Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Faith, God, Religion, Truth

God Made Us This Way — It’s Only Reasonable He’d Be Angry About It

The blog Thomisic Bent has been doing a series lately on why it was perfectly okay for God to command the Israelites to slaughter entire ethnic groups in the Old Testament, even down to the women and children. I’ve felt obliged to comment on all of them, because toward the end of my time as a Christian I began to realize just how heinous these stories are. Could you imagine God commanding something like the shootings in New Town, CT? As crazy as it sounds, what the OT suggests is even more horrific.

Thomistic Bent’s latest post, “Holiness and the Justice of God,” continues his rationale for accepting some of the Bible’s most blasphemous claims about God. Here’s an an excerpt:

As long as we compare ourselves to each other, we can convince ourselves that we’re not so dirty, and it’s really the other guy who needs a bath. But when we truly see how holy God is, we suddenly know how dirty we are…

God is patient, but will eventually demand a separation. In God’s terms, this is Hell, which is a separation from God, away from His good graces, a place where we can have what we want, to be left alone.

So we all deserve separation from God. But what if God were to select some, clean them up, and give them another chance? If He takes some of the filthy rags and cleans it up, He is not bound to take all the filthy rags.

So is part of the answer with God’s actions with the Canaanites. If God acted the way He does in the rest of the Bible, then we can conclude that He likely gave them plenty of notices about what He expected, and plenty of chances to change. The Canaanites refused, so He ordered all of them separated from Him into Hell.

Meanwhile, we sit around and compare one of them with the other and with ourselves, and say some of them are not so bad, for it seems to us that they did not do much wrong. We feel this way because we are comparing the Canaanites to ourselves, comparing one filthy rag with another. But if we, or the Canaanites, were to realize how holy God is, we would all, along with Isaiah and Peter, beg God to cast us away, for we are all deserving of separation. Only by God’s infinite mercy do any of us have a chance to change our ways.

Using this kind of logic, I could make the same case about dogs. When you compare one dog to another, there’s little difference. But when you compare a dog to a human, it’s suddenly quite clear that dogs are filthy, stupid, and completely uncivilized. That’s why we are well within our rights to wipe out all dogs. It’s what they deserve for not being as clean, intelligent, and civilized as we humans. In fact, the dogs would completely agree with us, if they could ever come to understand just how much better than them we really are. If we decide to spare any dogs, it only shows how merciful we are.

Does that really make sense? Or is it more rational for the higher being to accept the lower being for what it is? What’s even worse, when we think about this in terms of God, is that he supposedly created us to be exactly the way we are. If he’s all powerful, he could have given us the same level of perfection that Jesus had so that we would be able to live more perfectly and be more pleasing to him. Instead, he purposely handicapped us, and then decided to reject us because of the same handicap. He wants us to hate ourselves, merely for the “crime” of being what he created us to be. What kind of monster would operate in such a way?

The problem with people like the writer of Thomistic Bent is that they unquestioningly accept whatever the Bible tells them without really thinking about its implications. And I should know — I used to operate the same way. If you dig back far enough into this blog, you’ll see what I mean. But the problem with that position is that God himself has not told the writer of Thomistic Bent that all these things actually happened, or that he would have approved of them even if they had. No, these stories were passed down from generation to generation before being written down by mere men. We don’t have the original copies. And all the copies we have are divergent in certain areas. And God didn’t hand us a list of which books were authentic — that was decided by groups of men. At every step along the process, the books of the Bible have mankind’s fingerprints all over them… why in the world would we still assume that they contain the actual words of God, especially when they contain such disgusting barbarism and attribute it to him? Not to mention this type of vengeful God was typical for ancient Canaan.

Look, guys like the writer of Thomistic Bent mean well. They think they’re performing a public service by warning us about the scary sky-monster that they worship. They believe that the Christian god is very real, and their definitions of goodness, morality, justice, and mercy have been contaminated to the point that they can read everything about God in the Bible and not see it as contradicting those qualities. It’s a sad and dangerous state to be in. It’s religious fundamentalism. And while we look at the perpetrators of events like 9/11 as warped and backward, they were merely the fundamentalists of a different religion. If Christians believe that it was just for God to command the slaughter of an entire nation of people, down to the very last infant, then we can only hope they never begin to believe that he commands something similar for today.

