885 thoughts on “Comments Continued…”

  1. You have attracted a nice set of comments with your story. One comment was that most atheists were theists first. I don’t think I was, I was baptized and made a full member of a church but shortly thereafter I realized I had been lied to and rejected the whole thing. At no point would I say I had become a “believer” I just was someone who had been told a great many things and hadn’t come to a conclusion yet.

    A possible entre into such discussions is exploring when it was people first realized they believed. (Contrary to popular belief, children do not automatically believe everything they are told.) Getting to talk about a topic that isn’t so loaded at first gives on a more gentle basis for further discussion and provides an offset for out stories of when we realized we either didn’t believe or no longer believed.

    Part of the difficulty here is people know so little about scripture. If the contents of the NT were laid out in the order they were created and a time line of history overlaid, a lot would be much clearer. For example, people read the gospels before they read the letters of Paul, but the gospels were clearly written to provide an historical (seeming) context for the information in Paul’s letters, much as the Pentateuch was written to provide a back story for the claims of a King of Judah (and are still being used as such today).

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  2. Part of the difficulty here is people know so little about scripture.” – I think that’s part of the difficulty everywhere, Steve. I know Christians who are so proud of themselves that they have the Bible so thoroughly memorized that they can rattle off book, chapter and verse, but when I tell them that Gen 1 – the very first chapter of the Bible – wasn’t written until the middle of the 6th century BCE, they call me a liar. They truly believe that Gen 1 was the first book written, and know next to nothing about how the Bible came to be, only what’s in it. Of course what’s in it was highly dependent on how it came to be, as Gen 1 was written with the express intention that it replace Gen 2, as the Priestly Source – Aaronid priests writing in Babylonian captivity – felt that the Levite priests (the Yahwist Source), writing half a millennium earlier in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, had created a god who was too anthropomorphic. Unfortunately for them, they neglected to leave instructions to that effect for the Redactor (editor) who pieced together the Torah like a patchwork quilt a century and a half later, in 400 BCE – he included both tales and let his god sort it out.

    “Matthew,” for example copied 90% of his work from “Mark,” and “Luke,” 60% – this says a lot about the validity of “Matthew” and “Luke,” but if you weren’t aware of how they were written, it might be easy to conclude that one corroborates another – “The Bible says there needs to be two witnesses to an event, and in the Gospels, we have THREE!” – wrong, you have one and two clones.

    I surprised two Jehova’s Witnesses with my knowledge of how the Torah was actually written, to the extent that they never came back. I miss John and Betty —

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  3. Most of the Christians I speak with on the internet are aware of the controversies regarding the authorship of the Pentateuch and the Synoptic problem. I wish this information would shock them and open their eyes to the truth, but, no such luck. They always have a “harmonization” to explain away these problems. What frustrates me the most is Christians who insist that I adopt their worldview before they are willing to discuss the evidence for their central supernatural claim: the Resurrection of Jesus. They want me to accept the existence of their God and the authority of the Bible, a priori, before we begin discussing their evidence for a first century dead man walking out of his grave to teleport in front of his friends into outer space.

    Here is the latest conversation with my orthodox Lutheran friend with whom I am trying to have a conversation regarding his supernatural-based, orthodox Christian belief system:

    Gary:

    1. Why would an eternal, perfect, all-powerful God need to create a universe and little reproductions of himself that he would call “man”? Was he bored?

    2. And if that same God is all-knowing, he knew before he created the universe and created human beings, that man would disobey Him and eat his forbidden fruit, resulting that billions of men, women, and children would experience horrific suffering for thousands of years…but he went ahead and created it anyway.

    Is that the behavior of a loving Heavenly Father or of a sadistic Monster?

    Orthodox Lutheran:

    1. Without God, what basis do you have to make any sort of judgment on anything good or evil?

    2. How do you define good and evil without an objective standard?

    3. Why is suffering bad (or evil)?

    Is this the worldview of a rational person or an irrational one who knocks out the entire foundation for proving or defining anything?

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  4. Re: question #2 — why does “God” have to be the objective standard?

    I notice that, essentially, he doesn’t answer your last question although that’s not surprising. It’s so typical when a non-believer points out the imperfections of the Christian God, the believer simply ignores them and directs the conversation in a slightly different direction.

