On Inerrancy

Pandagon‘s recent post on Carlton Pearson, and the comment thread there, got me thinking about the question of inerrancy.

Last February, in “The Aura of Infallibility“, I observed that the apologist’s claim of scriptural inerrancy is really a claim of personal inerrancy. Even if I believe a book to be without error, I must rationally admit that I could be wrong about that. The only way to maintain a claim of inerrancy with absolute confidence, as many theists do, is to believe that I myself am incapable of committing error in that judgment – which is just what many believers do, even if they don’t think of it in those terms.

But people are not infallible, and the claim of biblical inerrancy cannot be sustained. The Bible contains many verses that contradict each other, as well as others that contradict established facts of science or history. Whether in its original autographs or its modern translations, the text is plainly errant. Given this, we must consider what the implications are for believers – and for atheists. Can it make any rational sense to follow the dictates of an errant Bible?

Some Christians have said no – if the text has any errors at all, we must throw it away. For instance, the Methodists’ founder, John Wesley:

If there be any mistake in the Bible, there may well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth. (source)

And many modern atheists have taken this and run with it, asserting that if the Bible contains any errors, it cannot be the word of a perfect god and must therefore be valueless and should be discarded. Moderate believers, by contrast, hold that even if the text has faults, it still contains divine wisdom that we can use to our benefit. Is this a sustainable position, or should we side with the fundamentalists and argue that the Bible must be taken as either all or nothing?

I’m of two minds on this topic. I can see the logic in arguing that, if the Bible was the handiwork of a perfect god, it would itself be without error. I can’t imagine why a deity who desired to communicate with us would permit the mistakes and prejudices of human beings to distort his message; that makes no sense to me. But to be fair, the psychology of the fundamentalists’ god strikes me as equally irrational, just in different ways.

So are the two views, the fundamentalist and the liberal, equally implausible? Not quite: in my opinion, there is one small asymmetry between them.

I don’t think that only inerrancy could justify belief in the Bible. Nevertheless, if you assume the text to be the product of divine revelation, it raises some serious questions as to why it would be imperfect. If God had a message he wanted to convey to humans, one would think he would want to communicate clearly. Surely, if God is benevolent, he would want humans to understand his will; he would not desire that we be confused or divided. The consequences of his leading us astray are terrible – just witness the rivers of blood spilled by people warring, persecuting, and torturing each other for the sake of their differing interpretations of God. Yet all this religious dissension also shows that the message is anything but clear.

So, did God not want to communicate his message more clearly? Or did he want to, but lacked the ability to do so? Either option poses a serious challenge to belief in a benevolent, all-wise deity. Why would God even write a book – a single book, one whose origins lie in a long-ago time and a very different culture, one that is prone to mistranslation, misinterpretation and deliberate alteration? Why grant some people special access to his word, and convey the message in such a flawed and imprecise format? Why not just speak to all of us directly, impress his message on everyone’s heart?

For all their faults, the fundamentalists can deal with many of these questions more adequately. They would say that God did inspire a perfect book, one that conveys his message exactly as he wanted it, and it’s only human fallibility that is to blame for all the religious dissension. But the liberal theology, for all its virtues, does not have satisfactory answers for these challenges. By positing that God has permitted human error to creep into the Bible and mingle with his own message, they can account for the Bible’s errancy – but only at the cost of a more illogical and convoluted theology that has no answers for several obvious and vital questions. By far their best option, liberal or conservative alike, would be to stop making excuses for the Bible and adopt a more rational philosophy.

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.

  • TommyP

    I remember back in my time as a christian, being taught that the bible was without error. We christians really patted ourselves on the back, very smug attitudes. It was hard for us to comprehend non believers. How could they be so blind as to not acknowledge the amazing work of divine wisdom that was present in the bible? It must surely be the work of a powerful demon, to cloud their eyes so!

    Then of course, as I grew in my faith and desired to know the mind of god better, I actually read the bible.
    The rest is history…
    Few things will make a true blue christian into an atheist faster than reading the bible. It’s a gratuitous mess.

  • http://talesofordinarygirl.blogspot.com/ Ordinary Girl

    Your line of reasoning is what set me on the path to question the beliefs I was brought up with. I couldn’t accept many things in the Bible and since I was taught that the Bible was inerrant and infallible it led me to question all of it. Fundamentalism indoctrinates and enslaves, yet any doubt or crack in the theology leads to the downfall of the whole.

  • velkyn

    considering how each and every Christians has their own magic decoder ring for the Bible, how can anyone seriously think it’s of divine provenance?

    I’m always amused when every Christian says this decoder ring is the “holy spirit”. This would mean that God, for some reason, wants all the strife and death that is caused by Christians being sure that they have the only direct line to God. God sure seems like a deity much more like Ares than some idealized concept of “good” (which per the Bible we all know as well as God does, just read Genesis).

  • mikespeir

    I’m always amused when every Christian says this decoder ring is the “holy spirit”.

    And all they’re doing is restating that they’re using a decoder ring. It’s just that they’re calling their decoder ring the “Holy Spirit.” It’s strange how this same ring works differently for different Christians, even to leading to different conclusions.

  • Wayne Essel

    I would propose that there are issues of personality involved here, as well. As an analytical tool, take the Briggs-Myers personality inventory. One of the four categories or classifications of personality is to be either perceptive (P) or judgemental (J). I would offer that the Ps would be more likely liberal either as theists or atheists and that the Js would be more conservative as either. The Ps seem to be more enamored of the question and the Js seem to be more enamored of the answer.

    I’m a P.

    I think that the Bible is more the result of man’s need to record the best of what he thinks he knows about God. So, I think there are errors in there. I also think there is also true revelation and prophesy. I don’t have a Rosetta stone. There is some weird and violent stuff in there and probably (IMO) many cultural artifacts. And yet, most of the book resonates with me, given my understanding of how it came to be.

    I don’t see the need for God to reveal God’s self in an instruction manual.

    I choose to compartmentalize my life. My choice. For me, it works better. Regarding science, I defer to the experts and their theories. Regarding spirituality, I prefer scripture. Or another way to say it is that I get my facts from science and engineering, but I get the core of my attitude from scripture.

    Actually, I think we’re all saved. Maybe we could all just act that way? You know, love each other, work to make this a better place, bring heaven to earth?

    Perhaps naively but contentedly so,

    Wayne

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Hm. Interesting point. But many of the liberal believers I know don’t see the Bible as God’s word at all. They see the Bible as a historical human record of the human attempt to understand God. And therefore, they’re okay with it being fallible but still a source of inspiration.

    Of course, that begs an entirely different question: If the Bible is simply a human record of the human attempt to understand God, then why privilege it over all other texts? Why treat it as more special than the Koran, or the Bhagavad Gita, which are also human records of the human attempt to understand God? And for that matter, why treat it as more special than any other book of history and philosophy? Couldn’t you find your inspiration from a source that was a little less bloodthirsty and brutal, and that you didn’t have to cherrypick quite so much?

    I’m just saying, is all.

  • Polly

    Mostly what TommyP said, except that I actually read the Bible. It was only when I learned ABOUT the Bible: when it was actually written down, the similarities with other myths, the intertribal political struggles, and noted the contradictions, that I finally stopped bvelieving.

    The Nazarene Church maintains with some level of haughty indignation that the Bible is the Word of God and is Perfect. And if you don’t believe that, then there’s really no discussion. And if God orders genocide in the OT, then god is just and you’d better just shut the hell up with all your liberal, commie, doubting thomas, bullshit. Who the hell do you think you are, questionning god?!
    YMMV

  • Wayne Essel

    Greta,

    I privilege the Bible for two primary reasons. First, it contains the New Testament, which I personally feel has a lesser degree of mythology and greater factual reporting than the Old Testament. And, even if I did not believe the actual NT story, there is much to guide my attitudes from Jesus.

    Secondly, it is a product of my personal cultural heritage. The others are not.

    Having said that, I regard the Bhagavad Gita highly. I’ve read some of the Gita, myself. I also think there is much in common between Jesus’ and the Buddha’s teachings, but I have only been exposed to the Buddha via second-hand teachings. I have a harder time with the Koran, though I’ve only read a small part of it. My understanding is that Jesus is not regarded as having risen either in the Koran or in the subsequent teachings of Muhammad, which is at odds with the New Testament. So in that case I actually have to make a choice.

    Comparing the Bible to other works of philosophy and history, the New Testament story has the story of a god-man who rose from the dead and ascended bodily into heaven, told in a very compelling way. Philosopy and history books don’t have that.

    I choose to accept the NT story, in spite of its incredulity to others. The hope of things unseen. If I’m right, I have much to look forward to. If I am wrong, I’m wrong. I still benefit from attempting to live my life according what I understand to be consistent with “Love God, love your neighbor”.

    Regards,

    Wayne

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Secondly, it is a product of my personal cultural heritage. The others are not.

    Wow.

  • Kaltrosomos

    “Why not just speak to all of us directly, impress his message on everyone’s heart?”

    What do you think would happen if a hypothetical God did just this?

    God could send us all a message at once, but how long would we believe it? How long would it take us after the message ended to start doubting it? Wouldn’t we start asking ourselves whether or not we had hallucinated or imagined it? Wouldn’t we look for ways to explain it away?

    What direct revelation could God give that humanity couldn’t equally doubt and dismiss?

  • Wayne Essel

    Not only that, if God sent Jesus back here again, we’d probably nail him to the cross all over again. Actually, we’d probably use lethal injection…

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Are you saying that god does not have the power/ability to convince humans of his existence? That’s a rather impotent god.

  • Josh in California

    What direct revelation could God give that humanity couldn’t equally doubt and dismiss?

    How about giving up on the whole invisible schtick? Really, any major physical manifestation would do the trick. Theists never seem to think it strange that dieties are always invisible, intagible, and only speak to people through entirely subjective means like dreams.

  • ex machina

    God could send us all a message at once, but how long would we believe it? How long would it take us after the message ended to start doubting it? Wouldn’t we start asking ourselves whether or not we had hallucinated or imagined it? Wouldn’t we look for ways to explain it away?

    What direct revelation could God give that humanity couldn’t equally doubt and dismiss?

    Humans are capable of uncovering and hanging on to extremely subtle truths. Quantum physics hasn’t faded, and neither has a the idea of a heliocentric solar system. If god could manage a simple and non-contradictory message, it would come through loud and clear. But that’s the trouble, all “communication” so far has been patently suspect.

  • Kaltrosomos

    OMGF:
    “Are you saying that god does not have the power/ability to convince humans of his existence?”

    I’m saying maybe humans have the freedom to be convinced only when they desire to be convinced of something. If a person is unwilling to believe something, it doesn’t matter how good your argument to that person might be. That person won’t be convinced.

    That would not be due so much to the weakness of a deity as to our own stubbornness. God probably could change our minds for us, but that would violate our freedom of thought. By not forcing us to think one thing or another, God would merely be respecting human freedom and responsibility.

    Ever heard the saying that you can lead a horse to water, but can’t force it to drink?

    Ex machina:
    “Humans are capable of uncovering and hanging on to extremely subtle truths. Quantum physics hasn’t faded, and neither has a the idea of a heliocentric solar system. If god could manage a simple and non-contradictory message, it would come through loud and clear.”

    The idea of the supernatural hasn’t faded from human consciousness either, but let’s leave that detail alone for now. The instances you mention are of humans discovering things. What I am talking about is some deity speaking to us.

    In your instance, men want to find out about quantum physics and the true nature of the solar system. But what about when men do not want to find out something? How many people would accept an unexpected and/or unwanted message from God, no matter how clear it was?

    What would you do if, right now, God appeared to you and told you that he really existed? Would you ask him to prove it? Would you think it was a figment of your imagination? What would you think after God disappeared? Or how about a week later, or several weeks later? In a couple years would you think it had really happened?

    For you, would any message from God not be considered “patently suspect”? Why or why not? What would you accept as a convincing message from the divine?

  • Leum

    Kaltrosomos, I freely admit that it’s too late for God to reveal Himself to me. If God had made a habit of revealing Himself to each generation in a consistent manner, things would be different, of course, but He hasn’t.

    Fundamentally, in this world, a revelation is more likely to be a hallucination or imagining than a message from God. If God wanted me to believe in Him, He would have made a world in which such belief did not fly in the face of fifteen billion years of evidence.

  • Brad

    I can’t imagine why a deity who desired to communicate with us would permit the mistakes and prejudices of human beings to distort his message; that makes no sense to me.

    This is instantly seen as an argument from incredulity by believers. In fact, the same could be said of the arguments from suffering, divine hiddenness, and religious confusion…

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Kaltrosomos,

    The simple truth is that our experience of the world does affect our beliefs. You can’t deny that. If God were more obvious, more people would believe. I honestly don’t understand how you have managed to convince yourself otherwise.

    What direct revelation could God give that humanity couldn’t equally doubt and dismiss?

    I’m pretty sure I’ve brought this up with you before, but my favourite scenario is to have everyone, all at once, every fifty years, hear a voice saying, in their own language, something along the lines of “Hello. This is God. The correct religion is … ” (albeit with perhaps more dignified phrasing, but you get the idea). That way, since everyone hears it, it couldn’t be dismissed as pure hallucination. And since it would happen regularly, we wouldn’t have to worry about future generations either. I think it would solve the basic problem of belief very nicely.

  • ex machina

    What would you do if, right now, God appeared to you and told you that he really existed? Would you ask him to prove it? Would you think it was a figment of your imagination? What would you think after God disappeared? Or how about a week later, or several weeks later? In a couple years would you think it had really happened?

    Absolutely I would ask him or her to prove it. Why wouldn’t I? I’ve never run into a God before, and I think it’s fair to protect myself from those that might be lying about it. If he really convinced me and it really was God . . . then the memory and meaning would hold fast. If all he wants to do is talk, that wouldn’t be good enough. I need hard evidence of him and his intentions just like I need hard evidence of everything else.

    I understand the idea that perhaps I’m rejecting something I can’t handle, but if I’m really capable of denying something so evident, why stop with God? Why not deny the existence of cockroaches or an empty bank account or anything else that’s unpleasant? And further, I did not start out an atheist and I think very few people do. I was desperate to believe when I was younger.

    For you, would any message from God not be considered “patently suspect”? Why or why not? What would you accept as a convincing message from the divine?

    Sadly yes, because, here’s the difficulty: Why would he speak only to me and no one else, and why has he waited this long? Should he speak to me now, it would be logically inconsistent with who he says he is (loving, wise, powerful, etc.). I echo Leum here: God has had ample opportunity, but now that ship has sailed.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    I’m saying maybe humans have the freedom to be convinced only when they desire to be convinced of something. If a person is unwilling to believe something, it doesn’t matter how good your argument to that person might be. That person won’t be convinced.

    That may be true, but does it hold for god? Surely god knows what I need to hear/see/feel/etc. in order to be convinced that god exists. And, if god wanted us to believe in him, why would he create beings that patently don’t want to, or get it wrong, or are completely skeptical of him, etc?

    That would not be due so much to the weakness of a deity as to our own stubbornness. God probably could change our minds for us, but that would violate our freedom of thought.

    Does it violate your freedom of thought to present evidence in favor or a proposition? Would it have violated your freedom of thought had god made you such that you would believe him when he appears? If the Bible is right and we will go to hell for disbelief, is freedom of thought really that great? What if I freely decide that I wish for god to come down right now and convince me that he exists, would it be violating my freedom of thought for god to fulfill my wishes?

    By not forcing us to think one thing or another, God would merely be respecting human freedom and responsibility.

    By witholding crucial information from us?

  • prase

    Kaltrosomos,

    … men want to find out about quantum physics and the true nature of the solar system. But what about when men do not want to find out something? How many people would accept an unexpected and/or unwanted message from God, no matter how clear it was?

    In fact, men didin’t want to find out some specific facts about quantum physics or heliocentric system. They simply observed the nature and the evidence forced them to believe. New discoveries were usually disturbing. I suppose that almost nobody in the 15th century wanted to leave the good old geocentrism and nobody dreamed about weird quantum physics in the 19th century. Every new discovery was met with scepticism and distrust at first. You are right that most people are not comfortable with changing their opinions; some people remain in denial even if the evidence is overwhelming, but history proved that in such a case new ideas finally prevailed. As Lynet put it, our beliefs are affected by the external world. Do you know evident fact (similarly evident as e.g. the hypothetical direct periodic mass revelation suggested by Lynet) that is stubbornly rejected by the majority of people despite the evidence?

    God probably could change our minds for us, but that would violate our freedom of thought.

    Can you explain what does “freedom of thought” mean in your usage? I suppose you don’t say that thoughts are free if and only if they have no causal relation to observable facts.

  • Kaltrosomos

    Lynet,

    I am not suggesting that the world doesn’t affect beliefs. It does. I agree with you on that. But apparently people interpret that effect in different ways. For instance, some believers suggest that God IS obvious when we look at the world. Judging from the number of people who believe in some form of the supernatural, it is very, VERY obvious to them. You can’t deny that a majority of people, now and in the past, have had some sort of religious belief. Apparently mere ‘obviousness’ isn’t the whole story. To believers it is ‘obvious’ God exists. To non-believers it is ‘obvious’ there is no God. The problem is not evidence but our reaction to it.

    As to your imagined scenario, I think you underestimate human stubbornness. Even if that happened, lots of people would deny it. They would claim it was a fraud, and say that a real deity could do much better.

    Ex machina, what if God spoke to you with a group of your family and friends for, say, an evening before disappearing again? What would he have to say, show, or otherwise do to prove to you and your company that he was the real deal? Would it change matters if he stayed around for a week? A month? Forever?

    OMGF:
    “Does it violate your freedom of thought to present evidence in favor or a proposition? Would it have violated your freedom of thought had god made you such that you would believe him when he appears?”

    It doesn’t violate your freedom if you are presented with evidence. However, you are free to accept or reject the evidence. But if you keep rejecting the evidence, what is the person giving the evidence supposed to do? If he bullies you into accepting it, he is ruining the whole point of freedom.

    The freedom is nothing without responsibility. If you are truly free you must be able not just to walk where you like but also to fall where you may. Someone watching might offer you a hand if you start losing your balance, but if you refuse their help you have no one to blame for falling but yourself.

    If people really are free to choose their own fates, then it is possible that someone might choose eternal torment, I.E., Hell.

    “What if I freely decide that I wish for god to come down right now and convince me that he exists, would it be violating my freedom of thought for god to fulfill my wishes?”

    Do you really want proof that God exists, or are you trying to make yourself feel more secure in your unbelief?

    “By witholding crucial information from us?”

    What information? Evidence of his existence? Some people think that the world is an ocean of such evidence and we are swimming in it. It’s just that fish become accustomed to the water after spending so much time in it. They take the water for granted. They don’t see it because it is so obvious and omnipresent. Maybe it is similar with us.

  • Kaltrosomos

    Prase, I don’t deny what you say. As to your question,

    “Do you know evident fact (similarly evident as e.g. the hypothetical direct periodic mass revelation suggested by Lynet) that is stubbornly rejected by the majority of people despite the evidence?”

    I would say most people, practically speaking, reject the reality of death. They treat it as something distant, something that happens to some people but probably won’t happen to them. They only think about it seriously, most of them, for a little while, or if death comes into their lives suddenly through the death of a relative. Then they try and forget it. They only accept it when it is close to taking them or someone they love. I’m sure some people nowadays are hoping for modern science to do away with death. They do not want to accept it. They try to forget it every chance they get.

    “Can you explain what does “freedom of thought” mean in your usage?”

    I mean that people can really choose between different thoughts, and don’t get their every thought chosen for them by a government, deity, or other entity.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    It doesn’t violate your freedom if you are presented with evidence. However, you are free to accept or reject the evidence. But if you keep rejecting the evidence, what is the person giving the evidence supposed to do? If he bullies you into accepting it, he is ruining the whole point of freedom.

    And, it didn’t violate our freedom of thought when he created us such that we would not accept evidence that was presented to us? That’s what you are basically arguing for here. If people are such that we won’t accept evidence of god, then it is because that is how god made us. Thus, we are not exercising any freedom, because god has forced us to be this way, no matter how you slice it.

    Do you really want proof that God exists, or are you trying to make yourself feel more secure in your unbelief?

    Irrelevant. The question remains.

    What information? Evidence of his existence? Some people think that the world is an ocean of such evidence and we are swimming in it.

    And, they can’t get there objectively and/or without making a logical fallacy in the process. You can’t get there from here. god isn’t out there making himself known to us in a way that you can arrive at without first believing the message he is supposedly conveying. So, for those who don’t a priori believe, god is witholding evidence. When that evidence is lacking because of god’s direct actions, are we truly free to make decisions?

  • prase

    I would say most people, practically speaking, reject the reality of death.

    I don’t know anybody who doesn’t believe in reality of death. People ordinarily write their last wills and buy graves for themselves, and they wouldn’t do that is they thought death is an illusion. Yes, nobody likes to think about it (me included), but that’s far away from rejecting its reality.

    I mean that people can really choose between different thoughts, and don’t get their every thought chosen for them by a government, deity, or other entity.

    I can imagine how somebody else chooses for me what I do or say, but still it’s difficult for me to understand what does it mean that somebody else chooses for me what I think. I wouldn’t even say that I choose my beliefs – it is impossible for me to successfully comand myself to believe proposition P when I don’t actually believe it, even if I wanted.

    People can be indoctrinated, of course, but the best defense against it (and as such the best way to improve the freedom of thought, whatever it means) is unlimited access to true data about the subject. To say that by learning the truth one becomes less free is, from my point of view, ridiculous.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Kaltrosomos,

    You can’t deny that a majority of people, now and in the past, have had some sort of religious belief. Apparently mere ‘obviousness’ isn’t the whole story. To believers it is ‘obvious’ God exists. To non-believers it is ‘obvious’ there is no God. The problem is not evidence but our reaction to it.

    On the contrary, there is clearly something wrong with the evidence when, despite the fact that the majority of people have had some sort of religious belief, the majority of those people would also have been certain that the vast majority of other people’s religious beliefs were wrong. At least in my hypothetical scenario, the believers would be agreeing with each other. That would be major progress, would it not?

    As things stand, even diligent believers can pick the wrong box by accident and end up being punished for it.

  • lpetrich

    Kaltrosomos, like many other religious apologists, seems like he is projecting human limitations onto the god he believes in. An omnipotent entity would not have the kind of troubles that he projects onto God. There would be no cost to Itself for It to continuously reveal Itself to us in an unmistakable fashion.

    And as to belief, I am like Carl Sagan: I don’t want to believe, I want to know.

    Free will? What’s so great about it if it leads to sin? Jesus Christ had taught that any part of oneself that makes one commit sins ought to be amputated.

  • Larry Kulp

    Lynet,

    Your “Hello, this is God” example of periodic universal manifestation is an interesting, but flawed idea.

    The primitive would consider television to be the work of a sorcerer or a god. Supernatural stuff. But I am sure that the most stubborn atheists (no insult intended) would say that your semi-centennial divine communications were the products of some highly advanced technology. “This is not God talking to us,” some would insist, “but an alien (but nonetheless natural) practical joker.”

    The point I am making is that theists will say it’s conclusive evidence of God’s existence, but–no matter how ineffible may be the manifestation–atheists will say it’s proof of something, but whatever that thing is, it must be natural, that is, it must be part of the natural world. In saying these things, however, both sides would be coming very close together.

    It seems obvious that Nature or the Universe is the totality of all that exists. If God exists, then, by definition, He cannot be “supernatural.” Therefore, if God is a natural being, then He would be susceptible of empirical investigation. How would one distinguish between the primitive’s reaction to television as being “magic” and our likely reaction to a hyperspace propulsion drive as being incomprehensible alien technology? (If we saw such a device, of course, we wouldn’t even know what it was–so, I’m assuming that we learned about its function as a “revelation” from the alien, himself.)

    OK, I’m just trying to have a little fun, here. My point is that no amount of evidence can prove that God exists, if one’s definition of God is a supernatural being, and if there were such evidence, then God could not be supernatural. But, then, there can be no evidence of a supernatural being, because a being, which exists entirely outside of Nature, cannot affect anything “in” Nature and, thus, cannot directly or indirectly manifest itself to us. But, then again, no being can “exist” outside of Nature or the Universe, unless one wants to delimit these concepts so they are less than the totality which is ordinarily part of their definitions. Gosh, it is truly amazing how one contradiction can open up so many others.

  • Larry Kulp

    Ipetrich,

    As a former Catholic, I can guess which part would be the first to be amputated.

  • Larry Kulp

    Ipetrich,

    Wait a minute. On second thought, maybe it would be our heads, rather than those other things. That’s what got us thrown out of the Garden of Eden, you know, eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge.

  • Kaltrosomos

    Ipetrich, I am not a religious apologist. At least not if you mean a fundamentalist or other sort of Christian. At the moment I guess I’m something of a Deist. It’s useful to test out other worldviews, I think, to see how strong or weak they are.

    Though, I do find your comments kind of revealing, such as when you say: “Jesus Christ had taught that any part of oneself that makes one commit sins ought to be amputated.”

    He didn’t mean this literally. Jesus was a story-teller. He used parables almost constantly. This is a metaphorical expression, on the same par as “going to hell in a handbasket,” and “a piece of cake,” and so on.

    When somebody says, “Math is a piece of cake,” they don’t mean they eat algebra for dessert with a frosting of calculus.

    When somebody says Barack Obama is all bark and no bite they don’t mean that he gets on all fours and acts like a noisy dog that becomes friendly when you scratch him behind the ears.

    Jesus was doing just that sort of thing in the saying you mention. He didn’t mean you should cut off parts of your body. He meant that if you have a destructive habit you should end it, or if you have some other personal trait that causes you to ‘sin’, or fall short of your potential, you should get rid of that trait if you possibly could. He just used a vivid image to convey that.

    Finally, you comment:

    “An omnipotent entity would not have the kind of troubles that he projects onto God. There would be no cost to Itself for It to continuously reveal Itself to us in an unmistakable fashion.”

    My objection was how much good continuous revelation would do. It seems like most people would sooner or later disbelieve in the constant revelation for various reasons.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    This is a really good discussion going on here. :)

    Wayne Essel’s comment expresses an attitude very much like the one I criticized in my post, and I’m genuinely curious to see how he responds to some of the points I’ve raised. I wanted to address this part in particular:

    I think that the Bible is more the result of man’s need to record the best of what he thinks he knows about God. So, I think there are errors in there. I also think there is also true revelation and prophesy. I don’t have a Rosetta stone. There is some weird and violent stuff in there and probably (IMO) many cultural artifacts.

    Wayne, as I mentioned in my post, this is a viewpoint I find incomprehensible. What you’re saying, in essence, is that God put a message to humanity in the Bible, but allowed that message to become intermingled with textual artifacts born of human ignorance and savagery.

    This raises a whole host of questions. Doesn’t God want to convey his message to humanity accurately, without distortion? If he doesn’t, why give any revelation or prophecy in the first place? If he does, why permit that message to be corrupted by human error? Those corruptions have led to incalculable human suffering and rivers of bloodshed over the millennia, as people wage war and persecute each other over differing understandings of God. At the very least, why wouldn’t he make it unambiguous which verses reflected his true wishes and which did not?

    If I were a good person who wrote a book of ethics and lessons for the edification of others, and if I discovered that evil people had corrupted my manuscript with bad advice that didn’t reflect my wishes, I would be horrified – particularly if ordinary people started believing the bad advice had come from me and acting on it. I would make it my mission to convey to everyone who read that book which parts were interpolations. If I didn’t do that – if I stayed silent, letting people misinterpret my wishes without attempting to offer correction – then one could very plausibly argue that I was tacitly agreeing to that bad advice, buttressing it with my own credibility. Is this how you view God? What explanation would you give for why he allowed these bad seeds to take root in his own book?

  • Brad

    There would be no cost to Itself for It to continuously reveal Itself to us in an unmistakable fashion. [-Ipetrich]

    Ah, but so the response goes, there could be cost to its efforts to achieve its desires for humanity. I’ve always thought that the state and history of the world at very least prove God must be something like a moral collectivist, treating humanity as a single entity. Hence, free will, taking a back seat as humanity matures, hence, suffering, confusion, marginal hiddenness, flimsy tries at communication, et cetera.

  • Kaltrosomos

    OMGF:

    “And, it didn’t violate our freedom of thought when he created us such that we would not accept evidence that was presented to us? That’s what you are basically arguing for here. If people are such that we won’t accept evidence of god, then it is because that is how god made us. Thus, we are not exercising any freedom, because god has forced us to be this way, no matter how you slice it.”

    We must have different views on the art of slicing. Say you have a child. Are you responsible for every act that child does over the course of its life? Or is there a certain point at which the responsibility shifts from you to the child? Just because your parents made you that doesn’t mean they dictate your every move or thought.

    Perhaps there is a similar relationship between men and God. Freedom means the ability to dissent. Apparently God gave humans the ability to dissent in the greatest way possible, I.E., doubting the existence of their creator.

    “god isn’t out there making himself known to us in a way that you can arrive at without first believing the message he is supposedly conveying. So, for those who don’t a priori believe, god is witholding evidence.”

    What I’m saying is that, to some people, God is out there making himself known. The existence of the universe itself and what is in it leads them to believe, coupled with a desire for meaning.

    It’s enough for some people, anyway.

  • TEP

    The primitive would consider television to be the work of a sorcerer or a god. Supernatural stuff. But I am sure that the most stubborn atheists (no insult intended) would say that your semi-centennial divine communications were the products of some highly advanced technology. “This is not God talking to us,” some would insist, “but an alien (but nonetheless natural) practical joker.”

    The point I am making is that theists will say it’s conclusive evidence of God’s existence, but–no matter how ineffible may be the manifestation–atheists will say it’s proof of something, but whatever that thing is, it must be natural, that is, it must be part of the natural world. In saying these things, however, both sides would be coming very close together.

    It seems obvious that Nature or the Universe is the totality of all that exists. If God exists, then, by definition, He cannot be “supernatural.” Therefore, if God is a natural being, then He would be susceptible of empirical investigation. How would one distinguish between the primitive’s reaction to television as being “magic” and our likely reaction to a hyperspace propulsion drive as being incomprehensible alien technology? (If we saw such a device, of course, we wouldn’t even know what it was–so, I’m assuming that we learned about its function as a “revelation” from the alien, himself.)

    OK, I’m just trying to have a little fun, here. My point is that no amount of evidence can prove that God exists, if one’s definition of God is a supernatural being, and if there were such evidence, then God could not be supernatural. But, then, there can be no evidence of a supernatural being, because a being, which exists entirely outside of Nature, cannot affect anything “in” Nature and, thus, cannot directly or indirectly manifest itself to us. But, then again, no being can “exist” outside of Nature or the Universe, unless one wants to delimit these concepts so they are less than the totality which is ordinarily part of their definitions. Gosh, it is truly amazing how one contradiction can open up so many others.

