Have a Little Faith

I spent a long time as a Christian. I’m able to look back on much of that time very fondly. I loved my fellow brethren, and I truly wanted to learn more about God’s will and do my best to follow it. But there was also a deep fear tied to my belief. I think that’s fairly common among fundamentalists, but it may apply to more moderate Christians as well.

Where did this fear come from? There are certainly a number of passages that talk about God’s love for mankind:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Rom 8:31

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Rom 8:38-39

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Pet 3:9

But despite his love, God can get angry too. And you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry:

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Heb 10:26-31

The scariest thing about this is that facing God’s wrath will be a complete shock to some people. There are those who think they’re doing what God wants, but are completely missing the mark:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matt 7: 21-23

What if you believe in Jesus and love God, but aren’t doing God’s will? Is your sincerity enough? This was a thought that plagued me when I believed. If some people would get to Judgment Day only to find that they weren’t acceptable, then why couldn’t such a thing happen to me? How did I know my beliefs were the correct ones? My brother and I used to talk about this a lot. Through study, he and I both began to think that a couple of the doctrines we had always been taught in the Church of Christ were incorrect. Coming to that conclusion was extremely difficult. Were we reading and understanding our Bibles correctly?

As an illustration, consider a minor passage: 1 Corinthians 11. The beginning of this chapter says that women should have their heads covered when they pray. But the passage is confusing. Paul says that since women have long hair, they should also wear a covering when they pray or prophesy. He spends several verses giving reasons why a woman should cover her head, but then in verse 15, he also says that her long hair is given to her as a covering. So do they still need a separate one? Most confusing at all, verse 16 says:

If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

What does that even mean? Does it mean there’s not a practice of being contentious? That sounds like a crazy thing to have to say. So maybe he’s saying that the head covering is not supposed to be a practice if anyone makes a fuss over it. But that doesn’t make sense either. I mean, what other doctrines are given that caveat? Did any of the 10 Commandments have such an escape clause? The whole passage is confusing. What are Christians supposed to do? Either God wants the covering, or he doesn’t, but that passage can be read any number of different ways.

And of course, that’s far from the only vague passage. When you’re raised in a denomination, you’re taught to read the Bible a particular way. “Predestination” means something very different, depending on who you’re talking to. Who’s right? And what if you were raised in one of the groups that thinks they’re right, but to whom God will say “depart from me, I never knew you”? My brother and I realized how difficult it is to unpack all those preconceptions in order to clearly see the scriptures for what they really say. It’s scary.

Here’s the Point
But eventually, I realized that my fear was needless. The Bible says that God is fair, he doesn’t play favorites, he loves us, and he wants us to find the truth. Jesus said “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7). If those things are true, then there’s no reason for us to be so worried about getting it wrong, as long as we’re sincerely seeking the truth.

It’s important to realize how significant that point is. If we’re really looking for the answers, then no question is going too far. So if we dig into the Bible and think “it doesn’t make sense to me that God would send people to Hell,” we shouldn’t run from that thought — we should investigate it. It’s okay for us to ask why God would command genocide in the Old Testament. It’s okay to wonder why he seems so hidden. It’s okay to ask why he would inspire people to write a message, but not protect the originals or ensure its accuracy. If God supports our search for truth, then all of these questions are valid. In fact, the people who pursue these questions obviously take the issue seriously. Wouldn’t that be more pleasing to God than those who never question what they’ve been told?

If you believe in God, then have faith in his character. Have faith in his promises. And take him seriously enough to challenge those who claim to speak for him (the writers of the Bible). Don’t let people tell you that you can’t question God whenever you express doubt about a passage. The Bible is not God. So show God the respect he deserves and critically examine the Bible before you accept the claim that he inspired it. If he’s real, he’ll be much more pleased with an honest seeker than with someone who’s too scared to ask the tough questions.

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290 thoughts on “Have a Little Faith”

  1. Speaking of Corinthians I, read chapter 14 from beginning to end, skipping entirely verses 34 and 35, then reread it, leaving them in – notice how the flow, the rhythm of the prose is interrupted, resulting in a jarring experience. Could this be the same Paul who advocated making women officials in the church? Paul’s words have clearly been played with, here and elsewhere.

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  2. “What if you believe in Jesus and love God, but aren’t doing God’s will?”

    Belief and love are expressed by action, not words, feelings or intentions.. So a person cannot say he loves and believes in God if he is not doing God’s will.

    When we sin we are acting against the love and will of God.

    That God is reasonable and that he created man in his image, is one of the great teachings of the Bible.

    Another great teaching in the Bible is that God values reason so much that he changes his will when men reason with him.

    Moses, Lot and the Virgin Mary are examples of people who changed the will of God by reasoning with Him.

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  3. Excellent article as usual, Nate.

    This line, though made me giggle: “The Bible says that God is fair, he doesn’t play favorites”… Except, of course, for “choosing” the Hebrews over all other people 🙂

    Jewish Reconstructionists have strongly rejected this concept (rightly so), stating in their 1986 platform: “The idea that God chose the Jewish people for any purpose, in any way, is “morally untenable”, because anyone who has such beliefs “implies the superiority of the elect community and the rejection of others.”

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  4. Favoritism is not why God chose the Hebrews.

    In fact, any Christian or Jew who deigns to approach God will be tested past endurance.

    Being “chosen” by God is a great burden.

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  5. “Another great teaching in the Bible is that God values reason so much that he changes his will when men reason with him.”

    So, Si, you’re saying, essentially, that your god is not omniscient, as advertised. If he were, he would foresee that on such and such a day, at some time in the future, so and so was going to reason with him about something and cause him to change his course, and having foreseen that, change his course accordingly before the day arrives, leaving no record of having changed his mind. But because he lacks omniscience, we see instances where he performs such mental gymnastics – is that about it?

    Bear in mind, I’m not disagreeing with you, Si, as I’ve done in the past, I just want to be clear on what you’re saying about what would appear to be your god’s handicap.

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  6. Ark,

    I said clearly that the Bible teaches that God values reason and that he values reason among men.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of omniscience.

    No telling the wondrous insights you might have if you only concentrated upon and thought about the topic at hand instead of whisking yourself off on a personal hallucination.

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  7. “Jewish Reconstructionists have strongly rejected this concept”

    I find that astonishing. How could they possibly believe in the god of the Bible, and not automatically assume that since the flood – assuming Noah and his sons were – we are ALL Jewish? Asians, Africans, Europeans – just different flavors of Jewish.

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  8. “I said clearly that the Bible teaches that God values reason and that he values reason among men”

    Yes, you certainly did, Si, but you corroborated your statement by saying, “he changes his will when men reason with him” – let’s say I borrow five from you, however, I’m omniscient, and I foresee that next Friday, you’re going to catch me in a pub, in front of a group of my friends, and embarrass me by asking for it back – forewarned of this, I slip a five-spot in an envelope and mail it to you, designing it to arrive on Thursday – Friday arrives, I see you in the bar, and you thank me, in front of all of my friends, for promptly returning your money – see how that works?

    Another example might be, say, if YOU were omniscient, you would foresee that I was going to say, “FYI, Si – it’s ‘Arch,’ not ‘Ark’ – Ark’s the funny-looking one!” and adjust your comment accordingly, before posting.

    I’m just not clear as to whether you’re saying your god HAS no superpower of omniscience, or if you’re saying it only works sporadically. Care to enlighten us?

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  9. Ark,

    Open up your file on omnipotence.

    God is omnipotent and can do anything he wants including changing his mind.

    What’s more, whatever he does, he does for man’s benefit.

    So you assuming that God doesn’t know what’s going on simply because of his interactions with man is simply absurd.

    Here is what you need to do in order for the Bible to start making sense to you:

    Assume that God is right and that you are wrong.

    That is perfectly reasonable since by nature God is omnipotent, omniscient, infinite; and you are not.

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  10. This is the full platform. They reject “god” as well:

    “Judaism is the result of natural human development. There is no such thing as divine intervention; Judaism is an evolving religious civilization; Zionism and aliyah (immigration to Israel) are encouraged; Reconstructionist Judaism is based on a democratic community where the laity can make decisions, not just rabbis; The Torah was not inspired by God; it only comes from the social and historical development of Jewish people; The classical view of God is rejected. God is redefined as the sum of natural powers or processes that allows mankind to gain self-fulfillment and moral improvement; The idea that God chose the Jewish people for any purpose, in any way, is “morally untenable”, because anyone who has such beliefs “implies the superiority of the elect community and the rejection of others”.

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  11. “God is omnipotent and can do anything he wants including changing his mind.”

    You’re not seeing what I’m saying, Si – any god who changes it’s mind, cannot both be omnipotent and omniscient, for if he were omniscient, he would foresee that he would at some point change his mind, and change course accordingly. Please try to keep up – oh, and it’s still “Arch,” not “Ark,” but if it will help you keep things straight, feel free to call me Mr. Opteryx.

    “Here is what you need to do in order for the Bible to start making sense to you: Assume that God is right and that you are wrong. That is perfectly reasonable since by nature God is omnipotent, omniscient, infinite; and you are not.”

    Quick question, Si – when you say, “Assume that God is right and that you are wrong.” – does that apply to everyone? Or just me?

    If everyone, wouldn’t it equally apply to those who wrote the Bible? Since the Bible was written by Humans, not gods, and if Humans, according to you, are wrong, then the Bible is wrong as well, at least enough of it, that it’s impossible to tell where the wrong ends and the right begins – wouldn’t you agree?

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  12. Cool! Very reasonable and appropriately secular. Please feel free to tell them I approve – I’m sure it will make a huge difference.

    If my vocabulary seems particularly stilted this morning, it’s because some Australian friends sent me links to a number of episodes of “Rumpole on the Bailey,” and I’m feeling especially British this morning – but much like gas, this too, shall pass.

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  13. Ark,

    If God can’t change his mind then he not omnipotent.

    All-knowingness, all-powerfulness are infinite qualities. That means they are beyond man’s ability to comprehend.

    But dumbing down the topic so that it fits inside the biased, agenda-driven atheist mind, is what atheists do.

    That is why you find it impossible to look at things from God’s point of view.

    Because of atheism you can only see things from your own point of view, which turns you into an intellectual invalid.

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  14. “That is why you find it impossible to look at things from God’s point of view.”

    And yet you imply that you are quite capable of doing so.

    “If God can’t change his mind then he not omnipotent.”

    And if he DOES change his mind, he’s clearly, by his own admission, not omniscient.

    And finally, my friends call me, “Arch” – although I’ve never particularly had occasion to consider you my friend, I did, however, extend that opportunity to you, which you have now thrice declined, and insist on calling me “Ark.” I am withdrawing my invitation – you may now exclusively call me Mr. Opteryx.

    I get the impression that you need to be reminded from time to time, that your mind has the right to remain silent. Anything you say, can, and will, be used against you in a comment of ridicule.

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  15. Ark,

    God playing mind games with homo sapiens hardly puts his omniscience in doubt.

    But it does give us a bird’s eye view into the importance of freedom and reason; and the nature of God, man and universe.

    Reason is but the doorway into the mansion of faith. And God wants man to live in the mansion of faith.

    That’s what it is all about.
    .
    Getting side tracked into an alternate universe where God’s nature is called into question is a waste of time.

    It’s the sound of one hand clapping, or a dog barking up the wrong tree.

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  16. Thanks for all the comments, guys!

    @arch
    To your point about 1 Cor 14:34-35 — you’re exactly right about how those verses interrupt the flow of the passage. And as you probably know, some manuscripts show the verses in different places within the chapter, and some other manuscripts have marks around those two verses showing that the scribe was suspect of their authenticity. I believe at least one manuscript is missing the verses entirely. I don’t think the consensus of scholarship is settled on whether or not it’s an interpolation, but it’s certainly suspected of being one.

    @John
    To your point about favoritism — yes, it’s funny how the Bible maintains that God is “no respecter of persons,” yet he chooses the Jews over all others, chooses Noah and Abraham from all other people, and even chooses Jacob over Esau while they’re infants. The mysteries abound. 🙂 Thanks also for those quotes from the Jewish Restorationists.

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  17. Si,

    I appreciate your comments, but you seem to have completely missed the point of my post. There are no bad questions when examining the claims people make about God. You’re saying that we must take what the Bible says on faith — assume it’s true, because who are we to question God?

    BUT QUESTIONING THE BIBLE IS NOT QUESTIONING GOD!

