Nightline Debate Preview

The debate between Kirk Cameron/Ray Comfort (Christians) and Brian/Kelly (atheists) was taped last night. You won’t be able to see it until Wednesday (on ABC News Now, online, at 2:00 p.m. (EST) and on Nightline, televised, at 11:35 p.m. (EST)).

But Brian Sapient did make a few comments to me about how it went down:

On 4 separate occassions the audience erupted in applause upon Kirk and Ray being destroyed.

It was ugly, we wanted to hug Kirk and Ray after we tore their arguments down so hard.

So, Brian seems to think it went very well. The atheist side wasn’t without some flaws, though. Brian admitted that there were some mistakes he made regarding the names of transitional fossils and which Law of Thermodynamics is which. That said, he added, “We utterly destroyed them.”

I can’t wait to see it.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Christians, Brian Sapient, Rational Response Squad, ABC News Now, Nightline, transitional fossils, Law of Thermodynamics[/tags]

  • http://www.nullifidian.net/ null

    I’m take it from this that Comfort failed in the scientific proof of his god without reference to the christian bible? I wonder if he might retract his statement about atheism being an “intellectual embarrassment”. For some reason, that I can’t quite explain, I doubt it, somewhat.

    Now, to find a UK channel showing this (unless some kind soul posts a copy of it to the intertubes)… :-)

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    I’m guessing Comfort and Cameron are probably saying the same thing right now, declaring that they won and that they “destroyed” Brian & Kelly.

  • Richard Wade

    Even if C and C acknowledge that it didn’t go well for them, they won’t call it defeat, they’ll call it persecution. Then they can console themselves with that scriptural bit about the closer they come to God the more persecuted they will be: “People disagree with what I’m saying. That means I’m right.”

    No fact, evidence, argument or experience can ever break through the perfect circularity of their cognitive framework. They are safe within their intellectually insular little universe, and even that safety is more circular reinforcement for them.

    It’s the curious fence-sitters in the audience that I have hope for. Hopefully they can embrace critical thinking with or without their faith.

  • Karen

    It’s the curious fence-sitters in the audience that I have hope for. Hopefully they can embrace critical thinking with or without their faith.

    Exactly. You’re not going to change the hard core folks, but there are plenty of middle-grounders who are quietly open to change. (I know, because I was one of them!)

    That’s the encouraging part.

  • http://iloveteh.biz James W.

    And over on the richarddawkins.net forums is someone’s account from being in the audience during the taping. Interesting stuff.

  • Julie Marie

    It’s the curious fence-sitters in the audience that I have hope for. Hopefully they can embrace critical thinking with or without their faith.

    sometimes those fencesitters are sitting squarely in conservative evangelical churches too. all it takes is a little exposure and some time to ponder….after a bout two months of admitting “those folks on e-bay atheist” have some good points that I don’t have any coherent response for it became evident I had a bit of deconstructing work to do. Its been a fruitful year and a half. I sure feel more like the girl I was before I became catholocsized then evangelized,,,and that girl, put in the body of a woman who has gained some worldly success and a wee bit of power has a bit of potential to do good things for the sake of doing good things.

  • Richard Wade

    Julie Marie,
    You have courage. I wince at just imagining the pain that people must endure when they divest themselves of beliefs that they had cherished for years. I had it so easy compared to most, with very little to have to give up to begin with. I hope you can do those good things you envision and even more that have not occurred to you yet. A year and a half seems so recent, so raw.

  • Siamang

    One thing great about Julie Marie is that I’ve never sensed an ounce of regret or fear from her about her changes in attitudes. Maybe she’s good at being silent about that… but I always feel positivity coming from her in her reflections on where she was and where she is now, and no trepidation on where she might be headed.

    She always seems to feel grounded and secure that she’ll find the path that’s right for her.

    At least that’s my perspective on her.

  • http://atheismsucks.blogspot.com Frank Walton

    Trust me, when Sapient acts overtly arrogant, he’s doing that to hide his insecurity, which means he probably most likely screwed up in this debate, and lost. I write about it here. But who knows, maybe the coward actually did win this debate.

  • Richard Wade

    Okay I finally broke down and watched the stupid banana argument video. I still couldn’t finish it. That is so supremely stupid it’s actually painful to watch. If a banana is a perfect example of God’s handiwork because of it’s convenience to humans, then what the hell is a pineapple? Ever try to harvest and eat one? Ouch! And a pomegranate? What a pain in the neck. What was God thinking when he “designed” kumquats? A joke? You can maim yourself trying to get into a coconut. Why doesn’t that have a “tab” too? What exactly is the point of an artichoke? A huge pile of litter for a few bites that you have to scrape off with your lower teeth.

