It’s Time for Evangelicals to Come Out for Evolution

Whenever I engage in conversation with people I meet for the first time I try to avoid being asked the question, “What do you do for a living?” But if I am asked I say, “I am a minister.” Generally, the one who asks then inquires, “What denomination?” or “What kind of church?”

Here is where I always have to clarify, depending on the most recent news headline involving Christian leaders: “I am a Baptist minister, but I am not a science-denying Baptist minister who thinks that dinosaurs lived alongside humans a few thousand years ago.”

What a strange irony that a 30-foot-long fossil of an Allosaurus will be on display at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky where Museum founder, Ken Ham, recently debated science educator Bill Nye. Ken Ham and his colleagues think it defends the book of Genesis and supplies evidence of Noah’s flood. Good grief!

Unfortunately, this is real life, not a Charlie Brown cartoon. According to a recent survey by the Associated Press, 77% of people who claim to be born again or evangelical say they have little or no confidence that the universe began 13.8 years ago with a big bang. And 76 % of evangelicals doubt that life on Earth, including human beings, evolved through a process of natural selection.

Evangelical university and seminary professors know better!

According to Newsweek 99% of America’s earth and life scientists hold to some form of evolution. Darrel Falk, a biology professor at evangelical Point Loma Nazarene University told Cathy Grossman of the Religion News Service that many biblical [evangelical] scholars do not see a conflict between religion and science.

Falk noted:

“The story of the cosmos and the Big Bang of creation is not inconsistent with the message of Genesis 1.”

I suspect that many (if not most) evangelical biblical scholars who subscribe to some form of biblical inerrancy (and sign faith statements testifying to that fact) believe what professor Falk believes. 

They know there are different kinds (genres) of biblical literature which call for different approaches other than a literal interpretation of the text. They know that the creation stories are parabolic in nature and are not chronicles of history or reports conveying scientific data. They know that these stories are spiritual, metaphorical, and theological stories, and while not factual, they certainly teach truth about God and God’s relationship to the world.

They know Ken Ham’s claim that “no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record” is utter foolishness. 

Harvard theologian Harvey Cox tells about the time the student leader of Harvard’s atheist group on campus took one of his theology classes. This otherwise bright student wrote a very weak paper in which he sought to discredit the God of the Christian and Jewish faiths by attacking and dismantling a literal interpretation of the Genesis Flood Story. He thought that by proving the story could not have happened the way the story says it happened, he would thus disprove the reality of God.

Dr. Cox said to the student, “Don’t you know a story when you read one.”

Evangelical professors know that the creation stories were never intended to be history lessons or science reports, because the Bible is not a history or science book.

They also know . . .

  • That evangelical Christians need not fear or deny the enormous amount of scientific data supporting evolution.
  • That the story of evolution and the biblical story are not mutually exclusive.
  • That a healthy faith welcomes and is informed by science.

So why do so many evangelicals deny evolution and believe in a literal interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis?

Apparently what evangelical professors know and believe is not getting down to the people in the pew.

Why aren’t evangelical pastors trained by these professors teaching their churches these things? Are they afraid of being shunned or looked down upon by their peers? Are they afraid to rock the evangelical boat? Are they afraid of facing conflict in their churches or losing their jobs? Are the professors actually teaching what they believe and know to their students?

Whatever the reasons, it’s time for evangelicals who know the truth to come out and  proclaim the truth. If the truth sets us free, as Jesus said, then many of our evangelical sisters and brothers need to hear a liberating word from their pastors.

Chuck Queen is a Baptist minister and the author of Being a Progressive Christian (is not) for Dummies (nor for know-it-alls): An Evolution of Faith. Chuck blogs at A Fresh Perspective, and is also a contributor to the Unfundamentalist Christians blog on this website. 

  • Brian P.

    My pastor tries. Kinda. In intentionally nuanced if not veiled language that gives a nod to the learned but can fly over the heads of most. It’s not exactly a “proclaim it from the rooftops” kind of truth-telling. To me, it looks like it’s fear of man more than fear of God and truth and thus God’s truth. I personally kinda find it anti-inspirational. Behaviors seem to indicate that jobs trump truth.

    Lots of people can see through all this. I think it contributes to a more generalized trust issue and credibility gap. Why should one believe the assertions of implausible history and impenetrable metaphysics when the basics of physics and biology can’t even be truth-told?

    To me, it makes sense that many would rightfully quietly exit such institutions and conceptualized faith. Creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. Who hopes for what they already have? Maybe we just oughta weight patiently till leaders lead. Soon, nobody’s going to be following anyone but the most cruciform and kenotic leaders.

    • ChuckQueen101

      Brian, you may be right. I suspect that a good number of evangelical pastors (and maybe professors too) feel trapped by doctrinal statements they have committed to abide by and congregations that really don’t want to be told to question and grow. They want black and white answers. And since their livelihoods depend of those churches they are silenced. This may be another reason why the break down of institutional Christianity may not be such a bad thing. However, when the church leadership allows or even encourages their pastor to challenge them to expand and question and grow, then religion can be a transformative reality.

      • Brian P.

        A spiritual guide who preaches other than he believes, why would anyone follow?

        • ChuckQueen101

          Well, maybe you are being a little too hard on them. If your family depended on your income as a professor or pastor you might be willing to hedge a bit. Life is lived through shades of grey – it’s rarely one way or the other. I realize I make a pretty strong call for evangelicals who believe in evolution to say so, but I am willing to cut some of them some slack. I think many of them could do more and I do think some of them could use a little more courage and willingness to risk. Jesus pushed the boundaries of the religious establishment and got himself crucified. None of us want to get crucified, but following Jesus does mean we have to extend boundaries.

  • ncovington89

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    I’m an atheist. On the one hand, I’d heartily welcome a big step forward for evangelicals on evolution and related issues.

    On the other hand, for years I haven’t been able to bring myself to encourage evangelicals to accept it within their Christian framework, because doing so would make me feel disingenious: evolution is one of the reasons I became an atheist, reason being that evolution is better explained by atheism than theism: if there were a creator life could have emerged all at once, whereas under atheism evolution is basically the only way things could go down. It’s a feather in the cap of atheism, as I see it.

    • ChuckQueen101

      “life could have emerged all at once” — not necessarily. What if God is an intimate and inseparable part of the creation. I believe that God is “more” than the creation and so relates to human beings “personally.” God, I believe, is at least personal, but I also believe God is more than personal, and that God is intimately and intricately connected to all things. The Divine, I believe, pervades the entire creation in all its diminsions. Jesus is an example of how the divine and human can be united in a human being – which I believe is God’s goal for every person.

      • ncovington89

        How does God being an intimate and inseparable part of creation mean that God couldn’t have created life all at once?

        • ChuckQueen101

          Perhaps God is (as process theologians contend) not all powerful, but a part of evolving reality inseparable from evolving creation.

          • ChuckQueen101

            Or maybe for reasons we cannot begin to grasp God had to take a noncoersive approach to creation. Maybe God loves creaturely freedom so much, God could not override the process. If God overwhelmed the creation with power, would the creation be free? Maybe true creaturely growth requires evolution.

          • ChuckQueen101

            I don’t look at creation as an argument for God’s existence. What tips the scales for me is the almost universal intuitive sense and longing for the Divine that has characterized humankind as far back as we know. The images and ways of perceiving the Divine have been diverse and varied, but all people down through the ages have in some sense imagined the Divine. It’s as if there is this inner awareness that the Divine exists. Atheism is a rather modern phenomena isn’t it?

          • Colin Robinson

            What tips the scales for me is the almost universal intuitive sense and longing for the Divine that has characterized humankind as far back as we know.

            You don’t actually comprehend that this god shaped hole has been filled by a great many different ‘gods’ do you? it could only be evidence for a god’s existence if all people filled the whole with the same god. As it is, it is evidence that people want to believe in a god or gods.

            A great many people also want fly, it’s pretty much ubiquitous in humanity. But that doesn’t mean we can fly does it?

          • ChuckQueen101

            Most certainly this “god shaped hole” has been filled with all kinds of different conceptions of God and we are still evolving in our perception and understanding of the Divine.

          • Colin Robinson

            But if your god existed then he would be able to tell us what he is. As the bible is supposed to do.

            Unless he really doesn’t care what we think of him.

          • Justas399 .

            He has revealed to us much about Himself in His Law, creation and in the life of Christ.

          • ChuckQueen101

            I believe God does tell us about God’s self – that God’s very self is part of our selves, that the Divine is within each one of us, that discovering our best and true selves is about discovering God.