    Arch is not calling God’s nature into question — he’s calling into question the conflicting natures that the Bible assigns to him. The Bible claims that God wants a relationship with all of us, yet he’s so well hidden we can question his very existence. The Bible claims that God is purely good, yet other passages say he created evil, and others say he commanded genocide and sanctioned rape. There are so many inconsistencies that Christians are often forced to resort to the rationalizations that you’re espousing so they don’t have to deal with the problems. “The Bible doesn’t make sense? That’s just because you have to assume it’s true before you read it! Don’t know why a loving God would annihilate entire nations and send people to Hell? Well, God’s ways are higher than our own!”

    Those are non-answers. They are evasions. And if there is a God, such willful blindness will certainly not be pleasing to him. If you believe in him, then treat him seriously enough to be critical of every attempt people make to speak on his behalf. Because if you’re following the wrong message (you are!), you’re no better off than Mormons, Muslims, and Westboro Baptists.

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  18. On the subject of favoritism: it’s important to note according to Genesis 12:1-3 God chose the Jews so that he might bless all the families of the earth. Not saying it always played out that way but it’s important to note the starting point.

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  19. Ben! Thanks for the comment — it’s always good to hear from you. And you’re right, Genesis does frame the choice in that light, as well as tying it to the favor Abraham had found in God’s eyes.

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  20. For me, fear comes from life in general. I just watched my sister die of early onset Alzheimer’s and lung cancer. She suffered horribly and was not able to verbally communicate her pain (for all we know, her brain was not able to rationalize/understand it either). LIFE scares the s*** out of me, not God. God (in terms of anger) doesn’t scare me at all. If anything, I fear He is apathetic – until I remember Jesus who came into this world to share in its pain and sufferings. Until I remember He submitted to death at our hand. Then my fear of any apathy on God’s part is gone.

    I think if Evangelicals could really focus on Jesus’ suffering (on His coming into our plane and experiencing the very real pain and loss of life in general), they would understand that God is not angry. If Jesus is the final Word, then all the other ‘words’ of the Bible must be interpreted through Him, His life, and His teachings about the Father’s love. Truly “Perfect love casts out fear” and “God is love”. Last I checked, God is perfect, so He’s the only source of perfect love. Nowhere does the Bible ever say “God is wrath”.

    Oh, well, my two cents. I enjoyed this post – you always make me think! Thanks for that, and Merry Christmas to you! 😀

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  21. SilenceofMind, I checked out your blog not too long ago and came away with the impression that you’re not a Christian, which is why I’m confused when reading your comments here.

    I can get it if you’re trying to be fair, and reluctant to let anyone accuse the bible of some falsehood or crime that it in fact isn’t really guilty of. For instance, the bible does not command or even suggest that Christians stand outside the gravesites of dead soldiers or homosexuals, shouting “God hates your son,” or something similar. The bible doesn’t say that, so do not say that it does. Let’s be honest and precise in our criticisms of the bible. I agree with that. Is that what you’re more or less getting at, or have you reconverted?

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  22. On the “no respecter if persons” thing, I can see where the Hebrews (really blessed because of Abraham) and Abraham and David could be discarded as not applying.

    In the cases of the above, perhaps it is that it was the individual’s holiness that caught god’s attention. Perhaps all people could be and would be blessed in similar ways if they also truly were men after god’s own heart. We’ll never know. And for me, I think it’s all fairy-tales, but there are those who do believe.

    I think there are other examples of respecting persons, like Saul’s conversion, like all the people born in non-religious homes, or other religion, religious homes. I’m sure if I thought hard enough I could think of others. Hezekiah is one that comes to mind, his life being extended, but you will find plenty instances of children dying horrible deaths all the time. These are harder to rationalize away, I think.

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  23. Hi Nate, I appreciated this post also. I always enjoy reading about the experiences and previous lives of people I know, as it helps understand how they feel even if I cannot agree with what they think. SO the path you and your brother followed was interesting.

    And I agree with you wholeheartedly, that we shouldn’t be afraid to question our beliefs, the Bible, even God. I often say that doubt can be the gateway to new understanding.

    Which made me start to ponder this question. What advice about questioning their beliefs would you give to non-believers?

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  24. “What advice about questioning their beliefs would you give to non-believers?”

    Not Nate, here – as you’ve obviously gathered by now – but my advice would be, if someone presents irrefutable evidence, by all means, consider it.

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  25. Arch,

    Since by definition God is omniscient, God changing his mind is an indicator of liberty (free will). Liberty is an indicator of justice.

    See how that works?

    While you, the atheist, are hallucinating biased smallness, the Bible is teaching great ideas.

    .

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  26. William,

    Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.

    Mostly I try to offer secular arguments based on natural law that coincide with Judeo-Christian teachings.

    I think you would be safe in characterizing me as a Christian from my comments defending the Bible.

    I try to model my thinking after St. Thomas Aquinas who used reason and systematic thinking to explain the ideas of presented by the Christian faith.

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  27. First of all, thank you for not calling me by Arkenaten’s name – I don’t like it and he charges me every time it’s used in error.

    “Since by definition God is omniscient”

    Could you possibly point me to that definition? Say, book, chapter and verse? Or possibly it can be found in some book of science – Neil deGrasse Tyson perhaps?

    I have a verse of which I’m especially fond – it has to do with the Tower of Babel fable – Gen 11:5:

    “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men had builded.

    Wall, color me skeptical, Pilgrim (my best John Wayne!), but why would an omniscient god need to go ANYwhere to see what was going on, when he should have already known it was going to happen?!

    Plus, it’s clearly obvious that you don’t get the full implications of “omniscient” – you mention that he would have left room for free will, but even so, an omniscient god would have foreseen the subject’s use of “free will,” so once again, there would be no need for omnipotence, as there would be no need to alter anything – whatever was to happen, would have been foreseen in advance to have been going to happen.

    Your serve —

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  28. Arch,

    Let’s try a little reasoning even though I know that’s impossible for you. I’m not being rude. I’m just stating the requirements of atheism.

    To be an atheist one must give up the ability to reason. For to believe that everything came, all by itself from nothing, is to believe the absurd.

    For those of us who value reason, however, it is obvious that everything must necessarily have been created.

    That Creator is God.

    So reasoning further, in order to create everything, or all things, the Creator must by all-powerful.

    To know how to create all things, the Creator must be all-knowing.

    Consequently, God is all-powerful and all-knowing.

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  29. Wow! The worn out, old Kalaam cosmological argument – again. So much nonsense, so little time —

    Let’s try a little reasoning even though I know that’s impossible for you. I’m not being rude. I’m just stating the requirements of theism.

    To be a theist one must give up the ability to reason. For to believe that everything came from an invisible entity that created itself, is to believe the absurd.

    “For those of us who value reason, however, it is obvious that everything must necessarily have been created.”

    Why?

    “That Creator is God.”

    Purely assumptive, based on non-existant data. But to pretend to entertain your nonsense, why must that conclusion be reached? And if a god or gods, which god or gods, and why that/those, not another? Proof, please —

    A priori reasoning is an interesting philosophical exercise, but in the absence of empirical evidence, hardly proof of ANYthing.

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  30. Arch,

    you give me the impression that discussing these things is kind of a sport to you. Like its a debating game. A game to win. I could be wrong about you feeling this way. I apologise if I am. It was just an impression I’ve had for a while when I read your posts. Fair enough if debating interests you. I like debating certain topics with my friends as well.

    I just wanted to point out though that these topics are not sport for some people. These considerations regarding faith is a real concern for some people. What is discussed is not merely a topic to debate or to win, for some people.

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  31. Again apologies if I’ve misread you Arch.

    People gravitate to discussions for different reasons, it just seems to me like you see discussion as a competition to outdebate people for fun. Like I mentioned I debate for fun too. What I’ve realised though is that whether or not someone out debated an individual, it has little relevance regarding whether something is actually true or not. Debate and conversation are two different things with different goals. Debate seeks to win its case, whatever it may be. where conversation seeks to understand where other people stand and what is actually true. That’s what I think anyway

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  32. While you, the atheist, are hallucinating biased smallness, the Bible is teaching great ideas.

    ie. Slavery, incest, genocide, lies, cruelty, general debauchery, non-drug induced hallucinations are okay,(thank you Paul of Tarsus) misogyny, homophobia, infanticide,rape, etc oh, and something about shellfish.
    And these are just a few that the god God is cheering from the sidelines about.

    Gotta love Yahweh and his Book, right? lol….

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  33. Lol….classic ”Smarmy Git’ line from William Lane Craig’s Number 1 card carrying member of the Reasonable Christian Hypocrites.

    Which made me start to ponder this question. What advice about questioning their beliefs would you give to non-believers?

    I’ll have a stab at this….

    That if there is a god worthy of worship is sure as Hades isn’t the one who got himself nailed to a tree and then wondered why his dad left him there and then came back to life after a short weekend just in time for the Easter Egg hunt.

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  34. Actually, Si, the archaeopteryx is a proto-bird, an evolutionary transitional form leading from ancient dinosaurs to modern birds, with characteristics of each – something your Genesis fables do not permit you to consider, just as my own reasoning powers do not allow me to realistically envision unicorns, dragons, and talking snakes and donkeys such as your Bible describes.

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  35. Portal, this is an atheist website, much as Answers In Genesis is a theistic one. Anyone, as I gather from Nate’s comments, is welcome here to freely express their views and opinions, but for a theist to come onto an atheist website and make a claim, common sense decrees that they be prepared to support it. I would expect to do the same if I were to comment on AIG.

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  36. A prime example, Portal, is Captain Courageous – sorry, Captain Catholic – who often comes here with claims, which we challenge – he seems to enjoy the mental masturbation, as do we, no one gets upset, and why should they? While I agree that it’s not a game, it IS an exercise in futility, as you are never going to change our opinions without evidence, which you lack, and we are never going to change your beliefs with logic and reason, so we might as well relax and enjoy the conversation.

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  37. See, Si? THIS is Ark! Not me, the funny looking one —

    BTW, Ark, you left out hamhocks – which reminds me, have you read George Carlin’s last book, When Will Jesus Bring the Porkchops? Funny stuff!

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  38. Arch,

    If someone makes a claim it’s expected that they are prepared to support it, fair enough 🙂

    Have a good one

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  39. Thanks Kent!

    @unkleE

    Which made me start to ponder this question. What advice about questioning their beliefs would you give to non-believers?

    Great question, unkleE! And thanks for the comment. My advice to everyone, whether they’re religious or not, is to keep an open mind and follow the evidence to the best of your ability. Don’t have any position that you’re unwilling to question. And beware your own biases.

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  40. Great question, unkleE! And thanks for the comment. My advice to everyone, whether they’re religious or not, is to keep an open mind and follow the evidence to the best of your ability. Don’t have any position that you’re unwilling to question. And beware your own biases.

    Dear oh dear…. Christians keeping an open mind?
    If they do that , Nate they become atheist.
    You are living proof of what happens when a religious person begins to think about what they have been dragged up to believe.

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  41. Ark,

    You believe that evolution is fact, right?

    And you claim absolute knowledge that God and religion are falsehoods and fabrications.

    Does that make you closed minded?

    You see, like all atheists, you condemn in others the very same condition found in yourself.

    In the hood your kind of people are called hypocrites.

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  42. “You believe that evolution is fact, right?

    And you claim absolute knowledge that God and religion are falsehoods and fabrications.

    I realize that this time, you actually ARE addressing Ark. and I presume he will answer for himself. but for me, the answer to your two above questions would be, “Yes, until I’m presented with sufficient, irrefutable evidence to the contrary.” And that, my mentally mute friend, does not make me a closed-minded hypocrite.

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  43. @Arch ,

    Mental masturbation?!?!? Ouch!!

    As time consuming as it is, I try to go over the entire string before adding my thoughts to a comment thread and, having done that here, I find that — for my money — Portal001’s remarks were the only ones that got me nodding my head.

    Maybe it doesn’t come across –and it certainly hasn’t come across to you — but I really am trying to invite conversation rather than debate. I’m more interested in learning than in debating but, as my wife used to remind me all the time, I “just need to be right all the time.”

    So, if you and I are participating in some sort of spiritual ‘circle jerk’, I consider it a very sad thing indeed and more representative of my character deficiencies than my intention.

    Peace,

    Paul

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  44. “I really am trying to invite conversation rather than debate.”