    One good “design” and thousands of dumb ones. Maybe having found the only good design God ever came up with, those two boneheads eat nothing but bananas, which would explain a lot.

    I became an atheist when my mom tried to make me eat lima beans.

  • Karen

    She always seems to feel grounded and secure that she’ll find the path that’s right for her.

    At least that’s my perspective on her.

    Exactly mine too, Siamang. She’s an inspiration to us all! :-)

    And Julie, I can totally relate to “finding that girl” you used to be. In my case, the girl I used to be had gone AWOL for QUITE a long time!

  • Julie Marie

    Richard and Siamang,

    Thanks :) Realizing I could still consider myself Christian while I examined the underpinnings of the church was the basis for my courage. The churches I have belonged to use scarey words like heretic and apostate to keep people “in line.” Once those words lost their power I wasn’t afraid to examine anything and I could even laugh at myself and my earnest seriousness. But I continue to march resolutely down my own little road…

  • Julie Marie

    I can totally relate to “finding that girl” you used to be. In my case, the girl I used to be had gone AWOL for QUITE a long time!

    Isn’t it nice to be back in your own skin? :)

  • Michael Stradley

    So Sapient and Kelly claim they succeeded in dismantling the inane arguments of two mediocre apologists? Not really that impressive when the best opponents you can muster are a former child actor and a guy who thinks a banana is definitive proof of God’s existence.

    Until the Rational Response Squad grows a pair and takes on real apologists, I remain unimpressed with anything they do.

  • Mike Tarsi

    I just wonder why there is so much competition in “who destroyed who”? Isn’t it the object to communicate intelligently? Come on Hemant, remember what James and Betty said????? Lots of angst on here. Just watch!

  • http://prosthesis.blogspot.com macht

    I’m pretty sure that anybody who watches this thing for anything more than entertainment value is going to be sorely disappointed.

  • http://www.nullifidian.net/ nullifidian

    I’m pretty sure that anybody who watches this thing for anything more than entertainment value is going to be sorely disappointed.

    I’m interested in finding out what they thought was their “proof” for their god. I think if nothing else, they appear (from reports) to have failed in the principal goal of the debate. I’ll reserve my own opinion until I manage to see it, though.

    Saying that, seeing pontificating theists (or anyone with bad arguments, for that matter) fall flat on their face is something that I might find quite entertaining.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I’m interested in finding out what they thought was their “proof” for their god.

    It’s the “Coke Can” argument, according to Pharyngula.

    You gotta laugh to keep from crying sometimes.

  • http://prosthesis.blogspot.com macht

    From what I’ve seen of the RRS, they aren’t good for much more than entertainment, either. Both sides will preach to their respective sides, no substantive arguments will be made, and both sides will feel like they “won.” It will make for an entertaining segment of TV and will do pretty well in the ratings. That’s my prediction, anyway.

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  • Mike Tarsi

    And the point of all this is? If you don’t believe in God, why try to prove someone dosen’t exist, if He dosen’t?

  • Richard Wade

    Mike Tarsi,
    The point is not to “prove that God does not exist.” That is not possible to do, given the outside-of-nature-and-causality definition of God offered by believers. That definition also makes it impossible to prove he does exist as well.

    This is a rather absurd episode in a centuries-long struggle between people who want to think freely and people who want to control what others think, believe and do. Most non-believers could not care less about other’s beliefs in God. We usually only get involved in the struggle when believers want to impose their beliefs on everyone in the classroom, the bedroom and the courtroom. We actually fight for your right to believe as you choose as well. If any one belief system was able to seize power, you too would have to conform to it and it might not fit your beliefs or needs.

    Nothing that consequential is going to come from this silly debate, but the debate must continue or unchallenged absurd claims will overwhelm our culture.

    Cameron and Comfort have made the claim that they can prove the existence of God through logical argument alone. Okay, we skeptics are interested in seeing the attempt, although it has failed countless times. What is invariably shown in such debates is not whether or not God exists, but that the theists’ attempts at logical arguments are failures as logical arguments. It is simply a mistake to try to prove the existence of God through logical argument.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    I just wonder why there is so much competition in “who destroyed who”? Isn’t it the object to communicate intelligently? Come on Hemant, remember what James and Betty said?????

    Mike– I can understand both sides taking this debate very seriously. But the “destroy” word was Brian’s, not mine. I’m but the messenger! And I do hope the atheist side communicated well. It would look pretty bad if they didn’t, this being such a rare opportunity to talk about atheism in front of such a large television crowd.

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  • Karen

    Isn’t it nice to be back in your own skin? :)

    Oh gosh, yes! And it’s lifesaving – or at least sanity-saving – in my case. :-)

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Cameron and Comfort have made the claim that they can prove the existence of God through logical argument alone. Okay, we skeptics are interested in seeing the attempt, although it has failed countless times.