    If one day a being were to descend from the heavens, and announce in a booming voice heard by all: “I am Yahweh. I wrote the Bible”, and perform actions consistent with the character of Yahweh (such as firebombing cities containing people which irritate him), then that would be pretty strong evidence for the existence of that character. Of course, what would still be an open question would be the nature of that character; namely, is he the all powerful superbeing that he claims he is, or is he perhaps some other sort of less powerful being, who used his powers to intimidate the ancient Israelites into worshipping him, but lied about the extent of his abilities? Yahweh might very well exist (hypothetically speaking), but he could easily be an extraterrestrial, or a minor spiritual being; perhaps a very weak god shunned by his peers and only allowed to terrorise a minor insignificant planet, for example. What would be irrational would be, upon encountering Yahweh (or any other being claiming omnipotence) would be to simply take their claims at face value; as he could have any number of motives for exaggerating his power – there has certainly been no shortage of individuals throughout history to do so. Let’s face it, it’d be pretty easy for a god with only mediocre powers to convince a bunch of superstitious primitives that they’re actually omnipotent; and if Yahweh were proven to exist it would not be necessary to assume omnipotence to explain the origins of the Bible stories. As a result, we would only be justified in attributing to Yahweh powers for which we have direct empirical evidence that he possesses – in much the same way that we might believe that an Olympic sprinter is the fastest in the world as a result of overwhelming evidence of those feats, but if that sprinter were to boast that he could run faster than the speed of sound, we’d be rightly skeptical of that claim, despite the fact that the sprinter has demonstrated extraordinary ability at running.

    So, in summary, it’d be pretty trivial for Yahweh to prove his mere existence – any doubts about how powerful he is are completely irrelevant to the issue of his existence.

  • Tom

    I would say most people, practically speaking, reject the reality of death.

    I’ve often suspected that such an unwillingness to accept death is one of the biggest contributing factors to the creation of religions, perhaps the biggest of them all; certainly the majority of faiths, for all their other divergence, idiosyncrasies and bitter argument, generally seem to be in concert when they insist death isn’t merely final, inevitable, complete cessation of experience but that there’s some way to escape it and continue to exist afterwards.

  • Valhar2000

    Leum:

    Kaltrosomos, I freely admit that it’s too late for God to reveal Himself to me.

    Though I do not beleive I have ever beleived in any god, it wouldn’t be too late for me. If I had actual evidence of the existense of some god, I would beleive it. Worshipping it is an entirely different matter, of course.

  • Jim Baerg

    Hi Larry Kulp:
    Similar notions have been played with a lot in SF & Fantasy. See ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist )

    In particular in _Inferno_ by Niven & Pournelle ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Inferno ) the protagonist finds himself in a place that looks like Dante’s Inferno. He for a long part of the novel uses a working hypothesis that it is a theme park made by sadistic ‘Sufficiently Advanced Aliens’. Eventually he sees enough ‘miracles’ that he decides that whoever made it might as well *be* God anyway.

    I would say that TEP a few comments up has it about right.

    BTW other posters on this blog might find http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HollywoodAtheist of interest.

    Also http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/Atheism is a pretty good summary to give to anyone with a lot of misconceptions about what atheism is.

  • ex machina

    Ex machina, what if God spoke to you with a group of your family and friends for, say, an evening before disappearing again? What would he have to say, show, or otherwise do to prove to you and your company that he was the real deal? Would it change matters if he stayed around for a week? A month? Forever?

    That’s the problem. Just showing up, speaking, and then dissapearing again wouldn’t really cut it. If, during the course of conversation, he exposed proof of his existence in the universe (God’s fingerprint or something like that), I’d consider it. Of if he were to explain in detail some way in which to interpret human spirituality that reconciled, well, everything, then that would be persuasive. But if he were to just show up, say he was God, and take off, that wouldn’t be enough.

    You don’t seem to demand much from God as proof, but think of it this way. What if I told you that I could fly (all by myself, just defying gravity at will)? Would you believe me right away? Probably not. People don’t fly like that, right? So you might ask me about it or to show you proof. Would you believe me if I showed up at your house and said “I flew here! You have to believe me now!” Would you believe me? Again, probably not, you didn’t see any proof. What if I even showed you a video? By now you’d be getting upset. “That’s not proof at all,” you’d say, “Anyone can fly on video with the right technology.”

    What if I finally agreed to show you in person? I could take off and land right in front of you, but would that really settle the issue? You’d probably want to know how I did it, or to teach you how. If I couldn’t, you might suspect a trick. For a human to defy gravity would be unprecedented, and it would be far more likely that I orchestrated a massive illusion, rather than have actually accomplished a feat that defies known physics.

    But if I were to teach you how, explain the theory behind it, then you might be convinced. And if I were to teach others and if you were to see flight by humans as commonplace, then everyone could believe me. There would be big aspects of the world that depended on flight as a fact: travel and shipping markets would change drastically. Soon it would be easily accepted as truth. That is the kind of proof I expect form God. The truth that infects and spreads and is unavoidable and inevitable. I won’t accept anything less from the creator of the universe.

    So, if during that evening God would do something like this, it would stick in my head and it wouldn’t fade.

  • Paul S

    Kaltrosomos said,

    If he bullies you into accepting it, he is ruining the whole point of freedom.

    Isn’t the concept of everlasting torture in hell as a result of not worshipping him really bullying in its basest form? Fear is strong motivator.

  • mikespeir

    If he does, why permit that message to be corrupted by human error?

    I do hope someone will take a stab at answering this question, Ebonmuse. Why can’t we assume that whatever impulse drove God (assuming he exists) to issue a perfect work would also impel him to keep it that way? After all, isn’t it reasonable to infer that giving us a perfect Bible means he wants us to have a perfect Bible? Conversely, if the Bible demonstrably isn’t perfect, why shouldn’t we conclude that he never meant for us to have a perfect Bible?

  • Wayne Essel

    Can’t spend a lot of time here. I’m on my lunch hour and these discussions usually require more thought than I have time to devote right now.

    Ebonmuse said “Wayne, as I mentioned in my post, this is a viewpoint I find incomprehensible. What you’re saying, in essence, is that God put a message to humanity in the Bible, but allowed that message to become intermingled with textual artifacts born of human ignorance and savagery.”

    I am not saying that God put the message there. I am saying that Moses, or Daniel or David or Paul or John wrote down what they believe God has revealed to them within their relationship to God. And they are human.

    I only have a sense that God wills one thing, and that is communion with God’s creation, out of love. Period. In order to have that, I have to seek God out. God appears not to intrude in our space without our permission. I don’t have to like that. It just seems to be the way it is. It’s not about being omnipotent. It appears to be about being true to one’s nature.

    Moses said that God identified self as “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14).

    Isaiah said “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

    You wrote a whole article on that last one. I argue that God need present no argument or reason for being how God is. If God exists, God is. Period.

    To me, the Bible and other scriptures represent a narrative of the efforts of those who preceded me and from whom I can learn. And I’m not going to be able to use all of it, sometimes due to my lack of understanding and sometimes due to possible errors or artifacts contained in it.

    Have to address the rest later.

    Regards,

    Wayne

  • Wayne Essel
  • Chet

    I argue that God need present no argument or reason for being how God is. If God exists, God is. Period.

    And if he doesn’t?

    The thing I can’t understand is why you would choose to believe in a God that is indistinguishable from not existing at all. Why worship a God who makes you do all the work?

  • mikespeir

    Wayne,

    I am not saying that God put the message there. I am saying that Moses, or Daniel or David or Paul or John wrote down what they believe God has revealed to them within their relationship to God. And they are human.

    So, Moses or Daniel or David or Paul wrote what they believed God had revealed to them. Do you believe God revealed those things to them? Did those men accurately convey what God had revealed? How do you know? Does the “truth” of their writings resonate within you in a different way than the Koran does within Muslims or the Book of Mormon does within Mormons? How do you know there’s a difference?

    I only have a sense that God wills one thing, and that is communion with God’s creation, out of love. Period.

    So, what do you need the Bible for? I mean, you quoted a couple of excerpts of it. Do you consider those authoritative? Why?

  • Kaltrosomos

    “If, during the course of conversation, he exposed proof of his existence in the universe (God’s fingerprint or something like that), I’d consider it. Of if he were to explain in detail some way in which to interpret human spirituality that reconciled, well, everything, then that would be persuasive.”

    Ex machina, maybe you’re asking something impossible. We are fragments of the whole. Perhaps the only way to clearly understand the whole is to BE the whole– in other words, to be God. Humans simply aren’t able to contain and understand everything.

    Asking for an inclusive, complete explanation of everything that makes sense to a part of the whole is logically impossible. The part cannot grasp more than the whole.

    And it seems as though you’d always be unsatisfied with an explanation by God because it would be partial. But any explanation would always be partial, since you are partial and can only contain, much less understand, a certain amount of information.

    No matter how hungry a man is, he can’t eat everything in the whole world. He can’t even eat half the contents of the local grocery store without bursting at the seams. Information is the same way. Humans can only absorb so much. There’s always going to be something we don’t understand, something lacking in our information.

    So, basically, you appear to be asking for evidence that God couldn’t possibly give you. Is it any wonder you can’t find satisfying proof when the proof you demand is impossible?

  • Kaltrosomos

    Paul S:
    “Isn’t the concept of everlasting torture in hell as a result of not worshipping him really bullying in its basest form? Fear is strong motivator.”

    Fear can have good uses sometimes. Like any thing, fear can be either good or bad depending on how it is used. Fear has definitely been useful to us in the past, or else why would it survive in us? It has evolutionary benefits.

    You misrepresent the concept by labeling it ‘torture’. Torture is something generally done to an unwilling subject. Hell is said to be self-inflicted.

    Hell is, as I understand it, the consequence of humans having responsibility for their choices. If you can really choose heaven, you also have to be able to choose hell. And if the choice really is open, it becomes inevitable over time that at least a few would choose hell rather than heaven. Remember Milton? “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”

  • Paul S

    So, basically, you appear to be asking for evidence that God couldn’t possibly give you. Is it any wonder you can’t find satisfying proof when the proof you demand is impossible?

    But according to the Bible, God apparently DID expose proof of His existence to people when he appeared and conversed with desert-dwelling nomads over 2 millenia ago. Why could He expose himself to them, but not to us?

    There’s also this little tidbit:

    Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”

  • Paul S

    You misrepresent the concept by labeling it ‘torture’. Torture is something generally done to an unwilling subject. Hell is said to be self-inflicted.

    Self-inflicted or not, God (through the Bible) is attempting to bully us into believing in Him with a punishment of an eternity in hell if we don’t. Bullying is the act of intimidating and domineering someone who is weaker.

    From Dictionary.com: TORTURE (noun): the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.

    Seems to fit to me.

  • Leum

    *note, I am currently souped up on painkillers, this post may not be coherent*

    Kaltrosomos, Hell may be self-inflicted, but those who do not follow Jesus do so out of ignorance. It’s like a little kid drinking antifreeze. Yes, he chose to drink it, but only because he didn’t realize it’d kill him.

    Also, who says Hell is self-inflicted? Certainly not the Bible:

    “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 7:17-19

    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25:31-33

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ” Matthew 25:41

    “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” John 15:6

    “His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he [Jesus] will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:17

    Each of these passages makes it clear that it is Jesus (or God or the Holy Spirit, the whole trinity deal confuses me) that does the damning. The damned are cast into Hell, they do not vaguely saunter downwards (kudos to those who get the reference).

  • Chet

    Ex machina, maybe you’re asking something impossible.

    Impossible? Not much of a God you’re talking about if he can’t do the impossible, now is he?

    So, basically, you appear to be asking for evidence that God couldn’t possibly give you.

    And you appear to be responding to a desire for good evidence with an explanation of why good evidence will never be provided. Is it any surprise your position fails to be convincing? If we can never have good evidence for the existence of God – why should we believe? Is it reasonable to believe, under those circumstances? I don’t see how it can be.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Kaltrosomos,

    We must have different views on the art of slicing. Say you have a child. Are you responsible for every act that child does over the course of its life? Or is there a certain point at which the responsibility shifts from you to the child? Just because your parents made you that doesn’t mean they dictate your every move or thought.

    So, are you arguing that we freely choose not to accept that god exists or that we are such that we won’t accept that god exists no matter what evidence he presents. You seem to be arguing the latter, not the former. If so, then that is god exerting control over us by making us the way we are. True, parents are not responsible for their children’s choices, but they are responsible to some degree for the height of the child, or the child’s hair color. The child’s height and hair color are more analogous to how the child is than what choices the child makes. If we are hardwired to not accept god, even given evidence, then how is that our fault? How is that not god controlling us? If I freely choose that I want god to present himself to me and give me the evidence that he knows would convince me, how is it respecting my freedom for god to withhold this evidence?

    What I’m saying is that, to some people, God is out there making himself known. The existence of the universe itself and what is in it leads them to believe, coupled with a desire for meaning.

    Yeah, I got that. And, I countered with the fact that those people already believe and are post-hoc rationalizing (begging the question). So, if I already believe in god, he presents evidence, and if I don’t, he doesn’t? Why would he hide from those that don’t already believe?

  • Brad

    There is no mandate requiring wizards to present their existence to muggles. If wizards exist, wizards are. Period.

    All human explanations are inevitably incomplete, thus an O3 God’s efforts to communicate with humans are pointless and unnecessary to its ends. Hence it is misguided to view God’s efforts as unsatisfactory.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Is it misguided if we will be cast into hell for not believing in a god that doesn’t make the effort because he doesn’t have to?

  • drdave

    TEP:

    If one day a being were to descend from the heavens, and announce in a booming voice heard by all: “I am Yahweh. I wrote the Bible”, and perform actions consistent with the character of Yahweh (such as firebombing cities containing people which irritate him), then that would be pretty strong evidence for the existence of that character. Of course, what would still be an open question would be the nature of that character; namely, is he the all powerful superbeing that he claims he is, or is he perhaps some other sort of less powerful being, who used his powers to intimidate the ancient Israelites into worshipping him, but lied about the extent of his abilities?

    This is how the osiris-dyonisus mythicists would characterize the actions of an evil spirit dwelling within the orbit of the Moon, and integral to various belief systems apparently ubiquitous across the Mediterranean from the 3rd or 4th century BCE to 325 CE when Constantine invoked the ecumenical council and Eusebius and others began the elimination of opposition to the literalist interpretation of the gospels.

  • nfpendleton

    Wayne Essel:
    “Not only that, if God sent Jesus back here again, we’d probably nail him to the cross all over again. Actually, we’d probably use lethal injection…”

    I don’t even know what this is supposed to mean, but it’s obviously something parroted from some other source. If your messiah was to re-manifest and do the same things he did in the old days, most Americans and Europeans would IGNORE THE STRANGE RELIGIOUS GUY. We’d be skeptical of any claims of divinity or magical, non-medical healing, and his message would be like an incomplete aping of a current atheistic moral code, without the supernatural theatrics and eternal threats of suffering and punishment.

    The only people that would punish and/or murder a guy like Jesus these days are:
    1.) Islamic theocratic states
    2.) The fundamentalist christians

    …And I’m pretty sure he’d be looked down upon by the Catholics as well.

    But as for the two groups named above–they’ve no problem with literally and figuratively destroying anyone who upsets their dogma and status quo…just like Carlton Pearson did.

  • MS Quixote

    I do hope someone will take a stab at answering this question, Ebonmuse.

    Hey Mike,

    The general answer under the heading of the perspicuity of scripture would be that the foundational message remains intact, whether one affirms or denies Biblical inerrancy. The questions you & EM pose are relevant, though, and often utilized in intramural Christian debates.

  • Virginia

    The Christianity need to have at least (a) Ignorance (b) Unquestioning attitude so that they can sell the “inerrant” thing. That’s why along with “believing” they have to make the followers suspicious of all other knowledge and ideas, so that NONE can be compared with the Bible.
    Of course the next thing is that the church, the pastors will do the Bible reading for you — you are just given those verses that they want you to see.

    That’s why when I really dig in I have so many questions, and when I open my eyes and mind to the real world, I have more questions, and when I studied Christian theology — the questions are so overwhelming that I started to doubt — and when I asked questions and met with dogmaticism, I became even more suspicious and doubtful about the Bible!

  • Kaltrosomos

    To those who keep bringing up a bunch of quotes from the Bible, I never said I was a Christian. This is more of a scripture-neutral or scripture-free argument than anything else. I find it very amusing that the atheists appear to be quoting more scripture here than anybody else. “Bible-thumping unbelievers”, perhaps?

    OMGF:
    “So, are you arguing that we freely choose not to accept that god exists”

    That’s what I was arguing.

    “I countered with the fact that those people already believe and are post-hoc rationalizing (begging the question)”

    Don’t atheists do the same thing? First they declare that God can’t exist, and then they go searching for reasons to back that up. It starts out with an emotional gut reaction either for or against the existence of God and then gets rationalized from there.

    “If I freely choose that I want god to present himself to me and give me the evidence that he knows would convince me, how is it respecting my freedom for god to withhold this evidence?”

    It could depend on your sincerity. If you’re just giving a sort of challenge to God, along the lines of “I dare you to show yourself!”, that isn’t very sincere. You’d be doing it more for you than for the truth in that case. But I don’t know how sincere or not sincere you really are about it. Being insincere about it usually means that you’ve already made up your mind and are just trying to make yourself feel even more convinced of the position you already hold. In that case, you don’t really want to know.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    That’s what I was arguing.

    Then, why the arguments about how it’s not in our nature to accept god? If it is not in our nature to accept god, then that is because god made our nature one of non-acceptance.

    Don’t atheists do the same thing?

    No.

    Not begging the question is not the same as begging the question. If the theist makes a positive claim that is fallacious, it is not fallacious for me to not accept her claim.

    First they declare that God can’t exist, and then they go searching for reasons to back that up. It starts out with an emotional gut reaction either for or against the existence of God and then gets rationalized from there.

    That’s demonstrably falsified by the existence of atheists that were believers and believed in god until they realized that there was no evidence for god. Some of them even wanted very much to believe in god and could not.

    It could depend on your sincerity.

    Why are you questioning my sincerity. If I sincerely choose to have god show himself to me, and he doesn’t, how is he respecting my freedom?

    But I don’t know how sincere or not sincere you really are about it.

    Again, the sincerity of it is irrelevant as I told you before. If the situation were to occur that some atheist (it doesn’t have to be me) really, sincerely, and truly wanted god to come and present himself if he so exists, how would god be respecting that person’s freedom by hiding himself from that person? All this talk of sincerity is really just dancing around the question. Please answer it.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Man, I just stopped by to use the search feature for a second and got completely sucked into this post and amazing thread. Sorry for the verbosity as usual. BTW Ebon, if such is rude or burdensome just say so and I’ll gladly choose my battles. It’s just that everybody’s making good noise here..

    Wayne,

    I would offer that the Ps would be more likely liberal either as theists or atheists and that the Js would be more conservative as either. The Ps seem to be more enamored of the question and the Js seem to be more enamored of the answer.

    I like this. However, when you say,

    ..there is much to guide my attitudes from Jesus,

    then,

    I think we’re all saved,

    my left ear raises. To me, Jesus clearly teaches that not all will make the cut. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to accept that part, and it doesn’t mean you don’t have a valid counterpoint, but in at least this sense I can see why Ebonmuse and Greta are taking you to task.

    Kaltrosomos,

    I’m saying maybe humans have the freedom to be convinced only when they desire to be convinced of something. If a person is unwilling to believe something, it doesn’t matter how good your argument to that person might be. That person won’t be convinced.

    There are dozens of these types of people both on DA and in pulpits across the nation. I have had at least three people on DA tell me such directly, and at least one person conceded such in this thread. You also brought up the following about death:

    I would say most people, practically speaking, reject the reality of death. They treat it as something distant, something that happens to some people but probably won’t happen to them. They only think about it seriously, most of them, for a little while, or if death comes into their lives suddenly through the death of a relative.

    Call me morbid, but I actually at times like to think of death, not in an ominous or oppressive way, just with respect for it as the reality it is. The more I think about it, the more I realize the urgency with which some things have to be handled in my life. As far as fear of death, sure, a gun to your head or getting stabbed at is scary on a primal level that we really can’t suppress, but for me there’s no reason to fear not living. I’ve been knocked out, in enough accidents, and had enough surgeries that, to me, it’s going to be just like when they juice you up to go under, or getting knocked out. One minute you’re there, the next minute you’re not.

    Say you have a child. Are you responsible for every act that child does over the course of its life? Or is there a certain point at which the responsibility shifts from you to the child? Just because your parents made you that doesn’t mean they dictate your every move or thought. Perhaps there is a similar relationship between men and God.

    I find that reasonable.

    Ipetrich,

    Free will? What’s so great about it if it leads to sin?

    Your conclusion contradicts your premise.

    OMGF,

    if god wanted us to believe in him, why would he create beings that patently don’t want to, or get it wrong, or are completely skeptical of him, etc?

    I don’t think God created beings that don’t want to believe; I think God created beings that decide to believe or not.

    god isn’t out there making himself known to us in a way that you can arrive at without first believing the message he is supposedly conveying.

    That’s a loaded statement though, because such is your subjective experience of the world. Such does not hold true for everyone. Kaltrosomos caught on and replied,

    What I’m saying is that, to some people, God is out there making himself known. The existence of the universe itself and what is in it leads them to believe, coupled with a desire for meaning. It’s enough for some people, anyway.

    You also said,

    If we are hardwired to not accept god, even given evidence, then how is that our fault?

    Why presuppose anybody is hardwired to deny God?

    I countered with the fact that those people already believe and are post-hoc rationalizing (begging the question).

    Every one of them? Every believer engages in post-hoc reasoning? On what evidence can you base this claim?

    Brad,

    I’ve always thought that the state and history of the world at very least prove God must be something like a moral collectivist, treating humanity as a single entity. Hence, free will, taking a back seat as humanity matures, hence, suffering, confusion, marginal hiddenness, flimsy tries at communication, et cetera.

    I find that reasonable.

    Ebonmuse,

    When you ask believers stuff like,

    If he does, why permit that message to be corrupted by human error?

    Loaded statements presume agreement over terms that not necessarily everyone accepts. For example, if you ask me that, you presume I think the Bible is flawed or corrupted in the same manner you do, or even at all, when I’d be willing to bet such is not the case. Presuming Genesis to be metaphorical, where do you allege the Bible is in scientific error? What do you feel are the Bible’s most significant historical errors (don’t bother mentioning the census because I don’t have a valid counterargument for that). Lastly, what do you feel are the Bible’s most significant internal inconsistencies??

    Doesn’t God want to convey his message to humanity accurately, without distortion?

    I’m assuming you mean, Why wouldn’t God communicate to humanity in a way that was direct and unmistakable (ie, overpower the intellect). If so, a better question is, Under what circumstances might God not want to communicate to humanity in a way that was direct and unmistakable?

    Those corruptions have led to incalculable human suffering and rivers of bloodshed over the millennia, as people wage war and persecute each other over differing understandings of God.

    The people who are killing each other over religion do not understand God at all.

    Valhar2000,

    If I had actual evidence of the existense of some god, I would beleive it.

    What constitutes admissible evidence IYO?

    mikespeir,

    If he does, why permit that message to be corrupted by human error?

    Define ‘corrupted’ and show me which verses you feel are corrupted, and I’ll take a stab at the question.

    Why can’t we assume that whatever impulse drove God (assuming he exists) to issue a perfect work would also impel him to keep it that way?

    Well, we can, but that’s the genetic fallacy.

    Chet,

    The thing I can’t understand is why you would choose to believe in a God that is indistinguishable from not existing at all.

    Loaded statement. Believers (and presumably Wayne) do not believe that God is indistinguishable from not existing at all. Such is your subjective conclusion that you’ve projected onto Wayne.

    Paul S,

    Self-inflicted or not, God (through the Bible) is attempting to bully us into believing in Him with a punishment of an eternity in hell if we don’t. Bullying is the act of intimidating and domineering someone who is weaker.

    It’s true punishment must be inflicted by somebody, but your presumption is that God inflicts this punishment. What if things are such that those who deny God simply cannot access God’s eternal presence? In such a case, one ends up separated from God not because of any positive action on God’s behalf, but a negative one on their own. If I don’t have tickets for Van Halen, it’s not Van Halen that sends me home empty-handed.

    Leum,

    those who do not follow Jesus do so out of ignorance.

    Sometimes. Many do so out of direct defiance and even hatred. Also, does it say in the Bible anywhere that those ignorant of Jesus go to hell?

    Each of these passages makes it clear that it is Jesus (or God or the Holy Spirit, the whole trinity deal confuses me) that does the damning.

    I disagree. Only Luke 3:17 appears to directly support your claim. IMO, hell is self-inflicted if it results from choice.

  • nfpendleton

    cl,

    Just so much religious parcing and gobbledygook. Most of what you and theology wonks like you spout is utter nonsense created to keep priests, pastors and imams in a job.

    You should really see what it looks looks like from out here. This religious yapping is like a cold you can’t shake…

  • Chet

    As dishonestly as you’ve behaved in the other thread, cl, I’m surprised you still have the nerve to keep posting here.

    At any rate – I don’t talk to quote-miners.

  • Wayne Essel

    Chet said: “The thing I can’t understand is why you would choose to believe in a God that is indistinguishable from not existing at all. Why worship a God who makes you do all the work?”

    To me, God is not indistiguishable. I believe that I can see the evidence for God out of my peripheral vision. I believe that God is illustrated best by paradox. The more I look directly at or for God, the harder it is to see God. At times, finding God seems to be a byproduct of seeking truth, of seeking right livelihood, living timelessly in the moment. Similarly, happiness is the byproduct of the same actions. I dont think that happiness can be found by seeking it directly. And I’m not very good at living this way. But I see enough to keep me trying.

    God does not make me do all the work, but I must take the initiative.

    Around here the “God of the gaps” theodicy is held in disdain. I argue that gaps are precisely where God is to be found, so that is where I look.

    Chet, you speak of worship as though it is painful. Worship is for me, to remind me that I need to stay in contact (or get back in contact) with God, because my life is better when I do. Worship comes from a state of gratitude. And there are times when I can’t do it. So I don’t, until I miss it too much. Then I’m there again.

    Wayne

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Take it easy, Chet. If you don’t want to talk to him, then don’t talk to him.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    nfpendleton,

    Did you have any logical objections?

    Chet,

    That’s two times in a row now that you’ve come onto me in a thread, presumably not addressing anything of that thread, but past gripes. If I’ve quote-mined you in any thread, of course I’ll apologize. Nobody’s beyond mistakes. But I can’t just take your word for it. Prove it. If it relates to this thread, do it here. If it relates to the other thread, I’ll meet you there.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Wayne:

    I am not saying that God put the message there. I am saying that Moses, or Daniel or David or Paul or John wrote down what they believe God has revealed to them within their relationship to God. And they are human.

    Well, that just raises further questions, doesn’t it? Are you saying that God had no direct hand in the composition of the Bible?

  • Leum

    Not being a Biblical scholar, I can’t be sure if there is an explicit statement that those who haven’t heard of Jesus go to Hell, but that wasn’t quite what I meant. I’ve heard of Jesus, but (assuming Christianity is true) I am ignorant of the fact that salvation exists and is necessary (in much the same way that I am ignorant of the fact that our government placed bombs in the world trade center—ignorance was probably the wrong word, I blame my painkillers).

    Hell is self-inflicted if it results from choice? But would anyone who realized they were choosing Hell do so? I think not.

    “Free will? What’s so great about it if it leads to sin?”

    Your conclusion contradicts your premise.

    If I may respond, in the absence of free will, sin is impossible, since sin is (in my limited understanding of theology) the choice to go against God’s will. Therefore, free will must lead to sin, because if it didn’t, it would not be free. That’s why you hear the ridiculous argument that God wants us to use our free will to freely surrender having free will.

  • Wayne Essel

    cl, you questioned my statement that “I think we’re all saved”. My response…

    Phillip Gulley and James Mulholland make this point in their book “If Grace is True” more eloquently than I can.

    One parable that comes to mind is the workers in the field, Matt.20: 1-16, where the listeners are grousing about the latecomers getting the same pay as the early workers. How late can you be? What if you die, and there is a life after death, and you realize that you were wrong in denying same, but did so from a place of integrity, and come to accept right then?

    What if God designed us so that at some point, we all will drop any pretense of not believing, even if that point follows physical death?

    The point for me is that I live my life as I feel I should, trying to find the “right path”. I have no displeasure at others finding salvation at the last possible moment and hope it is so. Jesus left us with at least one parable that hints at this.

    Wayne

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Hah! I just noticed this earlier comment from Leum:

    The damned are cast into Hell, they do not vaguely saunter downwards (kudos to those who get the reference).

    Well, I got it. If memory serves, it’s a fallen angel who’s fond of Queen. ;)

    Incidentally, I hope you have a swift and easy recovery from whatever you need those painkillers for…

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Leum,

    no worries friend I’m on percoset post surgery meself :)

    I am ignorant of the fact that salvation exists

    In a rational, logical, empirical sense, certainly. However, we are not ignorant of salvation’s potentiality.

    But would anyone who realized they were choosing Hell do so? I think not.

    I think many people do, and I doubt all of them do so for shock value or party fodder. I don’t think your average person will choose hell in a proactive manner. I think we end up there by default if we choose anything other than God. When making a judgment, if we’re not right, aren’t we wrong? Either way, we all must concede that when choice is involved, direct consequences tend to be self-inflicted, right? Say I knowingly choose a lifestyle of greed and exploitation, such so that I’m cold and unloving towards others. If I continue in this way until death, by default, I’ve never learned to love, to give, to benefit, but only to take and hoard. Such causes true disorder in the world for all of us. And say at times I’ve even had genuine moments of clarity, where something deep down within me told me I was living wrong, but I denied it.** Now I’ve not chosen hell per se, but if hell is a place for the utterly selfish who do not learn to love, to give, or to benefit, and who cause grave disorder in the world and untold suffering for personal or group gain, it would be reasonably fitting for me to go there.

    **note that such an intuitive feeling would be something for which no evidence could exist; even our own feelings are subjective

    Therefore, free will must lead to sin, because if it didn’t, it would not be free.

    I disagree. If will leads to anything, it is not free.

    Wayne,

    What if you die, and there is a life after death, and you realize that you were wrong in denying same, but did so from a place of integrity, and come to accept right then?

    I find that reasonable. I don’t think it supports the statement that all will be saved, though.

    The point for me is that I live my life as I feel I should, trying to find the “right path”.

