WHAT God? Religion Keeps Not Finding Him.

WHAT God? Religion Keeps Not Finding Him. September 10, 2014

This colorful drawing is a tree of world religions. From a poorly understood past, represented as the twisting vines of ideology in the trunk, the myriad human interpretations of the divine are shown branching out like tendrils on a vine, groping for something to grab on to. Searching, searching, but never finding. New tendrils reach out with the never-ending confidence that they’re the one true religion.

Example 1: Tree of religion

The trunk expands into named religions 3000 years ago. Here’s one small fragment (the outer shell is the present day, with modern denominations in green, and each curved gray line represents 100 years of evolution):

The tree details the evolution of the great Asian and Middle Eastern religions. Though it ignores religion from the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific, it makes a heroic attempt at what it does attempt to cover. It nicely documents the complex project that human religion has become.

Example 2: Church’s many views of government

Consider a very different look at the varieties of church. This one plots American Christian churches on a two-axis chart. The axes consider how big a role government should play in providing social services vs. how big a role it should play in imposing morality.

Here again, we see the dramatic differences in the many variant forms of American Christianity. For example,

  • The Southern Baptist, LDS, and Church of Christ want more government involvement in morality but fewer social services.
  • Unitarians want the reverse: more social services provided by government but less government involvement in morality
  • Black churches want both: more government services and more legislation of morality
  • Anglicans, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians (PCUSA) want neither

Example 3: Map of World Religions

Don’t forget the Map of World Religions (longer discussion here). Contrast the stable map of world religions (Roman Catholics in red over here, Hindus in green over there, and so on) with the map of world science, which is just one color. New and better ideas sweep the world of science within a decade or two, but an established religion isn’t interested in better ideas. It already thinks it has the truth and has no interest in changing.

Search for the truth

If religious claims were as obviously correct as the claim that the sun exists, everyone would quickly agree. That’s not the world we live in.

Alright then, suppose that religious truth does indeed exist, but it’s fuzzy or cloudy. We see, but as if “through a glass, darkly.” Why then aren’t worldwide religious beliefs at least converging on the truth? It would be like evolution, with false beliefs gradually falling away and correct beliefs encouraged and strengthened, either by divine intervention or because they matched up better with reality.

The tree of world religions above makes clear that religion is doing the opposite—diverging instead of converging. Christianity has fragmented and morphed over time as new cults and sects form. We see that same fertility in other religions. The only commonality we see across religions is humans’ interest in the supernatural.

This disconnect between religion and the reality that would ground it makes plain that religion is just a man-made institution.

Asking which [religion] has the best evidence
would be like asking which of the Three Stooges was the smartest.
— commenter Greg G.

Photo credit: The 40 Foundation

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  • GubbaBumpkin

    Which places limits on the gods who could possibly exist. We can say with confidence that no God exists who wants something from humankind and is willing & able to communicate that something clearly to mankind.

    • Right. Perhaps they will fall back on a bungler kind of god who can’t get his act together to get out a clear message.

  • KarlUdy

    The Tree of Religion is interesting, but it does not support the claim you want to make. As an example the 40 or so “leaves” that are part of the Anglican/Episcopal/CofE branch are all (afaik, although there may be one or two radical splinter groups) in formal communion, with the differences being purely localizing of governance.

    On a broader scale, what would each of the points say in regard to all of the other points about who are true worshippers? I would suggest that there would be broad agreement among the red Christian branches and “leaves” that, apart from some exceptions (eg Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, although I couldn’t find JWs on the diagram, and there are different views on the ecumenical possibility between Protestants and Catholics) that they are all true worshippers.

    I suspect that the differences between many leaves on other religions are likewise seen as minor within the religions.

    It is often the case that an insider will persist that there are subtle differences between two groups that are not apparent to an outsider. What is perplexing is when an outsider is maintaining that there are serious differences that are not apparent to insiders.

    It seems to me that it is rhetorically to your advantage to say there are thousands of disparate religions, regardless of whether that is the truth or not.

    • Yes, I’m sure that churches near each other on the tree have only minor differences. Nevertheless, they do have differences! For some reason, the forces of divergence are stronger than the forces of convergence, which is my point.

      Are you trying to save this by pointing to some sort of “mere Christianity”? Yes, obviously, as you cast the net wider and wider, you get fewer and fewer points in common. Eventually, you have only “desire for the spiritual” or something holding the disparate groups together.

      it is rhetorically to your advantage to say there are thousands of disparate religions, regardless of whether that is the truth or not.

      What I’m saying is that we’re seeing divergence. That’s it. And that’s enough.

      • adam

        My question is the same, WHY is there ANY divergence?

        • Al

          Why is there ANY divergence in science and history?

        • adam

          Because it is NOT divine…it has NO MAGIC…

        • Al

          Has nothing to do with divine. “Why is there ANY divergence in science and history?”

        • adam

          Of course it has EVERYTHING to do with science not having MAGIC

          Why is YOUR “god’s word” interpreted so divergently?

        • aL

          You believe that life came from non-life without any intelligence. That’s MAGIC.

        • adam

          No that is SCIENCE.

          Full Definition of MAGIC
          1a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces
          b : magic rites or incantations
          2a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

        • Al

          Its MAGIC. No way for life to have begun without intelligent help and you don’t believe that intelligence had anything to do with it. All you are left with is MAGIC.

        • adam

          No magic needed and NONE DEMONSTRATED by YOU.

          All I am left with is the NATURE of Science.

        • Al

          All you are left with is MAGIC because natural forces cannot create life from non-life.

        • adam

          Of course they can, UNLESS you can DEMONSTRATE otherwise.

          Venter has already demonstrated that science can create self replication and evolving by pure chemistry and physics.

        • Al

          They have not. They used intelligence in the experiment. For this to work in nature you can’t use any intelligence.

        • adam

          Of course they have demonstrated that science can create self replication and evolving by pure chemistry and physics.

          When are YOU going to demonstrate that MAGIC is REAL and REQUIRED?

        • Al

          Where has it been observed in nature that nature can create life from non-life?

        • Pofarmer

          Actually, the idea that life can come from non life came from religion. Flies coming from carrion, frogs from mud, and people from the earth.

        • MNb

          No matter how often you repeat this cop out question, it remains irrelevant. Labs are part of nature. Man is part of nature. Natural sciences apply to everything inside and outside the lab. You’re presenting a false dichotomy, which results from wishful thinking.
          And even as an analogy your argument fails. Scientists in labs are material. We know what they do, how they do it, which means they use, which procedures they follow. Regarding the Grand Old Designer you are pushing so enthusiastically we don’t know any such thing. What’s more, because you have defined the Grand Old Designer as an immaterial being you cannot know what he did, how he did it, which means he used and which procedures he followed.
          Your Grand Old Designer is a meaningless statement.

        • adam

          Venter HAS already demonstrated that science can create self replication and evolving by pure chemistry and physics.

          And the intelligence was only the observation of that chemistry and physics.

          The chemistry had no intelligence nor do the physical conditions. the intelligence of the cells have not been documented.

        • MNb

          “No way for life to have begun without intelligent help”
          Just an assertion produced by wishful thinking.

        • KarlUdy

          Your 1a definition is interestingly worded. Dictionary.com words it as “the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.”

          Technology can be fairly described as “various other techniques” that “presumably assure control of … the forces of nature” which would mean that technology is magic.

        • adam

          And so the Magic of technology (if you want to use the term) is readily demonstrable.

          All I am asking is for someone to readily demonstrate the Magic of the Supernatural in a manner consistent with or preferably MUCH GREATER than that of the comparative trivial nature of technology.

        • KarlUdy

          No. You were throwing MAGIC out as a scare word to try to discredit someone else’s point, presumably under the assumption that they would not want to defend MAGIC.

          As an argument , it is about as honest as a used car salesman.

        • adam

          No I was using it because it ACCURATELY portrays what the belief and practice IS.

          Using the correct definition of the word is as honest as you can get.

          PRETENDING anything else is deceptive PROPAGANDA.
          Where corrupting the language is instrumental in corrupting the audience.

          But thanks for letting us know on which side you squat.

        • KarlUdy

          Adam,
          If you can confuse or conflate God and magic I don’t think you understand what they mean.

        • adam

          Then DEMONSTRATE for us that what you are claiming is TRUE…

        • KarlUdy

          Magic is fundamentally about human attempts to control things that have generally been accepted as being beyond human control.

          God is the eternal creator of the universe and is unable to be controlled by humans.

        • Kodie

          God is an invention of humans and a tool used by humans. I think that makes at least 1 or 2 of those definitions. The prayer, chanting, money offerings are not meant by humans to invoke magic? Religion is just so obviously a superstition.

        • adam

          Sorry, but you have not demonstrated this ‘god’ of YOURS is anything but IMAGAINARY nor that it is unable to be controlled by humans for ONE

          Second you are ignoring Merriam Webster.
          Full Definition of MAGIC
          1a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces
          b : magic rites or incantations
          2a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

          Your attempt to REDEFINE for Propagandic purposes is useless.

          It is a FAIL KarlUdy..

        • Kodie

          And you believe demons cause diseases. So Adam’s posts are not going to get you down!

        • KarlUdy

          I also believe we can control inanimate objects with our minds. But then so do you, so why bring this up?

        • Kodie

          Did I ever tell you how I made ice cubes entirely with my mind?

        • adam

          So I take it from your LACK OF RESPONSE that you too are incapable of demonstrating the supernatural MAGIC of YOUR ‘god’?

        • KarlUdy

          Neither religion nor God are magic.

        • adam

          Of course by definition BOTH are.

          Is YOUR ‘god’ supernatural or not?
          Is the claimed resurrection supernatural or not?
          If resurrection is not supernatural then you can demonstrate it, no?

        • KarlUdy

          By the definitions on dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/magic?s=t) none of these things qualify as magic, even if they are supernatural.

        • Kodie

          The art of creating illusions?

        • Kodie

          Right all the stuff we can’t detect but you know just might be there because humans write poems is real and therefore not magic, such as demons might be the true cause of diseases and you are not willing to count it out.

        • Pofarmer

          No, that’s chemistry. Like it or not, life is chemistry.

        • Armanatar

          In science we tend to see a sort of spread-and-seek, where there is divergence initially, when we know the least about a given phenomenon or specific facet of a theory or whatever, and then convergence as the weight of experiments and evidence weed out the less effective explanations. That later converging is the key point; we have a bunch of ideas at first, yes, but then we work to figure out which idea is right, and (eventually) do so. Bad ideas and models are discarded when they fail to match the evidence, or refined into something new to account for the shortcoming. At a certain point, things become more or less settled. With the exception of some crazies, heliocentrism is settled science, but it didn’t use to be. Religion fails in this regard because there is only branching, never converging. You always end up with more beliefs at the end, not fewer.

        • Al

          If there was total agreement in science there would not be different theories. That which Bob accuses religions of is also true of science and history.

        • adam

          Of course, but science and history dont CLAIM MAGIC like religion does.

        • Al

          They may not claim MAGIC but it requires MAGIC.

        • Kodie

          What the hell are you talking about?

        • Wrong again. I never claimed total agreement for science–just far, far better than what you see with irreconcilable religions!

        • Pofarmer

          And scientists generally come closer and closer together until their is a general consensus on a topic, and then the researchers move on to something else. Religion does not do this.

        • MNb

          The only reason there are different theories in science is lack of empirical data. There is total agreement on Newton’s Laws and close on Alexander the Great.

        • Kodie

          Intelligent Design is not a valid scientific theory, it is a crackpot theory.

        • Armanatar

          The point isn’t total agreement, it’s that agreement comes over time. We may not know which theory is correct now, but five or ten or fifty years down the road, we will, and there will be agreement approaching total agreement (you always have nutters like the Flat Earth Society, but I think it’s reasonable to call the existence of a round earth totally agreed upon anyway). That’s what religion lacks.

        • So this is the question you want to discuss? How about the elephant in the room: why is there far more divergence within religion?

        • Greg G.

          Science goes down a lot of alleys to see which ones are blind. Science then rejects the blind alleys. Religion is nothing but blind alleys but the believers of each insist a doorway to bliss will appear if you wish in the correct manner.

        • MNb

          Exactly. Science has nothing to do with the divine and hence is fallible. Religion though has to with the divine, so we should expect infallibility. The fact that there are so many religions and within christianity so many denominations strongly suggests that religion and hence the divine is fallible, which is a contradiction.
          You’re a marvel, Al. Even when you get your points right you draw the wrong conclusion.

        • MNb

          How do you mean? Newtonian Mechanics is the same in the USA as in Suriname as in Outer-Mongolia as on Fiji. As for history (it is a branch of science if done properly, which means that your version of it is a pervertion) there is consensus about Alexander the Great. Religion and theology cannot boast on similar agreement on any subject..

        • 90Lew90

          Your question makes no sense but I’ll answer what I *think* you’re asking. Science and history are only loosely related. “History” as done by historians has practically no relation to natural history done by scientists. Both are about gathering information, albeit by different methods, but both are unabashedly faltering and tentative. They’re careful to amass evidence before advancing theories. The opposite is true of religions, which make truth-claims left, right and centre on the basis of no EVIDENCE. I hope this satisfies you but in any case your damn question was stupid.

      • Jim Hoerst

        The point is that their differences however trivial can not be resolved. One of the best evidences that the Christian religion is irrational is that there is no theological argument that has been resolved by reason. Typically the disputes have been resolved by appeals to authority.

        • Al

          What do you mean “no theological argument that has been resolved by reason”?

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          “No theological argument has been resolved by reason” means no theological argument has been resolved by appeals to reason and logic.

        • Al

          What do you mean? Christ died and rose again for the sins of His followers. That is a theological statement based on a historical event that appeals to reason and logic.

        • Dys

          “Christ died”

          That’s the only thing that’s possibly correct in your comment.

        • Al

          His resurrection is one of the best attested facts of ancient history. To disbelieve it did not happen would require you to reject all of ancient history because the eyewitness accounts for it are superior to any other event in ancient history.

        • Dys

          “His resurrection is one of the best attested facts of ancient history.”

          No, it’s not.

          “To disbelieve it did not happen would require you to reject all of
          ancient history because the eyewitness accounts for it are superior to
          any other event in ancient history.”

          No, it wouldn’t, and you really have a pathetic understanding of how historians piece together the past if you believe this. You don’t have eyewitness accounts – you have a story claiming there were a bunch of eyewitnesses. And not only that, but it’s an extraordinary claim. That requires quite a bit more evidence than “it says it happened in my favourite book”. So yeah…you failed to support your claim. Again.

        • Al

          What other person in history has 4 independent accounts that were dependent on eyewitnesses?

          Matthew and John were disciples of Christ. They were with Christ and saw and heard and heard what He did. Mark wrote down what Peter told him to. Peter also was a disciple and eyewitness.

          What you have failed to do is bring forth any counter facts to these things. All you are doing is making baseless assertions.

        • Dys

          “What other person in history has 4 independent accounts that were dependent on eyewitnesses?”

          They’re not independent. The gospels are anonymously authored, and not written by eyewitnesses. You simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Even Christian biblical scholars know this stuff.

        • Al

          I just dismantled your assertion that the “gospels are anonymously authored, and not written by eyewitnesses” with multiple facts showing that we do know who the authors of the gospels were. You have yet to give me one counter fact that proves I’m wrong.

          If you are reading “biblical scholars” who are telling you we don’t know who wrote the gospels then you need to stop reading them.

        • Dys

          “I just dismantled your assertion that the “gospels are anonymously authored, and not written by eyewitnesses””

          No, you didn’t. You simply mentioned that Papias provides an early source for the authors that are traditionally associated with the gospels. I’ll say it again – traditional attribution does not equal authorship.

          “If you are reading “biblical scholars” who are telling you we don’t know
          who wrote the gospels then you need to stop reading them.”

          In other words, you’re going to dismiss the majority of biblical scholars who know far more about the topic than you do because their expertise conflicts with your wishful thinking. Got it. You’re content with your ignorance.

        • Al

          If ” traditional attribution does not equal authorship” then what does?
          Give me some counter facts that shows someone else wrote those gospels. If you can’t then it follows that we do know based the facts I have given.

          Your being to gullible with these other so called “biblical scholars” who are telling you we don’t know who wrote the gospels. I have given multiple sources that shows that we do and you have no refuted any of them with any counter facts.

        • Dys

          “If you can’t then it follows that we do know based the facts I have given.”

          I just died and came back to life. If you can’t disprove it, then you have to accept that it actually happened, based on the fact that I just told you.

          “Your being to gullible with these other so called “biblical scholars” who are telling you we don’t know who wrote the gospels.”

          They’re not “so-called”. But your rejection of the scholarly consensus doesn’t surprise me, because you’re not interested in facts or reality. As far as your reference to Papias, there’s a bit of an issue for you. You don’t have Papias – you have Eusebius citing Papias, who got his information from John the Elder. That doesn’t equate to a confirmation of actual authorship at all.

          Here’s some things for you to look into:

          http://ehrmanblog.org/why-the-gospels-are-anonymous/
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_reliability_of_the_Gospels
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Bible#Gospels_and_Acts
          http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/why-scholars-doubt-the-traditional-authors-of-the-gospels/

          The wikipedia articles in particular have references.

        • Kodie

          So someone else can write stuff down in a book, that’s not good enough for you?

        • Al

          People write stuff down in books all the time.

        • Kodie

          Yup.

        • We know who wrote the gospels because of Papias? Tell me what Papias said about how Judas died and then tell me that Papias is a reliable historian.

        • Al

          I thought you understood how history is done. Boy was I wrong. You need to raise the bar for yourself.

        • So you’re the historian? Tell me what Papias said about how Judas died and then tell me that Papias is a reliable historian.

        • Work on the eyewitness claim. We won’t believe you just because you said it.

        • Kodie

          I’m sure counter-arguments have been brought right up under your nose. Can’t read?

        • Kodie

          You have a book telling us the book is true, and a magical thing happened. There is no corroborating evidence. How is that the best attested fact of ancient history?

        • Al

          Ancient is primarily known from ancient documents. Most of it is not corroborated.

          Christ is the best attested figure of the ancient world. We have 4 primary sources (eyewitness gospels) plus the other writings of the NT that are about Christ. Nothing like this in the ancient world.

          Here are some other sources outside the NT that reference Christ or someone else in the NT:
          “Letter from Pliny the Younger to Trajan (c. 110)

          Tacitus (Annals, c.115-120) [The best current discussion on this passage is in my friend JP Holding’s site]

          Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, c. 125)

          Lucian (mid-2nd century)

          Galen (c.150; De pulsuum differentiis 2.4; 3.3)

          Celsus (True Discourse, c.170).

          Mara Bar Serapion (pre-200?)

          Talmudic References( written after 300 CE, but some refers probably go back to eyewitnesses)”
          http://christianthinktank.com/jesusref.html

        • Kodie

          Wow, 4? 4.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          Fairytale books don’t count.

        • Al

          I agree.

        • Dys

          No, you don’t. You agree for all of them except your favourite.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s a theological statement that isn’t even coherent.

        • SuperMark

          I thought “christ” died and rose again for everyone?

        • Al

          Christ died and rose but it is applicable to only those who have repented and believed in Him.

        • SuperMark

          so you don’t even believe what your own bible says?

          “[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2 NIV)

        • Kodie

          It appeals to emotion.

        • Al

          No. Its an appeal to the facts.

        • Kodie

          You’re gullible.

        • SuperMark

          so you don’t belive that christ died for everyone? just his “followers”???

        • Al

          Yes. If Christ death is applied to everyone automatically, whether they believe or not then there would be no hell. His death for the unbelievers sins would have also been paid for and there would be no condemnation for anyone.