    From my experiences watching Cam/Com, I highly doubt they posess the brain power to achieve a feat that eluded the greatest minds in history.

    I’d be far more likely to believe they perfected Cold Fusion in their spare time.

  • Richard Wade

    I’d be far more likely to believe they perfected Cold Fusion in their spare time.

    Hmm. You know, if Pons and Fleishmann had started their cold fusion experiment with a banana…

  • Michael Stradley

    I’m a Christian, and even I know that proving God exists scientifically is impossible–Cameron and Comfort lost this debate the moment they claimed they could pull off such a feat.

    Cameron and Comfort would have stood a better chance if they had argued that the belief in the existence of God is rational, and provided proof to support this supposition, rather than foolishly attempt to prove the existence of the supernatural through natural means.

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  • James Winkler

    I’m a Christian, I haven’t seen the debate in its entirity, but anytime the gospel is put out there for people to hear, it’s a win for Christianity. Hopefully some atheists will take another look at what God has to offer.

  • http://aintchristian.blogspot.com Moth

    I just watched the video from the Nightline website.

    Let’s hear their best evidence as to why God doesn’t exist, and let the audience decide whose evidence is based on faith and whose is based on fact. We cannot only prove that God exists, but we can prove that the atheist doesn’t.”

    In short they didn’t.

    Kirk tried to prove God’s existence by telling his personal ‘salvation’ story. It proved squat.

    Ray tried to prove god scientifically by showing a Coke can and asking if the coca cola liquid could have made the can over millions of years… wtf? He also used the 10 commandments as further proof.

    Kirk and Ray’s argument fell even more apart when they said it was obvious that a creation needs a creator (first of all you need to believe life IS a creation). When the atheists asked them ‘Who created god?’, they just sat there without a reply for an uncomfortable while and then babbled that god exists outside of ‘time’. Their argument was void of any scientific data. They believed that god has to be eternal but didn’t deny the idea that the RSS offered that the universe could equally be considered eternal…

  • http://www.reformationinprogress.blogspot.com Jacob A. Allee

    To hear a real apologist respond to atheism go to http://www.aomin.org and listen to James White. He is far superior in his knowledge and ability to debate. I like Kirk and Ray, but they are better evangelists them apologists.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Jacob..

    I’m currently listening to this James White recording from that site:

    http://mp3.aomin.org/JRW/WhyAmIAChristian.mp3

    I find it extremely facile and credulous. He seems to think that a prophecy from Isaia saying that a messiah would come and be called “wonderful, counselor, mighty God” 700 years before Jesus is an amazing thing and proof of scripture’s authority.

    I can make a prediction too… 700 years from now there will be a person that people call “beautiful, amazing, clever and funny”. If not, nobody 2000 years after that will ever read my weak and very generic prophecy.

    It’s pretty simplistic and seem to be the product of a person impressed with his own faith, but who does not seem used to the questions of the non faith community.

    Is there a different one I should be listening to that is more tailored to the arguments of a skeptic?

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Okay listened to that whole piece. Sorry Jacob, but if this guy’s the best God’s got on His side, I’m afraid the debate is lost.

    “If you are not a Christian, why are you not? You know that God is holy. You know that God is your creator. You know that He’s there. You’ve always known that he’s there. Everytime that you’ve sinned, everytime that you’ve gone your own way… there has been that sense that you’re being watched. Even when you were alone you’ve felt that guilt. You know God is there. And you know that you’re not at peace with him.

    So why aren’t you a Christian? Have you found some other way that will give you true peace with God? Is there truely any foundation that you’ve found to believe that by doing something in some religion you can buy peace with God?

    Isn’t it obvious that the only way you can have peace with God is if God is the one that provides it?”

    He goes on like this. This is preaching, not logical argument. He’s a salesman, speaking as if he’s already closed the deal.

    “You KNOW there’s a God!” Wow, I’m utterly unconvinced by that sales tactic.

    Who’s God’s best advocate? Is there anyone better than James White and Ray Comfort?

  • Curt

    I watched the debate. I think that Kirk and Ray gave a weak defense of their position. I have heard better arguments in favor of God’s existence.

    The atheists believed that the universe is eternal, but no one mentioned that this would contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the universe is heading towards a maximum state of disorder and uniform energy distribution. The universe will eventually experience a heat death. If the universe were eternal, it would already experienced its heat death.

    When Ray and Kirk were asked, “Who created God?”, they should have responded as follows: No one created God. God is an uncaused cause. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes because it is impossible to traverse an actual infinite. The universe cannot be eternal because this could contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The eternality of God would not contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics because God is not made of matter. Hence, the laws of science do not apply to God.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    If the universe were eternal, it would already experienced its heat death.