    In a polite spirit of rational rigueur, so do psychopaths.

    I have no displeasure at others finding salvation at the last possible moment and hope it is so. Jesus left us with at least one parable that hints at this.

    I’ve no displeasure with the idea either, for God can do what God wants with God’s money. I’m just saying I don’t think Jesus left us with any parables to suggest all will be saved.

  • Paul S

    Hmmm…where to begin?

    cl said:

    I don’t think God created beings that don’t want to believe; I think God created beings that decide to believe or not.

    But an all-knowing God created us, so He would know, by default, that some of His created beings would decide not to believe. Yet He makes it clear that those who don’t believe in Him will spend an eternity in hell. That’s akin to me making a chocolate cake then throwing the whole thing out because it’s not a strawberry cake.

    Loaded statements presume agreement over terms that not necessarily everyone accepts. For example, if you ask me that, you presume I think the Bible is flawed or corrupted in the same manner you do, or even at all, when I’d be willing to bet such is not the case.

    Whether or not there are historical or scientific errors contained within the Bible (although there are many) isn’t the point. The point is that throughout history, individuals and sects studying and reading the Bible have many different (often times horrific) interpretations of what the Bible is trying to tell them. And since these individuals and sects believe the Bible is inerrant, it seems that God would make some attempt to clarify His message.

    The people who are killing each other over religion do not understand God at all.

    But that’s the point! They think they DO understand God!

    It’s true punishment must be inflicted by somebody, but your presumption is that God inflicts this punishment.

    Well, God created hell. And God sends those who don’t believe in Him to hell. Whether or not God is an active participant in inflicting the punishment is an extremely weak argument.

    Sometimes. Many do so out of direct defiance and even hatred.

    And many do so because there is no evidence, either subjective or objective, that Jesus (aka God), exists at all.

  • Wayne Essel

    Ebonmuse asked “Well, that just raises further questions, doesn’t it? Are you saying that God had no direct hand in the composition of the Bible?”

    In a word, yes.

    I can’t think of any instance where God has put pen to paper. Always, a man writes what he believes God has communicated to him.

    Regards,

    Wayne

  • Leum

    Painkillers aren’t for anything serious, just some pulled teeth (make me woozy though).

    cl, I have a better idea of your position now. Since I don’t know your flavor of Christianity, I’ve been making a more general argument in which unbelief is itself the/a sin that leads to Hell* (doesn’t seem to be your view, correct me if I’m wrong).

    *A relatively common view, with some scriptural support in the Bible. Islam’s got the problem way worse, though. The Qur’an says repeatedly that unbelief is the only sin Allah really cares about.

  • lpetrich

    Kaltrosomos:

    To those who keep bringing up a bunch of quotes from the Bible, I never said I was a Christian. This is more of a scripture-neutral or scripture-free argument than anything else. I find it very amusing that the atheists appear to be quoting more scripture here than anybody else. “Bible-thumping unbelievers”, perhaps?

    Who do you think makes such theological arguments in the first place? The last time I saw, there isn’t a big Church of Deism anywhere.

    “If I freely choose that I want god to present himself to me and give me the evidence that he knows would convince me, how is it respecting my freedom for god to withhold this evidence?”

    It could depend on your sincerity. If you’re just giving a sort of challenge to God, along the lines of “I dare you to show yourself!”, that isn’t very sincere. You’d be doing it more for you than for the truth in that case. But I don’t know how sincere or not sincere you really are about it. Being insincere about it usually means that you’ve already made up your mind and are just trying to make yourself feel even more convinced of the position you already hold. In that case, you don’t really want to know.

    Why is sincerity supposed to make any difference? As Bertrand Russell once noted about a similar issue, that seems like uneasy vanity more than anything else.

    And it reminds me of the “shyness effect” that psi effects supposedly have — that they disappear when skeptics are around. And the shyness effect of miracles that David Hume had noted 250 years ago and that is still true today.

  • Wayne Essel

    mikespeir said “Do you believe God revealed those things to them? Did those men accurately convey what God had revealed? How do you know? Does the “truth” of their writings resonate within you in a different way than the Koran does within Muslims or the Book of Mormon does within Mormons? How do you know there’s a difference?”

    I cannot be sure that God revealed anything. Neither can I be sure that the authors accurately conveyed any revelation.

    I suspect that what “truth” I believe I see in the writings, I do so similarly to those persons of other faiths who are perceptive personality types and differently from those who are judgemental personality types.

    I also can find what I think is truth in the scriptures of other religions.

    cl pointed out that even psychopaths try to live the life they feel they should. There is truth in that.

    However, it has been argued elsewhere on this site that humans are capable of constructing a moral code based upon ethics, logic and integrity. I agree. We all do it. The ability seems inherent. I use my own compass to grade what I read, even scriptures.

    mikespeir also said “So, what do you need the Bible for? I mean, you quoted a couple of excerpts of it. Do you consider those authoritative? Why?”

    I consider them to contain wisdom, grading based upon the compass I discussed above. They say more eloquently and completely than I what I already believe.

    It is hard for me to sort out where or when I first began to believe a thought. But I can easily tell when something resonates. There is a body commotion of “knowing”. I acknowledge that this is fallible. But it is the opposite of cogitive dissonance, which will cause me to question a belief and do research.

    Regards.

    Wayne

  • Wayne Essel

    nfpendleton said “I don’t even know what this is supposed to mean, but it’s obviously something parroted from some other source. If your messiah was to re-manifest and do the same things he did in the old days, most Americans and Europeans would IGNORE THE STRANGE RELIGIOUS GUY. We’d be skeptical of any claims of divinity or magical, non-medical healing, and his message would be like an incomplete aping of a current atheistic moral code, without the supernatural theatrics and eternal threats of suffering and punishment.”

    It wasn’t parroted. It was an attempt to convey that if Jesus were to reappear today, I think he would be as unaccepted as he was 2000 years ago. And some of those people who were outraged, if not the government, would conceivably try to kill him. Take any group today that is despised by conservative religious groups for any reason and Christ would have befriended some or all of them. As a whole, we would not recognize or accept him, and some would wish or enact violence against him.

    While it wasn’t a parroted sentence, I don’t think it is an uncommon thought.

    Jesus’ moral code was really simple. I don’t see the eternal threats of which you speak. He, himself, simplified it to “Love God, love your neighbor”. I think the “threats” are better translated as consequences.

    Regards,

    Wayne

    Regards,

    Wayne

  • Kaltrosomos

    OMGF:

    “Then, why the arguments about how it’s not in our nature to accept god? If it is not in our nature to accept god, then that is because god made our nature one of non-acceptance.”

    I don’t think I was arguing that it is part of our nature to *automatically* reject God. Rather, I was arguing that humans are capable of being so stubborn that even if God knocked down their door and explained everything they possibly wanted to know they still might refuse to believe. It is the possibility of refusal that is in our nature, rather than the inevitability of it.

    “Not begging the question is not the same as begging the question. If the theist makes a positive claim that is fallacious, it is not fallacious for me to not accept her claim.”

    If you simply weren’t convinced by a theistic claim, wouldn’t you be an agnostic rather than an atheist? Saying “I don’t think the case for God has been made” is the agnostic response. Saying God definitely doesn’t exist is an entirely new claim.

    “That’s demonstrably falsified by the existence of atheists that were believers and believed in god until they realized that there was no evidence for god. Some of them even wanted very much to believe in god and could not.”

    At least in my experience, atheism came as a result of a horror at Yahweh in the Old Testament, among other things. Before that I had read many atheist tracts and arguments and remained unconvinced. I wasn’t phased by rational argument so much as moral shock. The arguments were only useful in upholding and legitimizing that shock.

    “All this talk of sincerity is really just dancing around the question. Please answer it.”

    I don’t think it is dancing around the question. I’m just going by my own experience. During my atheist periods, I would periodically demand that God reveal himself if he were really out there. But this was not much more serious than if I knelt down next to my bed and whispered, “Hey, Boogeyman, I wanna talk with you. S’okay. Really. Just wanna talk, ya know?”

    Of course, if the Boogeyman had then crawled out and shared some boogeyman beer with me while we chatted, I would probably treat the whole thing as a dream. I wasn’t really expecting the Boogeyman to come out. I don’t even believe in the existence of the Boogeyman. I was just joking around with myself, providing myself some amusement.

    On the other hand, if a request of God for information was sincere I think it ought to be answered. I wouldn’t think, in that case, that God should keep from making an appearance or other sign in that case. Does that answer your question?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Paul S,

    Hmmm…where to begin?

    You had the easy part. For me it’s where to finish. ;)

    But an all-knowing God created us, so He would know, by default, that some of His created beings would decide not to believe.

    Certainly. I don’t think God created beings that “don’t want to believe” in the sense of the argument which has also been made in this thread, that we are hardwired to deny God. Make sense?

    Yet He makes it clear that those who don’t believe in Him will spend an eternity in hell. That’s akin to me making a chocolate cake then throwing the whole thing out because it’s not a strawberry cake.

    It’s more akin to you desiring a strawberry cake, yet creating this peculiarly strange batter that possesses something called consciousness, which, when baked, can become either chocolate or strawberry. Further, you know which will become which, and only strawberry cakes are allowed in your kitchen because chocolate is completely antithetical to your nature. Even further, because of the nature of the batter, if you do not bake something, you will certainly get no cake. Although the analogy is not airtight, it is certainly more accurate and much different than yours, IMO.

    Whether or not there are historical or scientific errors contained within the Bible (although there are many) isn’t the point.

    Well then that’s my bad. I thought the OP was titled On Inerrancy.

    The point is that throughout history, individuals and sects studying and reading the Bible have many different (often times horrific) interpretations of what the Bible is trying to tell them.

    This is so out-of-scope I can’t really respond. Only people who read the Bible attempt to understand God? What about what the Koran tells people? Gita?

    And since these individuals and sects believe the Bible is inerrant, it seems that God would make some attempt to clarify His message.

    I can’t speak for ‘these individuals and sects’. Not all sects and individuals believe the Bible is inerrant. Wayne has already stated such, for example. Tangentially, what’s so unclear about the Golden Rule?

    But that’s the point! They think they DO understand God!

    But if they’re killing each other, they don’t. Ebon seems to argue that God is at fault for all these people that kill each other and ram planes into buildings because of ‘corrupt text’ or ‘unclear message’ but again, what’s so unclear about the Golden Rule? Or Thou Shalt Not Kill? When God says these things, God is not being unclear, rather, the zealots are unclear in their understanding of God, and such is not God’s fault. Jesus didn’t teach people to squabble over doctrinal differences. No offense, it’s just a bunk argument IMO.

    Whether or not God is an active participant in inflicting the punishment is an extremely weak argument.

    That wasn’t my argument, and if not a strawman, you’re at least in the cornfield.

    And many do so because there is no evidence, either subjective or objective, that Jesus (aka God), exists at all.

    Well, you don’t define ‘evidence’ so I can’t go off much but I don’t need your definition of evidence to say this is incorrect. It is perfectly reasonable that evidence exists or could exist, hence many do so because they do not perceive any evidence. To say you disbelieve because ‘there is no evidence’ means one of three things: 1) You have an empirical inventory of all evidence, which I doubt; 2) Such is your opinion and you misspoke; or 3) You justify this statement with recourse to the fact that you are a rationalist, and that for the rationalist, that for which there is no evidence does not or is likely not to exist. If you take that route, that’s fine; just remember that asteroids existed before evidence of asteroids existed.

    Leum,

    cl, I have a better idea of your position now. Since I don’t know your flavor of Christianity, I’ve been making a more general argument in which unbelief is itself the/a sin that leads to Hell* (doesn’t seem to be your view, correct me if I’m wrong).

    I don’t subscribe to Christianity. I read scripture and make decisions. However, I do believe that unbelief is the sin that leads to hell. The hypothetical me in my example did not believe in God. I didn’t have to walk around saying I disbelieved, nor did I have to necessarily make any logical decision really, because what one believes manifests through one’s actions.

  • Brad

    Loaded [questions] presume agreement over terms that not necessarily everyone accepts. [-cl]

    EM addresses the relevant people. (“Moderate believers, by contrast …”)

    Lastly, what do you feel are the Bible’s most significant internal inconsistencies??

    I’m guessing you don’t want to overextend and take on all of Foundations of Sand, but just give a brief preview of what you have to offer as response. For this task, I propose either taking on what you feel are the most unsettling contradictions in the Bible, or taking on something from my selection from EM’s list: Genesis accounts, Graven images, Iniquity parents/children, Burnt offerings & animal sacrifice, Sorrow vs mirth, Sword vs sling (David & Goliath), Jesus witnessing self, Obey God vs Man, Israel’s salvation, Disciple’s foreknowledge of Jesus’ resurrection, Divorce, Signs to Jesus’ generation, Day of crucifixion, 1st place post-resurrection, God tempting, Perfect people, Persecution of godly, Other ascension and resurrection, God: jealous, love, or author of confusion.

    Each of these passages makes it clear that it is Jesus (or God or the Holy Spirit, the whole trinity deal confuses me) that does the damning. [-Leum]

    I disagree. Only Luke 3:17 appears to directly support your claim. IMO, hell is self-inflicted if it results from choice.

    1) I am at a total loss for this response. Do not the notions of “cut down,” “thrown,” and “cast” imply a specific direction of verb?

    2) Infliction is distinct from factor of cause. If my choices result in God reacting by inflicting torment, then God is still doing the inflicting.

    I argue that gaps are precisely where God is to be found, so that is where I look. [-Essel]

    The follow-up qestion is, are the gaps opened up by belief in God bigger than those plugged up? Is God the best explanation? Is belief ultimately more question-begging?

  • Kaltrosomos

    “Why is sincerity supposed to make any difference?”

    Because it affects the receptiveness of the person asking towards any presented evidence. Jury members during the trial of a murder suspect who are convinced beforehand that he is a heartless murderer who deserves to go to prison will not give him the benefit of the doubt. They will see everything he says as a ploy, and everything his lawyer says as meaningless double talk.

    In God’s case, if he knows beforehand that somebody will just reject evidence of a miracle as mass hysteria, hallucination, or other natural events, it doesn’t matter what evidence he gives that person. If God were to lay out a rational argument that made sense to the doubter, the doubter would probably then doubt his own mind rather than accept the argument. Or he would reject the usefulness of rational argument.

    “You can prove anything with logic!” He might say. “Damn logic! This is a trick. I don’t know how it’s a trick, but I know it is.”

    People like this have already made up their mind. All God does, perhaps, is take them at their word and let them wade around in their unbelief. That isn’t vanity so much as realism. You don’t keep pestering someone when they’ve already said, “Nothing you can say or do will convince me.”

  • Wayne Essel

    Ebonmuse,

    Here goes for some of the other questions I had not yet addressed:

    I do believe that God would like to get the message out and accurately. I believe that we are the problem with that. I also said that my observation is that God does not override our efforts.

    I believe that God gives individuals revelation through all kinds of means. Where the revelation is accepted and perhaps accurately shared, we all benefit. Even so, it may not be accepted by many.

    We live in an imperfect world. We are evolving. Perhaps we are evolving as fast as we can, given all the competing needs and desires. Scenes from “Bruce Almighty” are coming to mind, here.

    Perhaps God is taking a bigger view of the evolution than we can. If we are more than our physical bodies and we survive death, this is not our home and even suffering and death may not have the same meaning in the bigger picture that they have here on earth.

    Ram Dass once said (paraphrased) that without hungering persons, how can we learn compassion? There is a way that the hungering is perfect. And so is our desire to end it.

    Others have said here essentially that any human is permitted to misunderstand even the most perfectly worded wisdom or edict.

    To say that God should not permit misunderstanding is to say that God should act the way we humans think God should act.

    Found an interesting web site while checking spelling, etc. Be interested to see what you think…

    http://www.religioustolerance.org

    Regards,

    Wayne

  • Wayne Essel

    This must be fun, or I wouldn’t stay up so late doing it, right?

    Brad asked “The follow-up qestion is, are the gaps opened up by belief in God bigger than those plugged up? Is God the best explanation? Is belief ultimately more question-begging?”

    Brad, I usually don’t see God as the explanation. I see God as the source, and a being with whom I have relationship. If I want to know “how does it work” I turn to science. If I want to know “what should I do?” or “how should I be?” I should turn to God. I say “should” because to the extent that I actually believe this, I do it. Sometimes I say I believe yet I turn to science to answer the do/be question or answer it on my own. What that tells me is that I’m just paying lip service…

    I think that if a gap opens or becomes bigger, it’s OK because it will be with regard to a philosphical question and I’ll explore more. Begging more questions in this case is good. Unless your personality type is judgemental in which case it might drive you nuts.

    Wayne

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Brad,

    Moderate believers, by contrast …

    Surely you’re not arguing all moderate believers commit identical biblical exegesis?

    As far as Foundations of Sand, I had a feeling someone would point me to a post. I can’t possibly read and respond to any of that right now, but I’ll take a peek at it and address some of your examples as well. If I forget hit me up on my blog.

    Do not the notions of “cut down,” “thrown,” and “cast” imply a specific direction of verb?

    Yes, and in the exact context in which these verses were quoted, the only one that directly connects Jesus or God to those verbs is Luke 3:17. Also, read it in full context; I’m not convinced John the Baptist wasn’t constructing a metaphor.

    If my choices result in God reacting by inflicting torment, then God is still doing the inflicting.

    So who’s doing the inflicting if your choices result in torment being inflicted and you were forewarned? In the context we’re speaking in, I’ve not agreed that God inflicts torment. If torment is the nature or result of rebellion against God, the choice to rebel against God is what brings torment, especially in the presence of warning. In this context, would you say that the penal system torments criminals?

  • Leum

    No, the penal system is not torment because it exists for the betterment of society. In my state, we have seven factors to determine the severity of a sentence:

    1. Sentence should protect society

    2. Rehabilitate the offender

    3. Sentence may confine the offender if necessary for the public good

    4. Sentence should deter others

    5. Sentence should show community condemnation for the act and reaffirm societal norms

    6. Sentence should reflect the seriousness of the offense

    7. The victim and community should be restored damages (if possible)

    Using these factors we can make our sentences work for the common good, for the benefit of the victim, and ultimately for the benefit of the perpetrator. Because of this, our penal system does not (ideally) torment criminals. Hell, on the other hand, is a torment in part because it does not benefit anyone.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Leum,

    No, the penal system is not torment because it exists for the betterment of society.

    I agree.

    Hell, on the other hand, is a torment in part because it does not benefit anyone.

    I’ll disagree. Wouldn’t your home state benefit were all of its criminals to be apprehended and sentenced?

  • TEP

    So immolating people for eternity because they didn’t spend their lives flattering you is equivalent to putting murderers in prison in order to prevent them from committing further murders?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    TEP,

    I don’t know if you mean to address me, but that’s not at all what I’ve said.

  • Cerus

    cl,

    I think it captures the gist of it fairly well.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Cerus,

    Well, you offer zero evidence and only opinion, so how might I rebut?? What is “spend their lives flattering you?” Were those my words, or someone else’s caricature of them? If the latter, you know what kind of argument that is, right?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Sorry to post again, but if Paul S comes back he should know I owe him an apology. He said,

    Whether or not God is an active participant in inflicting the punishment is an extremely weak argument.

    I replied,

    That wasn’t my argument, and if not a strawman, you’re at least in the cornfield.

    That is my argument. You’re nowhere near the cornfield and in that sense it is I that was off. However, either way, if I don’t have tickets for Van Halen, it’s not Van Halen that sends me home empty-handed, right? If the punishment is not inflicted, or if God is not the one who inflicts the punishment, how is God the bully or the torturer? That’s what I’m getting at.

  • mikespeir

    Wayne,

    It is hard for me to sort out where or when I first began to believe a thought. But I can easily tell when something resonates. There is a body commotion of “knowing”. I acknowledge that this is fallible. But it is the opposite of cogitive dissonance, which will cause me to question a belief and do research.

    So I gather that you don’t think there’s any compelling reason for me to share your beliefs.

  • mikespeir

    Define ‘corrupted’ and show me which verses you feel are corrupted, and I’ll take a stab at the question.

    No, cl, I won’t play that game. Do you believe that each portion of the Bible we have today is unchanged from the way it was originally?

    Well, we can, but that’s the genetic fallacy.

    Tell me, what would lead me to any conclusion other than that I am right to assume that in issuing a perfect Bible God wanted us to have a perfect Bible? Why would I be wrong in taking the inference?

  • Cerus

    I wasn’t arguing cl, that was just an opinion, here’s how I broke down the last few comments since you seem to need it.

    He argued hell had no benefit, sending unbelievers there serves no good moral purpose.

    In response, you asked whether or not your state benefits from capturing and sentencing criminals.

    Earlier, you stated that you believe unbelief to be a sin worthy of hell.

    The “spend their lives flattering you” line is rather obviously his view of belief in general, for him to observe you making a connection between the necessity of restricting the freedom of convicted murderers and your belief that people who don’t follow the same belief system as you deserve an infinitely worse punishment is not unreasonable. You seem a tad aggressive, by the way.

  • Brad

    Surely you’re not arguing all moderate believers commit identical biblical exegesis?

    As far as Foundations of Sand, I had a feeling someone would point me to a post. [-cl]

    Um, did you read the original post, cl? I’m not going to respond to that.

    I’m not convinced John the Baptist wasn’t constructing a metaphor.

    It seems to me a poorly constructed metaphor…

    So who’s doing the inflicting if your choices result in torment being inflicted and you were forewarned? In the context we’re speaking in, I’ve not agreed that God inflicts torment.

    If “spanking is done” when I disobey my parents, who is inflicting the spanking, me or my parents? Second, I was merely challenging your If/Then statement that if we choose to rebel against God our torment must be self-inflicted, by showing it an invalid implication. I was not assuming you believed God inflicts torment.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Kal and cl,
    If we “choose” not to believe in god and it is not a part of our make-up as humans, then there is no reason why god can’t convince us with evidence. Virtually no one disputes certain truths about the world because the evidence is so overwhelming. When was the last time that someone disputed the existence of the sun for instance? Further, an omni-max god knows what evidence each person would need in order to believe, regardless of how hard-headed we might be. If god wishes for us to believe in him, then there is no obstacle to us believing (or at least the vast majority of us). The best explanation we can come to is that god really doesn’t wish for all of us to believe in him. This is demonstrable by the fact that some people have “sincerely” wanted to believe and have not found god (mother Theresa anyone?) We can conclude from this that god is hiding evidence or himself from us.

    cl,

    But if they’re killing each other, they don’t. Ebon seems to argue that God is at fault for all these people that kill each other and ram planes into buildings because of ‘corrupt text’ or ‘unclear message’ but again, what’s so unclear about the Golden Rule? Or Thou Shalt Not Kill? When God says these things, God is not being unclear, rather, the zealots are unclear in their understanding of God, and such is not God’s fault. Jesus didn’t teach people to squabble over doctrinal differences. No offense, it’s just a bunk argument IMO.

    First of all, you’re making a no true Scotsman argument here. Second, it’s certainly not clear that one should not kill considering that god has killed people and has ordered others to kill. Taking the Bible at its word leads to ambiguity since there are contradictory messages. Should I kill or not? If I believe that I’m doing god’s will, it seems to be OK.

    Finally, if you don’t have tickets to Van Hallen’s show because they were handing out the tickets and refused to give you one then they would bear at least some responsibility for you not going. Of course, the analogy falls apart, because we also have to consider god’s foreknowledge – which I believe someone else already touched on. god already knew before he created hell that he would be sending people there for eternal torment (or at least that people would go there if we grant him the most leeway). Knowing ahead of time that people would go to hell if you created it and them, would you still do it? Would you think that it is more valuable to have free will for a lifetime followed by an eternity in hell than to not have free will and simply live in bliss for eternity?

  • ex machina

    Ex machina, maybe you’re asking something impossible. We are fragments of the whole. Perhaps the only way to clearly understand the whole is to BE the whole– in other words, to be God. Humans simply aren’t able to contain and understand everything.

    That’s true, but why can’t I understand God? Humans are able to understand many things, and if God failed to include himself in that list, then it would be his failure and not mine. It’s not I who want to believe in God, but God who wants be to believe in him. The burden of proof is on him and he has more than enough resources to make that possible. If, for some reason he is completely inunderstandable (is that a word?) then he’ll give me a break for my lack of belief.

    Asking for an inclusive, complete explanation of everything that makes sense to a part of the whole is logically impossible. The part cannot grasp more than the whole.

    That’s irrelevant. Humans only grasp part of the whole of science, but the part they do understand is testable and consistent.

    And it seems as though you’d always be unsatisfied with an explanation by God because it would be partial. But any explanation would always be partial, since you are partial and can only contain, much less understand, a certain amount of information.

    Then, should I believe, I’ve got a huge problem: How will I know I’m doing it right? How to you know you are doing it right? How do we know the bible even says what it says. Saying that humans are only partial, and therefore can’t understand the whole, sounds like a great argument, but you’ve completely alienated yourself as a worshipper. You no longer have any idea what or who you worship, how to worship, or even if you’ve worshipped as you intended. You are only part of the whole, and don’t have access to the whole truth. Therefore, we are forever in the dark concerning God.

    No matter how hungry a man is, he can’t eat everything in the whole world. He can’t even eat half the contents of the local grocery store without bursting at the seams. Information is the same way. Humans can only absorb so much. There’s always going to be something we don’t understand, something lacking in our information.

    It’s not that there’s not much for, but so much against spiritual belief. You’d think that believers would be always good; they’re not. You’d think that God would help the needy; he doesn’t. You’d think that prophets should be able to foresee the future; they can’t. It’s not that it doesn’t work in theory, it never works. What kind of a God would really punish disbelief under these circumstances? Or better yet, why make certain things so solid and self-evident (physics, etc.) when the ultimate truth is so inconsistent?

  • Wayne Essel

    mikespeir said “So I gather that you don’t think there’s any compelling reason for me to share your beliefs.”

    My beliefs or arguments will either resonate with you or not. To the degree they do, they become compelling, otherwise not so much.

    Regards,

    Wayne

  • Ishryal

    cl wrote:

    If the punishment is not inflicted, or if God is not the one who inflicts the punishment, how is God the bully or the torturer? That’s what I’m getting at.

    Your analogies are falling way short. Not going to Van Halen is NOT the same as not going to heaven. You have other options available to you for entertainment if you don’t have tickets to the show. You’re belittling the entire notion of Hell and what it stands for. You’re ignoring the finality of it. If you want a more accurate analogy to this issue, it would be this: you are put on a wire that is stretched tight across a deep revine, the wire is as long as a life time, you cannot go back, you cannot stand still, can only move forward, and stepping off the wire will lead to death. By your own arguments, you have two choices… keep walking and staying on the wire, despite the wind, the rocking, the odd bird, and so forth, OR you can choose to NOT to walk the wire. Naturally this will lead to your death because there is NO OTHER end result you can choose, but hey it’s your choice.

    That’s total B.S. As it has been mentioned many times before, that is not a choice; it’s an ultimatum. That is bullying. And YES god is responsible, and YES god is the one who inflicts the punishment. Why? Because he created the conditions, he created the choice, he created the end results, AND he created the WHOLE situation where there was NO alternative. I have yet to see any argument that can explain why Hell MUST be the only alternative outcome… not to an all-knowing, all-powerful being. Laying a trap in the woods does not mean you physically killed the rabbit that got caught by it, but it certainly means you’re responsible for it’s death. It’s even worse in the case of god and Hell. At least the rabbit may not have the mental capacity to wonder why or care that it’s killer does not offer a clear reason why it had to die… here we are with supposed free-will, the ability to wonder, and god can’t even give us a clear and decisive message. THAT’S tormenting.

    cl wrote:

    But that’s the point! They think they DO understand God!

    But if they’re killing each other, they don’t.

    I simply can’t believe you cannot see the problem with this argument. They think they are right, you think they are wrong, they think you are wrong and so it goes on. And the only thing you can argue with is passages out of the same book you are arguing about. And I don’t feel one can say the Bible, or any ‘holy’ book can be considered perfect and inerrant if there is multiple ways you can interpret the messages. And I am not just talking about the whole ‘a perfect book would be perfectly understood by all’ argument, although my point may be a part of it. No, I say the Bible is not perfect, it can’t be, and what’s more, it is very much at fault for the confusion, and if god is the author, or even the inspiration, or voice, or whatever, then yes, he is also at fault. After thousands of years, and millions, even billions, of differing opinions, views, beliefs, sects, religions about the same basic concepts, and without ANY clear way of seeing what or who is right, then you can’t put it down to ‘user error’ anymore. If you had a manual to operate a microwave, and not only does every language translation have it’s differences such that even boiling waters turns out differently for everyone, but also the instructions in the same language are open to different interpretations (eg, it says to press the coloured button but doesn’t tell you which one), HOW LONG will it take you to say it’s the manual’s fault for the confusion, and as such the liability rests with the author(s) of the manual? Maybe, I could accept, if it only happened to one or two people, then yeah it could be put down to user error, but after the same things constantly start happening over thousands, millions, billions of people of over hundreds, thousands of years, then no… it would be obvious to anyone that the manual is not a perfect, inerrant manual.

    God is at fault for one, making a faulty manual, and two, not rectifying the situation. Yes, I know I’m ignoring the fact that if god is god, then god can’t be perfect either if god releases a faulty manual… that’s obvious. Human free will, the ability to choose, whatever other ‘reason why god can’t interfer’ you may want to throw up is totaly beside the point… it is wrong, and highly immoral, to blame the end user for trying to follow a manual that is so open to interpretation and re-interpretation that you get multiple differing end results from the same text AND not offering anyway to absolutely determine what the true message is. And it is so, so, SO, much more immoral if you do that AND you are the one that setup the situation in the first place. Which is exactly what god has done with the idea of sin, free will, and Hell.

  • Paul S

    cl said:

    I don’t think God created beings that “don’t want to believe” in the sense of the argument which has also been made in this thread, that we are hardwired to deny God. Make sense?

    No…it doesn’t make sense. When God creates someone who He knows will deny Him, then that person IS hardwired to deny God. Otherwise, God is not omniscient.

    Only people who read the Bible attempt to understand God? What about what the Koran tells people? Gita?

    Of course not, and that’s not the point I was making. My point is that there are about as many different interpretations of ALL holy scriptures as the number of words that make up their collective texts. And those who claim to be “true” believers are convinced that they are following what they believe to be th inerrant word of their god. Make sense?

    You justify this statement with recourse to the fact that you are a rationalist, and that for the rationalist, that for which there is no evidence does not or is likely not to exist. If you take that route, that’s fine; just remember that asteroids existed before evidence of asteroids existed.