I wish people like this would realize that even if the Christian God is real, he created us with the ability to question and reason. Even some passages in the Bible talk about the value of questioning things. If they could only apply those questions to the Bible — a collection of books that they agree were written by men, many ages ago — then maybe they would begin to see the problems in the Bible for what they are. If there really is a God, and he really does possess the qualities of goodness, morality, justice, and mercy, then such an honest, objective search for truth could only be pleasing to him, even if it leads someone away from religion altogether.

130 thoughts on “God Made Us This Way — It’s Only Reasonable He’d Be Angry About It”

  1. Nate,
    Good stuff. Thanks for continuing to reply.
    First, you keep writing things like “if the Koran teaches something that is illogical or immoral”. I disagree with you there, and I’ve explained why. I believe what God says about human nature, and not just because scripture says so. I see evil within myself, and I see it all around me in others. I think, not to be insulting, that you’d have to be blind or deceiving yourself to think that people really are very good at their core. So, I am at a place where I just plain disagree that what God commanded is illogical or immoral, and I don’t accept that point.
    I think questioning what you believe and why you believe it is important. I have questioned Christianity, and I have looked into evidence for other religions as well. I have come to a place where, based on evidence and observation, I believe scripture’s testimony about God and Jesus. What I am saying is, once I am at that point, it is not my place to question God. As you rightly point out, people of other faiths would likely argue the same of their god. I would not question whether they can judge their own god’s morality, as I would agree with them that, if that god is real, it is not our place to question his reasoning or his judgment because it is beyond us.
    As an aside: I’m not saying that I never question God about his actions. I think we all do that as we don’t comprehend him most of the time. I’m pointing out what I think should be obvious logically: once we have reached the point that we believe he is real, and he is God, then he will know infinitely more about circumstances than we do, so we have no grounds on which to question him. Unfortunately, for those who do not believe God exists, you have no one to go to ask why things happen or why he would command or allow certain things. You’re grasping for reasons, but there aren’t any.
    What I would question people of other faiths about is evidence for their religion, whether their religion paints an accurate picture of reality and humanity, and how they can know whether they are living up to his standards (Christianity is clear on this – we can’t. We needed god to come to us. Other religions teach we can get to god through our deeds. The question for them is: how do you know when you’ve done enough?). I am convinced Christianity has the best answers for these problems.

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  2. One final thing to wrap up, and then I’ll just continue to read comments. I do see the point you’re trying to make about God’s punishments. I think, to summarize, where we disagree is whether God had reason. I do believe he has reason (as I’ve said, the evil I know is in myself and others), I don’t just simply believe we shouldn’t question him because he is authority. He has explained to us reason. Whether we accept that reason is the question. Thanks, Nate.

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  3. Hi Josh,

    We’re just coming at this from two very different points of view. So let me zoom out just a little to help explain my perspective a bit better.

    We live in a world where it’s possible to question the very existence of God, even the supernatural altogether. Our world also contains many religions that, more often than not, tend to break out along ethnic and cultural boundaries. Most of these religions claim to be the one true way to win the “game” of life — whether that’s through reaching enlightenment, receiving salvation, etc.

    So for the sake of argument, let’s say that there really is a God, and he’s given us one of these religions that we’re supposed to follow. As most of these religions teach, picking the wrong belief system will result in horrible punishment that is likely to last an eternity. I already see lots of problems with this scenario, but let’s ignore those for the moment.

    How are we supposed to know which religion is the true one?

    We’re not born with the luxury of knowing about all these religions from a young age. Instead, each of us is raised to believe that one of the options (or none of them) is the truth, so it’s not until we’re adults that we really begin to learn more about the wider world. And at that point, we have a lot of preconceived notions to overcome. But luckily, these religions usually teach that God is a benevolent being that wants every single one of us to find the path to him, so we can reasonably expect that he’ll help us find a way to him.

    The most direct way to communicate something to someone is to speak to them directly. So God could choose that method to let us know what he expects of us. If you’re into video games, this is similar to the tutorial dialogs that pop up in your game to let you know the rules. It’s a helpful tool. You can still press whatever buttons you like, but at least you’ll know what’s expected.

    Of course, God doesn’t do that for us. Fair enough — what’s another method he could use? Ah, he could send us some kind of “cosmic email” — writing in the sky, or something like that. You know, something that would be nigh impossible for another person to fake. The message would be accompanied by the kind of sign that would give us assurance we’re dealing with the divine. The burning bush, Gideon’s fleece, Paul’s episode on the road to Damascus, etc.

