82 thoughts on “Quiz Show!”

  1. These really are funny. And why I have left inerrancy behind. Meanwhile, one could argue that quite a bit is ‘lost in translation’. I know a lot of people who believe that the Bible is only inerrant in its original draft – which of course is convenient since no such manuscript exists.

    I wonder how they explain the oral passing down of much of the O.T.? Considering what usually happens when one plays the ‘telephone game’ … You get my drift. πŸ˜‰

    For me, the inaccuracies do not negate the overall message the Bible is working to convey. Instead they remind me that God meets us where we are – in all of our fallen-ness. I also do not need for everything in the Bible to jive simply because, in the end, there is no possible way my mind can grasp everything about God, so the Bible doesn’t have to be exhaustive in its narrative or absolutely accurate. Because of my own condition, I would likely misunderstand things that were written with perfect accuracy anyway (kind of like when I read a physics text ;)).

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  2. Well said, JudahFirst. I would question the Bible more if , for example, all four Gospels had the exact same details about what Jesus did, how many people were present during the resurrection, etc. At the same time, focusing too much on the details of Bible’s contradiction often distracts us from receiving the message that its authors were trying to convey.

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  3. It’s hard for me to see why anyone would think God actually had anything to do with the Bible, considering all its problems. Guess it just shows we don’t all approach it from the same angle.

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  4. Nate, considering how different we all are on a cellular level (DNA), it is no wonder to me that we “don’t all approach it from the same angle.” I find it much more amazing that any communication takes place at all! lol

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  5. Nate, it’s hard for me to see why anyone would think “Nate” actually had anything to do with this blog, considering all its internal inconsistencies and contradictions.

    πŸ™‚

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  6. I imagine, were you Elijah, you would have been disappointed to learn God appeared in the gentle whisper and not in the wind, earthquake, or fire. And, likewise, that God entered history as a carpenter instead of someone more likely to be convincing as God’s representative. For his own reason, he uses weakness and brokenness. This is a God who most often chooses to come in the quiet, not in the sure and unmistakable.

    If we were discussing a god who claimed to always reveal himself in ways that could not be mistaken, I’d be inclined to agree with your critiques. But, you’re using your own standards to critique, not the ones God uses. I’m glad he comes as a gentle breeze that will not crush the bruised reed.

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  7. Josh,

    First of all, I’m not writing my blog to convince you that Christianity is a false religion. If you can continue to believe it, despite all its problems, then that’s fine. It may not be a point of view I understand, but I don’t have to — it’s your point of view. However, there are many people out there who maintain the Bible is perfect and inerrant. I used to be one of these people. That’s my primary audience here. So no doubt, I’ll make many arguments that don’t resonate with you, because you’re not really who I’m directing them toward.

    That being said, if we can trust much of the Bible, we find that God spoke from a burning bush, led the Israelites in a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, caused the earth to swallow whole families, rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah, separated a sea so people could cross on dry land, protected people who had been thrown into a furnace, protected Daniel in the lion’s den, brought a skeleton army to life, took miracle requests from Gideon and Hezekiah and Moses, etc, etc, etc.

    God used miracles as proof that he was who he claimed to be. And he allowed many of his followers to perform them for the same reason. They weren’t running a health and wellness tour, they were trying to convince people of the truths they were preaching. In other words, God used extreme evidence to support extreme claims. Now, for some reason, he doesn’t do that. I’ve never seen a miracle. Just about everyone I know says they’ve never seen one either. The Bible, his supposed word, could be its own evidence if it contained accurate prophecies, or displayed a knowledge of science that couldn’t possibly have been known at the time it was written. Or even just avoiding contradictions would be a good sign that it’s no ordinary book, since it’s easy for regular people to make mistakes. But the Bible is none of those things.

    So what real reason do we have to believe its claims? Why did God put so much energy into convincing people long ago, but doesn’t bother doing the same today? Especially, since he’s “no respecter of persons”? Of course, we get that claim from the Bible, and since it’s not inerrant, I guess there’s no reason to believe it was right about that particular aspect of God’s character, right?

    Never mind. It’s much clearer now. Just strip away anything the Bible says about God wanting people to believe his teachings, or strip out the passages that say salvation only comes through belief in Jesus, and we’re all set. The inadequacies of the Bible are no big deal when we pick and choose which parts are relevant.

    Look, here’s the thing: We live in a world filled to the brim with different versions of different religions all claiming to be the TRUTH. As individuals, we don’t get to start out with a blank slate so we can examine each of these carefully before deciding which avenue is correct. Instead, we’re born into families that have already chosen a particular path, and most of us are told that this path is the only true one. Everyone else is misguided. We may begin to question that premise once our brains have fully developed (though many of us never really question it at all), but after 20 or more years of indoctrination, it’s not easy to achieve true objectivity. To make matters worse, most of us are told that making the wrong decision about religion will lead to some kind of punishment — a quite severe one, in most religions. That kind of fear only further impedes our ability to objectively choose between all the competing options.

