgin (like so many other deities before him, mind you)? I mean, everything you describe having faith in above (not falling in grates, the mass of an electron) is based on natural, observable, and testable hypotheses.

    When has the Bible been described as a “professional journal that conforms to different standards than we accept today” by any biblical scholar? You do realize the the very same science Eratosthenes used to prove the world was round (around 200 B.C.) can still be duplicated and is still remarkably accurate? How are those biblical fairy tales, er….I mean professional journal articles holding up these days?

    Also the “love thy neighbor, be a peacemaker, don’t steal or slander” values were not invented by Christ or Christianity and are most certainly NOT practices followed by current sects of Christianity today. Those concepts existed in other places/civilizations prior to Christianity usurping them (like Easter, Christmas, and several other pagan holidays). I also seem to recall lots of “holy wars” being fought over whose imaginary sky-fairy interpretation would reign supreme.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Religious faith is not especially different, except that it is based on the reports of observers who lived a very long time ago, and were recorded in a professional journal that conforms to different standards than we accept today. But its the best source available.

    This has to be a joke…right?…Right?

    As XPK points out, you have empirical reason to believe that you won’t fall into a grate or that the chair you sit on will hold your weight. It’s not all a posteriori, as you claim, as you have tons of experience (empirical) that grates work, chairs work, etc. This is because they are all based on empirical findings on our empirical world that happens to conform to some repeatable behavior.

    Religion is not even anywhere close to this. What empirical tests have been done on religion that have shown it to be even close to reliable? Prayer tests are inconclusive at best, for example. Plus, what you are describing is not the reports of observers (usually not even observers, but people telling stories well after the fact) in empirical things, but their ideas about non-empirical things, things we have no way of testing, observing, etc in real life. Where is the peer review? Where are the follow up tests and experiments? You can’t seriously believe that religious faith is “not especially different” than rational belief based on empirical findings.

    If the civilization that is guided by these influences prospers, then they have been proven to have practical merit. Whatever doubt there may be suggested about its origins, the value system of Christianity is way beyond the clinical trials stage.

    Even if this were so (XPK points out that it’s not so) it would not indicate that Xianity is correct.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    If the civilization that is guided by these influences prospers, then they have been proven to have practical merit.

    Post hoc reasoning is a fallacy. You risk confusing correlation and causation when you commit it.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    If anyone has anything for this, I’m still interested:

    To clarify – prod neuron X, Y or Z in the subject’s brain and I agree you’ll get a change – but I don’t see how any of this removes or refutes God, or the possibility that consciousness transcends death. (cl, September 17, 2008, 5:50 pm)

    I still don’t see that Ebon’s made his case re #5.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    cl,
    We don’t need to remove or refute either of God or the possibility that consciousness transcends death. This cannot be done, and it’s pointless to try, since a truly all-powerful God could just play hide-and-seek with us forever. But nobody’s talking about doing that, because nobody cares; we’re not interested in whether we’re obligated to believe God exists one way or the other, we’re interested in whether it is reasonable to posit God as an explanation for any phenomenon X, and the phenomena have been decreasing throughout history. The argument goes something like this:

    1. God and souls were invoked back in the day to explain how things are, since we didn’t know about brains & stuff back then.
    2. When we go looking for souls and gods, we don’t find any.
    3. When we go looking for consciousness, we find brains, which are made up of neurons and use neurotransmitters and all kinds of cool things we can poke, prod, and otherwise test.
    4. When we poke, prod, and otherwise test brains & stuff, we find that consciousness is affected.
    5. There are no other pokeable, proddable, or testable explanations we have so far, since we can’t put God on a slab and we can’t show consciousness outside a body.
    6. Therefore, souls and gods add precisely nothing to our explanations for consciousness.
    7. Therefore, we’ll excise those things from our ontology, until or unless we have a good reason to put them back in. They’re just not needed for any of our explanations any more.

    When you ask to have a negative proven, unless it’s possible to do a proof by contradiction, you’re quite simply barking up the wrong tree. Gods and souls are explanatorily superfluous (i.e. “unparsimonious”) for the same reason that you would, I expect, doubt that the carved wax candle on my desk causes the weather. You can never prove that it doesn’t, but it’s unnecessary to believe that it does when we explain weather, so the belief is dropped.

    A subtler point would be that when we talk about our idea, “consciousness,” we can’t reasonably hope that our idea will “stick” to the phenomenon we wish to investigate. So, since anything could be true in principle, but contradictions galore will be generated if everything is true (and thus everything can’t be all true), we have to sort matters out by looking at what we’re talking about. This means we should try not to believe in anything at first, or in other words, that thinkers are epistemologically responsible to the degree that they are skeptical. So when we’re talking about mindful activities nowadays, we’re talking about “what the brain does,” since that’s where we’ve been looking. That’s what we’re really investigating. But what the brain does can’t be investigated apart from brains, so if you’re asking whether something else could do a similar thing, of course it could – there’s always more than one way to skin a cat – but if you’re asking whether we can get the effects we’ve investigated divorced from any causes at all, then that’s obviously false.

    Whichever approach you take, this means that the only reason left to believe in God is because one wants to. But forming beliefs based on desires is irrational. Most of our beliefs, as we first come to them, are irrational in some way or another. How many people still knock on wood, or worry when they break mirrors, or try to avoid going under ladders, or think that ascorbic acid in a tablet is somehow different from ascorbic acid you find in an orange? There’s no point in believing something untestable, because you could never prove yourself wrong – unless you’re not interested in believing things you can back up, but only interested in believing whatever you like. You can do that if you want, of course, but then you’ve quit the rationality game.