    CC – do you not recall my saying to Portal: “so we might as well relax and enjoy the conversation”?

    Portal accused me of “trying to win” – I explained the accusation was incorrect, on the grounds that no one was likely to change anyone else’s mind, so what, actually, would I “win“?

    “my wife used to remind me all the time, I ‘just need to be right all the time.’”

    I’ve HEARD of people like that —

    “more representative of my character deficiencies than my intention.”

    I would never presume to discuss your character flaws in public – behind your back, maybe, but never in public.

    Like

  45. Hey, dickhead, how ya doing?.I reckon you should find out what atheists really believe when it comes to gods,( I can’t be bothered to explain it again to an idiot who never fires on all cylinders) and especially the god you dribble over and the silly book you think he was influential in its composition..

    Like

  46. Speaking of the “silly book,” Ark, I was doing some reading today that put some real numbers on an event I could previously only imagine, the Exodus, about which I’ll be writing shortly on my own site.

    The Red Sea, at it narrowest point, is 19 miles across (I’m metrically-challenged, so you’ll need to convert that to kilometers yourself). Numbers 1:46 relates there were precisely 603,550 men aged 20 and up – those, along with wives, children, the elderly, and the “mixed multitude” of non-Israelites, i.e., servants (hmm, slaves have servants?) would have numbered some 2 million people.

    If we are to believe this tale, we not only must believe that this vast body of water parted, and remained parted, while the weakest and most infirm of them walked the entire 19 miles!

    But wait, there’s more! The author of the article calculated that if the motley crew had marched ten abreast, the entire column of 2 million people – not accounting for livestock – would have reached back 150 miles.

    The Red Sea, then, would have had to remain parted long enough for the weakest of them to walk 168 miles – average walking pace is 3 miles per hour, so it would have taken a minimum of 56 hours for the Israelis to cross the narrowest point of the Red Sea – 2, 24-hour days, plus 8 additional hours, assuming no lunch breaks, potty stops, and no time to for sleep – any Christians want to take a stab at the inerrancy of that story?

    Like

  47. Arch,

    In other words the rules apply to everyone but you.

    That kind of thinking is called narcissism.
    .
    So not only do you suffer the malignant ignorance inherent in atheist, but you suffer from a malignant psychosis.

    The reason Christians are beginning to rise up in protest is because they see malignant ignorance and psychosis being enshrined into our laws and culture.

    Ignorant, psychotic tyrants have ruled over men since time immemorial.

    So your thinking is a retrograde, reactionary trip back to the ancient barbarism that in the entire history of man, only Christian Western Civilization could dispel.

    Like

  48. Ark,

    Atheists tell me what they think every time they comment to me.

    I’ve been commented to by atheists ad infinitum.

    Atheists are quite clear about their non-ability to think, and their contempt for reason, truth and normative ethics.

    Like

  49. SOM: why must you get so testy? It’s just a discussion. I recognize that Ark gets pretty down and dirty, but Arch seems to maintain a fairly even keel, albeit a little on the sarcastic side.

    Like

  50. @silenceofmind, “I think you would be safe in characterizing me as a Christian from my comments defending the Bible.”

    Your comments on this blog have never caused me to think of you as a Christian. Please don’t assist the decline of Christianity by claiming to be one.

    Like

  51. “And you claim absolute knowledge that God and religion are falsehoods and fabrications.”

    So my answer of “Yes, until I’m presented with sufficient, irrefutable evidence to the contrary,” leads you to draw all of those other conclusions:

    “So not only do you suffer the malignant ignorance inherent in atheist, but you suffer from a malignant psychosis.

    “So your thinking is a retrograde, reactionary trip back to the ancient barbarism that in the entire history of man, only Christian Western Civilization could dispel.”

    It’s looking more and more like you should – for your own sake, understand – follow my advice and tell your mind to exercise its right to remain silent, you’re making a fool of yourself, which doesn’t play, even in the hood.

    Like

  52. So that’s your excuse for falsely accusing me and not having to prove your claim? Is that something you learned in the hood? (I’m reasonably certain I’ve spent far more time “in the hood,” than you have.)

    Like

  53. SOM,

    Sometimes I can’t work out if your being serious in your comments or not, to state that atheists are mot able to think is ridiculous. If I was an atheist your recent assertions wouldn’t encourage me

    Arch ,

    I don’t know you at all, so it was pretty arrogant of me to make the accusation that you are debating to win a game.

    Like

  54. Brilliant,

    I’m typing this on a phone, meant to write not* instead of Mot.

    Hope everyone has a great Christmas and safe new year

    Like

  55. I’ve already told you, Portal, it’s OK – it’s all just part of internet give and take, and no reason for anyone to get more than semi-serious – you did nothing wrong, and I am not offended in the least!

    Like

  56. 00,

    Atheists speak for themselves. I merely call a spade a spade.

    Atheists need to be told what to think just like their postmodern Christian counterparts.

    The Western Heritage, beginning with Plato and Aristotle, continuing with the great Catholic thinkers Saints Augustine and Aguinas and John Locke and the Founding Fathers, is a journey in the pursuit of reason and systematic thinking.

    Like

  57. Ah yes, the Founding Fathers – let’s take a look at what some of our Presidents had to say:

    “Question with boldness even the existence of god.”
    — Thomas Jefferson —

    “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb in a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
    — Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams —

    “The United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion.”
    — John Adams —
    From the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797
    (founding Father and second President of the United States)

    “The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.”
    — Abraham Lincoln —

    “I trust God speaks through me.”
    — George W. Bush —

    How did that last one get in there? Oh, yeah, “hanging chads” —

    Like

  58. @ Silence: “To be an atheist one must give up the ability to reason. For to believe that everything came, all by itself from nothing, is to believe the absurd.”

    …but believing in a “holy book” which was written, translated, copied and dispersed by mere men, who claimed there were miracles that proved it all (just cant see them anymore), who claimed that god told them to write it all down (a god who was his own father and own son, a god who prayed to himself, a god who is all powerful but cant speak everyone, who cant write his own book, who cant inspire a perfect book, a god who was so loving that ordered the genocide of entire nations including women and children), isn’t absurd?

    c’mon, we’re being silly. Are you really an agnostic deist?

    Like

  59. William,

    It is such a shame that you are so obsessed with process and are completely oblivious to actual content of the Bible.

    Just as one need not believe in the gods Zeus or Athena to be aware of the literary greatness of Homer’s Iliad, one need not believe in God or Jesus to see the greatness of the Bible.

    But upon seeing the greatness of the biblical content, the thinking, reasoning human being is drawn naturally to God, our Creator and Jesus or Savior.

    That’s one reason why the Bible was compiled and published by the Catholic Church at the end of the 4th century, in fact.

    Like

  60. Silenceofmind, you do err not knowing the scriptures.

    We’re not speaking about literary qualities, but on the divine nature of this book and the supporting evidences (or lack thereof) that accompany its far fetched claims.

    I am both aware of biblical content and logical processes. The two do not go well together.

    Like

  61. William,

    Faith comes by grace, not physical evidence. Without grace, even physical evidence isn’t enough to cause faith to happen.

    That is one of the teachings of the Bible. The Hebrews demonstrated that time and again in Old Testament stories such as the Ten Commandments and The Golden Calf.

    In the New Testament, the Apostles demonstrated that too.

    In fact, one of Jesus’ most famous statements after performing a miracle of healing was, “Your faith has saved you.”

    Atheism is so obviously ridiculous that its devotees close themselves off to both reason and faith.

    Like

  62. @SOnoM

    Atheists are quite clear about their non-ability to think, and their contempt for reason, truth and normative ethics.

    Hey, Dickhead, you are like the “light relief” on every blog you visit. When anyone humours you with a comment there is no need to think.
    When discussing anything with a monkey one downshifts several mental gears and with you we don’t even need gears….

    Like

  63. Knat,

    Without God, human beings are nothing but naked apes, naked apes that make monkeys of themselves frequently unless of course they have chose the brain of a knat.

    Consequently, it is the atheist who is the monkey and it is the atheist with the critical need to dumb everything down.

    Like

  64. Silenceofmind, let’s not discuss atheism vs Christianity. If you’re inclined to believe that atheism is ridiculous, that’s fine with me – i wont argue with you on that.

    let’s just discuss the good news. You seem a bit unfair to apply so much “reason” to atheism, but then abandon it when defending Christianity by saying that faith trumps the bible’s factual and logic short comings.

    isn’t that too dismissive? shouldn’t we at least expect the bible to be internally consistent and free of errors?

    how is ignoring the flaws of a book, because the same flawed book says your faith should trump that, make it okay to believe in its ridiculousness?

    Like

  65. “Without God, human beings are nothing but naked apes, naked apes that make monkeys of themselves frequently unless of course they have chose the brain of a knat (gnat).”

    is that why you believe in god? because you want special recognition, providence and acceptance?

    Like

  66. Nate,

    Faith in God is human nature.

    All human beings are capable of being open to faith.

    From what I have seen and in my own personal experience, not having faith, being hostile to faith or losing faith results from errant teachings or not being taught to sufficient depth of knowledge.

    It wasn’t until the later decades of my life that I became properly educated in Christianity and the Western Heritage.

    Grace has illuminated my mind to understand things that were staring me in the face since childhood.

    Life is a journey of illumination.

    The atheist has discontinued his journey by throwing himself under the bus.

    Like

  67. Arch,

    All the great civilizations grew up around religion.

    The greatest civilization of them all, Western Civilization, grew up around Christianity.

    Atheists have the greatest mass murders in human history as their signal achievement.

    Like

  68. @SOnoMind
    Lol…

    Atheists have the greatest mass murders in human history as their signal achievement.

    Wrong again, Dickhead. Your god wiped out humankind – its right there in that little book you read. But guess what? we got our own back and nailed his arse,didn’t we?

    Like

  69. Yes, most people throughout history have been religious. Most of them thought the earth was flat as well.

    Your statement about mass-murdering atheists is ridiculous. Even if the people you’re referencing were atheists (and not all of them were), their killing people had nothing to do with their atheism. They were ideological fanatics. Fanatics of any stripe — religious, political, etc — are dangerous. It’s the fanaticism that’s the problem — not their particular religious or political position. Otherwise, we could say Christianity is evil because of the Crusades, Inquisition, and witch trials. But it would be irresponsible to make such a sweeping accusation.

    Like

  70. Knat,

    Citing a source you think is ridiculous, is ridiculous.

    But maybe it all just depends on what the meaning of is, is.

    I cite a fact. You get ridiculous.

    Me Christian. You atheist.

    Like

  71. You know, this may be a good place to wrap the conversation. It’s not going anywhere, and I’m afraid to see how much worse it might get.

    Thanks for all the comments — hope you guys enjoy the holidays!

    Like

  72. Nate,

    You have cited the absurd atheist dogma that everything can come from nothing.

    Religion is critical to the formation of civil society.

    Without religion human culture devolves to violent barbarism as atheist societies have already proven.

    You atheists completely ignore the undeniable proof that atheism leads to social disaster yet you demand proof from Christians concerning their own beliefs.

    If you can’t believe your own eyes about your own faith (yes atheism is a 100% faith-based belief) then you will be equally oblivious to any other proofs concerning God, man and universe.

    Like

  73. Nate,

    Your clarion call to malignant ignorance and intolerance is typically atheist.

    And that is precisely why atheism needs to be flushed down the intellectual toilet.

    An atheist wishing everyone Merry Christmas is a cry of desperation if ever there was one.

    Like

  74. SOM:

    Jim Jones wasn’t an atheist. He was very religious. And very faithful to his religion. Granted, it was his own brand of religion, but he wasn’t an atheist.. And what about David Koresh? He was also very religious. Both (along with others that I won’t name right now) carried out some pretty bad mass murders. You simply can’t say that all the bad stuff comes from atheists.

    Like

  75. Without religion human culture devolves to violent barbarism as atheist societies have already proven.

    Utterly untrue. Unless Sweden seems barbaric to you?

    Your clarion call to malignant ignorance and intolerance is typically atheist.

    ?

    An atheist wishing everyone Merry Christmas is a cry of desperation if ever there was one.

    Not sure what this means, but I got a good chuckle at least!

    Take care, SOM.

    Like

  76. Nate,

    Sweden is a product of the Christian West.

    As with the Roman Empire, demise is gradual. Once the Romans forgot who they were their civilization went into decay.

    Likewise, with the ever greater rejection of Christianity, we are seeing Western Civilization decay.