    Hidden assumptions in this assertion. You are assuming that the second law is indeed a law and always applies, even to a pre-big-bang singularity. You are assuming that your knowlege and understanding of the forces of the universe are complete enough to make this determination.

    No one created God. God is an uncaused cause.

    Unsupportable assertion. You don’t know for a fact that no-one created God. Only God could possibly know that. Or His dad. And neither of them are talking. ;-)

    There cannot be an infinite regress of causes because it is impossible to traverse an actual infinite.

    Unproven assertion.

    Also contradictory. If God has always existed, then He had to have decided when to start the universe. If He starts the universe at moment X, He had to traverse an infinite amount of time before moment X arrived. So you contradicted yourself.

    The eternality of God would not contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics because God is not made of matter.

    Unproven assertion. You don’t know that for a fact. The only one who might know if God is made of matter or not is God. In fact, He might fluctuate between states with a particle/wave type of duality.

    Since the time of Newton, I believe God has been less than forthcoming on whether or not the Second Law applies to Him.

    Hence, the laws of science do not apply to God.

    Unproven conclusion.

  • Steelman

    Curt said: The atheists believed that the universe is eternal, but no one mentioned that this would contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the universe is heading towards a maximum state of disorder and uniform energy distribution. The universe will eventually experience a heat death.

    That’s true according to the Expanding Universe theory, but not necessarily so under the Pulsating Universe theory (big bang, bang crunch, big bang, and so on), as I understand those theories. Current investigations into “dark matter” and “dark energy” may help determine which one of those theories best describes our universe. The latest theory is Multiverse theory, which involves universes “budding” from black hole singularities. At any rate, it would seem there’s much more to learn about the nature of the universe before we can throw up our hands and say, “God did it.”

    Curt said: The eternality of God would not contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics because God is not made of matter. Hence, the laws of science do not apply to God.

    It seems God is entirely out of reach of any known method of verification. Quite convenient! Also, you seem to know an awful lot about God’s…um…noncomposition. Since you’ve placed him outside the natural world, and therefore outside the purview of objective scientific investigation, I guess you can say anything you like about him; there’s no way we can actually check to see if you’ve got it right.

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  • Curt

    Steelman said: It seems God is entirely out of reach of any known method of verification. Quite convenient! Also, you seem to know an awful lot about God’s…um…noncomposition. Since you’ve placed him outside the natural world, and therefore outside the purview of objective scientific investigation, I guess you can say anything you like about him; there’s no way we can actually check to see if you’ve got it right.

    You are assuming that knowledge can only come from science. How do you prove that knowledge can only from science? How do you prove that knowledge can only come from our senses?

    You can know God through the Bible. God revealed Himself to the Biblical authors and they wrote down what they had been taught by God. What they wrote originated from God. Claims about God are testable. If there is a claim about God, you can check to see whether or not the claim is true by comparing the claim with what the Bible says.

  • Curt

    I said that God is an uncaused cause. Siamang said: Unsupportable assertion. You don’t know for a fact that no-one created God. Only God could possibly know that. Or His dad. And neither of them are talking.

    It is a fact that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. There has to be an uncaused cause.

    God does not talk? God revealed Himself to the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles. God revealed Himself to the Biblical writers and they wrote down what God taught them. The Bible is inspired by God. God ensured that the Biblical authors wrote exactly what He intended for them to write.

    Siamang said: If God has always existed, then He had to have decided when to start the universe. If He starts the universe at moment X, He had to traverse an infinite amount of time before moment X arrived. So you contradicted yourself.

    You are assuming that time is eternal along with God. God did not traverse an infinite amount of time because time is not eternal. God created time when He created the universe.

    I said that God is made of matter. Siamang said: Unproven assertion. You don’t know that for a fact. The only one who might know if God is made of matter or not is God. In fact, He might fluctuate between states with a particle/wave type of duality.

    Since the time of Newton, I believe God has been less than forthcoming on whether or not the Second Law applies to Him.

    The Bible is inspired by God and the Bible teaches that God is not made of matter.

  • Curt

    There cannot be an infinite regress of causes because it is impossible to traverse an actual infinite. In order to traverse an actual infinite, one would have to travel an infinite period of time. If one traveled an infinite period of time, one would not reach the present moment. Clearly, the present has arrived so the past was traversed. The past must have been finite, not infinite.

  • http://iloveteh.biz/ James W.

    God does not talk? God revealed Himself to the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles. God revealed Himself to the Biblical writers and they wrote down what God taught them. The Bible is inspired by God. God ensured that the Biblical authors wrote exactly what He intended for them to write.

    Wrong. Metatron is the voice and hand of God. The Talmud and the Pseudepigrapha both mention Metatron as the Lesser Tetragrammaton.