  • lpetrich

    Telescopius engages in some laughable rewrites of history. This “seeking for answers” that he claims to have happened was strongly constrained by the possibility that one would get burned at the stake for having the “wrong” ones. Like deciding that the Xian God is not a Trinity. Growth of tolerance is only gradual, and a result of Catholics and Protestants not being able to exterminate each other in the Wars of Religion.

    Telescopius ought to look at pagan Greco-Roman philosophers to see what people would come up with in the absence of such constraints, and they never came up with anything very much like Xianity.

  • Maynard

    Whichever approach you take, this means that the only reason left to believe in God is because one wants to.

    Yes. End of argument(s).

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    D,

    We don’t need to remove or refute either of God or the possibility that consciousness transcends death. This cannot be done, and it’s pointless to try,

    Correct.

    ..nobody’s talking about doing that, because nobody cares; we’re not interested in whether we’re obligated to believe God exists one way or the other, we’re interested in whether it is reasonable to posit God as an explanation for any phenomenon X,

    Who cares about opinions though? What do we gain to say, “X is more reasonable than Y” without some sort of empirical framework to hang an argument upon? No offense, but I don’t care what you’re willing to prefer as more reasonable. Humans are forever vulnerable to things like bias and slothful induction; surely you can see the subjective and problematic nature of such criteria.

    When you ask to have a negative proven,

    I didn’t ask to have a negative proven. I asked Ebonmuse to justify his false dichotomy as listed in #5 from the OP: “Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain?” What I’m saying is, “Ebonmuse, what import does the fact that ‘poking neuron X entails condition Y’ have for Christianity?” Since his initial remarks didn’t address the question and now he refuses to proceed, should I just assume what I intuitively and logically believe is true: that there is no import whatsoever, and Ebon’s #5 is an irrelevant non-sequitur?

    Gods and souls are explanatorily superfluous (i.e. “unparsimonious”)

    Empty rhetoric devoid of context. Sorry D but I don’t see in black and white: there are surely instances where God and souls are unparsimonious as explanatory phenomena – for example the candle as you mention – but that does not support your statement that “Gods” and “souls” are unparsimonious across the board. What I call the cerebro-centric hypothesis of consciousness simply cannot account for the full spectrum of data, nor can it account for personal experiences attested by many and confirmed by myself. My main gripe about Ebonmuse’s AGITM is that not once is any attention paid to anomalous phenomena, but that’s another story. Getting back to the point, when you say “Gods and souls are explanatorily superfluous” you ought to clarify context because I won’t always be apt to accept your opinion on that matter.

    Whichever approach you take, this means that the only reason left to believe in God is because one wants to.

    Come on, D. I know you can do better than that. If you really are leaning on that with any sort of weight, let me know and I’ll explain why I don’t think you should.

    ..forming beliefs based on desires is irrational.

    Again, are you serious? Tell that to Alonzo Fyfe and every other philosopher who defends some iteration of desirism. Every single one of us forms beliefs based on desires. If you mean to say something like, “Accepting truth claims without evidence or supporting logic is irrational” then hey, you get my vote.

    There’s no point in believing something untestable, because you could never prove yourself wrong

    I agree, but as I ‘ve asked you before at this point, then why are you an atheist? I understand that it’s simply because you’re not a theist and indeed the terms are Boolean, but does that justify selective betrayal of principle by accepting an uncheckable conclusion, even if it’s provisional? You are in essence guilty of that which you charge. No offense, but to me you’ve inadvertently expressed atheism’s grand hypocrisy: on the one hand we have atheists who tout checkability as a some sort of prime virtue when it comes to justifying belief, yet on the other, the very positions these atheists espouse are themselves untestable.

    ..unless you’re not interested in believing things you can back up, but only interested in believing whatever you like.

    Neither atheism nor claims that consciousness ceases upon death can be backed up; does that mean atheists simply believe whatever they like? Again, every atheist who asserts or implies that there is no God and that consciousness ceases upon death is the one who believes in something they cannot back up. Atheism is the uncheckable, unknowable position. At best it can be assumed, but I want something more.

    *******

    D, at my blog when you said we seem to track similar as regards general beliefs, I tend to agree. For example, we both value checkable claims. So, when it comes to conclusion-making time, I stay consistent with that value: theism is checkable and knowable. To contrast, neither atheism nor cessation of consciousness are checkable or knowable.

    You might recall the syllogism we discussed: if the veridic superiority of checkable claims is the criteria, then,

    1) Checkable claims are veridically superior to uncheckable ones;

    2) Theism and the belief that consciousness transcends death are in theory checkable and knowable;

    3) Atheism and the belief that consciousness ceases upon death are in theory neither checkable nor knowable;

    4) Theism is veridically superior to atheism.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    Hello again, cl!

    I’d like to clarify my meaning and start over. You mentioned in response to my statement that “we’re interested in whether it’s reasonable to posit God” that you’re not interested in opinions of what is reasonable. Reasonable, here, has a technical meaning that I think you’re missing, and it also ties into parsimony and checkability.