    Atheism is a return to barbaric past.

    Like

  77. Wow, you learn something new everyday. I didn’t realize the Roman empire began as a group of Christians founded on christian dogma or the leaving Christianity is what did them in. And here I always thought the western civilization was based on Greek Democracy.

    What about Agnostics? are they among the faithful too? I hope so, since god rewards the faithful.

    or maybe we cant just invent things we’d like to be true in order to keep up in an argument. It doesn’t have to be argumentative, my man. We could be discussing.

    Proverbs 15:1 – give it a read.

    Like

  78. “You have cited the absurd atheist dogma that everything can come from nothing.”

    Special deal, Si – this week only – I’ll tell you where the “everything” came from, if you’ll tell me where your god came from. Deal?

    “Without religion human culture devolves to violent barbarism as atheist societies have already proven.”

    The US just finished a years-long war in Iraq and is still mired in one in Afghanistan, while officially atheistic China is fighting no one – how do you account for that?

    “atheism leads to social disaster”

    I cannot POSSIBLY imagine more social disaster than has transpired among religious countries over the past two or three millennia.

    Like

  79. “Once the Romans forgot who they were their civilization went into decay.”

    Actually, Si, Rome was doing quite well until they adopted Christianity, as their official religion. Clearly you don’t know any more about Roman history than you do anything else.

    Like

  80. Arch,

    We live in Christian Western Civilization.

    Happy Holidays is spoken by people who never took the time to learn about their miraculous Christian culture.

    December 25 is Christmas, the day all of mankind celebrates the birth of Jesus Son of God and Savior of mankind.

    Merry Christmas!

    Like

  81. Silenceofmind, let’s not discuss atheism vs Christianity. If you’re inclined to believe that atheism is ridiculous, that’s fine with me – i wont argue with you on that.

    let’s just discuss the good news. You seem a bit unfair to apply so much “reason” to atheism, but then abandon it when defending Christianity by saying that faith trumps the bible’s factual and logic short comings.

    isn’t that too dismissive? shouldn’t we at least expect the bible to be internally consistent and free of errors?

    how is ignoring the flaws of a book, because the same flawed book says your faith should trump that, make it okay to believe in its ridiculousness?

    Like

  82. silenceofmind, as well as saying “atheists are stupid” is working for you, maybe we should try an better route. this blog, and others like it, have made real and honest attempts at illustrating the problems seen within religion and the bible in particular.

    Your time may be better utilized addressing those concerns and issues. If you show someone where their reasoning is flawed, they’re typically more receptive than merely saying “you’re dumb.” show them, and us agnostics too. Show where the bible can withstand the scrutiny.

    Prov 15:1 & 18:13 my friend.

    Like

  83. William,

    Stupid is as stupid does and as stupid thinks.

    Atheism is the belief that their is no God.

    That means everything came about all by itself.

    Such a notion is pure, single malt stupid.

    If after applying reason the conclusion is that atheism is stupid, then people should avoid atheism.

    Reason’s purpose is to direct the person who uses it to wise thought and action.

    Like

  84. Arch,

    You are correct. Christianity was antithetical to pagan, savage Rome.

    Rome had to fall before the new Christian civilization, Western Civilization could rise to untold heights.

    Like

  85. don’t be so hard on yourself.

    and if something from nothing is stupid, then created god if god isn’t stupid?

    the avoidance of stupidity is why I left christianity.

    a question though, if someone were to leave atheism, where should they go and why? be specific, please. for some people it’s hard to just accept what someone says, so providing actual reasons for your position would be helpful.

    Like

  86. William,

    Authentic Christianity is attractive, reasonable and it works.

    Martin Luther, the first successful reformer, made it possible for any self righteous, sanctimonious blow hard hypocrite to name himself as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    The Protestant splintering of Christianity is the greatest argument in favor of atheism.

    That’s why I often call Protestants and atheists, spiritual and philosophical brethren.

    Protestants teach their children to hate the Catholic Church before they teach them to love Jesus Christ.

    That is even more sad than atheists being convinced that everything happened all by itself.

    Like

  87. “December 25 is Christmas”

    You can call it Sadie Hawkins’ Day if you like, that doesn’t change the fact that Bethlehem is located at 32° 72 minutes North Latitude, which puts it just a few minutes north of Dallas, Texas, at 32° 47′ N. Lattitude. The temperature there, as we speak, is 43 degrees, with an overnight low of 39 – I can double-damn guarantee you, ain’t no shepherds, out in no fields, watchin’ no sheep!

    Like

  88. “Authentic Christianity is attractive, reasonable and it works.” it’s this claim of “reasonableness that I’d like you to expand upon. Have you looked at the issues this blogger has written about? what about those issues is reasonable?

    Like

  89. Arch,

    Atheist always, and I mean always, pick some country, some person, some absurdity and then set it up as the example of perfection.

    Sweden. Shmeden. Who gives a flying flock about Sweden?

    Only atheists on their mission of eternal propaganda.

    Like

  90. William,

    Atheist issues are nothing but leftist propaganda.

    What I know about Christianity I learned at graduate school through hard core study.

    The atheist argument against Christianity and God is nonsense because it creates issues that are completely irrelevant to the topic.

    Like

  91. Arch,

    “Where did God come from?”

    The answer to that question is obvious.

    Please leave atheist imbecility behind, get a brain and start using it.

    I answered that question when I was 8 years old.

    Like

  92. “Rome had to fall before the new Christian civilization, Western Civilization could rise to untold heights.”

    Interesting you should say that, Si, as the Holy Roman Empire was taken over by Germany, and moved there – in fact, the last Caesar (spelled Kaiser, in German) was Kaiser Wilhelm, who initiated WW I.

    Following WW I, we had the sequel, the ever-popular WW II, brought to you by your favorite religious fanatic, and mine, Adolph Hitler, who once said:

    “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith … We need believing people.
    — Adolf Hitler —
    April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.

    He seems to echo your own sentiments – warped minds DO think alike!

    Like

  93. “What I know about Christianity I learned at graduate school through hard core study.”

    you’re old enough to have made it through high school? was the college accredited?

    Like

  94. “‘We’ is you and the rat in your pocket.”

    The only time I used the word, “we” in that comment, was in the phrase, “as we speak,” and as you were the only one with whom I was speaking, can you tell me how you got into my pocket?

    Like

  95. “The atheist argument against Christianity and God is nonsense because it creates issues that are completely irrelevant to the topic.”

    Such as?

    Oh, and where did your god come from?

    Like

  96. Arch,

    Even though you name yourself after a proto bird, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you have, not a proto bird brain, but a human brain.

    If my assumption is correct you have the brain power to answer the question:

    “Where did God come from?”

    If not, do me, God and universe a favor and use Google.

    Like

  97. “What I know about Christianity I learned at graduate school through hard core study.”

    I didn’t know they HAD classes like that at Devry —

    (You can come clean with us, Si – you really went to Clown College, didn’t you? I won’t tell a soul –)

    Like

  98. I don’t know if there’s such an expression as, “He can’t see the forest for the colon,” but if there were, I would suggest it applies.

    BTW – where did your god come from?

    Like

  99. First of all, Si, thousands of gods have been registered on the Universal God-ometer, which is why I asked (repeatedly) where YOUR god came from – I guess when dealing with someone of your mental incapacity, I need to narrow the question even further – where do YOU believe your god came from?

    That’s an answer Google can give me, only you. I’ll wait, while you get your wit together.

    Like

  100. You said:

    “The atheist argument against Christianity and God is nonsense because it creates issues that are completely irrelevant to the topic.”

    I asked, “Such as?” meaning which issues does it create, as per your assertion that it does. Your response to that is:

    Just read one of your own comments.

    So here’s one of my comments – please point out for all of us, exactly what irrelevant issues it creates:

    “archaeopteryx1 says:
    December 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    More Mad Hatter verbiage from SillinessofMind – where did your god come from?”

    Like

  101. No, no, Si – not “Where did god come from,” but where do YOU think YOUR god came from? No one can answer that but you. You act like you’re afraid to tell me, how could that be?

    Like

  102. Arch,

    I accept the concept of God as the self existing one, “I Am.” This is why God is unknowable in His essence. He can be known through His creative energies, the Cosmos. But He is best known in His Incarnation.

    Like

  103. self existing one” – what does that mean, exactly? Oh I get it! You mean “self existing,” like the Universe – uncreate -, as energy can neither be created nor destroyed – man, you should have been a science teacher, you described a godless origin for the Universe better than Neil deGrasse Tyson. I AM impressed! Thanks for that!

    Like

  104. The source of the energy that constitutes matter, light, and heat, is the unknowable essence of the Creator. Because science has confirmed that the cosmos had a beginning, the energy had to have a source.

    Like

  105. Actually, science has NOT confirmed that the cosmos had a beginning, that is only one of several possible theories, one of which, is that the universe is eternal, with neither beginning nor end. But if it DID have to have a source, then I would have to ask the source of that source.

    Like

  106. Arch,

    You have an intense need to be told what to think and that keeps you from developing your own mind.

    The answer to “Where does God come from?” is a simple one to answer and must be answered by you, not me.

    It is clear however, that if you really wanted to know the answer to that question you wouldn’t be wasting your time bullying me.

    And I’m not going to waste my time answering a question that you have absolutely no interest in.

    Like

  107. Arch,

    Denying the scientific findings that the universe had a beginning is like saying the earth is flat and finds its place at the center of the universe.

    Science has in fact amassed conclusive evidence that atheism is totally bogus.

    Like

  108. “The answer to ‘Where does God come from?’ is a simple one to answer and must be answered by you, not me

    I know exactly where all gods come from – the Human imagination. The question I put to you, which you seem afraid to answer, was where do YOU think your god comes from?

    Like

  109. “Science has in fact amassed conclusive evidence that atheism is totally bogus.”

    Trot it out, let’s take a look at it – unless of course, you’re talking about the likes of Ron Wyatt, or Ray “Banana Man” Comfort and his Boy Wonder, in which case, don’t waste your time or mine.

    Like

  110. Arch,

    What you expressed was a biased personal opinion that happens to be false.

    What I express comes from the philosophers found in the Western Heritage.

    So who would anyone in their right mind prefer to listen to, you or Aristotle?

    Of course, you think people should listen to you.

    That’s because atheism is a shrine for narcissism, a psychological malady.

    Like

  111. Arch,

    Just take an up to date university class in cosmology.

    Yes, it’s called getting an education.

    A good education is the best way to get rid of retrograde, pre-modern religions like atheism.

    Like

  112. @silentofmind, if you have God’s Grace, why doesn’t it show in your comments here ? I would never want to serve a God if the evidence was to act like you. You really need to stop while you’re behind and go read the New Testament again. As I stated earlier, you need not assist in the decline of Christianity by claiming to be one.

    Your comments are embarrassing to the integrity of Nate’s Blog.

    “It is better to remain silent and appear ignorant than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”

    Like

  113. “So who would anyone in their right mind prefer to listen to, you or Aristotle?”

    Clearly you have no idea how much Humankind has learned since Aristotle first proposed the “First Cause” argument in 400 BCE.

    Like

  114. kc,

    Who are you to judge me?

    Jesus came for sinners like me, not holy, perfect people like you.

    The greatness of Christianity is that everybody is welcome, especially the forsaken, the poor, the imperfect.

    Like

  115. “Just take an up to date university class in cosmology.”

    Gee, what a swell idea! Maybe I could get a class under renowned astrophysicist, Neil Degrasse Tyson – you’re familiar with Tyson, aren’t you? He’s the one who said, “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance, that gets smaller and smaller as time goes on.

    I suspect I’ve read far more volumes on cosmology and astrophysics than you have comic books, don’t even presume to lecture me.

    Like

  116. @silenceofmind, yes according to Christianity, Jesus came for sinners like you . But when you become a Christian you are to become “Christlike” . I haven’t seen anything you have written here that is “Christlike” . There is a Christian song that ends in, “They will know we are Christians by our love” .

    If it says it is a duck , but moos like a cow and poops like a cow, it’s probably not a duck.

    Just sayin …….

    Like

  117. We all judge others by their actions. If you are deep in debt , drive a broken down car, have your utilities continually shut off, I am probably not going to hire you to be my financial adviser.

    Actions speak louder than words, sol.

    Like

  118. Arch,

    Stephen Hawking is also a renown atheist scientist.