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  5. “Why is suffering bad (or evil)?”

    This is why Christians cannot condemn the evil behavior of their god in the Old Testament. They have been brainwashed to believe that He is the arbiter of what is good and evil. This is not objective morality. This is the subjective morality of a tyrant.

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  6. How do you define good and evil without an objective standard?” – at some point, likely in the next week or so, I intend writing a guest blog post on that subject on Ark’s site – you might want to keep an eye out for that. Or I may then drop a link.

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  7. One of my family members is now a very liberal Christian universalist—he believes that ALL will believe in Jesus in the end and all will be in heaven. He believes that the god of the OT was evil or nonexistent. He believes that Jesus was not the god of the OT. Jesus would never do what the OT says the OT god did.

    When I point out that Jesus spoke very highly of the OT god and encouraged mankind to worship and obey him (and most Christians believe that Jesus also said that he was the Son of God)..my family member looks at me with a blank stare… “I don’t know how to answer that,” he will say. “But my belief in Jesus is the foundation of my life, so I don’t want to think about the issue you have raised. I choose to ignore it.”

    My family member doesn’t come out and say it, but this is what he is really saying: The comfort and peace of mind that my belief system give me is more important than knowing the truth.

    Very sad.

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  8. Sad, Gary, but this is the mindset of more than your relative.

    The thing that I have wondered about … and others have as well because it’s been mentioned on several blogs — what do these people who expect to make heaven think they’re going to be doing all day? Living as they do now (without “sin,” of course)? The bible talks about worshipping God, but c’mon. Wouldn’t that get old after awhile? Or am I thinking too much in “human” terms?

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  9. Yes, silly, silly you, Nan. You ARE thinking in human terms.

    See, once you are in the Christian heaven you will be perfect, and being perfect means blissfully and joyously—without ceasing—singing words of praise to your loving Lord and Savior…the same loving Lord and Savior who in life threatened to burn you alive for all eternity…if you refused to obey, worship, and sing his praises forever and ever.

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  10. Hi Dave, dunno if you’re still reading this, but I wanted to share something with you (and Nate too I guess).

    I have an internet “friend” who is a Norwegian author and a fairly knowledgable guy. He is a christian but not a Catholic. He referred me to a paper on the Turin Shroud by someone who he said is “a Norwegian expert Atle Ottesen Søvik”. I know nothing more about this expert.

    He has written what I think is a peer-reviewed paper in Norwegian which contains links to many other peer reviewed papers in English. Fortunately, the paper has been translated (hopefully well) and you can see the paper and some other commentary online.

    It looks like a goldmine to me. At first glance (I haven’t read in detail yet) the guy seems fair-minded, and concludes that there are many arguments either way, and there is a lot of biased misinformation. His reference list covers both sides. He thinks the carbon dating is the only strong argument against authenticity while there are several arguments for authenticity. His final conclusion is cautiously in favour.

    I now have a lot more useful information on either side to begin to review when I have time. Hope you find it useful too.

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  11. The bible talks about worshipping God, but c’mon. Wouldn’t that get old after awhile?” – Can anyone fathom what eternity really means? How much church can you sit through?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Holy Foreskin, Batman!

    Forget about the Shroud of Turin, check out this slice of Church history:

    Foreskin (of Jesus) relics began appearing in Europe during the Middle Ages. The earliest recorded sighting came on December 25, 800, when Charlemagne gave it to Pope Leo III when the latter crowned the former Emperor. Charlemagne claimed that it had been brought to him by an angel while he prayed at the Holy Sepulchre, although a more prosaic report says it was a wedding gift from the Byzantine Empress Irene. Pope Leo III placed it into the Sancta Sanctorum in the Lateran basilica in Rome with other relics.[3] Its authenticity was later considered to be confirmed by a vision of Saint Bridget of Sweden.[4] David Farley says the foreskin was then looted during the Sack of Rome in 1527. The German soldier who stole it was captured in the village of Calcata, 47 km north of Rome, later the same year. Thrown into prison, he hid the jeweled reliquary in his cell, where it remained until its rediscovery in 1557. Many miracles (freak storms and perfumed fog overwhelming the village) are claimed to have followed.[3] Housed in Calcata, it was venerated from that time onwards, with the Church approving the authenticity by offering a ten-year indulgence to pilgrims.[3] Pilgrims, nuns and monks flocked to the church, and “Calcata [became] a must-see destination on the pilgrimage map.” The foreskin was reported stolen by a local priest in 1983.[3]

    According to David Farley, “Depending on what you read, there were eight, twelve, fourteen, or even 18 different holy foreskins in various European towns during the Middle Ages.”