        • SuperMark

          “[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2 NIV)

          seems like your theology does not agree with the bible? what’s wrong with everyone going to heaven? do you have to see people suffer to feel gratitude for your reward or do you just want to feel superior to others that do not believe what you do?

        • Kodie

          Forgive

          verb (used with object), forgave, forgiven, forgiving.
          1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
          2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
          3. to grant pardon to (a person).
          4. to cease to feel resentment against:
          to forgive one’s enemies.
          5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of:
          to forgive the interest owed on a loan.

          verb (used without object), forgave, forgiven, forgiving.
          6. to pardon an offense or an offender.

          I don’t think Christians know what ‘forgive’ means if that’s what they think god does.

        • wtfwjtd

          Empty claims without evidence appeal only to emotion, not reason or logic. These demand evidence, and no, a story don’t count as evidence.

        • Al

          What does count as evidence for something as true from ancient history?

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh, I dunno, coins, bits of wood, physical remains of objects, jewelry, pottery…plenty of stuff counts for ordinary evidence, especially for ordinary claims. Do you really not know this?

        • Al

          What does coins etc tell us about the events and lives of people?

          The origin of the Christian cannot be explained without Christ and His resurrection. Nor can the writings of the NT.

        • Kodie

          The origin of the Scientologist cannot be explained without Xenu and whatever Xenu did that one time. And we know L.Ron Hubbard wrote Dianetics as a crock.

        • KarlUdy

          Please explain to me the theological differences between Nippon Sei Ko Kai and Hong Kong Sheng Kong Hui?

        • Jim Hoerst

          No one could be reasonably expected to know the difference between all religious groups. The author and I concede that some of the differences may be trivial/geographical. The point is that they were significant enough to create to entities.

        • Nicely stated.

        • wtfwjtd

          I would add, those differences seem trivial to us but not to them.

      • KarlUdy

        Yes, I’m sure that churches near each other on the tree have only minor differences.

        One of my points is that I know that some of the churches near each other on the tree have no theological differences.

        • So then they’re the same church? The two names are just synonyms?

          Regardless, this avoids my point. Which still stands.

        • Kodie

          And yet, what do you make of the dozens or hundreds, if not every Christian that comes through here and other blogs is in total agreement and support of every other Christian they see, but if an atheist criticizes a Christian argument from a Christian that is not around, that’s low-hanging fruit, or “we’re not all like that”, and “not a true Christian”? What is up with that? There are differences Karl, apparently meaningful ones, enough for a Christian to nearly criticize another Christian, but they would rather argue for their drastically different distinct,and more importantly, correct point of view. We just haven’t heard the true Christian argument. But to me, they’re all pretty much the same, so I am not sure what to make of the chart either.

    • hector_jones

      So I’m thinking of becoming a Christian after all. Which denomination should I join and why? I want to be sure I join the right one.

      • Al

        Are you ready to acknowledge your sins and repent of them for starters?

        • hector_jones

          Maybe. But I need to know which denomination is the correct one. Can you help me with that?

        • Al

          You need to first to get right with God by acknowledging your sins and repenting. Then you must believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Christ is Lord and rose again by the power of God. Then you should look for a church.

        • adam

          How can he know HOW to get right with YOUR ‘god’ unless he knows which one it is?

        • Al

          He can know by reading the gospels.

        • adam

          BUT, being a ‘Revealed Religion’ everyone gets ‘revealed’ differently and form an individual image of god.

          They are certainly NOT of the same god.
          So which one is the REAL god?

          This is the problem with Reveal Religion, it gets ‘revealed’ to each individual differently.
          It was revealed to Mohammed by ‘god’
          It was revealed to Joseph Smith by ‘god’

          It was revealed to Deanna Laney by ‘god’

          When Aaron presented Laney with a rock that day, she later reported that she believed she was supposed to pay attention. This was a symbol. Later that same day, he squeezed a frog. Then she understood. She was to kill her children, either by stoning them, strangling them or stabbing them. God had shown her three ways.

          Again she told God no, but again she felt pressured to comply. “Each time it was getting worse and worse,” she later said, “the way it had to be done.” In other words, the more she resisted, the worse the death would be for her children. She decided that rocks would be preferable to
          strangulation, so she found some in preparation.

          Laney knew she had to “step out in faith.” She had to trust God, and she believed that God would use her brutal deed to do something great. He had done such things in the Bible. Then when Laney woke up before midnight on May 9, she knew that the time was at hand. She had already hidden a rock in Aaron’s room, so she went there first.

          Lifting the rock, she hit Aaron hard on the skull. He began to cry, alerting her husband, Keith. He asked what was wrong and Laney kept her back to him to prevent
          him from seeing what she was doing. She assured Keith that everything was okay. But it wasn’t okay. Aaron was still breathing, so she put a pillow over his face until she heard him gurgle. She silently told God that He would have to finish the job.

          Next Laney went after her other two sons. She took Luke, six, outside first in his underwear and smashed his skull by hitting him repeatedly with a large rock. Then she dragged him by the feet into the shadows so that Joshua, eight, would not see him. She left the stone, the size of a dinner plate, lying on top of him.

          Joshua was next and Laney repeated to him what she had done with Luke, placing them together in a dark area of the yard.

          Afterward, she called 911 to report, “I killed my boys.”

        • hector_jones

          But you have completely failed to prove that the gospels contain any facts about god. So I can’t know anything for sure about your god just by reading the gospels.

        • Al

          There ya go. No need for you to join any denomination or church if you don’t even believe the basics such as belief in God.

        • hector_jones

          So there you go. You can’t tell me which denomination is correct. I must believe first, then you’ll give me the reasons why.

        • Al

          Until you take those steps I laid out its irrelevant which denomination is correct.

        • Dys

          But you haven’t demonstrated that your god is the right one.

        • Al

          How do I demonstrate that?

        • Dys

          Does this question mean you’ve finally realized the problem with constantly making assertions without evidence? If so, congratulations!

        • Al

          You asked me to demonstrate that the God of Christianity is the right one and you refused to answer how I was to do that. You are not making sense.

          BTW- the resurrection of Christ demonstrates and proves that the Christian God exist and that Christianity is true.

        • Dys

          No, I’m making sense, but your reading comprehension remains terrible. The point I was making is that, if you don’t know how to demonstrate which god is the correct one, you’re in absolutely no position to make assertions about god at all. You need evidence. But unfortunately the point seems to have sailed over your head.

          And you know there really was a resurrection how? Because your favourite book has a story in it that says so? The resurrection myth doesn’t prove God exists, nor does it prove Christianity is true. Because you can’t demonstrate the resurrection actually happened. All you have is a story about it. And it is an extraordinary claim severely lacking in extraordinary evidence.

        • Al

          The primary sources for the resurrection are the gospels. To show these sources to be unreliable and fakes you will need to demonstrate with facts that they are not historical accounts and unreliable.
          You can also show the resurrection to be false by showing with good reasons why God does not exist. That would also disprove the resurrection.
          If you fail to do this, then that shows that the resurrection is true and God does exist.
          Ball is in your court.

        • Dys

          You do realize that using your pathetic standard for determining history means you’d have to accept the mythologies of other religions as fact as well, right?

          You’ve got four anonymously authored books that contain contradictory accounts. And furthermore, they were written as religious texts, not histories.

          “If you fail to do this, then that shows that the resurrection is true and God does exist.”

          Seriously? You’re an idiot. Failing to show that you’re wrong does not, in any way, mean that you’re correct. That is a logic fail of immense magnitude on your part.

          What’s really happening is that you hold the supernatural and miracle claims of your religion to a pathetically low standard of evidence that you would not use to evaluate any other claim.

        • Al

          You failed. I gave you a number of different ways to disprove the resurrection and you came up with nothing. How do you expect me to take your assertions seriously if you don’t produce any facts for them?

          The authors of the gospels are attested by Papias in the 2nd century and the names associated with the gospels have always been there. The first ones in the early who received these gospels never claim someone else wrote them but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

          We know that the gospel writers got places,people, events and customs right. This alone proves they are true and historical.

          There is no reason to think that the miracles of Christ didn’t happen either given that the existence of God was not disproven by you.

        • Dys

          “How do you expect me to take your assertions seriously if you don’t produce any facts for them?”

          This is your precise problem. You have no facts, just assertions. You’ve produced nothing to provide any validity to your theological claims.

          “the names associated with the gospels have always been there.”

          Biblical historians are perfectly aware that traditional attribution does not equate to actual authorship. The gospels are anonymously authored. That is a fact.

          “We know that the gospel writers got places,people, events and customs right. This alone proves they are true and historical.”

          No, it means they got some places, people, and events correct. True in part does not equal true in whole. There’s a whole genre of literature called historical fiction that achieves the same thing.

          “There is no reason to think that the miracles of Christ didn’t happen”

          Except for the complete lack of evidence.

        • Al

          You have been reading to many of the skeptics junk.

          Here is what Papias (2nd century) said about the gospel of Mark:
          “On Mark, Papias cites John the Elder:
          The Elder used to say: Mark, in his capacity as Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately as many things as he recalled from memory—though not in an ordered form—of the things either said or done by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him, but later, as I said, Peter, who used to give his teachings in the form of chreiai,[Notes 1] but had no intention of providing an ordered arrangement of the logia of the Lord. Consequently Mark did nothing wrong when he wrote down some individual items just as he related them from memory. For he made it his one concern not to omit anything he had heard or to falsify anything.
          “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis

          Here is what Luke wrote at the beginning of his gospel that tells us he was interviewing the eyewitnesses.
          “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” Luke 1

          There are no other names in history associated with the gospels except the ones we know them by.

          These are not historical fictions. Let me quote what CS Lewis who was an expert on myths and legends said:
          ““All I am in private life is a literary critic and historian, that’s my job. And I am prepared to say on that basis if anyone thinks the Gospels are either legend or novels, then that person is simply showing his incompetence as a literary critic. I’ve read a great many novels and I know a fair amount about the legends that grew up among early people, and I know perfectly well the Gospels are not that kind of stuff” (C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, 209)

          The resurrection of Christ is very well documented and it was a miracle.

        • Dys

          “The resurrection of Christ is very well documented and it was a miracle.”

          And there’s no evidence that it actually happened. You’ve been reading too much apologetic nonsense. There’s an entire article on the historical reliability of the gospels on Wikipedia, and numerous (the majority, in fact) biblical scholars who readily acknowledge that the gospels are anonymously authored.

        • Al

          Your biblical scholars are wrong. Your reading to much of their nonsense.

        • Dys

          Nope, you’re wrong. And they’re not my biblical scholars. It’s the vast majority of biblical scholars that disagree with you. But you’re going to disregard their expertise because it doesn’t agree with your wishful thinking.

        • Al

          My beliefs of who wrote the gospels is not based on wishful thinking but on the facts.

        • Dys

          No, it’s based on ignorance, delusion, wishful thinking, and the rejection of the expertise of people who actually study and analyze the bible.

        • Al

          They true of you and not me.

        • Dys

          From page 195 of “An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation” by David A. deSilva:

          “Given inaccuracies in Papias’s testimony concerning Matthew’s Gospel, many scholars are justifiably reluctant to affirm his explanation of the origin of Mark’s Gospel too quickly, but it is also impossible to say definitively that the attribution is wrong”

          In other words, we don’t know who wrote it.

          Oh, and just a little more about Papias…the only source we have for his statement about the authorship of Mark comes from Eusebius, who described Papias as “a man of exceedingly small intelligence”.

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/papias.html

        • Al

          No it doesn’t mean that. Since this is what we have from Papias then these other scholars are gong to need more than their speculations to support their claims. We also know from the manuscripts on Mark’s gospel is that his name is always on it. Also there are no writings in the 1st and 2nd century by the church or anyone that says that those 4 did not write those gospels.

        • Dys

          “No it doesn’t mean that.”

          Yeah, actually it does.

          “Since this is what we have from Papias”

          So you’re uncritically accepting whatever Papias says. Because it supports what you really, really want to believe. In other words, your wishful thinking is more authoritative to you than actual scholarship. Papias was recording an oral tradition, not setting down established fact.

          “gong to need more than their speculations to support their claims.”

          They aren’t mere speculations. Unlike you, they’ve actually studied this stuff, and form theories based on their understanding of the texts as well as the context of the time in which they were written.

          “We also know from the manuscripts on Mark’s gospel is that his name is always on it.”

          No, actually we don’t know that. All you can say is that the earliest copies that have been found have Mark’s name on it. That doesn’t mean his name was always on it.

        • Al

          You have to prove with some facts that Papias was wrong. Until that happens I am on good grounds on believing he knew who wrote the gospels. Scholars who don’t want to accept what Papias wrote are only doing so by speculations. Just opinions.

          Show a copy of Mark without his name on it. Do that then you will have disproven my view. If you can’t, then I am on solid ground.

        • Kodie

          How much money are you paying your church?

        • Dys

          “Until that happens I am on good grounds on believing he knew who wrote the gospels.”

          No, you’re not. You’re just believing what you want to, and you’re not even on good scholarly ground within your own religion. Papias was recording an oral tradition, not established fact. You’re doing nothing more than insisting that as long as your assertions can’t be absolutely disproven, you’re justified in believing whatever you like.

          “Scholars who don’t want to accept what Papias wrote are only doing so by speculations. Just opinions.”

          No, they’re not. They’ve actually studied the matter, and have good reasons for doubting Papias’s attribution. You, obviously, have not. I know it’s a novel idea, but hear me out: biblical scholars probably know a lot more about the bible than you do.

          “Show a copy of Mark without his name on it. Do that then you will have disproven my view. If you can’t, then I am on solid ground.”

          Bart Ehrman has addressed this: “Because our surviving Greek manuscripts provide such a wide variety of (different) titles for the Gospels, textual scholars have long realized that their familiar names do no go back to a single ‘original’ title, but were added by later scribes.” Also, the earliest copies of Mark are over 200 years older than when it is believed to originally have been written.

          In short, biblical scholars are on much firmer ground than your uneducated opinion on the matter.

        • Dys

          And finally, here’s a website with quite a few quotes from biblical scholars detailing the problems in determining gospel authorship:

          http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/who_authored_the_new_testament_

          In particular, I would draw your attention to this citation from N.T. Wright, a noted biblical scholar and Christian:

          “What do we know about how the Gospels got written? Frustratingly little. We don’t have Matthew’s diaries of how he went about collecting and arranging his material. We don’t know where Mark was written. We don’t know whether Luke really was, as is often thought, the companion of Paul. We don’t know whether the ‘Beloved Disciple’, to whom the Fourth Gospel is ascribed (John 21:24), was really ‘John’ (in which case, which ‘John’?) or someone else. None of the books name their authors; all the traditions about who wrote which ones are just that, traditions, from later on in the life of the church (beginning in the first half of the second century, about fifty years after the Gospels were written).”

        • Al

          Wright isn’t saying we don’t know who wrote the gospels. He addressing the issue how the gospels got written.

        • Dys

          Here, let me help you:

          “None of the books name their authors; all the traditions about who wrote which ones are just that, traditions, from later on in the life of the church (beginning in the first half of the second century, about fifty years after the Gospels were written).”

          Did you get that? Did you see the word ‘traditions’ there? That means we don’t know who wrote them. Wright is pointing out that the problem with assigning gospel authorship. Wright’s point is the same one I’ve been trying to get through your thick skull. Traditional attribution is not the same thing as actual authorship.

        • I’ve written a post about this. Give it a read. Search “Papias.”

        • Dys

          He did read it. You embarrassed him in the comments on that one too. AI doesn’t seem to understand even the basics of historical research. For the gospel of Mark, he went with the logic fail of “if you can’t prove who actually wrote it, then it was Mark”.

        • 🙂

        • Shem was wrong that I’m Al’s puppet master, though the possibility still exists that he’s a Poe of some sort, animated by an atheist with an odd sense of humor.

        • Just gonna keep repeating the arguments until we all believe them? I think some totalitarian regimes did that …

        • Shirking your burden of proof? Ouch–you know that makes baby Jesus cry, right?

          I guess Jesus doesn’t much care that you don’t feel like stepping forward with evidence for the greatest story ever told.

        • Pofarmer

          It says in Matthew that believers would be able to do greater miracles than Jesus did, ergo the gospels are false.

        • Kodie

          So your answer is to believe in god, repent of sins, and wait for the first magic telecommunication.

        • Al

          Since God has commanded all men to repent and believe in Christ that would be a very smart thing to do given that your eternal soul is at stake.

        • SuperMark

          where did got command all men to repent? that was just his followers?

        • Al

          “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31

        • SuperMark

          wow so you’re even evasive when it comes to your own theology!!! that’s fucking Act’s not Jesus!!!!!

        • Al

          Paul was an apostle who spoke by the authority of Christ. Its as if Jesus Himself had said it.

        • SuperMark

          very convenient and why do you think this is so? just because paul said so? i would expect you to trust the words of jesus over the words of a self confessed mass murderer.

        • Kodie

          No, you misunderstood, I am asking about the order of the steps. Oh wow, you misunderstand things kinda easily.

        • Dys

          Pascal’s Wager is a crap argument…you should know this. And then there’s the problem that you can’t actually demonstrate that there’s a soul, that it’s eternal, or that it’s in any danger whatsoever.

        • Kodie

          Which one asks for the least money?

        • Kodie

          I think it’s vitally important to know which denomination has the correct interpretation. I find the story unbelievable so it’s hard to get started without knowing where this is going.

        • Al

          Then read the gospels. You will find the answers there for what is really important.

        • Kodie

          But I’m not compelled.

        • Al

          Its your life.

        • Kodie

          Why doesn’t god compel me?

        • Greg G.

          Whoa! The fabric of space is rent. Al said something right.

        • hector_jones

          You’d think that joining the right denomination could help me get right with god. Apparently I have to do all the heavy lifting first, and choosing the right denomination is really just a personal preference of no real significance.

        • MNb

          “You’d think”
          In matters like this one thinking is a glaring mistake. Even our very own Mormon JohnH2H, a very intelligent guy, recognizes it and acts accordingly. So why can’t you? Or me?

        • Kodie

          If you join the wrong church, you’re not a true Christian, but god wouldn’t let anyone join the wrong church, so don’t worry about it.

        • hector_jones

          So eenie meenie miney moe should do it?

        • Kodie

          No, you have to draw the names out of the hat!

        • Kodie

          Aw, damn. They’re going to make you sit in the back row for that one.

        • Dys

          Al’s a presuppositionalist, he just doesn’t realize it. So it’ll just be assertions without evidence from him.

        • hector_jones

          They are all presuppositionalists when you get right down to it.

        • Whoa, dude. Looks like these questions are getting you hot under the collar. What uncomfortable truth are we getting too close to? That Christianity’s many denominations is embarrassing?

        • Al

          The many Christian denominations agree on the essential doctrines. One is that Christ is God in the flesh and died for sin.

          You must be embarrassed about how many different schools there are to and scientific theories.

        • wtfwjtd

          Gnostics don’t believe Christ was god in the flesh. You lose.

        • Al

          Gnostics are not Christians.

        • wtfwjtd

          Says who?

        • Al

          They don’t believe Christ was God in the flesh for one thing. They thought He was only a spirit being.

        • wtfwjtd

          But they followed him, correct? How is that not being a Christian?

        • SuperMark

          because they don’t believe in jesus the right way, like Al does that is.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah, yes, there’s always a catch. That Yahweh, he’s a crafty one, tricking people into believing not-quite-the-right-thing just so he can burn their ass in hell for the fun of it. Must be fun to be a real Christian, like Al here.