    How can a God that lacks form reveal himself in order to have people ascribe his logos in a book? If God made them write what he intended them to write, why are there so many holes in the Biblical passages? The book is full of contradictions and God must be infallible. If there are fallacies or contradictions, this means God is fallible and can be proven wrong.

    God created time when He created the universe.

    And where in the Bible does it say this? No mention of the creation of time is indicated nor hinted at in Genesis. In fact, time magically appears to occur without any action or explanation.

    The Bible is inspired by God and the Bible teaches that God is not made of matter.

    If it was inspired by God, why are there many texts before the Bible (as dated by carbon dating) that bear striking resemblances to the Bible? Did God write these too? Did he write the Avestas of Zoroaster or the early Hebraic texts that were written before Christianity? And the lack of a material form further supports the fact that God could not, in any way, reveal himself as you purport.

  • Jad

    Could someone provide a link or something to this interview? I can’t find it anywhere.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    You can see the unedited clips from the debate at the Nightline website.

  • Jad

    Ah ok thanks. Do you think the full debate will come out as a torrent or something? I’m in Australia so I don’t think it will ever air here.

  • Steelman

    Curt and I were talking about God, and he said: You are assuming that knowledge can only come from science. How do you prove that knowledge can only from science? How do you prove that knowledge can only come from our senses?

    Curt, I think knowledge can come from philosophical inquiry as well as empirical science, so I find it perfectly acceptable to address arguments for the existence of God that aren’t strictly scientific. In regard to your second question, I’m not sure what you mean, exactly. Are you talking about intuition, perhaps?

    You can know God through the Bible. God revealed Himself to the Biblical authors and they wrote down what they had been taught by God. What they wrote originated from God.

    That’s quite a loaded paragraph there. Your assertion that God can be known through the Bible is contingent on your second claim that the Biblical authors a) actually talked to the real God, b) understood what was told them, c) wrote down what they were taught without error, d) the English translation we have now made it through the millennia to convey those messages unaltered, and e) that those who decided what was and wasn’t cannon got it right.

    Two problems:
    The Bible is a cannon that came into existence via committee from a mixed bag of authors who were writing to different audiences for different purposes. We can’t even be sure who those authors were, since textual analysis reveals that what was codified (the OT, probably under King Josiah of Judah) were an amalgam of different sources in each book. For example, according to modern Bible scholars, Isaiah has two or three different authors. The Pentateuch is also composed of several sources. It’s quite a stretch to say it’s all straight from the mouth of God, even if God does indeed exist.

    If the Bible actually is the absolute correct word of God, it seems Yahweh was a little (to put it mildly) crazy in the OT, but was back on his medication in the NT. It looks like two completely different Gods there. It should, I suppose, it’s really two different religions.

    The other half of Curt’s paragraph from above: Claims about God are testable. If there is a claim about God, you can check to see whether or not the claim is true by comparing the claim with what the Bible says.

    Vicious Circularity alert! God is real because the Bible says so, and the Bible is right about God being real because God says so in the Bible.
    Let me change just one word in what you stated above, and you tell me why it isn’t just as valid as what you’ve claimed:
    “If there is a claim about God, you can check to see whether or not the claim is true by comparing the claim with what the Koran says.”
    By your standard of faith in ancient writings, aren’t Muslims just as justified in claiming the Koran represents knowledge about God?

  • j

    There is a reason it is called faith. If you are just trying to prove the existence, or lack of existence of God, our inadequate human minds will fail every time. Either you trust and believe or you don’t. But what you believe won’t change the fact that God does exist.

    For those who state that there are contradictions in the Bible, or that there are two religions based on OT and NT, you are misinformed and uneducated on the actual contents and messages in the Bible. It all fits, there are no contradictions. The OT backs up the NT and visa versa. Is everything answered in black and white, no, but again that’s why it’s called faith.

    I would suggest that you actually spend some time reading and learning what the Bible really says. But don’t try to just read it like a novel, because it was never intended to be read like that. You’ll need to go to a Bible study or the like so you can understand the culture of the time and how and why things occurred as they did. You may be surprised what you learn.

  • Jad

    Hi Steelman,

    Firstly as a theist I must say I find it quite refreshing to read your posts as they aren’t angry or mocking per say like most conversations I’ve encounted with atheists. I love the topic and enjoy the conversation when it’s kept polite and respectful.

    If you’ll allow me to jump into your conversation, read on hehe…

    Your assertion that God can be known through the Bible is contingent on your second claim that the Biblical authors a) actually talked to the real God, b) understood what was told them, c) wrote down what they were taught without error, d) the English translation we have now made it through the millennia to convey those messages unaltered, and e) that those who decided what was and wasn’t cannon got it right.