    He was so taken aback by modern findings in cosmology that he began advocating the multiverse, which is totally ridiculous and unscientific.

    Atheism takes the best minds and turns them to mush.

    Like

  119. kc,

    Christians are no different than any other people except that they get to experience being open to God’s grace.

    The gentling of mankind is due to God’s grace not to any human effort.

    Jesus also recommended that hypocrites look in the mirror before they judge others.

    Like

  120. kc,

    Hypocrites always justify themselves by making their elitism and pride look like holiness.

    The judgment seat you sit upon is nothing but an old broken toilet that hasn’t been flushed in a long while.

    Like

  121. Arch,

    One of the great aspects of science is the sharing of findings.

    Our understanding of cosmology has progressed to the point where we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the universe had a beginning.

    That is as far as science can go in proving the existence of God.

    And atheists know that science is cooking their Godless goose.

    Thus the development of really ridiculous ideas like the multiverse.

    Like

  122. Si, speaking of mirrors, have you noticed how often you deflect everything said to you, back onto the speaker? I’m reminded of “Pee-Wee Herman” saying, “I know you are, but what am I?” So thanks for that image – I’ll think of you that way everytime I see you exhibit that kind of behavior.

    Like

  123. “we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the universe had a beginning.”

    Not true, there are several theories out there, not all posit a beginning.

    “That is as far as science can go in proving the existence of God.”</blockquote
    Even if it were true that the universe had a beginning – and as I say, the jury's still out on that – there is no scientific proof that a supernatural boogyman had anything to do with it, and most particularly, not YOUR supernatural boogyman over anyone else's supernatural boogyman.

    And atheists know that science is cooking their Godless goose.

    Examples, please —

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  124. Screwed up – let’s try that again —

    “we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the universe had a beginning.


    Not true, there are several theories out there, not all posit a beginning.

    “That is as far as science can go in proving the existence of God.”

    Even if it were true that the universe had a beginning – and as I say, the jury’s still out on that – there is no scientific proof that a supernatural boogyman had anything to do with it, and most particularly, not YOUR supernatural boogyman over anyone else’s supernatural boogyman.

    “And atheists know that science is cooking their Godless goose.”

    Examples, please –

    Like

  125. Sorry Arch but you are back in the Middle Ages when people thought the Earth was the center of the universe.

    Get with the times. It’s impossible to have an intelligent discussion with people who are so yesterday.

    Like

  126. “The discussion has been great up to the point where you turn it into a village idiot convention.
    “Until next time, be well.”

    It would appear that the idiot has left the village —

    Like

  127. You really don’t know the first thing about carrying on an intelligent conversation, do you? You made a statement – I said, give me some examples, backing up your statement. Your response was to tell me to get my own examples to back up your statement, and since your statement was nonsense in the first place, I can’t do that, and neither can you, which is why you tried throwing the responsibility to me, for proving your nonsense. Sorry, won’t work – if you’re going to make a statement, be prepared with evidence to back it up – in other words, put up, or shut up.

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  128. @Silence of Mind.
    Here you go.

    I have borrowed these three very succinct questions (I’ll provided the link if necessary but do not want you slagging off another blogger just yet) and if you are able to answer them then it will clear up a lot of things for those whom you interact with. Of course, if you are not prepared to answer them this too will clear up a lot of things and I hope Nate is lurking on the sidelines.

    Lets’ see if you are truly committed to your religion of merely full of hot air.

    1. Did humanity actually, historically, experience a physical/spiritual fall from a pristine initial state to its present corrupt state? If so, provide support.

    2. Did humanity suffer a relatively early annihilation in a global flood, such that all living people are now descended from eight survivors of this catastrophe? If so, provide support.

    3. Who wrote Genesis, and how do you know? If we do not know, or do not know with good support, from where comes the claim of divine authorship or inspiration?

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  129. @ archaeopteryx1

    Well, maybe he is the type that continues to enjoys mass debate, believing it is better than the real thing?

    If this is his worldview , its already made him go blind.

    Like

  130. “You are asking questions that are as finely tuned as a prostate exam.”

    Apparently you have a much greater knowledge of prostate exams, than I – whether giving, or getting, or do-it-yourself, I have no way of knowing.

    “Ask questions that aren’t examples of raw, unattenuated atheist imbecility and I’m game.”*

    *Translation: “Any questions I can’t or don’t feel like answering, I will term, ‘unattenuated atheist imbecility,’ any questions I can answer to my advantage and your disadvantage, I’m game.”

    I think that “game” is the key word here, and I’m getting tired of playing with you and providing you with your much-needed attention, that apparently you’re not getting anywhere else, which, judging by your personality, is certainly understandable.

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  131. @SOM

    Ask questions that aren’t examples of raw, unattenuated atheist imbecility and I’m game.

    Does this mean you can’t answer the questions or wont?
    I suspect it is the former, as you demonstrated more than enough times that a Neanderthal approach to Catholicism/Christianity is pretty much all you are capable of.

    Come on….give the questions a shot. Show us you are man enough to stand up and be counted.

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  132. @silenceofmind: I’ve been loath to enter into the fray here, especially as a Christ-follower myself, simply because you’ve dug yourself a deep enough hole that no size of shovel is going to help at this point. Whether your intent was to debate or convince, you’ve abandoned those intentions long ago when your arguments devolved into mere name calling and poor attempts at ridicule. (“a finely tuned prostate exam”, “atheist imbecility”, really?!!) You’re not going to convince anyone on this site anyway, yet several people here are always up for a good debate. Read GOOD debate.

    My point in writing to you at all is to echo kcchief1’s statement earlier: “… if you have God’s Grace, why doesn’t it show in your comments here ? I would never want to serve a God if the evidence was to act like you.”

    If you truly are a person of God, how can that statement sit well with you, REGARDLESS of who utters it? I urge you to either quit while you’re behind, or engage more civilly and thoughtfully. A lot of patience and grace HAS been shown so far…just not by the one who is called by his deity to do so. And if you wonder why I’m even getting involved at all, Silence, I ask that you read Ephesians 4.

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  133. Arch,

    Your verbal abuse and bullying demonstrates the psychotic nature of atheism and being an atheist.

    The cure for your grave spiritual and psychological sickness is Jesus Christ.

    Like

  134. Here is a quote from Kent’s blog, SpiritualDrift.com that seems appropriate for the discussion that has been taking place here on Nate’s blog:

    “Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists . . . I love you guys! Though I may not agree with you on faith and belief, I’m not called to agree with you. I’m called to love you. And that includes my Christian brethren who think that name-calling, hell-baiting, hate-spewing picket signs and replacing perfectly good beer with “less filling” is going to get people to change their ways.”

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  135. Oh, God , Yes! Jesus I’m coming….
    So , I take it you are too much of wimp and you are not going to answer the questions?
    Just in case I have misinterpreted, I shall post them once more.

    1. Did humanity actually, historically, experience a physical/spiritual fall from a pristine initial state to its present corrupt state? If so, provide support.

    2. Did humanity suffer a relatively early annihilation in a global flood, such that all living people are now descended from eight survivors of this catastrophe? If so, provide support.

    3. Who wrote Genesis, and how do you know? If we do not know, or do not know with good support, from where comes the claim of divine authorship or inspiration?

    Come on SOM, strap on a pair and have a crack at them. What do you say?

    Like

  136. Arch,

    Let me translate my last comment seeing as my allusion to the ever loved by man prostate exam tripped your light fantastic.

    You are a sophist.

    In the New Testament, the Pharisee hypocrites were cast as the sophists.

    Plato and Aristotle hated the sophists because they peddled stupidity.

    By not letting you suck me into your atheist imbecility, I am continuing the tradition of the Western Heritage begun by the ancient Greeks.

    I’m not trying to be cruel and insulting like you are.

    I am attempting to illuminate the nature of atheism by describing it accurately.

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  137. Ark,

    My comments are written in English designed to by simple and easily understood.

    My meaning is therefore very clear and you asking me to repeat myself is a failure of intellect on your part.

    Like

  138. Just keep telling yourself that, Si – over and over, for as many times as it takes for you to believe it.

    Now I’m going to take a little after-lunch nap, so you just keep doing by yourself, whatever it is you most like doing by yourself, until I get back, OK?

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  139. My meaning is therefore very clear and you asking me to repeat myself is a failure of intellect on your part.

    Ah…I appreciate your consideration and acknowledge that i have a failing in intellect.
    Please , feel free to dumb down your response, but please answer the questions.

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  140. Arch,

    Since I addressed my comment to you, it was meant for you.

    The atheist’s inability to comprehend the obvious is yet another reason why atheism is such a crippling disaster.

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  141. Thank you, Arch. And Merry Christmas to you and your family as well. (or Happy Festivus…whatever we “birds of a feather” tend to celebrate, hehe!)

    Like

  142. Have a wonderful time with family and friends Arch. I like the thought of longer days almost as much as warmer days. It was a high of 18 with a wind chill of 9 here today.

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  143. Ha! Love it. Longer days gooooooodd!. We spent the day in our traditional annual clean-the-house-whether-it-needs-it-or-not celebration!

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  144. SOM,

    I have two questions for you:

    1. How do the insults you give people on this blog benefit you?

    2. How do you think your insults benefit other people on this blog?

    I don’t really need a direct answer, I just wanted to throw those questions out for you to consider.

    All the best, Ryan

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  145. Portal,

    Resisting your verbal abuse and purified, single malt hypocrisy is not being insulting, it is simply telling the truth about you.

    If you don’t like having your BS thrown back in your face, quit dishing it out and join the discussion.

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  146. Merry Christmas to all of my Atheist and Theist Friends ! I love these holidays for the meaning they represent. Peace, good will to all men ! I think we should all desire this .

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  147. Thank you all. I am in Springfield, IL USA Home of Abraham Lincoln and it is cold ! I’m headed to Florida on Friday to re-acquaint myself with the Sun. 🙂

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  148. You need to know, kc, that your Chiefs are the reason I don’t watch football anymore.

    I can’t recall the year, as I’m sure you will, but I watched, as in the last two minutes of the game, with Kansas City behind by 12 points, and sure to lose the game, young Joe Montana refused to throw in the towel, took those two minutes, and drove his Chiefs to two touchdowns in two minutes, winning the game by a single point!

    Why would I ever watch football after that? How likely is it, that I will ever, in a lifetime of football games, ever see anything that will top it?

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  149. I remember Arch . October 17th, 1994 . What a game ! 🙂 Schottenheimer was 0-7 at Denver during his coaching career until then. But he never had a quarterback like cool handed Joe Montana !

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  150. Sabio,

    That you left Christianity because you cower in fear is your problem, not a problem with Christianity.

    The phrase, “Do not be afraid,” is used repeatedly in the Bible because it is the bane of reason and faith.

    All your questions have answers. All you need to is give up your fear and start pursuing the answers to your questions.

    You can do that simply by asking knowledgeable Christians to address your concerns.

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  151. Yo, SillinessOfMind – I have lots more, if you want them —

    Ecc 12:13
    Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

    Act 13:16
    Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

    1Pe 2:17
    Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

    Rev 14:7
    Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

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  152. Having read and reread your post Nate, I am surprised by the logic and reasonableness of it. It sounds much more like the perspective of a deist or struggling theist, than it does an atheist.

    Militant atheist seem to suffer from a completely suppressed spiritual faculty. Your spiritual faculty appears quite active Nate. Are you sure that you are an atheist?.

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  153. Far be it from me to answer for Nate (he’s a big boy!), but if I were asked the question (which, admittedly, I wasn’t), I would have to say, no “spirits” equals no “spiritual faculty.”

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  154. Arch,

    The greatest minds in Western Civilization were Christian.

    Isaac Newton for example. Fernando Sor one of history’s greatest classical guitarists, was educated in a Catholic school.

    Speaking of great classical guitarists, Christopher Parkening, a devout Christian, was one of the greatest classical guitarists of our time.

    You continue to prove that atheists suffer from severe provincialism and religious bigotry.

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  155. “The Hebrews use ‘fear God’ to mean revere God.”

    Now he’s speaking for 2,000-year old Hebrews! Will wonders ever cease?!

    So what you’re saying, is that ancient Hebrews are incapable of saying what they mean – so why should anyone believe anything else they say? When they say you will live forever, how do we know they don’t mean, “Meet you at Walmart, we’ll hang out in the mall!“?

