Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Top Ten Grievances Against the Bible


1. Authority -- NOT -- it was compiled, copied, edited, codified and translated by men. Men with agendas. Over the hundreds of years it was put together there were perhaps hundreds of "hands" tinkering with the unalterable "holy" words.

2. Inconsistency. Two Adam & Eve stories. Two genealogies for Jesus. Discrepancies amongst the Gospels. Too many inconsistencies to mention, and anyway The Skeptics Annotated Bible did it already.

3. God's nature is fickle and inconsistent. He is forgiving or resentful depending on the situation. Sometimes he tinkers in the Affairs of Man and sometimes not. He wants you to follow his rules, but then there's the parable of the prodigal son. He made the world and all the animals, including people, and yet made all sorts of really horrible and stupid things. For instance, why do humans have "tail" bones if we don't have tails? Having broken mine I can tell you I'd rather not have it. If he wanted us to protect the useful parts of our spine in a fall, then why put nerve endings there?

4. Miracles. They have no corroboration outside of the Bible. They could have been faked or made up as propaganda or exaggerated over time. If Jesus really did walk on water, how do we know he didn't go there in advance and put a table just under the water line? How do we know there wasn't a sandbar there? And yet he couldn't make a fig tree yield fruit out of season, which would have been a more difficult feat than appearing to be walking on water. Couldn't pop the nails out of his hands and feet and jump off the cross, either.

5. Revelation. Dreams, voices, visions... they are all reminiscent of what today would be considered symptoms of psychosis. If they're psychotic symptoms now, they very likely would have been then, if they even happened. Primitive people can't be faulted for believing that dreams or migraine auras or psychotic breaks came from some supernatural entity, but we shouldn't believe them now. The opposite is possession by an evil spirit. Also mental illness that was misunderstood by bronze age superstitious people.

6. Scientific inaccuracy. God could have revealed the truth about the Sun revolving around the Earth, at the very least. All of God's words seem to be consistent with what humans would have known at the time, and not at all revelatory or helpful. Every human culture has a creation story. The Judeo-Christian-Muslim one is just one of many with no claim to accuracy in the least.

7. Similarity to mythologies in other Middle Eastern religions. Just a little too many similarities to dismiss. Mithras, for example.

8. Speaking of Paul, Paul's role is a little too important in early Christianity. He never met Jesus, yet he supposedly explains Christianity with authority. He has a completely different message from Jesus' supposed words. A lot of Biblical inconsistency right there. Why should anyone believe anything he said? None of it was of a nature that couldn't have come from psychosis, imagination, or calculation. If he was divinely inspired, he could have set people straight about the Sun, for instance.

9. The Book of John. Written much later than the other "gospels" and seems very biased. Coincidentally, "fundamentalist" Christians are fond of quoting John. They like his brand of Christianity so much that their whole theology would crumble if that "book" was taken out of the Bible.

10. Disturbing "morality." Over and over there are truly disgusting examples of God or his favorite people doing the most heinous things. The worst of all for me is the central tenet of Christianity: that Christ was sacrificed for the sins of mankind... all of us or some of us, depending on your denomination. This means that a "loving" God practiced scapegoating, punishing his one good child for the sinfulness of all the others. No actual sinning is required to be defined as a bad child, since sinfulness is inherited. Inheriting the "sins of the fathers" is also immoral. Other repugnant practices are portrayed without any negative judgment: war, genocide, polygamy, rape (but only of women!), and slavery to name a few. Then this "loving" God will send everyone who doesn't say they "accept" him to eternal fire and pain. What kind of "love" is that?

10a. Cannibalism. Yech! You can say it's just metaphorical and wine doesn't really turn into blood, but still, it's a repulsive practice and extremely barbaric. Early Christians already had the practice of baptism for the cleansing of sins, so they really didn't have to have eat their god in a repulsive ritual meal. That practice is also waaaay too similar to that of other religions to be taken seriously as a true historical tale.