    That’s true, but the fact is we DO know that asteroids exist. We don’t know they exist because some ancient text tells us they do. We don’t know they exist because when we get together with other believers in asteroids, we have some subjective “feeling” that asteroids are out there. No, we have clear-cut empirical evidence of the existence of asteroids. We have photographs and have sent probes to determine their elemental composition. I don’t know the history of man’s knowledge of asteroids, but I’d be willing to bet that before man discovered the actual explanation of asteroids, their presence was probably attributed to a sign from…God.

    But if they’re killing each other, they don’t. Ebon seems to argue that God is at fault for all these people that kill each other and ram planes into buildings because of ‘corrupt text’ or ‘unclear message’ but again, what’s so unclear about the Golden Rule? Or Thou Shalt Not Kill? When God says these things, God is not being unclear, rather, the zealots are unclear in their understanding of God, and such is not God’s fault. Jesus didn’t teach people to squabble over doctrinal differences. No offense, it’s just a bunk argument IMO.

    It doesn’t matter whether people who kill others in God’s name have a clear understanding of God’s word or not (of course why you believe you’re understanding is the “true” one still baffles me). The problem is those who kill others in God’s name “believe” that they do have a clear understanding of God’s word. And it is God’s fault that His message (if indeed inerrant)is mis-interpreted by these so-called “zealots.” The real bunk argument is that God should remain blameless for His followers’ actions carried out in His name from His inerrant words.

    Tangentially, what’s so unclear about the Golden Rule?

    Nothing’s wrong with the Golden Rule. I hope your argument isn’t that it was the Bible (or any religious text) that first identified this basic ethic of reciprocity.

  • mikespeir

    My beliefs or arguments will either resonate with you or not. To the degree they do, they become compelling, otherwise not so much.

    If that ever happens, Wayne, I’ll do my best to get word back to you.

  • Chet

    To me, God is not indistiguishable. I believe that I can see the evidence for God out of my peripheral vision.

    I guess for me that metaphor is more apt than perhaps you intended; like most things that swim at the periphery of your vision, God disappears and is revealed to have been illusion under a direct and open gaze.

    Chet, you speak of worship as though it is painful.

    I find it humiliating, I guess. That would be more accurate. When I see a believer take all the best that’s inside himself, or herself, and ascribe it to God – leaving only the worst of him or herself to take credit for, I’m humiliated on their behalf. I’m embarrassed for them.

    That’s what I object to about belief in God most of all – not just that it’s factually wrong but that it’s inherently anti-human. And paradoxically I find moderate religious belief the most anti-human of all. When I meet someone who points to our shared humanity, our sense of love and community, our need for fellowship, and either calls that “God” or considers it evidence for God, I wonder how anyone could hate being human so much that they would take all the best of humanity, all the best of themselves, and give credit for it to someone else.

  • Kaltrosomos

    Ex machina:
    “Saying that humans are only partial, and therefore can’t understand the whole, sounds like a great argument, but you’ve completely alienated yourself as a worshipper. You no longer have any idea what or who you worship, how to worship, or even if you’ve worshipped as you intended. You are only part of the whole, and don’t have access to the whole truth. Therefore, we are forever in the dark concerning God.”

    Well, I guess we’re all one sort of fool or another since we like pontificating on the issue. If everybody is opinionated on this when they have no right to be, humans really are pretty foolish.

    In truth, I am uncertain what the reality of the matter is. some theories, like the one I’ve been arguing, have seemed to have some promise. But it’s never completely clear or totally satisfying. In fact, the more I think about it the more it seems like an unknowable question. Except I am curious, and I want to know. But if I can’t ever know, I guess I’m in a tough spot.

    I’m tending to agree with Dondindac at the end of this article by Voltaire:

    http://history.hanover.edu/texts/voltaire/volgod.html

    Arguing about unknowns is, I suppose, one way to pass the time. But I can’t help thinking I could spend my time better.

    So, in the interest of doing something actually productive with myself, I’m going to bring my part of this discussion to a close.

    Thanks to everybody for this, though.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    This comment reflects things stated up to ex machina’s comment December 17, 2008, 11:54 am. As is typical, I do intend to address all who speak to me, and I will get to subsequent comments.

    Brad,

    Um, did you read the original post, cl? I’m not going to respond to that.

    Well yes, I read it very carefully, and I’m aware of the distinction Ebon makes between fundies and moderates. That’s not what I took him to task for, if that’s what you mean to imply. Sorry if I’ve pissed you off in any way, or if it seems I’ve took your arguments lightly, but you took me to task for saying Ebon’s was a loaded statement, right? Surely, Ebon and I, or Ebon and ‘moderate believers’, are not going to be in agreement on where the Bible allegedly contradicts itself, right? Honestly, what does such have to do with whether said statement is loaded?

    It seems to me a poorly constructed metaphor…

    It may or may not be. I lack access to enough information to effectively judge it on this point. However, do you see now what I meant when I said that only that particular verse connects said verb to said subject?

    If “spanking is done” when I disobey my parents, who is inflicting the spanking, me or my parents?

    Your parents. But then you say,

    I was not assuming you believed God inflicts torment.

    Then why such an analogy? I’m not accusing you of anything here, just confused, and I ask: If your parents tell you that jail time is a necessary consequence of murder, and you murder someone in spite of this warning, and you get caught, and the police come to your home in the middle of the night and whisk you away to Folsom, who has inflicted the punishment? Who is the torturer??

    As far as Foundation of Sand and Faith Alone, see False Argument #16: or, My Response to Foundation of Sand, Part I. In short, I don’t mean to be rude, but in a spirit only of rational rigueur, Ebonmuse’s arguments as stated therein contain insurmountable fallacies, including demonstrated special pleading; cherry-picking; strawman, circular and slippery slope argumentation; muddying the waters with red herrings; and most importantly, the establishment of false dichotomies, all based on words added to scripture that do not exist in the original verses. You know what the Bible says about people who add to it, right?

    OMGF,

    If we “choose” not to believe in god and it is not a part of our make-up as humans, then there is no reason why god can’t convince us with evidence.

    I agree, and I don’t argue that God can’t or hasn’t made attempts. Again, that’s a common atheist argument, and to posit it towards a non-atheist is to load things.

    If god wishes for us to believe in him, then there is no obstacle to us believing (or at least the vast majority of us).

    Slippery sloper, and the Bible says otherwise. That God wishes for us to believe does not entail that zero obstacles to believing must exist, and the Bible itself states that very real obstacles to belief do exist.

    This is demonstrable by the fact that some people have “sincerely” wanted to believe and have not found god (mother Theresa anyone?) We can conclude from this that god is hiding evidence or himself from us.

    Nah… your claims about MT, along with MT’s personal conclusions, are subjective. You’re asking me to assume I can be sure of MT’s innermost personal conclusions, which are also subjective. Incidentally, such is a slippry sloper again, because whether real or imagined, MT’s difficulties do not logically entail divine hiddenness.

    First of all, you’re making a no true Scotsman argument here. Second, it’s certainly not clear that one should not kill considering that god has killed people and has ordered others to kill.

    The Scotsman reference doesn’t bother me. There are incorrect interpretations of atheism, no? The praying atheist ain’t no true Scotsman. Second, that an allegedly O^3 God has done those things is different than people using their own fallible volition to do those things. Further, Jesus made it abundantly clear how we are to treat folks. This only contradicts the OT if you invoke the genetic fallacy and other invalid forms of reasoning.

    Finally, if you don’t have tickets to Van Hallen’s show because they were handing out the tickets and refused to give you one then they would bear at least some responsibility for you not going.

    Well, you added to my claim. I don’t believe God has refused to give anyone tickets, and it seems we must now argue concepts of predestination because we’ve hit my analogy’s inherent limitation.

    Of course, the analogy falls apart, because we also have to consider god’s foreknowledge..

    I should have read your next sentence.. :) I agree fully.

    Knowing ahead of time that people would go to hell if you created it and them, would you still do it?

    What verse do you use to justify your claim that God created hell??

    Would you think that it is more valuable to have free will for a lifetime followed by an eternity in hell than to not have free will and simply live in bliss for eternity?

    From who’s perspective? I don’t think value from a human perspective is God’s dominating interest.

    ex machina,

    Then, should I believe, I’ve got a huge problem: How will I know I’m doing it right? How to you know you are doing it right? How do we know the bible even says what it says. Saying that humans are only partial, and therefore can’t understand the whole, sounds like a great argument, but you’ve completely alienated yourself as a worshipper. You no longer have any idea what or who you worship, how to worship, or even if you’ve worshipped as you intended. You are only part of the whole, and don’t have access to the whole truth. Therefore, we are forever in the dark concerning God.

    None of this entails logically. If we grant that you have a problem, or that we don’t have access to all truth, such does not logically entail that we are forever in the dark concerning God. You’re using a slippery sloper to argue the 100% certainty trope.

    It’s not that there’s not much for, but so much against spiritual belief. You’d think that believers would be always good; they’re not. You’d think that God would help the needy; he doesn’t. You’d think that prophets should be able to foresee the future; they can’t. It’s not that it doesn’t work in theory, it never works.

    Loaded to the brim, fully subjective. Of course believers aren’t always good. How do you know God doesn’t help the needy? How do you know a prophet has never been able to foresee the future? I suppose you can take the rationalism ploy, but your stated quantifier may contradict that approach. When you say that ‘not much evidence’ exists, you have not said that zero evidence exists, so by your own words and the purest definition of rationalism, you’ve conceded at least some evidence exists.

  • ex machina

    None of this entails logically. If we grant that you have a problem, or that we don’t have access to all truth, such does not logically entail that we are forever in the dark concerning God. You’re using a slippery sloper to argue the 100% certainty trope.

    Not at all. If we say that knowledge is imperfect (or whathaveyou) and that is the reason we understand or have proof of God, it places one back in the same boat: If humans are capable of understanding bits and pieces, why can’t one of those bits and pieces be God, or why can’t proof of God be in some of those bits and pieces. And besides, it’s not a slippery slope at all. If humans will patently misunderstand certain things because they are too big, how do we know any given system of belief isn’t part of that misunderstanding?

    Loaded to the brim, fully subjective. Of course believers aren’t always good. How do you know God doesn’t help the needy?

    The millions of needy still in existence.

    How do you know a prophet has never been able to foresee the future?

    Can you show that one has?

    Anyway I was less making hard claims as I was expressing my exasperation with the idea (which I’m about to do again).

    [exasperation]
    I’ve used physics before but it’s a great example. Why isn’t God like physics? I don’t have to wonder or prove a negative with regards to physics. All I have to do is toss stuff around the room and watch it work. Whatever explanation you’ve got for the existence of needy that I mentioned before or for the lack of a solid prophecy, it involves a “but.” And that’s what I’m so tired of. The “buts.” Why can’t stuff just work? How about my prayers just get answered, or wicked struck down and all that stuff. Just once. There’s always some ridiculous quantifier or qualifier that revokes it. Interacting with God shouldn’t be like trying to get one of those mail in rebates for consumer electronics.
    [/exasperation]

    I suppose you can take the rationalism ploy, but your stated quantifier may contradict that approach. When you say that ‘not much evidence’ exists, you have not said that zero evidence exists, so by your own words and the purest definition of rationalism, you’ve conceded at least some evidence exists.

    Actually I said the issue wasn’t that “not much evidence exists” but that there was so much evidence against. Clumsily worded, but that’s what I said. I’ll admit that there are many things that would spur any reasonable person to further investigation, but that in the end that’s all there is, and nothing I would consider proof.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    I agree, and I don’t argue that God can’t or hasn’t made attempts. Again, that’s a common atheist argument, and to posit it towards a non-atheist is to load things.

    It’s not loaded, it’s a simple statement about what god’s supposed powers are. He should be able to convince us of his existence, otherwise he is not omni-max.

    Slippery sloper, and the Bible says otherwise. That God wishes for us to believe does not entail that zero obstacles to believing must exist, and the Bible itself states that very real obstacles to belief do exist.

    It’s not a slippery slope. If god can’t overcome obstacles to belief, then god is not omni-max. If god is choosing not to overcome those obstacles, then god is acting immorally and sending people to hell for his own negligence.

    Nah… your claims about MT, along with MT’s personal conclusions, are subjective. You’re asking me to assume I can be sure of MT’s innermost personal conclusions, which are also subjective.

    Except that we have her writings which say so…and besides, don’t get sucked into the details. Whether it is MT or anyone else, there are examples of people who desperately want to find god and simply don’t. If god truly wanted for us to know about him, we would know about him or else he isn’t omni-max. So, either god is not all-powerful, or he is not revealing himself (hiding himself).

    The Scotsman reference doesn’t bother me. There are incorrect interpretations of atheism, no? The praying atheist ain’t no true Scotsman.

    The praying atheist is not a true atheist because that person is going against the definition of the word. You are claiming that those that don’t share you subjective interpretation of your holy book are not true Xians. There’s a world of difference. The former is definitional, the latter is fallacy.

    Second, that an allegedly O^3 God has done those things is different than people using their own fallible volition to do those things.

    I don’t see how, especially for a religion that speaks in absolute terms. Why would we not count on god to lead a good example that we can follow?

    Further, Jesus made it abundantly clear how we are to treat folks. This only contradicts the OT if you invoke the genetic fallacy and other invalid forms of reasoning.

    It only works if you throw out the OT and also ignore the parts of the NT that are nasty. I don’t see how you can claim that the NT does not contradict the OT and claim that it is fallacious to claim that it does. You’re way out on a limb here.

    I don’t believe God has refused to give anyone tickets…

    Of course he does, else everyone would get into heaven.

    What verse do you use to justify your claim that God created hell??

    Are you going to claim that there is a realm that god did not create? If so, then I will point out the god is not omni-max.

    From who’s perspective? I don’t think value from a human perspective is God’s dominating interest.

    Are you going to argue that god is more concerned with his own shizz than with us? There goes the concept of god loving us. There goes the concept of us being special to god. Etc.

    Can I point out that not everything is a slippery slope or loaded? It seems like you latch onto some fallacy and continually look for any argument you can disagree with and then simply slap the label of your fallacy of the moment on it.

  • Paul S

    What verse do you use to justify your claim that God created hell??

    Actually, the Bible itself makes the claim that God created hell:

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Paul S,

    I still do intend to address your other comments, but for now I’ll take this quickie:

    Actually, the Bible itself makes the claim that God created hell: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41

    I thought someone would take that and try to run with it. The words in bold do not support your claim that God created hell.

    ex machina,

    it’s not a slippery slope at all. If humans will patently misunderstand certain things because they are too big, how do we know any given system of belief isn’t part of that misunderstanding?

    I’m aware of the context and such was not what I termed slippery slope, but this:

    Then, should I believe, I’ve got a huge problem: How will I know I’m doing it right? How to you know you are doing it right? How do we know the bible even says what it says. Saying that humans are only partial, and therefore can’t understand the whole, sounds like a great argument, but you’ve completely alienated yourself as a worshipper. You no longer have any idea what or who you worship, how to worship, or even if you’ve worshipped as you intended. You are only part of the whole, and don’t have access to the whole truth. Therefore, we are forever in the dark concerning God.

    The slopes to slip on exist therein. Incomplete access to all truth or partial truth does not entail being forever in the dark concerning God.

    The millions of needy still in existence…

    … do not entail that God does not or has not helped ‘the needy’ as you put it. Did you quantify?

    Can you show that one has?

    Red herring. I don’t need to show such to show your claim is unknowable.

    Whatever explanation you’ve got for the existence of needy that I mentioned before or for the lack of a solid prophecy, it involves a “but.” And that’s what I’m so tired of. The “buts.” Why can’t stuff just work?

    Interesting you would lead into this off the foot of science. Science involves countless “buts” IMO. The universe is flat, but we can’t yet account for the discrepancies of missing matter, dark energy, or dark matter, can we??

    Why can’t stuff just work? How about my prayers just get answered, or wicked struck down and all that stuff. Just once.

    Your question presumes stuff can’t work, and although you quantified with ‘just once,’ I would be weary of a God who answers prayer without either arbitrarily, or without reason or quantification. Not saying you argue for such a God, either.

    Interacting with God shouldn’t be like trying to get one of those mail in rebates for consumer electronics.

    Great line. LOL

    OMGF,

    Hmm.. did you not say,

    If we “choose” not to believe in god and it is not a part of our make-up as humans, then there is no reason why god can’t convince us with evidence.

    True. Who said God can’t convince us with evidence? Also, did you not say,

    If god wishes for us to believe in him, then there is no obstacle to us believing (or at least the vast majority of us).

    How does God desiring belief entail that zero obstacles to belief exist?

    If god can’t overcome obstacles to belief, then god is not omni-max.

    You’re more along the lines of POE here, and again, who’s accepted that God can’t overcome obstacles to belief? Not I. That’s why I charge loading.

    Whether it is MT or anyone else, there are examples of people who desperately want to find god and simply don’t.

    I agree. Such proves only itself.

    The praying atheist is not a true atheist because that person is going against the definition of the word.

    Interesting. The NT says God is love. Does not the murdering zealot go against definitions of God?

    Are you going to claim that there is a realm that god did not create? If so, then I will point out the god is not omni-max.

    Certainly. God seems to be one such class of object. If eternity exists, so do created-less things. Either way, my question was, what verse supports your claim God created hell? I’m not even denying your claim outright; just asking for scriptural support.

    Are you going to argue that god is more concerned with his own shizz than with us?

    No; nor would I argue that God is less concerned with God’s own shizz than with us.

    Can I point out that not everything is a slippery slope or loaded?

    Certainly, and I respect our rapport, so after this thread I will make every possible effort to avoid using the terms ‘slippery slope’ or ‘loaded’ with you anymore. However, such does not mean I will accept invalid arguments, note that I don’t claim everything is a slippery slope or loaded, and that as much as I hate to say it, your statement as worded is slippery slope. That I point out something that is a slippery slope does not entail that I point out everything that is a slippery slope..

    I’m tiring of it as well, and at the full risk of losing all the good rapport we’ve managed to procure since we first bumped heads, may I politely suggest attention to clarity, precision, and correct scope in your arguments? I don’t say ‘everything’ is slippery slope, or loaded, and there’s plenty of special pleading, circular arguing, and many other missteps going on at DA, from commenters of all stripe, myself certainly included. Such is the nature when imperfect beings debate.

  • Brad

    cl,

    1) You appear to think *I* was the one who brought up Foundations. I was not, that was actually EM. In a comment, you asked EM for what he thought were the toughest contradictions in the Bible, and this confused me because he linked to Foundations right in the article. (“cannot be sustained”) Seeing this, I presumed you knew about that link, and so I further presumed you were really asking him to say what the toughest ones were so you could take them on right here.

    2) The police detaining me would be the inflictors, not me. I didn’t pick myself up by the collar, I didn’t rough myself up, I didn’t drive myself away, I didn’t lock myself in a jail cell, etc. Choosing and inflicting are different. My point is, even if hell is a choice, it doesn’t then follow that God doesn’t inflict punishment. You need more than that to establish that God doesn’t inflict punishment.

    PS I will take a look at your article.

  • Ishryal

    cl wrote:

    What verse do you use to justify your claim that God created hell??

    Colossians 1:16

    For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him

    John 1.3

    All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    *bolding is mine.

    What other definition of ‘all things’ can you take other than to also include Hell… or is not Hell not a part of ‘all things’? Yes or no?

  • Brad

    PS2

    OMGF, back there you seem to misunderstand me. I was parodying Essel and Kaltro.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Ishryal,

    Your analogies are falling way short. Not going to Van Halen is NOT the same as not going to heaven.

    Of course it falls short. I’ve already admitted such. Of course not going to Van Halen is different than not going to heaven; I’ve not ignored the finality of anything. Now here’s the thing: You’re analogy starts off on the wrong foot in that we don’t start out on the wire.

    That’s total B.S. As it has been mentioned many times before, that is not a choice; it’s an ultimatum. That is bullying.

    Do you have an objective argument proving God is a bully? Or just more opinions? Honestly. You can’t expect me to just accept your judgments. Don’t say you don’t have a choice in whether to accept the Bible’s provision, because anyone who’s heard retains that choice. Furthermore, what about those who’ve not heard? Is God a bully and an ultimatum-giver to them as well?

    God is at fault for one, making a faulty manual, and two, not rectifying the situation.

    That’s your opinion and I respect it. Again, though, what’s so unclear about the Golden Rule, for example?

    …or is not Hell not a part of ‘all things’? Yes or no?

    If hell is a thing, then yes. If hell is not a thing, then no. However, did I argue a position? Or did I ask OMGF to state the verse from scripture that supported his point? You offered a few for him and that’s okay, but the verses you cite only apply to created and made things, do they not? What do you say if I counter that hell is neither created, nor made, nor a thing per se? Now what verse supports your claim? And where is the verse that says, “God created hell?” Or, is that a paraphrase that does not occur in the Bible?

    I’m not sure if God created hell yet, but I am perplexed as to how so many people here seem to have it down, ‘cuz, you know, the Bible’s so unclear and all. Isn’t it cherrypicking to argue the clarity of the Bible when it serves our point of argument, but object to the unclarity of the Bible when it does not?

    Paul S,

    When God creates someone who He knows will deny Him, then that person IS hardwired to deny God. Otherwise, God is not omniscient.

    I disagree. Knowing the outcome of something’s free will does not mean that the something in question does not have free will.

    My point is that there are about as many different interpretations of ALL holy scriptures as the number of words that make up their collective texts. And those who claim to be “true” believers are convinced that they are following what they believe to be th inerrant word of their god. Make sense?

    Certainly. Such was understood before you spoke. I argue that such does not entail that any or all of them are false (or correct) by default, whereas you seem willing to take that step.

    That’s true, but the fact is we DO know that asteroids exist.

    Well sure, now. Similarly, one day we might know God exists in the same way, right?

    It doesn’t matter whether people who kill others in God’s name have a clear understanding of God’s word or not..

    Well, you’re free to live next to them, but it matters to me!

    (of course why you believe you’re understanding is the “true” one still baffles me)

    Go ahead and speak for me when I’ve never said such. Funny thing is, I don’t take for granted that I understand the truth or the “true one.” I do attempt to proceed from my best judgments.

    The problem is those who kill others in God’s name “believe” that they do have a clear understanding of God’s word.

    And they’re wrong. Does it matter if you disbelieve in gravity? Does it make gravity wrong or unclear? Speaking for those who allege to be followers of Christ and kill others, are they not clearly the ones in error? Why fault Christ’s message when they misapply it?

    And it is God’s fault that His message (if indeed inerrant)is mis-interpreted by these so-called “zealots.”

    I disagree. How do you misinterpret Thou Shalt Not Kill? When somebody robs your house, do you cry to the government that the laws against robbery are unclear?

    Nothing’s wrong with the Golden Rule.

    My point exactly.

    mikespeir,

    Do you believe that each portion of the Bible we have today is unchanged from the way it was originally?

    Unchanged? Of course not.

    Tell me, what would lead me to any conclusion other than that I am right to assume that in issuing a perfect Bible God wanted us to have a perfect Bible? Why would I be wrong in taking the inference?

    You said this in response to me calling genetic fallacy on the following statement of yours:

    Why can’t we assume that whatever impulse drove God (assuming he exists) to issue a perfect work would also impel him to keep it that way?

    You can assume that; it’s just a genetic fallacy leading you, and it’s not necessarily wrong. It’s just not a valid argument and what do you mean by ‘perfect?’

    Cerus,

    I didn’t charge you with arguing, FYI.

    The “spend their lives flattering you” line is rather obviously his view of belief in general,

    I know, that’s why I brought it up, because such is not my position or opinion, so, when such is argued to me, it’s, well… I hate to say it, but loaded.

    ..for him to observe you making a connection between the necessity of restricting the freedom of convicted murderers and your belief that people who don’t follow the same belief system as you deserve an infinitely worse punishment is not unreasonable.

    Strawman. That’s not what I mean when I say unbelief leads to hell. Why do we restrict criminals to jail? Because they inflict real damage on society, right? So how is God not justified in allowing those who are antithetical to God’s nature to be separated from God? I don’t think “people who don’t follow the same belief system as me” end up in torment. I think those who reject God end up in torment. Totally different, but I can see how the caricature was misleading.

    You seem a tad aggressive, by the way.

    Sorry. I don’t mean to be. Also, remember that we can’t see each other, hear each other’s inflections, etc. That’s a huge drawback to internet discussion that, IMO, is at the root of lots of the mishaps. If I come across brash or abrasive, again, I apologize, but I do get a little weathered and surely defensive from the many genuinely hateful and ignorant comments tossed at me, more often than not just because I dissent, or because people judge me on behalf of their experiences with other believers, or because people aren’t taking the time to really think through some of what’s being said.

    I came across short because you initially just criticized my argument and offered nothing to back up your criticism, which is annoying IMO. It’s nothing personal, and I’m sorry if I offended you or anyone. I am here both to correct and to be corrected, and in lots of posts I just sit out and listen. Any time believers and skeptics engage, some head butting is inevitable, but I can’t get my beliefs genuinely tested if I argue with people who share them, right?

  • Leum

    cl,

    I’m having trouble following your arguments. I think some of it stems from your having a somewhat (okay, entirely) unorthodox view of Christianity and the Bible*. It might help make some headway if you were to define your terms.

    Specifically, what is your conception of Hell? It’s very annoying for someone to make an argument only to be responded by “that’s not my idea of Hell” if you don’t tell us what your idea is.

    I know it seems like a strawman when we bring up conceptions of God, Hell, etc. that aren’t yours, but the best way to prevent accidental strawmen is to give us your conceptions. That way, you can be sure that any subsequent strawmen are the result of bad reasoning, not miscommunication.

    *Not a surprise. I don’t think any of our regular Christian commenters would be seen as anything short of blasphemously heretical by mainstream Christianity.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Leum,

    I’m sorry, and I mean that honestly, not like a smart-ass. You and I talked about unbelief, and whether it leads to hell, whether hell is self-inflicted, etc. I said it did, but I don’t mean that in a superficial manner. I don’t think you can just say, “I believe!” and make the cut. That is not what myself or the Bible argues. Some guy then strawmanned me, saying, “So whoever doesn’t have your belief system goes to hell,” but that’s not what I’ve said. The person who never heard of Jesus does not have my belief system, and I don’t think they go to hell. Luke 10:16 says those who reject Jesus reject God. Logically, one must be proposed Jesus to reject Jesus, so I think arguments that the ignorant perish are wrong.

    In fact, let me just ask you: What is unclear? It seems to me I’ve said the same thing over and over – I believe hell exists, I believe it’s a place for those who reject God. I believe we end up there of choice, ie, I believe it is self-inflicted. I believe God does not want anybody to go there but OTOH God is not in the business of creating automatons, hence free will, hence choice is what effects our eternal future. I don’t think predestination precludes God’s omniscience or man’s free will. I do not believe the poor soul who has never heard the gospel is damned. People here were arguing that God sends us to hell, that God inflicts the punishment, that God is a bully, that God is a torturer, all because hell exists. I disagree. Of the verses you cited to this effect, the only one that might fly is Luke 3:17, but as I said, I think John the Baptist was speaking metaphorically, which makes it difficult to take what he says as the establishment of a doctrine.

    I am not quite sure that anyone here has yet provided adequate verses proving God created hell, either. Matthew 25:41 (I think) does state it was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” Excuse me for not providing the Greek, but to prepare is to make ready, not create, ie bara. Are all things created things? Is God a created thing? Similarly, might hell not be a created thing? Also, said verse does not say “prepared by God,” but for the sake of argument let’s say God did create hell. How does that make God a bully or an inflicter of torment if it is our own choices that result in us ending up there? That’s what I don’t quite get.

    If it’s okay for me to ask, please don’t use the words Christian or Christianity when describing me or my beliefs, BTW. Those terms are so loaded, so full of historical baggage, and they mean completely different things to nearly everyone who uses them. That surely helps people lump me in with everyone else they’ve ever met who wore those labels. I consider myself a baptized believer and that’s about it.

  • mikespeir

    Unchanged? Of course not.

    So, have the individual portions of the Bible improved or gotten worse (“corrupted”) since? Neither? How do you tell?

    You can assume that…

    Thank you. I thought so.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    PS2

    OMGF, back there you seem to misunderstand me. I was parodying Essel and Kaltro.

    You’re right, I did misunderstand…that one went right over my head. Thanks for the clarification.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    mikespeir,

    So, have the individual portions of the Bible improved or gotten worse (“corrupted”) since? Neither? How do you tell?

    If you quantify any of that, I can try to answer. What portions are you talking about? Gimme a for example. What do you mean when you say improved or gotten worse? From the standpoint of textual criticism? Moral message? Not to be rude, I just find the comment difficult to address. What are you getting at? Whether or not I think the Bible contains errors? Contradictions??

  • Cerus

    @cl

    I can see how that might seem like a strawman argument and retract the comment for that cause.

    Because of the manner in which you defend your arguments I’ll have to withdraw from this conversation, first because I don’t acknowledge the existence of a god to be able to speculate on its nature in a manner which you would find agreeable, and second because I have a suspicion that any real life analogies I make to sharpen a point will be dismissed as “caricatures”.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Cerus,

    By all means, try me. I think I’m far more open that it may seem. Really, though, since my first comment in this thread, I’ve been responding to other people’s arguments. I haven’t even gotten to make any argument relating to inerrancy, save for a brief mention of Foundations

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    True. Who said God can’t convince us with evidence?

    Earlier in the thread, arguments were made to the effect that if god did come down to convince us that we would remain unconvinced. They were not your arguments IIRC.

    How does God desiring belief entail that zero obstacles to belief exist?

    If god is omni-max and can overcome any obstacle at no cost to himself or effort on his part, then no obstacle really exists for god to convince us of his existence. If god is unable to convince us, then he is not omni-max.

    You’re more along the lines of POE here, and again, who’s accepted that God can’t overcome obstacles to belief? Not I. That’s why I charge loading.

    Then, why doesn’t god come down and show us that he exists? Does it violate our free will to give us all the pertinent information so that we can make informed choices instead of blind choices? Why should god judge us on whether we can interpret facts correctly anyway? If we go to hell because we don’t believe in god, (I’m confused – is that your position?) then god is judging us on our ability to discern facts about the world, not on our moral make-up.

    I agree. Such proves only itself.

    Actually, it shows that god does not always show himself, even to those that really, really want him to. Why does he not show himself to people like MT and others?

    Interesting. The NT says God is love. Does not the murdering zealot go against definitions of God?

    First off, this is conflating since you are equating the definition of god with the definition of Xian. Second, this runs into the same problems as “Thou shalt not murder” (it is murder, not kill AFAIK). If god is claimed to be love, but that is contradicted by other parts of the Bible, like his genocidal rages and the fact that it also says that god is jealous, etc. how are we to discern that real Xians are following the right part and false are following the wrong part when both are following the Bible?