          • Colin Robinson

            But if that were true then all people would come to the same understanding of god.
            But they come to nowhere near the same understanding of god do they? The gay haters are just as convinced that they are reflecting the ‘morality’ of their god as the people who believe god loves gays same as everyone.

            Such contradictions cannot be reconciled with your statement.

          • Colin Robinson

            In which case why do we need a god or gods? If god cannot interfere in evolution, (and considering the massive suffering inherent to evolution then if he did interfere then he is by no means ‘benevolent’), or interfere in life in general then there is actually no practical difference between him existing and him not existing.

          • Justas399 .

            I agree. However, there is no explanation how evolution or whatever started the very first life.

          • Colin Robinson

            So more like the Jedi Force than any god of the bible then?

      • Colin Robinson

        Your view of god is contradictory to the view in the bible. Don’t forget that your god got captured in battle and was so mad he made a statue fall over. The writers of the OT believed firmly in a localised god, who could reside in one place. (In that instance he resided in the ark and killed anyone who touched it!)

        And the usual apologetic tactic of ‘but it’s a metaphor’ is meaningless as it can only be a metaphor for a localised god.

        • ChuckQueen101

          My view of God is not contradictiory “to the view in the bible” at all since the Bible contradicts itself on its understanding of God. I focus on the passages that move us three steps forward in the biblical witness, not the three steps back. Do I pick and choose. Of course. Every one does about anything of any importance. But I focus on the best in the Hebrew-Christian tradition and choose to believe that the communities of faith that gave us the Scriptures captured something of the reality of God. I believe in an evolving spiritual consciousness as well an evolving physical evolution.

          • Colin Robinson

            So you accept that your view of your god contradicts much of the bible but state that it doesn’t contradict other parts?

            So people can, and do, take the authority of the bible and come up with a completely different god to the one you see in there.

            To be clear, an almighty god, creator and ruler of a billion trillion stars, wants man to know of him and his message is so ambiguous that any man can define this god however he wants?

          • ChuckQueen101

            We might define God however we want, but that doesn’t make our definitions true. Am I certain my understanding is true. No. But I am fairly confident that I am on the right track – that God is better than our best and that in the very best of the tradition of Jesus I get a glimpse of this God. For example, a God who even loves his/her enemies. A God who is nonviolent (in contradiction to a great deal of material in the Bible; both healthy and toxic faith are reflected by the biblical writers). In the best of the Jesus tradition I get a picture of a nonvengeful God who wants the best for the whole creation. Jesus on the cross became a scapegoat to expose the evil of scapegoating. He bore the wrath of the powers that be (not God’s wrath) and did not return that wrath or even wish harm upon his tormentors. In the Lukan tradition Jesus even prays: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

          • Colin Robinson

            Well, we have to agree to disagree on this because I see so much more in the bible than you do.

            This bit confuses me though:

            He bore the wrath of the powers that be (not God’s wrath)

            In general, christians believe that their god is almighty, he IS the ‘powers that be’. The idea that he answers to something else, which is what you are saying, would be anathema to them.

            Or when you say ‘powers that be’ are you referring to the scribes and pharisees? In which case you are assuming that it was not yahweh’s plan for jesus to be sacrificed and this was done against his will. Again, this is in direct contradiction to what the overwhelming majority of christians believe.

            I sense that you have decided on the nature of your god and you are then trying to reconcile that nature with what is in the bible. And it’s really not working, what you are saying makes no sense and continually contradicts the prevailing christian beliefs.

            In the best of the Jesus tradition I get a picture of a nonvengeful God who wants the best for the whole creation.

            This is what I mean, you cannot get that view of jesus from reading the bible. If that were the nature of god then there would be no requirement to worship him.

  • Colin Robinson

    I have to go with Ham on this one, if the story of creation is just a story then there is no original sin. Without original sin, there is no need for yahweh to horrifically ‘kill’ his ‘son’ so he doesn’t have to torture us for eternity.
    So the entire principle of christianity, that jesus died for their sins, falls apart if evolution is true.

    But some people who want to believe in christianity comprehend that evolution is as much a fact as gravity so pretend that it doesn’t completely nullify christianity.

    Which is as supportable a claim as creationism itself.

    • ChuckQueen101

      Colin, you are operating out of one particular version or paradigm of Christianity. I don’t believe God had to kill his Son to save us from God’s wrath. Jesus didn’t die because he “had” to; he was killed because he upset the powers that be. I understand Christian salvation as a process of transformation that results from discipleship to Jesus.

      • Colin Robinson

        Hmm, the overwhelming tenet of christianity is that jesus was ‘the lamb of god’, sacrificed for us. He ‘died for our sins’.
        I have just said that I acknowledge that not all christians believe that but it really does leave me floundering as to how anyone can believe in an almighty god, creator and ruler of a billion trillion stars, who can get strung up and killed against his will.

        Either jesus was killed in accordance with yahweh’s wishes or yahweh was defeated by a few scribes and pharisees, (with the help of the romans). Either way, that is no god that I would worship.

        • ChuckQueen101

          I would never worship a God that demanded his son be killed in order to appease his wrath and satisfy his justice. There is basically no difference between that God and the God of some ancient cultures that believed the deity had to be appeased by offering the first born or a virgin, etc. God doesn’t need to be placated. The God of Jesus forgives sinners simply because God is a forgiving God.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            Read ‘Is God a Moral Compromiser?’ by Thom Stark, a free online book. The god of the Bible IS that god you say you would never worship!

          • ChuckQueen101

            As I have said so often: Anyone can find in the Bible the answers they are looking for. It’s all about the perspective and bias we bring to the Scriptures. I read Scripture through the lens of Jesus and I am very intentional about the bias I bring to the sacred tradition. Read my blog at “Unfundamentalist Christians” on this website titled: “Three Questions About the Bible Jesus Might Ask.”

          • Colin Robinson

            I’m confused, ‘through the lens of jesus’? But you have no idea what that is like EXCEPT through reading what it says about him in the bible.

          • ChuckQueen101

            That’s right. And the dominant portrait of the God of Jesus in the Gospels is that of a nonviolent, caring, loving God. Not a push over. A God who gets angry and a God who judges – but never as a simple means of retribution. Jesus images a God who is concerned even about a sparrow that is harmed and injured and takes special interest in human beings.

          • Colin Robinson

            A ‘nonviolent, caring, loving god’ does not blast a fig tree because it has no figs. He does not promise eternal torture. He does not require his disciples get swords.

            And an almighty god, creator and ruler of a billion trillion stars, is concerned by an injured sparrow but presides over a system where the overwhelming majority of creatures born will die in pain and suffering.

            It is impossible to conceive of a benevolent, almighty god that rules over carnivores, viruses, parasites etc. Darwin lost his faith in an almighty creator upon observing the wasp whose larva ate caterpillars alive from the inside.

            Either your god is not benevolent or he is not almighty. He CANNOT be both.

          • Justas399 .

            I disagree. God is good. Just look at the creation He has made. Look at how many good things there are in your life and yet you attribute these things to the mindless forces of nature. God can be good and benevolent towards those whom He loves. Allowing pain and suffering is not necessarily a bad thing especially if it leads to a greater good.

            If you reject God’s goodness then you are left with “nature” which is brutal and uncaring.

          • Colin Robinson

            The ‘creation he has made’ is replete with suffering. All animals produce more young than replacement rate because the vast majority of animals that live on earth never manage to reach breeding age.
            No good god would design a system where animals have to kill each other in order to live.

          • Justas399 .

            Why? Why must God create a world where there is no suffering?
            It seems you are making assumptions without any objective grounds to do so.

          • Colin Robinson

            You said creation was good and therefore your god, who you believe created the universe, is good. I was pointing out that ‘creation’ isn’t good, so using that as an argument that the creator is good is null and void.

            The only ‘assumption’ I made was that you believed your god was good because of how he made creation. And when you specifically stated that then it is not an assumption.

            The reality of ‘creation’ emphatically states that if it has a creator then that creator is not benevolent in any normal sense of the word.

          • Justas399 .

            Lets define what good is. Here is a partial definition: “satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher; good health.
            3.
            of high quality; excellent.
            4.
            right; proper; fit:”http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/good

            Would you agree that there is some good in the world?

          • Colin Robinson

            Yes, I would agree that there is some good in the world.

            But if there were a benevolent creator there would be far, far more. And massively less suffering. For any normal definition of the word ‘benevolent’.

          • Justas399 .

            Where are you getting this idea that in regards to good “there were a benevolent creator there would be far, far more.”? Even though there is a lot of suffering there is a tremendous amount of good. If God was not good we should expect to see hardly any good for so many people. The other thing to keep in mind that this world is not the final destiny for mankind. In Christianity there is still an after life to contend with that will be perfect and no suffering for those who trust in Christ. For those that don’t, there will be far greater suffering than has ever been seen here.