    While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say that my philosophical journey started in a similar vein to that of Descartes, with me wondering whether I could trust anything. I questioned not only others, but also myself. After a whole buncha learnin’ & stuff, I discovered that certain aspects of reality more or less force themselves upon you. Giraffes, X-rays, the Earth’s axial tilt, and so on and so forth. If anyone doubts these things, they can be checked to the heart’s content; what’s more, the existence of giraffes, X-rays, and the Earth’s axial tilt all yield useful principles that may be exploited: the giraffe’s genome may be examined for relatedness to other species, X-ray detectors can be used to see bones through flesh, and we can rely on the fact that the Earth is tilted to predict solstices and equinoxes. Doing these things stands as living proof that the principles are right, or at least that the implication “if this principle is wrong, then we should see something other than we see” can be used to prove their pragmatic value by contradiction (we just have to be careful how we phrase the principles, by appending a silent “to the best of our ability to tell, so far”).

    Now that you clearly understand that I am an atheist specifically and only because I am not a theist, I should hope it is easier for you to understand that I do not “believe consciousness ceases after death,” but rather I simply do not endorse “consciousness persists after death” because I can’t prove it one way or the other. I lack belief one way or the other. I think it’s pretty silly for a person to think that consciousness does in fact persist after death without any kind of proof; I also think that it’s only slightly less silly for a person to insist that death is the end and that’s that forever and always; and I also think that imagining what the world would be like if consciousness does in fact transcend death provides useful lines of inquiry that could in principle be all kinds of useful! But you have to do the work of asking yourself, “What would the world look like if this was false,” then going out into the world and proving that it can’t be false (you have to falsify your falsification); or you have to make predictions about what would happen if it was true, and then go and do things that depend on those predictions to see if the things you expect to happen do in fact happen. If you don’t do this, if you don’t actually check your checkable claims, then all you have are fancy suppositions. Which, that’s cool and all, but who cares? We suppose lots of things.

    I lack belief that consciousness can trenscend death for the sole reason that it has yet to be demonstrated in a repeatable, reliable fashion. For exactly the same reason, I lack belief in the graviton. And as a matter of principle, I deliberately withhold belief in anything until or unless it can be demonstrated to me that this or that thing would not work the way it is shown to work in fact if it weren’t true. So, once again, we are epistemologically responsible to the degree that we are skeptical. Where exactly we draw the line for proof is a matter of taste, but there is an important difference between, say, X-rays and brain-transcending consciousness.

    If someone doubts that X-rays exist, I can explain to that person that by X-ray, I mean thus-and-such a thing with this-and-that properties which behaves in other-and-so ways under mom-and-pop conditions (ran out of generic phrases, sorry). I can then demonstrate how an X-ray, as I have described it, is the most reasonable explanation in all manner of tests which can be done, again in principle, on the spot and as many times as one would like (the end of the story goes, “And this thing, which you just saw to do all this stuff, is what we call an X-ray” – because the thing comes first, and our label is a metaphysical afterthought).

    You say that we will all find out whether consciousness transcends death when we die, but this is not so: in the first place, if consciousness does cease at death, then nobody ever “finds it out” because there is no “you” to find it out when you die (that’s what death means, in this context). On the other hand, suppose you come under the impression that you have died, and that your consciousness is persisting: how could you possibly tell that you are actually dead and not just tripping balls? To make it reasonable to believe that consciousness does in fact transcend death, you must explain what would happen whether it was true or false (your choice!), and then perform a test that could go either way after you control for all the other variables we can think of, and we have to do this test over and over again to make sure something else didn’t screw up our results, and we have to get other people’s thoughts on it to see if they can think of any way we went wrong. In other words, now that we have the peer review process, you must submit to it or you have not done your duty as a rational agent. Then and only then can we say with any confidence, “Yep, consciousness does in fact transcend death, in these ways and under those conditions.” Anything less is fancible speculation and nothing more. It really is that simple, it’s just hard and tedious work.

    A million fuckin’ things are possible, more than we can imagine. That which we know is vastly eclipsed by that which we do not know, and so it is not enough to have a mere answer: answers are a dime a dozen, and without understanding (which comes from testing, repetition, and continuous re-examination), we cannot distinguish working answers from un-working ones. In order for it to be reasonable to believe that consciousness ever does in fact transcend death, we need to be able to test it. Otherwise, all we’ve got is supposition. I turned you on to the difference between correspondence and coherence, and this is where it’s crucial: an answer that merely coheres is a consistent and reasonable speculation, fantastic fuel for a hypothesis, but speculations ought not to be believed; in order to be believed, a fact must have its correspondence demonstrated, which requires a whole bunch of tough stuff to do, depending on what you’re trying to demonstrate.

    And just so we’re clear, this means I also think that a great many people are fools for believing what they were told without questioning or testing it, even when what they were told is correct. And for the record, when I read journal articles, I don’t conclude whether a guy is right or wrong; rather, I conclude something more like, “If this guy did what he said, and if he also is doing his math right, and if he didn’t make some other mistake that I failed to catch, then he’s probably right – to the best of our ability to tell, so far.” I only go as far as such disjunctions when I don’t do any testing of my own.