    Certainly. God seems to be one such class of object. If eternity exists, so do created-less things. Either way, my question was, what verse supports your claim God created hell? I’m not even denying your claim outright; just asking for scriptural support.

    Whatever verse I come up with, if you want to argue that it doesn’t support me, you will do so and we will get into a long, drawn out conversation about what this word or that word means. Instead, I will simply point out that if you wish to maintain that god is omni-max (do you?) then hell is a creation of god.

    No; nor would I argue that God is less concerned with God’s own shizz than with us.

    Well, if god is concerned with our well-being and what is best for us, is it best for us to have free will for a lifetime followed by an eternity in hell or is it better for us to not have free will but not be subjected to an eternity of torment?

    However, such does not mean I will accept invalid arguments, note that I don’t claim everything is a slippery slope or loaded, and that as much as I hate to say it, your statement as worded is slippery slope.

    Only if you take it in that light. Sometimes we (all of us) speak in generalities or in certain modes of speech. It’s obvious that I didn’t literally mean that you claim all arguments are slippery slopes, and that’s part of what I’m getting at. Precision is good, but so is being able to get someone’s meaning without having to resort to quibbles over every single word. Do you understand what I’m saying?

    I could go on about free will and omni-max and predestination, etc. but this is already too long.

  • Tom

    Why do we restrict criminals to jail? Because they inflict real damage on society, right? So how is God not justified in allowing those who are antithetical to God’s nature to be separated from God?

    Wouldn’t that require people to be capable of inflicting damage on god?

  • MS (Quixote)

    Hey Leum,

    I don’t think any of our regular Christian commenters would be seen as anything short of blasphemously heretical by mainstream Christianity.

    I am as orthodox as they come and a fairly regular commenter. This statement of yours is troubling to me because it seems to suggest that your conception of Christian orthodoxy is the faith movement, eschatalogical fanatics, and the religious political right–an impression I’ve gotten from many posts here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing you, it’s just that from this vantage point your comment depicts a picture of just how bad of shape the church is really in (and always has been, I suppose).

  • mikespeir

    Not to be rude, I just find the comment difficult to address.

    It’s not that difficult. You’ve already told me you think the Bible has not remained unchanged. Pick a place where it was later changed and show me how that change doesn’t amount to corruption, at least of the original author’s words.

  • Paul S

    cl,

    Knowing the outcome of something’s free will does not mean that the something in question does not have free will.

    I agree, but then the one who grants free will shouldn’t punish the something for it’s choice. Otherwise, the one who grants free will is just toying with the something, right?

    I argue that such does not entail that any or all of them are false (or correct) by default, whereas you seem willing to take that step.

    I’m not saying any or all of them are false (or correct) either. The point is that each individual or sect who believes in a god (or gods) and/or holy text believes that theirs is the true god and/or holy text. Additionally, each individual or sect believes that their interpretation of that god and/or holy text is the right one.

    Similarly, one day we might know God exists in the same way, right?

    We might. But until that day comes, I won’t be holding my breath.

    I said:

    It doesn’t matter whether people who kill others in God’s name have a clear understanding of God’s word or not.

    cl said:

    Well, you’re free to live next to them, but it matters to me!

    Good for you. But it apparently doesn’t matter to God, since He allows his message to be continually (according to you) misinterpreted.

    Go ahead and speak for me when I’ve never said such. Funny thing is, I don’t take for granted that I understand the truth or the “true one.” I do attempt to proceed from my best judgments.

    But what makes you any different from a Muslim (or Jehovah’s Witness, or Mormon, or Sikh, etc.)? You all truly believe that you are proceeding from your best judgement. You have said at least twice:

    And they’re wrong.

    I can only deduce from your statments that you believe you’re beliefs and/or interpretations are correct. That’s the point of this entire discussion. You think you’re right. They think they’re right. Someone else thinks they’re right. Interpretations of holy scriptures have become so divergent and convoluted, it’s non-sensical to think any of them are the “true” word of any god.

    Does it matter if you disbelieve in gravity? Does it make gravity wrong or unclear?

    No, because there is clear-cut, empirical, repeatably testable evidence of gravity.

    Speaking for those who allege to be followers of Christ and kill others, are they not clearly the ones in error? Why fault Christ’s message when they misapply it?

    But there’s a difference. You use the term “allege to be followers of Christ…” They don’t believe they are “alleged followers.” They believe you are an “alleged follower.” Can you truly not see that it’s God’s word that is causing this?

    How do you misinterpret Thou Shalt Not Kill? When somebody robs your house, do you cry to the government that the laws against robbery are unclear?

    If you want to quote mine from the Bible, go ahead. I can play that game too:

    Jesus said, “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword.” Matthew 10:34

    How do you misinterpret that?

  • prase

    cl,

    …for the sake of argument let’s say God did create hell. How does that make God a bully or an inflicter of torment if it is our own choices that result in us ending up there? That’s what I don’t quite get.

    Are you serious? To parody your argument: How can we find the inquisitors guilty of executing Giordano Bruno, when he had a clear chance to reject his opinion about the solar system and save his life? His burning at the stake was a result of his own choices, thus self inflicted…

    You seem not to grasp the simple fact that an event can has multiple causes. Even if we list among causes only the decisions of intelligent beings, still there can be multiple decisions which caused the event and therefore multiple persons responsible for the result. When a criminal is executed, he bears some responsibility for his own death because he commited the crime, but also the judge has part of the responsibility, and the same holds for the lawgiver(s). And the distribution of responsibility, or guilt, closely relates with justice. If the law is unjust (such as when disagreement with the authority is punished by death or when adultery is rewarded by stoning) then who created or applied the law is guilty, not the trespasser. And infinitely long suffering is not a just punishment for anything you can commit in your life.

    All this is, in my opinion, trivial and self-evident, and I have difficulties to understand your reasonings.

  • Leum

    Quixote,

    Aren’t you a Calvinist, or was that someone else? My understanding was that Christianity had mostly moved away from predestination. I’m sorry if I’ve misinterpreted your beliefs, or those of other Christians. I know mainstream Christianity isn’t the right-wing nutjobs, don’t worry. Our posts tend to focus on them because they’re the ones trying to take away our rights (yours too, of course).

    cl,

    In my last comment I was referring most explicitly to your statement “that hell is neither created, nor made, nor a thing per se?” Which to me implied placelessness very strongly, making me wonder if you saw Hell as a state of being (as I believe Quakers do) or as the same place as Heaven, just feeling different to the unsaved (as I believe Greek Orthodox Christians do).

    I think, in light of your comment, that I now understand your ideas. Thank you.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Sorry for the text wall, but I find it disrespectful to leave unanswered questions, and at least ten people are getting at me here..

    OMGF,

    Tangentially, what does IIRC stand for??

    Earlier in the thread, arguments were made to the effect that if god did come down to convince us that we would remain unconvinced… If god is omni-max and can overcome any obstacle at no cost to himself or effort on his part, then no obstacle really exists for god to convince us of his existence. If god is unable to convince us, then he is not omni-max.

    I agree that if God is unable to convince us of God’s existence, God is not 0^3. What you suggest is what the Bible says happened, right? People were and are unconvinced Jesus was God, but I don’t think we’re justified to say that such entails < 0^3 on God’s behalf. Further, can God overcome that which does not exist? You say, “God can overcome any obstacle” but at the same time that “no obstacle really exists.” That seems, to me, to be a case of (x) = (-x).

    ..why doesn’t god come down and show us that he exists?

    I’ve not agreed that God hasn’t, or won’t.

    Why should god judge us on whether we can interpret facts correctly anyway? If we go to hell because we don’t believe in god, (I’m confused – is that your position?) then god is judging us on our ability to discern facts about the world, not on our moral make-up.

    Yes, it is my position that those who reject God accept God’s absence. However, when I posit that one should ‘believe’ in God, the belief I’m talking about is not mere intellectual acknowledgment or concession. We both believe Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s boobie one time on TV, right? That is a belief corroborated by empirical evidence. But that type of belief goes no further than that. It’s like, “Okay, we know such happened / exists,” but now what?? What I’m getting at is, I don’t think our belief is inseparable from our moral make-up, if that’s reasonable.

    Actually, it shows that god does not always show himself, even to those that really, really want him to. Why does he not show himself to people like MT and others?

    To me, MT’s or anyone else’s difficulties / doubts / etc. do not entail God’s failure. I don’t know that God didn’t show himself to people like MT. I don’t know how MT approached her belief her entire life. Sure, from the outside, her works seem to show a moral character consistent with one who might believe in God, but such can give no clue as to how she really felt. In fact, you (and everyone who argues about this stuff) should watch that new Meryl Streep movie ‘Doubt’ if you haven’t – it’s 100% about believing in things without evidence, and a great movie. Streep’s character is analogous to MT in a way. I’m just saying it’s hard to argue that God has failed with examples of fallible beings – how do we accurately assess where the failure occurred??

    First off, this is conflating since you are equating the definition of god with the definition of Xian.

    The definition of Christian is not love. The most non-loaded definition of Christian I can conceive of is Christ-like. It’s impossible to posit a definition of God that does not conflate, since differing definitions of God exist, right? If you can better explain how you feel I’ve conflated and it makes sense, I’ll gladly agree I have.

    You’re correct – it is Thou Shalt Not Murder. Such was my oversight.

    Well, if god is concerned with our well-being and what is best for us..

    I don’t think God’s sole criteria is what’s best, easiest, most comfortable or most obvious for man. I think God is looking at things in terms of what’s best for everything and everyone, and in terms of eternity. There are very real disruptors in the world of all stripe, and without the necessary changes, those people are incompatible with a peaceful and just world, right? So either: 1) Such people are allowed to co-exist with those who want peace, and chaos continues to reign until absolute zero; 2) Such people must be rehabilitated; 3) Such people dwell separate from the rest; 4) The good must become evil; or 5) Absolute standards of justice do not exist.

    …is it best for us to have free will for a lifetime followed by an eternity in hell or is it better for us to not have free will but not be subjected to an eternity of torment?

    When you say ‘best’ what do you mean? The most comfort? The best from our POV? God’s POV? If we don’t have free will, I don’t believe in hell, so the latter half is a counterfactual as far as I’m concerned.

    Do you understand what I’m saying?

    Yes I do.

    Tom,

    Wouldn’t that require people to be capable of inflicting damage on god?

    No, I don’t think the analogy can extend that far, but my answer could change depending on what you mean by ‘inflict damage’ on God. The criminals aren’t inflicting damage on the judge (except in the superficial aspect in our analogy by where the judge is actually part of society).

    mikespeir,

    Well, if by ‘corrupt’ you mean only ‘different than before,’ then everything is corrupt, including the Earth, the stars, the universe, the Bible, and those who read it. Is change tantamount to corruption in your world view? That scares me. Do you similarly define evolution as corruption?

    Arguing over Bible corruption seems moot because so far it’s not been defined. Arguing over Bible contradiction seems something we can objectively pick at. So, if you want to throw me a bone to chew, feel free. Conversely, if you’d like me to address what I feel is a common misconception of contradiction in the Bible, I’ll gladly do so.

    Paul S,

    ..but then the one who grants free will shouldn’t punish the something for it’s choice.

    Do choices exist that merit singular (as in non-arbitrary) consequences? Certain choices entail certain consequences, right? Also, what if the choice results in punishment? If your parents tell you murder is wrong and leads to prison, and you murder and get caught, are your parents punishing you? I don’t expect gravity to change or operate on a sliding scale.

    The point is that each individual or sect who believes in a god (or gods) and/or holy text believes that theirs is the true god and/or holy text. Additionally, each individual or sect believes that their interpretation of that god and/or holy text is the right one.

    I disagree. You’re taking something that is true of certain, perhaps most, sects and individuals, and then requiring that such extend to all sects and individuals. Further, I as an individual do not believe my interpretation of God is wholly right or the only true one. Interestingly, such is how the Pharisees acted, and we know what Jesus felt of them.

    But it apparently doesn’t matter to God, since He allows his message to be continually (according to you) misinterpreted.

    The ability to misinterpret is an intrinsic risk of free will, right? That people misinterpret God does not entail God’s lack of desire for them to interpret correctly. You yourself said the Golden Rule was clear. The freedom to interpret comes with free will, right? With the freedom to interpret comes the possibility of wrong interpretation, right? So, you want a state of affairs in which human misinterpretation is impossible? Back to hominids we go.

    I can only deduce from your statments that you believe you’re beliefs and/or interpretations are correct.

    If the Bible claims to be God’s word, and it clearly says Thou Shalt Not Murder, of course I think I’m right when I say the people who claim to believe in the God of the Bible are wrong for living lifestyles of religiously motivated terror. That was the point of bringing up gravity. Gravity leaves little room for unclarity or interpretation. How else should one interpret Thou Shalt Not Murder? Are you really going to say because I think Thou Shalt Not Murder is the only correct interpretation of Thou Shalt Not Murder, that I’m just another true Scotsman? Then I’ll say you are justified to perceive the law of gravity as, “Thou shalt not return to land whence thou jumpeth.”

    Can you truly not see that it’s God’s word that is causing this?

    I wouldn’t say that I can’t see it; I’d say nobody’s presented a convincing case. For example, you’ve said the Golden Rule was clear. I’ll presume you think Thou Shalt Not Murder is equally clear. When people murder, how is God’s word causing this? Also, I believe I am an alleged follower of Christ. It could very well be that some of my interpretations are incorrect, but on things like Thou Shalt Not Murder, I see little wiggle room.

    If you want to quote mine from the Bible, go ahead. I can play that game too:

    You certainly can, and seem to be much better at it than I ;)

    I don’t think Matthew 10:34 contradicts Exodus 20:13, but I’m open to your case. What about Matthew 26:52: “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him. “For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (NIV)

    How do you misinterpret that?

    prase,

    Well, of course I’m serious.

    To parody your argument: How can we find the inquisitors guilty of executing Giordano Bruno, when he had a clear chance to reject his opinion about the solar system and save his life? His burning at the stake was a result of his own choices, thus self inflicted…

    Did Bruno reject truth or error? In your analogy, things are reversed. The inquisitors were the criminals and Bruno was Jesus (metaphorically). Bruno, as God, was on the side of truth.

    You seem not to grasp the simple fact that an event can has multiple causes.

    I may be hard to follow, verbose, unorthodox, an asshole, odious, ignorant, shameworthy, etc., but for you to say something like that is just silly. If someone cannot grasp this, they’re not going to be debating this stuff on DA or elsewhere. In a case like this, it’s far more likely that I’ve been unclear, or that you’ve misunderstood me. Why jump to the step that I’m that stupid?

    Even if we list among causes only the decisions of intelligent beings, still there can be multiple decisions which caused the event and therefore multiple persons responsible for the result. When a criminal is executed, he bears some responsibility for his own death because he commited the crime, but also the judge has part of the responsibility, and the same holds for the lawgiver(s).

    Does that mean the judge wants to punish you and see you suffer? Does that mean the judge and the lawgivers are bullies? In the sense that you opine the judge in this case bears some responsibility – presuming the law just – is the judge immoral? Mean? Bullying? Or just?

    If the law is unjust … then who created or applied the law is guilty, not the trespasser.

    I concur.

    And infinitely long suffering is not a just punishment for anything you can commit in your life.

    Well sure.. as isolated actions, stealing, murder, pimping, selling rock, (etc. etc.) wouldn’t seem to merit an eternity of suffering.

  • Leum

    IIRC=if I remember correctly.

  • Maynard

    It appears that cl is not defending scripture, only his interpretation of scripture. He said that those recently claiming to kill for god are wrong, even though scripture tells that god has commanded this before. How does he know? It is not about the words, only how he interprets the words. cl is not arguing for the inerrancy of the bible, he is arguing for his inerrant interpretation.

    cl,
    If Van Halen tickets were offered by the band only to those who worship Eddie Van Halen as a god (not just a guitar-god, an actual god), and you refused to accept them based on your religious beliefs, who kept you out of the concert? (you or VH)

  • prase

    cl,

    Why jump to the step that I’m that stupid?

    I have written that it seems that you don’t grasp… Of course I don’t suppose you are so stupid (I don’t supose you are stupid at all). I’m sorry if it sounded arrogant, it wasn’t intended. After all, I’m not a native English speaker, if it counts as a valid apology.

    Did Bruno reject truth or error? In your analogy, things are reversed. The inquisitors were the criminals and Bruno was Jesus (metaphorically). Bruno, as God, was on the side of truth.

    Well, for the sake of argument, assume that Bruno was incorrect. Would it change things dramatically? If the inquisitors were on the side of truth, would it make Bruno’s death in flames self-inlicted? I think this is somewhat irrelevant. The point was that not everything what could be changed by own different choices can be interpreted as self-inflicted.

    Does that mean the judge wants to punish you and see you suffer? Does that mean the judge and the lawgivers are bullies? In the sense that you opine the judge in this case bears some responsibility – presuming the law just – is the judge immoral? Mean? Bullying? Or just?

    If the judge sends me to death for some minor offence, he is guilty of murder, without regard to his motivation (if he was not forced to do that, of course). I personally think that bullying is not a bad name for imposing strict unjust laws with harsh punishments, but I don’t want to argue over semantics. I’ll ignore your third question because I find it irrelevant – the law we are debating is not just.

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

    cl,
    IIRC can also be “If I recall correctly.”

    I agree that if God is unable to convince us of God’s existence, God is not 0^3. What you suggest is what the Bible says happened, right?

    No, I’m still talking about the previous discussion wherein it was asserted that we would not believe god if he came down and presented himself to us.

    People were and are unconvinced Jesus was God, but I don’t think we’re justified to say that such entails < 0^3 on God’s behalf.

    It is if god really does want us to believe in him. I really only see two choices here: either god wants to convince us but can’t and is not omni-max, or god doesn’t really want us all to be convinced. If the latter, then god does not want us all to be saved as many Xians assert.

    You say, “God can overcome any obstacle” but at the same time that “no obstacle really exists.” That seems, to me, to be a case of (x) = (-x).

    To a being like god, there would be no obstacle. That’s what I was getting at. It was clunky wording to be sure.

    I’ve not agreed that God hasn’t, or won’t.

    The Bible claims that he has, and in spectacular ways. He doesn’t do those things now, and if he does he surely doesn’t make it obvious that it is him interacting with the world.

    What I’m getting at is, I don’t think our belief is inseparable from our moral make-up, if that’s reasonable.

    As it is, I don’t see how that is a reasonable position. My belief or disbelief in god has nothing to do with my morals. The only way I can see an affect is if I act in a moral way simply because I wish to be rewarded, which isn’t true morality anyway.

    To me, MT’s or anyone else’s difficulties / doubts / etc. do not entail God’s failure.

    It’s all running together, but I believe this was in response to a specific argument where Kaltrosomos talked about sincerity of wanting to see god. I put forth MT as someone who’s sincerity at wanting to find god is not in question. She was a horribly immoral person, but she sincerely wanted to find god.

    I don’t know that God didn’t show himself to people like MT.

    She documented that he didn’t.

    In fact, you (and everyone who argues about this stuff) should watch that new Meryl Streep movie ‘Doubt’

    I was planning on it, although I’m a Netflix person.

    how do we accurately assess where the failure occurred??

    I don’t see why we can’t drop it at the feet of god. If someone wants to find god and doesn’t, it’s because god hasn’t presented himself. If god wanted someone to find him, they would. If god takes the action to be found, he’ll be found. Therefore, we have to conclude that god did/does not want to be found by, at least, some people.

    The definition of Christian is not love.

    That’s exactly what I was getting at.

    The most non-loaded definition of Christian I can conceive of is Christ-like.

    That’s a bad definition, in that “Christ-like” can have many meanings depending on who you talk to. Also, it’s not very accurate. A better definition is one who believes in Jesus and/or the Nicene Creed.

    If you can better explain how you feel I’ve conflated and it makes sense, I’ll gladly agree I have.

    Your argument was that real Xians don’t do X (kill people, right?) because god is love. But, this is a conflation in that Xians != god. Xians can kill and murder people, and be generally immoral people. Being a Xian doesn’t make one moral. This is the problem with your statement about what real Xians do – one problem at least.

    I don’t think God’s sole criteria is what’s best, easiest, most comfortable or most obvious for man. I think God is looking at things in terms of what’s best for everything and everyone, and in terms of eternity.

    I don’t think you can defend sending the majority of humanity into eternal torment as a good thing, let alone what is “best.” This holds especially true for a being who is omni-max.

    So either: 1) Such people are allowed to co-exist with those who want peace, and chaos continues to reign until absolute zero; 2) Such people must be rehabilitated; 3) Such people dwell separate from the rest; 4) The good must become evil; or 5) Absolute standards of justice do not exist.

    There’s lots of other options. Instead of hell, why not simple non-existence? Why make people who are evil in the first place? I could go on and on.

    When you say ‘best’ what do you mean? The most comfort? The best from our POV? God’s POV? If we don’t have free will, I don’t believe in hell, so the latter half is a counterfactual as far as I’m concerned.

    Let me rephrase. If you were given the choice before you were born of one of 2 things, which would you choose:
    1. You can have free will on Earth, to do what you wish to do, but at the end of your life you will be cast into the fiery pits of hell for eternal torment.
    2. You can not have free will while on Earth, but you will spend eternity in heaven in everlast blissful paradise.
    Of course, there are other possibilities, like having free will and getting to go to heaven, but those are outside of the scope of this argument.

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

    cl,

    Well sure.. as isolated actions, stealing, murder, pimping, selling rock, (etc. etc.) wouldn’t seem to merit an eternity of suffering.

    Take them all together. The worst tyrant who kills millions of people does not do enough to merit an eternity of torment.

  • mikespeir

    Well, if by ‘corrupt’ you mean only ‘different than before,’ then everything is corrupt, including the Earth, the stars, the universe, the Bible, and those who read it. Is change tantamount to corruption in your world view? That scares me. Do you similarly define evolution as corruption?

    Arguing over Bible corruption seems moot because so far it’s not been defined. Arguing over Bible contradiction seems something we can objectively pick at. So, if you want to throw me a bone to chew, feel free. Conversely, if you’d like me to address what I feel is a common misconception of contradiction in the Bible, I’ll gladly do so.

    Sorry. I’m putting the monkey on your back. You said the Bible had changed. How? Give examples.

  • Paul S

    cl:

    For example, you’ve said the Golden Rule was clear. I’ll presume you think Thou Shalt Not Murder is equally clear. When people murder, how is God’s word causing this? Also, I believe I am an alleged follower of Christ. It could very well be that some of my interpretations are incorrect, but on things like Thou Shalt Not Murder, I see little wiggle room.

    Maybe I’m not picking up what you’re putting down. I don’t believe I said that when people murder, God’s word causes it. And if I did say this, that wasn’t my intended meaning. I meant that when/if people kill in God’s name, they do so with the belief that they are doing God’s will. I’m not saying they’re right or wrong. Personally, I think they’re wrong. I don’t think the Bible instructs anyone to kill anyone in God’s name. The point is that they believe they’re right, and it’s because of their interpretation of the same words you and I would read and say, “How could you read it that way?” But they do.

    As an aside, the wording of the commandment (either in Exodus or Deuteronomy – take your pick) is, “You shall not kill.” How do you interpret that? Is all killing wrong? Is it OK to kill animals for food? How about killing other living things, like rats? Shouldn’t the commandment have been, “You shall not murder another human being.” Why the ambiguity?

    Do choices exist that merit singular (as in non-arbitrary) consequences? Certain choices entail certain consequences, right?

    Of course they do. It’s the drastic, eternal punishment for simply not believing that I find so obscene. Is God so puntitive that the mere act of non-belief merits a trip to hell?

    If the Bible claims to be God’s word, and it clearly says Thou Shalt Not Murder, of course I think I’m right when I say the people who claim to believe in the God of the Bible are wrong for living lifestyles of religiously motivated terror.

    But like you argued earlier, that’s merely your subjective opinion, right?

  • exrelayman

    1) Thought experiment: Imagine nothing exists. You have godlike power and are contemplating creating a universe. You see that in creating sentient beings that a few of them (for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat, because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it) will be rewarded in an abundant hearafter, while most will suffer horribly for eternity. Would you create such a world? Would it not be better to just not make anything, or failing that, at least construct your creatures with the ability to make better choices with their ‘free will’ (a non Biblical term, by the way)? Is not Hell infinitely more horrible and ghastly than the Holocaust? Does ‘We are just human, who are we to judge God?’ work for you?

    2) God hates sin. His inability to abide the presence of sin is the cause of relegating sinners to Hell. So this God who hates sin condemns all men to a sinful nature because Adam and Eve disobeyed (before having any way to know that disobedience was wrong)? God hates sin but here chooses to magnify and enlarge its presence in His universe? Does no one see any problem here? Can our will be free if we be sinful by nature? If God values our free will to such an extent as to be willing for most of us to be tormented forever in Hell for our use of it, why does He thus violate it? Again, for what Adam and Eve did, does the punishment seem proportional to the crime?

    3) Satan having directly experience God in Heaven was nonetheless able to use his free will to rebel. Adam and Eve, having directly experienced God in Eden, were nevertheless able to use their free will to sin. Thus God giving us more evidence would not violate our free will.

    I realize I have strayed a bit from the flow of the thread, although the justification of Hell has been a part of it. It just seemed to me that some of our theist visitors seem the think they are inerrant, and that some of our atheists here might enjoy the exposure to these ideas which may be out there somewhere, but I don’t recall seeing them anywhere. The above use of theist concepts and Biblical references is only for the purpose of showing the inconsistencies contained therein, for the sake of those who would say ‘you quote that which you do not believe’. Thanks for your attention all.

  • MS Quixote

    Leum,

    Our posts tend to focus on them because they’re the ones trying to take away our rights (yours too, of course).

    And though it seems odd, I support you folks & EM wholeheartedly in that endeavor, certainly with removing the church from politics, but also with the doctrinal craziness. I tried to make it clear that I took no offense to your comment, sorry if I wasn’t clear. You’re one of the better commenters around.

    And, yes, you remembered correctly. I’m a calvinist, which historically is one of the majority reports among Christians, and it is resurging nicely in the current market. As a side note, all orthodox Christian bodies maintain a doctrine of predestination; it’s not specific to calvinism.

  • Ishryal

    cl

    Of course it falls short. I’ve already admitted such. Of course not going to Van Halen is different than not going to heaven; I’ve not ignored the finality of anything. Now here’s the thing: You’re analogy starts off on the wrong foot in that we don’t start out on the wire.

    I would disagree. The wire is very much what we start out on… it is being born (we don’t seem to choose that… or can you provide evidence, scripture or otherwise, that says different), it is being given free-will (we don’t choose to have free-will, it is given to us by god), it is the path we have to follow that does NOT lead to death. By the very notion of the ‘choice’ you have mentioned, either choose god or not, we have no other recourse than to walk the path, to stay on the wire. How do you view the starting point if not already on the wire?

    Do you have an objective argument proving God is a bully? Or just more opinions? Honestly. You can’t expect me to just accept your judgments. Don’t say you don’t have a choice in whether to accept the Bible’s provision, because anyone who’s heard retains that choice. Furthermore, what about those who’ve not heard? Is God a bully and an ultimatum-giver to them as well?

    Yes. What is a bully? One could say that a bully is someone that holds an advantage over you and uses that advantage for their own personal gain. Would you agree with that? Or uses their strength or superior intellect to hurt, persecute, or intimidate weaker people? While no, I cannot provide a verse that has god admit that he is a bully, the bible provides more than enough passages that shows he behaves like one. If not all of them directly (the flood for example), then using other people to do his bidding.

    And be carefull of what you mean by ‘heard’. Just hearing about god does not save you either. Most passages talk about ‘knowing’ god, as in a personal way. I take it this is more of what you are referring to rather than just ‘heard’ about god?

    At any rate, yes. To go to heaven one must ‘know’ god, to hear him, which by that statements own nature automatically excludes those who have never ‘heard’ OF god, and also don’t HEAR god. If god is god, and one hears this from christians all the time, that once they have ‘heard’ god, they know him. Is that not the power of god? That to hear him is to know him? Do you not hear him, know him in a personal way? If not, how do you know it is god you hear? If not, if you don’t hear him, how do you know him?

    Whether we are talking about people who have just never heard about christianity (jesus, the bible, god etc), unborn or newly born babies (after all they havn’t had a chance to hear or know god… to say otherwise is suggest we are born without sin), people of other religions, athiests, or whoever, god is very much a bully and ultimatum giver by the bible’s own words.

    2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
    He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power

    *bolding is mine

    May also want to look up Psalm 9:17. Oh and I think John 14:6 is fairly understandable too… NO ONE can get to god, or heaven except through Jesus. So yes, if someone has not heard OF god, or Of Jesus or do no hear them, then yes, they all go to hell.

    That’s your opinion and I respect it. Again, though, what’s so unclear about the Golden Rule, for example?

    Now you’re cherry-picking. Taking ONE LINE out of the bible, saying it is true and good, does not make the rest of it ok. It does not prove the goodness of god, it does not prove the validity of christianity, does not mean the bible is inerrant or is a clear and concise document. And, after all, that was what I was arguing… whether it was clear and inerrant. In my example of the microwave manual, having a correct statement in it regarding how to turn it on at the wall doesn’t make the other issues correct. If the WHOLE of the document creates confusion, is unclear in it’s interpretation, contains contradictory advice and examples, and it has continued to be this way for millions of people over thousands of years without authorative revision, how can YOU say the document is not in error, and thus any liability falls to it’s creator or source material (ie, god)?

    I agree, the golden rule is a good one. So what? It’s one that I imagine most people follow regardless of their faith, or non-faith, and even most animals follow instinctually. Why should we follow that ONE rule over others? You’re taking that one rule out of context of the entire bible, which contains many clear passages about god ordering the deaths of a great many people, many of whom were innocents (which I think is a valid counter point to any argument that killing in the name of god, or if god orders the killing, or if god does it himself, it is good). Murder is the intentional killing of someone. God has done that personally or has ordered others to do it many times, thus violating his own rule… or he is a hypocrit.

    If hell is a thing, then yes. If hell is not a thing, then no. However, did I argue a position? Or did I ask OMGF to state the verse from scripture that supported his point? You offered a few for him and that’s okay, but the verses you cite only apply to created and made things, do they not? What do you say if I counter that hell is neither created, nor made, nor a thing per se? Now what verse supports your claim? And where is the verse that says, “God created hell?” Or, is that a paraphrase that does not occur in the Bible?