    But if God does this kind of thing today, he’s not ubiquitous with it. I’ve never received a sign like that, nor have most people that I’ve ever known. I guess that’s his prerogative, but it does make one question the Bible’s passages that say God is impartial. But I’m starting to digress…

    So maybe God could send us some trusted messenger. It would need to be someone that I know well, so I could really trust what they’re saying. But again, I’ve never gotten such a message, and I also know that even well meaning people can sometimes be delusional. I’m not sure I want to risk my soul on such a message delivery system.

    So God could send a messenger imbued with divine powers, someone that could work miracles that could only come from God. I would listen to an individual who could do the kinds of miracles that the Bible describes, but I’ve never seen anyone do them.

    However, the Bible is a religious text that claims God did use this method a long time ago. Isn’t that just as good as witnessing the miracles for myself? Not for me. Thomas Paine said that once you tell a divine revelation to someone else, it ceases to be revelation and becomes mere hearsay. I have to agree. For me to accept the word of a religious text, the text would have to be incredibly amazing. The writers would have to demonstrate knowledge of things that they couldn’t possibly have known about ahead of time. When events are recounted in multiple places within the text, they must be without error or contradiction. When science is recounted, it must be without error — not simply a regurgitation of what was already known at the time. Its morals must be without reproach. If it gives prophecies, they must be without error.

    If those standards seem too high, then maybe you aren’t truly considering what’s at stake. The soul of everyone who has ever lived hinges on the judgments of this God. Each and every soul should be just as precious to him as the souls of your own children are to you. Would you leave the fate of their souls up to chance, or would you do everything within your power to save them from eternal torture? If you saw a windowless van pull up to your child and watched the driver coax them to come closer, would you stand back to see how your child reacts, or would you run to them as fast as you could, calling them back all the while? You don’t have to answer, because I know what you would do — you’d do what any decent human would do. Why doesn’t God do the same for us? If I’m currently bound for Hell, and I’m influencing my innocent children to eventually follow in my footsteps, why doesn’t God intervene to help us?

    And before you say he does just that through scripture, the Bible fails every one of the criteria I listed out. In fact, I’m not aware of any religious text that comes close to meeting those standards. If we accept that God is loving, merciful, and just, then it does not follow that he would be the author of the Bible. I’d be happy to cite specific examples of the Bible’s failings, but I’ve written way too much already. Luckily, I have links to those examples in my About section. Please feel free to check them out, if you’re interested.

    I appreciate our discussion, and I know I haven’t directly answered your last few points. But I don’t think I could have done them justice without first laying out my overall thought process. I know you probably disagree with what I’ve written, and I’d understand if you’d rather not get dragged into a long discussion on these issues. But if you do decide to respond at some point, I’d love to know what specific points in what I’ve said seem off the mark.

    Thanks again, and sorry to write such a long comment.

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  4. ‘Ark, let’s try to play nice. Hate the sin, love the sinner, etc…’

    Sorry, but I find playing Mister Polite and Nice to such twits is pointless, and as I have mentioned to you before, they are merely humouring you – Violet tells it like it is, though her language is different.

    Re: your above quote. Let’s face it, Nate, the Christian god took scant regard of this when he obliterated the world, and later the Canaanites, and the Egyptians and these mindless unthinking idiots come here and try to justify their deity’s actions. Beggars belief.

    The biggest sinner in this whole nonsensical debacle is the Christian god. It is a tad difficult to love the ‘sinner’ when one is subject to the mindless hate o total indifference that was behind the annihilation of the human race. And let’s remember, his frothing at the mouth holier than thou minions in the here and now have openly said at various occasions they are quite willing to enact their god’s will should they be utterly convinced that he has commanded them to do so.
    Love the sinner? Hmmmm. You turned your back on the Big Daddy of ALL sinners and you are concerned about hurting the feelings of the likes of Humblesmith. You serious?
    Well, at least it shows you have more humility than them or their god.

    Peace my friend.
    One day we may get to sit and share a beer together and laugh about this nonsense and you can teach me American Football.
    Happy Easter Egg Day to you and your family. Don’t get sick on chocolate!