    This is the problem I see with what you’re saying. You believe in a God who works subtly and mysteriously, so it’s no wonder we can’t understand him. And if we’re trying to find him via reason, then we’re probably going to miss him anyway. He gave us a message, but it’s almost indistinguishable from all the other man-made religious texts that are out there. Might seem crazy, but then again, the wisdom of God is foolishness to men, so who are we to judge? This God loves everyone, but he doesn’t contact us because he wants us to believe in him and love him because we want to. Of course, there are consequences if we “reject” him, though I have trouble understanding how we can reject a being who’s never really let himself be known to us.

    The entire scenario is ridiculous — at least, it seems that way to me. The only people who are likely to buy into it are those who were born into it. While this kind of Christianity might occasionally pull in a convert from atheism, Islam, Hinduism, etc, it’s very rare. It mostly brings in people who were raised as Christians when they were children, or at the very least, lived in a Western society that was culturally Christian. Very few people from other faiths will come to it. This tells me that either God doesn’t care much about people from non-Judeo-Christian cultures, or this religion is utterly bogus. The latter seems most likely to me.

    Sorry to rant on for so long. I know you’re a good guy, and you’re not trying to be dismissive of non-Christians. But I honestly believe that you aren’t really putting yourself in their shoes. If you were, I think you’d see that your version of Christianity is pretty hard to believe in. There’s no real evidence for it, because you water down the one piece of hard evidence you have, the Bible. What other evidence do you have to point to? Creation? An inner feeling? Those can point to any god. Or none at all.

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  8. Nate, I’m not aiming to water anything down or make light of your reasoning. You have several complaints about difficulties in scripture that you have researched and cannot resolve. In the discussions we’ve had I have become convinced that trying to dissuade you that those are actually as problematic as you think is futile. You have searched and come to your conclusions. Nothing I say about those things will be different from what I’m sure you’ve already read. That’s fine. I’m trying to respect that and give you different perspectives on why I believe Christianity

    I will say one thing in response to your post. Christianity is distinguishable from all other gods in that God came to redeem us. No other god that I’m aware of claims that. All others demand our obedience to earn favor, yet don’t tell where the “bar” is. That’s a significant distinguishing and convincing feature, in my opinion.

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  9. Nate, I am not part of your audience in this post, since I do not think the Bible is perfect and complete (like I used to). But I don’t necessarily believe that God does not try to reach out to us so that we can believe in him either.
    You wrote ” I have trouble understanding how we can reject a being who’s never really let himself be known to us.” Just because He is not more obvious to us in today’s world does not mean He is not real. We can still reject when believers preach to us, when we read a few biblical verses, when we have opportunities to serve the poor, when we refuse to forgive, when we yield to temptations, etc. All of these I believe are examples of ways we can reject God.
    I agree with you when you wrote that believers are usually more convinced of what Bible teaches because they were raised in this environment, me included. I also agree that we often miss the fact that other religions also claim to be the Truth and not agreeing with the one we were raised with leads to eternal punishment is a fear driven approach. Most Christians use it and I think it is a wrong interpretation of God.
    Anyways, we are all pretty much in the same boat. Trying to find Truth and meaning. Which is why many times I prefer to simply live by doing what I currently think is the reason for living: serving others in need.

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  10. Which is why many times I prefer to simply live by doing what I currently think is the reason for living: serving others in need.

    I can get behind that.

    I will say one thing in response to your post. Christianity is distinguishable from all other gods in that God came to redeem us. No other god that I’m aware of claims that. All others demand our obedience to earn favor, yet don’t tell where the β€œbar” is. That’s a significant distinguishing and convincing feature, in my opinion.

    You may be right about that difference. But isn’t it still an assumption that God would use a plan like that? Just like a Muslim might say that Islam is the only religion to treat its text as the primary miracle that God would perform. In other words, his message to mankind is the only necessary miracle. And the Muslim might further say that Islam is better than Christianity because it’s a true monotheism having no other being equal to God.

    The point is that any religious person can point to the unique features of their particular faith as the reason it would be “God’s way” of doing things. Isn’t it presumptive to say we know what kind of plan God would choose? Aren’t his ways higher than ours?

    And sorry, by the way, if my tone was off-putting in the last comment.