    Symantics. If a thing is neither created, nor made, nor a thing per se, then it doesn’t exist. And the bible tells us that hell is very much a thing, and it exists, whether it is a place, or a state of being. I admit that you will not find a verse that explicitly says ‘I god created hell’, but it’s definately inferred. It is either created by god by the verses I quoted, or by his very existance and hell is no more than the absense of god. Of course that would mean god is not omni-max for you cannot have a place that god is not a present in or absent from… you know, that whole onmi-presence thing. Which, either way is kinda of moot… god still allows Hell to exist, so either he can’t do anything about and so is not omni-max, or it exists with his permission and approval, whether he likes it or not… or both.

    I’m not sure if God created hell yet, but I am perplexed as to how so many people here seem to have it down, ‘cuz, you know, the Bible’s so unclear and all. Isn’t it cherrypicking to argue the clarity of the Bible when it serves our point of argument, but object to the unclarity of the Bible when it does not?

    Indeed, thank you for agreeing that the bible is unclear and all. Your point is what we see constantly from people who say the bible is inerrant. They try and show it to be true, but when something comes up that shows that it isn’t they do their best to cover it up with alternative interpretations… which of course only goes to show that the bible isn’t perfect, not clear, and so is not inerrant. And is that not what you are doing when you talk about the golden rule by choosing to not highlight the other parts of the bible that counters that rule? There is no middle ground on this… it’s either inerrant, or it’s not. Is the bible inerrant? Yes or no?

    Sorry, I tend to babble… on.

  • exrelayman

    Ishryal,

    You babble well.

    Addendum to my last comment:

    To item 1) An answer to ‘Who are we to judge God?’ is ‘We are the ones who have had our eyes opened by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil’ according to your scripture.

    To item 3) In the final sentence ‘more evidence’ should really read ‘any credible evidence at all’ since the gospels are anecdotal evidence, no evidence of their existence at all appearing until more than 100 years after the alleged events they purport to describe, written by no one knows whom, but certainly not by the persons ‘according to’ as dishonestly attributed by the early church. If the church dishonestly attributes authorship for its foundational documents, can we trust it in anything?

    Also on the topic of that comment, an item 4) should have been present. That is this consideration: isn’t the one who will cast us into eternal torment on the basis of our one lifetime the same one that said to forgive your brother not 7 times, but 70 X 7 times?

    An aside. Commentators on the Dawkins website use avatars. A cute one says ‘God is a dyslexic canine’.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Here’s a few for OMGF and I’ll get to the others soon..

    She documented that he didn’t.

    So, MT can prove a negative?

    I put forth MT as someone who’s sincerity at wanting to find god is not in question.

    But that’s just my point. She can’t prove God didn’t. She can only prove that if God did, she didn’t.

    I’m a Netflix person

    I haven’t been to the movies in years!

    I don’t see why we can’t drop it at the feet of god.

    Because we have no evidence.

    From Wikipedia: Conflation occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places, sharing some characteristics of one another, become confused until there seems to be only a single identity.

    Your argument was that real Xians don’t do X (kill people, right?) because god is love.

    It’s worded differently, but seems comparable. My argument was that if God undeniably states X is not of God’s nature, and those who claim to follow God commit X, then those who commit X are acting against God’s nature.

    But, this is a conflation in that Xians != god.

    That’s the part I don’t get. I’m addressing two separate entities – God and the followers. I’m not melding them or amalgamating them. Further, I’m stating that the nature of either entity does not entail identical nature from the other entity.

    I don’t think you can defend sending the majority of humanity into eternal torment as a good thing..

    I don’t think it is a ‘good’ thing.

    The worst tyrant who kills millions of people does not do enough to merit an eternity of torment.

    Correct. It’s what they don’t do, which is recognize the evil of their ways, repent, and get dunked.

    Why make people who are evil in the first place?

    That’s your position, though, and by asking me that, you’re assuming I agree God made people who are evil. I believe God created people who are free. In my worldview, freedom is not the ability to do whatever one wishes free of consequences, either.

    1. You can have free will on Earth, to do what you wish to do, but at the end of your life you will be cast into the fiery pits of hell for eternal torment.
    2. You can not have free will while on Earth, but you will spend eternity in heaven in everlast blissful paradise.

    I wouldn’t pick either. Why does free will entail hell in #1?

    Xians can kill and murder people, and be generally immoral people. Being a Xian doesn’t make one moral.

    Of course they can, and I didn’t say it did.

  • Leum

    Who are you to judge God?

    Cat at slacktivist (first comment) gave the best response to this ever: “I am who I am.”

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,
    See here for discussion on MT. So, it seems god did not talk to her. Even if he was, he would have been doing something that he would have known would have failed (omniscience and all that can be such a burden sometimes!) so it would certainly be his fault that he didn’t get through to her. Plus, it is no sweat off god’s back to make his message communicable, so it’s not like she was asking too much of him.

    Because we have no evidence.

    Which is why the rest of my statement was there. We have no evidence of god (let’s not get into it) in the first place, so evidence of his actions is sorely lacking. That said, if the attributes of god are as stated (omni-max) then we can make some determinations based on what is entailed with those abilities.

    I don’t want to get into the details of conflation, but your original statement was worded such that it seemed you were saying who is or is not a true Xian based on the definition of god. This is incorrect, because the definition of Xian is different. Also, I could point out that what people think of god is subjective and interpretive. Suffice it to say, it’s still incorrect for you to sit back and expound on who is or is not a true Xian based on your own personal interpretation.

    I don’t think it is a ‘good’ thing.

    The Bible indicates that the road is narrow to heaven and that most people will suffer eternal torment. If this is not good, how can you defend god setting up this system?

    Correct. It’s what they don’t do, which is recognize the evil of their ways, repent, and get dunked.

    It still doesn’t merit eternal torture. Besides, once someone has seen the error of their ways due to the eternal torture they are being afflicted with, do they have the option of rehabilitation? Nope. Hell is strictly vengeful and punitive, which doesn’t accord with how we view justice.

    That’s your position, though, and by asking me that, you’re assuming I agree God made people who are evil. I believe God created people who are free. In my worldview, freedom is not the ability to do whatever one wishes free of consequences, either.

    And, by creating people who are free, he knew ahead of time that some of them would be evil. If I create a robot that has AI and can actually feel like a human and it goes out and kills a whole bunch of people, is it my fault? Maybe. But, let’s say that I also knew that it would go out and kill people before I built it. Now is it my fault?

    I wouldn’t pick either. Why does free will entail hell in #1?

    I already talked about this after the question. I acknowledged that some people would go to heaven after having free will, but that hardly matters for the question in hand. If some people go to hell, then for those people, number one holds. Would it have been better for them to have free will or not? This is only the first step in a multi-part question.

    Of course they can, and I didn’t say it did.

    You implied it by saying that “Xians” who kill other people are not true Xians.

  • mikespeir

    cl,

    Did you forget about me? Are you going to show me examples of how the Bible has changed from the original in such a way as can’t be termed “corruption”?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Paul S,

    I meant that when/if people kill in God’s name, they do so with the belief that they are doing God’s will.

    I know, I think I’m understanding you just fine, but, I could be wrong still, so let’s be sure.

    The point is that they believe they’re right, and it’s because of their interpretation of the same words you and I would read and say, “How could you read it that way?” But they do.

    Right. Ebonmuse made the following comment earlier:

    ..just witness the rivers of blood spilled by people warring, persecuting, and torturing each other for the sake of their differing interpretations of God..

    And my point is, why fault the words or God for being ‘unclear’ when the words are clear? The problem is with the zealots, not the Bible.

    As an aside, the wording of the commandment (either in Exodus or Deuteronomy – take your pick) is, “You shall not kill.”

    No, it’s murder. It’s always good to go back to the original languages for Bible study. I apologize; I’ve known this, but that’s how my negligent self was using it earlier, as ‘kill,’ and OMGF rightly corrected my misspeech. The Hebrew word used in the sixth commandment is ratsach and denotes, “..murder, slay, premeditated, assassinate, etc.”

    OMGF,

    So, it seems god did not talk to her.

    K, let me get this straight: The person who says God talks to him or her speaks subjectively and can’t prove it, yet the person who says God did not talk to him or her gets pre-clearance? With reservation, I’ll say I’m open to an explanation of how such isn’t special pleading.

    It still doesn’t merit eternal torture.

    I won’t go there with you because I need more information.

    Would it have been better for them to have free will or not? This is only the first step in a multi-part question.

    If anything is better than hell, it would seem not.

    mikespeir,

    Did you forget about me?

    No, sorry for lagging, finished up some more school this week, busy at work, you know the drill. It’s only a minor frustration, but you still won’t define corruption, so, from Wikipedia: “..impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle; depravity, decay, and/or an inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means, a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct, and/or an agency or influence that corrupts.”

    Massoretic vs. Qumran Isaiah 53:

    Seventeen ‘differences’ in the text. Ten of those differences consisted in spelling: i.e., “honour” and “honor”. Four of the other differences were in the presence or lack of a conjunction. The point is, out of 166 words in the entire chapter, only one was really in question, and it did not change at all the meaning of the passage as a whole.

    So, by the definition provided, very clearly, Isaiah 53 is both corrupt and non-corrupt. Yes, it’s changed; no, those changes didn’t affect the moral integrity of the text.

    exrelayman,

    Is not Hell infinitely more horrible and ghastly than the Holocaust?

    That’s a rhetorical question, and I’ve not experienced either so why would you trust my judgment?

    Does ‘We are just human, who are we to judge God?’ work for you?

    Yep. I liked Leum’s take too.

    So this God who hates sin condemns all men to a sinful nature because Adam and Eve disobeyed (before having any way to know that disobedience was wrong)?

    That’s not what Genesis says, but..

    Can our will be free if we be sinful by nature?

    I think our nature itself is or was (not sure which to use, maybe both or neither) neutral.

    Thus God giving us more evidence would not violate our free will.

    I tend to agree. I didn’t mean at all to make a contradictory argument, if I did. From what I’ve been told, God could work a miracle in front of some people’s faces right now, and they’d still chalk it up to hallucination.

    ..some of our theist visitors seem the think they are inerrant,

    Not sure who that was for, but I definitely do not think I’m inerrant or I wouldn’t be a believer. There’s quite a few concessions of error from me around DA, as well.

    Ishryal,

    About the wire, you’re quite correct. I misspoke and/or misunderstood you.

    Yes. What is a bully? One could say that a bully is someone that holds an advantage over you and uses that advantage for their own personal gain. Would you agree with that?

    I don’t really agree fully with your definition. To me, a ‘bully’ is someone who says, “If you don’t do X, Y, or Z, I’m gonna kick your ass.” I don’t think that is God. Anyone who’s spent any time on the streets might see a better analogy in the homie. If somebody says, “If you don’t do X, Y, or Z, terrible suffering is going to result,” to me, that’s a homie, not a bully.

    Going further, to me, a ‘bully’ is also somebody that flaunts their power and superiority to intimidate, coerce, or convince one into doing something. Now this is especially interesting in light of all these people who fault God for not coming down and convincing them. They are asking to be bullied, IMO. The flood was punishment, not persuasion.

    And be carefull of what you mean by ‘heard’. Just hearing about god does not save you either. Most passages talk about ‘knowing’ god, as in a personal way. I take it this is more of what you are referring to rather than just ‘heard’ about god?

    Not sure what you meant there. If you want to clarify I’ll take a stab. I think you’re speaking in reference to the question of whether the ignorant go to hell. If so, see **below for a clearer view of my argument in that respect.

    Taking ONE LINE out of the bible, saying it is true and good, does not make the rest of it ok. It does not prove the goodness of god, it does not prove the validity of christianity, does not mean the bible is inerrant or is a clear and concise document.

    Correct. I think you’ve missed a few earlier comments. Such is not what I’m doing. Ebonmuse argued:

    Surely, if God is benevolent, he would want humans to understand his will; he would not desire that we be confused or divided. The consequences of his leading us astray are terrible – just witness the rivers of blood spilled by people warring, persecuting, and torturing each other for the sake of their differing interpretations of God. Yet all this religious dissension also shows that the message is anything but clear.

    That is the argument I reject as false. I’m saying the scriptures are clear that we are not to murder, so when the religious murder, the fault rightly falls on them, not some alleged lack of clarity in the sixth commandment or the Golden Rule, for example. No cherrypicking.

    ..even most animals follow (the Golden Rule) instinctually.

    My experience with animals has been different.

    Murder is the intentional killing of someone. God has done that personally or has ordered others to do it many times, thus violating his own rule… or he is a hypocrit.

    I agree with your definition of murder. I agree God has ordered many murders. I feel you omit proper context. The rule was from an 0^3 God to fallible beings. The commandment does not read, “Murder is wrong in every case.” If it did, you’d have a stronger argument. It reads, “Thou shalt not.” God as creator must retain rights as destroyer, and that’s one of the things I like about the Hindi trinity.

    If a thing is neither created, nor made, nor a thing per se, then it doesn’t exist.

    I won’t take that much liberty.

    Your point is what we see constantly from people who say the bible is inerrant.

    I don’t know if the Bible is inerrant. I’m currently (and have been for some time) hung up on Luke’s accounting of Roman census, to be honest. Aside from that, I’ve not heard one convincing argument, but I’m open so shoot.

    They try and show it to be true, but when something comes up that shows that it isn’t they do their best to cover it up with alternative interpretations…

    Again, I’m not trying to show the Bible is inerrant. I am trying to show that Ebon’s stated argument fails.

    And is that not what you are doing when you talk about the golden rule by choosing to not highlight the other parts of the bible that counters that rule?

    What verses do you have in mind?

    Sorry, I tend to babble… on.

    Come on now. Every person here will say you’re preaching to the choir on that one… :)

    Sorry I took a few days to address your points, too.

    **here

  • mikespeir

    Yes, it’s changed; no, those changes didn’t affect the moral integrity of the text.

    Is that the issue? (And “moral integrity” is a term that, I suspect, can mean pretty much whatever you want it to mean.) Is the text now the way God wanted it? Do you believe in verbal inspiration? If so, the fact that the words now don’t match the words God gave amounts to corruption. (Indeed, any human tinkering with anything divine–or springing from the divine–must be seen as corruption; I mean, unless you can show that the tinkering resulted in an improvement, which I doubt you’ll try.) And surely you’re aware as I am of texts where the changes really do affect the meaning.

    At very best, you’re right in admitting, “So, by the definition provided, very clearly, Isaiah 53 is both corrupt and non-corrupt.” By allowing “corruption” by even your own definition, you’re ceding a lot to Ebonmuse.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    mikespeir,

    At very best, you’re right in admitting, “So, by the definition provided, very clearly, Isaiah 53 is both corrupt and non-corrupt.”

    I said that because you refuse to elaborate on what you mean by corrupt. The typical interpretation of the word involves a decrease in moral integrity. By the definition that you judge the Bible as corrupt here, then, as I said, everything else around us is corrupt. Did you have a beard or armpit hair when you were just a wee lad? No? But you do now? Technically, you’ve corrupted, if by corrupt we mean simply a change from the original.

    By allowing “corruption” by even your own definition, you’re ceding a lot to Ebonmuse.

    I disagree. The ‘corruptions’ I’ve cited are nowhere near the type that can sustain these charges:

    one would think he would want to communicate clearly. Surely, if God is benevolent, he would want humans to understand his will; he would not desire that we be confused or divided. The consequences of his leading us astray are terrible – just witness the rivers of blood spilled by people warring, persecuting, and torturing each other for the sake of their differing interpretations of God. Yet all this religious dissension also shows that the message is anything but clear.

    Also, ‘honor’ is better than ‘honour’ so there’s an improvement right there.

    Such simply illustrates why arguing over alleged errors and/or contradictions is far more productive than arguing over corruption – unless, of course, you want to clarify your meaning.

  • mikespeir

    cl,

    Then what did you mean by “corrupt and non-corrupt”? Sure, a “typical” definition of corrupt has to do with morality. That’s by no means the only definition. For instance, my WordWeb gives this one: “Containing errors or alterations.” This is what I mean by “corrupt.” By this definition, we know some Bible texts are corrupt. It can’t be so easily dismissed as an “honor” vs. “honour” thing. In some cases the meanings themselves are cast into doubt. Indeed, in some places whether what’s written was even originally there is questionable.

    So, no, we don’t have to get into an endless back and forth about errors or contradictions. You, yourself admitted the texts have been altered. If they have, that means what was originally there is at least in doubt. Thus, we’re left with a supposed communication from God that isn’t as reliable as many Christians insist it is. So what Ebonmuse wrote is not only defensible, but inevitable. Where the meaning of the text is in doubt, the message is anything but clear. This is not what we would expect from a purportedly omniscient, omnipotent, supremely benevolent God who hangs our eternal destinies of our understanding of this Book.

  • Ishryal

    cl

    I don’t really agree fully with your definition. To me, a ‘bully’ is someone who says, “If you don’t do X, Y, or Z, I’m gonna kick your ass.” I don’t think that is God. Anyone who’s spent any time on the streets might see a better analogy in the homie. If somebody says, “If you don’t do X, Y, or Z, terrible suffering is going to result,” to me, that’s a homie, not a bully.

    Symantics, again. A homie IS a bully, just a different class of bully with bad fashion sense and poor taste in music (j/k… just not a fan of R&B).

    So, by your definition, not believing in god (or not being aware of his existence) (X), not following the teachings of Jesus (or being aware that Jesus is the only way to god) (Y), and not repenting your sins (Z), which will lead to Hell (kicking your arse in the afterworld or ‘terrible suffering is going to result’) is not making god a bully how? Does god offer any other choice other than going to Hell? No. It is still a case of god created these rules we must follow (X, Y, and Z) or else. And if ‘else’ has only one outcome, it is not a choice, it is an ultimatum, thus god is a bully.

    Going further, to me, a ‘bully’ is also somebody that flaunts their power and superiority to intimidate, coerce, or convince one into doing something. Now this is especially interesting in light of all these people who fault God for not coming down and convincing them. They are asking to be bullied, IMO. The flood was punishment, not persuasion.

    To intimidate:

    Joshua 4:23,24

    For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

    Luke 12:4-5

    I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

    So in other words, he caused rivers to dry up just to show people how powerful he was and to get people to fear him… and you shouldn’t fear anyone other than god who has all this power, so much so that he can throw you into hell.

    To coerce and convince:

    Exodus 19:3-6

    Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you [a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

    In other words, look at how powerful I am, do as I say and you will be rewarded. Then of course, once having shown how powerful he was, god then decreed that they must follow the commandments or be punished and destroyed.

    That is the argument I reject as false. I’m saying the scriptures are clear that we are not to murder, so when the religious murder, the fault rightly falls on them, not some alleged lack of clarity in the sixth commandment or the Golden Rule, for example. No cherrypicking.

    Yes, cherrypicking. You’re still taking one rule out of the entire ‘message’ for what you need to do to not go to hell, which I think is the main point of Ebonmuse’s statement. Then you say:

    I agree with your definition of murder. I agree God has ordered many murders. I feel you omit proper context. The rule was from an 0^3 God to fallible beings. The commandment does not read, “Murder is wrong in every case.” If it did, you’d have a stronger argument. It reads, “Thou shalt not.” God as creator must retain rights as destroyer, and that’s one of the things I like about the Hindi trinity.

    So basically, it’s ok to murder if god tells us to? So if someone says “I killed them because god told me to” it is ok and does not go against ‘thou shalt not murder’? Afterall, if it’s been shown that god has done that (as you admit) in past, then you have a preceedence, and the benefit of the doubt goes to the murderer. Either way, if it is ok for god to do it or to order us to do it, it becomes a case of all commandments and rules being arbitrary, uncertain, and you have really no basis for making any claims on what god wants or will do, regardless of if it’s in the bible or not.

    But you’ve said yourself the rule is VERY clear… ‘YOU shall NOT commit murder’… it doesn’t have any notes or disclaimer saying ‘unless god tells you to’. Regardless of whether god demands it or not, it is still the case that if someone commits murder, they are going against the commandment. Make up your mind… is the rule clear, or does it require context? If so, what context? If it requires context, you’re whole argument about ‘what’s so unclear about the Golden Rule?’ is moot. It becomes unclear by itself (ie, cherrypicking) because it needs further elaboration.

    On a side note, and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, where in the bible does it say ‘god reserves the right to go against the rules he puts down’? Please show me the verse. Why would that make it ok? Why should we follow anything that does not lead by example? Would it be ok for the creator of the bionic ear implant to suddenly go about destroying them once implanted? Wouldn’t god reserving a right (and acting upon it) to destroy us go against that freewill we hear about so much? Particularlity in the light of the supposed judgement after we’re dead… why would god even need to reserve the right (or to enact on it) to destroy us if we’re going to be judged anyway?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    mikespeir,

    For instance, my WordWeb gives this one: “Containing errors or alterations.” This is what I mean by “corrupt.” By this definition, we know some Bible texts are corrupt.

    Certainly. And by the definition given, as equally corrupt as you are for getting a haircut. Care to redefine?

    So, no, we don’t have to get into an endless back and forth about errors or contradictions. You, yourself admitted the texts have been altered. If they have, that means what was originally there is at least in doubt. Thus, we’re left with a supposed communication from God that isn’t as reliable as many Christians insist it is.

    I disagree that change should entail doubt. Contradictions exist in the Bible, in the theory of evolution, in 100%-true court testimonies, and many other places. Error is not an intrinsic property of contradiction.

    So what Ebonmuse wrote is not only defensible, but inevitable.

    But you’re still averting my original argument, which is that whatever contradictions or allegations of unclarity might exist, they do not transfer responsibility for religious atrocities onto God, as Ebonmuse distinctly argues:

    If God had a message he wanted to convey to humans, one would think he would want to communicate clearly. Surely, if God is benevolent, he would want humans to understand his will; he would not desire that we be confused or divided. The consequences of his leading us astray are terrible – just witness the rivers of blood spilled by people warring, persecuting, and torturing each other for the sake of their differing interpretations of God. (Ebonmuse from OP)

    I argue that such is not true, that people bear the responsibility for their actions, not the books they read or the music they listen to. Agree? Disagree?

    Ishryal,

    It is still a case of god created these rules we must follow (X, Y, and Z) or else. And if ‘else’ has only one outcome, it is not a choice, it is an ultimatum, thus god is a bully.

    By nature, an ultimatum entails choice. How is a choice between two options not a choice? Even if we grant that God has given us an ultimatum, which I think is reasonable, is everyone who gives an ultimatum regardless of motive a bully IYO? If the inverse of God is -God (hell), and God warns us in hopes of not wanting any to perish, I do not see such as bullying.

    God has done that personally or has ordered others to do it many times, thus violating his own rule… or he is a hypocrit.

    God doesn’t violate God’s own rule. The commandment doesn’t read, “God shalt not kill.” Unpalatable as it may be, especially when we’re dealing with free-willed, sentient beings who retain the ability to bring grave and real evil into the world, the creator by nature retains rights to destroy. Only somewhat tangentially, what’s your stance on the death penalty, and why?

    Yes, cherrypicking. You’re still taking one rule out of the entire ‘message’ for what you need to do to not go to hell, which I think is the main point of Ebonmuse’s statement.

    Again, you’re either way off here, or I’m misunderstanding you. Ebon argues lack of clarity is responsible for “..the rivers of blood spilled by people warring, persecuting, and torturing each other for the sake of their differing interpretations of God.” I argue that such is not true, that people bear the responsibility for their actions, not the books they read or the music they listen to. Agree? Disagree?

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

    Contradictions exist in the Bible, in the theory of evolution, in 100%-true court testimonies, and many other places. Error is not an intrinsic property of contradiction.

    Science and the justice system leave room for reasonable doubt. Few scientific theories can be considered 100% complete because the nature of science is to always allow the possiblity of falsification. Justice is a human system and therefore fallible and subject to error. A book supposedly written or inspired by a perfect being (Ontological argument?)doesn’t have the luxury of error. It should be 100% right or its divine provinence must be suspect.

  • mikespeir

    Certainly. And by the definition given, as equally corrupt as you are for getting a haircut. Care to redefine?

    Did you write this before you even read the portion of my post that you quoted next? You must have.

    I disagree that change should entail doubt. Contradictions exist in the Bible, in the theory of evolution, in 100%-true court testimonies, and many other places. Error is not an intrinsic property of contradiction.

    It may not engender doubt in you, but you seem determined not to doubt. And let’s forget contradictions here. I didn’t bring up contradictions, so I don’t mean to allow that digression. I’m talking about where texts have been changed so as to leave their intended meanings in doubt. By what sophistry is this not corruption? How could it not be excusable that this should engender doubt in one not wedded to your religion? Again, why should we think that a god who wanted us to have a reliable guide–as evidenced by him, purportedly, issuing it as such–would allow it to be corrupted?

    But you’re still averting my original argument, which is that whatever contradictions or allegations of unclarity might exist, they do not transfer responsibility for religious atrocities onto God….

    But atrocities is not the issue I was dealing with. My assertion is that the texts of the Bible have been corrupted. I don’t intend to get sidetracked here.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    K, let me get this straight: The person who says God talks to him or her speaks subjectively and can’t prove it, yet the person who says God did not talk to him or her gets pre-clearance? With reservation, I’ll say I’m open to an explanation of how such isn’t special pleading.

    Because the situations are different.

    But, let’s not lose sight of the actual argument here. Someone who is desperate to find god doesn’t. Someone who is desperate to find anything that she can use to say that god is talking to her/in evidence/etc. can’t. Is it her failing or is it god’s? You wish to contend that god is talking to her but she’s not hearing it because it is her fault? What else is she supposed to do? She’s trying, she’s hoping, she’s wishing that god will talk to her, and this omni-max entity can’t figure out how to talk to her in such a way that she can understand and hear? Couple that with the fact that god would know ahead of time that his efforts would be in vain, and it’s pretty obvious that this story simply doesn’t hold up.

    If anything is better than hell, it would seem not.

    OK, so it is certainly better for humans not to go to hell.

    Now, imagine that you are god. Is it better for you to send people to hell or not? If god truly doesn’t want people to go to hell, is it better for them to go there? If god truly knows ahead of time that they will be in hell before he creates them, is it better for him to go ahead and create them just to later send them to hell? Etc.

    Tidbits:

    Also, ‘honor’ is better than ‘honour’ so there’s an improvement right there.

    Only if you are an American.

    I argue that such is not true, that people bear the responsibility for their actions, not the books they read or the music they listen to. Agree? Disagree?

    Yet, the Bible is supposed to be a book written by god to give us our morals. Do we bear the responsibility for our actions if god is telling us what to do and mucks it all up? And, yes, I know you say that “Thou shalt not murder” is clear, but you’ve also admitted that god has ordered murder. This is contradiction to the command, is it not? When people decide that they are killing for god, it becomes justified in their eyes.

    Lastly, do you believe in absolute morality? Why do you give god a pass for committing genocide? Does god not bear a moral responsibility to us for creating us? If anything, his ‘right to be the destroyer’ was ceded the moment he created sentient beings that can perform moral acts, because he incurred a moral debt to us. Just as parents have a moral obligation to their children, so god would have one to us. This means that he should not mistreat us, should not arbitrarily kill us, should not toss us into hell, etc.

  • Ishryal

    cl

    By nature, an ultimatum entails choice. How is a choice between two options not a choice? Even if we grant that God has given us an ultimatum, which I think is reasonable, is everyone who gives an ultimatum regardless of motive a bully IYO? If the inverse of God is -God (hell), and God warns us in hopes of not wanting any to perish, I do not see such as bullying.

    Except that you havn’t shown that hell is merely the inverse of god, or if even there can be an inverse of god, in the bible. When the person who is the one making the ultimatum also has the power to offer alternatives to Hell yet chooses not to, then yes, he’s still a bully. He is deliberately enforcing a punishment (remember, he is the one who decided he will judge us… he doesn’t need to do that either), thus it is NOT reasonable at all. God has the power to make Hell NOT the alternative. Anyone with an imagination can think of an alternative, so it is not outside the bounds of god’s ability either.

    God doesn’t violate God’s own rule.

    But by your own admission, he orders US to. If the rule only applies to ‘us’, that ‘we’ shall not murder, then god is actively going against those rules if he orders us to murder in his name and so break the commandment. If he does this, then the covenant that the ten commandments were made under is broken, by god, thus he does break his own word. If god created the rules, then yes, he broke his own rules.

    So, by not showing direct evidence that he exists he is protecting our free will, but having other people murder us isn’t against our free will? And as for the flood being a punishment, punishment would indicate some sort of justice took place. At what point in the bible does god tell everyone that a flood is coming and so had better change their ways? If we are meant to repent our sins, at what point just prior to drowning does god offer all those sinners a chance to ask forgiveness? None that I can see. He just murders them all without any warning, including children and babies and such. How is that being just?

    And allowing that god reserves the right to do as he pleases has far more implications for theists than it does athiests.

    God apparently gave us free will.
    What god does is good (for god cannot do anything but be good, and all his actions must therefor be good, right?).
    Giving us free will must therefor be good.
    Denying or removing that free will would NOT be good since it would:

    A: show god is not omniscient for he could not see any problems before hand;
    B: go against a direct action of god. to deny that which god has done is to go against that which is good, and god can only do that which is good;
    C: show everything that god does is arbitrary as he can do whatever he pleases. You cannot know if what he does is because it is good, or for love, or even if he is good, and there is no reason to take anything in the bible (the word of god) as being true or any reason to believe god in general.

    But you’ve got another problem… the same idea can apply to the commandments. If god set down rules, and what god says is good, then those rules are also good. To break those rules is to break that which is good (which apparently people can do because of free will), BUT god cannot do anything except be good so he cannot go against (or cause others to go against) his own word for his word is good. But you’ve already admitted he’s ordered people to go against the Golden Rule…

    I agree, the only outcome I can see that makes god in any way consistent is C. But in saying god reserves the right to do anything undermines pretty much your entire faith. Your Golden Rule becomes no more than parsing fancy to god, and has no devine weight behind it. How can you say it’s clear when at any time, without you even knowing, god has changed the rules?

    And your answer still doesn’t address why it is ok for god to do that anyway, why god doesn’t need to set the correct example for us to follow (if he is perfect and good, should not his example be also good?… or is god a hypocrit by following the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ philosophy?). And again, if the commandments need additional notes, you cannot say that they are clear.

    Again, you’re either way off here, or I’m misunderstanding you. Ebon argues lack of clarity is responsible for “..the rivers of blood spilled by people warring, persecuting, and torturing each other for the sake of their differing interpretations of God.” I argue that such is not true, that people bear the responsibility for their actions, not the books they read or the music they listen to. Agree? Disagree?

    Your not quoting the entire passage there. Put that line in context and it’s not just about people taking responsibility. The paragraph is pretty clear… differing interpretations of the bible HAVE caused lots of bloodshed and angst… and yes by the people who are doing the interpretating, but that was not the point… the point is to merely highlight “The consequences of his leading us astray are terrible”. If we as people can cause so much pain and suffering, imagine the consequences if god were to intentionally do the same? HINT: We’re talking about eternal damnation here.