          • Colin Robinson

            Why would we expect to see no ‘good’ if we didn’t have good creator?

            The sense of what is ‘good’ is an evolutionary ploy to get us to do things. Sex, from an individual’s POV, is a complete waste of time, effort and energy. But without it the genes are not propagated. So it ‘feels good’.

            There is good in the world because that is how evolution has worked, this is very well understood.

            There is ‘evil’ in the world, such as animals eating each other, because this is how evolution has worked, this is very well understood.

            There is no indication whatsoever that the system has been supernaturally skewed toward ‘good’, it remains overwhelmingly bad.

            The other thing to keep in mind that this world is not the final destiny for mankind.

            Try reading your bible again, there is nothing in the Pentateuch to indicate there is anything other than this world. Your magical lands of the dead did not appear in the israelite mythology until after the exile when they were influenced by the zorastrians in Babylon.

            The part of your bible that has your god creating the world has your god creating only this world for mankind.

            (In the Pentateuch there is ONE man ‘went to heaven’ and he went INSTEAD of dying!)

            In Christianity there is still an after life to contend with that will be perfect and no suffering for those who trust in Christ. For those that don’t, there will be far greater suffering than has ever been seen here.

            Fortunately, that statement of worship for infinite evil is based in just one mythology out of thousands, and one that has no more reason to believe in than any of the others.

            It really does destroy your argument that your god is good when you then crow about how he is going to commit the infinite evil of torturing billions of innocents for eternity.

            Only those who are infinitely evil deserve infinite punishment, and that means that only your god should suffer eternal hell.

          • Justas399 .

            Ok. From the evolutionary-atheistic view there is no such thing as evil. What we call suffering is just part of nature and does not have any morality connected to it. Even when humans hurt other humans its not really evil but the processes of nature.

            For your claim to hold that there is no life after death, you would have to know all of reality-universe exhaustively at all times and in all places. We both know there is no proof that natural forces created the first life. In fact you would be better off believing your car came together by the natural forces of nature than believing nature alone somehow created the first life.

            No need to just limit ourselves to the “Pentateuch to indicate there is anything other than this world”. We have the entire Bible to answer that. (In fact what the Pentateuch does tell us is that we are not alone. There are other spirit beings that do exist).

            Belief in eternal punishment is not unreasonable or illogical. The reason we believe in it is because Christ taught it. He was God incarnate and if anyone would know about such things He would.

            Your distaste for hell does not mean it does exist. If God does not punish evil, then God cannot be good. Since God is good then hell is necessary to punish evil.

          • Colin Robinson

            Evolution has provided a sense of morality and therefore a sense of good and evil.

            For your claim to hold that there is no life after death, you would have to know all of reality-universe exhaustively at all times and in all places.

            Read my statement again, I stated that the israelite mythology upon which your religion is based has no magical lands of the dead in its original form. They were only added later.

            To answer the point you make in order to address the strawman you created, there are a great many things we cannot prove are false. We cannot prove that there is a blue teapot orbiting the Sun a few more million miles out from Mars for example. But if we cannot know anything of them, if we cannot prove they do or don’t exist, if they don’t actually impact on our lives in any way, shape or form, as you are suggesting is the nature of your magical lands of the dead, then why pay them any mind?

            No need to just limit ourselves to the “Pentateuch to indicate there is anything other than this world”.

            Never said to limit yourself, just pointing out that your mythology have not always had magical lands of the dead. Which pretty much proves they were made up as such a stupendously important concept as heaven and hell would certainly have been imparted to Abram, Moses et al in their communications with their god. Assuming this god existed and he, at the time, had magical lands of the dead to use to threaten/bribe his followers with as the christian god is believed to do.

            In fact what the Pentateuch does tell us is that we are not alone. There are other spirit beings that do exist

            But most people don’t believe in seraphim and unicorns in this day and age. Do you? Most people mentally put them in the same category as fairies and hobgoblins.

            Belief in eternal punishment is not unreasonable or illogical. The reason we believe in it is because Christ taught it. He was God incarnate and if anyone would know about such things He would.

            I actually said it was infinitely evil, not unreasonable or illogical. Believing in and worshiping an infinitely evil ‘god’ that would preside over such a concept and calling him ‘good’ is obviously unreasonable and illogical.

            Your distaste for hell does not mean it does exist. If God does not punish evil, then God cannot be good. Since God is good then hell is necessary to punish evil.

            The way you people ‘think’ utterly astounds me. If you were to walk into a room and a child is being roasted over a spit whilst slivers of his flesh are slowly being removed, screaming horrendously, would you just accept it if the torturer said, “But he doesn’t love me!”

            As I stated, infinite punishment is only merited by infinite evil. And the only entity we know of within the mythology of the christian religions that is infinitely evil is your god.

          • Justas399 .

            How do you know “that the israelite mythology upon which your religion is based has no magical lands of the dead in its original form. They were only added later.” How do you know this and what is the evidence?

            Also, the Pentateuch is not the complete revelation of God. There is far more in the other books of the OT.

            Most things you believe cannot be proved. Science cannot prove that the laws of nature are the same throughout the cosmos or that they were the same a million years ago. Its a myth that life started by the mindless forces of nature. There is no evidence for this belief.

            I do believe that angels do exist and have appeared in history at various times. Again, there is a record of them doing so in the Scriptures. There is nothing in science that says they cannot exist. I have no reason to think that unicorns exist because where they are mentioned are in books that are known to be fantasy. The Bible on the other is never considered fantasy by those who study it such as scholars. Only those ignorant of it make such claims.

            If an “infinitely evil ‘god’ existed then there would be no such thing as good in the world. The fact that there is good in the world proves God is good.

            Your case against hell is based only on your speculations. Its not grounded on any substance but your opinion.

          • Colin Robinson

            How do you know this and what is the evidence?

            Have you tried actually reading them?! There is no mention of magical lands of the dead in the pentateuch, I have already mentioned this several times.

            Also, the Pentateuch is not the complete revelation of God. There is far more in the other books of the OT.

            You don’t say! And later books introduced new concepts as the writers invented them. Which makes sense. But IF your god exists AND the bible is his word then it makes absolutely NO sense that the bible wouldn’t even mention heaven and hell in the first, supposedly, 1000 years of his having followers. Why didn’t he tell Abram about it? Hang on, he rewarded Abram for his worship with long life. And we both know that only makes sense if the writer considered earthly life to be the only life.

            Science cannot prove that the laws of nature are the same throughout the cosmos or that they were the same a million years ago.

            That is overwhelmingly a statement of faith and ignorance. In the real world physicists can actually, directly, observe events from millions and even billions of years in the past. And in doing this they have actually discovered in the last decade or so that the rules of physics WERE different billions of years ago.

            Its a myth that life started by the mindless forces of nature. There is no evidence for this belief.

            None that you know of, masses that I know of.

            Again, there is a record of them doing so in the Scriptures.

            You consider the scriptures to be a record?! Why is that? The scriptures ‘record’ that your god stopped the sun in the sky to aid Joshua in his genocide, but that was written by people ignorant of the structure of the earth and who believed the sun went around the earth. In reality, such an occurrence would have completely destroyed the earth as the world would stop spinning and the oceans would wash over the continents in waves that would be miles high.

            That kind of ‘record’ I just dismiss as nonsensical.

            I have no reason to think that unicorns exist because where they are mentioned are in books that are known to be fantasy.

            Absolutely:

            Isaiah 24
            7 And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

            On that I have to completely agree with you!

            The Bible on the other is never considered fantasy by those who study it such as scholars. Only those ignorant of it make such claims.

            But you just said that only fantasy books talk about unicorns and the bible talks about unicorns!

            Fact is, there is much in the bible, talking snakes and donkeys, flat earths, magical beings that are the hallmark of fantasy. It just doesn’t have the same gravitas as, say, Lord of the Rings, a MUCH better story.

            If an “infinitely evil ‘god’ existed then there would be no such thing as good in the world. The fact that there is good in the world proves God is good.

            An argument that is completely nonsensical as it is no more valid than, “The fact there is evil in the world proves god is evil.”

            Actually, the fact that there is good and evil in the world logically states that there is no god at all, good or evil. There were plenty of good people in nazi germany, plenty of evil people in… Bugger, can’t actually think of a good world leader.

            But the point is that Hitler was not a god, so he did not have absolute control of his regime.

            Your case against hell is based only on your speculations. Its not grounded on any substance but your opinion.