        • SuperMark

          so you don’t just have to believe and repent? you have to believe in jesus just the right way? so the Gnostics believe everything you do except for one little caveat and they go to hell? so you’re telling me god sends people to hell on a technicality???

        • Al

          Having a correct understanding of Christ is essential. A false Christ saves no one.

          God sends people to hell for their sins. The thousands that people commit in their lifetimes.

        • SuperMark

          so someone can believe and follow jesus their whole life but if they don’t “repent” of their sins or think that jesus was a man they go to hell?

        • Paul Dickens

          Or, people can just commit the most horrific atrocities their entire lives and then repent the second before death and spend eternity playing a harp while sitting on a fluffy cloud 😉

        • SuperMark

          isn’t god great!

        • Paul Dickens

          That’s what I’m told, but, however, that’s not what I’m shown 😉

        • Al

          If they are following and believing Christ they will repent.

        • SuperMark

          but what if they don’t? so you can believe that jesus was the son of god you can believe that John 3:16 is the truth and still go to hell?

        • Al

          How could you believe in Christ and not know to repent? To believe and follow Christ means you know what He taught. It means you read and study the NT so you will know.

          A person can give just an intellectual assent to John 3:16 without entrusting himself to Christ. It is possible and Jesus warned about being self deceived.

        • SuperMark

          so you can’t be saved by John 3:16 alone? then what’s the point of all of those fucking stupid signs at baseball games then?

        • Kodie

          Sounds like a lot of reading a book. Don’t you already know what it says?

        • Kodie

          So god sends people to hell for believing they’ve got the correct understanding? You are not making your god seem very attractive!

        • SuperMark

          yup so it’s not enough to dedicate your life to jesus and follow him in all ways. if you don’t believe that he was a man you go to hell. god seems like a drunk judge.

        • Kodie

          They think they’re real Christians. Why are they wrong?

        • Al

          There were a number of different beliefs that were counter to what Christ and His apostles taught.

          Here are some of the things they believed:
          “Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries. Influenced by such philosophers as Plato, Gnosticism is based on two false premises. First, it espouses a dualism regarding spirit and matter. Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. As a result of this presupposition, Gnostics believe anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only.”
          Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-gnosticism.html#ixzz3Cyhb1U00

        • SuperMark

          but why? tell me exactly why it matters if one believes that jesus was a man and not just a spirit? do you really think god cares about such details, so much that he would send a follower to hell because of it?

        • Al

          It matters because the truth matters. Jesus and His apostles were adamant about the truth and corrected error vigorously.

          It is an absolute necessity to have a correct understanding and belief in Christ. Let me give you a couple of examples that points this out,

          “13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

          Matthew 7

          “18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3

        • SuperMark

          so god didn’t think it was important enough to make it clear in his book but it’s important enough to send people to hell over? you are putting your god in a box.

        • Al

          It is very very clear. Those that make it unclear are doing it deliberately.

        • SuperMark

          wow so you know the heart of everyone who disagrees with you? you are a deluded man.

        • Kodie

          So you admit you’re a troll.

        • Dys

          Yes…that’s why there’s so many forms of Christianity, and why the early church beliefs are not those of modern Christianity. Because the bible is perfectly clear. You only have the entirety of the history of the Christian faith opposing you on that point.

        • Kodie

          It’s the “True Christian™” business model. Let’s assume you’re a consumer of an item or service – how do you decide who is the best, which company or expert serves your needs, and why you would never take your business and shop for the same item or service somewhere else? If you are not at the right church, then you’re not a true Christian. Open your mind and listen to my sales pitch; then you will see why mine is the best and the others are a complete waste of your time.
          http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/fish-catching-hook-26678069.jpg

        • Kodie

          Al, in all seriousness, do you get your correct understanding of Christ from yourself or from the church? How can you be certain the church is not influencing your thoughts and leading you in the wrong direction? Oh yeah, and how much do you pay them?

        • Al

          I read and study.

        • Kodie

          But you’re so bad at it.

        • Al

          That’s still light years ahead of you.

        • Dys

          No, you’re really not.

        • Kodie

          Jesus told me you suck at reading. I know it’s unpleasant to hear from your savior, but he also told me that without Jesus, words actually do have meaning.

        • Greg G.

          Isn’t that what they say of religions and religion it’s who think Christ was flesh? What denomination of coin should we flip?

        • Well, they do follow Jesus Christ. That’s a good start.

        • Oh–so all paths lead to Christ? Why didn’t you just say so?

          No–I’m not embarrassed by science. It’s a human endeavor. What’s to be embarrassed about? It delivers! Unlike several religions I can think of …

        • Kodie

          What’s the best way to interpret the gospels?

        • Al

          As history. Jesus taught in many different formats. Some is to be understood literally while others is metaphorical.

        • SuperMark

          and you get to decide which are “history” and which are “stories”?

        • Dys

          Except the gospels aren’t history, and are not written that way.

        • Al

          Right. Reread some of my posts. Luke-Acts alone has over 70 historical details correct.

        • Dys

          *sigh*…you really don’t know how to read, do you?

          And again – truth in part does not equal truth in whole. And there is a healthy debate over Luke’s status as a historian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_the_Evangelist#Luke_as_a_historian

          And also, merely having some factually accurate historical information does not equate to writing a history.

          Now, Luke does contain some historically inaccurate information as well: “Something is clearly wrong with Luke’s chronology, for he has Gamaliel refer to Theudas and Judas in the wrong order, and Theudas actually rebelled about a decade after Gamaliel spoke”

          http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=1116&C=1230

          In any case, you’re essentially avoiding the criticism. Luke considered himself a historian (although that term doesn’t mean precisely the same thing it means today), so it makes sense that his gospel would be more historically accurate than the others. But the other gospels are not written that way, and are not written as histories.

        • Al

          Do you know that many ancient historians did not always get their facts straight?

          Here is what is said about Luke as a historian:
          “Based on his accurate description of towns, cities and islands, as well as correctly naming various official titles, archaeologist Sir William Ramsay wrote that “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy… [he] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”[15] Professor of classics atAuckland University, E.M. Blaiklock, wrote: “For accuracy of detail, and for evocation of atmosphere, Luke stands, in fact, with Thucydides. The Acts of the Apostles is not shoddy product of pious imagining, but a trustworthy record… it was the spadework of archaeology which first revealed the truth.”[16] New Testament scholar Colin Hemer has made a number of advancements in understanding the historical nature and accuracy of Luke’s writings.[17]”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_the_Evangelist

        • Dys

          Did you know none of this really addresses the points I raised? But at least you’re getting that the bible does contain historical errors.

        • Kodie

          So does Gone with the Wind, how does that make your point?

        • Kodie

          So the historical way is just an interpretation. Interesting.

        • hector_jones

          But how do I know I have to first get right with god? You say so, but I already know you are a complete idiot.

        • Al

          Read the gospels.

          BTW- if i’m a complete idiot then how is it I have embarrassed you so many times? What does that say about you?

        • hector_jones

          You have never once embarrassed me, unless you mean the embarrassment I feel that someone as stupid as you belongs to the same species as I do.

          Read the gospels? But every denomination says they’ve done that. Which one is right? Oh never mind, I wasn’t asking you, I was asking Karl. You are too stupid to give an answer worth considering.

        • Kodie

          When did you embarrass anyone? Are you drunk, sir? Mind stepping out of the car?

        • Greg G.

          It says that Hector is a mirror image of you because you are the one who should be red-faced. You are even funnier when you think you’re winning.

        • Al, your evasiveness doesn’t look good. If all paths lead to God, say so. If only one or a few do, make that clear.

          Are you embarrassed about something?

        • Al

          Only one path leads to God. All other paths lead to destruction.

        • wtfwjtd

          So, which denomination leads to god?

        • Al

          Denominations don’t lead anyone to God. The only way to God is through Christ. You must confess Him as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.

        • wtfwjtd

          Then what do we need churches for at all? Looks like they are a waste of time then. Thanks for clarifying that.

        • Kodie

          That’s where you go to give the money for them to remind you that without god, you’re nothing. If you don’t go to church, you might start feeling pretty good about yourself, and we can’t have that.

        • Al

          Christ founded the church for the purpose of building up believers and advancing His message. It is place where believers and even unbelievers can come to hear the gospel and apply it to their lives and those in the community.

        • Paul Dickens

          I will believe that a man named Jesus was raised from the dead after being crucified by the Romans when Jesus gives me the same proof he gave to Thomas.

        • And those who don’t believe … ?

        • Al

          Will be condemned.

        • God’s kind of a dick, isn’t he?

        • MNb

          So it doesn’t matter what denomination we choose? If only all those christians had known who killed each other over theological matters last 2000 years …..

        • hector_jones

          Catholics very much disagree with you. I’ve been told by more than one that the only way to god is through ‘holy mother church,’ i.e. the Roman Catholic Church. It seems you have as much of a quarrel with your fellow christians as with atheists on this point. Count yourself lucky that you don’t live in a time where you would be burned at the stake for such blasphemy.

        • Kodie

          But let me get this straight. The gnostics started by believing in god, then repenting of their sins, and then waiting for the magic telecommunication, and they got a different message from god than you did.

        • Al

          The gnostics got no message from God.

        • SuperMark

          What! says you. how do you make this assertion? just because it doesn’t “jive” with what you believe? no where in the bible does it specifically say that jesus was a man and not a spirit.

        • Kodie

          Then why do they believe it?

        • Al

          Beats me.

        • SuperMark

          nice retort. so there’s just no way that god revealed the truth to the gnostics and not you? how do you know you’re right? my hole point is that your god’s message is not clear…

        • Al

          I have the NT. God appointed the apostles to carry the message out first. Their writings are the ultimate authority for the church and the believer. If anyone contradicts them then we know they are false teachers.

        • SuperMark

          says you: “i know the bible is true! it says so right here in the bible”

        • Guest
        • Dys

          Al’s apologetics in a nutshell:

        • Kodie

          How much money do you pay to your church, Al.

        • Kodie

          What if you’re wrong? Are you prepared to meet Jesus on the condition that everything you ever believed was slightly wrong?

        • adam

        • adam

          Irrational FEAR….just like Al

        • Dys

          Neither have the Christians.

        • Dys

          “Only one path leads to God”

          Yep…the yellow brick road. And at the end you find out the wizard doesn’t really exist.

        • Al

          Jesus was very clear about this. He warned of the “broad way that leads to destruction”. It is the “narrow way” that leads to life. He is that narrow way. To reject Him is to condemn yourself.

        • Dys

          No, your theology is wrong. See, when you don’t have any actual evidence, I can reject your nonsense out of hand. All you’ve got is smoke and mirrors. And piss poor logic and the reasoning abilities of a six year old.

          And Jesus is dead. So he’s not the way to anything.

        • Can you give us a hint as to what that path is? Southern Baptist? Eastern Orthodox? Mormon?

          Or is it a secret?

        • Al

          John 14:6

        • Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

          Fred Phelps would agree with that. Does that mean that Westboro Baptist Church is an acceptable path to heaven?

        • Al

          You tell me.

        • MNb

          So you don’t know? Then how do you know you are walking the right path? Remember:

          “Only one path leads to God. All other paths lead to destruction.”

          Of course I’m a total amateur when it comes to faith. But given what you have written here and assuming that your god is omnivolent indeed it looks to me that you might very well be on a path to destruction.

        • I’m still puzzled by your reticence to fill us in. Do all paths lead to heaven? Just your church? Something in between?

          To answer your question, no, Phred doesn’t lead to heaven because there is no evidence for heaven.

        • MNb

          Do Southern Baptists, Eastern Orthodox and Mormons walk the same path?

        • Al

          No.

        • MNb

          Above you wrote: “Only one path leads to God. All other paths lead to destruction.”
          So BobS’ question is relevant:

          “Southern Baptist? Eastern Orthodox? Mormon?”

          Which one is it? Another one? How do you know?

        • Al

          Its my understanding that Southern Baptist and Eastern Orthodox would agree with me. The Mormon is something different. Don’t know what they would say give that they don’t believe in the biblical Christ.

        • MNb

          I didn’t ask whether they agree. I (and BobS) asked which one walked the path leading to god. It can only be one according to you, because you wrote that they don’t walk the same path. You badly need a doctor, Al. Your brain is infected by creacrap and the disease seriously affects all your cognitive skills.

        • SuperMark

          Since when is repentance a requirement for salvation? I thought John 3:16 was all you needed to be “saved”?

        • Al

          See Mark 1:14-15

        • SuperMark

          So which one is it, I don’t recall Jesus ever mentioning repentance as a requirement, isn’t he a higher authority than the apostles and paul? What about baptism?
          John 3:5
          Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
          In Mark 16:16 Jesus says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

        • Al

          John 3:5 is not a reference to baptism but to cleansing. Water baptism is preceded by repentance and belief in Christ. Water baptism is a rite that shows that person is identifying with Christ in His death and resurrection.

        • SuperMark

          You didn’t address what jesus said… isn’t he the absolute authority? Mark 16:16 seems pretty clear and stands on it’s own.

          Again where did jesus say repentance is required for salvation? As far as I remember it was only John the Baptist, paul and the apostles in Acts that brought that into the picture. I always thought you “just have to believe” when did all these other actions come into the picture?

        • al

          Mark 16 is a disputed passage because 9-20 verses are not found in the earliest manuscripts. However verse 16 is a good summary of the gospel.

          Repentance means to change one’s mind. One is to change his mind about his life and sin.
          ” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

          Unless one is aware of his sins, he will not think he has to repent of them and believe in Christ. One must be aware that he has broken the law of God and that he stands condemned for doing so. Only then will he see the need for Christ.

        • SuperMark

          Like I said Jesus never said anything about repentance being part of salvation…

          That’s not how you and your kin use the word “repentance” you make it out to be asking for forgiveness for “sins” not just acknowledging we all have sinned.

          it seems pretty clear by your own admission that Jesus did not present his entire message during his ministry. you don’t have a problem with the fact that Jesus came to earth gave us a pretty clear message then others came along and completely changed that message?

        • Al

          Jesus spoke of repentance quite a bit.

          From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

          I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)

          The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:41)

          Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3, 5)

        • SuperMark

          but like i said jesus was talking about acknowledging sin not asking for forgiveness. then why are you so hung up on people asking for forgiveness for their sins and admitting that they are wicked pieces of shit?

        • Al

          This is part of the our Father: “‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

          We are wicked because we are constantly breaking the law of God. However, God values us so much He sent Christ into the world to die for those who would believe in Him so that they would not be condemned.

        • SuperMark

          Whatever Al, i don’t give a shit about all of this theology. my head is full of “useless knowledge” from my past.

          I only bring it up to illustrate the point of this post. If jesus/god actually gave a shit about us it would have made its message clear and unadulterated. This is clearly not the case because there are so many belief systems as illustrated by this wonderfully artistic work of the branches of religion and Christianity.

          So, the only conclusion I can draw from all of this bullshit is that Christianity (at least) is completely made up by man. If god was real and he wrote a book, it would contain a clear message, one that could not be misinterpreted. Apparently that is something that your god is incapable of.

        • Al

          It is clear. You have chosen to reject it. But don’t give me this nonsense its not clear or that its made up.

        • SuperMark

          so there are 40k+ denominations of christanity and you’re telling me Jesus’s message is clear? makes perfect sense.

          and yes i understand what you bible says completely and i still wholeheartedly reject it. i would rather spend eternity in hell then spend one second with your god.

        • Al

          It is clear. The 40k+ does not mean these denominations believe all kinds of different things. There is a lot of agreement among them on core doctrines. For example, these churches know what the characteristics are of the gospel and who Jesus was.

          You really should spend some serious time thinking about hell. Hell is a place of darkness and gnashing of teeth. It is unending. If you don’t fear hell then there is something very wrong with you.

        • Kodie

          But if you do fear hell, then there is something wrong with you. You pay your church lots of money all the time to reinforce what a wicked piece of shit you are and that you belong in hell. So there is something wrong with you right there, you wicked piece of shit.

        • SuperMark

          but you’re the one who said the gnostics aren’t going to heaven? what about catholics? what about mormons? They all believe in jesus but not the same way you do? what about eternal security and the unpardonable sin, do you know your still saved?

          it’s hard to be afraid of something you don’t believe exists. and even if i did i would be just as afraid of heaven. if god is going to change me into someone who wouldn’t care about all of the suffering in hell then who i am will be lost and that person in heaven won’t even be me. sounds a lot worse than still being me for all eternity, suffering or not…

        • adam

          Of course it is VERY CLEAR that the 40K believe all kinds of different things.

          Fear MONGERING doesnt help your position at all, except for the VERY IGNORANT…

        • Dys

          “If you don’t fear hell then there is something very wrong with you.”

          There’s no reason to fear places that don’t exist. Being afraid of Hell is like being afraid of Mordor.

        • Kodie

          39,999 denominations of Christianity alone say you’re wrong about god.

        • Dys

          But you can’t demonstrate that it’s not made up. So we’re perfectly justified in believing it is.

        • Al

          I have already established that the gospels are historical. Why would I think Jesus and His apostles were lying in what they taught?

        • Dys

          No, you haven’t. All you established is that Luke is generally considered a historian (of disputed reputation) who demonstrably wasn’t completely accurate.

          And you don’t know who authored the gospels. That’s what I’ve established.

        • Al

          You have not given me one counter fact that shows someone else wrote the gospels. Not one.
          If you insist not to know then that is your fantasy. Not mine.

          Why would Luke be a historian of “disputed reputation” when he has so many historical facts correct?

          If Luke is a historian of a “disputed reputation” then so are all ancient historians.

        • Dys

          “You have not given me one counter fact that shows someone else wrote the gospels.”

          I have provided you the expert opinions of biblical scholars who have far more knowledge and credibility than you do in support of the fact that we do not have a good understanding of who wrote the gospels. You have not refuted this at all – instead, you’ve dismissed their analysis out of hand because it doesn’t agree with what you want to believe. Because you place a higher value on your own myopic wishful thinking than actual scholarship and knowledge.

          You have created these childish and illogical ultimatums to preserve your uneducated opinion on the matter.

          Since you can’t deal honestly with the topic, I’ll just go with this: you need to prove Papias was right. If you can’t, then you’re wrong. And we both know you can’t prove it.

          “Why would Luke be a historian of “disputed reputation” when he has so many historical facts correct?”

          I already provided a link explaining the reason why. Your continued ignorance is your own problem at this point.

          “If Luke is a historian of a “disputed reputation” then so are all ancient historians.”

          Do we seriously need to keep going over this nonsense you insist on? Your all or nothing approach is idiotic.

        • Al

          Give me one fact from one of your scholars that shows Papias to be lying.

          We know Papias was right because the names on the gospels have always been associated with them. No other names are. Irenaeus who lived in the early 2nd century also mentions the 4 gospels as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

        • Dys

          Sorry AI, but you haven’t presented any evidence that Papias was right. Just because you accept the traditional oral tradition doesn’t demonstrate that those are the actual authors. And you’ve still failed to refute the biblical scholars I’ve cited.

          This article elaborates on some of the reasons why Papias is not trusted when it comes to authorship of Matthew by scholars. I look forward to you ignoring it as well:

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/matthew.html

          Given your abysmal failure to establish that Papias was right, we can rightly conclude that you don’t know what you’re talking about. But please, continue with your wishful thinking and ignorance of real bible scholarship.

        • Al

          So you have no counter facts that proves that Papias was wrong. You have no facts that shows Irenaeus was wrong. You have no facts that shows the early church said someone else wrote the gospels. You have no facts that show that Matthew and John were not disciples of Christ. You have no facts that show that Peter did not tell Mark what to write down. You have no facts that show Luke did not interview the eyewitnesses.