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  156. Isaac Newton was a lifelong virgin, who believed women were nasty, that comets were angels, sent to correct the errant motions of the planets, and spent the last years of his life studying alchemy – yes, he developed the laws of motion, along with several others of his time – that’s what today, we would call a “one-hit wonder“!

    “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
    — Albert Einstein —

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  157. Marc,

    The reason a theists or deist struggles is precisely because they are having problems with logic and reasoning.

    This post like all atheist literature is a mud soup of sophistry and atheist propaganda, none of which has any relation at all to reason and logic.

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  158. Arch,

    No, I’m just stating the facts.

    Read them and weep.

    Atheists are in the business of being wrong.

    Christians are in the business of casting light into the darkness.

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  159. Arch,

    Nobody cares about Isaac Newton’s sexual preferences. Well, except maybe you and some other atheist perverts.

    Isaac Newton was famous for completely revolutionizing physics and mathematics and melding mathematics to science.

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  160. “Nobody cares about Isaac Newton’s sexual preferences.”

    Oh, I’m sure a psychiatrist would, but I’d stay as far away from them as I could if I were you – the phrase, “funny farm” leaps to mind everytime I see a comment from you.

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  161. “Christians are in the business of casting light into the darkness.”

    Me too, but I use a flashlight and a couple of D batteries – it’s SO much simpler than knocking on doors of people who don’t want to be disturbed, and asking if they’ve heard the “Good News” —

    Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy those visits – I ask them so many questions for which they have no answers, that they never come back!

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  162. Silenceofmind, I have to agree with Arch. And I hate going this route, because it sounds juvenile and argumentative, but this is pointless.

    I had originally thought you were someone in the 11th or 12th grade based on how you argued. because of that assumption I was trying to have more patience with you. When you claimed that you made it through grad school I was shocked. of course you could be lying, but at this point i don’t really care.

    dodging straight questions and presenting arguments in the way you do is mind numbing. Either you really are a youngster (in which case much of this can be dismissed or overlooked by way of immaturity, et cetera), or you’re a moron, or you’re just screwing around and having a good time – in any event, it’s long since been a waste of time.

    So, take care. And Echoing nate; time will tell – i guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all turns out. There’s no point in having a discussion if it wont be had rationally.

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  163. Nate, There is much misplaced fear of God due to the distortions of His revelations by His enemies. The big lie from the beginning was, “you shall not surely die.” This was manifested in the pagan concepts of a natural immortal soul that led to the lie of eternal torment. The choice for human beings has always been between eternal life and eternal death, not eternal life in paradise or eternal life in torment (see John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28) For those who fear God as a murderer, no one that He has punished in this life has perished. They live on in the spiritual realm, and most of them are now in communion with God and each other awaiting the general resurrection. This is confirmed by the early Church teachings on the Harrow of Hades. To reject the distorted God portrayed by most professing Christians is reasonable. To reject the existence of a Creator as an atheist is not reasonable.

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  164. Marc, I cannot speak for nate, but i wanted chime in on your comment. I think you make good points, but maybe we’re not understanding exactly where one another is coming from.

    Belief in a creator can make sense. Everything we see came from something. the more order and the more sophisticated that thing is, the more design and engineering usually went into it – why would we or this world be different? i get that.

    Isaac Newton defined gravity for us in natural, physical terms. he didnt see god’s direct hand in it, yet when it came to the celestial bodies in space, he couldnt/wouldnt figure it out and just left that as god holding them in place. But based on his earlier principles of gravity others were able to calculate how gravity also holds those bodies in place – god wasnt doing it, there were natural and physical properties at work. And there are other such examples that could also illustrate how things once believed to be of god could actually be natural, physical properties.

    And like our observation and experiences tell us that it makes sense for everything to have a beginning or a designer, our same observations and experiences also tell us that everything has a rational explanation if we have enough time to find it. it has a natural and a physical explanation – not supernatural or divine. correct?

    And then if there were a god (and there could be), which one is it? Is there only one? Why would that god(s) not need a beginning if everything else does need a beginning? If god(s) can be eternal, why couldn’t the universe or something else that is natural not be?

    I think we get caught up too many times presenting fallacious argument starting points when on this topic: “there is the god of the bible (whether you understand the bible correctly or not), or there is atheism.” This is incorrect and really paints a very obscure picture of reality.

    The bible has issues with it. You mentioned hell. the bible says a lot of different things on hell and one of them is eternal torture – and another is the one you pointed out, eternal death. Should we united the two somehow? Are we allowed to choose which we prefer? Or is this one of many indications that the bible (not necessarily the readers of) is flawed and problematic?

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  165. Hi William. I appreciate your points and questions.

    As to your point about a rational and physical vs supernatural explanation, any reality outside of time/space would require a supernatural explanation.

    I think your questions about the nature of the Creator are sound, and I think Nate’s points about seeking to understand are equally as sound. I have tried to use an apophatic approach that eliminates the concepts that do not appear to be true. The model of the God believed by many early Christians is the one I accept on faith and reason.

    Regarding the revelation of the Holy Scriptures, I do not believe these writings are inerrant. However, I believe that they do provide an accurate understanding when they are read in the context of Holy Apostolic Tradition. Outside of this Tradition, they have yielded confusion, and thousands of sectarian groups.

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  166. Marc,
    “As to your point about a rational and physical vs supernatural explanation, any reality outside of time/space would require a supernatural explanation.”

    But that’s part of my point. Everything we’ve experienced is in both time a space – if it’s real. There could be something else i guess, but that something could as well be anything, not necessarily the subject of a book.

    I’ll have to mull over your points on Christianity a bit more. It doesn’t make sense to me, but i am coming from a non-denomination protestant background, and more recently an agnostic atheist mindset, so I will try to toss your ideas around a bit and give time to considering them without dismissing them outright.

    Thanks for the reply and for letting butt in on your comment to nate.

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  167. William,

    I enjoyed the exchange, and identify with your concerns that led you from a non-denomination protestant to an agnostic atheist mindset. I went through a similar process that led me from a protestant, then deist mindset, to become an Eastern Orthodox Christian. I would hope that your agnostic perspective might give development to deism rather than atheism, because of the points we discussed regarding the Creation and Creator. This also falls in line with the last sentence of Nate’s post regarding an honest seeker.

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  168. Yes, i like deism and have explored it some. I am not turned off to it, but I am skeptical of it – I have this uncertainty that I think best described as agnosticism and maybe even wishful thinking (hoping there is a god or creator who knows me, etc). But I think it’s wishful thinking. I have no recollection of what WAS before I was born, so I imagine that is how it will be when I die. I’d rather that not be the case, but my preferences seem to have little impact on reality.

    My departure from faith wasn’t based on wickedness or the desire to sin. It was just the eventuality of assembling the clues i currently had. When I was a christian, i could have said the same thing, so I am convinced that as I learn and as I continue to mature and to evolve, so will my conclusions and convictions. We should grow and change as we accumulate more information.

    We’ll be in touch, i’m sure.

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  169. i have finally had time to get back to this site, after a couple of week absence. lots to catch up on. glad to see it has just recently returned to civil and reasonable discussion. i’d like to look at one point made by william a few posts back:

    “the bible says a lot of different things on hell and one of them is eternal torture – and another is the one you pointed out, eternal death.”

    it is difficult to develop a doctrine of “eternal torture” based on the words, and especially the meanings of those words, found in the bible. i acknowledge that, indeed, the doctrine has been developed and continues to be believed by many, many christians. but our modern beliefs are based more on dante than on the bible. william, do you have a particular passage that comes to you regarding this matter?

    i have been interested in this doctrine, in particular, because it is so repugnant to non-believers, and to many christians as well. if it’s true, then it really doesn’t matter how i or anyone else feels. however, if it’s not true – which i tend to believe – then it has done immense damage to what is often called, and what i know of as, “the good news.”

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  170. Dave,

    As I mentioned in my comments before, I would offer John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28 to refute the evil doctrine of eternal torment. I agree with your points about how repugnant eternal torment seems to many believers and non-believers. There is no “good new,” in this or in the teaching that most of humanity is damned. These are teachings introduced by those who are no friends of the Gospel. The teaching of the early Church regarding the “Harrowing of Hades,” points to the salvation of most, if not all, of humanity. Although eternal torment was one of three views of the early Church concerning the damned, it was based on the false belief in a natural immortality of the soul, and was a minority view. The other eschatological views of annihilation and universal salvation had as many or more supporters.

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  171. There about five points in that comment, Marc, with which I could take exception, but you’re a nice guy and ’tis the season to be jolly, so I’ll just say, fa la la la la, la la la la —

    Hope you and yours had a great Xmas, and I wish for all of yours a Happy New Year!

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  172. i couldn’t have said it better, marc. i had never heard the term “harrowing of hades,” though knew of the concept, and of the various views in history that still are held today. i lean toward annihilationism myself, but wouldn’t be surprised if universal salvation is the reality.

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  173. Thanks, Arch. I think I know you well enough now to have a good idea of why you might take exception to my points of view. Please accept my best wishes to you and yours for the New Year also. We have enjoyed having all three of our children, seven grandchildren, and our grand dog visit us this week. Don’t bite your tongue Arch, just shake your head and roll your eyes.

    You and I are on the same page Dave on these eschatological issues. If you do not know Arch yet, you will find out that he is a tough yet fair advocate of the atheist cosmic view. I enjoy his wonderful knowledge of history and his piercing wit.

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  174. i’ve read and mostly appreciated arch’s comments during the month i’ve been on this site. his bark is worse than his bite, which for the sake of his tongue is a good thing.

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  175. Sorry I’ve been gone so long. Hope everyone has had a great holiday season so far!

    Marc said:

    Having read and reread your post Nate, I am surprised by the logic and reasonableness of it. It sounds much more like the perspective of a deist or struggling theist, than it does an atheist.

    Militant atheist seem to suffer from a completely suppressed spiritual faculty. Your spiritual faculty appears quite active Nate. Are you sure that you are an atheist?.

    Welcome back, Marc! It’s nice to hear from you again.

    I am definitely not a militant atheist, and I understand why so many people believe in a god. As humans, I think we have a “spiritual nature,” for lack of a better word, even though I don’t believe in an actual spirit. I think it’s obvious that we are tied to one another in ways that are difficult to explain — maybe it has something to do with pheromones or something; I don’t know. I think a lot of it is tied to the fact that we’re all aware of our own mortality, and this leads us to look for meaning beyond our physical lives.

    What keeps me from being a deist or theist is that even though I can appreciate the longing we have for something transcendental, I haven’t experienced anything to make me believe this is any more tangible than a desire. I just don’t find the evidence for a deity convincing.

    So I do feel open to the various possibilities — I’m just not currently convinced by any of them. That’s why I identify as an atheist.

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  176. Dave, welcome back to you as well!

    Since you and Marc asked about the passages to support the idea of an “eternal torture” type of Hell, these are the ones that I think of:

    Matt 3:12 (and Luke 3:17):

    His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

    Matt 18:8-9:

    And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

    Mark 9:43:

    And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

    Matt 25:46:

    And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

    2 Thess 1:9:

    They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from[b] the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might

    I know that one talks about “eternal destruction,” so it might lead some to view this as annihilation. But how do you destroy something eternally? Once it’s destroyed, it’s gone. So is this talking about a never-ending process of destruction? If so, that would seem to fit the eternal torment idea…

    Jude 12-13:

    These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

    When one really studies the doctrine of Hell, I think it’s very obvious that it was built up over time. The concept that most people have of it (and that the above verses suggest) is simply not taught in the Old Testament. Why, if it were true, would God not have mentioned it to all the people that lived before Christ’s time? And when you consider its similarities to the beliefs held by the Persians and Greeks, it’s no wonder that the Jews didn’t teach a similar doctrine until they had been under captivity to both of those empires.

    The New Testament uses at least two different terms for Hell: Gehenna, the trash heap outside Jerusalem; and Tartarus, the Greek’s name for Hell. Personally, I think most of the NT writers did believe in a literal, eternal Hell. I don’t really see what else Jesus could have meant by warning people about Gehenna — surely he didn’t mean that they would literally be cast into the trash pit for not observing all their moral obligations to Jehovah. I think they used the terms Gehenna and Tartarus to stand in for a literal Hell-like afterlife. But who knows?

    The main thing I get from these passages is that the Bible was definitely a product of its times and was susceptible to the same evolution that other myths undergo. That’s why I don’t believe it was actually divinely inspired.