            My case against hell is that there is zero evidence it exists, masses of evidence it is made up, and such infinite evil can only be believed in by those who approve of and worship evil.

          • Justas399 .

            Not everything that God was to reveal was revealed in the Pentateuch. Aspects of the afterlife would come later. If you really want to get rid of the after life with some force (instead of calling it “magical lands of the dead”) then refute what Jesus about it in the gospels. He says more about it than anyone else in Scripture.

            It is partially true that “In the real world physicists can actually, directly, observe events from millions and even billions of years in the past.” All that they can do is collect some light from a source millions of light years away as it was in an instant of time. They cannot tell you what it is like there today. In fact you can’t even see the sun as it is but only as it was 8 minutes ago.

            We still have to assume that gravity works the same on the back side of the Andromeda galaxy as it does here on earth.

            Where is this force or forces that caused life to come from non-living materials? Can you at least describe how this worked?

            Anyone who seriously studies the Scriptures know that it is a record of the past in the areas events and people lived. There is a lot of archaeological and history that supports the Scriptures.

            The Bible does not mention unicorns.

            What was the context for the talking snake and donkey?

            If supernatural beings exist such as angels then there is no reason these things could not have happened. Disprove angels or the supernatural then you will be on your way to showing these things could not have happened.

            Let me get this straight that “Actually, the fact that there is good and evil in the world logically states that there is no god at all, good or evil.” This means that the holocaust was not evil because there is no such thing as good or evil in world. The atheist has no grounds to say that evil exist. Right?

            It is true that there is no physical evidence for hell. However, there are all kinds of things that we believe to be true that has no physical evidence for it. What this means is that because there is no physical evidence for hell does not rule out its existence.

          • Colin Robinson

            Not everything that God was to reveal was revealed in the Pentateuch. Aspects of the afterlife would come later.

            REALLY?!!! You truly believe that the favoured of your god, Abram, Moses, Joshua et al, were not worthy of eternal heaven in the eyes of your god?!

            It is massively more likely that the writers of the ‘word of god’ hadn’t made up eternal life at that point. The idea that your god wouldn’t bother to explain to his greatest followers the fundamental basis of christianity is too stupid to bear consideration!

            If you really want to get rid of the after life with some force (instead of calling it “magical lands of the dead”) then refute what Jesus about it in the gospels. He says more about it than anyone else in Scripture.

            Actually, Paul and John do. But you forget the significance of chronology, the only reason that magical lands of the dead, let’s call them what they are, are primarily in the NT rather than the OT is because nobody invented them until some greeks decided to combine greek and judean mythology.

            You DO know that the gospels were written by greeks don’t you? You DO know that paul was driven overwhelmingly by greek culture?

            It is partially true that “In the real world physicists can actually, directly, observe events from millions and even billions of years in the past.” All that they can do is collect some light from a source millions of light years away as it was in an instant of time. They cannot tell you what it is like there today. In fact you can’t even see the sun as it is but only as it was 8 minutes ago.

            That means my statement was absolutely true! We were not discussing what is happening in the far reaches of the universe now, we were discussing your claim that we cannot know that the laws of physics were the same in the past.

            We still have to assume that gravity works the same on the back side of the Andromeda galaxy as it does here on earth.

            Ah! So having been proven that you are wrong about your claim that physics is seen to be the same across all time and space you limit it to a very local time and space.

            You completely and totally miss the point, if evidence arises that gravity is different on the back side of Andromeda then cosmologists and physicists will take that update to the laws of physics and use it to further advance their understanding.

            Where is this force or forces that caused life to come from non-living materials? Can you at least describe how this worked?

            I’ve already told you, it’s not a ‘force’, it is the rules of chemistry combined with geological conditions.

            EXACTLY how it happened I can’t tell you, no one can, AT THIS TIME! When we can, you guys have to find something else to ascribe to ‘goddidit’.

            There is a lot of archaeological and history that supports the Scriptures.

            Quite, and because there is a Baker Street in London that means that there was a hound of the Baskervilles. Because there’s a King Cross Station that obviously means that Voldermort was recently waging war against the muggles. Occasional factual and geographic accuracy does guarantee that a story is true.

            We have found the location of Troy, by your argument that means that Achilles was magically protected from attack apart from his heel.

            The Bible does not mention unicorns.

            I quoted chapter and verse! You REALLY have serious issues if you can’t even pick up a bible to check the truth.

            Thing is, if you had any confidence whatsoever in your denial you would have referenced the chapter and verse I gave in order to prove me wrong. Just as I referenced them to prove you wrong.

            You do actually KNOW that you are wrong don’t you?
            (rhetorical question, I know you do.)

            What was the context for the talking snake and donkey?

            Made up stories, mythology, just like a great many others.

            (Incidentally, the common christian belief that the snake was satan is utter nonsense. It was an actual snake, it was actually, physically, described.)

            Disprove angels or the supernatural then you will be on your way to showing these things could not have happened.

            Wrong call! I can prove by the natural world that this could not have happened. You have to prove there is something other than this natural world to provide evidence that they could.

            Let me get this straight that “Actually, the fact that there is good and evil in the world logically states that there is no god at all, good or evil.” This means that the holocaust was not evil because there is no such thing as good or evil in world. The atheist has no grounds to say that evil exist. Right?

            Absolutely wrong, my point is not that there is no good and evil, my point was that as there is both there can be no god, good or evil.

            Did you make ANY attempt to read what I posted?

            However, there are all kinds of things that we believe to be true that has no physical evidence for it. What this means is that because there is no physical evidence for hell does not rule out its existence.

            Doesn’t work like that because hell is not an isolated concept. It requires the presence of a god, a very specific god. And the nature of that god allows any reasonable person to make predictions. And we do, and those predictions fail.
            The hypotheses of the christian has been falsified, and is easily falsified in many different ways.
            Without the christian god, when the christian god is dismissed as made up stories, then hell can, and should, be dismissed as made up stories.

          • Justas399 .

            Thats right. God did not reveal to “Abram, Moses, Joshua et al” what eternal life would be. He may have, but we have no record of it. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean its stupid.

            Ok. You need to support this claim–”are primarily in the NT rather than the OT is because nobody invented them until some greeks decided to combine greek and judean mythology.” with some facts. There is already a belief in the afterlife in Ecclesiastes 12:6-14.

            Here is what Isaiah 24:7 says–”The new wine mourns,The vine decays, All the merry-hearted sigh.” No mention of a unicorn here.

            Asserting that something is made up does not prove that it is so. The talking snake and donkey both are in a historical context. Whose to say a being could not speak through an animal. This is where you have a problem. For you to rule supernatural beings out you would have to have exhaustive knowledge of the universe at all times. We both know you don’t have that.

            Christ already proved the supernatural by His miracles and teachings. The gospels are historically reliable. Again, you don’t have exhaustive knowledge of the universe to rule the supernatural out.

            It does not follow that a good God could not allow evil. He has reasons for doing so. What the atheist can’t ground in his atheism is evil. All that happens is just atoms and energy in motion.

            What kinds of predictions can you make about God that would rule out hell?

            There are a number ways you can disprove Christianity:
            1- demonstrate or give reasons why God could not exist.
            2- show that the gospels cannot be trusted as historical documents,
            3- give a natural explanation that shows Christ did not rise from the dead that explains all the known facts about it in the gospels.

            If you can adequately demonstrate one of those points then you will have shown Christianity to be false. If not, then you will need to give up your atheism.

          • Colin Robinson

            It’s not a case of I don’t like it, it’s a case of you now realise that your god didn’t impart one of the most important aspects of belief in him to people who were supposedly his confidants, according to christian mythology, and you claim that doesn’t matter. It takes a serious case of cognitive dissonance to persuade yourself that such a massive anomaly is irrelevant.

            There is already a belief in the afterlife in Ecclesiastes 12:6-14.

            That’s it?! Even if it did refer to an afterlife it doesn’t disprove my statement BTW as I said ‘primarily’. And that was written long after the exile when the israelites had been exposed to the zorastrian belief of ‘battlefield earth’.

            Simple fact is that is that there is NO reference to magical lands of the dead in the earliest books of the christian mythology, therefore the writers of those books, supposedly confidants of your god, did not know of them.

            Here is what Isaiah 24:7 says–”The new wine mourns,The vine decays, All the merry-hearted sigh.” No mention of a unicorn here.

            Sorry, try 34:7 for just one biblical reference to unicorns. In fact, try this bible search page:
            https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=unicorn&version=KJV&resultspp=25

            For you to rule supernatural beings out you would have to have exhaustive knowledge of the universe at all times. We both know you don’t have that.