          You’re the one who has no facts to back up what your scholars are claiming. What you have is called wishful thinking.

        • Dys

          You didn’t bother reading what I posted, nor have you refuted my points. And you certainly do not have the scholarship, or quite frankly the intelligence to refute the biblical scholars who are experts at investigating precisely this type of question. You are under the delusion that your ignorance is as good as their knowledge.

          So, you’ve failed to refute them, and you’ve failed to demonstrate that Papias (or Irenaeus) are correct.

          In other words, you’ve failed to do anything but engage in wishful thinking. You have nothing more than “Papias said it, I believe it, that settles it”. Except it doesn’t. Because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • Al

          If Papias says that the 4 people associated with the gospels wrote them, and Irenaeus supports this in the 2nd century and those names have always been associated with those gospels and no one else then that means they are the authors. We also know that when the church in the 4th century finalized the NT canon they attributed those 4 as the authors. What this means is that we do know who wrote the gospels and anyone says we don’t are lying.

        • Dys

          “then that means they are the authors.”

          No, it doesn’t. It means, quite simply, that those are the traditionally attributed authors, based on the oral tradition that Papias recorded. As I’ve already pointed out numerous times, that does not mean the names associated with the gospels are reflective of who wrote them. I have a small understanding of the work biblical scholars do; you have none whatsoever.

          I’ve provided numerous links to biblical experts, and you’ve failed to refute them. And we both know they have far more knowledge about the topic than you do, and a better understanding of the context in which the books were written.

          So, you’ve failed to prove that Papias is correct. Again. And you failed to refute the consensus opinion of biblical scholars. Again.

          “What this means is that we do know who wrote the gospels and anyone says we don’t are lying.”

          So NT Wright, David deSilva, Bart Ehrman, and plenty of other biblical scholars are all lying. And you know better than they do. Despite their expertise on the subject matter. And despite your inane rationale. What degrees do you have that qualify you to make such assertions and expect them to be taken seriously by anyone that actually cares about the topic?

        • Al

          You need to get beyond your speculations and give me some counter facts that shows Papias and Irenaeus were lying. Give some facts that shows they are lying then you will have a foundation to claim we don’t know who the authors were. Without that, I’m on solid ground to claim we know who wrote the gospels and you have no grounds for your assertions.

        • Dys

          “give me some counter facts that shows Papias and Irenaeus were lying.”

          They were recording an oral tradition, not history. That’s not lying, that’s just passing on a tradition. You can’t really be this dim, can you?

          “Without that, I’m on solid ground to claim we know who wrote the gospels”

          No, you’re not. You’re lying to yourself. You don’t know who wrote the gospels at all – you just have a severely uninformed opinion about it.

          “you have no grounds for your assertions.”

          They’re not my assertions, you idiot. It’s the consensus opinion of biblical scholars…people who have actually studied the texts and understand textual criticism. You don’t understand history, and in an incredibly ironic twist, you don’t really have that much knowledge about the bible either.

          Please demonstrate that Papias was right. So far you have failed to do so. You just keep repeating your false ultimatum as if it justifies your wishful thinking, and it doesn’t. Please answer why you think your armchair speculations trump the informed opinions of people who seriously study these topics. Because biblical scholars do not agree with you.

        • MNb

          Well, that’s Al for you.

        • Al

          Who do you have that refutes what Papias and Irenaeus said?

        • Dys

          NT Wright, David deSilva, and Bart Ehrman all disagree with your assessment of Papias and Irenaeus. I already provided the links.

          But here’s another quote, this one from Bruce Meztger:

          “Actually not much is known about these matters [the identity of the evangelists and the date of composition of each Gospel]. The text itself of each Gospel is anonymous and its title represents what later tradition had to say about the identity of the author.”

          Or maybe Michael Green, talking about the gospel of Matthew:

          “We do not know who wrote the Gospel. Like all the others, it is anonymous”.

          But of course you dismissed their scholarship because it doesn’t agree with what you want to be true.

        • Al

          NT Wright doesn’t claim we don’t know who wrote the gospels. Bart has been refuted.

          “The early church fathers Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius all name Matthew as the author of the gospel attributed to him. In fact Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp (disciple of John) personally, identifies all four gospel authors by name. Papias identifies by name both Matthew and Mark, and the casual way he does so suggests these authors were well known……Other early church leaders also attribute Mark’s gospel to him, such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Jerome, and Eusebius.”

          The authorship of Luke is attested to by Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Gregory, Nazianze, and Jerome.”

          Regarding authorship of Matthew specifically, in addition to evidence from early church leaders noted earlier Morris further notes, “There remains the fact that in ancient tradition this book is universally ascribed to Matthew. To name anyone else as the author is to affirm that the name of its true author was forgotten within a comparatively short time (about 50 years?) and another name substituted, especially since Matthew was not, as far as our information goes, especially prominent either among the Twelve or in the early church. Accordingly, there seems to be no reason for assigning him to such an important writing unless in fact he wrote it.

          ..Nearly all modern scholars attribute the gospels to those in whose name they are written. .”
          http://www.radicaltruth.net/index.php/learn/radical-truth-christianity/66-who-wrote-the-gospels

        • Dys

          “NT Wright doesn’t claim we don’t know who wrote the gospels.”

          Yes, he does. I provided the quote. You ignored it. You are lying.

          And whoever wrote your webpage likewise doesn’t appear to have much understanding of modern biblical scholarship either, as he is demonstrably wrong. I’ve provided multiple sources to back up my points, all of which you’ve ignored. So it has become obvious to me that you don’t care about the truth, you simply care about feeling justified in what you want to be true. Because the truth is that your understanding of gospel authorship is a sad joke at odds with modern scholarship.

        • Al

          Wright does not say we don’t know. Go back an reread it.

          Asserting I’m wrong or the quotes I gave you are wrong is just a baseless opinion. You need to give some counter facts. Otherwise all you have is just your opinion while I have the facts.

        • Dys

          Yes, he does. Go back and re-read it. Actually, here it is again:

          “None of the books name their authors; all the traditions about who wrote which ones are just that, traditions, from later on in the life of the church (beginning in the first half of the second century, about fifty years after the Gospels were written).”

          In case you need it spelled out for you, tradition does not equate to actual authorship, which is why he states that the traditions occurred about 50 years after the gospels were written. If it doesn’t sink in this time, I’m not sure what to say, because your reading comprehension is deplorable.

          “Otherwise all you have is just your opinion while I have the facts.”

          You have no facts. You have an uneducated and naive opinion. You don’t have any intellectual curiosity about the matter – all you’ve been doing is shouting “Papias says what I want! Papias says what I want!” over and over again and thinking it proves something. But I’ve provided multiple sources that demonstrate that it doesn’t prove what you desperately want it to.

        • Al

          He is not saying we don’t know who wrote the gospels. He does not say they are anonymous. The traditions do tell us who wrote the gospels. We know what they believed by the men I mentioned.
          “Literally thousands of manuscripts of the original Greek exist, as well as thousands of translations into other languages. All manuscript evidence points to the named authors, and none dispute this.”
          http://www.radicaltruth.net/index.php/learn/radical-truth-christianity/66-who-wrote-the-gospels

          These are indisputable facts.

        • Dys

          Sorry Al, but if that’s what you think he’s saying, then you don’t know how to read. Tradition doesn’t tell us who actually wrote them, which is why Wright mentions that the names don’t come into play until 50 or so years after they were written. I suggest you enter into a remedial course and correct the deficiency in your reading abilities.

          To summarize, you still haven’t demonstrated that Papias was correct, you’ve failed to provide any good reason to doubt the consensus of biblical scholars, and you can’t even understand what NT Wright is saying. I admit I have a very basic understanding of biblical scholarship, but you have none at all.

          You don’t know who wrote the gospels; you just have an incredibly uninformed opinion.

        • JohnH2

          The Book of Matthew refutes Papias, that is assuming that the book that we call the Book of Matthew is the Book of Matthew that Papias is referring to.

        • adam

          Here is your counter fact

        • adam

          Here’s one for you.

        • Kodie

          Because your church charges you money to believe everything they tell you?

        • adam

          NO, it is CLEAR that YOU have FAILED to DEMONSTRATE it.

        • Kodie

          If you pay someone’s debt, like, let’s say your neighbor’s kid broke your window, either you can pay for it or the neighbor can pay for it. You tell your neighbor it’s ok and pay for it yourself,so you have forgiven your neighbor.

          So a week later, you’re thinking your neighbor should have at least offered to pay, if not in full, then half. So you ask your neighbor for half. He says, “I thought you forgave me.”

          Another while later, your neighbor is seen bringing a big tv into his house. You tell your neighbor, I better be able to come and watch your tv any time I want to, since I paid for the window your kid broke. He says, “But I thought you forgave me.”

          Then you come up with a plan, you tell your neighbor you need some yardwork and errands done, and could he send over the child. So the father brings his child over and says he can work but first he would like to know what it pays. And you say “Pay? Pay? Ha ha, you must be joking. He broke my window and now he is paying me back.” And the neighbor says, “But I thought you forgave me.”

          Your god killed his son to forgive you or me, but then makes up a lot of requirements. God is a very depressed and delusional person. He makes Adam and Eve, who were already fallen. He blames them for falling but they were already fallen, and then decides he hates people. He hates them so much he destroys almost all of them. A few more thousand years later, he comes up with a plan to put them in debt to him. It is the opposite of forgiveness. Forgive means erase. It means a person does not have to do anything to pay you back. It means, literally, you owed me, and I crossed out the debt. We’re done. You don’t have to give me the payment, because I have treated the situation as if you already have. Thus, you no longer owe me, you’re free. I have no further requirements of you, and you don’t have to grovel or beg.

          If you have to grovel and beg for me to forgive you, then you are paying me in humiliating and debasing yourself, in lieu of cash. As I understand things with your church, you pay them and also humiliate and debase yourself.

        • Al

          You’re confused with your example. It is one thing to be forgiven when a person is truly sorry and another to make restitution.
          We don’t grovel and beg for forgiveness from God but God does forgive when we are truly sorry.

        • Kodie

          You don’t understand what ‘forgive’ means. It is an accounting term. I lend you $100, so you owe me $100. I sell you a used kitchen table but you want to take it home now and pay me $25 later, so you owe me $25.

          So for whatever reason and it doesn’t have to be a good reason, you can’t pay me back $100 and ask for forgiveness. You don’t have to be truly sorry. You might have even spent it all on drugs, or given it to your church. If I decide to forgive you, that means we are done dealing. If god has conditions: IF you are truly sorry, THEN I can forgive you, then that is not forgiveness. IF Jesus paid the debt for me, THEN I don’t owe god anything. The DEBT has already been paid and he can’t come after me for ANYTHING. JESUS has already paid, he has done everything necessary for god to erase MY debt.

          This is pretending that there’s a debt, because it’s what you believe. I am illustrating how wrong you are about the meaning of the word “forgive”. It means balance is restored. I can cross out the $25 you owe me for the table for a variety of reasons:

          You paid me cash for the table.
          You took me out for dinner and I agreed to take that as payment.
          You gave me a gift card for groceries that you got as a bonus from your job with $37.51 still left on it after you took it shopping once.

          Someone else paid it off for you so when you came around I said it was already paid =not forgiven
          I just decide to. = forgive

          –which I might do for a variety of reasons:
          tired of waiting
          you need it more than I need the money
          you moved away in the middle of the night and there’s nothing I can do about it

          In the bargain you describe, since Jesus already paid, you owe nothing. God has not voluntarily forgiven you since he required a payment of some kind, but since he got it, you owe nothing.

          If god was truly forgiving, he would require nothing, and just clear the debt without executing someone or any other payment. That is what “forgive” means. In the dictionary. In the common parlance.

          How much money does it cost you to the church to be considered “truly” sorry?

        • Al

          To gain forgiveness from God does a require a person to be truly sorry. Otherwise he really doesn’t want forgiveness. Sin disrupts the believers relationship with God. God wants His children to seek forgiveness when they sin against Him and to forgive others when they are sinned against.

          Christ did pay the debt for sin for believers but when the believer sins he is to ask for forgiveness. He is to acknowledge his sin before God. The reason is that when a believer sins, it affects his relationship with God. To restore that relationship to its true potential he must ask forgiveness. Its like a relationship between husband and wife. When the wife wrongs her husband the relationship is negatively affected. To restore it, she must seek his forgiveness.

        • Kodie

          THAT’S NOT FORGIVENESS.

          It is something else entirely, if you believe it, but it is not forgiveness. You are not forgiven, you are paying it off to a specific condition of satisfaction on the part of the creditor.

          What I see is that Jesus “paid” your debt, and now you owe Jesus instead. Whatever that payment is, you’re paying it, not because your debt was erased but because someone took it over, and now you owe them, and still somehow owe god too.

        • Al

          God forgives the believer based on what Christ did. I will no longer have to pay for those sins which would have been in hell. In my life here, when I sin God wants me to acknowledge it when I do and He forgives. Some sins require restitution. I can forgive a thief but he may have to return what he stole. That would show if he is truly sorry.

        • Kodie

          Still not understanding the true meaning of forgiveness. There are no conditions on forgiveness. If I tell a thief I will not press charges if he just returns what he stole, that’s not forgiveness. If I tell you that you have to believe something in order to get a benefit reserved for believers, I don’t have to kill my son to pay off your debt. You can use a lot of words to describe the bargain you believe you have and others can access, but ‘forgiveness’ is not one of them.

        • adam

          That is because it is not FORGIVENESS that Al’s ‘god’ needs, he NEEDS blind obedience otherwise it will go the way of all the other ‘gods’ before it.

        • Kodie

          The self-loathing seems to be a huge part of it. It’s like if someone felt like paying off your house for you, we don’t really have a way of dealing with that. What does this guy want, when is he going to call on me to collect, can he evict me? Even something generally minor, like if your friend can afford to spot you for dinner, some people including your friend might think you pay next time, or you might feel inferior because you don’t have the money, it can burn you that you feel obligated to the person now, and it can burn the other person that you haven’t offered to repay them with a dinner in a respectable amount of time. Many people take what’s offered and feel no obligation to repay a gift, but the person paying expects at least a thank you and some gesture even if it’s not equal to the amount paid. But if your company is paying, some people call up their friends to take a free meal, and nobody feels obligated to repay the company employee or the company.

          The results of the ultimatum game that we are familiar with have some drastically different results in other cultures.

          It just seems to me a god isn’t good unless he absolutely forgives which he can absolutely do, and it’s really the religions that have to market this for profit by making it difficult. A story I hear once in a while is when instant cake mixes were first sold, they didn’t sell well until the instructions required the addition of an egg, so it would seem more home-made in the perception of the person baking it. I don’t know if that’s the real reason why.

        • adam

          But, but, but ……….
          Isn’t Christ ‘god’?

        • adam

          But YOU continue to CONSTANTLY BREAK the law of god with your lying?

          So what good is it?

        • Kodie

          The answer to your question is twofold. To make them submissive and easy to govern, and so they can believe everyone else is a wicked piece of shit. They don’t want to be a wicked piece of shit while everyone else is just fine. What would be the point?

        • SuperMark

          so which one is it al? do you believe what jesus said or his followers?

        • Kodie

          I kind of think rituals are silly. Are you sure this is not just symbolic and as long as you believe something you don’t have to go through with the superstitious bath and abracadabra show.

        • SuperMark

          but if you don’t pick the right rituals then you might burn so better go ahead and do them all.

        • powellpower

          come on, his name is SuperMark, I’m sure he would have read Mark.

          Anyway, I know this is a cheap shot – does this mean that the Bible contradicts itself? SHOCKING!

        • Kodie

          Sounding more and more like a comic book to me.

        • adam

          More than they would like to admit….

        • Al

          No the Bible does not contradict itself. Most alleged contradictions are cleared up when the context is understood. Another reason why people think there are contradictions is because people don’t understand what a contradiction is.

        • Kodie

          Serious question time, Al:

          What do you understand a contradiction to be?

          How much money do you pay your church to explain “contexts” to you?

        • Al

          ” a proposition, statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of something”
          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contradiction

          Something can’t be A and non A at the same time. It cannot be raining and not raining at the same place and time.

          I get paid nothing for this. Not even Bob pays me. Bummer.

        • Kodie

          Do you understand the difference between pay and get paid?

          Ironically not?

        • Dys

          “I get paid nothing for this. Not even Bob pays me. Bummer.”

          Because you present incredibly poor arguments. And you don’t understand the burden of proof, or what constitutes evidence. You don’t deserve to get paid for this. Your attempts at scholarship are a joke.

        • Al

          That may be. It doesn’t take much to refute an atheist or skeptic like yourself.

        • Dys

          Then why haven’t you managed it yet? All you keep doing is making the same assertions without backing them up and using illogical arguments. If it’s so easy to refute us, you must be embarrassingly dimwitted for having failed so completely.

        • Kodie

          I am still waiting to find out how much money you pay to your church. Is “it doesn’t take much” a clue?

        • hector_jones

          Oh I thought he meant he felt he deserved pay from Bob in the same way P T Barnum paid his freaks. Perhaps I misunderstood.

        • Dys

          I keep hoping that he’s just a troll. Because otherwise I have to believe that Al thinks his arguments make sense.

        • Kodie

          Does anyone get paid to be here? Al keeps avoiding my serious questions and occasionally pretends to misunderstand it grossly.

        • MNb

          “Something can’t be A and non A at the same time.”
          So if grass and trees need light to live (scientific fact) grass and trees can’t live without light? Like they did in Gen. 1:11?
          So if evening and morning are defined by lights in the firmament of the heaven (scientific fact) these two can’t be created before those lights (specifically the Sun)? Like claimed in Gen. 1:13?
          So if the lesser light was created to rule the night we wouldn’t be able to see it during daytime (Gen. 1:16)?
          So if winged fowl (Gen. 1:21) was created before man (Gen. 1:26) it can’t be created afterwards (Gen. 2:7 and 2:19)?
          All examples of A and non A at the same time. Confirming that the Bible contradicts itself indeed.
          Showing once again that you were wrong.

        • Al

          Huh? It mentions light in vs 3-4. That light would have sustained the grass and trees.
          Gen 1 deals with the general creation while Gen 2 deals with creation as it relates to man.
          No contradiction. I know of no scholar that would say this is a contradiction either.
          This shows you don’t understand what a contradiction is.

        • MNb

          “Gen 1 deals with the general creation while Gen 2 deals with creation as it relates to man.”
          Yeah, you have pulled this off before. Still first winged fowl, than man (Gen.1) is the exact contradiction of first man, then winged fowl (Gen.2).

          “I know of no scholar”

          That’s because you only call people scholars who confirm your predetermined conclusions.

          You’re right about the light thing; I misread.
          Still 1:5 and 1:13 combined don’t make sense.
          Plus the little problem that “the ruler of the night” totally can be seen at day.

          OK, another one: Judas’ death. Matth. 27:5 says Judas hanged himself. According to Acts 1:18 Judas became a farmer, fell and had his guts gushed out. Was Judas resurrected as well after his hanging?

          And King Abijah apparently had two mothers: Maachah the daughter of Absalom (2 Chr. 11:21) and Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah (2 Chr. 13:2). Well, I guess that if you can accept the miracle of the Resurrection as a historical fact you can also accept the miracle of a king having two mothers.

        • Kodie

          This shows you don’t know what a scholar is.

        • Dys

          “No the Bible does not contradict itself.”

          Yes, it does. The claim that there are no contradictions is purely a faith based assertion. Amateur apologists sometimes operate under the delusion that merely proposing a possible (and in many cases, improbable) resolution to a contradiction somehow magically makes the actual contradiction disappear. It does not.