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  5. Wow, Nate. I needed to take my inhaler after reading through that marathon 🙂 Let’s see what I’ve got for you.

    “The writers would have to demonstrate knowledge of things that they couldn’t possibly have known about ahead of time. When events are recounted in multiple places within the text, they must be without error or contradiction. When science is recounted, it must be without error — not simply a regurgitation of what was already known at the time. Its morals must be without reproach. If it gives prophecies, they must be without error.”

    So, you’ve stated here what it would require for you to believe that religious texts are accurate. However, you have not established that is a necessary condition. Just because you think it, doesn’t make it so. Why can’t a religious text measure up to what are accepted standards for historical documents? Would you doubt any other history based on your criteria? I think not. If you did you would have to doubt every kind of historical record we’ve ever known, which would leave you knowing nothing about history. You’ll probably say that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” That’s a nice tagline, but I don’t see that it’s necessary. And, again, you haven’t established that the texts, though they meet all kinds of reliability tests, can’t be accurate because they don’t meet some kind of imagined test you have. It’s a smokescreen set up that no one uses for evaluating the accuracy of any other historical documents. I say, and so do many scholars as far as I can tell, that the gospels and NT documents meet and exceed what we would expect from historical documents of that time. On that issue, that is enough for me.

    I’m assuming when you say things like “demonstrate knowledge of things that they couldn’t have known ahead of time” or “when science is recounted, it must be without error – not just a regurgitation of what was already known” you are saying that these texts should be accurate according to what we know now. Right? Or, is it to be without error considering all knowledge that we will ever know until the end of time. If it is the former, there are two issues. First, the writers would have lost their first century audience. If people had no way of knowing or verifying what the person was talking about, they wouldn’t have believed the person in the first place. Second, if the writers used knowledge we have now, in the 21st century, then it would likely convince you. However, anyone who lives 1-2 thousand years from now would make the same claim you just made: “it doesn’t address science as we know it to be true now (in the year 4013), so it can’t be true”. If it is the latter (using all knowledge humanity will ever discover), there are also issues that doom it to fail from the start. The same issue I mentioned regarding first century followers earlier – not understanding what the person was talking about – would apply to everyone until, at the end of human existence, we discovered all we would know. Only then could anyone realize that the writers were accurate.

    Either way, I feel that you are levying expectations on the text that will lead it to fail on any grounds we could imagine. That, I think, is unfair.

    “It’s morals must be without reproach.”

    Again, measured against which morals? Those of the first century? Those from 6-10 thousand years ago? Ours – the morals of 21st century America? You run in to the same problem here. You offend one group or the other no matter which way you go. If one person believes the moral standards are beyond reproach, then another person will not. Case in point – I believe scripture meets this standard. You do not. So, whose standard do we use?

    “If it gives prophecies, they must be without error.”

    Clearly, your claim implies the scriptures contain inaccurate prophecies. I’ve read a lot of theologians who would argue with you on that, at least about the prophecies we have the capability of verifying. So, I guess we are probably left at a stalemate on this one.

    “In fact, I’m not aware of any religious text that comes close to meeting those standards.”

    Nate, I’m not aware of any kind of text ever that comes close to meeting those standards. You have established standards far beyond what any reasonable historian would require as evidence. If you disagree with that statement, fine. But, I think you have raised the bar all the way to the ceiling. There is nowhere to go beyond the bar you’ve set, so barely meeting your standards is the best any document could ever do. If it did that, I bet you would say that it would have to go beyond your standards to be considered truth. And, of course, if it’s already at the ceiling, there’s nowhere to go but down.

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  6. Hi Josh,

    Just a few points this time — sorry the last one was so long! 🙂

    So, you’ve stated here what it would require for you to believe that religious texts are accurate. However, you have not established that is a necessary condition. Just because you think it, doesn’t make it so. Why can’t a religious text measure up to what are accepted standards for historical documents? Would you doubt any other history based on your criteria? I think not. If you did you would have to doubt every kind of historical record we’ve ever known, which would leave you knowing nothing about history. You’ll probably say that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” That’s a nice tagline, but I don’t see that it’s necessary. And, again, you haven’t established that the texts, though they meet all kinds of reliability tests, can’t be accurate because they don’t meet some kind of imagined test you have. It’s a smokescreen set up that no one uses for evaluating the accuracy of any other historical documents. I say, and so do many scholars as far as I can tell, that the gospels and NT documents meet and exceed what we would expect from historical documents of that time. On that issue, that is enough for me.