            You’re placing the burden of evidence on the wrong person. People can, and do, make up all sorts of ridiculous things. It is insanity to expect people to actively disprove every ludicrous claim made by people who believe in these things, it is up to the people making the ludicrous claims to show they are worth more than ridicule, something you are not even attempting to do.

            Christ already proved the supernatural by His miracles and teachings.

            We actually don’t even have any evidence that ‘christ’ existed. There is ZERO contemporary references to him of any description, nothing outside of the bible in the 1st century. And the bibles are riddled with historical and logical inaccuracies from the fact that there was NO census in the time of Herod to the utterly ludicrous claim that jesus rode two donkeys at the same time into jerusalem.

            What kinds of predictions can you make about God that would rule out hell?

            If god is almighty then he decides whether or not hell exists, if god is benevolent then he will decide that it cannot exist.

            That is simply the meanings of the words reasonably applied.

            1- demonstrate or give reasons why God could not exist.

            Pointless using such logical and reasonable arguments against a person who actually believes in talking donkeys.

            2- show that the gospels cannot be trusted as historical documents,

            Easy enough, the census referred to in Matt was in ~7CE, Herod died in 4BCE. Therefore the story in Matthew is historically nonsense.

            3- give a natural explanation that shows Christ did not rise from the dead that explains all the known facts about it in the gospels.

            The problem with that is you first need to show that the gospels are facts. IOW, you need to show that your christ could be reasonably accepted as riding on the back of two donkeys at the same time. And a 100 other ridiculous claims.

            If you can adequately demonstrate one of those points then you will have shown Christianity to be false. If not, then you will need to give up your atheism.

            Number 2 is demonstrable in many different ways. You need to give up your christianity.

          • Justas399 .

            The first section of the Scripture deals with the origin of the world and man. Other things its deals with is God taking one man (Abraham) and establishing one nation through his descendants. What we have after this is
            how God took this one man and created a nation through him. this is what the first books deal with. It does not deal with issues of life after death etc.
            Just because there is not much said about it at this time does not mean its made up later. That does not follow.

            Isaiah 34:7 that you quoted is KJV which is not a good modern day translation. A better one is the NASB which
            reads–Wild oxen will also fall with them And young bulls with strong ones; Thus their land will be soaked with blood, And their dust become greasy with fat.

            You are claiming no God exist. You bear the burden of proof for this claim. I bear the burden for His existence.

            No serious scholar who studies this period denies
            that Christ existed. There are a number of references to people and events in the New Testament that are mentioned by secular writers. In Luke and Acts there are over 50 historical details that have been proven true.

            God is more than just benevolent. He is also
            just. This means He must punish evil. Not to punish would mean not only is He not just but also not good. Would you consider a govt good that just forgave
            murderers and molesters and let them go without punishment?

            Even if there were some historical inaccuracies
            in the gospels that would not mean they are all false. This is also true of secular historians. We know they made mistakes yet they are considered trustworthy.

            Under what circumstances was the donkey talking?
            Does the account say that the donkey is talking by its own power or that something else is going on?

            Christ was not riding on 2 donkeys at once.

          • Colin Robinson

            Just because there is not much said about it at this time does not mean its made up later. That does not follow.

            Not much?! Try NOTHING!
            You are viewing the bible as a whole instead of understanding it in its ‘historical’ context. According to judeo-christian tradition the believers in yahweh existed for around 600 years with only the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges etc to guide their lives. So, according to you, it didn’t matter at all that for 600 years of believers following yahweh he never saw fit to tell them the overwhelming importance of heaven and hell.
            That is a totally ridiculous claim! So the only possible conclusion is that it was made up later.

            Isaiah 34:7 that you quoted is KJV which is not a good modern day translation.

            You mean you don’t like the fact it mentions unicorns which you emphatically claimed the bible didn’t? The hebrew word is reh·ām’ which Strongs claims is wild bulls. But the point stands in that you claimed that only made up fantasies have unicorns in them and the KJV was THE translation for centuries. So a great many christians believed in unicorns because their bible fantasy told them so.

            You are claiming no God exist. You bear the burden of proof for this claim. I bear the burden for His existence.

            I proved that god didn’t exist when I was four, I got up to go to the loo which meant I had to go through the lounge and all my xmas presents were laid out and my parents were up. I ALMOST said, “Did you see santa?!” then realised it was them all along and just carried on to the loo.

            So I proved that god didn’t exist. Or did you mean a different god?

            You see the problem? You, deliberately, use a nebulous meaning for the word ‘god’. I can prove that 1000s of different gods don’t exist, very easily, but you’ll just redefine YOUR god so it dodges those proofs.

            And you truly don’t comprehend that by the time you have redefined your god so much that he is impossible to disprove there is actually nothing left of the god that you believe in.

            No serious scholar who studies this period denies that Christ existed.

            They’re starting to actually, simply because there is no proof at all that he did. The question of his existence has always been blindly accepted but it is now coming into the debate, and those who believed he did are now realising they have no basis for that belief.

            There are a number of references to people and events in the New Testament that are mentioned by secular writers.

            We’ve already addressed this, according to that argument Voldemort was actually defeated by Harry Potter because the books mention Kings Cross Station.

            Fiction references reality a lot, doesn’t prove it is not fiction.

            Would you consider a govt good that just forgave murderers and molesters and let them go without punishment?

            So he designed things so that wasps paralyse their prey and lay eggs in them for their young to eat the prey alive as they grow because he has a sense of justice?

            But leaving aside the fact that you artificially restrict the scope of the argument you are actually saying that you consider it RIGHT that rape victims be flogged for adultery? Because that is just according to your god?

            No matter how brutal and evil human punishment regimes are they pale into insignificance compared with the infinite brutality and evil of your god. I find it appalling how people can consider a parent smacking their child to be no different to infinite torture.

            Plus, of course, how can anyone consider yahweh/jesus to be a valid judge when they have a history of demanding human sacrifices to appease them?

            Even if there were some historical inaccuracies in the gospels that would not mean they are all false.

            The historical inaccuracies show that the writers made stuff up. As there is no way to know what is made up and what isn’t unless there is supporting evidence we have to assume that everything that has no supporting evidence is made up. Particularly when it is things that would have had supporting evidence if they had actually occurred such as an almighty god of a billion trillion stars walking the earth saying he wants everyone to know him. There is absolutely no way that could happen without there being masses of evidence.

            Does the account say that the donkey is talking by its own power or that something else is going on?

            It makes no difference, it’s a fairy story with talking animals. The fact that you believe in a fairy that was talking out of its ass doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fairy story.

            Christ was not riding on 2 donkeys at once.

            According to the bible he was.
            Matt 21:7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

          • Justas399 .

            God may have told them but we don’t have a record of it. Or they may have asked but God chose not to tell them. So again, it does not follow that ” So the only possible conclusion is that it was made up later.”

            Here is what a Hebrew lexicon says about the meaning of the word “unicorns” in the OT: “Nine occurrences; AV translates as “unicorn” nine times. 1 probably the great aurochs or wild bulls which are now extinct. The exact meaning is not known..AV Authorized Version
            Strong, James: The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : . H7214. I know of no Hebrew scholar that thinks this is some kind of mythical figure that we see in fantasy books. Rather, its more likely a bull.

            Ok. So you have not disproven God or that atheism is true. Santa is not god. You need to get beyond your 4 year old thinking.

            Get serious. No scholar who studies this period doubts Jesus existed nor that the NT is not historical.

            Don’t know how you as an atheist can speak of evil when there is no such thing in atheism. Its all atoms in motion. Pain is just the result of electrical signals to the brain. Nothing more.

            Matthew 21:7 does not say Jesus sat on them at the same time. Nice try, no cigar.

          • Colin Robinson

            God may have told them but we don’t have a record of it. Or they may have asked but God chose not to tell them. So again, it does not follow that ” So the only possible conclusion is that it was made up later.”

            You are forgetting that your god is supposed to be almighty and benevolent. If he is almighty, he will make damned sure the message of heaven and hell is put across, and if he is benevolent he will do the same.

            Your ‘argument’ is only valid if your god is nothing like what you claim he is.

            I know of no Hebrew scholar that thinks this is some kind of mythical figure that we see in fantasy books.

            Liar, you know that the writers of the KJV believed that! Do you REALLY claim they were not ‘biblical scholars’?

            Ok. So you have not disproven God or that atheism is true. Santa is not god. You need to get beyond your 4 year old thinking.

            Of course santa is a god, he knows when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been good or bad so be good for goodness sake!

            So he’s omniscient, omnipresent and judges you on your inner most thoughts. Just like your god.