    At any rate, I hope this helps explain why we don’t need to refute anything in order to reasonably withhold belief in death-transcending consciousnesses. There’s nothing special about the possibility of that phenomenon, it’s just that all things should be doubted until they can be demonstrated, if we wish to be rational, and there are zero exceptions (and yes, for clarity, this does entail that certain propositions, even if true, can never be believed by such a rational agent – that’s just plain tough for those propositions, and highlights the idea that reality is under no obligation to cooperate with us). Is that clearer?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    D,

    You already know, but lest anyone think I was unable to respond, I’d like them to know that I’ve addressed our digressions into epistemology and justified beliefs here. I submit that my only interest in this thread at this point is for someone – anyone, but preferably Ebonmuse – to explain (in light of #5 from the OP) why Christians who believe in the soul shouldn’t expect our sense of identity and personality to be altered by physical changes to the brain?

    Please, don’t refer me to AGITM, anybody: it’s a wash.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    cl,
    I’ve responded on your blog, but I think it would help your cause if you clarified somewhere just exactly what your Christian conception of the “soul” is. For my part, it’s no longer an explanatory necessity, so I excised it – it’s really that simple, for me. But I don’t know what you mean when you say “soul,” I don’t know what sort of idea you’re pointing at, so you’re basically asking people to refer to a floating abstraction, a placeholder.

    Unless, of course, you have outlined just exactly what you mean by “soul” somewhere, in which case I missed it and would appreciate a brief reminder.

  • Centurion13

    Umm. I know you folks like to pooh-pooh Mr. Lewis, but really, a lot of the questions here, especially the ‘Twenty Tough Questions’, would appear to have been answered (at least to my satisfaction) about fifty years ago, give or take. YMMV, of course, and if you are a regular here, probably you get nothing from what he says that you cannot split to atoms and ‘debunk’. I don’t believe there is much, if anything (and I include here the writings of Mr. Dawkins and his fellow debunkers), which could long survive such institutionalized incredulity, but hey, you have to stop splitting at some point. Maybe the original poster has not reached that point.

    Those Tough Questions have been around since before the time of Christ, and they only got tougher after He made his exit on Calvary. Nevertheless, people believe and much good has come of it. Naturally, you who do not believe in the soul or any evil greater than suffering (if, indeed, you admit to objective things such as evil at all) will argue that much bad has come of it. Others could point out to notable sources of mass suffering which were manifestly NOT religious in nature, but I digress.

    Either many of the best and brightest of our race have been curiously delusional in that respect – a trait, by the way, which shows no sign of being weeded out by evolution as an unnecessary thing – or they found answers which satisfied them and permitted (heh) the existence of Deity in the manner which Christians, Jews, etc, describe.

    Besides, why burn so much time here and now worrying about the coming Theocracy? Those ranked against you are worrying about the coming Charientocracy, and unless you live in Iran, it’s a good deal more likely to happen.

    Save your time, fellas. Unless you have no life whatsoever outside asking these questions and pondering back and forth – and if you do, remember, we’re all going to find out first-hand sooner or later.

    Steve

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Translation: “Don’t think twice, it’s all right. Wait; don’t think once.”

  • Centurion13

    For you, yes. The rest is more than you can bear.

  • lpetrich

    Centurion13, what’s a Charientocracy, and why is it supposed to be so horrible?

    And where did C.S. Lewis address any of Ebonmuse’s questions?

    Also, Centurion13, you try to use C.S. Lewis’s lunatic, liar, or lord argument about “many of the best and brightest of our race”, when your religion traditionally teaches that most others of them are so terribly deluded that they deserve to be horribly tortured forever and ever and ever, all because they had not believed in whatever is the One True Sect of Xianity.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Has anyone ever noticed that the people who say that these questions are easy to answer are the least likely to actually offer any answers to them?

  • Centurion13

    Ebonmuse, that’s mostly because we don’t want to waste our time explaining our faith to people who are already following the most satisfying of religions.

    I didn’t step in here to explain Lewis. Go read him for yourself. Look for those answers yourself. No one, especially not someone like me, is going to bring it to you as though it were a dish prepared ‘just the way you like it’. I don’t serve you, I serve Another.

    Here. Read this through. http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/c-s-lewis-on-compelling-people-to-do-good/

    It won’t change your mind. It’s not meant to. But it will answer the question about Charientocracy – and what Lewis himself felt about Theocracy.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Ebonmuse, that’s mostly because we don’t want to waste our time explaining our faith to people…

    No one, especially not someone like me, is going to bring it to you as though it were a dish prepared ‘just the way you like it’. I don’t serve you, I serve Another.

    You show such hostility at the mere idea of being asked to justify your beliefs. How interesting that is.

    Anyway, as far as C.S. Lewis goes – when he was writing as a Christian apologist, he certainly did defend the position that God could not have done otherwise than create a world full of evil and suffering. However, when he was writing as a fantasy author – when the need to defend Christian beliefs was perhaps not uppermost in his mind – he took a substantially different view.

  • Centurion13

    If you think that is hostility, you have been chair-bound and living a soft life for far too long. I am not justifying anything. I’m telling you where you get off.

    I am sure you *do* find it interesting. That doesn’t say much about what you find interesting. Why don’t you move along and read what I provided at that link?

    Has anyone ever noticed that the people who are quickest to refute any suggestion that there might be sensible answers to these twenty questions are the ones who seem least likely to have anything better to do?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    So, Centurion13, can we take it from your refusal to address the questions that you can’t address them? There are lots of people who claim that the answers are easy, but never get around to actually providing any answers. I guess you’re just one more on the list.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    For you, yes. The rest is more than you can bear.

    Son, you don’t know what I’ve borne already. Why don’t you stick to things you do know: fear, blind faith, the acceptance of that which you have been spoonfed.