    That’s why I say you’re cherrypicking. You’ve put the Golden Rule up as an example on how clear the bible is, but you’re ignoring all those other, historically verified occurances of where the bible wasn’t clear and differing interpretations have lead to problems. I just went a little further than EM by putting forth the arguement that if god exists, he has deliberately made the bible unclear and so is at fault for all that murder and mayhem, and us going to hell.

    Oh, and by the by, my stance on capital punishment (ie, the death sentence) is that I don’t agree with it. I have my reasons, but I doubt it’s related to this thread.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    mikespeir,

    I’m talking about where texts have been changed so as to leave their intended meanings in doubt.

    Then what are you talking about?

    It may not engender doubt in you, but you seem determined not to doubt.

    I’ve publicly stated certain issues that I have doubts about, so your argument fails there. As far as our argument here, you seem of the opinion that ‘corruption’ or ‘change’ should entail doubt. I disagree, opining that unique instances merit unique analyses. For the same reason I don’t think you’re hiding anything about yourself by cutting your hair, I don’t think doubt should be cast on Isaiah 53, which was the specific example I introduced. Do you have any other examples you’d like to discuss?

    How could it not be excusable that this should engender doubt in one not wedded to your religion?

    How can you expect me to excuse anything in anyone when I cannot know their motives or their reasoning? Only you can excuse yourself.

    OMGF,

    Because the situations are different.

    How so? If the one who claims God talks to him or her is not credible, nor is he or she who says God doesn’t talk to him or her.

    OK, so it is certainly better for humans not to go to hell.

    For that particular human, it would be ‘better’ not to go to hell. This is why I asked you to clarify better for who? Surely Manson would think it better if he were not in jail. Would we?

    Do we bear the responsibility for our actions if god is telling us what to do and mucks it all up?

    First off, what parts are so mucked up? We’re not even arguing anything specific. Secondly, does Slayer bear responsibility for the kids who kill after listening to their CD’s? Yes or no?

    Lastly, do you believe in absolute morality?

    Meaning a la Euthyprho?

    Ishryal,

    My apologies but I’ll have to get back to you within 24. Life is waiting..

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    How so? If the one who claims God talks to him or her is not credible, nor is he or she who says God doesn’t talk to him or her.

    Because one is operating from confirmation bias and the other is getting the opposite of their confirmation bias. Secondly, the argument at hand is part of the reason it is different. Are we no longer discussing god’s failure to talk to people?

    For that particular human, it would be ‘better’ not to go to hell. This is why I asked you to clarify better for who? Surely Manson would think it better if he were not in jail. Would we?

    Since when is eternal torment better for humanity if anyone suffers it? Do you think humanity is better off if Hitler (sorry Godwin) is in hell? What could Hitler do to you in heaven? Could he go around killing the Xians in heaven? Could he create evil? If he had not had free will and lived blissfully then entered heaven, would he have been part of the Holocaust?

    What about my other questions of god’s actions in the hell situation? If you knew someone would drown if they went swimming, would you let them drown believing that it’s more important for them to exercise their free will in wanting to go swimming or would you try to stop them from swimming?

    First off, what parts are so mucked up? We’re not even arguing anything specific.

    Take your pick. It’s obviously mucked up when god puts instructions in there to kill unbelievers.

    Secondly, does Slayer bear responsibility for the kids who kill after listening to their CD’s? Yes or no?

    Is Slayer a god that is forcing people to believe what they say and follow it?

    Meaning a la Euthyprho?

    I wasn’t even going to go there. I was simply going to point out that you don’t due to your views on god’s special rules.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    For the same reason I don’t think you’re hiding anything about yourself by cutting your hair, I don’t think doubt should be cast on Isaiah 53, which was the specific example I introduced. Do you have any other examples you’d like to discuss?

    What about the last chapter of Mark (IIRC – and if not, it’s one of the other three), which is a late addition, or the story about he who is without sin casting the first stone, which is also a late addition?

  • mikespeir

    Then what are you talking about?

    Now, you wouldn’t sincerely have me believe you know of no such places where changes have left the meaning of the text in doubt, would you?

    I’ve publicly stated certain issues that I have doubts about, so your argument fails there.

    My argument? “It may not engender doubt in you, but you seem determined not to doubt” isn’t an argument. It’s an observation.

    And why, then, did you write, “I disagree that change should entail doubt”? Are you trying to slice your meaning finely enough to leave yourself an out? No, you didn’t say, “Change doesn’t make me doubt.” You also didn’t say, “I disagree that change will entail doubt.” But considering what I posed to you, why reply the way you did? My point was that corruption can throw meaning into doubt. I interpreted what you wrote in light of that. How about replying in such a way that leaves no doubt as to your position.

    Do you have any other examples you’d like to discuss?

    Off the top of my head, look up Luke 21:36. Note the significant difference there between the Textus Receptus and Wescott-Hort. In particular, note how kataxioo has been changed to katischuo. (Or vice versa. I don’t care which.) Also note that these two words are not synonyms. They mean quite different things. (They are look-alike words. Some copyist in the distant past looked at the one and thought he was seeing the other.) Further, note how the interpretation of ekpheugo is affected by the presence of one or the other. In other words, while either kataxioo or katischuo will work in context, the reader comes away with a different understanding of the meaning depending on which one appears.

  • Paul S.

    cl:

    No, it’s murder. It’s always good to go back to the original languages for Bible study. I apologize; I’ve known this, but that’s how my negligent self was using it earlier, as ‘kill,’ and OMGF rightly corrected my misspeech. The Hebrew word used in the sixth commandment is ratsach and denotes, “..murder, slay, premeditated, assassinate, etc.”

    I don’t give a “ratsach’s” (sorry, couldn’t resist) if the commandment says “kill” or “murder.” And it doesn’t matter. You didn’t answer my question (just subsitute “murder” for “killing”): Is all killing wrong? Is it OK to kill animals for food? The slaughter of animals for food is “premeditated slaying.” How about killing other living things, like rats (or other disease-ridden pests)? Shouldn’t the commandment have been, “Thou shall not murder another human being.” Why the ambiguity?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    My apologies to those I left waiting. Almost forgot about some unsettled business here. Holidays, surgeries, wanting to live in the real world as opposed to online… all are factors in my tardiness. I’ll get to Ishryal first because I’ve lagged the longest there.

    Ishryal,

    When the person who is the one making the ultimatum also has the power to offer alternatives to Hell yet chooses not to, then yes, he’s still a bully.

    On what epistemological ground are you standing? I say we lack information that would support such a judgment as you’ve made. And what might your ground be in stating God could offer alternatives to hell? The typical, “God can do anything” trope? It’s very clear from scripture that God either cannot or will not do anything God wants.

    If god created the rules, then yes, he broke his own rules.

    I still disagree, because the commandments are for us, not God. The sixth commandment reads thou, as opposed to we or I, correct?

    At what point in the bible does god tell everyone that a flood is coming and so had better change their ways? …He just murders them all without any warning, including children and babies and such.

    Throughout scripture, God’s judgments are preceded by warnings, often several. Chapters 3 and 4 of Genesis are full of hints from God that evil is not correct.

    Your Golden Rule becomes no more than parsing fancy to god, and has no devine weight behind it.

    I disagree. It retains full divine weight, for us and for God.

    Your not quoting the entire passage there. Put that line in context and it’s not just about people taking responsibility. The paragraph is pretty clear… differing interpretations of the bible HAVE caused lots of bloodshed and angst… and yes by the people who are doing the interpretating, but that was not the point… (bold mine)

    I’m correctly in context and yes, that was the point. My point. In practically any other case, when someone kills another, we blame the person, not their music, their politics, or their taste in art, correct? As with the Bible, surely Slayer’s lyrics, Giger’s imagery and Osama bin Laden’s politics are open to interpretation, correct? When people kill on account of other influences, we prosecute the person, not the influence. Why? Could it be because people retain responsibility for their actions regardless? Even though some of their songs are directly about murder, is Slayer responsible for those who kill after listening to their music? Or is the person who did the killing responsible? Surely the person, correct? If I look at a Giger and go on a shooting spree, you would laugh if I blamed my actions on a certain interpretation of the artist’s work, correct? So why the special pleading for the Bible? That is my point. The discrepancies that exist between Textus Receptus and Westcott-Hort, for example, cannot be blamed for any bloodshed whatsoever. If you still wish to argue otherwise, you must show specific misinterpretations you feel have caused bloodshed or else we cannot proceed.

    That’s why I say you’re cherrypicking. You’ve put the Golden Rule up as an example on how clear the bible is, but you’re ignoring all those other, historically verified occurances of where the bible wasn’t clear and differing interpretations have lead to problems.

    I disagree. I’m not ignoring other occurrences. It’s just that nobody here has presented a discrepancy that can support charges of bloodshed. Misplaced pronouns or miscopied words do not justify bloodshed. So I counter this is why Ebonmuse and his agreers are cherrypicking and/or pleading specially. Again, in normal cases, we hold the individual accountable for their actions, regardless of what they read or listen to. Such should extend to the person’s religion as well, even if that religion said to kill nonbelievers, which Christianity clearly does not. I’m guessing none of you blame Slayer, so why blame the Bible?

    …my stance on capital punishment (ie, the death sentence) is that I don’t agree with it. I have my reasons, but I doubt it’s related to this thread.

    It’s very related to whether or not God violates God’s own rule, so if you feel like sharing, what are your reasons?

    mikespeir,

    Okay, so where were we? I think somewhere around here:

    Note the significant difference there between the Textus Receptus and Wescott-Hort. In particular, note how kataxioo has been changed to katischuo. (Or vice versa. I don’t care which.) Also note that these two words are not synonyms. They mean quite different things. (They are look-alike words. Some copyist in the distant past looked at the one and thought he was seeing the other.) Further, note how the interpretation of ekpheugo is affected by the presence of one or the other. In other words, while either kataxioo or katischuo will work in context, the reader comes away with a different understanding of the meaning depending on which one appears.

    Over 1,800 differences exist between the two documents. Regarding the verse in question, in what way do you feel the two words mean different things? I can’t accept that without your reasoning. Most importantly, how does this perceived difference justify or entail bloodshed? The example you offer does not relate to my main claim, which is that people are responsible for bloodshed, not books. My secondary claim is that variations and errors in copied manuscripts do not entail that God is not O^3, or that the Bible is not theopneutos.

    OMGF,

    IMO, you have not provided reasonable grounds for your claim that the one who hears God is not credible, while the one who does not hear God is credible. I see this as special pleading in its purest form. You did offer confirmation bias as a justification, but such fails and in doing so you skip the point. Surely, Saul of Tarsus cannot be charged with confirmation bias when he saw God. Secondly, you and many other skeptics claim that God is not falsifiable and no evidence for God exists, therefore the person who claims God speaks to him or her speaks subjectively at best, correct? As such, the person who claims God does not speak to them also speaks subjectively at best.

    Is Slayer a god that is forcing people to believe what they say and follow it?

    No. Neither is the God of the Bible, which many people have never even heard of.

    I wasn’t even going to go there. I was simply going to point out that you don’t due to your views on god’s special rules.

    God’s “special rules” are not any more special than those you grant to police officers and judges. We all grant special privileges and powers to authorities; how much more so would an omniscient authority be deserving of them? Assuming God and hell are real, why am I so bad for doing what we all do?

    What about the last chapter of Mark (IIRC – and if not, it’s one of the other three), which is a late addition…

    The last chapter of Mark is not a late addition. Verses 9-20 in the last chapter of Mark are sometimes referred to as the Longer Ending. The Longer Ending no more renders God erroneous than the addition of Gould’s Structure of Evolutionary Theory renders evolution erroneous, and absolutely nothing in the Longer Ending is so great a discrepancy as to cause bloodshed and religious war.

    Paul S.,

    I don’t give a “ratsach’s” (sorry, couldn’t resist) if the commandment says “kill” or “murder.” And it doesn’t matter. You didn’t answer my question (just subsitute “murder” for “killing”): Is all killing wrong?

    No need for apologies I like the pun! I thought the same thing when first trying to pronounce the word. I disagree in that I feel the two are different, but such seems a moot point to you. Is all killing wrong? I don’t know. I do not think across the board morality judgments can easily be made. Motive and intelligence are important factors. I think the exact same act can be right or wrong depending on these and other factors. For example, I feel the way most slaughterhouses keep their livestock is morally wrong, but I do not feel that keeping livestock and using them for food or clothing is morally wrong.

  • mikespeir

    Over 1,800 differences exist between the two documents. Regarding the verse in question, in what way do you feel the two words mean different things? I can’t accept that without your reasoning. Most importantly, how does this perceived difference justify or entail bloodshed? The example you offer does not relate to my main claim, which is that people are responsible for bloodshed, not books. My secondary claim is that variations and errors in copied manuscripts do not entail that God is not O^3, or that the Bible is not theopneutos.

    Why do I feel the two words mean different things? From Strong’s:

    kataxioō
    kat-ax-ee-o’-o
    From G2596 and G515; to deem entirely deserving: – (ac-) count worthy.

    katischuō
    kat-is-khoo’-o
    From G2596 and G2480; to overpower: – prevail (against).

    Now, you’re really not going to keep contesting that they mean different things, right? Which version is “God-breathed”?

    I said nothing about bloodshed, did I? Your “main claim” isn’t my issue. I said that the text is corrupt. It is. It has been corrupted by, among other things, copyists substituting one word for another, leaving doubt as to the meaning of the verse.

    Are you unaware of the controversy over the time of the Rapture? Pre-tribbers have historically been keen on using Luke 21:36 as a proof text in their favor. You see, ekpheugo is a compound word ek+pheugo. pheugo means “to escape” or “to flee.” ek means “out of.”

    Now, here’s the problem. Sometimes ekpheugo can mean the same as pheugo. (Romans 2:3, for instance.) If the passive kataxioo is correct, then it probably does. This would suggest, as the pre-tribbers believe, that there will be a passive Rapture of the Chrurch before the Tribulation. (Providing, of course, the “all these things that shall come to pass” refers to the Great Tribulation.)

    Hence, the KJV, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

    But what if the active katischuo is right? Then, it’s more likely that ekpheugo really does mean “escape out of” the Tribulation. In other words, believers will be coming out from within the Tribulation and endurance on their part will be required. And this lends support to the beliefs of mid or post-tribbers.

    Hence, the NASB, “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (The BBE makes it more obvious: But keep watch at all times with prayer, that you may be strong enough to come through all these things and take your place before the Son of man.)

    Now, frankly, I’m not interested at all in your opinions about this or any point of eschatology. The issue is that big theological controversies turn on such things as whether kataxioo or katischuo was original to the text. Even if it’s suggested that the matter is now resolved in favor of Wescott-Hort, there were whole centuries when the most authoritative text was the Textus Receptus, which reads differently. Generations of believers were misled. Conversely, if the Textus Receptus is actually right, practically all modern Bible editions, versions, and translations are wrong.

    This isn’t minor, inconsequential stuff. And the above example is just one among many that are evident enough for us to discern. That there are obvious errors of this sort and magnitude leads us to reasonably suspect that there are likely more–probably many more–that we can’t prove. The Bible isn’t reliable–period.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Now, you’re really not going to keep contesting that they mean different things, right?

    I said I could not accept your statement without knowing your reasoning. I’ve not contested that the two mean different things, so that charge is false. Does seeking to understand your explanation entail that I contest it?

    Now, frankly, I’m not interested at all in your opinions about this or any point of eschatology… The Bible isn’t reliable–period.

    Well excuse me, apparently your mind is made up mikespeir, and by all means, quit wasting our time.

    ***********

    My point stands. People are responsible for their own bloodshed, not the books they read or the music they listen to. Ebonmuse’s attempt to make the Bible’s evolution culpable for religious bloodshed is as laughable as attempts to make Slayer culpable for teen suicide.

  • mikespeir

    Who is this “our,” cl? It looks to me like you’re standing pretty much alone. However, I will agree that this is a grand waste of time. Yes, my mind is made up. It’s made up on the basis of the kind of evidence I’ve presented. And yours is made up, too. The difference? You challenged me to show you that the Bible has been corrupted. I’ve done that. So, your mind is also made up; but upon what basis, you don’t seem to be able to demonstrate. My point–the only one I have been arguing–really does stand.

  • ex machina

    Well excuse me, apparently your mind is made up mikespeir, and by all means, quit wasting our time.

    Oh for goodness sake, mikespeir did not make this comment about the bible being unreliable flippantly, it came only after a rather thorough explanation of one of the Bible’s inconsistencies and her history as such. If you want to disagree, you’ll have to take apart mike’s argument to convince him or anyone else that he’s wrong. Waving your hand and saying that “his mind is made up” isn’t even a coherent response given the context. It is patently unconvincing, and comes across as either ignorance or outright intellectual dishonesty.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    IMO, you have not provided reasonable grounds for your claim that the one who hears God is not credible, while the one who does not hear God is credible.

    That wasn’t my point to begin with, so I wasn’t really trying.

    No. Neither is the God of the Bible, which many people have never even heard of.

    So, god won’t send us to hell for not correctly following his word? I may have worded it sloppily, but that’s the underlying context. The difference between Slayer and god is that if I listen to Slayer, I’m listening to another human who doesn’t hold my ultimate fate in his hands. If I listen to god and god tells me to kill someone, well I better do it.

    God’s “special rules” are not any more special than those you grant to police officers and judges.

    I don’t grant police officers or judges the right to act immorally or break the rules.

    We all grant special privileges and powers to authorities; how much more so would an omniscient authority be deserving of them?

    With great power comes great responsibility. god could learn a lot from reading Spider Man.

    Assuming God and hell are real, why am I so bad for doing what we all do?

    I don’t understand your question. The point was to show that you don’t believe in absolute morality, which puts you at odds with the majority of Xians. That, and you still suffer from Euthyphro’s Dilemma.

    The last chapter of Mark is not a late addition.

    Um, yeah it is. The best manuscripts we have stop when the women come to find Jesus. Everything after that was added after the original story. The point is that for god to present us with his perfect word, while full of imperfections is contradictory – whether it leads to bloodshed or not.

    And, while we are talking about bloodshed, there are words in there that describe what one should do to non-believers (kill them), god routinely orders their destruction, one should cut off parts of the body that sin (and there’s no reason why the Spanish Inquisition shouldn’t help people by cutting off those pieces for them), etc. etc. etc. The point is that god puts out a “perfect” instruction book for us, but doesn’t give us the decoder ring. He knows, however, that this will cause bloodshed as people fight over which interpretation is the correct one, and he allows this to happen anyway. This is, at the very least, negligent homicide.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    ex machina,

    Waving your hand and saying that “his mind is made up” isn’t even a coherent response given the context. It is patently unconvincing, and comes across as either ignorance or outright intellectual dishonesty.

    Interesting. So, in the middle of an ostensibly rational debate, is saying, “I’m not interested in hearing your opinion” intellectually honest? Yes or no?

    If you want to disagree, you’ll have to take apart mike’s argument to convince him or anyone else that he’s wrong.

    Hey, thanks for stating the obvious. I do disagree, but what’s the point of further argument when, after thousands of words already spoken, mikespeir concludes with, “Now, frankly, I’m not interested at all in your opinions about this or any point of eschatology… The Bible isn’t reliable–period.” That’s what fundies do – close their minds to their opponent’s arguments. That’s why I said, “quit wasting our time,” with our referring to both mine and mikespeir’s valuable time. I see no point in debating with people who admit their mind is made up, and who state that they are not interested in hearing my opinion.

    If the man is not interested in hearing my opinion, why do you feel I should continue to share it? I must respect the man’s wishes, right?

    OMGF,

    That wasn’t my point to begin with, so I wasn’t really trying.

    Talk about evading! Just admit it’s special pleading, or show me how it’s not, and I’ll admit my charge does not stand.

    I don’t grant police officers or judges the right to act immorally or break the rules.

    Nor do I. But we both grant them the right to deal with people who are patently harmful to society. I grant an 0^3 God the same right.

    The point was to show that you don’t believe in absolute morality, which puts you at odds with the majority of Xians. That, and you still suffer from Euthyphro’s Dilemma.

    Being at odds with the majority of Christians is not a bad thing and in that sense we reach common ground. Define “absolute morality” and I’ll attempt to answer you.

    The point is that god puts out a “perfect” instruction book for us, but doesn’t give us the decoder ring. He knows, however, that this will cause bloodshed as people fight over which interpretation is the correct one, and he allows this to happen anyway. This is, at the very least, negligent homicide.

    LOL. This is where we differ. I say that individuals must bear responsibility for their own actions. You say the author of the religious book they read is at fault, even though said book contains clear admonitions to the contrary.

    BTW, the last chapter of Mark is not a late addition. The “best manuscripts” all contain Mark 16; some contain what’s called the Longer Ending. Again, read your opponent’s responses more carefully, this is explained above. Lastly, I do not feel the addition of the Longer Ending renders the Bible any more erroneous than Gould’s work renders evolution erroneous.

    Furthermore, error, imperfection and falsehood are not intrinsic properties of contradiction. Two or more contradictory testimonies can be 100% true.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    mikespeir,

    The difference? You challenged me to show you that the Bible has been corrupted. I’ve done that. So, your mind is also made up; but upon what basis, you don’t seem to be able to demonstrate.

    If my mind was made up I would not be on this forum at all. Believe me, I’ve got way funner things I could be doing. I remain open to your opinion, whereas your mind is closed to mine before even hearing it. That’s intellectually dangerous IMO.

    Yes, you’ve shown how the Bible has been corrupted, yet I’ve admitted that long before you entered the discussion so what kind of victory is that? You chose not to address my rebuttal – which is that contradiction and/or corruption does not inherently entail error, falsehood or imperfection, so the ball is in your court. Two or more contradictory testimonies can be 100% true and free of error. By the definition you provided, a ‘corrupted’ text can also retain 100% truth.

    As far as Luke 21:36, unfortunately, that’s where it has to stand, because you are not interested in hearing my opinion about this or any other point of eschatology; in your own words your mind is made up. In short, you took me through this long journey only to say, “You can’t convince me anyways.” IMO such is rude, but no biggie – just revealing.

  • mikespeir

    cl,

    So corruption does not equal error? (I know of no definition of the word where a good thing is implied.) The fact that the original sense of the passage can no longer be determined reliably does not imply error? Can a text be “corrupted” such that it no longer conveys the original truth but a different truth instead? Is that what you’re suggesting? If so, I really can’t take you seriously.

    Eschatology is not part of the discussion. I could show you other places in the Bible where what we have now is dubious. I won’t endure an endless, exhausting tit-for-tat over each subject they describe. You have a clear propensity toward that kind of stratagem, and I will not indulge it. I don’t have the patience. Yet again, my point was to demonstrate that Bible texts have been corrupted such that the original intent is now in doubt. Consequently, we cannot interpret them reliably. I’m satisfied that I’ve done that. And you’ve shown me no reason to think otherwise.

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

    cl,

    Interesting. So, in the middle of an ostensibly rational debate, is saying, “I’m not interested in hearing your opinion” intellectually honest? Yes or no?

    The point was that he brought a good argument and you simply acted like he was being a mindless zombie.

    Talk about evading! Just admit it’s special pleading, or show me how it’s not, and I’ll admit my charge does not stand.

    It’s OT is what it is. The key here is the confirmation bias. When one has a confirmation bias towards god and god’s existence, especially that god will speak to those who believe, and god does not fulfill that confirmation bias…well, you can do the math.

    Nor do I. But we both grant them the right to deal with people who are patently harmful to society. I grant an 0^3 God the same right.

    We don’t grant them the right to do so in immoral ways. I don’t grant god that right.

    Being at odds with the majority of Christians is not a bad thing and in that sense we reach common ground. Define “absolute morality” and I’ll attempt to answer you.

    It’s already well defined and quite moot.

    LOL. This is where we differ. I say that individuals must bear responsibility for their own actions. You say the author of the religious book they read is at fault, even though said book contains clear admonitions to the contrary.

    Are you intentionally not understanding the argument?

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that the following takes place:
    Person A: I will give you $1M to murder person X.
    Person B: OK, I will do that.
    Person B murders X.

    Is person B the sole guilty party here? But, you’ll complain that this is not fair, because god’s not paying people to murder, right? But, what do you think heaven is? Heaven is payment for doing god’s commands, and if god’s commands include killing others (or can be construed that way) then god is also guilty.

    Person A: I’ll reward you if you take out Person X.
    Person B: OK. I will murder X for you.
    Person B murders X.
    Person A: I didn’t mean like that! I thought you would take them out to dinner!

    Do you think A is not guilty of anything?

    BTW, the last chapter of Mark is not a late addition. The “best manuscripts” all contain Mark 16; some contain what’s called the Longer Ending. Again, read your opponent’s responses more carefully, this is explained above.

    Apologies, I did misread you. The last part of the chapter is the late edition.

    Lastly, I do not feel the addition of the Longer Ending renders the Bible any more erroneous than Gould’s work renders evolution erroneous.

    Oh, so you think that god had that part of the story appended by a later author in order to better explain what happened? Uh huh.

    Furthermore, error, imperfection and falsehood are not intrinsic properties of contradiction.

    When something is presented as perfect and it is manifestly not perfect…well that’s a contradiction.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    mikespeir,

    I’m getting mixed signals here. Are you interested in hearing my opinions or not? SOGOTP.

    OMGF,

    The point was that he brought a good argument and you simply acted like he was being a mindless zombie.

    Then you need to read more carefully. mikespeir did bring up a good argument, and then concluded with, “Now frankly, I’m not interested in hearing your opinion on this… my mind is made up.” I think that’s rude.

    When one has a confirmation bias towards god and god’s existence, especially that god will speak to those who believe, and god does not fulfill that confirmation bias…

    …then the person’s testimony is credible? Hmmm… So, if our confirmation bias is not met, credibility is achieved? Is that what you’re saying? Tell that to a scientist and watch their brows furrow. How is the one who claims God speaks to them not credible, while the one who claims God does not speak to them is? Both speak subjectively, yet you accept the one who subjectively supports your POV while rejecting the one that does not. Hence, special pleading. And what about Saul of Tarsus? By your logic, then, Saul’s testimony is correct; his confirmation bias was against the existence of Jesus as Lord, and his confirmation bias was not met. So is his testimony credible?

    Heaven is payment for doing god’s commands, and if god’s commands include killing others (or can be construed that way) then god is also guilty.

    What if God’s commands say explicitly not to kill others? Jesus summed up the entire law as to love thy neighbor as thyself, so your argument doesn’t apply.

    Oh, so you think that god had that part of the story appended by a later author in order to better explain what happened? Uh huh.

    I see. Couldn’t have happened so it didn’t happen. Do you have an actual argument?

    Apologies, I did misread you. The last part of the chapter is the late edition.

    Accepted.

  • mikespeir

    I’m getting mixed signals here. Are you interested in hearing my opinions or not?

    Well, I thought I was being loud and clear. Maybe not. If you want to outline a cogent, overarching rationale that somehow allows you to look at the kind of evidence I’ve presented and come to the conclusion that, nevertheless, the Bible is reliable, please do. On the other hand, if you’re planning to drag me through a thicket of eschatalogical minutiae, or that of any other theology, don’t bother. That’s a ploy to exhaust me. I’m pretty close to exhausted already.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    Then you need to read more carefully. mikespeir did bring up a good argument, and then concluded with, “Now frankly, I’m not interested in hearing your opinion on this… my mind is made up.” I think that’s rude.

    OK, stop imparting the most uncharitable interpretation on us that you can. If you read what he actually wrote and the clarifications he made, you should agree that he’s not saying what you claim.

    …then the person’s testimony is credible?

    Well, there’s more to it than that, but I was trying not to open up another topic. This is why people don’t like talking to you, because you can’t let things go until another time. It’s actually not my position that the person who says that god talks to them is automatically wrong, but opening up that can of worms is going to just go badly, which is why I’ve been trying to beg off.

    What if God’s commands say explicitly not to kill others? Jesus summed up the entire law as to love thy neighbor as thyself, so your argument doesn’t apply.

    Only if you cherry-pick one specific piece of the Bible and misapply it. Love thy neighbor might very well have meant the in-group of Jews to start. god doesn’t say not to kill either as I pointed out to you earlier. Lastly, what does “love thy neighbor” mean in the context of following the law? Can someone kill another and still love thy neighbor? Can someone torture another into conversion and still consider it “loving they neighbor?” And, lastly, my argument does apply, because it is fact that people have fought over the interpretations of this document and killed over them. It is fact that travesties have been done in the name of this document. It is fact that if god is omniscient, he would have known all the trouble this would have caused and if he is omnipotent he could have done something about it. Given that, he is at least partly culpable.

    I see. Couldn’t have happened so it didn’t happen. Do you have an actual argument?

    Do you? Your argument boils down to, “I believe the Bible is not corrupt, so anything you say I’ll just deny that it matters and come up with any hokey explanation when needed and complain that you aren’t bringing up any real arguments.”

    This is getting really tedious. If you are going to continue with mike, then I suggest dropping the discussion of Mark, since it’s pretty obvious that you don’t want to consider it and I only suggested it as something that you could discuss.

  • ex machina

    Interesting. So, in the middle of an ostensibly rational debate, is saying, “I’m not interested in hearing your opinion” intellectually honest? Yes or no?

    Certainly, it would not be intellectually honest. However, the debate between you and mike (and most other debates in which you are involved) was not ostensibly rational. It consisted of one party making coherent arguments, and yourself denying that any argument exists whatsoever. Only after several refusals on your part to make any meaningful counterargument did mike say he wasn’t interested in hearing you anymore.

    You are regularly ignoring context as a method of debate, and it’s obvious to everyone. Most people here don’t even know where you stand on most issues because you won’t outline what they are or even show where and how the arguments of others don’t stand. As soon as someone makes a pertinent point, you claim you’ve been offended somehow in order to avoid debate. This will continue to be an unsuccessful method of persuasion.

    Again, to convince others, you must show their arguments are incorrect and offer sound alternatives. Bit by bit, without arbitrarily changing the subject. Accounting for context while delivering your critique will further ensure your success.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    mikespeir,

    Well, I thought I was being loud and clear. Maybe not. If you want to outline a cogent, overarching rationale that somehow allows you to look at the kind of evidence I’ve presented and come to the conclusion that, nevertheless, the Bible is reliable, please do. On the other hand, if you’re planning to drag me through a thicket of eschatalogical minutiae, or that of any other theology, don’t bother. That’s a ploy to exhaust me. I’m pretty close to exhausted already.

    I was planning to respond intelligently to the intelligent points you raised.