I could probably come up with more but these are the big ones for me. Much ink has been spilt explaining the problems in the Bible. People get Ph.D.s in something aptly called "apologetics." They call the Book "god-breathed" or inspired rather than taking it as the literal gods-ear-to-man's-pen truth, because they know deep down it's really a bunch of ridiculous nonsense. To believe in this book is to believe in a God that's mercurial, vengeful, narcissistic, and possibly insane.

Or... you could believe that the Bible is just like all the other holy books of all the other religions, just a bunch of fairy tales with supernatural buddies and/or bullies as the main characters.

Some of my smaller grievances don't get much attention, but for what they're worth:
  • If all of creation was 'good' then wouldn't Adam & Eve have been exiled to a pretty nice place?
  • Why is it an "abomination" for men to have sex with men but not for women to have sex with women? Isn't that also homosexuality?
  • Why was there no judgment against Lot's daughters after they got him drunk then got pregnant by him? His wife was turned into a pillar of salt just for looking over her shoulder at her former home. That seems a little harsh.
  • If Jesus' conception was immaculate, then why does he have a genealogy traced through Joseph's side of the family?
  • And the fig tree, wtf? Why doesn't Jesus regret his temper tantrum if he's such a great guy? Come to think of it, why did he smite the tree in the first place? Is this some kind of metaphor that a woman who won't have sex during her off-cycle will be smote?

69 comments:

ex-minister1 said...

Excellent list. You have covered it quite well. Novel idea.

Got just a couple of footnotes.

10a. Cannibalism - you don't need to go far in the Bible to find God forcing humans to eat each other being the all powerful sort who can do whatever he wants and allows whatever he wants. So your point here is very strong even beyond the bread & wine.

Jeremiah 19:7-9 - God speaking
“‘In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who seek their lives, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. I will devastate this city and make it an object of scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh during the stress of the siege imposed on them by the enemies who seek their lives.’

Your smaller grievances. Lesbians not condemned? I was surprised at that one. I thought if true then it would be because women in the bible were just property. But poking around the internet I found SAB identified this text as the only clear reference.

Romans 1:26-27
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Top Ten against Christians might be entertaining. My top 1 would be how do these guys believe all this B.S? They really twist logic into a heavily used telephone cord to make everything fit. The second would be they claim the bible can be taken literally and yet doing so they cannot agree with each other. Third - they all understand science better than scientist. Fourth - They are offended if you doubt their word. Fifth - even though the Bible clearly tells them this world is a lost cause and they should focus only on the church they need to change the law of the land and be one nation under god. Nation building. The OT shows the failure of that. I ask them where did Jesus say his chosen should get involved in Roman politics. Can't think of any others at the moment but I am sure it wouldn't be hard to flesh that out. What do you think?

Mike Gantt said...

It is quite possible to read the Bible without coming to any of those conclusions.

LadyAtheist said...

ex-minister, good catch on lesbians. I knew about the passage in Leviticus, which is the one that specifies only male homosexuality.

Of course the other "abominations" are passé to Christians because they don't conform to their sensibilities. They can give up gay sex that 90% of them don't want to do anyway, but they can't give up shellfish!

It would be hard to narrow a list to just 10 things about Christians but an intriguing idea. Thanks!

ex-minister1 said...

Mike Gannt
Exactly the bible has so many internal conflicts you can make it say anything. This is why there are so many denominations. However you are forced to ignore various parts.

Anonymous said...

The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary's conception not Jesus.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm

GearHedEd said...

If Jesus' conception was immaculate, then why does he have a genealogy traced through Joseph's side of the family?

Just a quick point: The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary. She was protected by God from Original SIn (according to Catholic dogma) so she could be a worthy "vessel" to carry Jesus to his birth.

This, of course raises all sorts of other problems. For instance, if God could dispense with sin in Mary's case and just "poof" it away for his purposes, why couldn't he just do that with everyone else, too? Why Jesus, if God can wipe sin away on a whim?

Doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

one of the stories I've always had trouble swallowing Is when David asked two men to Bring the Ark of the Covenant to him. They obeyed the king. Everyone celebrated. The ark tipped and helpful Uzzah steadied it and BAM! god killed him then and there. Celebration over. David was pissed. He didn't want to be near the ark and god blessed the poor sucker who had to manuever around this gold contraption in his house for three months.