    With those posting above, I join in asking for your “answers”. I share their skepticism as to your provision of them, as well.

  • lpetrich

    Centurion13, I had to do some additional searching, and I found that a charientocracy is the “rule of the refined”.

    It’s not clear what sort of government C.S. Lewis would prefer — if any at all.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    Centurion13, I just want you to know that I find your posturing so very cute. I picture you as an oiled gladiator, wearing a Roman Helmet and nothing else (well, maybe one of those sweet, hot battle skirts), foppishly gesturing at our shenanigans as you so generously condescend to “show us where we get off.”

    Your authoritarian dick-waving is tiresome. As a wise man once said, the unexamined life is not worth living, and the idea that ignorant nomads who thought that blood sacrifice was anything other than plain barbarism have already given all the answers you need in a handy, easy-to-read instruction book is, for brevity’s sake, just plain stupid.

    I read Carson’s little screed, and it falls somewhere between “irrelevant” and “backwards.” Governance ain’t free, and tax is the price of citizenry, fucking duh. You wanna join the club? You gotta pay your club dues. What is so hard to understand about this? Sure, we’ll disagree on exactly how our club ought to behave, and that’s why we do things like, I dunno, vote on it. And discuss, and explain our positions, and seek to change minds, and all that effort that is so obviously beneath one of your station (that’s what happens when you’re high on God-smack, right?). Sure, it’s never gonna be perfect; who cares? We can be satisfied with getting a little better each time. The idea that welfare weakens recipients is also stupid; people weaken themselves, and if someone refuses to step up and take responsibility for his or her own life, well, there’s nothing that anyone can do about it. If you think that such people should be left to die in the street, well, that’s your opinion.

    I’m just grateful that I live in a more civilized nation than that.

  • ildi

    Those ranked against you are worrying about the coming Charientocracy, and unless you live in Iran, it’s a good deal more likely to happen.

    Well, according to A larger world: C.S. Lewis on Christianity and Literature.

    Just as theocracy is the worst form of government because it ironically destroys genuine religion, “charientocracy,” the rule of the artificially “cultured,” is inimical to all the goods that culture can really give.

    Now, get those kids off my lawn and leave my pink flamingos alone!

  • charles

    Comment #18 by: Brad

    Well, that makes 21 questions right there. I paraphrased a lot from James Bucker’s [sic] article Tough Questions for Christianity.

    Updated Link for James Buckner: http://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/bible/library/tough.shtmlv. Also, a good list at http://www.infidelguy.com/article4.html

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I have referenced and linked this thread at HappyAtheistForum, just to let you know. Thanks.

  • charles

    Here are more questions for a pastor – this time about Satan.

    As the author of The Unspoken Bible says:

    Satan — The church’s best friend
    Without the imaginary Satan, the Church would have nothing to deflect the inadequacies of its theology. Without him, Christians could not believe God is good.

    PS – In my comment 214, the shtmlv should be just shtml. Who caused my typo? As Dana Carvey / Church Lady would say: “Satan!”

  • Charles

    First off, I would like to state I am a firm Christian believer in high school, so I would be listed under your “brain-washed teenager” group. No, don’t worry I’m not here to complain. In fact, I’m here to agree with you on the point that all beliefs, whether they be religious or scientific in nature, ought to be questioned and critiqued. It is outrageously stupid to turn such questions away, and I believe that they should be embraced and taken head on. Otherwise, I would have no reason to believe in what I believe in. Actually, the reason I read any of your comments at all is due to my recent desire to seek out any and all questions, difficult and easy, and try to answer them the best I can based only off the Bible and my understanding (however little) of God. Furthermore, I would just like to say that NOT ALL Christians remove themselves from any difficult situations that would have them answer “impossible” questions. Of course, I am only a high school student and have not yet fully gotten to the point where anything I say will be credible or even taken into account, yet I still hope that you hear me out. As for all the questions you have posed, it would indeed take me a long time to seek out answers, and I do have a busy schedule. I did, however, write them down and will take them into consideration as I further my studies. Yes, I know you are strongly against it, but with all the good intent in the world, goodnight and God Bless.

  • Maynard

    @Charles #217:

    Continue to question throughout your life but always be open minded to and wary of the answers you get.

  • Michael

    @Charles #217. Start with this. Whey you say you’re a “Christian believer”, ask yourself honestly why do you believe what you believe? Did you investigate what to believe based on studying various religions and science, or were you told what to believe from your grandparents, parents and friends? In other words- what if you were born into a Jewish household instead with Jewish friends and grandparents? Would you change your ways and now be a Christian or would you be Jewish like everybody else in your family? If your honest answer is “Jewish”, then you are not truly a “Christian believer”. You were simply born into a Christian family. I’m guessing as you’ve grown older you’ve began to realize that you don’t always agree with your family and friends. Don’t let believing in religion be any different. Don’t let religion become “tradition”, where you just go along with it and forget to use your own mind to determine what is true and not true. I wish you good luck!