    A couple of things with this. As a Christian I believe the above to be true. What you find a problem though, like the mixed bag of authors writing to different audiences, I find confirms even more the authenticity of the scriptures. Especially in view of the gospels and the way each book tells the true story of Christ but in different perspectives.
    It wasn’t like John had a copy of the gospel according to Luke right next to him to compare with, or any other gospel for that matter. Yes there are apparent errors in just the gospels alone but compared with the accuracy of the rest of the gospels these errors are minuscule. It should also be noted that none of these errors are ever in relation to the very important claims of Christ and the claims of His Father.

    Speaking of errors who’s to say God didn’t place the errors or leave them there for a reason? I know it seems far fetched but how can a God that is supposedly an omniscient, omnipotent and wholly good be able to explain Himself fully through an imperfect, mortal, finite being? Could he also be allowing for error in certain places to perhaps show yes my word is being written through man and not by supernatural means alone. My point being if everything was only done supernaturally we would have a hard time finding relationship with it, being we would have nothing to compare it too as finite beings. Like a school teacher grading a test and noticing two papers from two different students miraculously identical. A little too perfect for my liking. :)

    It should also be known that everything there is to be known about God is not all in the Bible. Just one collection of 66 books could not contain such a multitude of information. As the Bible states all of the miracles of Jesus alone could not be written down and recorded as there were too many.

    My other point I wanted to make is that all major English versions of the Bible are not hand-me-downs from other versions of the Bible. They are all written from the original Hebrew and Greek texts which are virtually unchanged. This is a common misunderstanding. The Bible has the closest accuracy to its original texts than any other texts ever found throughout history. Nothing else in recorded history comes close to it. Yet lots of people believe the works of people such as Plato to be historically accurate before they would the Bible.

    WOW I wrote down more than I thought I was going too lol. I stop here then. :)

    I look forward to your civil response.

    Cheers
    Jad

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Jad wrote:

    Firstly as a theist I must say I find it quite refreshing to read your posts as they aren’t angry or mocking per say like most conversations I’ve encounted with atheists. I love the topic and enjoy the conversation when it’s kept polite and respectful.

    Please come back and visit us when the current tone of this place blows over. We’ve had a recent influx of new posters and they are currently overwhelming the normally polite and respectful tone here.

  • Steelman

    j said: There is a reason it is called faith. If you are just trying to prove the existence, or lack of existence of God, our inadequate human minds will fail every time. Either you trust and believe or you don’t. But what you believe won’t change the fact that God does exist.

    Or maybe our minds aren’t inadequate? I’m afraid I don’t accept your assertion. I understand the world in terms of probabilities. I don’t consider the general idea of God(s) impossible, but I do consider the ideas of what a God might be like, as expressed by the world’s religions, as improbable when compared with what I know about the world (i.e., religions, psychology, sociology, biology, etc.). You’re right about the proving part, though, so you might want to rephrase your last sentence above; it implies you have something more than faith in God’s existence, when you already stated that neither of us can know (i.e., prove) whether God exists or not.

    For those who state that there are contradictions in the Bible, or that there are two religions based on OT and NT, you are misinformed and uneducated on the actual contents and messages in the Bible. It all fits, there are no contradictions. The OT backs up the NT and visa versa.

    I think those millions who practice a faith and tradition known as Judaism might have a bone to pick with you on that one. I also think they might agree with me that parts of the NT were written to match up with OT prophecy.

    I would suggest that you actually spend some time reading and learning what the Bible really says.

    I have done that, and think everyone should, and taken steps to understand the cultural settings in which its various parts were written. I’ve also spent time studying religions other than Christianity. I find religion and culture to be fascinating topics. I consider the Bible, along with the extant texts of the time that were voted out of the cannon, to be an interesting and valuable set of documents; there are lessons about humanity to be learned there. I just don’t accept the supernatural part of the package as fact. I also consider the writings of Plato, for instance, to be interesting and valuable, but I don’t subscribe to his notions of Perfect Forms or reincarnation.

  • Karen

    j:
    I would suggest that you actually spend some time reading and learning what the Bible really says. But don’t try to just read it like a novel, because it was never intended to be read like that. You’ll need to go to a Bible study or the like so you can understand the culture of the time and how and why things occurred as they did. You may be surprised what you learn.

    It’s fascinating (and frankly insulting) that every evangelical who blows in here assumes that no atheist has read the bible, attended bible study or heard apologetic arguments for the scriptures.

    j, you may be surprised to learn that I and many others here are ex-Christians who spent years in church and bible studies. Indeed, for many of us it was actually opening our eyes to what was really IN the bible that turned our thinking around. Most atheists I know are as familiar with the bible as were many of the Christians who attended my church.