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  11. Not off-putting, Nate.
    You have a point that people of any religion could point to the things that make their religion unique. I’m definitely willing to accept I could be wrong, and I mentioned I have my doubts at times. I’ll just say again that I know myself and I know how hard I’ve tried to become a good person. I constantly fail, and end up hurting people around me. I (and this is personal) take no comfort in a god who simply lays out how we should live. There is clearly a drive in us to be better. The question I have for every other religion is “How much better?” A god that simply offers rules with no clear is not something I, who know how far I can fall short, am interested in. The God who offers himself to show that I am accepted is far more worthy, IMO.

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  12. Nate, God’s way are definitely higher than ours. Which is why we often don’t fully understand why God allows certain things such as hunger, abuse, wars, etc. I f I were God I would do many things differently … but I am not. By the way, Christians don’t claim there are other beings equal to God. The Trinity is one God. However, we should strive to be more like God by practicing humility, forgiveness, mercy, peace makers, hunger for justice, etc. Don’t worry about your comments, you are the least critical atheist I have met so far.:-)

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  13. Thanks Nan. πŸ™‚

    Noel, I hear what you’re saying about the Trinity, but I’ll bet you can see how non-Christians don’t buy it. It doesn’t really seem like true monotheism. Don’t get me wrong — it doesn’t matter much to me. I never understood why monotheism was supposed to be better than polytheism anyway. But for someone who’s convinced monotheism is the only way, Christianity can seem like a deviation. It seems a bit like a blending of Judaism and paganism.

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  14. Nate, there is so much in your very long comment that rung true with me, but I want to focus in on a particular part that always troubled me greatly when I was trying to rationalize my own beliefs about the bible when I was a Christian:

    The inadequacies of the Bible are no big deal when we pick and choose which parts are relevant.

    A lot of us seem to be agreed that the Old Testament has some very difficult passages to swallow. And actually, the New Testament doesn’t seem so benign either, with it’s descriptions of hell, passages about women in 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinth 14:34, and Paul’s disturbing passage in Romans 9:18-23. The slavery passages aren’t easy to swallow either. And the other big glaring issue here is that the New Testament very clearly connects itself to the Old.

    So I struggled with trying to re-interpret these passages and even toyed with the idea that they are just uninspired parts of a book that had inspiration in it’s main messages.

    But a few problems struck me:

    The first was that I began to realize that I could do the same kinds of things with the inspired books of other religions. I know I’m repeating myself on this one, but this was a very big stumbling block for me. If I could pick and choose parts from the bible or re-interpret difficult passages then I found it difficult to conclude or prove to a believer of another religion that the bible was a better or more true book than theirs.

    The second was that I began to realize that I was forming conclusions about which parts of the bible were true or inspired (or not in need of re-interpretation) based on my own views about what was right and wrong. This isn’t any different than what I do now as an agnostic/atheist in coming to my own conclusions about morality. Some believers give atheists a hard time for how subjective this kind of morality is, but I see the same kind of subjective process going on in the minds of a lot of believers.

    And lastly, as these difficulties in the bible accumulated I simply came to a point where it made more sense to me that the bible is just a book written by humans rather than it being inspired by invisible conscious beings. Even the main messages of the bible really are things that creative human minds would be able to come up with on their own. And given all the difficult passages it begins to look even more human. Not a proof of course, but the point came for me where that conclusion seemed more reasonable to me.

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  15. Howie, I couldn’t agree with you more. I went through the very same thought processes myself. Thank you for stating it so eloquently!

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  16. Howie and nate, i absolutely agree.well said, both of you.

    It just seems odd to me that anyone would say that if all the gospels were the same then they’d question, but since they’re so different, then that somehow makes more sense, somehow makes it more believable…. wow…