          “because people don’t understand what a contradiction i”

          And you’re one of them.

        • adam

          By most people you mean YOU…

          con·tra·dic·tion noun ˌkän-trə-ˈdik-shən

          : the act of saying something that is opposite or very different in meaning to something else

          : a difference or disagreement between two things which means that both cannot be true

        • hector_jones

          Most? What about the ones that aren’t cleared up when the context is understood?

          Since you won’t tell me which denomination I should join and why, perhaps you could remind me which one you belong to? Was it evangelical protestant?

        • Al

          Why would that matter?

        • hector_jones

          Why would that matter? It shouldn’t matter that there are contradictions in the bible that aren’t cleared up when the context is understood?

        • Al

          Give me an example of a contradiction. Let’s see if it really is one.

        • hector_jones

          I didn’t say there were any, you did when you said that ‘most’ of them can be cleared up when read in context. That means there are some that can’t be cleared up when read in context.

          Which denomination did you say you belong to again? Wasn’t it evangelical protestant?

        • Al

          Some problems in the Bible are due to not having enough background information. Without this we can’t also be sure about a given passage or verse that is in dispute.

          I’m evangelical protestant.

        • hector_jones

          Ok thanks. I figure if I can’t get a straight answer on which denomination to join I can at least get started on a list of which ones I should avoid, until I hit on the right one by the process of elimination.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus said the kingdom of God had come near. That was 2000 years ago. He was wrong about that one. Probably wrong about repenting, too.

        • Al

          The kingdom of God did come near 2000 years ago given that Christ is literally the kingdom of God in person.

        • Greg G.

          If the definitions of words are so malleable that “kingdom of God” can be shoehorned into that meaning, humans are incapable of relaying information via language.

          The gospels mention the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven many times. Where is it defined? Paul defines it in Romans 14:17 but in terms of the Holy Ghost, not in terms of Jesus.

          Quit making stuff up.

        • hector_jones

          It’s like I’m asking you what gym I should join and your answer is before I join a gym I first need to get in top physical condition. If I get right with God first, why do I need to join any denomination at all?

        • Kodie

          Have you learned nothing? They all tell you you’re nothing without god, so it doesn’t matter, as long as you find one to give them money. Which one is near your house?

        • hector_jones

          Greek Orthodox

        • Kodie

          Egalitarian Conservative Jew.

        • Al

          For worship. fellowship, ministry and to learn. That’s why you need to join a church.

        • Kodie

          In other words: to give your money, to gain a sense of in-group superiority, and to be reminded and reinforced what a wicked piece of shit you are, and how much worse off you’d be without them. So how much money does membership in your club cost?

        • hector_jones

          Worship? Can’t I do that at home? Is there a right way and a wrong way to worship? Does worship only work if I’m in a room full of people?

          Fellowship sounds good but I already have that and I don’t want to end up associating with a bad crowd that believes the wrong things. Or does that not matter?

          Ministry? What’s that and why does it matter? I thought I had to get good with god first before I could join a denomination? It’s odd to me that you tell me that, because my catholic friends insist that I should just join their church right now and that getting good with god is impossible unless I join first.

          To learn? So they all teach the same thing? I don’t want to join one that will teach me the wrong things.

        • Al

          You can worship at home but we are to also worship corporately. At church you can receive the Lord’s supper.
          This is another advantage that Christians have over atheists. We meet together consistently and are able to do more as a group. The atheist is pretty much on his own and even when he is with other atheists there is nothing to learn about atheism. After all, who really tries to be a “better” atheist?

          You already associate with a bad crowd.

          Ministry is about helping other people either within the church or outside such as a soup kitchen or helping the poor. My church recently helped paint a secular high school for example.

          You don’t have to “get good with God first” to join a denomination. I already laid out what was of first importance. If you don’t want to do that then join a denomination and check it out. Observe and ask questions. Who knows, it may change your mind. You may even find someone who will dialogue with you.

          Christianity is not like atheism. There is plenty to learn. A person could spend the rest of his life learning about the Bible etc. He can learn how churches function or about other people. Those churches that adhere to apostolic teachings (Bible) will agree on most essentials of the faith but have different views on non-essential issues.

        • smrnda

          Why are you assuming, by default, Christian churches?

          I have been to chabad (Jewish temple) several times this year, and I will probably go again. Several people I know who went are also atheists.

          In terms of getting together with people, there are lots of places other than churches where people socialize. In my area, I know a lot of artists, some independent filmmakers, people who are in the tech scene and a few academics.

          Since I grew up in Taiwan (even though I am not ethnically Taiwanese or Chinese) I’m somewhat connected with the local Taiwanese population.

          I’m also on the board of a non-profit that handles prison literacy programs and another that provides free or low cost child care, so I’m definitely not isolated nor do I lack for people to spend time with or useful things to do.

          For things to learn, I spent quite a bit of time learning about Christianity and I am quite bored with it, finding that there’s little truly new to encounter.

        • Kodie

          How much does it cost to receive the lord’s supper? My new synagogue costs $250 and tickets to high holidays are $100.

        • Greg G.

          I named my dog “Repent” so when he runs off, I can walk through the neighborhood yelling “REPENT!” His name was “Stains” because of the carpet but people didn’t like it when I walked through the neighborhood yelling “COME STAINS!”

        • Greg G.

          Oh “REPENT”. I’ve been repeating of my sins all this time.

      • KarlUdy

        I would suggest you join a church that affirms the traditional creeds.

        • hector_jones

          Which churches would those be? How will I know they believe the right things?

        • KarlUdy

          Ask them if they affirm the Nicene and/or Apostles creed. If they do, then they will in all likelihood believe the right things.

        • hector_jones

          But how do I know those are the right things to believe? I have a friend who says I should become a Sunni Muslim instead. How do I decide between that and the Nicene and/or Apostles creed?

        • Kodie

          The coins never lie.

        • KarlUdy

          *sniff* I smell a troll

        • hector_jones

          I thought you might be able to help me out. I guess I was wrong.

        • Kodie

          How do you know that’s correct?

        • adam

          But those were Political Creeds created by politicians, what does that have to do the correctness of their views?

      • JohnH2

        I would suggest that you seek to know the will of God on the subject by asking Him which church you should join.

        • hector_jones

          That’s an interesting suggestion. How do I get in touch with him? Is that how you decided which church to join?

        • JohnH2

          I suggest trying to pray; and being sincere about it.

        • MNb

          I did some 35, 40 years ago and got no answer. Now what?

        • JohnH2

          “sincere” <- I seriously question this part of it given past history.

        • MNb

          That’s your problem. Exactly because of the word “sincere” I specifically mentioned 35, 40 years ago. When I was about 13 I had a phase when I was open to christianity (some olders teens from Youth for Christ ruined it). During that phase I have prayed sincerely. Never got an answer.
          Still thanks. Probably unintentionally you have made two things clear.

          1) You don’t accept testimonies on face value. That’s great; then neither have I to do this and that of course specifically includes yours.
          2) Again you do everything to avoid the crucial point. As you are an intelligent guy this can only mean one thing: you realize how weak your point is, but are not honest enough to admit it. I already know to what great lengths you are willing to go to maintain this evasive attitude, so there is no point anymore in pressing any further.

          You just have lost quite some credibility. As I am a honest guy you of course get the chance to win it back. You only have to directly answer the question I asked above: now what?

          “given past history”
          What exactly do you know about my past history of 35, 40 years ago? Looks like you’re forgetting Matth. 7:1. You are the gazillionth abrahamist to do so.

        • JohnH2

          Past history in that you have lied multiple times and made false claims repeatedly about exactly this subject. I feel no need to pretend to take anything you say anymore as being honest as I know you to be a repeated liar who will say anything to make your point. I wish I could say that I trust your account of 35 years ago, but I have no reason to do so given all your previous lies on the subject. If this account is true then you should have brought it up the first and every time that I have mentioned the subject, rather than all of the other dishonest accounts. You can’t say I don’t attempt to take things at face value given all of the times that I have attempted to do so, and then had you make fun of me for treating your lies seriously, nor can you say that I am avoiding the point given how often you have attempted this same stunt by lying blatantly to me. .

          If after having been lied to on this subject at least half a dozen time by you specifically I now lose credibility by refusing to play your game of lies, then so be it.

        • Kodie

          Did god reveal to you that MNb was lying about trying to reach god a few decades ago?

          There’s no other explanation for you not to believe him, at least for the sake of discussion.

        • MNb

          Forget it. I’m satisfied with his answer. He did a good job to present himself as another religious piece of shit. His comment speaks for itself.
          Let me address one single simple point: I told him how he could get his credibility back in my eyes. He did not tell me how I can get his credibility back in his. So shrug.

        • Kodie

          My favorite part is the elaborate excuse, I can’t talk to you now since you failed to disclose this bit of information since the beginning and now I can’t trust you.

          Clue to JohnH2 – if you have the goods, you can’t be trapped in a logical argument.

        • JohnH2

          There is the past history of discussion with him as an explanation and reason not to believe him and/or not to engage in this discussion with him in particular.

        • adam

          We have that same kind of history with you as well.

          All you need to do is to DEMONSTRATE that the Magic of YOUR ‘god’ is real and not IMAGINARY and all this gets settled NOW.

        • JohnH2

          You have no history of me lying.

          Last I checked there was a state of Israel in fulfillment of prophecy.

        • adam

          Sorry, but you have NOT demonstrated that this is BECAUSE of prophecy.

          And I am sure you havent demonstrated the supernatural powers of your ‘god’ either…

        • MNb

          His god is material and hence part of nature. I already asked him then how we could measure the mass and the size of his god and his answer was “ask god if he want to come over to your lab.”
          Now let’s see if he will call me a liar again. It amuses me very much.

        • Kodie

          Was Israel created in a state of ignorance about what it says about it in the bible?

        • JohnH2

          In the Bible, probably not, I mean part of some Muslims rejection of the state of Israel is due to what is in the Bible and in the Koran on the subject. What is in the Book of Mormon and in prophecies from my church, almost certainly it was done in a state of ignorance of that.

          Even if the creation of the State of Israel was done with knowledge that the Bible mentions it, the Holocaust was not; and most Christians at the time were closer to agreeing with the Holocaust than with the LDS position on the subject.

        • adam

          So your Book and your church was unaware of this so called ‘prophesiy’?

        • JohnH2

          My church was not in a position to affect the fulfillment of the prophesy at all.

        • adam

          “My church was not in a position to affect the fulfillment of the prophesy at all.” JohnH2

          REALLY?

          The problem with LYING in a public forum, is INFORMATION is readily available.

          The Mormon Church has supported the Jewish people and Israel for all of its 184 years. In fact, Israel is the only country in the world whose creation was officially supported by the LDS Church. In its earliest days, the Church called on Jews to gather to Palestine and form a state. The first edition of the first Church newspaper announced that it “comes to bring good tidings of great joy to all people, but more especially to the House of Israel scattered abroad, for the Lord hath set His hand again the second time to restore them to the lands of their inheritance.”

          In response to an article entitled “What Do Mormons Believe?” written by a newspaper editor, an 1834 article in a Church newspaper stated: “We believe that God has set His hand to recover the remnant of His people,Israel; and that the time is near when He will bring them from the four
          winds and reinstate them upon their own lands which He gave their fathers by covenant.”

        • JohnH2

          Yes, and what effect exactly do you think Mormons in 1834 or anytime since then had on world politics or in getting anyone to pay attention to them?

        • adam

          Oh, I dont know – support, both politically and economically.

          A lot more than
          “My church was not in a position to affect the fulfillment of the prophesy at all.”

          When that is EXACTLY what your church stated AS THEIR GOAL…

        • JohnH2

          Yes less than a million people in Utah that had the US army sent to “keep them down” and took over a year to get the first senator seated totally had power and influence over British policy regarding the Jews at all.

        • adam

          YES a million people can have an affect.
          YOU think they cannot?

          It wasnt JUST British policy that created the country of Israel in the middle east.

        • Kodie

          I think if you know about something and plan to do something about it, it’s not fulfilling a prophesy any more than a school lunch menu is a prophesy.

        • Kodie

          I know, he asks you questions you don’t know the answer to.

        • MNb

          The funny thing is that it doesn’t matter for the validity of my question if you believe me or not. You could see it as a hypothetical question. Or you could take someone else who has prayed and never got an answer. Here for instance.

          http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/why-does-god-not-answer-my-prayer

          What’s even more funny is this

          “not to engage in this discussion”
          given what I wrote above:

          “there is no point anymore in pressing any further.”
          So shrug, John. I just note that it is the second time you don’t want to answer a question of mine and that that in itself is an answer, especially because you refuse to admit that you can’t answer that question. Of course you may argue that my question is irrelevant. My usual position is that I leave it to others to decide that.
          Good luck ignoring me as I won’t ignore you.
          So thanks for making my day.

        • MNb

          Thanks for confirming you will do everything to avoid answering the question: now what?

        • JohnH2

          Now you should seek to do what you know to be right and cease doing things that you know to be wrong and if God ever sees fit to give you more accept it when it comes.

          Happy now?

        • Kodie

          I have to say that is a recipe for bullshit.

        • JohnH2

          Only if life is bullshit.

        • SuperMark

          bingo!

        • Kodie

          What do you think we do?

        • adam

          What ‘god’, have you demonstrated that this is anything but IMAGINARY yet?

        • JohnH2

          Any god that exists, is good, and chooses to ever see fit to give MNb more.

        • adam

          So any ‘god’ that exists is ‘good’?

          Like the psychopathic ‘god’ of the bible who created sin over a piece of MAGIC fruit and a couple of innocent and ignorant people who knew NOTHING of good and evil or death and punishment

          Or like the psychopathic ‘god’ of the bible who killed all of creation except for a drunkard Noah and his family and whatever animals were in walking distance of his ‘ark’

          Or like the pschopathic ‘god’ of the bible who promises to TORTURE UNMERCIFULLY for ETERNITY those who have doubts about it?

          See how EASILY you JUSTIFY PURE UNADULATERATED EVIL and call it “good” just because it is a ‘god’…

        • John_H2

          No, I am not saying that any god that exists is good, but that one should only follow a god that one knows to be good, even if evil gods exist.

          I understand the story of the fall quite differently from how you are portraying it; it was a good thing that they ate of the fruit, not a bad thing, it just also has the consequence that we are mortal.

          Could you please point to where God threatens to torture people unmercifully for eternity those that don’t believe in God?

        • SuperMark

          ummm have you read the bible, jesus himself talks about hell???

        • JohnH2

          He talks about Ghenna a city dump, or a place of rejection and uncleanness.

        • SuperMark

          so what does that mean then, if you don’t believe in jesus he’s going to send you to a shit hole in the desert?

        • JohnH2

          It means that we can be separated from God.

        • SuperMark

          so what? i’m separated from him now and i’m doing just fine. is your belief just all about rewards?

        • JohnH2

          There are varying degrees of separation and varying degrees of union. You are not completely separated from God right now, just mostly.

          Our own choices determine how separated or not we are from God, if we do what we ourselves know to be right then we are drawing closer to God, if we are doing that which we ourselves know to be wrong then we are drawing further away from God. We are our own accusers as we all do that which we know to be wrong; if we repent and accept Christ, when we know of Christ, then we can have the peace that He brings when we accept Him as judge and advocate.

        • SuperMark

          but what if i want to be a good person and still be separated from god? i’m a good person and take the opportunity to spit in god’s face every chance i get.

        • JohnH2

          If you know that God exists and you wish to be separated from God than that is likely a fault of not understanding something that God has done for which you are upset/angry/ or hurting over; as with Job, God will eventually plead His case to each of us.

          If you don’t know that God exists then you are rebelling against something that you don’t know or understand.

        • SuperMark

          I don’t believe god exists but if I’m wrong I’m still not going to worship it given the chance. I’m not angry at something I don’t believe exists, I’m angry at religion and all of the harm it does to people and the world.

          Besides some shitty medical issues I have a great life, that’s not what makes me angry. If god is real he is a monster for allowing all of the suffering in the world and if somehow I discover that he is real I would never forgive him for the world he created.

          I understand the idea of god all too well. I rebel against an idea not an entity.

        • JohnH2

          I would be interested in knowing how this sentiment meshes with your searching for God for ten years.

          You would prefer non-existence to existence because suffering exists?

        • SuperMark

          because that was a long time ago and my ideas changed when i realized that there probably is no god and the bible is all made up. I used to be a devout christian for 10 years.

          yes i would prefer non-existence to spending eternity with your god. not because suffering exists but because your god can end it and chooses not to so he’s a monster.

        • JohnH2

          We don’t lobotomize our children to prevent them from ever experiencing suffering, and we explicitly do place them in situations where we know it is highly likely that they will suffer in one way or another, such as high school.

        • SuperMark

          don’t compare discomfort, inconveniences and teasing to true human suffering. tell that to the mother that loses her whole family in a car wreck “god’s just trying to make you stronger, it all happens for a reason”

        • JohnH2

          I would probably focus more on the hope of the resurrection and the eternal nature of families more than anything else in that situation.

        • SuperMark

          yup the good ole “don’t worry, everything will be better when your dead”

        • JohnH2

          Exactly.

        • SuperMark

          well in my opinion that’s a shitty way to live your life.

        • JohnH2

          A hope of the resurrection isn’t a way to live life, but a way to understand life.

        • adam

          HOPE does nothing to understand life.

          And certainly Death Cults are not there to undertstand life but AFTER DEATH.

        • SuperMark

          so you don’t think believing in an afterlife effects peoples actual lives?

        • JohnH2

          Believing in an afterlife doesn’t change what is right and wrong to do, but it can change what one sees as the result of ones choices.

        • SuperMark

          of course not, that wasn’t my point at all. my point is that believing in an after life can warp peoples actions in their life sometimes in very negative ways.

        • JohnH2

          A great number of good things can warp peoples actions in very negative ways; balance is required for anything.

        • busterggi

          So kill yourself – its the quickest way to heaven (or owning your own planet) according to your religion. And don’t say suicide is against god’s law because god decides whether or not you succeed in killing yourself so if you do its with his permission.

        • JohnH2

          God permits everything, that doesn’t remove from anyone their own responsibility for their own actions.

        • smrnda

          Just wondering, I understand that for many, if not most people, eternal families will probably sound like a good thing, but what about people whose parents abused them? Or whose families were made up of mean, nasty people? What about people who parted ways for other reasons? How does it work for them?

        • JohnH2

          They work it out between them and God

        • Kodie

          So, kind of like Judge Judy.

        • busterggi

          I’d bet John is exactly the kind of person who would dole out that santimonious insensitive crap.

        • Kodie

          It’s not a matter of preference, dude. There’s no evidence. Every religion has testimonials so that is not a point in any religion’s favor in particular.

          However, you and other theists persist in describing a horrific character, using praise and admiration, you describe someone who is abusive and petulant. If this character turns out to be real, you better believe people will still reject whichever offer ….. you guys can’t even decide. That’s part of the problem, you know you’re right and you know Karl’s wrong and Al’s wrong, and you give absolutely no distinction for your beliefs. Absolutely none. Y’all can disagree on the fine points or the broad points or whatever, but you give no evidence. So Mormonism is just your opinion.

        • JohnH2

          Again with the no evidence, I give evidence all the time, just not evidence that you find convincing due to your biases and priors.

        • SuperMark

          you only evidence comes from personal revelation and your holy books. that’s not evidence…

        • JohnH2

          Not at all true, I also often provide statistics and world events; but even if it were the mere existence of a holy book is in a sense evidence in favor of a religion, not very strong evidence at all, but still evidence.