  • genetic judoka

    god deals with creation, the end results of destruction, and the maintenance of balance. nothing more. those evil things people list )like Rwanda,Nazi concentration camps,etc.)to question gods existence are not god’s doing. the creation of the men doing those evil deeds are god’s work, but that doesn’t mean it’s his* fault. every action or inaction has consequences. they all create ripples on the surface of the cosmic medium. ripples in the sense that I use the term can be positive or negative. those ripples interact with others who are also floating, and may move them to higher or lower energy states.

    it’s my belief that what happens to an entity after they leave this state of existence (by that I mean after death) is a reflection of the total score of the values of all the ripples you created. has your life had an overall positive effect on those around you (even if not all acts are positive)? if so you’ll be rewarded. has your life had an overall negative effect on those around you (even if not all acts are negative)? if so you are punished.

    how many sentient beings can claim that they’ve never been exposed to the knowledge of right and wrong? yes there are varying degrees of exposure. but odds are jimmy knows that if he kills bob’s goat and eats it without permission, bob is going hungry. jimmy created suffering for someone else. if that suffering isn’t revisited upon jimmy in this life (perhaps in the form of guilt, perhaps in the form of a night of hunger jimmy didn’t expect), it will be revisited upon him in the next. god doesn’t have to stop jimmy from killing bob’s goat to prove omnipotence. that goat had been born, by nature it must die. is god any less omnipotent because it happened today not next year? if jimmy goes out and kills joe, all that happened was jimmy added to his own negative score, and stopped joe from modifying his own score more before the final score was recorded. maybe more can be attributed to god though. maybe he’s the source of that voice in jimmy’s head telling him not to do those things. maybe jimmy would have done way worse things if not for that voice, but god doesn’t have to stop him to show involvement.

    god does not need to stop all bad things from happening in order to prove omnipotence. bad things being done by one man to another does not prove that god does not exist. I am sick of hearing that argument. life isn’t fair, but it all balances out in the end, so stfu and live your life.

  • genetic judoka

    it is quite possible that what I wrote does not make sense. it is a shortened (from memory) version of something I wrote a long time ago. the original was many pages long. it is not surprising that the excerpt did not make as much sense as the original. however since I’m not gonna post the whole thing, I really don’t care.

    interesting points. however belief in god does not require one to think that the bible makes sense. I have often said that the bible is the worst thing that ever happened to the idea that one can be intelligent while still having religious beliefs. i get into that debate all the time with a former roommate.

    god had very little to do with the bible. I’m sorry to say it because that pisses a lot of people off, but it’s true. the bible was a great way to talk people into being subservient. my beliefs come more from my understanding of math and science than from any very old book. what are the odds that balance is the fundamental principle of the universe in general, but balance would play no role in how we are to live our lives? and I know the standard atheist answer is “well then where is heaven? is it on the moon? is it out in space? where is hell?” however, since Everett did his MWI work, we have been shown that what we see is not all that is there. the fact that alternate planes of existence most likely do exist is not proof of anything in relation to this question, but it is proof that what we see is not all that is there, which opens the door for a lot.

    now I don’t don’t need to prove any of that, and have no intention of trying. all I know is that when bad things happen to good people, that doesn’t mean there is no higher power. most arguments against this idea come from the holes in the bible’s logic, but those don’t mean much to me. in fact the parts of my belief system that do come from some sort of scripture are often more derived from buddhism than anything else .

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    god deals with creation, the end results of destruction, and the maintenance of balance.

    Well, there goes omnibenevolence, although I admit that you may not be arguing for an all-good god. I do have to wonder, however, why you would post on this particular thread?

    the creation of the men doing those evil deeds are god’s work, but that doesn’t mean it’s his* fault.

    And, there goes omnipotence coupled with omniscience and omnibenevolence.

    how many sentient beings can claim that they’ve never been exposed to the knowledge of right and wrong?

    Those just born. Oh, right, there goes the idea of perfect justice.

    it is quite possible that what I wrote does not make sense.

    Bingo.

    my beliefs come more from my understanding of math and science…

    Or more likely your misunderstanding.

    what are the odds that balance is the fundamental principle of the universe in general, but balance would play no role in how we are to live our lives?

    Case in point…

    and I know the standard atheist answer is “well then where is heaven? is it on the moon? is it out in space? where is hell?”

    Add to that your misunderstanding of atheist arguments.

    now I don’t don’t need to prove any of that, and have no intention of trying.

    Then we can safely write off your comments as unsupported and inane.

  • genetic judoka

    @OMGF that deserves a LOL. please, feel free to enlighten me on atheist arguments that aren’t based on the stupidity found in the bible. I love how you pick and choose the parts that are easy to call me out on, would it have been as easy if I didn’t point out the holes in my argument myself?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Yes, it would have been just as easy if it had happened the way you seem to think it did. And, it wasn’t hard to find parts that were easy to call you out on. Harder would have been to find parts difficult to call you out on.

    And, do you really think that atheists arguments only target Xianity and the Bible? Really? Either way, there are many arguments against theism that don’t rely on the stupidity of the Bible, from the incompatibility of so many religions to the argument from evil, as well as the sheer fact that we have no good reason to believe any such higher power exists.

    But, hey, you said you had no intention of actually trying to support your bad arguments (that you do need to prove if you want them to be taken seriously), so why are you even back here?