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  177. I intend demonstrating at some future point on my own website, that the idea of hell originated only after the Greek conquest of the Levant c.300 BCE, but I’m a long way from having all of my ducks in a row, so nobody should start with me now, as I’m unprepared to debate it and will politely(?) decline to do so.

    Interesting to note that the philosopher, Porphyry, a student of Plotinus, disapproved of eating meat, and believed that farts originated because demons inside of meat-eaters devoured the consumed meat, and farted – of course those had to come out somewhere, and I’m sure we can guess where – the dog didn’t do it! I guess he was unfamiliar with cabbage.

    To all of you “ists” – whether athe-ist, de-ist, or the-ist, or nudist – hope you have a Happy Earth Birthday!

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  178. LOL Arch. I must be damned because I do prefer meat to veggies.

    The hell business is always confusing because of how it is translated. The King James Bible uses the world hell for the Hebrew Sheol and Gehenna, and the Greek Hades and Tartarus. Sheol and Hades mean the realm of the dead, Tartarus is a spiritual prison, and Gehenna is a garbage dump that burns continuously. So much for Bible inerrancy.

    One interesting take on Gehenna, or the everlasting fire associated with the last judgment, is that it is the presence of God rather than a created fire. Many of the early Church Fathers believed that God’s presence was either experienced as illuminating joy or as a consuming fire depending upon the spiritual condition of the individual.

    Ditto on Happy New Year to all of are “ist” friends.

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  179. “LOL Arch. I must be damned because I do prefer meat to veggies.”

    Well, at least you now know where your farts come from – daemons!

    Interesting parallel between “Sheol” and jail!

    Gehenna” was where your hero was headed, before Joseph of Arimathea said, “Hey, anybody wanna borrow a tomb?”

    Like

  180. Nate, good to be back. Hope you are having a happy, meat-and-demon-free holiday.

    Jesus warned people about “gehenna,” yes. But did He think of it as eternal torture? In the gospel of John, there is the famous verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16; NRSV) This word, “perish,” was used, along with “destruction,” to describe a potential fate after death. And when considering “eternal destruction,” it’s not about destroying something eternally, which as I think you are indicating is not possible. It’s about a destruction that lasts eternally. As you mentioned, once it’s destroyed, it’s gone. For how long? Eternally.

    Death is common to all people, obviously, and is dealt with in all cultures. How it is imagined differs. The Hebrews and Greeks imagined it differently, I am guessing. But there is also the difficulty of language differences. As has been mentioned by Marc, “sheol” was the word used by the Hebrews, which surely Jesus would have known. But his words were recorded in Greek, and so the equivalent “hades” was used. In addition, Jesus added the other well-known (at that time) image of “gehenna.” Was that “evolution” (i.e., a change), or simply a fuller understanding of death?

    Finally, what happened in “gehenna”? Did the trash and the bodies thrown there burn forever? No, they perished. And even though new trash and bodies were added at that time, they eventually burned out. If I’m not mistaken, today that valley is full of life.

    Like

  181. For Dave:

    Kissing Hank’s Ass

    This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:

    John: “Hi! I’m John, and this is Mary.”

    Mary: “Hi! We’re here to invite you to come kiss Hank’s ass with us.”

    Me: “Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who’s Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?”

    John: “If you kiss Hank’s ass, He’ll give you a million dollars; and if you don’t, He’ll kick the shit out of you.”

    Me: “What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?”

    John: “Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can’t until you kiss His ass.”

    Me: “That doesn’t make any sense. Why…”

    Mary: “Who are you to question Hank’s gift? Don’t you want a million dollars? Isn’t it worth a little kiss on the ass?”

    Me: “Well maybe, if it’s legit, but…”

    John: “Then come kiss Hank’s ass with us.”

    Me: “Do you kiss Hank’s ass often?”

    Mary: “Oh yes, all the time…”

    Me: “And has He given you a million dollars?”

    John: “Well no. You don’t actually get the money until you leave town.”

    Me: “So why don’t you just leave town now?”

    Mary: “You can’t leave until Hank tells you to, or you don’t get the money, and He kicks the shit out of you.”

    Me: “Do you know anyone who kissed Hank’s ass, left town, and got the million dollars?”

    John: “My mother kissed Hank’s ass for years. She left town last year, and I’m sure she got the money.”

    Me: “Haven’t you talked to her since then?”

    John: “Of course not, Hank doesn’t allow it.”

    Me: “So what makes you think He’ll actually give you the money if you’ve never talked to anyone who got the money?”

    Mary: “Well, He gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you’ll get a raise, maybe you’ll win a small lotto, maybe you’ll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street.”

    Me: “What’s that got to do with Hank?”

    John: “Hank has certain ‘connections.'”

    Me: “I’m sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game.”

    John: “But it’s a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don’t kiss Hank’s ass He’ll kick the shit out of you.”

    Me: “Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him…”

    Mary: “No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank.”

    Me: “Then how do you kiss His ass?”

    John: “Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl’s ass, and he passes it on.”

    Me: “Who’s Karl?”

    Mary: “A friend of ours. He’s the one who taught us all about kissing Hank’s ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times.”

    Me: “And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?”

    John: “Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here’s a copy; see for yourself.”
    From the Desk of Karl

    1. Kiss Hank’s ass and He’ll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
    2. Use alcohol in moderation.
    3. Kick the shit out of people who aren’t like you.
    4. Eat right.
    5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
    6. The moon is made of green cheese.
    7. Everything Hank says is right.
    8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
    9. Don’t use alcohol.
    10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
    11. Kiss Hank’s ass or He’ll kick the shit out of you.

    Me: “This appears to be written on Karl’s letterhead.”

    Mary: “Hank didn’t have any paper.”

    Me: “I have a hunch that if we checked we’d find this is Karl’s handwriting.”

    John: “Of course, Hank dictated it.”

    Me: “I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?”

    Mary: “Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people.”

    Me: “I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they’re different?”

    Mary: “It’s what Hank wants, and Hank’s always right.”

    Me: “How do you figure that?”

    Mary: “Item 7 says ‘Everything Hank says is right.’ That’s good enough for me!”

    Me: “Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up.”

    John: “No way! Item 5 says ‘Hank dictated this list himself.’ Besides, item 2 says ‘Use alcohol in moderation,’ Item 4 says ‘Eat right,’ and item 8 says ‘Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.’ Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too.”

    Me: “But 9 says ‘Don’t use alcohol.’ which doesn’t quite go with item 2, and 6 says ‘The moon is made of green cheese,’ which is just plain wrong.”

    John: “There’s no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you’ve never been to the moon, so you can’t say for sure.”

    Me: “Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock…”

    Mary: “But they don’t know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese.”

    Me: “I’m not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon was somehow ‘captured’ by the Earth has been discounted*. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn’t make it cheese.”

    John: “Ha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!”

    Me: “We do?”

    Mary: “Of course we do, Item 7 says so.”

    Me: “You’re saying Hank’s always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That’s circular logic, no different than saying ‘Hank’s right because He says He’s right.'”

    John: “Now you’re getting it! It’s so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank’s way of thinking.”

    Me: “But…oh, never mind. What’s the deal with wieners?”

    Mary: She blushes.

    John: “Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It’s Hank’s way. Anything else is wrong.”

    Me: “What if I don’t have a bun?”

    John: “No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong.”

    Me: “No relish? No Mustard?”

    Mary: She looks positively stricken.

    John: He’s shouting. “There’s no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!”

    Me: “So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?”

    Mary: Sticks her fingers in her ears.”I am not listening to this. La la la, la la, la la la.”

    John: “That’s disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that…”

    Me: “It’s good! I eat it all the time.”

    Mary: She faints.

    John: He catches Mary. “Well, if I’d known you were one of those I wouldn’t have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the shit out of you I’ll be there, counting my money and laughing. I’ll kiss Hank’s ass for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater.”

    With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off.

    Like

  182. Thanks, Arch. Looks like you are focused on Genesis and going forward. I will read and comment as I go. Regarding Hank, I sure am glad that Josh isn’t such an asshole.

    Dave, I understand Sheol/ Hades, and Tartarus as manifestations of the intermediate spiritual state for humans and fallen angels. The nature of Sheol/Hades was changed with the Harrowing of Hades that happened when the Lord entered and preached the Gospel to all (see 1 Peter 3:18). The most ancient Christian Tradition teaches that most if not all repented and ascended to the Heavenly Jerusalem as part of the spiritual first resurrection. The extension of this understanding is that after the death of the body now, the spirit/soul is illuminated and diagnosed (judged) to determine what therapy might be required for repentance and reconciliation to experience the spiritual first resurrection. Only those who refuse to accept the diagnoses and treatment are left in Tartarus with the fallen angels to await the final judgment and annihilation in the lake of fire (Gehenna).

    Like

  183. For Arch:

    “Settin’ Up Straw Men and Knockin’ ‘Em Down”

    The next day, after sticking a “No Soliciting” sign on his front door, Arch couldn’t wait for the rest of the day. He was interested in learning more about American history and government, and so after downing a can of “beanie weenies” (completely ignoring the good and helpful advice of John and Mary), he headed downtown to the “Constitutionalists ‘R’ Us” convention.

    When he arrived, however, he was disappointed to find a homogenous crowd of white men, all of whom were 175 years old or older. “Well, I’m here, I may as well enjoy it,” he said to himself as he sat down for the first speech, called “How to Treat Your Slaves.” During the Q&A session right after the speech, Arch couldn’t help himself. “Uh, do you guys realize that slavery was abolished years ago?” A low murmur went through the room, and all eyes stared at Arch. “You must be mistaken,” said the moderator. Arch decided not to push it, and sat down for the next presentation, “Puttin’ Uppity Women in Their Place,” in which the speaker decried the suffrage movement and promised that women would never get the vote. Once again, Arch couldn’t help himself, and was first to the microphone. “Excuse me, but you are aware… aren’t you?… that women have the right to vote?” Some snickers were heard, and all of a sudden the room erupted into laughter. “Perhaps you are in the wrong place, sir,” said the moderator, hardly able to breathe he was laughing so hard, as two men hooked their canes to Arch’s arms and pulled him out of the room.

    Arch was flabbergasted, but remembering his talk with John and Mary the day before, he was more than ever convinced that, through a brief encounter with people more ridiculous than he could ever have imagined, he could fairly categorize all “Kissing-Hank’s-Ass-ians” and “Lovers-of-the-Constitution-ians,” not to mention their beliefs and interpretations of the rules. As he drifted off to sleep, thinking about the last two days, he wondered what “straw man” he might encounter tomorrow.

    Like

  184. @Marc

    “I must be damned because I do prefer meat to veggies.”

    I should say so!

    Curiously, though, it seems as if God Himself is damned:

    “In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground,
    while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion of the firstlings of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected.”
    Gen 4, 3-5

    This story might be the origin of the phrase “God damned”. Perhaps, in an earlier rendition, it may have been, “God, damned”. Which, I suppose, puts a whole new spin on the meaning of hell.

    Of course, not being a literalist, I don’t imagine these ‘grasps at scriptural straws’ prove anything at all — so I’m as happy with absurd conclusions as rational ones.

    Paul

    Like

  185. “not being a literalist”

    This is one of the things, Captain C, that confuses me about you – as, “not a literalist,” how do you decide what, if anything, should be taken literally?

    Like

  186. “[H]ow do you decide what, if anything, should be taken literally?”

    Arch,

    This is what I believe:

    I believe “Repent and receive the good news!”

    If the Church, or the Bible, or you or anyone else comes up with a suggestion for me that involves me coming to a more joyful life and doing a better job of bringing joy to others by cleaning up my act and straightening out, I’m going to give that suggestion a fair hearing.

    If, in the name of “religion”, you propose something that will make me a worse asshole than I am already, or pour condemnation on other people, or do stuff I don’t agree with because I’m afraid of being punished if I don’t, or slander God by depicting Him as an irrational ogre — well, that’s the kind of stuff I basically set aside.

    My thoughts aren’t really that simplistic — but I hope I’ve pointed you in the right direction.

    Paul

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  187. “I hope I’ve pointed you in the right direction.”

    Not just trying to be disagreeable, but I can’t honestly say that you have – if anything, you’ve raised far more questions than you’ve answered.
    Repent” what? What “good news“? And of course it’s a logical impossibility to picture a nonexistent being as, “an irrational ogre.”

    Like

  188. @arch

    I don’t think you’re trying to be disagreeable at all, and I do think your questions are sincere.