        • SuperMark

          maybe so but you only use the “evidence” that supports your claims and ignore everything else. you start with a claim and build an argument around it. that’s not how things work in the modern world, that is the way of thinking that kept us in the dark ages for 400 years.

          that’s why i reject your “evidence”, you would think that if god actually gave a shit it would give us some compelling evidence.

        • adam

          No it is NOT from our biases and priors, but of YOUR extremely POOR and UNCONVINCING ‘evidence’.

        • JohnH2

          Um, so saying it is Poor and Unconvincing is precisely the same as you are not convinced due to your priors (and/or your biases)

        • adam

          I asked for YOUR VERY BEST evidence, something that would convince someone from a different religion and you admitted that what you presented wouldnt do that.

          So it IS Poor and UNCONVINCING according to YOU.

        • JohnH2

          That wasn’t at all what I admitted.

        • Kodie

          No, the conclusions you make from whatever passes for evidence in your belief system do not logically follow. You are swayed by the fact a nation was built by people with an agenda to “fulfill prophesy”. I do not see planning to do something it said would be done in the bible as fulfilling a prophesy. Making something happen doesn’t make the man in the bible a psychic.

        • Kodie

          It’s not convincing because it’s not evidence. It doesn’t qualify for the term.

        • JohnH2

          Evidence is defined as “the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.” which it certainly seems to qualify for.

        • Kodie

          You believe despite evidence. You ignore evidence. You cling to wishful thinking and any shred of anything you can conform to resemble that story for you. It doesn’t work for me. I guess that’s why you keep pushing prayer.

        • Greg G.

          I wouldn’t particularly wish to be forced to spend eternity with a being that has demonstrated either a chosen preference for the existence of suffering or the inability to prevent it.

        • JohnH2

          Is there nothing that you would ever be willing to suffer for, or to have the unpreventable possibility of suffering due to it?

        • Greg G.

          Today, I had a 90 minute massage in Saigon. They charge 250,000 dong, about $12.50 US. Many of the procedures produced pain and pleasure at the same time and afterward the pain went away leaving an endorphin buzz. But if the masseuse was omnipotent, the pleasure could have been enhanced without discomfort. I’d have paid $14 for that. But I knew going in what was in store. I don’t know what heaven is going to be like but body is experiencing more pains the older I get. The time between orgasm is lengthening. There is no sign that there is a being that can stop the increasing pains. Is this suffering going to be asymptotic or exponential in the afterlife?

        • JohnH2

          Obviously when you are dead and without a body the pains of the body will cease.

        • Greg G.

          Yew, but what form would I have? Perhaps we would be vulnerable to something more horrible than pain that we can’t conceive. There’s no end to what we can imagine in a place we can only imagine.

        • JohnH2

          Mostly a full remembrance of everything we have ever done, right or wrong.

        • Greg G.

          Obviously when you are dead and without a brain the memories encoded in the brain will cease.

        • MNb

          Are you familiar with Vietnamese torture methods? Locking you up in an isolation cell and make a drop of water fall on your head every ten seconds? I don’t know about you, but in those circumstances I would prefer non-existence to existence because of suffering indeed.

        • Kodie

          Again with the Job!

        • JohnH2

          I happen to really like Job.

        • SuperMark

          yeah god tormenting a believer just to make a point. you do realize that it’s all an allegory right? the name Job is like lot it means chance/gamble.

        • JohnH2

          I do realize that it is an allegory.

        • Kodie

          My favorite is you know how unconvincing it is, and you know all the arguments criticizing it as a portrait of your god, but you still favor it for an argument.

        • adam

          It is not rebelling IF I believe that YOUR ‘god’ is IMAGINARY.

          I understand that it is IMAGINARY.

        • MNb

          “God will eventually plead His case to each of us.”
          Good. Until that blissfull moment I’ll call myself an atheist.

        • adam

          So HOW does one COMPLETELY separate oneself from YOUR ‘god’?

        • JohnH2

          Standing in the presence of God and choosing to reject God.

        • SuperMark

          I hope you’re right because i would love to spit in gods face for real and in person, i can’t wait.

        • adam

          So we are not separated BECAUSE we dont reject your ‘god’ we just dont BELIEVE in your ‘god’….

          How can one REJECT that which one believes is IMAGINARY….

          So then according to YOU, there is NO way to get completely separated from YOUR ‘god’ unless one BELIEVES in your ‘god’ first and THEN rejects it.

        • JohnH2

          Rejecting belief is not sufficient; one literally has to be standing the in presence of God and reject Him then.

        • adam

          That is ALL we are asking for – the presence of YOUR ‘god’.

          And you seem to lie and dance around presenting THAT evidence that it is not IMAGINARY..

        • JohnH2

          You will eventually receive what you are asking for and stand in the presence of God to be judged according to your works with a bright remembrance of everything that you have done.

          I have presented evidence; for more I suggest you consider the Book of Mormon and the testimony of the witnesses to it.

        • SuperMark

          I’ve read your holy book and it’s ridiculous. Clearly written to sound like KJV English and poorly at that, using thee’s and thou’s all in the wrong place. Dubious history, jesus came to america, really… most of it written under the most dubious circumstances by a convicted con-man. please, it’s amazing anyone buys this shit.

          I asked god to show himself to me for over a decade and all i ever got was silence.

        • busterggi

          Mark Twain’s review of it is worth reading though.

        • adam

          Good and if ‘GOD’ actually ‘good’ and unlike the emotionally immature 5 year old of the bible, I will have nothing to fear.

          If he is an evil monster like the bible portrays it to be, then yes, he will be monsterous to me for doubting his monsterous behavior and temperment.

          YOUR evidence didnt even meet YOUR standard, why should it meet anyone elses?

        • Kodie

          Every religion has testimonials.

        • Kodie

          Is that why your religion wastes all its time converting dead people? You can’t stand that we aren’t fooled by your bullshit that you have to delude yourself into forcing it on dead people.

        • JohnH2

          The ordinances are believed to be necessary for everyone; whether anyone accepts or rejects them is completely up to them.

        • MNb

          But I don’t know of christ. I know of Jesus. I know that a lot of people worship christ. I also know that a lot of people don’t.

          “then we can have the peace that He brings”

          I’m already fine with the peace I have found myself.

        • busterggi

          But as god is supposed to be omnipresent then we can’t be separated from god.

        • JohnH2

          I am a Mormon not a classical theist; Ask a Catholic if you want to know how they deal with that problem.

        • adam

          So Mormons dont believe in a omni-max ‘god’?

        • JohnH2

          Not in the classical sense no.

        • adam

          So in what sense yes?

        • JohnH2

          God has power to do all that can be done, knows everything that can be known, and is able be in any particular place and influence every place.

        • adam

          So YOUR ‘god’ is not omnipotent, ok many gods are not.

          BUT, JohnH2 YOU have demonstrated NO SUCH BEING.
          It would seem to be IMAGINARY like ALL THE REST.

        • Greg G.

          I agree with John that several words are translated as Hell and that if you look how each is used, “Hades” is a different concept than “sheol” or “gehenna”. I don’t agree with his interpretation. Hades seems to be the Greek concept of the afterlife. Sheol is the old Hebrew concept of no afterlife. Tartarus, in an epistle (1 Peter?), is a part of Hades where people are punished for their deeds, usually creatively, like forever pushing a rock uphill all day and it rolls down at night or having your liver pecked out all day and it grows back at night.

          But Jesus does promise wailing and gnashing of teeth. If you let your teeth rot out, you’ve got that half licked.

        • adam

          Perhaps our understanding is not so different.

          I thought we were mortal because we didnt eat the other Magic fruit?

          I believe Jesus calls it “Hell”

        • JohnH2

          We are mortal because we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil and have thus left our prior state in the presence of God.

          What is translated as Hell is a variety of different terms which don’t particularly mean the common conception of Hell at all.

        • adam

          REALLY?
          This sounds like another LIE.

          22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Genesis

          The one fruit only gave us KNOWLEDGE, which was OBVIOUSLY was a threat to the power of ‘god’. It was a different fruit for eternal life, and YOUR ‘god’ didnt like the competition.

          Hell?

          Matthew 5:22
          – But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever
          shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
          Revelation 21:8 – But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall
          have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

          I suppose you can clear up the confusion with the same type of NON-Evidence you presented as proof of YOUR ‘god’?

        • JohnH2

          The tree gave us knowledge which brings us closer to becoming like God, but also means that we are now responsible for the wrong choices that we make; by requiring the fruit of the tree of life to come by walking along the narrow path through the fire it means that have the ability to repent and overcome what we have done wrong.

          I suppose you think that because you have an english translation that translates that as hell you then understand the concept that is being discussed?

        • adam

          But JohnH2 YOU SAID:
          “We are mortal because we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil and have thus left our prior state in the presence of God.”

          But the bible says it is because we didnt eat MORE MAGIC fruit.

          I believe hell, like ‘god’ is an IMAGINARY creation of man primarily for political power.

          IF you want to DISAGREE with bible, I am all for it, I find it very disagreeable, but you ad hominem adds nothing to the conversation.

          IF you could DEMONSTRATE hell for us, they would be another thing.

          Be so far you VERY BEST EVIDENCES are really pretty poor attempts that FAIL miserably.

        • JohnH2

          Right so adam was immortal in the garden, became mortal when he ate the fruit of knowledge, and could not become immortal again because he was not allowed to then eat the fruit of the tree of life.

          Also, it isn’t an ad hominem; but a serious point that what is translated as Hell doesn’t mean what you think it means.

        • adam

          Doesnt say they were ever immortal.

          But JohnH2 YOU SAID:
          “We are mortal because we ate the fruit of
          knowledge of good and evil and have thus left our prior state in the
          presence of God.”

          It is CLEAR that to be immortal they needed a different MAGIC fruit OTHER than the fruit of KNOWLEDGE, which seem to cause ‘god’ a lot of concern that he would have more competition is the god arena.

        • JohnH2

          When God gave the command to not eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil the affixed consequence of that was that they would “surely die”; implying that if they did not eat of it than they would not die.

        • adam

          That doesnt even seem to be implied.
          The threat is IMMEDIATE death,

          But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of
          it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

          But at the time they had NO KNOWLEDGE of what was good and evil
          So they (and all their descendants) were punished for their INNOCENCE and IGNORANCE, an INJUSTICE..

          Your version really makes the whole fruit of eternal life redundant or MAYBE it just shows that the FRUIT was more powerful to bring ETERNAL LIFE than YOUR god had to take it away.

          Not very omnipotent or omniscience either way..

        • JohnH2
        • adam

          I am attempting to argue about apparently FALSE statements you are making.

          If YOU cant make your position clear on this form in a precise form without lying why would I want to read your propaganda?

        • JohnH2

          I am not lying, you just keep bringing in ideas that have nothing to do with my beliefs.

        • adam

          Well what you say isnt supported by the bible.

          AGAIN:
          JohnH2 YOU SAID:
          “We are mortal because we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil and have thus left our prior state in the presence of God.”

          It is CLEAR in Genesis that YOUR ‘god’ ‘feared’ Adam putting his hand out to take of the tree of eternal life.

          And that the THREAT from your ‘god’ was that the MAGIC fruit would kill him in that day.

          So you are either LYING or being DECEPTIVE..

        • JohnH2

          There is a third option, which is you are being a troll who is trying to to tell me what Genesis means without actually understanding anything about the subject.

        • adam

          But I am not being a troll, I am honestly SEEKING the Truth, and I gave the quotes.
          Are you saying the bible doesnt say what it means or mean what it says?

        • JohnH2

          God did not fear Adam, He said that Adam had become like Him (them), that is different from being scared of Adam, and the particular state in which Adam was like Him was that Adam and Eve now knew good from evil. You should really look up what I linked to earlier, or at the least Moses in the Pearl of Great Price and 2 Nephi 2 if you actually want to have this conversation, otherwise go bug Karl or Al on this subject.

        • adam

          AGAIN you dishonestly duck the conversation:

          AGAIN:
          JohnH2 YOU SAID:
          “We are mortal because we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil and have thus left our prior state in the presence of God.”

          That doesnt even seem to be implied.
          The threat is IMMEDIATE death,

          But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of
          it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

          But at the time they had NO KNOWLEDGE of what was good and evil
          So they (and all their descendants) were punished for their INNOCENCE and IGNORANCE, an INJUSTICE..

          Your
          version really makes the whole fruit of eternal life redundant or MAYBE it just shows that the FRUIT was more powerful to bring ETERNAL LIFE than YOUR god had to take it away.

          Not very omnipotent or omniscience either way..

        • JohnH2

          2 Nephi 2.

        • adam

          Doesnt appear to support your claim:
          “We are mortal because we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil
          and have thus left our prior state in the presence of God.”

        • JohnH2

          vs 22-25?

        • adam

          While it appears to claim
          ‘and they must have remained forever, and had no end.’

          Must or must not not…

          I see no claim that the fruit gave them mortality.

          In lieu of what the bible Genesis says, that the fruit would kill them in that day and that there was a tree of life they werent allowed to eat from lest they become too much like ‘god’.

        • JohnH2

          What? how are you not seeing that as a claim of them being immortal and the eating of the fruit causing mortality?

          We are supposed to eat of the fruit of the tree of life, but only when we are reading for it. See Revelations for instance.

        • adam

          By definition

          im·mor·tal
          adjective: immortal
          1.
          living forever; never dying or decaying.

          So IF they were immortal the fruit could not have killed them.

          See the Dictionary for instance.

        • JohnH2

          Yes, they could have lived forever in the garden never dying. If you would rather create a new term like amortal to describe their state in the garden go ahead, but I don’t see why immortal doesn’t work.

        • Pofarmer

          But, you have no evidence there was ever a garden, no evidence humans were ever immortal, and a wealth of scientific knowledge that would say otherwise, and all you can, do, is, argue about it over scripture passages? that doesn’t strike me as particularly reasoned.

        • JohnH2

          Whether the story relates real events, or what events they are actually relating seems to me to be a different argument than the one we are having.

        • Pofarmer

          What argument are we having?

        • JohnH2

          At the moment whether or not Adam and Eve would have in the story in Genesis died had they not eaten the fruit and what to call that state of being.

        • Pofarmer

          So, then your argument is that they went from a state of immortal being to a state of mortal being?

        • JohnH2

          They went from a state where they would have never died unless they did what they did to one where they would die. Which to me matches that they went from an immortal to a mortal state.

        • Pofarmer

          Which you realize, is historically unverifiable and contradictory to science.

        • JohnH2

          Arguing over the strength of Superman is something that people do, and Superman comics don’t claim to communicate any special truths about life or God.

        • Kodie

          The common hook seems to be immortality.

        • MNb

          Yeah, it looks like a lot of people have problems with the fact that at some time in the future they won’t be there anymore.

        • adam

          BECAUSE immortal MEANS ‘never dying’ ‘living forever’

          Propagandists will CLAIM that words dont mean what they mean to deceive.

          That intent seems CLEAR here.

        • Pofarmer

          Revelations is an ancient astrology.

        • adam

          they would ‘surely die’
          “IN THAT DAY”

          Implying NO immortality.

        • busterggi

          Don’t disturb JohnH2 when he’s tap-dancing.

        • adam

          Tap-dancing is the sign of deception…

        • Pofarmer

          Geez John. is there any evidence whatsoever for your first statement?

        • JohnH2

          What that we are mortal? I would think that should be pretty self evident, otherwise it is in scripture; so not that you would accept.

        • Pofarmer

          So, there is no evidence except scripture that humans were once immortal. Got it.

        • JohnH2

          Unless you count Socrates argument in the Apology by Plato.

        • Pofarmer

          Which is?

        • JohnH2

          Sorry I was wrong on the source it is in Phaedo rather than the Apology; it is part of the last day of Socrates which is why I had it wrong.

          Wikipedia has a good summery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaedo

        • Pofarmer

          Thx.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, that can’t gonna, cut, it.

        • JohnH2

          The only one of his four arguments that I find particularly interesting is the theory of recollection and even that isn’t really proven; it is however evidence outside of scripture, one that some people, including some really brilliant people, have found convincing.

        • Pofarmer

          John, may I ask a question? We’re you born Mormon, or did you convert?

        • JohnH2

          Born.

        • Pofarmer

          Thx.

        • Kodie

          And you know this in your brain because god told you personally?

        • busterggi

          “Any god that exists, is good”

          vs

          “No, I am not saying that any god that exists is good,”

          which is the real you?

        • JohnH2

          So there is thing in english call punctuation that changes what things mean: A Panda eats, shoots and leaves vs. A Panda eats shoots and leaves are two very different things. A comma is a separation making the first sentence about the panda to be that the panda eats, then the panda shoots something, and then the panda leaves. In the case of my sentence the “any god that exists, is good, and chooses to see fit…” means: any god that exists and is is good and chooses to see fit… and not “any God that exists is good”, because while I really suck at grammar (literally, I have a disability in the subject) I do know that having or not having a comma is important to get across the right meaning.

        • busterggi

          “Any do that exists is good” – classic might makes right arguement.

        • JohnH2

          comma- it is a thing, it is important, get familiar with it.

        • adam

          Thanks for clearing that up, sorry we all missed it.

          But at the same time:
          Any god that exists, is not good, could choose to ever see fit to give MNb more.

          So how does MNb know based on the supernatural input from a REAL GOD, that it is good or NOT?

        • JohnH2

          Clearly you already know the answer to that, considering your incessant fascination with the first part of the exact verse which says that man knows good from evil, just like God.

        • adam

          But you see I dont believe that fairy tale…

          It is obvious that little children are still innocent and dont know good from evil, that is ONE method by which the story FAILS.

        • JohnH2

          Moroni 8

        • adam

          So Moroni contradicts what Genesis says?

          Sorry, really not all that interested in reading the book of Mormon again..

        • JohnH2

          No, Moroni contradicts the idea that children aren’t innocent; which isn’t found in Genesis.

        • adam

          OHHHH…….I see….

          Thank you..

        • MNb

          Almost. Is that the answer to my question what I should have done some 35, 40 years ago, when I prayed and didn’t get an answer? All three answers, yes, no and I don’t know will restore your credibility in my eyes. I’m not like you.
          Actually I also prayed a few times after I met those teens from Youth for Christ. But I assume that won’t count as honestly praying, like you demanded above. I already had turned away from christianity and became an agnost.
          Also I had learned the old Dutch catholic version of the Paternoster by heart, but as I only did so because I thought it cool I suppose that doesn’t count either. That was a few years before (I think I was 11) when I sung in a catholic church choir. That’s something I have fond memories of.
          The point is of course, believe it or not, that there was a time that I was young, naive and impressionable. And I was looking. For instance I also had a period of three months that I embraced marxism. I must have been 14.
          Then again you already stigmatized me as a liar, so I guess you won’t believe all that either.

        • JohnH2

          Yes, that is the answer.

          I will believe what you say here.

          Mormons generally don’t say memorized prayers; though I do know the Hail Mary and Our Father in english and portuguese, but if I recite the I don’t consider that as praying. God looks on the intent more than the words so I don’t doubt that He responds to those that do pray such memorized prayers (well, less certain about Hail Mary).

          It is great that at one time you were young and impressionable, most people are at one point in time in their lives. If God responded now though, what would you do? And what response would you accept as being ‘real’?

        • MNb

          Good questions. Nice that you’re back at normal again.
          1. Frankly I would not know. Possibly become a pastafarian or a liberal muslim. Though the Quran has some very nasty parts as well. I also like the ancient Greek gods.
          2. Natural disasters. If potential victims would be warned by a collective nightmare say a week before they happen on a statistically significant base I would be convinced.

        • adam

          As atheists that is EXACTLY what we do.