  • genetic judoka

    the beauty of religious ideas is that they do not require proof, nor do they require others to be convinced of them for them to be of value to the holder of said beliefs. frankly there is no proof for any spiritual assertion, since by definition if we are writing our opinions we are still alive and as such have not experienced anything else. if it came out sounding like I maintained it as absolute truth, that was due to an error in how I presented it. it is at best conjecture, presented for the sake of reasonable debate.

    indeed science does not endorse any theistic beliefs, because to do so would be quite unscientific. however it is a common fallacy to think that this means that science disproves theistic beliefs. this in my opinion, is more a result of uneducated people incorrectly attributing things explainable by science to the realm of the supernatural.

    science investigates, religion interprets. science gives you data that you can (within reason) use however you see fit. and because many get upset and disillusioned when they find out that something they attributed (out of ignorance) to that dude with a beard in the clouds is actually a result of natural processes that are easily explainable by mathematics, and assume that everything they once attributed to the realm of the supernatural was done so falsely. this was what caused me to spend a considerable portion of my life as an atheist.

    and although this does not prove anything whatsoever (and I was hesitant to mention it because it’s stuff like this that people jump on when trying to rubbish an argument), let’s not forget that many scientists are quite religious (the first example that comes to mind is Einstein).

    and now just for the fun of it, a good quote to end this with:

    There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion. … Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    the beauty of religious ideas is that they do not require proof

    On the contrary, that’s what’s wrong with them.

    nor do they require others to be convinced of them for them to be of value to the holder of said beliefs.

    What value does one receive from holding unjustified beliefs?

    it is at best conjecture, presented for the sake of reasonable debate.

    I’m failing to see how it’s reasonable.

    however it is a common fallacy to think that this means that science disproves theistic beliefs.

    First, I’m glad to see that you’re backing away from your initial claims as they were unsustainable. Second, science does disprove certain theistic beliefs that make claims abouot the real world that are simply untrue. Take the theistic belief in a 6000 year old universe for instance.

    science investigates, religion interprets.

    No. Science investigates, religion makes wild-assed guesses that are not tied to reality in the slightest.

    and although this does not prove anything whatsoever (and I was hesitant to mention it because it’s stuff like this that people jump on when trying to rubbish an argument), let’s not forget that many scientists are quite religious (the first example that comes to mind is Einstein).

    Category error. Simply because some scientists hold bad beliefs in realms outside of science doesn’t mean that there’s validity to it. Further, Einstein was not especially religious. He was a pantheist at best (the universe was his “god” which is not something that most people would recognize as being very religious). Either way, it’s still fallacious.

    There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion.

    And, I disagree. The scientific method is all about not accepting unsupported claims, religion is founded upon it. The two thoughts are at odds with each other from the get-go. Sure, scientists can be religious, but only by putting religion aside and compartmentalizing their thoughts. IOW, in order to actually do science, they have to leave religion at the doorstep. It’s because they are in conflict. And, I don’t see religion as giving anyone wisdom. What wisdom is gained by making up stories that aren’t based in reality and then demanding that everyone believe they are so by faith? There’s no wisdom in that. Lastly, I want no part of religious “values.” Those values teach that people who don’t believe as you do are deserving of eternal torture, or that those in the out-group of your religion are less than you, or all kinds of horrible things. To paraphrase someone else (I don’t remember who) – if I can get you to believe absurdities, I can get you to commit attrocities.

  • genetic judoka

    I should state that my views are not a religion. far from it. they are just a set of ideas. religion is difficult to change, ideas are easy to change. and I value accuracy more than I value comfort. Carl Sagan (my favorite atheist of all time) has a few quotes that I absolutely love:

    this one is about kepler but readily applies to my position:

    “As a boy Kepler had been captured by a vision of cosmic splendour, a harmony of the worlds which he sought so tirelessly all his life. Harmony in this world eluded him. His three laws of planetary motion represent, we now know, a real harmony of the worlds, but to Kepler they were only incidental to his quest for a cosmic system based on the Perfect Solids, a system which, it turns out, existed only in his mind. Yet from his work, we have found that scientific laws pervade all of nature, that the same rules apply on Earth as in the skies, that we can find a resonance, a harmony, between the way we think and the way the world works. When he found that his long cherished beliefs did not agree with the most precise observations, he accepted the uncomfortable facts, he preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions. That is the heart of science.”

    and

    “There is no other species on the Earth that does science. It is, so far, entirely a human invention, evolved by natural selection in the cerebral cortex for one simple reason: it works. It is not perfect. It can be misused. It is only a tool. But it is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything. It has two rules. First: there are no sacred truths; all assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless. Second: whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised. We must understand the Cosmos as it is and not confuse how it is with how we wish it to be.”

    and just for kicks:

    “How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?’ Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.”

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    So, they are just ideas and those ideas are subject to change (given Sagan’s second quote you gave) yet you parade them around as if they have scientific backing (from your second comment) and claim that they are held without proof and require none? Give it up.

  • genetic judoka

    dude, you’re a case study in selective reading. the first paragraph of the post you quoted for example, did you read it? maybe the initial plan worked better than I thought.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Don’t blame me because you can’t make up your mind and/or are contradicting yourself.

  • Lam Robert

    Answer to Question1:

    Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (Exodus 20:5)

    And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:6)

    Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

    Answer to Question2:
    As a Christian, YES! it makes perfect sense, if you knew who GOD is

    Answer to Question3:
    Same answer Jesus gave to the Jews: (1 Corinthians 1:21-24)

    A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. (Matthew 16:4)

    Answer to Question4:
    You are referring to Jesus’s prediction on the destruction of the Temple and the scattering of the Jews that happened in 70 A.D. That was a twofold prophecy. Jesus also mentioned about the Nation of Israel being reborn before the End of the World which only took place in 1948.

    Answer to Question5:
    Can you bring the ‘soul’ back to a dead man’s body by doing this?