Thin-ice said...

MikeGant: NOT if you were reading the Bible for the first time in a total cultural vacuum. A person like that would NOT naturally come to the conclusion that the bible was dictated by God, inerrant and infallible.

Ever read the Q'ran? If so, did you think it was inspired and dictated by God? Of course not. But muslims think it is, and that the Bible is a man-made book.

So judge YOUR book by the same standards by which you judge OTHER religions' books.

articulett said...

Oh god is into real cannibalism too-- not just the symbolic kind:


"I am the LORD your God, ...... And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat." (Leviticus 26:13,29)



"And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy

sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee,

in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress

thee:.............. And toward her young one that cometh out from between

her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall

eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith

thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates." (Deuteronomy 28:53-57)



"Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD,..... And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one of the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them." (Jeremiah 19:6-9)



"Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in the midst of you and sons

shall eat their fathers.......I will send famine and wild beasts against you

and they shall rob you of your children; pestilence and blood shall pass

through you; and I will bring a sword upon you. I, the Lord, have

spoken." (Ezekiel 5:10, 17)



"The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people. The Lord hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof." (Lamentations 4:10-11)


Good Book, eh?

Ahab said...

All of it so true! I enjoyed this list of grievances against what is clearly a human-written book.

Anonymous said...

Wow, lots of misunderstanding of the Bible here. I just have time to comment on one item at the moment, maybe more another time.

Regarding the whole cannibalism thing - in each of these passages, God is putting the word out to His people that they have become so wicked, that He has no choice but to punish them with incredible calamity (siege by enemies and such) in order to get their attention. He is predicting that they will resort to cannibalism because their circumstances will become that dire as their wickedness was so great. He is in no way promoting it or condoning it, merely predicting it.

I was taught in my high school Social Studies class that cannibalistic tribes didn't eat other people because they thought they were tasty. They would eat enemies they conquered in battle because they respected their enemies and thought they would acquire the positive attributes of those they conquered by eating them.

By contrast, Jesus didn't teach that you had to literally eat someone in order to take on their best qualities. He taught his followers to become like Him by loving others, praying, and other things to follow His example. Whereas cannibalism is a misguided attempt to acquire the best qualities of others by eating them, communion is merely a symbol of the body and blood that Jesus sacrificed on their behalf, to remind them of where their allegiance lies and whose qualities they need to aspire to emulate.

-TK

Anonymous said...

Let's try another one. Looks like I'm going in reverse order.

Let's focus on the most important point here: the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of mankind. The biggest misunderstanding regarding Jesus' sacrifice stems from a misunderstanding of God's nature.

Being a perfect God, He is totally just. As such, all sins need to be judged, from large to small. Thing is, God is perfectly holy too. That means the yardstick for sin is perfection.

So you never killed anybody or robbed a bank? That's nice. Ever jealous of somebody's house, car, etc.? Ever tell a lie? Ever lust after somebody? Who hasn't? We're all in the same boat as sinners.

It's the combination of God's perfect justice and perfect holiness that spells trouble for us. It means that God can't have sin in His presence. Ever. That means the fate of all who sin (i.e. everyone) is the same; eternal separation from God (i.e. Hell). Doesn't sound fair? think lighter sins deserve lighter punishment? Then God would be less than perfectly holy or less than perfectly just, and simply wouldn't be God.

What hope is there for anyone then? Good question. For reasons I don't claim to understand, the only way to pay the debt of sin is by blood.

The sacrifice of animals covered human sin for a while, but it was a band-aid solution. The only way to atone for sin permanently is to sacrifice someone who has never committed a sin. Problem: the only person that has never committed a sin is God. Solution: John 3:16.

Jesus is often referred to as "God the Son". Though "Son" describes the relationship He had with God the Father, Jesus is still fully God Himself in human form. As such, Jesus was the only person qualified to act as a sacrifice for everybody else, for all time. Jesus wasn't forced to the cross; He went willingly, knowing the agony He would face, but also knowing it was the only way to save the rest of us if we believe and accept the gift, and turn our lives around as a result.