          We seek to do what we know is right….
          And honestly, the bible god cannot be right in its actions as an emotionally immature being acting like a spoiled 5 year old.

        • SuperMark

          so are you saying that because he isn’t a christian that he didn’t sincerely search for god?

        • JohnH2

          No, I am saying because he has done things like saying that a made up god called Kush answered his prayers in the past and that I will itch eternally because of it, and etc. Not being christian has nothing to do with it.

        • adam

          And that is unlike claims of hell or running your own planet, just HOW?

          How are his IMAGINARY beings any different from YOURS?

        • JohnH2

          When have I ever made either of those claims?

        • adam

          So you have NEVER made those kinds of claims?

          How are his IMAGINARY beings any different from YOURS?

        • John_H2

          I make claims based on scripture that I know to be true, just not those particular claims.

          I don’t believe in any imaginary beings, just real ones.

        • adam

          So I take that to be a “Yes” and that you can demonstrate that they are true.

          And you can demonstrate that your deity is real and not IMAGINARY?

          Otherwise, it looks like you are lying like you claim MNb is.

        • JohnH2

          I can provide evidence that they are true (and God is real), whether you accept the evidence or find it a valid demonstration is dependent on your biases and priors.

        • adam

          So AGAIN…
          So I can take that to be a “Yes” that you have made similar CLAIMS.

          Well if it is not extraordinary evidence to support extraordinary claims then it is not going to be convincing to someone who has seem similar claims from every religion every claimed.

          Why dont you give us YOUR VERY BEST EVIDENCE.
          Something strong enough that if it came from another religion it would convince YOU.

        • JohnH2

          I already gave you that the Lord liveth that is gathering Israel, that is enough to convince some Muslims that they need to destroy the state of Israel.

        • adam

          Well that isnt convincing them that the prophecy is REAL.
          Otherwise they would CONVERT….

          And THAT is not the reason Muslims want to destroy, Israel, the ACTIONs of Israelis against Muslims is why they want it destroyed.

          Sorry, but if that is YOUR VERY BEST evidence, it is SORELY LACKING in credibility….

          So it seem as though you LIED when you said you had EVIDENCE….

        • JohnH2

          Just because you don’t find the evidence to credible to you doesn’t mean that it isn’t evidence; so I have not lied.

          Yes, of course, some want to destroy Israel for the actions of the Israelis; others interpret the Koran as saying that Israel needs to be destroyed, and others interpret it as saying that seeking that will lead to Armageddon (which some are explicitly trying to have happen (see the IS)). Whether the devil is trying to deceive or God is bringing about the end of the world there really isn’t that much of a reason for a Muslim to convert, especially not to Judaism, even knowing that prophecy and convents made to Israel are being fulfilled.

        • adam

          I said:

          “Why dont you give us YOUR VERY BEST EVIDENCE.
          Something strong enough that if it came from another religion it would convince YOU.”

          And you present evidence that YOU admit does NOT even convince Muslims.

          So that is a LIE.

        • JohnH2

          Please stop twisting my words, thanks.

        • adam

          How have I twisted your words?

          Did you present your VERY BEST EVIDENCE or not?

          Is it enough to convince someone from a different religion that it is true or NOT?

          No need to go on about Armaggedon, that is the end game for Abrahamic religions anyway. (One of the major problems I have for the followers of Abraham’s ‘god’ and its death cults)

          So there is no need to be DECEPTIVE.

        • Kodie

          It’s not twisting them, what do you think you sound exactly like to a person who doesn’t believe the same thing as you do? What would you think if I told you that I believed Adam has been receiving messages from god how to interpret what you’ve said?

        • JohnH2

          I most likely sound like I am saying foolish things.

          Given that I am under the impression that you don’t believe in god then I would think that you were making that up.

        • Kodie

          That’s how you sound to me too.

        • Kodie

          Like I said, this is a comic book. You believe in a fantasy epic comic book.

        • busterggi

          Nah, his religion ain’t squat next to Kirby’s work.

        • adam

          Your ‘evidence’ should be sufficient to CONVERT Muslims

          I said “Why dont you give us YOUR VERY BEST EVIDENCE.
          Something strong enough that if it came from another religion it would convince YOU.”

          If you were a Muslim and this convinced YOU that the Mormon ‘god’ was TRUE, you wouldnt want to DESTROY what you BELIEVE ‘god’ prophesied YOU WOULD CONVERT TO MORMANISM…

          Which you readily admit is the POLAR OPPOSITE of what YOU CLAIM…

          So at best you are being deceptive, but it really makes you look like a LIAR….

        • JohnH2

          If I were talking with a Muslim than it would be part of what I brought up, along with other subjects to convince them to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it asking God if it is true. As outright convincing someone is not the desired end result.

        • smrnda

          Could part of this be that the USSR exported Russian antisemitism as the US and USSR were carving out spheres of influence in the middle east?

        • JohnH2

          That is possible, the US and Russia both, and the British before, funded and supported groups of religious extremists who were deemed useful to them in the middle east. Russia did support the Arab League against Israel and funded propaganda efforts in regard to that.

          The evidence more points to the US being the ones responsible for the IS in terms of our propping up the house of Saud and supporting Qatar, both of which have spread the ideology which the IS is using. Also the US generally backed the Sunnis while Russia has generally backed the Shiites, though the reverse would make a whole lot more sense for each; but international politics doesn’t seem to turn on what would make the most ideological sense.

        • Kodie

          Yeah you do.

        • SuperMark

          ummm that’s called sarcasm… you can call it a lie if you want but you’re being disingenuous. just because you’re butthurt doesn’t mean you should call someone a liar.

          and don’t throw around the sincerity card like you think it holds any weight. I genuinely searched for god for over 10 years and i never felt any guidance or any comfort from it. so either god hates me or it doesn’t exist, either way I don’t want anything to do with it.

          Or He/Him i forgot you think god has a dick.

        • Kodie

          A made-up god? NOOOOOO!!!!

        • MNb

          1. That was not me. I have no idea what or who Kush is.
          2. I remember the comment and it was a joke. I didn’t think it a particular good one.
          3. You’re making yourself look like a fool.

        • JohnH2

          1. I haven’t gone back far enough in the comments to determine for sure whether Kush was or was not you. However you have indeed pulled such stunts before:
          2. 2 Months Ago: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/07/god-is-nonexistent-2/#comment-1493400429
          10 Months Ago: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/11/mormonism-beats-christianity-or-does-it-2-of-2/#comment-1126581848

          3. If you say so.

        • MNb

          And you are not smart enough to realize those might be hypothetical cases? I apologize for overestimating your intelligence. It won’t happen again.
          Now let’s assume that I actually heard those voices. In case you misunderstand again, this is hypothetical.
          H. Y. P. O. T. H. E. T. I. C. A. L.
          Are you capable of understanding what the word means? Or shall I describe it as well? Is that necessary for you?

          The hypothetical question is still related to reality, because there are actually people who make such claims. How do you separate correct claims from incorrect ones?

          This time I only gave a real example because for some reason you think the difference between real examples and hypothetical ones crucial. It isn’t.
          Or perhaps it’s just lack of imagination. Or, that’s what I conclude until proven wrong, you get evasive when confronted with questions you don’t like. You may tell us.

        • JohnH2

          In no case have you stated that it was hypothetical but treated the subject as real, in the sense of forcing me to take it seriously, until I have now called you out on it and now you pretend that it was all hypothetical. Which if you remember we actually already went over correct vs incorrect claims via the results.

        • dorcheat

          John, if you are accusing of MNb of lying, then you better darn well back up what you say. By the way, I have flagged your post for review.

        • JohnH2

          ” then you better darn well back up what you say”

          This has already been covered.

          “I have flagged your post for review.”

          Sounds fun.

        • MNb

          “This has already been covered.”
          Actually not – it’s the first time he accuses me of lying. Not that I mind. I’ve been called worse on internet.
          Leave it as it is. The accusation tells more about him than about me. You also can be sure I am going to use it against him. A defense is just a waste of time. JohnH2 is intelligent, but bigot enough to never ever withdraw his words.
          I’d rather have you read my comments for a while and judge yourself.

        • Greg G.

          You have to pretend to believe in God, that Jesus died for your sins, and that it all makes sense until you forget you are pretending.

        • MNb

          When I did pray as a teen I did not need to pretend. While I had some questions at moments I believed indeed, which was exactly why I tried praying. I was to young to have any coherent thought about sin and atonement and stuff.

        • hector_jones

          Maybe you sent your letter to the wrong address or called the wrong phone number. Perhaps John or Al or Karl can set you up with the right number or address if you ask nicely. I’m sure they want to do everything possible to put you in touch with this god person.

        • Dys

          More of a curiosity than anything else, but how exactly does one go about praying sincerely to a deity they don’t believe exists?

        • JohnH2

          Asking about which church to go to in that case might be a bit harder to do than asking whether or not their actually is a deity that hears and answers prayers;

        • busterggi

          Cross your fingers while your hands are folded to pray.

        • Kodie

          So choose whichever church is the most convenient/agrees with you.

        • adam

          Or just make up one of your own.
          Christianity is a Revealed Religion so it is WHATEVER get ‘revealed’ to you..

        • Kodie

          Great idea!

        • Pofarmer

          Btdt, didn’t stick.

        • hector_jones

          Pray to who? How does that work?

        • Kodie

          Pray to yourself. The prayer goes like this: should I put on pants and go out to buy peanut m&ms, or should I stay home and eat a can of beans? That makes sense, right?

        • hector_jones

          Can I do both?

        • Kodie

          I don’t see why not.

        • Dys

          This is the prayer you want:

          “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

        • powellpower

          NO YOU FOOL! YOU HAVE DAMNED US ALL!

        • Dys

          I’m gonna sing the doom song now!

          Doom doom doom doom doom, doom doom do DOOM, DOOOM doom do-doom, DOOM do-doom doom doooom,
          doom doom dooom, do-do-DOOOM!

        • busterggi

          No, he didn’t say Hastur.

        • powellpower

          Well… Now you’ve done it…..

        • MNb

          I just asked, but got no answer. Now what?

        • Paul Dickens

          And exactly what has your particular flavor of deity revealed to you concerning his/her/its/their will?

        • JohnH2

          It is a constant process of learning, and it is supposed to be like that according to what I have learned of the will of God.

          Questions of which deity or which church, well in someways really important, also turn out to not be God’s primary concern; that we learn to do what we know to be right, correct what we know we have done wrong as best we can, and try to learn from our experiences is more important.

          Whatever any church teaches about God is, of necessity, going to be incomplete and give an illusion of understanding God, an actual knowledge of God is something that grows over time by experience.

          So having a church that has a more correct knowledge of God and that has particular authorization from God is also important, but allowing us to make our own choices and learn from our own experiences is much more important. Those are some things that have been revealed to me more recently.

        • powellpower

          So I guess you have prayed and I’m assuming that KarlUdy has prayed too. May I know what is your denomination and Karl’s?

          I will go out on a limb and say it is different. Certainly there may not be a huge difference between say Bible Presbyterian and Baptist, but there are indeed slight differences in belief. So why would you 2 believe in different things? I thought God is perfect and not the author of confusion? Unless you guys say God doesn’t sweat the small stuff – so how you define small? What is significant and what is not?

          Best part – John I’m sure you think your church has the truth, the corollary would mean that KarlUdy does not have the whole truth. I’m sure Karl would disagree on that statement.

          On the other hand, if you admit you do not possess the whole truth despite having God, Holy Spirit and the bible, then why are you so certain about the other “truths” that you hold?

        • Greg G.

          I think both are Mormon.

        • JohnH2

          Karl actually doesn’t say that he has prayed on the subject, nor does he say to pray on the subject, neither does Al, rather both of them make appeals to other authorities.

          Karl appears to be some sort of mainstream Christian, probably Protestant. I am a Mormon, which Karl doesn’t appear to believe is Christian.

          God gives everyone that portion of His word that He sees fit and that they are willing to receive; either God has not see fit to give Karl the knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true as well as the Bible or Karl hasn’t asked/not willing to receive it as true. It does leads to some pretty big differences as Mormons reject the Nicene Creed and everything after it as being inventions of men, rejecting even the philosophical premises that led to the Nicene Creed.

          Since God gives everyone that portion of His word that He sees fit in wisdom to give, then my church having additional truth doesn’t mean that it has everything yet. Conversely, since Christ is the truth and Karl believes in Christ then Karl does have the whole truth, just not all truth. .

          Knowing that neither Newtonian mechanics nor Einstein theory of relativity explains all of physics does not mean that that we should therefore reject that they are useful theories that explain pieces of reality, that they are truth in a sense. Why do you think religion has to be different?

        • Kodie

          God gives everyone that portion of His word that He sees fit and that
          they are willing to receive; either God has not see fit to give Karl the
          knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true as well as the Bible or Karl
          hasn’t asked/not willing to receive it as true.

          No chance Karl’s right and you’re wrong, though?

        • adam

          Yep, Reveal ReligionTM, whatever YOU want christianity to be.

        • JohnH2

          I don’t know what God has given Karl, I only know what God has given me.

        • Kodie

          Someone has been deceived.

        • busterggi

          Ah, you belong to the Church of Space Jesus founded by a con-man in the early 19th century. And how did you choose your beliefs?

        • JohnH2

          Praying and asking God; also con-man is a mischaracterization, not that the truth is much different to you, but it is to me.

        • powellpower

          So you are saying Karl is wrong? But I thought he is being sincere. And obviously he thinks you are wrong too.

          Tell you what, why don’t you convince Karl he is wrong and then we’ll have this conversation again. Right now there are just too many gods for me to decide. Settle it between you 2, and then come back again eh?

        • Paul Dickens

          So, your particular flavor of deity has revealed to you that you need to go to the correct church? Exactly which church is the correct one? And why is it the correct church?

        • smrnda

          How about this – I knew a guy who once proposed an experiment which was, regrettably, not finished but I liked the idea.

          He wanted to make an exhaustive list of gods and goddesses, find out how to worship them, do so, and then keep track of how his life was going. If things were going well, then they were probably the right ones to serve.

        • MNb

          One life would not be long enough, I’m afraid.

        • JohnH2

          I like the method of seeing if the religion has some action or series of actions which should produce some result to determine whether it is true.

          There would have to be some restrictions placed on either method though as to what one is morally willing to do: even if most of the Aztec gods were to be real it still wouldn’t be worth worshiping or following them.

        • MNb

          Hats off, John, for that last sentence. It’s exactly how I feel about a lot of, if not most versions of the abrahamistic god (call those versions images, if you like). I have a serious problem with Love is God and with the atonement doctrine.

        • JohnH2

          The idea of a God sacrificing Himself to save the world is actually a quite common one; what makes the atonement different?

          Besides some gnostic ideas of God, there is Calvinism, Islam (often but not always), and somewhat the Jehovah’s Witness ideas on God (which I believe already includes Westboro Baptist, if not then them too) where I think the conception of God is irredeemable and the correct action would be to rebel against such a deity if it existed.

        • MNb

          “what makes the atonement different?”
          That’s not the problem I have with it. But I’m sorry, at the moment I don’t feel like discussing it. Another time.

        • adam

          The idea of a ‘god’ sacrificing itself to itself in order to forgive something that ‘god’ is responsible for in the first place, is childish at best.

        • smrnda

          The project was abandoned mostly owing to the fact that there were too many gods. The other problem was that the sequence of gods might be relevant. If you happen to worship one god today, and that god’s rival tomorrow, results might be different than if you moved between more neutral gods (less likely to be fighting for market share.) I mean, both Zeus and Thor want the thunderbolt.

        • Jim Hoerst

          This is just Christian talk for “we just make it up as we go along.”

        • JohnH2

          2 Nephi 28:30

        • Kodie

          The will of god is that everyone join the church their neighbor goes to, or a different one with younger congregation, or the one with a choir but no stained glass windows, or the one with the stained glass windows but a shitty parking lot you can’t make a left out of but everyone tries because they don’t want to go around the block.

        • busterggi

          I used to belong to the Church Where You Can See Hot Chicks During Services but I got too old for it.

    • smrnda

      So your take is that some of these are similar enough not to be considered diverse? That still leaves an awful lot of dissimilar religions.

      • KarlUdy

        Most of them are similar enough that they should accurately be described as being the same religion.

        By my count there are about a dozen or so discrete religions, which may have some minor theological differences within different subgroups.

        Now for a question. How many of those different religions are global?

        • smrnda

          Quite a few still, given the number of believers. There are quite a few people who believe in Chinese folk religion, and some of those people are not in the PRC or ROC.

          I find deciding what fits together depends on the person though. I run into Christians who feel that certain Christian denominations are distinct and believe incompatible things, whereas the differences to me (an outsider) seem trivial. Though sometimes I find an individual changes their mind on this depending on circumstances – a person wants to claim a lot of believers of the same type, so former heretics are then considered ‘fellow believers’ but when it comes to recruiting, the distinctness takes prominence.

          Muslims do the same thing. When they want to make a point about how many Muslims there are, everybody counts, but then, once it’s who is right, it’s all No True Muslim.

        • KarlUdy

          I run into Christians who feel that certain Christian denominations are distinct and believe incompatible things, whereas the differences to me (an outsider) seem trivial.

          I come across this too. I commented earlier that I find it perplexing that an outsider perceives fundamental differences where insiders do not. If the religion tree had simply had branches for Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, etc, instead of including every organization within these denominations as if they were separate denominations I would have less issue with it.

          Yet I know that many accept that Protestantism basically constitutes a single religion (not hundreds or thousands) because the World Map of Religions Bob posted treats it as such.

        • smrnda

          I think part of the distinctness is tied to recruiting. A particular denomination or church wants more members, so they have to convince people to attend their church, either non-Christians, or they want people to switch. I find that certain types of Christians (fundamentalists, evangelicals, etc.) add new necessary beliefs not shared by others, such as Biblical ‘inerrancy’ creationism, apocalyptic beliefs.

          It bothers me a lot that in the US, on surveys they list so many options for Christians, but Judaism is usually one box (ignoring what are relevant divisions) Islam is a box, Buddhism is one box, and then there’s an ‘other.’ Seems rather incomplete to me.

        • KarlUdy

          A particular denomination or church wants more members, so they have to convince people to attend their church, either non-Christians, or they want people to switch. I find that certain types of Christians (fundamentalists, evangelicals, etc.) add new necessary beliefs not shared by others, such as Biblical ‘inerrancy’ creationism, apocalyptic beliefs.

          I don’t see this happening a lot with denominations, but I do see it happening with popular voices and preachers in Christianity. If you looked I think you would find these beliefs very rarely make it onto formal requirements for membership to churches.

        • smrnda

          I don’t think they are for the vast majority of Christian churches, and some state them in a vague way. I’ve seen some pretty extensive list of ‘stances’ at some evangelical churches which was quite alarming. They tend to have taken to media the most.

          Within communities there does seem to be beliefs which tend to be fairly popular though not official. A few churches locally are not officially pro marriage equality, but their membership seems fairly supportive. I suspect in some cases, membership requirements are kept smaller so as not to splinter the group.

        • Kodie

          I think churches are not above altering its stances in order to attract more members, obviously. If Christianity takes a stance on marriage equality (against it) then some people will leave. Some churches will retain that standard while another church will “think it over” and collect all the people who are for it that left the other church. I live near a church that hangs a rainbow flag outside by the sign that tells you what time and other events. If you’re gay but don’t want to stop being a Christian, the church doesn’t want to lose your money, and it’s become apparent they can’t afford to be so exclusive anymore. And while some people will still choose to go to the anti-gay church, it needs to exist to collect these people also. These two churches may be against each other, but they are just both marketing smartly. Just because one of them refuses to adapt its message, and I can think it’s because adaptation can be seen as a weakness, it just became even more attractive to the gay-hating Christian, and that’s a market.