    Ah, so you believe Caesar performed miracles? We’re told that by ancient historians… shouldn’t we accept it?

    First, the writers would have lost their first century audience.

    Not if the writers were also verifying things with miracles.

    If the Bible gave us accurate science — even about things that we don’t yet know, people would have been able to test those claims and verify them. Certainly, there are some things that couldn’t have been tested right away. But there are many things that would have made at least as much sense as what the Bible claims, but would have had the major benefit of being accurate.

    Clearly, your claim implies the scriptures contain inaccurate prophecies. I’ve read a lot of theologians who would argue with you on that, at least about the prophecies we have the capability of verifying. So, I guess we are probably left at a stalemate on this one.

    I don’t think we have to be at a stalemate here. Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre is one of the best examples, because we can verify (or not verify) it today. Ezekiel said it would be destroyed and never rebuilt. Yet that prophecy failed in almost every way imaginable. Tyre is still there today. The virgin birth prophecy in Isaiah 7 is another good one. There are many we could look at — again, I’ve written about them elsewhere, and I’ve studied what the apologists claim for them. I think a dispassionate researcher would have a very hard time accepting their “explanations.”

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  7. “Ah, so you believe Caesar performed miracles? We’re told that by ancient historians… shouldn’t we accept it?”

    If the evidence is sound, sure. There’s nothing in scripture that teaches only Jesus could perform miracles, or even that only believers could. In fact, it warns against believing others just because they can perform miracles. So, if Caesar performed miracles, good for him 🙂

    I’ll pass on the conversation about science. I don’t see your requirements as a necessity, and I can’t argue against the points you make concerning what science is in the text. I’ll stay with the point I already made and leave it there.

    As far as Ezekiel’s and Isaiah’s prophecy being inaccurate – that may be the case. I’m more concerned with the testimony about Jesus. I’m aware the evidence for the claims he made may not be perfect in the sense that you’d like, but I believe they stand up to scrutiny. I believe he is who he said he was, and from there I can extrapolate much of the OT based on what the NT writers include.

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  8. Basically, like you, I understand that good intentions can lead to disastrous results if people begin trying to push their own ideals on everyone else, whether they’re religiously or secularly motivated.

    Nate, I think this is a good point on which we can agree. The reason I have posted here is that I think it is so very easy to only see one side of this.

    We both agree that religious fanatics and enthusiasts can do evil things in the name of their religion. You Americans saw that when planes were flown into the World Trade Centre. But you have (arguably) been instigators too, with the Second Iraq war judged as a primarily religious war by the Bradford Uni Dept of Peace Studies. This problem is well recognised, especially by unbelievers, but also by many christians (probably the majority outside the US).

    I wanted to draw attention to the fact that there is just as much a problem the other way. Scientists performed very nasty experiments on human beings under the Nazi regime (Lou Reed sardonically said: “The goodly hearted made lampshades and soap”). The largest (numerically) episodes of genocide and killing have been perpetrated by enthusiastic atheists and communists (Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao), and the same Bradford Peace group found that irreligion has caused far more damage in a shorter time than religion has over a far longer period.

    So there is good reason to be wary of the fanatics and enthusiasts of both sides if their enthusiasm moves in areas which stifle freedoms and demonise their opponents. Some prominent and respected atheists have said things (like what I quoted) that should alarm us all, just as some prominent and (sometimes) respected christians have done. But nasty rhetoric can lead to nasty action.

    Nobel Prize wining physicist Stephen Weinberg famously said: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

    My point is that Weinberg, and your post, are both one-sided. Irreligion will do just as well as religion to achieve what Weinberg says, and in the present climate, I think this is less recognised.

    I think you and I can probably agree on most of that?

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  9. Hey Uncle E – here’s some of the things you said:

    I feel your anger or concern at these thoughts reflect a view of the value of human life and of ethics that your current atheism cannot justify…Why should I care about another nation (be it Canaanites or Iraqis) if there is no objective morality? I think you are still living with the christian morality you grew up with, and I hope you continue to. But it may not be logical for you now.

    Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. You seem to agree that a simple lack of belief in gods does not logically necessitate a denial of the existence of objective morality, but the quotes above don’t seem to jive with that. Your other questions can be answered as well, but I don’t see how they resolve the main discrepancy here.