    –Wikipedia

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  13. “Housed in Calcata, it was venerated from that time onwards, with the Church approving the authenticity by offering a ten-year indulgence to pilgrims.”

    TEN YEARS of sins wiped out for staring at a foreskin!

    The Catholic Church should be ashamed of itself. Pope Francis should shut down the relics trade once and for all…and that includes the relic in Turin.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Depending on what you read, there were eight, twelve, fourteen, or even 18 different holy foreskins in various European towns during the Middle Ages.” – Thank goodness mine won’t be showing up in a glass box anywhere!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Gary posted:

    One of my family members is now a very liberal Christian universalist—he believes that ALL will believe in Jesus in the end and all will be in heaven. He believes that the god of the OT was evil or nonexistent. He believes that Jesus was not the god of the OT. Jesus would never do what the OT says the OT god did.

    You know, I think about this kind of thing a good bit, and I’m glad you’ve brought it up. I’m curious to know how the rest of you guys see this. Honestly, a person with the outlook Gary just referred to doesn’t really bother me. I feel the same way about deists, Buddhists, etc.

    Ideally, everyone’s views would adhere as closely to what’s objectively true as possible — and of course, I think atheism and naturalism come closest. But it’s not an ideal world, and people aren’t going to agree. So whenever someone reaches the level of deism or very moderate religious belief, I consider that a win. Such people are usually humanists and believe that all people should have the freedom to live as they please. In other words, aside from the god question, their views line up almost exactly with my own.

    Do the rest of you view it that way too, or do you think that any amount of religion is still something that should be argued against? And I don’t want to imply that I wouldn’t discuss my views with someone who’s moderately religious — just that I don’t really care if I convince them or not. Whereas, I really hope fundamentalists will one day change.

    Thoughts?

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  16. Thanks for those links, unkleE. I’ve been too busy with work (and coaching soccer) lately, so I haven’t gotten far in my investigation yet. But I’m sure these resources will help greatly. Thanks again! 🙂

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  17. Nate,

    Liberal Christians are for the most part, really nice people. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to convince these people of the error of their belief system. But if the subject comes up, this is what I say:

    Your very liberal, very kind, very compassionate yet supernatural belief system gives cover for the fundamentalists. If liberal Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. would abandon all belief in the supernatural, the fundamentalists would be left flapping in the winds of irrationality. Society would consider them as wacky and socially stigmatized as Hare Krishna and Branch Davidians.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. My definition of a religious fundamentalist: “My faith is the only true Faith, My god is the only true god. People who refuse to believe in and submit to my god are evil. If you do not accept and submit to my Faith, my god will punish you in some painful manner.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I shake my head in bemusement, that someone like unklee is still tolerated, with his sycophantic wheedling.
    paraphrase ….”Oh, I am all for evidence and common sense and… and … but this is what the experts say so are you going to deny what all the experts say?”

    And here is with his pseudo -intellectualism debating/supporting the damn Shroud of Turin for the gods’ sake.

    Yes, well, the experts -genuine ones – deny Moses ever existed which pretty much pisses on Christianity’s bonfire.

    Have the intellectual integrity to fully address this, unklee, before you start offering any sort of ”maybes” for the some medieval rag.

    As for Brandon …well, ffs… he is just a complete head-case. The best response to this idiot is.
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hey, Arch, unkE has a bran(d) new post with lots of cool bullet points on what the ”experts” agree about the Resurrection.
    I might even become a believer next week.
    I especially loved this very important point about other biblical resurrections. A clincher, you will agree.

    One big difference Ken. None of them was the son of God. That leads to another big difference. They all were returned to this life, to die again; Jesus rose as the first-born into a new life, never to die again. And so will we if we choose him.

    Really , really hard to fight against this level of common-sense intellectual ‘expert’ evidence.

    Darn; that reminds me! I must remember to renew my Lee Strobel Fan Club membership.

    Liked by 2 people

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