          Going to a specific church when there are several in the area is like choosing your exclusive like-minded group. The Christian church as a whole cannot force its anti-gay dogma on the whole population and it’s not like I really believe the pro-gay church is faking it entirely, I just think when they considered their options – stick with the original plan or stop losing believers, obviously there are Christians who are not against homosexuality and marriage equality, they don’t want to be conflicted, so they re-interpreted the bible to be inclusive, and they want to gather with like-minded people.

          Since I think the whole system of church is a marketing scheme, I tend to believe all the money still goes to the same place, the places where both churches still agree upon, and that gay and gay-friendly straight Christians are still fooling themselves.

        • smrnda

          On the marketing thing – churches have starting using marketing the exact same way for profit businesses use marketing.

        • Kodie

          I think it’s always been that way, but we’re in the age of the internet. People can be reached in different ways, and of course the church needs to use those avenues to reach people. I don’t see as many tv preachers as I used to, unless I go to channels I don’t usually watch, in the middle of the night, but they make claims, you send them money, and the hook they use is to tell these people that paying the church money will magically result in a return much greater in money to them. So people understand money and wanting to make money. Another commercial on tv is how to flip houses – it’s the same attractive concept.

          I recently compared the church to a make-up counter at the department store, or really any business that makes jabs at you and digs at your personal insecurities. Here is a cream that will make you look less tired. “I look tired?” You start imagining that this person is an expert and other people can see things about you that you can’t see, i.e. are in denial. That’s how almost every personal testimony of religion sounds to me. They put their money in to get the amazing cure and are used like pawns to get more customers. And if someone doesn’t believe your pitch, don’t cast your pearls about swine, or in other words, you have to keep moving and find the next mark, you have to know when someone is too resistant to waste your time on them, because the more time you waste on a person who’s not buying, the less time you are spending to “save” someone who is gullible enough to believe you. Call them “swine” so you’re not prone to listen to their counter-arguments, and just move along. That’s how it worked when I was in commission sales too.

        • Kodie

          The fundamental differences between closely related denominations is over money. Whatever they are selling evokes a preference out of their congregants over a similar church.

        • MNb

          “Protestantism basically constitutes a single religion”
          Yeah, that’s why this happened:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Dort

          and this:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaas_Schilder

          Because the differences were so irrelevant that even anti-nazi resistance had to wait.
          [/sarcasm]

        • Kodie

          I think there has to be more than 12. Are you talking about all religions and within, say, Christianity, minor differences? Because “we’re not all like that” is an established common phrase of more than 12 Christians by my count. “not a true Christian” is another one. Minor theological differences are what make your beliefs different from John’s, and if someone like Al can pick out Christians who are still going to hell because they have “minor theological differences”, then they’re drastically different enough in belief to make a difference to god.

          Core beliefs, schmore schmeliefs!

    • Jim Hoerst

      Your argument is that because of the differences between religious bodies is not based on religious considerations then none of them are based on religious differences is not true.
      The fact is most of differences between religious bodies are based on religious considerations and a simple cursory study if Church History will make point quite easily.

      • KarlUdy

        Most of the religious considerations that result in separate churches are the result of differences in emphasis or degree, and, importantly, are considered by all parties to not constitute a breach in communion.

        • adam

          The bond uniting Christians as individuals and groups with each other and with Jesus Christ, is described as communion.

          So all these ARE considered by parties to constitute a breach in communion, as they dont share the save ‘view’ of Jesus.

          They are united in NAME ONLY…

        • KarlUdy

          Adam,
          If that were so, how could inter-denominational groups (of which there are many) function?

        • adam

          Inter-denomination groups constitute a breach in communion with NON inter-denominational groups and orthydox groups

          In simpler terms, BUSINESS…
          Religion is a business. So of course some work together for political and monetary reasons (as some do for purely social reasons and kindness).

          It still remains that if indeed this were a divine book from a omni-max god, it would be easy enough for all to get the EXACT SAME message.

        • KarlUdy

          Inter-denomination groups constitute a breach in communion with NON inter-denominational groups and orthydox groups

          Thanks for demonstrated your profound ignorance. Many churches and individuals have affiliations to both denominational and inter-denominational organizations. Wouldn’t it be easier to just admit you don’t know what you’re talking about?

        • adam

          Ok so many do, still doesnt support your point.

          Demonstrate that:

          “Most of the religious considerations that result in separate churches are the result of differences in emphasis or degree, and, importantly, are considered by all parties to not constitute a breach in communion.

          And I will admit my ignorance on the matter. (btw, I have lots of ignorance)

          If not will YOU admit yours?

        • KarlUdy

          Ok so many do, still doesnt support your point

          Actually it does.

          If not will YOU admit yours?

          I am ignorant of may things, inter-denominational groups is not one of them.

        • adam

          You dont get points for vacuous CLAIMS

          Demonstrate that:

          “Most of the religious considerations that result in separate churches are the result of differences in emphasis or degree, and, importantly, are considered by all parties to not constitute a breach in communion.”

          And I will admit my ignorance on the matter. (btw, I have lots of ignorance)

        • Al

          Karl– don’t forget your talking to someone who believes in MAGIC.

        • adam

          But not Supernatural MAGIC like YOU do….

          Are you ever going to demonstrate that the MAGIC of YOUR ‘god’ is not IMAGINARY?

        • Kodie

          If members of two different beliefs are certain the other group is going to hell, then they’re different religions.

  • Jim Hoerst

    Given that supposedly Jesus promised a “Holy Spirit”
    John 15:
    26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
    John 16:
    12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

    Given that the chart shows a Church that is seriously fragmented, there is no reason to believe these verses are true. Of course faith doesn’t need a reason, now does it?

  • Al

    “If religious claims were as obviously correct as the claim that the sun exists, everyone would quickly agree. That’s not the world we live in.”

    We could apply this to science and history also. I guess there is no truth there since not everyone agrees. In fact how many claims of science and history were thought to be true only later to be found false?

    • adam

      No because science and history claim no MAGIC powers to be able to do so, unlike YOUR ‘god’.

      • Al

        It has nothing to do with MAGIC. Your MAGIC has nothing to do with science.

        • adam

          EXACTLY, but EVERYTHING to do with your claims of ‘god’

          A MAGIC which no one can demonstrate.

        • Al

          Your the one who is into MAGIC. A MAGIC no one can demonstrate.

          BTW- you need MAGIC to have life come from non-life.

        • adam

          I am not into MAGIC, that is YOUR CLAIM..

          BTW, demonstrate that you need MAGIC to have life come from non-life.

          Creating synthetic life is just a crowning achievement of Venter’s career and the evolution of the field of biology. In 2000, Venter led of one of the two teams that sequenced the human genome, the blueprint for life. Then in 2010, his team transplanted man-made DNA into a bacterial cell to create the first synthetic organism.

          To create a synthetic cell, Venter said, he and his colleagues had to find a way to write the DNA software and boot it up. And this technology opened up a host of practical applications, he explains in his new book “Life at the Speed of Light” (Viking Adult, 2013), in which Venter tells the story of these milestones and speculates on the future of biology in the digital age. [Unraveling the Human Genome: 6 Molecular Milestones]

          https://www.ted.com/talks/craig_venter_unveils_synthetic_life

        • Al

          This is not creation of life from non-life. Not even close. “To create a synthetic cell, Venter said, he and his colleagues had to find a way to write the DNA software and boot it up.” This is a failure because in nature there is no intelligence to help “write the DNA software and boot it up.” If it happens, its because MAGIC made it happen.

        • adam

          Oh, yes VERY CLOSE and after only a few years…

          Nature doesnt need intelligence only the right environment.

          If it were MAGIC then you would be able to demonstrate it, and YOU CANT…

        • aL

          VERY CLOSE isn’t good enough. Nature needs MAGIC.

        • adam

          No it doesnt.

          GODS need MAGIC and delusional people need MAGIC, but nature does not.

          And you’ve NEVER demonstrated that MAGIC is REALLY anything but IMAGINATION…

        • Al

          Whether MAGIC is real or not I’ll leave that to you. So far what you have demonstrated is that MAGIC is necessary since the natural forces cannot create life from non-life. You need MAGIC to make it work.

        • adam

          No I havent demonstrate that MAGIC is necessary and neither have you.

          YOUR MAGIC is IMAGINARY, UNLESS you can demonstrate otherwise.

        • Al

          Then what force of nature can create life from non-life? If you can’t demonstrate it then it must be MAGIC.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, no, it’s chemistry.

        • Kodie

          Still chemistry.

        • Greg G.

          Life is a type of organic chemistry. Every reaction obeys the laws of chemistry.

        • natural forces cannot create life from non-life.

          That’s an empty claim, both because you’ve given us no evidence (except the unimpressive “Well, it seems far fetched to me”) and because you don’t care either way whether abiogenesis is the way life happened or not.

        • smrnda

          Many modern technologies would seem like magic if you did not know how they worked.

      • busterggi

        Damn but he was good! Ever see his show Meeting of Minds?

        • adam

          I am sure I have, but it nothing comes to mind.

          I do see that is iavailable as a book.

      • Steve Allen is the last person I’d hold up as a paragon of honesty, considering that thing he wore on his head for the last twenty years of his life.

        • hector_jones

          Do you feel ripped off that he wore a toupe?

        • Lighten up, HJ, it won’t kill you.

        • hector_jones

          Lighten up? If wearing a toupe makes someone the ‘last’ person you would hold up as a pargon of honesty then I sense some very deep hurt on your part over Mr. Allen’s toupe.

          Are you sure you aren’t also Al? For some reason you kind of remind me of him.

        • Ha ha! What an effervescent wit!

        • hector_jones

          I’m not sure what you mean–as I was only expressing my concern.

    • Pofarmer

      “In fact how many claims of science and history were thought to be true only later to be found false?”

      Not sure about history, but scienceis constantly self correcting. That is it’s strength. It investigates and studies and corrects. Religion has no such mechanism.

    • Paul Dickens

      Wrong. While religions are diverging on what they consider the truth to be, science is converging on what the truth actually is.

    • Kodie

      Science has improved lives over the last two millennia, Religion has only worried about the world getting shittier.

      • Paul Dickens

        And, ironically, while the religions are worried about the world getting shittier, they are making the world shittier 😉

      • Al

        Christianity improved the quality of life where it is practiced. From Christianity you get help for the poor, education, science and hope for life. Atheism offers none of these things.

        • adam

          No….

        • I have a problem with this macro. The Dark Ages was a time when there was little progress – in Europe. From a Euro-centric PoV, the world was a dark, dismal place. Look everywhere else, though, and you’ll find a lot of progress and a lot of growth. Even Europe wasn’t as intellectually stunted as people will have you think

        • Maybe “there was a time when religion ruled Europe.

        • Pofarmer

          Ah, witchhunts, inquisitions, trial by ordeal, forced conversions. the good old days.

        • Al

          Those were abuses of the teachings of Christ.

        • adam

          No those were a reflection of the ‘god’ of Abraham and his infantile acts of emotional immaturity.

        • MNb

          The fact that those teachings could be abused shows that they did not always improve the quality of life where they were practiced.

        • Al

          They were not practiced because they abused them.

        • MNb

          Abusing is a form of practicising – namely a practicing you disapprove of.

        • Pofarmer

          You would think someone would have figured it out in the hundreds of years it was going on. if it hadn’t been for the splintering of the church, and the rise of secular values, it would still be going on today. the church had to find some humility as Its pillars kept getting knocked down.

        • Kodie

          That’s just your opinion. You have no grounding to decide that. The perpetrators of those acts had the grounding to decide they were justified.

        • Kodie

          You prove over and over you’re incapable of listening. I don’t think Christianity has helped you at all.

    • smrnda

      Over time, certain scientific ideas establish themselves far better than other ones. Nobody doesn’t use Newton’s laws when building a bridge or a building. It’s true that we now know they don’t apply for really large or really small scales, but they are reliable for most uses.

    • RichardSRussell

      how many claims of science … were thought to be true only later to be found false?

      Quite a few.
      How many were found false by better science? 100%
      How many were found false by religion? 0%

      • Al

        So you agree that you can’t always trust the latest scientific theory because it might be shown later to be false?

        • RichardSRussell

          I do not “trust” in science. I have confidence in it. This may seem to you to be a petty distinction, but I believe it’s significant, and I explain why here and here, in a pair of essays called “How We Decide”.

          But to directly answer your question, all scientific knowledge is held provisionally, subject to revision as better information becomes available; that’s the way science works; I’m perfectly OK with it; and so are all scientists.

        • Al

          Science has not disproved God.

        • RichardSRussell

          Not its job. Anyone who advances a hypothesis (in this case, the hypothesis “God exists”) bears the burden of coming up with the evidence to support it. Galileo did it. Newton did it. Einstein did it. The Curies did it. Pasteur did it. The Alvarezes did it. Hawking did it. Can you do it?

        • Guest

          If he could, we wouldnt be seeing all his false bravado.

        • MNb

          While I agree I also think that this applies to the hypothesis “there is no god”.

        • RichardSRussell

          Think about this for awhile. How does one adduce evidence for the non-existence of something?

          Suppose I said “There are no unicorns.” How would you expect me to go about collecting evidence to that effect? You’d probably say “You have to look in all the places where unicorns could possibly be expected to be found, using your very best detecting devices, and come up empty every single time. And you’d have to do them all simultaneously, in order that those shifty unicorns couldn’t hop from wherever they normally hang out to the spot you just examined while you were moving your detectors. Furthermore, you’d have to start out knowing everything there is to know about unicorns, so you know exactly what you’re looking for and where to look.”

          Really? That’s the job of the person who says they don’t exist?

          Logic does not work this way. Logic says that it is the person making the affirmative (IE, testable) claim who bears the burden of proof. After all, they only have to come up with one instance to make their case, instead of having to examine the entire Universe. The negative null hypothesis does not need an advocate; it is the default presumption in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.

        • How does one adduce evidence for the non-existence of something?

          The point is that it’s not an evidentiary construct, strictly speaking, but a valid process of reasoning. Passenger pigeons used to number in the billions, and there hasn’t been a specimen sighted in a hundred years. The most reasonable conclusion is that the species no longer exists.

        • RichardSRussell

          There’s a significant difference between not being able to find something that was once known to exist and demonstrating the non-existence of an entity that is only suggested to exist. We know exactly what a passenger pigeon looked like and behaved like and where they used to hang out. Can anybody say the same for unicorns? Or God?

        • Well, that’s not what you asked. You said:

          How does one adduce evidence for the non-existence of something?

          And the answer is through a valid process of reasoning, not presenting physical evidence per se.

        • RichardSRussell

          When I ask “how does one adduce evidence”, the response “by not presenting evidence” is hardly a pertinent answer. You’d get points from the zen masters, tho. 8^D

        • Evidence doesn’t just mean physical artifacts. It has to do with substantiation. If my process of reasoning is valid, and that’s what supports my claim that passenger pigeons don’t exist, are you going to complain that it’s an evidence-free claim?

        • RichardSRussell

          Reasoning requires inputs: premises, definitions, and (critically) observations. Your passenger-pigeon example had them. The God example has only the single premise “God exists”, from which you are correct that the linear flow of logic does indeed produce the conclusion “God exists”. That’s what you get when “substantiation” includes only word-fiddling and no evidence. Aristotle used the same approach to “prove” that an object twice as heavy as another will fall twice as fast.

        • MNb

          1) If you have looked thoroughly you can conclude that there are no keys in your drawer, there is no monster in Loch Ness and that Moses never wandered the Sinai. That’s a tentative conclusion, but that applies to positive statements as well when addressed empirically.
          2) Square circles don’t exist for obvious reasons.

          Other examples are the phlogiston and the luminerous ether. I don’t know about you, but both have been disproven to my entire satisfaction.

          “Logic says …..”
          not what you say.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/2014/07/negatives-arent-special/

          Disclaimer: “you haven’t proven -X hence X” is a non-sequitur. Also I think it valid (I don’t care much about semantics) to say you’re an atheist just because you haven’t ever met proof, in whatever form. I just express my wish to have positive arguments that there is no god. I think I have them.

        • MNb

          Nobody claimed that. You claim that science can prove god. You fail to back up this claim.

        • all scientific knowledge is held provisionally, subject to revision as better information becomes available; that’s the way science works; I’m perfectly OK with it; and so are all scientists.

          I only hope science doesn’t progress faster than our ability to idealize it.

        • RichardSRussell

          If you follow the links I provided above, you’ll see that “hope” is one of the methods I discuss under “How We Decide”. One of the lesser methods.

        • Kodie

          There’s a methodology involved and people are free to criticize the findings and analyze the data. I don’t think you understand how that makes it better. Part of the problem is that you get your science information from your church and probably some from the tv news, which does a very poor job of reporting. Some people cling to believing the wrong things that aren’t found facts, like quack medicine, don’t do research, listen to fearmongering uneducated people, or deny new findings over the old or false ones they prefer, and I would call those people “religious”. The anti-vaccination movement has the same qualities as a religion, aside from a deity.

  • Jim Hoerst

    One logical alternative is that a god created us for his amusement and sending mixed and ambiguous messages is all part of the fun.

    • Paul Dickens

      Like a child who builds a Lego world only to destroy it for his own amusement. God is love! Yeah, go ahead, pull my other leg 😉

      • busterggi

        Time Bandits indeed.

      • The original idea behind Yahweh was that he was one of the war gods of the ancient Canaanite religion. He was, however, the youngest of them, and in the beginning he was childlike and used things that children do (he made a man out of mud.) He wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t skilled enough to deal with rebellion. When mankind failed him he tried to metaphorically hide it under the rug by drowning all of mankind. But he didn’t entirely fail, and he tries again and he gets better and over time Yahweh becomes the god that the people of Israel need.

        The books of Genesis and Exodus, when you read it with that point of view and ignore all the priestly additions, is a tale about a deity who is much more human and more sympathetic a character. He’s a champion and a hero, but he has to grow into being that hero.

    • This reminds me of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystheism#Usage_in_popular_culture

      ‘More recent examples include the popular Star Trek television series. Fictional character Worf claims that his race, the Klingons, have no gods, because they killed them centuries ago for being “more trouble than they were worth.”[4]’

    • adam

      You mean he is a psychopath…

      • busterggi

        Well we are created in his image…

        • adam

          Or he in ours

  • Blizzard

    Curly was the smartest! He was actually funny, unlike the other ones.

    • Greg G.

      Yes, the first few times you watch but Larry’s reactions were classic.

      • busterggi

        Larry is vastly unappreciated much like Zeppo Marx, note how the Marx Brothers films went downhill when he left the act.

        • Greg G.

          He sold the action with his expressions. Hitchcock preferred to show the human response to a shocking event instead of the event itself. The Stooges combined both techniques. They were genius! 8o)

  • busterggi

    Just consider all the religiouy traditions not shown from ancient religions known and unknown (Catal Huyuk, Malta, Druidism, etc).

  • Mister Two

    Interesting that they have the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ treeing off from the Baptists. Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell were both Presbyterians.

  • Guest

    Reminds me of this one:

  • evodevo

    The fragmentation of Christianity is due in no small part to the self-contradictory and garbled body of the New Testament, made up of bits and pieces of probably hundreds of different theological perspectives, cobbled together over 400 years or so, and currently interpreted by thousands of different individuals. No wonder there are so many different sects. Think what it will look like in a couple thousand MORE years.

    • Kitirena Koneko

      Extinct, I hope. Along with Islam and their various dogmatic offshoots.