            You miss the point, there are thousands of gods. Santa is just one, your god is another. And each one, if clearly defined, can be proven to be false.

            Which is why people like you, when arguing your god’s existence, absolutely refuse to define your god. But, obviously, define him explicitly when it suits you.

            Get serious. No scholar who studies this period doubts Jesus existed nor that the NT is not historical.

            You have a lot to learn! TRY to understand the fundamental point that there is NO proof that jesus existed. The fact that it is widely accepted that he did is merely a cultural artifact that will be, and is being, destroyed by the rising tide of people who won’t just accept traditional belief.

            Don’t know how you as an atheist can speak of evil when there is no such thing in atheism.

            As a believer in one of the christian gods you obviously don’t actually possess the evolutionary trait of empathy. Or your obsession with fantasy has suppressed it.

            Me? I see someone suffering I and I feel their pain, the definition of empathy. But you openly wish infinite suffering on billions of innocents.

            How can you stand that? It’s like your delusions have destroyed your basic humanity!

            Matthew 21:7 does not say Jesus sat on them at the same time. Nice try, no cigar.

            So you can’t read english, hardly a surprise.

          • ChuckQueen101

            I don’t believe Jesus believed or taught eternal torture – it would completely contradict what he says about loving enemies and doing good by them. The reason he gave for loving enemies is that God loves his/her enemies, and we are to be “compassionate as God is compassionate.” Such a God doesn’t torture people. I think you have to distinguish between what Jesus believed and taught and what the early Christians attributed to Jesus. That involves a critical reading of Scripture. Also my best sense tells me that if the God depicted in a particular Bible passage is not as loving, caring, just, good, kind, forgiving, etc. as the best person I know, then that biblical depiction of God cannot be authentic revelation.

          • Colin Robinson

            I don’t believe Jesus believed or taught eternal torture – it would completely contradict what he says about loving enemies and doing good by them.

            The gospels say he did. If you reject the ‘evidence’ of the gospels then you reject the existence of jesus as they are the only ‘evidence’ we have that he even existed. (And they are not actually acceptable as historical evidence.)

            Your bible is massively self contradictory. The desire for vengeance on their enemies are pretty much dominant through out the scriptures, and if your existed as you believe he is like then he would have squashed that in the gospels and rest of the NT. But the eternal torture theme is pretty much throughout the NT.

            Such a God doesn’t torture people.

            You REALLY need to read your bible again! You’re talking about the god who massacred 10s of 1000s of children just to make himself look big. (Exo 11)

            I think you have to distinguish between what Jesus believed and taught and what the early Christians attributed to Jesus.

            I think you need to give me a reason to believe that your jesus even existed!

            Also my best sense tells me that if the God depicted in a particular Bible passage is not as loving, caring, just, good, kind, forgiving, etc. as the best person I know, then that biblical depiction of God cannot be authentic revelation.

            Which means that you have to reject 90% of what is supposed to be the word of your god.

            I can not understand why you accept the 10% when you have rejected the 90% that is still supposedly the word of your god.

          • ChuckQueen101

            For every wrath filled, violent God passage there is a counter tradition in the Bible of a God who who is steadfast in love and forgiving. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say “massively contradictory” though it is certainly contradictory in places because it is a human product reflecting human beliefs, aspirations, understandings of the Divine, etc. I’ve spent my life reading the Bible so I have a pretty good idea of what’s there — the good, the bad, the ugly and also the beautiful – there are no greater transformative passages than 1 Cor. 13, Matt 5-7, Romans 8, Luke 15, etc in all of literature. You seem to be stuck on the bad and the ugly. I really think you should read the Bible (again?). I suspect that your bias toward atheism is distorting any honest assessment.

          • Colin Robinson

            You might want to try reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan if you want to read ‘transformative passages’. There is a potted description of the history of life and the universe which captures the soul far better than creation myths written by bronze age goat herders.

            Or watch this to begin to comprehend our place:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M

            And the simple fact is that extreme evil, as ascribed to your god in the bible in most of it, far outweighs the ‘good’ that is in the bible. You must have an extreme distortion in order for your assessment of the bible to give you the impression that your god is good. The ‘bad and the ugly’ is 95% of the bible, focusing on the 5% to the exclusion of the 95% is the distortion.

          • ChuckQueen101

            The God of the Bible is depicted in different ways by different biblical writers/communities/traditions. There are “texts of terror” in the Bible, and there are some wonderfully redemptive and transformative texts. The God of Jesus depicted in the Gospels is, for the most part, a very different looking God than the one needing to kill his son.

          • BT

            I’ve drifted your way on this one over the past 20 years. I don’t think I was ever 100% comfortable with penal substitution. I don’t think it ever made complete intuitive sense personally. It took a long time to be honest with myself about that though.

          • Colin Robinson

            So the bible contradicts itself, we know this. But when you pick and choose what parts of the bible are valid and what parts are invalid, as you are doing, you are actually making up your own god.

          • ChuckQueen101

            All we have is our subjective understandings, but it’s more than “making up our own god” — it’s grounded in critical thinking, reason, and our best intuition. We all live by faith – athiests too. I suspect that it takes as much faith not to believe in God as it does to believe. I’ll take my “faith system” over yours everytime.

          • Colin Robinson

            I suspect that it takes as much faith not to believe in God as it does to believe.

            The problem with that statement is that it is based in your own belief system. You actually define atheism as not believing in YOUR god! And there are plenty of believers who don’t believe in your god.

            When people say it must take faith not to believe in a god I have to laugh. There are thousands of gods you don’t believe in, does that take faith?

            It requires as much faith to not believe in any of the gods as it does not to believe in fairies.

          • ChuckQueen101

            I define atheism as not believing in any God, not just the God I conceive or imagine. It takes as much faith not to believe as believe – no matter how you imagine God. The Bible is not my only source for believing in God; I also employ reason, common sense, intuition, and experience. It takes a kind of faith to believe that life just evolved on its own without any divine assistance. I suspect that if I only had a choice of believing in a certain kind of God, like the one you keep talking about as the God of the Bible, then I would be an atheist too. The Bible has both healthy images of God and toxic images of God. I happen to believe that the healthy images depict what is true. I believe we are evolving spiritually as well as biologically.

          • Colin Robinson

            I define atheism as not believing in any God, not just the God I conceive or imagine. It takes as much faith not to believe as believe – no matter how you imagine God.

            That makes absolutely zero sense. I used to believe in a god, santa claus. (And I am NOT taking the poseidon here, he is the only god I have ever believed in.) Now I don’t. Do I define my life by not believing in santa? Of course I don’t, no more than you do.

            The Bible is not my only source for believing in God; I also employ reason, common sense, intuition, and experience.

            So you make him up based on what you feel he should be like? But the bible’s description of this god is completely insane! The creator and ruler of a billion trillion stars comes to earth to tell all mankind the ‘good news’, (if being tortured for eternity is good news), and he never traveled more than a few hundred miles from where he was born?!!!

            I can see where you feel the need to embellish on the bible, as the gospel writers embellished the ‘original story’, (if there was one), but that’s still making it up.

            A believer in the ‘JUSTICE’ of the lord will make stuff up massively differently to someone who believes in the ‘mercy’ of the lord.

            And we see that all over.

            And it’s still all made up.

            I suspect that if I only had a choice of believing in a certain kind of God, like the one you keep talking about as the God of the Bible, then I would be an atheist too.

            Then you and I are very different. I don’t reject your god because the bible states he is infinitely evil, I reject your god for the same reason as I reject santa claus; there is absolutely no evidence he exists.

            Just to be clear, if I believed your god existed I would hate him with every facet of my being. Just as his evil is infinite, so would be my hate.

            The Bible has both healthy images of God and toxic images of God. I happen to believe that the healthy images depict what is true.

            Why?

          • ChuckQueen101

            As I said in a previous comment you are really stuck on the toxic parts of Scripture and seem to completely ignore (or maybe not aware of the healthy, transformative parts). You really should read the text.

            Why? Because to me it makes sense; it aligns with what I believe my true self/best sense tells me about the Divine. Because there are some wonderfully transformative images of God in the Bible that move me to be more than I am now. Because it’s reasonable to believe that in humanity’s imperfect quest for truth we would get authentic glimpses into the divine. Because it helps me to become a more compassionate person and it instills hope and challenges me to be part of a larger story that is greater than myself.

          • Colin Robinson

            Sorry, I take my impression of the god of jesus from the bible. And that god is a truly narcissistic, vindictive god.

            “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgement, than for that city” [which will not receive you]. Matthew 10:15.