    You are blindly accepting the biblical interpretations of certain pastors and churches. You do realize that there are many conflicting interpretations of the scriptures that do NOT agree with what you’ve been taught, right? You’re accepting one subset of myriad schools of thought on the bible, and I wonder if you’ve seriously and objectively considered the many other interpretations of scripture, not to mention other religious traditions, that exist?

    Maybe you ought to investigate this stuff for yourself and draw your own conclusions. That’s what most of us have done.

  • Karen

    Jad:

    I know it seems far fetched but how can a God that is supposedly an omniscient, omnipotent and wholly good be able to explain Himself fully through an imperfect, mortal, finite being?

    Hi Jad. Glad you’re here, but your statement above made me chuckle. You see how it is logically impossible to define god as omnipotent (all-powerful) and then in the same breath state that he isn’t able to do something (i.e., explain himself properly)?.

    It doesn’t work both ways. ;-)

  • Steelman

    Jad refers, below, to this which I wrote earlier:

    Your assertion that God can be known through the Bible is contingent on your second claim that the Biblical authors a) actually talked to the real God, b) understood what was told them, c) wrote down what they were taught without error, d) the English translation we have now made it through the millennia to convey those messages unaltered, and e) that those who decided what was and wasn’t canon got it right.

    Jad said: A couple of things with this. As a Christian I believe the above to be true. What you find a problem though, like the mixed bag of authors writing to different audiences, I find confirms even more the authenticity of the scriptures. Especially in view of the gospels and the way each book tells the true story of Christ but in different perspectives.

    For me the “mixed bag” problem is mostly about the vengeful, genocidal, capricious OT God compared to the love, hugs, and salvation for everybody NT God. That along with the ideas of heaven and hell being exclusive (except for the late book of Daniel, perhaps) to the NT, and the general way the goalposts got moved (as they will when one religion grows out of another tradition) in regard to what rules need to be followed to please God.

    It wasn’t like John had a copy of the gospel according to Luke right next to him to compare with, or any other gospel for that matter. Yes there are apparent errors in just the gospels alone but compared with the accuracy of the rest of the gospels these errors are minuscule. It should also be noted that none of these errors are ever in relation to the very important claims of Christ and the claims of His Father.

    Modern scholarship puts the three synoptic gospels as being written prior to John, so I’d say he had all the gospels “right next to him to compare with,” actually. I won’t get into a whole set of exegesis here, but your other two points are highly debatable.

    Speaking of errors who’s to say God didn’t place the errors or leave them there for a reason? I know it seems far fetched but how can a God that is supposedly an omniscient, omnipotent and wholly good be able to explain Himself fully through an imperfect, mortal, finite being?

    Placing errors in the text seems to indicate that God could be purposefully deceptive, and therefore untrustworthy. The problem with simply allowing errors in the text that’s supposed to be straight from the Almighty, other than God not communicating clearly in the first place, which you’d think would be his desire if he wanted human beings to act according to his will, is that it would promote endless arguments and confusion over which part of the text was authentic and which part erroneous. Not that Christians have avoided arguments and confusion over what the Bible says on certain topics anyway.

    My other point I wanted to make is that all major English versions of the Bible are not hand-me-downs from other versions of the Bible. They are all written from the original Hebrew and Greek texts which are virtually unchanged. This is a common misunderstanding. The Bible has the closest accuracy to its original texts than any other texts ever found throughout history.

    It’s my understanding that none of the original autographs are currently extant. We have copies of copies. That said, the Dead Sea Scrolls seem to corroborate the accuracy of the copies of the Masorectic text we have now (as well as parts of the Septuagint). This means that the copies of the OT books we have now match up with those that were in existence 2000 years ago. That’s a good thing as far as the accuracy of the copying of the text over that time period. It doesn’t, however, tell us whether or not any modifications to the OT took place at any earlier dates, or anything about the historical or prophetic accuracy of the details of these texts.

    In regard to the NT, it’s my understanding that the canonization process, like that of the Koran, involved codification followed by a program of destruction of heretical texts, including competing gospels of sects that were the rivals of what had become the state religion of the Roman Empire. I don’t know if there were changes made to the four gospels that were retained as canon; I have yet to review the work of scholars like Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman, and their critics, of course.

  • James

    If anyone truly, seriously, and honestly, wants to know if God exists the Bible makes this promise:

    “If you look for me in ernest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord…. – Jeremiah 29:13-14 NLT (among others)

    God Himself will prove His own existence to the person who ernestly seeks Him.

  • Darryl

    I do so love the argument that Christians make when they are trying to convince you that God exists. They give you all their reasons for why God must exist, then when you point out all the holes in their arguments, they tell you that the mind of man is simply too puny to understand the mind of God (it’s all a part of some grand plan, you know). Isn’t it quite convenient for their argument that the mind of man IS powerful enough to comprehend all the things that appear to prove God’s existence, but not powerful enough to comprehend all those things that appear to disprove it.