    More later once this comment has been approved

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Lam Robert,
    For question 1, you’re going to have to be more specific about how this answers the mail, because nowhere in your response do you actually address the specific claim made in the question. god calls himself merciful, but he does still decree the death of all the men, women, children, and livestock of certain peoples.

    For question 2, perhaps you can do more than simply claim that it makes sense? Perhaps you can explain how it makes sense?

    For question 3, this is contradictory. god himself was telling them that he himself would not be telling them anything? In the Bible, it is unmistakeable that god intrudes upon the lives of the Israelites many times and makes himself shown many times. In those days, god was not exactly happy with them either, so it doesn’t make sense to claim that god won’t show up to us because he’s unhappy with us now.

    For question 4, perhaps you need to understand the question. In the Bible, Jesus clearly states that the world will end before the current generation is gone. This is a specific prophecy that did not come true. We are all still here. The destruction of the temple (written post temple destruction BTW) was a separate “prediction.”

    For your answer to question 5, what in the world are you talking about? How does that answer the question? We have very good neurological evidence to show that souls most likely do not exist. What have you to say about this evidence and why would you still believe a soul does exist?

  • Saved and Love It

    OMGF,

    Would you care to explain the FACTUAL, FULFILLED Biblical prophecy of Israel becoming a nation on the very day it was foretold it would (on May 14, 1948, to be specific)? Mind you, this prophecy was 1,260 years old. Coincidence? I think not, friend.

    What’s that? You can’t? What a shame.

    It takes a pretty big leap of faith to just brush something so substantial off in such a ‘skeptical’, cynical manner, don’t you think? Hmm?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Oh, this should be entertaining. Saved and Love It, please tell us:

    1. Which Bible verses foretold the exact date that Israel became a nation? Please be specific.
    2. If this was a prophecy, who recognized it as such before the nation was actually founded?

  • Saved and Love It

    Yes, humiliating you should prove to be quite “entertaining.”

    From the date when Ezekiel measured the visionary temple in Ezekiel 40 unto 1948 when Israel became a nation again are 1260 plus 1260 years.

    It happens that 1260 plus 1260 days is an important seven-year period in the bible, spoken of in Rev. 11-13 and elsewhere. (360 x 7 days.)

    Essentially,

    573 BC Nisan 10, plus 1260 years plus 1260 years
    = AD 1948 Pentecost.

    —Israel became a nation on Sivan 5th on the 360 calendar, but which was May 14 evening to May 15 evening in 1948.—

    Basically, Ebonmuse, Israel becoming a nation in 1948 fulfilled such prophecies as Ezekiel 36 and 37.

  • Saved and Love It

    Ebonmuse,

    Feel free to research it on Google. Direct me to anything you find that discredits this prophecy. I haven’t found anything, and I’ve searched exhaustively.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Specific verses, please. Which verse establishes that this prophecy is about the future founding of Israel? Which one gives the exact date when this will happen? And, as I originally asked, who recognized this as a prophecy before it did in fact happen?

  • Saved and Love It

    I’m glad you asked, EbonMuse!

    This should clear things up a little:

    Ezekiel 40:1 (ASV) “In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day, the hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me thither.” ( Nisan 10, 573 BC.)

    Eze 40:2 “In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain, whereon was as it were the frame of a city on the south.”

    Eze 40:3 “And he brought me thither; and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.”

    Eze 40:4 “And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thy heart upon all that I shall show thee; for, to the intent that I may show them unto thee, art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.”

    From the date when Ezekiel measured the visionary temple in Ezekiel 40 unto 1948 when Israel became a nation are 1260 years plus 1260 years, and the precise day at which this event occurred is explained in my earlier post.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    You’ve addressed none of the three questions in my previous comment. Which verse establishes that this prophecy is about the future founding of Israel? Which one gives the exact date when this will happen? And, as I originally asked, who recognized this as a prophecy before it did in fact happen?

    Your next comment will not be approved if it doesn’t answer these questions.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    SaLI has regrettably been unable to address the simple questions I asked of him, and therefore he won’t be returning. His amusement value turned out to be quite low, alas.

  • John Kesler
  • Madison

    Ok I can answer all of these questions and I find it quite funny how you are twisting the bible. I am a teenager and I can still see how you are twisting the word of God and making it terrible. If God showed himself to everyone how would you know who actually loved him. People would take advantage of him. Also if he made everyone good, that would be forcing them to be good. God is loving and gives us the choice to follow him. God is loving and merciful and even when he killed those people in the old testament. Then you say oh what about the innocent children. Ok I will tell you. They would of been worse off if they had gown up in that terrible society and even if they had let them they would have had awful lives being slaves for the rest of their lives. God’s wonderful actions completely out way any actions that you think are cruel. In the Bible, Jesus clearly states that the world will end before the current generation is gone. This is a specific prophecy that did not come true. We are all still here. The destruction of the temple (written post temple destruction BTW) was a separate “prediction.”. Are sins are not forgiven magically, not to mean but your ignorance to this whole subject is making me laugh. We build a relationship with God, do not make accusations about a religion before you know anything about it. So I’m guessing you are an atheist. So you believe in the big bang right? That is stating that random atoms came out of nothing which directly requires faith because there is no scientific evidence for abiogenesis. Even Richard Dawkins a very confident atheist, said complicated things have the appearance of being created for a purpose” That requires a brain to create that purpose, that is where God comes into the picture.


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