            Just ONE example of his unforgiving nature when people don’t embrace him as the messiah.

            I have no idea where you get your impression of jesus from.

          • Justas399 .

            What should God do when people refuse to acknowledge their sin and repent?

          • ChuckQueen101

            The nonviolent loving God of Jesus is the pervading and prevailing image in the Gospels. Jesus spoke of judgment, but he also told his disciples to love their enemies and pray for them. The overriding portrait of the God of Jesus is a patient, longsuffering, loving God who judges in order to redeem. I think Jesus’ own personal experience of God as “Abba” trumped everthing else. Some of the harsh images in the judgment parables in Matthew’s Gospel were no doubt added by Matthew. Any good critical reading of the Gospels bears this out.

          • Colin Robinson

            A great deal was added by matthew, including the census so jesus could be born in bethlehem and the virgin birth.
            On the other hand, as we know that matthew added stuff willy nilly then the question is how do we define what he added and what he didn’t.

            And I’m afraid I just cannot agree with you on what the ‘pervading and prevailing image’ is. The humanitarian gesture of ‘he who casts the first stone’ story was added in the 3rd century by someone who clearly knew nothing of judean law or the terms of the occupation, (in essence, if the scribes and pharisees can kill someone for adultery then why did they have to get the romans to kill jesus for blasphemy?)
            The one time ‘peace on earth’ appears in the gospel it is actually, “I have not come to bring peace on earth but division”.

            who judges in order to redeem

            What the does that mean? Why does he need to judge in order to redeem?! Are you saying that he only judges so that he knows how much he has to forgive? That makes no sense to me.
            And he doesn’t judge people on good and evil, he judges them by whether or not they worship him. In some parts of the gospels, in others he promises to torture you for eternity for being rich. (Parable of Lazurus and the rich man.)

            And I find that when people say ‘good critical reading’ they mean that concentrate on the things that agree with what they want to believe and use that to dismiss the ones that don’t. The resultant view of the scriptures will always be what you wanted when you started.

          • ChuckQueen101

            The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a story that had a long history in different forms with different characters. It’s not about what constitutes the afterlife; it’s about God’s asssesment of those who have wealth and do nothing at all to alleviate the suffering of the poor. It is about God’s judgment of the advantaged disregarding the disadvantaged, The God imaged by Jesus is a God who takes the side of the poor and oppressed.

            I believe the purpose of judgment is ultimately redemptive. I don’t believe in any kind of literal hell — I think the language is metaphorical. If hell represents the separation from God, each other, creation, and even our own true selves that results from our false attachments, destructive addictions, cruel actions, etc. then we may have to pass through many “hells” before we reach “heaven.” Whatever God’s judgment may consist of in the life to come, I believe its intent is to restore, redeem, heal, etc. just the way a loving parent might discipline/punish a child, not to harm or injure the child, but to help the child grow, mature, learn, etc. become a better person.

          • Colin Robinson

            I’m sorry, so it isn’t about your god torturing people for eternity because they are rich? You seem to ignore the bit where your god tortures people for eternity, I’m sorry but that aspect of your god absolutely defines him for me.

            I don’t believe in any kind of literal hell — I think the language is metaphorical.

            Why? Why would a benevolent god allow himself to be portrayed as infinite evil as the bible does? Is he not in control of what is written in the bible? If he isn’t, then why consider the bible to be an authority on this god?

            Whatever God’s judgment may consist of in the life to come, I believe it’s intent is to restore, redeem, heal, etc. just the way a loving parent might discipline/punish a child, not to harm or injure the child, but to help the child grow, mature, learn, etc. become a better person.

            Then you might want to read your bible again. It is chock filled with hatred for ‘the others’, no chance of redemption, no chance of heaven, just ‘suffer as much as a scorpion sting so they wished to die but lived for months’.
            Read Zech 14 if you want to comprehend how your god considers the gentiles.

            This is, of course, assuming you consider the bible to be the word of your god.

          • ChuckQueen101

            Really, you should read the Bible again and take note of all the transformative texts. Your bias has you stuck . . .

          • Colin Robinson

            Maybe you should try reading it again yourself, and make a note of which chapters are ‘transformative’ and which are evil. And which are neutral. In fact, rate each chapter according to ‘niceness’ and ‘evilness’. God kills 10s of 1000s of children in order to make himself look big, (exo 11), rates a 10 on the evil scale and ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ would rank a 5 on the good scale.

            Then tot it up at the end and see which dominates.

            Of course, when you get to Revelation every chapter will rate between 10 and infinite on the evil scale. And lazurus and the rich man is obviously infinitely evil as it promises infinite torture to those who do not obey yahweh’s commands.

            It requires an enormous amount of bias to
            ignore the evil in the bible as you do.

          • ChuckQueen101

            Well, not any more than it does to ignore all the good, hope, and possibility it conveys.

          • Colin Robinson

            As that part of the bible is very much a small part of the bible I have to disagree.

          • ChuckQueen101

            There has to be a better reason not to believe in God other than that there are toxic passages in the Bible. Does your atheism make you a better person? Does it help you connect beyond your own self-interests? Does it inspire you to be more merciful, honest, truthful, compassionate, etc? How does your atheism empower you to become “more” than you are now?

            Since you seem to be focused only on the negative texts in the Bible, could you possibly be projecting something of what you are feeling onto the biblical texts?

          • Colin Robinson

            You’re missing the point here. I am an atheist because there is no evidence that any of the gods exist. And plenty of evidence that they don’t. It is not a moral decision, it is a reality decision. I don’t believe in your god, or any other god, for the same reason you don’t believe in santa claus.

            My lack of belief in santa, or any of the other gods, does not inform my morality, that is self derived from the basic principle of empathy. If you do read Cosmos you will see that morality that far transcends anything derived from your religious belief can be found in atheists.

            And if you look at Westboro Baptist Church, as just one example out of millions, you will see the ‘morality’ that is derived from christianity.

            Your morality is not informed by your christianity, the way you completely ignore the overwhelming nastiness of your scriptures proves that. Your morality is your own, and your interpretation of christianity is merely a conduit for it.

            I don’t rely on such crutches.

          • ChuckQueen101

            Sure you do. We all have crutches. Of course, there are those who live in denial. I suspect your atheism is one of yours.

          • Colin Robinson

            You continue to believe that my atheism is lack of belief in your god. It is not, it is lack of belief in any of the gods.

            Is your lack of belief in Shiva denial? No? Then why insist that my lack of belief in yahweh/jesus is denial?

            Again, my lack of belief in gods is NOT a ‘moral’ decision, I don’t base my decision on whether or not I’d like your god to exist, there is simply no evidence that he does, there is not even any contemporary references to the existence of the person of jesus of nazareth. (There isn’t even any reference to nazareth until the 2nd century.)

            An almighty god, creator and ruler of a billion trillion stars, walks the earth declaring he wants everyone to know him AND NOBODY NOTICED!!!

            In short, if your god did exist then the evidence for him would be writ large across the universe. We have no evidence at all. It seems that your all powerful god’s abilities have been reduced to making his image appear on cheese sandwiches.

            To me, belief in a god or gods is not about what the god is like, it is about the evidence. It’s like a president, we know that Obama exists because there is plentiful evidence for his existence. But acceptance of his existence does not turn into support for him automatically. And people who don’t like him don’t actually claim he doesn’t exist as you claim I am doing with your god. (Not any other of the gods, just your god!)

            Prove your god exists first, then we can talk about whether he is good or not. Until then we have nothing to go on but a load of stuff written down thousands of years ago which is riddled with inaccuracies and contradictions. There is no way to ascertain his nature from a source as inherently unreliable as that.

            According to you anyway, for me, any being that promises to torture billions of innocents for eternity is infinitely evil. And the bible most definitely describes your god as one who perpetrates infinite torture. And if you wish to claim that that bible author was wrong, he didn’t truly perceive the nature of your god, then why do you believe that the writer of the sermon on the mount does?

            Because of your inherent morality that recognises good and evil.

          • ChuckQueen101

            The saying about bringing division not peace occurs in a context of intense persecution where Jesus says that because he was oppossed and persecuted his disciples can expect the same treatment. The division he is referring to in the context of that passage is the division that takes place even within families when it comes to living by his teachings.

            Jesus never admonished violence. When one of his disciples drew his sword when they came to arrest Jesus, Jesus told him to put it up. In one tradition Peter is mentioned as the one who draws the sword and cuts off an ear of one of the Temple servants. In that tradition, Jesus heals him.