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  17. You have never seen a miracle and no one you know has never seen a miracle? Really? You must have a very limited view of what a miracle is because I have seen a lot in my life and see God at work every day. No I don’t see the ocean split in half but I see things other people think are impossible all the time. I have seen the Devil and God at work, it took me going through my own personal Hell to see it so closely that my faith is so strong now I do not think I will ever doubt like you like I did before, but I have seen it. I do not believe it because I was raised to, I do not believe it because of some chemical reactions in my brain or any other reason that can be explained by science, I believe it because I have seen it and it is real to me. It is truth to me. Back when the Bible was written it was the beginning of time, of course people saw God at work more, they knew God then, the Devil could not convince them he was not real yet, the ones rebelling back then knew he was real at least up to a certain point. However, even back then even when Jesus was on Earth some people saw those miracles and still did not believe. Everyone who doesn’t today says they want proof, the proof is all around them just like it was then but you have to have faith first. You can convince yourself any religion or atheism is true with enough of the correct arguments, anyone can argue all are right but no one for me personally can ever argue what I have seen and experienced and that it is not real, it is real to me. Not that I am trying to convince you right now because that is the thing, maybe at one point in my life I believed something I said in two sentences could change your religious beliefs or I could argue someone to believe me with blogs or comments on blogs, etc but I don’t believe that anymore. I have every question you have asked in this blog and I have gotten all the answers from God but I still don’t think I could convince you, I think God can and eventually will if you allow him to but big prayers take a long time to be answered. I think a relationship with God is a personal thing and in some ways I think we make it more complicated than it is supposed to be, like the Bible for example, because so much time has passed that was supposed to help us know more but over years it has been interpreted and changed so much and everyone fights over the meaning of every little detail thinking this is the only thing God left us to figure this all out, God gave us everything not just the Bible, the Bible was some events and some of God’s word recorded by men, men with flaws, Some people worship the Bible instead of God. some people don’t have Bibles some people don’t have churches,remember when Jesus came it was the religious people at the time who crucified him. I think everyone has a chance at a personal relationship with God. To think someone in some far off country would never know him means people think we have to bring God to them, that God needs us to save people. God doesn’t need us to save anyone. He can use us and we are lucky when he does to be a part of it, but to think God needs us to save anyone, he needs me to have a personal relationship with you has never made sense to me. Do I think can lead by example, of course, do I think God can use me, sure, but nothing more than that.. As for your picking and choosing of the Bible it is actually people taking bits and pieces of the Bible that is the problem. Imagine if someone quoted one quote from any book and tried to draw a conclusion about the entire book. That is what is constantly done by Christians and nonbelievers. When you read the entire book and put it together you can make sense of it but without faith or prayer or a personal relationship with God it is just another book of stories that means nothing and you can’t make sense of it. In another way, I think we also simplify God too much like when it comes to some people trying to save someone in a couple minutes. I have seen people get saved like this but it was things that happened long before that two minute conversation that led them to this point not that person’s two minute speech. I believe God used that person, that experience, that moment, to communicate with them and try to get a response and that person decides when they finally respond. Most Christians think they have a lot more to do with that decision in my opinion than they really do. I got saved at a young age but started to question like you as I got older if I really believed or not and eventually came to having an even stronger faith after getting to a point I had almost none at all and didn’t even want to live anymore. That all being said I will probably not be commenting on here anymore, I just don’t have the time or brain power to continue it and haven’t even had time to read half of it still much less respond, then respond to responses, etc and I will literally spend all day every day on here trying to keep up and I just can’t, and it is not going to convince you anymore than you will convince me and I wish I had the chance to answer some of those questions back when you were still more open minded when your church was unable to do that for you, but again no one was going to be able to argue you back to Christianity and they never will be able to, but I would still love to have dinner or lunch with Lauren sometime and not to try and convert you back over a meal haha. I have a former atheist friend who finally came back to Christianity and no one brought him back, one day he saw a miracle, he finally believed at that point and then started seeing them all the time. He finally had faith. He finally got to a point where he needed something bad enough, asked for it and God gave it to him. This sort of happened with my husband to a point to, he got to a low point finally saw something he thought was impossible started believing and saw even more miracles and could not longer deny God didn’t exist. Too many coincidences to explain, too much involvement in our lives, in fixing our marriage. I didn’t even get on here to argue you back just more so to understand how it happened in the first place and maybe that would help me in my walk somehow or to help others from getting to the point and to also try and make dinner plans because I hate we lost touch, but then I realized I already knew how you got to that point, I got to that point at least to a certain degree but in a completely different way and time frame, and I didn’t blog about it, I was ashamed and blogged about it once I came back to my beliefs because everyone is different and handles it all in different ways and I believe because God made us all different with different gifts and special. Just keep in mind you were so sure you were right before and you are again now so keep an open mind. I have seen the Devil not only almost convince me God and the relationship we had wasn’t real but saw him convince me husband and then almost me too that the love we once had wasn’t real and was not worth fighting for. We have that back now, it was still there but a lot of people tried to convince us both ways.too. In the end, it could have gone either way, we could have ended up apart and could have been happy without each other and convinced ourselves we should have never been together as a lot of people do, but now that we are back together I know what we would have been missing had we split and I remember what we used to have so does he. I realize now what we were going to throw away, and at one point I thought it was nothing. Seriously though email me anytime to make plans. Would love to see you guys! Good luck with the block and your continued search in finding truth!

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  18. um, yeah, I think a miracle is more than good stuff happening. A miracle is something unnatural that happens by divine intervention, like raising the dead, or walking on water, or ascending into heaven. Things that don’t occur naturally or by some unimpressive ways, don’t really count.

    Having good stuff happen, while nice, isn’t miraculous, or else everyone on earth is capable of performing miracles, which would water down the grandeur of them, i’d say.

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