    Let’s try this approach: How about we start by examining the things we both consider when we try to make sense of our lives? I may need your help to word this correctly, but I’m working from the assumption that we both believe in something that folks generally call “morality” and that, in large part, morality is about not hurting other people. Obviously, we both understand that — in an ordinary day — there are a thousand things a person has to decide where the proscription against hurting others provides very little in the way of specifics when it comes to figuring out what you should do — and “moral conundrums” abound. I’m not looking to create some kind of comprehensive philosophy of life here, I’m just trying to find a starting spot for a conversation that’s NOT disagreeable.

    I’ll stop at this point. Please understand that I’m looking to fashion some sort of manifesto of understandings we can BOTH sign off on.

    Paul

    Like

  189. “I don’t think you’re trying to be disagreeable at all

    Darn! Guess I’m not trying hard enough – oh well, it’s been a long day, I’ll do better next time.

    Yes, CC, we both agree that a system of morality is necessary for any two people, or any two groups of people to coexist equitably. I say equitably, because a slave/master system is one way of “getting along” without conflict, but it’s hardly equitable.

    I, of course, would point to the fact that putting one’s self in another’s place has been around since groups first existed, as a taught survival trait, and is not related to any given religion, although the concept has been incorporated, by necessity, into many such religions.

    It’s the age-old concept of walking a mile in another’s shoes, then you’re a mile away, and you’ve got his shoes!

    What I’m not clear on, and you haven’t directly stated, is whether or not you ascribe such a social system to a religion, and if so, that brings us back to your original statement, regarding considering many biblical stories as just that, stories, and my original question – how do you (not one, in general, but you, with your stated, “I believe some, some others, not so much,” philosophy, determine which to believe, and which to consider as not being especially “holy“, or figuratively “carved in stone,” as it were?

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  190. @arch

    I hope you think better of me than to imagine I am hobbled by the notion that Christianity is solely responsible for all of humanity’s discoveries and developments with respect to morality.

    Frankly, I find it silly to think that the Ten Commandments (or any other formulation) form the BASIS for Law. Not just silly, but theologically bogus. The “Law”, or the “Truth”, or “God’s Justice” or call-it-what-you-will is — if you’re going to bother to be religious — eternal, and perfect, and immutable, and fully comprehensive. In other words, it can’t possibly be written down as a Golden Rule or as a list of commandments or as a Torah or as a Bible. Anything composed of human words is — of necessity — going to be partial, and flawed, and temporal and subject to amendment.

    The “Law” — the perfect, eternal “Truth” which can’t be expressed or contained within the created universe is (we hope) the basis for whatever religion or scripture we human beings can manage to slap together. You make it seem as if the tail is supposed to wag the dog and that religion should be the basis of the Law. That’s not faith. In fact, it’s the OPPOSITE of faith. How does anyone fail to notice that nothing we’re capable of committing to paper is going to be any better than a caricature, or representation, or pointer to the Eternal Truth?

    You’re asking much, much, much too much of the Bible. Your criticisms are valid, but your expectations can never possibly be fulfilled. Not at all.

    A Bible that a person can believe “somewhat, but not entirely” is the best Bible any of us will ever be able to come up with.

    Am I the only one who sees this?

    Paul

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  191. “I hope you think better of me than to imagine….”etc.

    That’s just it, CC, I’m finding it so difficult to determine exactly what you DO believe, that I can do little else but imagine. However, with the speed of grass growing, you are leaving enough information to gradually piece some of it together .

    Possibly you can share with us (and further enlighten me) as to how this “eternal, and perfect,…immutable, and fully comprehensive” truth is to be revealed to us if “Anything composed of human words is — of necessity — going to be partial, and flawed, and temporal and subject to amendment.” Telepathy?

    Like

  192. i might add (aware that i might be labeled as faith-less) that the conventional christian understanding goes something like this:
    “Jesus loves me, this i know,”
    how do you know? “for the bible tells me so.”
    whereas your understanding, captain catholic, seems to be:
    “some-vague-notion-of-Jesus loves me, this i know,”
    how do you know? “some-vague-notion-of-Jesus loves me, this i know.”

    does God want to reveal God’s-self to us in some way? if so, how has God done that, and/or how is God doing that?

    Like

  193. @arch

    “Telepathy?”

    I don’t believe in telepathy and I’m of the opinion that the claims made by folks who promote telepathy are entirely specious; but even at that, it’s more credible to me to imagine that God reveals Himself via telepathy than that He reveals Himself through a book (written, I suppose, by ancients who’d received telepathic communiques from heaven)

    So put me down for “I can’t explain it because I don’t really know”. Perhaps I’m not convinced that I NEED to know.

    How about YOU help ME figure it out? (I’m serious. I’d rather us work together than work against each other.)

    Consider this: at the start of the 19th Century, very few Christian preachers in the North were preaching against slavery. Quite the opposite, in fact, abolitionist preachers (we’re talking North, here) we’re regularly losing their jobs for “disturbing” their congregations.

    Jump ahead sixty years. Virtually every church in the North was anti-slavery, and practically every Christian in the North believed GOD was opposed to slavery.

    What happened? Certainly there were no changes to the Bible, but people had a significantly different (and better!) idea of who God is. If it wasn’t revelation what was it? I can’t explain. Maybe you have an idea.

    In any event, I’m quite certain that what a person believes about slavery matters.

    …and what you believe about Mary’s sex life DOESN’T matter. Not really. It certainly isn’t going to influence your day to day behavior.

    Paul

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  194. How about YOU help ME figure it out? (I’m serious. I’d rather us work together than work against each other.)

    Yes! That’s how I feel as well! 🙂

    I agree with you that if God were going to communicate with us, using a book seems like one of the worst possible choices. Telepathy (for lack of a better word) would probably be one of the best.

    I suppose you feel moved by God in some way? You have very specific ideas about him and what he would find pleasing, so are these kind of like intuitions? I’m honestly asking these, by the way, and I mean them respectfully. Hopefully they’re coming across that way.

    To your point about the changing notions on slavery, I think the most likely explanation is that society was changing and the churches followed. I don’t think there was any divine revelation required at all. When Galileo talked about heliocentrism, the Catholic Church was initially opposed to it based largely on scriptural concerns. But as time went by and the science became more irrefutable, lo and behold, the scriptures also confirmed the idea! Of course, no additional passages were added — people just read into the Bible what they needed it to say. I think the same was true of slavery.

    We probably have the Enlightenment to thank more than anything else when it comes to the advancement of human rights. Once people began to really believe that “all men are created equal,” the old social barriers between classes began to crumble. It’s only natural that the barriers between race would fall as well. Once you see a slave as a fellow human being who should have the same natural rights that you do, slavery becomes a huge (and obvious) problem.

    But back to your original point, if telepathy (or something like it) accounts for your feelings about God, why doesn’t everyone believe the same things about God that you do? Wouldn’t he communicate with the rest of us as well?

    Like

  195. “I can’t explain it because I don’t really know”

    FINALLY, a revelation! Let’s hear a rousing chorus of “Getting to Know You,” from The King and I!

    “How about YOU help ME figure it out?”

    I don’t know how that’s possible, CC – essentially you’re asking me to help you arrive at a conclusion that I personally believe would be false, much like asking me to help you prove that black is white.

    Regarding your slavery analogy, one first must ask a question that I realize is unanswerable: how much of the reasons behind justifying slavery was actually based on economics – the idea of obtaining free labor – under the guise of religious justification? How much was based on the lack of scientific knowledge – i.e., the belief that Black Africans were sub-human, much as any other farm animal one owns, and whose permission one doesn’t ask in order to demand work from them, not realizing that a Black African, traced genetically back 90,000+/- years, was the father of us all?

    What happened?” We grew up! With mechanization, the North wasn’t as dependent on human labor as much as was the South, the last stronghold of Slavery. The education levels were higher. Darwin’s Origin of Species had been published in 1859, and for the first time since Galileo, 200+ years earlier, there was confirmed evidence that parts of the Bible may not be true. There were a myriad of factors involved, yet not one in particular to which I can point as the tipping point, though ultimately, it was Abe Lincoln’s (a confirmed atheist: “The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion.“) personal conviction that ruled the day, but I have no reason to believe that there was any supernatural involvement.

    “I can’t explain.”

    I can only suggest you ask Bill O’Reilly – “Tide goes in, tide goes out – you can’t explain that —” I’ve little doubt he has an answer for you.

    I DO understand, CC, that yours was a sincere request, and that I’ve responded somewhat frivolously (shrugs – it’s what I do —), but it’s hard to seriously entertain the idea.

    Like

  196. @arch

    “Let’s hear a rousing chorus of “Getting to Know You,” from The King and I!”

    Yes. I’ve always been able to depend on Oscar Hammerstein to put words to ideas and feelings I have trouble expressing. I like the way he’s always “putting it [his] way, but nicely”

    I really hope we are getting to know each other.

    I think, from my end, I’ve learned what it is you mean when you use the word “God.” I’ve always known that it was something different than what I meant when I used the word, but I had trouble putting my finger on what it is, exactly, that you were talking about…

    As you may know, I work as a mental health clinician. My clients aren’t folks with garden variety neuroses — they all suffer from severe and persistent mental illness. You get into discussions (on line, anyway) with people who believe in Jesus. I get to talk things over with people who believe they ARE Jesus.

    Many, perhaps most, of my clients talk to me about God, and angels, and devils. I believe they’re talking about real things — I just use different words. What they call “the devil” is what I would call a suppressed part of the psyche they’ve been unable to integrate into their personality. I’ve learned, though, that it would be nothing short of cruel to insist that they use my vocabulary. My job is to learn how to use theirs. They need, and deserve, respectful attention from other people and I can’t give them that sort of attention until I adopt their language.

    In other words, I’ve reached the point where the word ‘God’ doesn’t mean anything to me until I figure out how the other person is using it.

    If I’m not wrong, you use the word ‘God’ to refer to the initiator of science-defying supernatural events brought about at the behest of an elite group of ‘supplicants’ who refer to their delusion as ‘faith’.

    I’d be happy to use your vocabulary; but in my vocabulary, your ‘God’ is something I’d call “Spiderman” or the “Incredible Hulk”. Maybe “Superman” or “Zeus”. Trouble is, I don’t know your word for the thing I mean when I talk about God.

    As I’ve said before, the god you don’t believe in is the god I don’t believe in .

    Paul

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  197. “If I’m not wrong, you use the word ‘God’ to refer to the initiator of science-defying supernatural events brought about at the behest of an elite group of ‘supplicants’ who refer to their delusion as ‘faith’.”

    I really don’t see that as being me, rather I think it likely best describes those whom I address. When I speak of things, I can usually visualize them, but when I refer to god, whether Zeus or Mazda, I simply see a blank space – absolute zero.

    But it’s good to know you’re offering me the same consideration you would the rest of your mental patients!

    Actually, I referenced Superman in a discussion with a Muslim, as we were chatting about Big Mo zipping around, from Mecca to Jerusalem, to heaven, and back home to Mecca in a single night on Pegasus, but he didn’t seem to catch the reference.

    “I’d be happy to use your vocabulary…Trouble is, I don’t know your word for the thing I mean when I talk about God.”

    Just envision a complete and absolute blank, and by George, I think you’ve got it!

    Like

  198. Hey Nate! It was good seeing you the other day! I still check in every once in a while still and wanted to say as a believer I actually love what you say at the end of this blog and agree with it. I have always asked those tough questions and it almost led to me being an atheist myself but I got a lot of my questions answered and don’t share the beliefs you had before either, of course I never really did. I have always fallen somewhere in between but luckily I am in a Sunday School class now where we can openly discuss some of these questions and do. I also found a preacher Jay and I both like who has a PHD and knows a lot about history and ties it to his lessons. Even those going to church should be going to seeking answers anyways, I do, but they should also be cautious like you said of worshipping the Bible itself or the preacher, etc.

    Like

  199. Hi Nate,

    I like this post. As you know, I completely agree with the idea that the truth shouldn’t fear scrutiny, and I’m glad to see some Bible verses that support the idea, too.

    However, I’m not convinced that the Bible makes a coherent and consistent case for such questioning. I think Daylight Atheism’s post “Thoughts in Captivity” is relevant on this note.

    Like

  200. Howdy ratamacue0,

    I agree with you. The Bible stresses questioning… but only to a point. I’ll check out that post you linked to — thanks!

    Like

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