            In John’s Gospel Jesus tells Pilot that his kingdom is not of this world, meaning that it does not partake of the violence and greed that characterizes the kingdoms of the world. Jesus seems to have taught a kind of nonviolent resistance when he instructed his disciples if they are given a humiliating slap to the cheek by someone in power they are to offer the other cheek as a form of nonviolent protest of such abuse.

          • Colin Robinson

            Why would living by his teachings divide families? It will only divide those who follow jesus from those who don’t. And he is saying that that is an acceptable price for following him as it allows you to avoid the eternal torture promised to those who don’t follow him.

            When one of his disciples drew his sword when they came to arrest Jesus, Jesus told him to put it up.

            You recall that it was jesus who told them to bring the swords do you not? That passage is about the only part of the gospels that makes me think they are not completely made up. The jewish messiah was to lead the jews to world domination, and a feasible interpretation of the description of that night is that jesus went to the place where yahweh would come to ‘free the jews’ and ‘sweated blood’ in his desperation to get yahweh to come and fulfill the prophecy of Zech 14.

            And that’s what rings true, jesus actually appeared to act as if he believed he was the jewish messiah although the gospels on the whole do not treat him as such.

            Jesus seems to have taught a kind of nonviolent resistance when he instructed his disciples if they are given a humiliating slap to the cheek by someone in power they are to offer the other cheek as a form of nonviolent protest of such abuse.

            Yes, a very convenient teaching for the romans who adopted christianity to help them control their empire.
            Especially when combined the other teachings of jesus where the rich would all be punished in the afterlife so the poor could channel their resentment into “Huh, they’ll get theirs, just you wait.” A sentiment that is very strong in the bible, OT and NT.

    • BT

      There are folks, however, who read the bible slightly differently while still holding a very high view of what the bible is.

      We see Genesis as story but not “just a story”. It’s THE Story. Huge difference.

      • Colin Robinson

        It’s only ‘the story’ for a small minority of mankind. To everyone else it is just one more creation myth.

        And even those who consider the myth to be somehow important cannot agree on even the major details of it. You guys even argue about how long a day is! And somehow fool yourself into accepting that it is morning all over the world at the same time!

        • BT

          Interesting comment. For what it’s worth, those who view Genesis 1-2 as story really don’t argue over the length of a day. That’s more of an argument from the evangelical ad fundamentalist side of things where some feel the need to reconcile the age of the earth with a literal 7 “day” creation (or 7 “age” or “epoch” or whatever.)

          Most of the rest of us settled that a long time ago.

          It feels to me that you criticize people whose opinions you haven’t really sought to understand from their viewpoint.

          • Colin Robinson

            Yes, there are some who want to manipulate Genesis so it makes sense against reality, and some who claim it is just a story. And the ways in which Genesis is manipulated is manifold.

            But it is truly ridiculous to accuse people of not understanding the ‘christian beliefs’ because, quite simply, there is virtually limitless variety in what christians believe.

            No matter what ‘christian belief’ you refer to there will be the majority of christians declaring “You don’t understand what we believe!”

            As an example we have Chuck Queen declaring that he doesn’t believe that jesus was a sacrifice for our sins because it is, absolutely, a horrific concept. But it is also the firm belief of many millions of christians.

            To be fair, there is no way I can understand anyone that believes any variation of “The almighty creator and ruler of a billion trillion stars manifested himself on earth and declared that he wanted everyone to know him and accept him.”

            We have NO contemporary evidence of his existence and, if we believe the stories, he traveled no further than a few hundred miles from where he was born. And yet still people he was an almighty god.

            And I will never understand that viewpoint.

          • BT

            Fair enough.

    • Justas399 .

      How did evolution or whatever cause non-living materials to become a cell? How does that work?

      • Colin Robinson

        We don’t know, YET! But less than 200 years ago we didn’t know how the first life turned into the variety of species we have on earth today, and now we do.

        The science of biopoiesis is advancing considerably. Bits are falling into place, although we don’t yet have the full story.

        Don’t forget, we used to explain rainbows with ‘goddidit’, now we can explain it with raindrops and refraction. There are a great many natural phenomena that have been previously explained with ‘goddidit’ that is now explained with science. Biopoiesis will be added to that list before long, and you guys will have to, again, find something else to say ‘goddidit’ about.

        • Justas399 .

          How long will we have to wait before something could not have been done by natural forces? The more we study life at the microscopic level that greater the complexity. What this means is that its becoming more and more apparent that natural forces cannot account for the origin of life.

          • Colin Robinson

            How long will we have to wait before something could not have been done by natural forces?

            Are you asking how long we will continue to try to answer the question before giving up and saying ‘goddidit’?

            For some people, a microsecond. For most scientists, forever. We need to see evidence that ‘goddidit’, not just conclude “we can’t work it out so ‘goddidit’”

            We resorted to ‘goddidit’ for thousands of years and progressed very, very slowly.

            The more we study life at the microscopic level that greater the complexity.

            I think you mean the molecular level and I agree. But that is a, very poor, argument against evolution, not biopoiesis.

            What this means is that its becoming more and more apparent that natural forces cannot account for the origin of life.

            It is actually heading in the other direction. Scientists are finding that more and more of the cell’s basic functions can be spontaneously generated. From the structure of the cell itself to the basic metabolic processes within it.

            Still a science very much in its infancy, it’s only 60 years since the Miller–Urey experiment that started it. But we have hit no stone walls yet. We appear to have done, and then overcome them. Maybe if there is zero advance in the field, as opposed to the multiple advances that we are seeing at the moment, for 100 years we might write it off as a bad job.

          • Justas399 .

            Somethings cannot be explained by nature forces. That’s the problem for a naturalist. If the evidence for something points to intelligence then science should follow that lead and not come up with absurd theories just to protect naturalism.

            your statement “the cell’s basic functions can be spontaneously generated” brings up a lot of questions such as what are the forces that is causing this “spontaneously generation”? Since science is in he business of seeking to understand how things work and must quantify causes it must explain what this is and how it works. Not to do so, explains nothing. Its just a “ignorance of the gaps” that is meant to sound scientific.

          • Colin Robinson

            What things can never be explained by natural forces? At the moment all we have is what we haven’t explained yet. What is this evidence that points to intelligence?

            your statement “the cell’s basic functions can be spontaneously generated” brings up a lot of questions such as what are the forces that is causing this “spontaneously generation”?

            Temperature gradients, saline gradients, chemical reactions… These questions are asked and answered, this is why they are referred to as natural forces.

            Since science is in he business of seeking to understand how things work and must quantify causes it must explain what this is and how it works.

            That’s what it is doing, that is the entire point.

          • Justas399 .

            If the origin of life is the result of only natural forces then we should expect to see it happening again today. Right?

            How many chemicals and temperature gradients are necessary to form DNA and a cell? What are the odds of all these conditions coming together to form DNA and a cell?

            Even the Miller–Urey experiment required intelligence. It would never have happened without the help of Miller himself putting things together.

          • Asemodeus

            “If the origin of life is the result of only natural forces then we should expect to see it happening again today. Right?”

            Conditions on earth change over time.

            “How many chemicals and temperature gradients are necessary to form DNA
            and a cell? What are the odds of all these conditions coming together to
            form DNA and a cell?”

            Which is a red herring, since you are assuming that the first life was a single cell organism with fully functional DNA. It may be something even more simplistic and went from there.

            “Even the Miller–Urey experiment required intelligence.”

            Using that logic, snowflakes are impossible for nature to make since we can make them all the time in the lab.

          • Colin Robinson

            If the origin of life is the result of only natural forces then we should expect to see it happening again today. Right?

            Wrong. Although we don’t know how it happened we believe that it was very unlikely in any one instance, and although certain given enough time and space, it will not be happening all the time as you suggest.

            Plus, of course, the world is very, very different now to what it was then. You may not know this but oxygen is actually very poisonous to life, but when life got started it was only around at very low levels. Now, obviously, it is all over the place. The life we have today have evolved to deal with it, but any biopoiesis happening today will be ripped apart by the oxygen before it even starts.

            How many chemicals and temperature gradients are necessary to form DNA and a cell? What are the odds of all these conditions coming together to form DNA and a cell?

            These are the questions that are being worked upon by the people who don’t just accept ‘goddidit’. The fact that we don’t know the answers now doesn’t mean that we never will.

            Even the Miller–Urey experiment required intelligence. It would never have happened without the help of Miller himself putting things together.

            Actually, the entire point of the experiment was to simulate the early earth, with no intelligence around.

          • Justas399 .

            You are just speculating how life began. All you can say is “naturedidit”.

            In regards to your last comment-”Actually, the entire point of the experiment was to simulate the early earth, with no intelligence around.” was only possible with intelligence.


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