    I have listened to and read several atheist philosophers who I believe do express belief in objective morality. Shelly Kagan is very clear about this in the first 20 minutes of his debate with WL Craig, and I believe he does a good job responding to your questions. Others are: Erik Wielenberg, Stephen Law, Louise Antony, Michael Martin, and Richard Carrier (and Carrier is a naturalist who believes in objective morality – but to avoid confusion I don’t think we need to bring up naturalism because we would have to work at defining it, and I don’t claim to be a naturalist – perhaps Nate has claimed to be one and maybe that is why you bring that up).

    Turns out I am actually agnostic about the existence of these moral truths, but I do believe very strongly however that one can have a lack of belief in gods yet believe that moral truths do exist much like the law of non-contradiction. I also have a strong preference for this position, and it is the position I lean to, but I’ve learned to not let my preferences determine my beliefs, so I can’t claim to know for sure they exist.

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  10. Josh,

    Thanks for the reply. I also appreciate your willingness to consider the possibility that Caesar may have performed miracles and that the OT may have some suspect areas. I think that shows a level of consistency that’s very admirable.

    I don’t feel like I have much more to add to any of your points. There are definitely some areas we disagree on, but at least we’ve been able to discuss our differences civilly. I hope you’ll feel free to comment here anytime. 🙂

    unkleE,

    I think you and I can probably agree on most of that?

    Yep. I think you and I are pretty close on this one. I even thought that as I was writing the initial post. Thanks for weighing in.

    And Ark, thanks for the warning on chocolate. I wish I could say we listened to it. 🙂

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  11. “I have listened to and read several atheist philosophers who I believe do express belief in objective morality.”

    Hi Howie. I have to say that I haven’t seen what I find to be a satisfactory naturalistic explanation of how morality can be objective. I have seen philosophers try to justify it, but either I haven’t understood them or I haven’t felt it was justified. Can you offer an online reference to a justification you find convincing, or even outline how such a justification would go?

    Of course there are some atheists who are not naturalists, and it may be an easier task for them. But I would then question the justification for being an atheist but not a naturalist.

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  12. Hey Nate-
    Did a bit of reading on the prophecies you claimed are erroneous. I have to say that, not being a learned historian, I find the responses sufficient. It may be true that I am biased toward believing them, but I think it would be dishonest to say the opposite is not also true of an atheist. Thanks for the discussion.

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  13. Josh (jjpete80),

    Thanks for reading up on them. Sure, we do all have biases that influence the way we see things, and it’s hard to overcome them. But I will add that these prophecies were problematic for me before I became an atheist. I was a believing Christian when I found out about the issues, and I was shocked by them. Even when I left Christianity, I remained a deist for a while. So my biases should have pointed me in the other direction back then.

    But either way, your point is valid. Thanks again for all your comments.

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  14. jjpete80,

    I was somewhat like nate, in that I found these “prophecies” problematic before I left christianity. They were part of the reason that my eyes opened.

    I am trying to gain a better understanding of the truth, so i am intrigued by your response here. would you care to elaborate on which prophecies, that nate wrote about, had compelling answers, and could you specify which response provided these?

    also, one thing that I have had trouble with is the type of answers i’ve always gotten to these sort of issues. Could you maybe give an example of a problem (whether from any religion or topic) that couldnt be “answered” in such a way? it just seems to me that many of these responses are just dismissive or grasping at any ole straw, so an example of a what you consider a good contradiction would also be helpful.