    OMGF,

    This is why people don’t like talking to you, because you can’t let things go until another time. It’s actually not my position that the person who says that god talks to them is automatically wrong, but opening up that can of worms is going to just go badly, which is why I’ve been trying to beg off.

    Now honestly, why put off until another time what can and should be squarely handled now? Explain how your statement is not special pleading, or admit that it was, and it won’t be brought up again. I persist because you persist in dodging the question. You said the person who claims God speaks to them is not credible, yet the person who claims God does not speak to them is. I say this is incorrect because both speak subjectively, and confirmation bias doesn’t work as an answer. As noted, Saul of Tarsus had strong confirmation bias against the existence of Jesus as Lord, and his confirmation bias was not met. Is his testimony credible?

    And, lastly, my argument does apply, because it is fact that people have fought over the interpretations of this document and killed over them.

    People have fought and killed over interpretations of many, many things – are those things at fault? I say he who sheds blood must bear responsibility for the shedding of blood, not the books they read or the music they listen to. You seem to disagree.

    It is fact that travesties have been done in the name of this document.

    I agree. Far too many to list.

    It is fact that if god is omniscient, he would have known all the trouble this would have caused and if he is omnipotent he could have done something about it.

    Again, I agree.

    Given that, he is at least partly culpable.

    Now you enter into subjectivity, and I disagree. I opine that God did do plenty about it. Again, Thou shalt not murder? Love thy neighbor as thyself? Cain and Abel? When Peter went to strike the Roman guard, did Jesus not harshly criticize Peter? God did explicitly tell people not to murder each other in the Bible, Yes or no? The differences between kataxioo and katischuo are the best evidence your side has yet produced. How do those differences incriminate the Bible because the misguided religious shed blood?

    Your argument boils down to, “I believe the Bible is not corrupt…”

    Ha! Either check your stove or quit strawmanning. I’ve already conceded the exact opposite of what you charge, here and on other threads. Read your opponent!

    This is getting really tedious. If you are going to continue with mike, then I suggest dropping the discussion of Mark, since it’s pretty obvious that you don’t want to consider it and I only suggested it as something that you could discuss.

    I dropped the discussion of Mark where we left off, which was with you apologizing for, guess what…? Misreading me. Would you like to continue the discussion of Mark? If so, my argument will be that when true statement X is added to true statement Y, the resulting statement XY is also true. I’ve also stated many times that even in the best manuscripts, bona fide contradictions exist, and that from the best manuscripts, inferior manuscripts have derived. And I’ve stated that error is not an intrinsic property of contradiction, to which nobody has responded adequately. And I’ve stated that the longer ending entails no more error in the Bible than Gould’s work entails error in Darwin’s theory, which is an admittedly weak analogy because neither Darwin nor Gould were or claimed to be ‘God-breathed’ but I think you get the drift. And still, nobody has responded adequately to any of those.

    ex machina,

    Certainly, it would not be intellectually honest.

    Thank you for being honest.

    However, the debate between you and mike (and most other debates in which you are involved) was not ostensibly rational. It consisted of one party making coherent arguments, and yourself denying that any argument exists whatsoever.

    To paraphrase yourself, you must show me where I denied any argument exists whatsoever. But I’ll save you the trouble – you can’t, because I never said that. Please reread. I never once minimized mikespeir’s argument; rather, I asked mikespeir to explain his reasoning so I could be sure exactly what it was I was arguing against. If you’re going to jump into other people’s scuffles, please, at least get the facts straight. For further example,

    Only after several refusals on your part to make any meaningful counterargument did mike say he wasn’t interested in hearing you anymore.

    Not at all. In one comment I asked for mikespeir’s reasoning supporting his position. In his reply, the very same comment that mikespeir provided the requested reasoning in, he concluded with, “Now, frankly, I’m not interested in hearing your opinions on this…” I was literally allowed zero response between the time mikespeir gave his reasoning and the time mikespeir said he was uninterested in hearing my opinion. Please, will you admit this and apologize?

    Most people here don’t even know where you stand on most issues because you won’t outline what they are or even show where and how the arguments of others don’t stand.

    “most issues?” Ask me anything, anytime. And I have showed many, many times where the arguments of others don’t stand, including your own, and I have also admitted without reserve that some of my own arguments do not stand. Please.

    Again, to convince others, you must show their arguments are incorrect and offer sound alternatives. Bit by bit, without arbitrarily changing the subject. Accounting for context while delivering your critique will further ensure your success.

    Speaking of accounting for context, this relates to inerrancy how? You’ve brought up tangential issues unrelated to the thread, and I must respond in context. And note that this is coming from someone who, in response to,

    What religion was the FFRF’s sign a display of? (cl)

    said,

    The constitution does not just protect freedom of religion, but freedom from religion as well. Any other interpretation would put the government in the position of deciding what was a legitimate religion and what wasn’t. Which would be unconstitutional, on top of being an affront to the idea of free speech and thought, which is obvious if you think about it at all. It’s not really a difficult point to understand. Did you think your backhanded argument for suppression of the free speech of atheists would go unnoticed and unanswered? (ex machina)

    And you’re lecturing me about staying in context? Really? Who was it that said,

    To be fair, ex machina, I don’t see any evidence that cl was calling for the suppression of atheist speech. (Ebonmuse)

    So don’t lecture me about context or any other fallacies, and when you jump in other people’s quarrels, please, get the facts straight. You’ve misrepresented me as I’ve outlined very clearly, bit by bit, above.

    Do you have anything to add that actually relates to the arguments made in this thread? If not let’s call it tit-for-tat and drop it.

  • mikespeir

    I was planning to respond intelligently to the intelligent points you raised.

    Believe me, cl, I wouldn’t accuse you of being unintelligent.

    Tell you what. I’ll check back from time to time. If I find you’ve made an argument that’s nailed down enough so that it can be subjected to critical scrutiny (and this thread hasn’t grown just too “long in the tooth” by then), I might have more to say. Until then, I’m moving on.

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

    cl,

    You said the person who claims God speaks to them is not credible…

    Because of a lack of evidence.

    People have fought and killed over interpretations of many, many things – are those things at fault?

    When the authors of those documents that caused the killings had foreknowledge of the events that would unfold…yes.

    I opine that God did do plenty about it. Again, Thou shalt not murder? Love thy neighbor as thyself? Cain and Abel? When Peter went to strike the Roman guard, did Jesus not harshly criticize Peter? God did explicitly tell people not to murder each other in the Bible, Yes or no?

    And, you ignore the many times that god did tell people to murder. Nice cherry picking and selective reading. You also don’t understand the logical conclusion of this argument. Even if god said, “Don’t do X,” he knew ahead of time he words would be construed in such a way that people would do X. This is immoral and criminal. You have no answer for this argument. You can continue to act as if we don’t try criminal masterminds for murder even though they don’t pull the trigger, but we do. Game over. (Feel free to whine now about how I’m not open to your arguments.)

    Ha! Either check your stove or quit strawmanning. I’ve already conceded the exact opposite of what you charge, here and on other threads. Read your opponent!

    Nice try.

    If so, my argument will be that when true statement X is added to true statement Y, the resulting statement XY is also true.

    Got it. So god had a second author come much later to add “True statement Y” to the text. LOL.

    And I’ve stated that error is not an intrinsic property of contradiction, to which nobody has responded adequately.

    Um, yeah we have. You just don’t accept the responses. I’m sure your perfect god with all his errors is still perfect though.

    In his reply, the very same comment that mikespeir provided the requested reasoning in, he concluded with, “Now, frankly, I’m not interested in hearing your opinions on this…”

    Nice quote mine. This is highly dishonest.

    Ask me anything, anytime.

    I have and I do. You evade. And, when I try to get you to clarify or ask further questions, I’m accused of strawmanning you and you go into long winded complaints about your treatment.

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

    BTW,
    Thou shalt not murder is quite different from Thou shalt not kill. The former doesn’t mean that one should not kill. If god says that one should not murder, it means one should not kill for unjustified reasons. If one believes the killing is justified by god, then it is not murder. So, one can kill and not be in violation of god’s rules.

  • ex machina

    Hmmm, this might be considered off topic, but given the content of this thread, I think it’s appropriate.

    cl, I feel like we’ve come to the point where we can go no further. You are very articulate, and I can only assume that it’s a result of high intelligence; an intelligence that’s interested in, and can understand, healthy debate. However, at every turn, that’s not what I or others seem to get. Mostly it’s an evasion that only looks like a rebuttal. This last bit involving mikespeir is a great example:

    “Well excuse me, apparently your mind is made up mikespeir.”

    In order to say this you’ve got to ignore all the times you’ve not answered, and you’ve got to ignore the really strong points that mike had made. And I think the most important thing here is that as soon as you saw an opportunity to avoid tackling mike’s argument, you took it. And several posts later, you still haven’t. Whatever your reasons for doing so, this leaves people with the impression that you have no response, and are simply stalling or attempting to exhaust others.

    Indeed, this has little to to with inerrancy directly, but before we can have a debate on that topic, we should address the major disconnect between you and everyone you’ve come in conflict with at this forum. I would urge you to, perhaps, take a break for a week, and come back and read this thread from top to bottom. In doing so, keep track of how many times others made a pertinent point or asked a question of you that was left unanswered or unchallenged or at least, seemed to be left unanswered or unchallenged. Also, see how often you focused on the individual’s tone and made issue of that, in place of a rebuttal to their arguments (again, or at least, seemed to). Perhaps you have felt that the arguments made were so simple or pedestrian that they answered themselves or are self-evident, but upon review, you might find that many of them went unanswered altogether.

    When I debate with someone, I do my best to treat it like a game of chess: I might be really aggressive and nasty at times, and so might my opponent be. But (officially anyway) one can never “trick” an opponent into losing chess, not in terms of a checkmate, anyway. If there’s a legal move for the king to make to get out of check, they’ve got to take it, and haven’t lost yet. Similarly, If I find that someone makes a pertinent argument, even if they are nasty or seem uneducated, I feel bound to address it, even if it might seem beneath me. In the event that I have shamed, confused, or distracted my opponent so that they no longer make their argument (rather than me dismantling it) I don’t consider that a victory, at least not a meaningful one.

    It’s possible that in your brain lies a comprehensive and crushing case against atheism in general and atheism as it relates to inerrancy in particular, but, due to obfuscated delivery or complete lack of delivery, it does not seem to others like you have shared it. As wrong as you most likely feel I am, I urge, urge, urge you, as charitably and strongly as I can, to consider a review of your debating tactics in these terms. I think the thread, and I, would derive far greater benefit from your commentary if you did.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Please forgive the verbosity, I’m just trying to be thorough. I’m more than willing to compensate Ebonmuse if bandwith is seriously an issue.

    OMGF,

    Was Paul’s testimony valid? If not, your argument needs modification. You have not explained how the person who claims to hear God is not credible, while the person who claims to not hear God is. “Because there’s no evidence” applies to both people because sans a beckoning call from above, all who speak of God talking to them do so subjectively. The person who says God is silent actually has less evidence. Explain.

    And, you ignore the many times that god did tell people to murder. Nice cherry picking and selective reading… Even if god said, “Don’t do X,” he knew ahead of time he words would be construed in such a way that people would do X.

    I’m fully aware of the OT, so I’m not cherrypicking. Again, my argument is that people bear responsibility for their actions, not the authors of the books they read. Who can refute that? Here, in America, the very same government that tells us not to murder also murders (in the context of the death penalty). What makes it possible for prosecutors to punish individuals for murder? Is it not a law that states in clear language that they should not murder? Further, don’t the very same people who give this law both retain and exercise the authority to murder, in the context of the death penalty? Since the answer to all those questions is an emphatic Yes, then, is the government responsible when citizen X murders citizen Y or Z? For the ultimate proof that your (and Ebon’s) argument fails, go murder someone and try to cite the OT as a defense, and tell me what the jury thinks of it.

    Nice try… And, when I try to get you to clarify or ask further questions, I’m accused of strawmanning you and you go into long winded complaints about your treatment.

    No, not “nice try.” You legitimately strawmanned me by saying I’m arguing the Bible is not corrupt. I’ve not argued that! I first asked mikespeir to define corrupt, and I agreed that by part of the definition provided, the Bible was corrupt:

    “You, yourself admitted the texts have been altered.” (mikespeir to cl)

    mikespeir represented my argument correctly, and very clearly, you either innocently misunderstood my argument, or were just plain negligent, but either way you are simply incorrect. But I doubt you’ll admit error here and I’m pretty much over it.

    And I’ve stated that error is not an intrinsic property of contradiction, to which nobody has responded adequately.

    Nobody has touched that. The best attempt was Steve Bowen but he did not refute the argument. He simply just reasserted an obvious premise, that a perfect book should be 100% true. If anyone else has actually refuted the argument, I’ve missed it. Do you have anything on this point? Why don’t you respond instead of just saying, “Um, yeah we have?”

    Nice quote mine. This is highly dishonest.

    yet,

    Now, frankly, I’m not interested at all in your opinions about this or any point of eschatology. (mikespeir)

    It seems there’s no way I can make you see that you’re wrong, so I won’t even try anymore. mikespeir said what he said.

    ex machina,

    cl, I feel like we’ve come to the point where we can go no further. You are very articulate, and I can only assume that it’s a result of high intelligence; an intelligence that’s interested in, and can understand, healthy debate. However, at every turn, that’s not what I or others seem to get. Mostly it’s an evasion that only looks like a rebuttal. This last bit involving mikespeir is a great example: “Well excuse me, apparently your mind is made up mikespeir.”

    “At every turn?” Please. And please realize that rebutting an argument is different than offering your own, for one. Most of the time here, I’m attacking what I see to be weak arguments, and trying to show how and why I think they fail. I do appreciate your sincerity, but what I don’t understand is how you think I’ve evaded mikespeir. I didn’t evade him; he pissed me off and I saw no reason to continue. The reason I said that is this: mikespeir went into this long spiel and then told me he wasn’t interested in hearing my opinion. I see no reason in debating with someone who, before I can even respond to the actual argument, says they are not interested in hearing my opinion. Do you?

    In order to say this you’ve got to ignore all the times you’ve not answered, and you’ve got to ignore the really strong points that mike had made.

    Again, I chose not to answer only one time, the precise time that mikespeir said he wasn’t interested in hearing my opinion. I simply took mikespeir at his word. Not trying to be rude, but you’ve missed the facts – I was never allowed a single chance to respond between the time mikespeir clarified his reasoning and the time he told me he didn’t want to hear my opinion. If I ask you to clarify your reasoning for argument X, and you do so, followed by, “Now, frankly, I’m not interested in hearing your opinion,” who’s doing the evading? He said he didn’t want to hear it and I’m not here to preach or pontificate.

    Now – since the time he said those things, he seems to indicate that he is somewhat interested in hearing my opinion, and that’s where we are. But how can you really fault me here for not responding to someone who says they don’t want my opinion? I do not understand. You yourself said such was not intellectually honest.

    I would urge you to, perhaps, take a break for a week, and come back and read this thread from top to bottom. In doing so, keep track of how many times others made a pertinent point or asked a question of you that was left unanswered or unchallenged or at least, seemed to be left unanswered or unchallenged.

    I just took a two-week break from DA and believe me, I constantly look for ways to improve my methods of debate. Personally, I feel that Yes/No questions are among the best ways to make actual progress, but people seldom seem willing to go there. The only thing I’ve not responded to is mikespeir’s latest spiel. Contrary, who has responded to my counterpoint that error is not an intrinsic property of contradiction? People have just waved it away, but nobody has tackled it. The best attempt was Steve Bowen but he did not refute the argument. He simply just reasserted an obvious premise, that a perfect book should be 100% true.

    Here’s the deal, again: Even the best biblical manuscripts contain contradictions, and inferior manuscripts have derived from the best manuscripts. Such does not entail error or falsehood in any way. That copyists from Jerome to Smith have seriously botched the Bible is old hat, something I’ve known and dealt with for years. If you tell me a story and I botch it in my retelling, is your story errant? Of course not. So, the argument becomes, “A perfect God wouldn’t let the copyists make mistakes,” and that’s entirely subjective, not to mention that God told us this is exactly what would happen.

    And I think the most important thing here is that as soon as you saw an opportunity to avoid tackling mike’s argument, you took it. And several posts later, you still haven’t.

    I can’t help that people will see what they want to see where they want to see it. You act as if I’m somehow afraid of mikespeir’s argument, when, as I’ve said before, I simply saw no point in responding to someone who states they’re not interested in my response. Even so…

    Here is my reply to mikespeir’s argument:

    Since it seems important to you, and because you’re making me appear like a big chicken when I simply saw no reason to argue with a wall, I will address mikespeir’s argument. First let me make sure I’m understanding it correctly, which was why I asked the man to provide his reasoning in the first place. He’s saying that the (1,800+) differences between Textus Receptus and Westcott-Hort prove that God did not inspire the Bible, and render it imperfect. Specifically, his strongest argument offered was Luke 21:36:

    “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (NIV)

    For the sake of brevity let’s grant that the TR is wrong. Does that make the Massoretic text wrong as well? Does that mean God was wrong in the original dispensation of the word? If you tell me a story, and I retell it incorrectly, does that entail that the original story was incorrect? Of course not. So the best you can now argue is that a perfect God wouldn’t allow copyist error, and as noted, such is subjective, and precluded by the fact that God told us this is exactly what would happen.

    For the record -

    This post was on biblical inerrancy and I’ve conceded far too many times that alterations and contradictions exist. mikespeir offered this definition of corrupt:

    For instance, my WordWeb gives this one: “Containing errors or alterations.” This is what I mean by “corrupt.” By this definition, we know some Bible texts are corrupt.

    Alterations and contradictions are entirely different than errors. I know of one potential biblical error that I really do not have a full answer to yet, and that’s the census. To me, Ebon has apprehended his entire argument from the wrong foot. I feel the entire scope of the OP is off, because textual evolution shouldn’t be the criteria for judging the errancy of a particular document or inferring about the nature of said document’s author. I realize and admit that people disagree in biblical exegesis. So what? People disagree in science all the time and such is a virtue. My main gripe was with Ebonmuse’s (IMO) bogus argument that via individuals’ differing interpretations, God is responsible for religious bloodshed. That is laughable. Ebonmuse is a smart guy no doubt, but sometimes our desire to show something laughable takes over and we make logically untenable arguments. I feel this is one such case.

    My secondary gripe is that you people seem to think that error is an intrinsic property of contradiction and alteration, and nobody has explained how such is correct. Two or more contradictory testimonies can be 100% true. Nobody has refuted that one either. The best attempt was Steve Bowen but he did not refute the argument. He simply just reasserted an obvious premise, that a perfect book should be 100% true.

    Third, copyist error does not entail error in the original, and the Bible warned us that copyists and others would make errors.

    Is there anything else anyone feels I’m missing?

    In short, if you want to persuade a reasonable believer that the Bible is not inspired because it is errant, don’t offer textual evolution and copyist errors as evidence. Such fails badly and is not a logically tenable argument.

  • mikespeir

    For the sake of brevity let’s grant that the TR is wrong. Does that make the Massoretic text wrong as well?

    We can’t demonstrate whether the Masoretic is right or wrong. What we can demonstrate is that the texts of the Bible have not always been preserved faithfully. There doesn’t seem to be any divine attempt to preserve them. That makes it look bad for the notion that they issued from the divine.

    Does that mean God was wrong in the original dispensation of the word? If you tell me a story, and I retell it incorrectly, does that entail that the original story was incorrect? Of course not. So the best you can now argue is that a perfect God wouldn’t allow copyist error, and as noted, such is subjective…</blockquote

    Subjective? Is that the word you mean? Is there anything not subjective? Yes, I have to make assumptions. Who doesn’t? Again, I think it’s entirely reasonable to conclude that if God wanted us to have a perfect Bible we would have it now. We demonstrably don’t. Even if there were some way to show that God exists and that the Bible issued perfectly from him (and, of course, there isn’t), we can’t depend on what it tells us now, because it has clearly been altered. (Your “1800+” differences are only the ones we know about. It’s also reasonable to assume there are many more we don’t know about because the alterations were made early enough that all extant manuscripts contain them. I mean, clearly, God didn’t work too hard to keep them from working their way into the texts.)

    …and precluded by the fact that God told us this is exactly what would happen.

    God hasn’t told me anything of the kind.

    Alterations and contradictions are entirely different than errors.

    Perfection is like standing at the North Pole. There’s no “norther” to get. Any step at all from there, no matter how small, is south. Likewise, if the Bible was originally perfect, any alteration would be in the direction of something less than perfect. That would lead the reader to erroneous conclusions. So, yes, alterations–in the case of an originally perfect manuscript–are, in fact, errors.

    Two or more contradictory testimonies can be 100% true.

    I’m sorely tempted to challenge you on that, but I don’t want to give you the opportunity to open up yet another front in this war. (The one with me, anyway.) I didn’t raise the issue of contradictions.

    Third, copyist error does not entail error in the original…

    But there’s no reason to believe the originals were error-free, either, is there? Even the assertion takes for granted that there is a God and that the Bible issued from him, propositions that I don’t accept. It does, because if the texts aren’t inspired by God, they were only inspired by men. Now, maybe those texts could then be said to be perfectly representative of what those men were thinking, but the matter is also rendered entirely academic thereby. The claim is that God inspired them. If he didn’t, there’s no need for this discussion.

    …and the Bible warned us that copyists and others would make errors.

    Show me. I taught the Bible for years and was an ardent student of it for many more. I don’t remember any such thing in it.

    In short, if you want to persuade a reasonable believer that the Bible is not inspired because it is errant, don’t offer textual evolution and copyist errors as evidence. Such fails badly and is not a logically tenable argument.

    No, cl, you’ve got it backward. (Speaking for myself, anyway.) I’m simply explaining one reason I don’t find the Bible inspired. I have no hope, nor even a desire, to persuade you against it. I doubt it would be possible. I remember how many long years I took your position and through what agony I came to the one I hold now. I really don’t expect to convince you that your beliefs aren’t founded in reality. On the other hand, I’m convinced I have much better than “a leg to stand on” in not believing the way you do. That’s what I’m trying to show you. At best, I’d like you to exit this discussion with this thought running through your mind: “I don’t agree with him, but his is a legitimate way of looking at the thing.”

  • mikespeir

    Well, I got my block quote tags messed up. You should be able to pick out what I was saying.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    mikespeir,

    We can’t demonstrate whether the Masoretic is right or wrong.

    Thank you. You’ve just undermined much of Ebonmuse’s argument as well as much of your own. Your concession is tantamount to saying we have no evidence to prove whether the original dispensation was errant or not. Since we have no evidence, per rationalism, I reject what there is no evidence for. Don’t you?

    And, as I predicted, we’re back at the subjective discussion of whether a perfect God should or shouldn’t allow copyist errors. I’m not interested in bantering about subjectivity.

    (BTW, I’m not equating the Massoretes’ work with the original dispensation, either)

    *******************

    At any rate, I’ll still take these:

    There doesn’t seem to be any divine attempt to preserve them. That makes it look bad for the notion that they issued from the divine.

    Subjective entirely.

    Is there anything not subjective?

    Of course.

    Again, I think it’s entirely reasonable to conclude that if God wanted us to have a perfect Bible we would have it now. We demonstrably don’t.

    Conclude away, but such does not undermine the argument for theopneustos, and since we don’t have any evidence that the original dispensation was errant, as you yourself admitted, is not my subjective opinion that the original dispensation was inerrant at least equally reasonable?

    Perfection is like standing at the North Pole. There’s no “norther” to get. Any step at all from there, no matter how small, is south. Likewise, if the Bible was originally perfect, any alteration would be in the direction of something less than perfect. (emph. mine)

    I disagree. First, only erroneous alterations produce errors, so your statement is out of scope. Error is not an intrinsic property of alteration. Second, copyist error does not entail error in the original dispensation. Incidentally, what or where is true north? What are its exact coordinates? In the context of salt, Democritus and the Greeks went nearly batty with the logic you offer here.

    That would lead the reader to erroneous conclusions. So, yes, alterations–in the case of an originally perfect manuscript–are, in fact, errors

    So people’s erroneous conclusions entail errors? Something is really wrong there. I say that alterations entail errors when and only when the new material introduced is itself inherently erroneous. Wouldn’t you agree?

    …because if the texts aren’t inspired by God, they were only inspired by men.

    False dichotomy. I’ve wondered before if maybe Satan inspired them. Nonetheless, Zeus could’ve inspired them as well. Many other options exist.

    No, cl, you’ve got it backward. (Speaking for myself, anyway.) I’m simply explaining one reason I don’t find the Bible inspired. I have no hope, nor even a desire, to persuade you against it.

    I wasn’t talking to you in the statement this comment references, and I don’t have it backwards. Textual evolution is horrible evidence against theopneustos.

    Show me. I taught the Bible for years and was an ardent student of it for many more. I don’t remember any such thing in it.

    Revelation 22:18 is a good starting point. God through John of Patmos states the possibility that people will add or take away from the words. Of course, the intended context is the book of Revelation, but if such a possibility exists there, would it not also have to exist with every other part of the Bible?

    I’m convinced I have much better than “a leg to stand on” in not believing the way you do.

    Subjective, no? And that’s typical of anyone who assumes the intellectual highground. I myself have been convinced of many things that weren’t true, and it could very well be that the Bible is one of them. Except maybe when it comes to skateboarding, my legs are no better than yours.

    At best, I’d like you to exit this discussion with this thought running through your mind: “I don’t agree with him, but his is a legitimate way of looking at the thing.”

    Although I entered this discussion with that thought running through my head, you haven’t demonstrated a reasonable case for the idea that copyist error entails lack of theopneustos, so I’m simply unable to concede that your approach to the matter at hand is legitimate, but I’m open to new ideas if you have any.

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

    cl,

    The person who says God is silent actually has less evidence.

    How so?

    I’m fully aware of the OT, so I’m not cherrypicking.

    Being aware of and actually using are 2 different things.

    Again, my argument is that people bear responsibility for their actions, not the authors of the books they read. Who can refute that?

    Fine, if you aren’t going to consider my arguments, then what else can I do? Your government analogy is way off. Tell me this. If person A incites violence and person B, incited by this goes off and murders person X, can person A be held for murder? Yes. End of story.

    You legitimately strawmanned me by saying I’m arguing the Bible is not corrupt.

    Dude, whatever. You can hide behind verbal semantics all you like, but even I’m tired of it (and you know that’s saying a lot).

    Nobody has touched that.

    Everyone has. You just don’t accept anyone’s argument but your own.

    It seems there’s no way I can make you see that you’re wrong, so I won’t even try anymore. mikespeir said what he said.

    This is simply dishonest. Mike also cleared up your misunderstanding of what he said, and you’re still arguing for your misunderstanding! That’s pretty low to quote mine him continually just so you can complain.

  • mikespeir

    Thank you. You’ve just undermined much of Ebonmuse’s argument as well as much of your own. Your concession is tantamount to saying we have no evidence to prove whether the original dispensation was errant or not. Since we have no evidence, per rationalism, I reject what there is no evidence for. Don’t you?

    I marvel, cl! Concession? You’ve got to be kidding! I’ve just said, and you agreed, that there’s no evidence to substantiate the claim that the Masorectics were inspired in the original. Why, then, should I believe they were? Far from undermining our position, this solidifies it. If you’re going to pull these kinds of shenanigans, I’m going to lose interest in this discussion in a hurry.

    Subjective entirely.

    Absolutely! At issue here is whether my subjective opinion or yours stands on the surer foundation. I still don’t see you making an attempt to convince me I shouldn’t take the exemplary problem of Luke 21:36 as evidence that the Bible is unreliable. Why not? Don’t you have an argument?

    Conclude away, but such does not undermine the argument for theopneustos, and since we don’t have any evidence that the original dispensation was errant, as you yourself admitted, is not my subjective opinion that the original dispensation was inerrant at least equally reasonable?

    Of course it’s not. You have no evidence! Why, the Muslims say the Koran is “God-breathed.” How do you answer that assertion? Do you really think the onus would be on you to prove it’s not? On the contrary, you’re more than justified in thinking they’re all wet until they prove that the Koran is from God.

    False dichotomy. I’ve wondered before if maybe Satan inspired them. Nonetheless, Zeus could’ve inspired them as well. Many other options exist.

    I wasn’t trying to list all the possibilities. Indeed, what would you do if someone on a blog such as this insisted the Bible was inspired by Zeus? How would you answer? That you’re entitled to your subjective opinion? Well, take it from me: you have a right to your opinion. But, then, so does the guy who thinks he’s Napoleon down at the funny farm. There’s no evidence that he is Napoleon. Likewise, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bible was inspired by God. Why should I think it was?

    I disagree. First, only erroneous alterations produce errors, so your statement is out of scope. Error is not an intrinsic property of alteration. Second, copyist error does not entail error in the original dispensation. Incidentally, what or where is true north? What are its exact coordinates? In the context of salt, Democritus and the Greeks went nearly batty with the logic you offer here.

    Yet again, there’s no reason to think the originals were error-free. So why does the discussion even arise?

    What or where is True North? Are you, by analogy, suggesting there’s no way to tell what a True Dispensation would look like? What an amazing thing! Not only do you have zero evidence for such a dispensation, you seem to be saying you wouldn’t know what to look for in the first place. Dang, cl, don’t waste my time. Tell me, point for point, how a perfect manuscript might be altered and remain perfect. That’s what I want to hear from you. I want the mechanics of how can I take perfection and and change it such that it remains perfect.

    Textual evolution is horrible evidence against theopneustos.

    Really? Explain.

    Subjective, no? And that’s typical of anyone who assumes the intellectual highground. I myself have been convinced of many things that weren’t true, and it could very well be that the Bible is one of them.

    And I suppose it’s conceivable that the Bible is just as you believe it is and that I’m all wet. Again, why should I think so?

    Except maybe when it comes to skateboarding, my legs are no better than yours.

    If you can even stand on one of those dang things, your legs are better than mine. At a doddering 53, I have trouble enough sometimes standing on solid ground.

    Although I entered this discussion with that thought running through my head, you haven’t demonstrated a reasonable case for the idea that copyist error entails lack of theopneustos, so I’m simply unable to concede that your approach to the matter at hand is legitimate, but I’m open to new ideas if you have any.

    One more time, I have no reason to suppose theopneustos in the first place. That tinkering with the texts over the ages such that their meanings are left in doubt is easily good enough to show that they’re not reliable now. Clearly, God, if he was the source, hasn’t bothered to keep them pristine. Was he only interested in presenting perfection to the first writers and their original readers but not to subsequent generations? Gee, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. What makes perfect sense is that God had nothing to do with them in the first place. Provable? No. But in light of the obvious reality that you can’t show a scrap of evidence for theopneustos, it’s pretty much what I’m left with.


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