  • Keith

    I’m a little late to the party, but I wanted to jump in with Siamang, Karen, & others and say how much I appreciate you, Julie Marie. It has been a pleasure to witness your courage and borrow from it on occasion. Thank you.

  • the_piano_man

    From the other side of 50: For all those youthful well read Atheists in the world I offer this tidbit: If you have the chance, before you are on your deathbed read Pascal’s wager and then ponder it for the rest of your life. As you near the end of your life think of it the moment before you die and realize where you are going (or not going). The problem is, then it will be too late. . . . Funny how life can be different depending on your perspective.

  • http://www.myspace.com/jadmorffier Jad

    “I know it seems far fetched but how can a God that is supposedly an omniscient, omnipotent and wholly good be able to explain Himself fully through an imperfect, mortal, finite being?”

    Hi Jad. Glad you’re here, but your statement above made me chuckle. You see how it is logically impossible to define god as omnipotent (all-powerful) and then in the same breath state that he isn’t able to do something (i.e., explain himself properly)?.

    It doesn’t work both ways. ;-)

    Hi Karen,

    Logically impossible no not at all. Just because we don’t have full knowledge of or have access to something doesn’t automatically make that something logically impossible. I don’t know all there is to know about subatomic particles and neither do many other really smart physicists but that doesn’t therefore mean they do not exist.

    My main point though was that it is impossible for us finite human beings to understand fully an infinite being like God, simply because we are finite. It doesn’t therefore render the existence of God impossible. The Bible alone has more than enough information about God for any man in any lifetime. The existence of God is still logically possible.

  • Richard Wade

    Hi piano man,
    I”m past 50 and although I’m not nearly as well read as some of the younger atheists here, those whippersnappers have taught me a few things about Pascal’s wager. If Pascal’s wager is the wisest and most convincing argument that you use to support your beliefs, then you should do some of the reading that you attribute to the youthful atheists here. Pascalls wager is a deeply flawed argument for several reasons but I’ll just elaborate on a couple here:

    Firstly it puts believers in the position of being gamblers trying to hedge their bets. Pascal says you should convince yourself that you believe in the Christian God just in case all that you have been told is true and so you’ll avoid going to hell. That is a very shallow and insincere reason to believe anything. It is completely empty of heartfelt conviction or personal responsibility. Not a very admirable motive to present to your maker. “Uh, hi Lord, I uh, convinced myself to believe in you ’cause I didn’t want to take the chance that you were real and I’d end up going to hell.”

    Another flaw that comes to mind is that Pascal was assuming that there are no other religions than his own which make similar claims about eternal damnation if you don’t believe in them. But there are several. By picking Christianity, you are still taking the same chance that any of the several other gods might be the “real” one and several other religions might be the “true” one. So even if you passionately believe in the god that Pascal is recommending, your chances are far less than the fifty-fifty he offers that you’ve made the right choice, and you’ll go to hell anyway.

    Piano man, I think that you should continue your belief if it sustains and comforts you, but please understand that Pascal’s wager is never going to convince a carefully thinking person to adopt your belief, because it is both a shallow and irrational argument.

  • http://www.nullifidian.net/ nullifidian

    piano man wrote:

    If you have the chance, before you are on your deathbed read Pascal’s wager and then ponder it for the rest of your life.

    If you have a chance, before you come up with any other ridiculous assertions, read a thorough rejection of Pascal’s wager and ponder it just for a couple of hours.

    Don’t worry, it’s never too late to educate yourself.

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  • R Little

    It appears the writer of “Epilogue: The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager” completely misunderstood the first part of what Pascal was saying:
    “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having, neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us.”
    Blaise Pascal was one of the greatest mathematical minds in history. We have to look at it from the eyes of a mathematician. Modern day physics until lately has not been able to mathematically describe reality. String theorists and super symmetry theorists have been able to do so only by adding additional dimensions. As a Mathematician Pascal would have realized that is what the Bible was saying about God, that God exists outside of three dimensional space and time. If you think about it, the first line in the Bible says that. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” He can not create something that he is inside of, and he did it before the start of time.
    It would make perfect sense then that he would show up in three dimensional space time in the form of Jesus Christ.
    Atheists in their lack of scientific understanding, assume that God would be three dimensional, say a Thor or Zeus type creature, which is not surprising because many professing Christians believe that very same thing. But that is not what the Bible says God is like. Some of the confusion comes when we forget that after Jesus ascended, he too would no longer be subject to space time.
    Pascal was saying that God would be something that men would not understand, it is clear he was right.