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  15. Hi William-
    I think, in a sense, you’re really not going to be happy with this answer. However, I feel as though I’ve sort of gotten myself into a rabbit hole discussion here. Not that I necessarily mind that, but I think it takes away from the overarching point. So, in an effort to not be blinded to the forest because we’re looking at the bark on every tree, I’m going to keep this much broader than what you asked for.
    I don’t doubt there are problems with scripture that have led people away from faith. However, there is also enough evidence in scripture, and problems with atheism, that atheists who have studied have turned to believe Christianity. So, there seems to be something more going on here than just what the minutia would tell us. I believe that Christianity, as represented in Jewish and Christian scriptures, is the best explanation for why our world is the way it is, and why people cannot seem to make any headway in becoming “better” despite all of our great intentions and advancements. We still do horrible things, albeit in different ways, and there is still evil lurking within all of us (that’s a broad statement, but I’ve seen enough that I’m convinced it’s defensible). Naturalism will tell you there really is no reason we can’t get better because we could conceivably control our fate. Every other religion will tell you that we can somehow earn god’s favor, or get up to god somehow. Neither of these, given our complete history, seem to hold any water as we cannot seem to get better. Christianity teaches that we cannot become what we hope to be, and that God had to come to us to redeem us. This, in my opinion, is a much more realistic representation of humanity’s problem than any other explanation. This is really why I believe Christianity, and I think things fall into place from there. Grasping at straws to explain things? Perhaps. It’s still the only worldview that makes sense and provides reasonable hope in the midst of this chaos.
    Feel free to disagree. A lot of people do :). Also, feel free to have at me for not getting into details. But, ultimately, I don’t think the details are what’s important. As I’ve said to Nate, I think NT scripture stands up to a lot of good historical scrutiny. I’m not interested in debating whether it is inerrant and completely perfect. I don’t see that as a necessity. Simple as that.

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  16. @ Unklee
    ” I wanted to draw attention to the fact that there is just as much a problem the other way. Scientists performed very nasty experiments on human beings under the Nazi regime (Lou Reed sardonically said: “The goodly hearted made lampshades and soap”). The largest (numerically) episodes of genocide and killing have been perpetrated by enthusiastic atheists and communists (Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao), and the same Bradford Peace group found that irreligion has caused far more damage in a shorter time than religion has over a far longer period.”

    This old canard, unklee? Again? Really? Do you never tire of your attempts to rally support for your silly religious beliefs by slating non-believers and throwing Hitler,Stalin and Mao into the pot?
    Hitler was religious, and this is a documented fact.
    Stalin and Mao were atheists but it was not atheism that drove them to be the monsters they were, and this argument has been wrung out so often I am just too damn tired to wring it out again. You are beginning to sound like one of your old LP’s.
    Maybe someone ought to (paraphrase old Lou) hit you with a flower, every hour…until you catch a wake up?

    Religion…ALL religion not just your piss willy Christianity, is still causing damage. Look at the nonsense you keep espousing as a perfect example A grown man for goodness’ sake!

    And the largest numerical episode of genocide was committed by your god, Yahweh, with the enactment of the deluge. It’s in your holy book. Would you like me to name the chapter and verse for you, or have you torn those particular pages out or scribbled over them the words. “NOT APPLICABLE TO UNKLEE THEY GIVE ME NIGHTMARES – SKIP TO NEXT CHAPTER.”

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  17. Arkenaten-
    Christians definitely “got some ‘splainin'” to do in this regard. We need to own it, no doubt. Of all faiths, Christians should be most ashamed of this kind of past. A faith whose central tenet is an innocent man dying on a cross to save people who hate him should have no followers who commit these kinds of acts. It is sad, indeed.
    -Josh

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  18. Exactly, and the only way it could possibly be true is if they made it all up, and then butchered as many opponents as they were until they had a virtual monopoly.
    Go research what they did at Carcasonne, in France.
    In this particular instance written testimony survives of what happened to heretics and believers alike in the name of your god.

    The sooner Christians recognize that what they believe in is based on lies and turn away from the monster they created the better for all.

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  19. Arkenaten-
    I was really just trying to own up to some of the points you made. There really wasn’t any need to do anything buy acknowledge that I had made that effort. Of the 3-4 blogs I’ve been trying to read a bit over the past week or two, you are a consisten commenter. I would just like to point out that, amidst of comments from all the “terrible” Christians and their “monster” god, you are the most insulting, impatient, rude, angry, and inciting person on most of these comment threads. As long as you continue to be a shining example of what hatred, prejudice, and tactlessness can truly be, I don’t see how you can possibly expect anyone to take you seriously. Especially since your attitude is in direct contradiction to your claims that Christians should be bigger bigots and idiots than you are. I felt you required this feedback, but, unless you begin to act like a respectful adult, I will not be acknowledging any of your comments from here on.

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  20. You are entitled to your opinion, of course, and that you get upset because I call it like it is merely reflects the depth of ignorance of your god-belief. And if you think I am intolerant then I strongly encourage you to go and read what ‘christians’ did to Nate and his family when he announced his decision to leave Christianity and the church. Hypocrisy at its best.

    I don’t need your permission, Josh, to challenge the rot that is religion. Some like to pussyfoot around debates, I prefer to expose it for what it is. A rotten building built upon a foundation of lies and butchery. If you feel comfortable following this belief, so be it. But please, if you are going to accuse anyone of being tactless and hate-filled ( I hate NOTHING by the way) and bigoted then I strongly recommend you start writing letters to every single evangelical church leader in your country and also to the Pope. And CONTINUE writing until they own up to the truth.
    You have a lot to learn and there is no time like the present.
    The Christians have had over 2000 years and in that time they have done mostly harm. So you tell me, Josh, how much more patient should we be?

    When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

    You will recognize this verse, I’m sure. yes?

    Time to step up to the plate, Josh.

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  21. jjpete80, thanks for the reply, but no, i didnt find it satisfactory. maybe christianity looks so good to you because you dont look at the details?

    I would reply to the rest of your polite comment, but it was mostly vague, generic and dodged the questions I asked based off your comments. I hope I do not come off as rude. I thought you were very polite. I just wanted to let you know, as politely as I could, that your response might pass with the fervent unquestioning believer, but it would only pass with them. As such, I dont know that I really have anything to respond to.

    Dont you think that anyone could glaze over the details of anything, claim that their way makes the most sense, sidestepping the problems and questions brought up by skeptics of their particular belief system, and making excuses and far stretching answers for other issues? where does that get us?

    take care.

    William

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  22. William-
    Yes, anyone can glaze over details, claim their way makes the most sense, sidestep problems and questions brought up by skeptics, and make excuses and far stretching answers.

    “I am trying to gain a better understanding of the truth, so i am intrigued by your response here. would you care to elaborate on which prophecies, that nate wrote about, had compelling answers, and could you specify which response provided these?”

    Ezekiel’s prophecy regarding the destruction of Tyre:
    https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1790

    Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth:
    http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=811

    “also, one thing that I have had trouble with is the type of answers i’ve always gotten to these sort of issues. Could you maybe give an example of a problem (whether from any religion or topic) that couldnt be “answered” in such a way? it just seems to me that many of these responses are just dismissive or grasping at any ole straw, so an example of a what you consider a good contradiction would also be helpful.”

    I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure what kind of example you’re looking for here. I’ll answer as best I can. A “good contradiction” (I’m assuming this means valid contradiction?) would be two statements or records about an event that cannot be true. One example of an often-cited contradiction is the genealogies found in Matthew and Luke. There is a long answer here: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=932. I guess I’ll just say that I agree with you that some things in the NT documents appear to be contradictions. However, after reading several contradictions and their explanations, I am convinced a close look at the ORIGINAL language can clear up many, many of the contradictions. Another quick example is whether Judas Iscariot hanged himself or fell and burst his stomach open. This one, I think, can be debunked with the idea that a true contradiction means that both things cannot be true. Could Judas have hanged himself, and then fell and burst his stomach? Yes. Maybe that’s a stretch in your book. The point is it’s entirely possible that both things happened, and this cannot be considered a contradiction because of that.

    Will this answer all of your questions? Unlikely. But, I guess I felt compelled to show you here is that there has been a lot of work done in order to not avoid the details, as you say above. This might all look like “grasping at any ole straw” to you, but one thing I’ll ask you to consider is this. Atheists place the burden of proof on theists when the argument is solely about the existence of God. We have to “prove” this, so the claim goes, because it is a positive claim. Any point that an atheist brings that could conceivably argue against God’s existence must be answered, according to the atheist. With regard to the contradictions, though, the roles are reversed. Skeptics make the positive claim that all of these things they list are contradictions. This places the burden on the atheist – they must “prove” this, and answer any objections raised. So, any detail that is brought to the table about original language, or understanding that may be overlooked by the claimant must be considered by the atheist as evidence the account may not, in fact, be a contradiction.

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  23. Josh, thanks for the info. I’ll leave you and William to your discussion — I just wanted to say that I agree completely with the definition you gave for a valid contradiction. With that in mind, you might be interested in the different days and times given for Jesus’ death. Both versions can not be true. See here, if you’re interested (the headings “Time of Death” and “Day of Death”):
    https://findingtruth.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/contradictions-part-8-the-crucifixion/

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