Three things to remember about Hell:
1. God didn't create for you; He created it for Satan and his minions.
2. God doesn't want you to go there.
3. God made a way for you to escape it if you want.

Keep in mind, the choice is yours. If you don't want to be with God, He will respect your free will and honor your request allow you to be separated for all eternity. Just remember, choose now; once you die, you can't change your mind if you find out you made the wrong choice.

Sorry to ramble. Tough to explain clearly in less space, though.

-TK

Corky said...

TK - anonymous.

You are contradicting yourself.

In one place you say hell is permanent separation from God. In another place you say that hell is a real place created for Satan and his minions.

Since God requires perfection - why is his own creation not perfect? Also, if God is perfectly just then why doesn't he require himself to obey his own rules? Sounds like God has a double standard to me.

Another contradiction is the blood sacrifice. Committing suicide by use of human authority is the same as committing suicide by cop. If he had known his words and actions would cause his death, it would have been nothing but suicide. Suicide is also a criminal act that makes Jesus guilty of his own murder.

A real blood sacrifice is being tied to an alter having one's throat cut - like what Abraham was going to do with Isaac.

Anonymous said...

Corky,

Hell is a real place, where all experience separation from God, be they human or Satan. It is too late for Satan to escape this fate, but not too late for living people. What contradiction are you referring to here?

God's creation was indeed initially perfect. What happened is that he imbued both angels and humans with free will (can we agree it's better to have free will than not?). In time, both a portion of the angels and mankind rebelled against God, creating a schism between them. It was a willful act on the part of each to substitute their perfection with imperfection. God loved humankind enough to provide a path of reconciliation to be able to have fellowship with them once again. Again, I'm not seeing the contradiction you are.

Sorry, but the "suicide by cop" analogy just isn't a good one here. There's a big, big difference between someone who pulls a gun on a cop (a crime in itself) wanting to die, versus someone who does no wrong and sacrifices himself in order to save others. Jesus prayed beforehand for God to "take this cup from me" if there were any other way to accomplish the salvation of man other than through His death, but He knew there wasn't, and He literally sweat blood over it.

Even though God may have instructed Israel in a specific manor of sacrifice for animals on the altar hundreds of years prior, it doesn't necessarily mean it applied to Jesus as well. The Bible specifies the what, but is silent about the why. The altar was a logical place for animal sacrifices because its location was consecrated as a place of worship to God. Likewise, the cross was a logical place for Jesus' sacrifice because crucifixion was reserved as punishment for the worst criminals, and Jesus was taking the place of the worst in us.

-TK

Anonymous said...

OK, let's take a look at #1 - authority.

2 Timothy 3:16 states that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...". God used men, through their understanding and personalities to write scripture the same way you or I would use a pen. You may not agree with it, but the Bible does make that claim of authority for itself.

The most common view is that the original manuscripts were inspired, though the copies were not. It doesn't mean the copies were completely off the mark, but that it's acknowledged that errors may have taken place in copying. It's agreed by scholars, though, that no error affects any doctrine in any significant way.

Regarding the nature of the Bible itself: it consists of 66 books written over the span of thousands of years by 40 authors including a doctor, a king to a shepherd, etc. Even with this astounding background, it provides a coherent, consistent message about God's relationship to His people. There's no other work like it by a long shot.

There are about 5,000 portions of copies of the original manuscripts in existence. Some of these date within a lifetime of the events that they document. This is an embarrassment of riches in regards to determining what copy errors crept in along the way. With 5,000 handwriting samples to compare, it's a lot easier to determine which ones are the forgeries and which ones are genuine than if you had just 10. The find of the Dead Sea Scrolls last century confirmed that the "youngest" copies of scripture we have are still highly accurate. Compare this to accounts of Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. In these cases, there might be 50 manuscript copies to compare, dated literally hundreds of years following the events they document. Nobody questions the accuracy of these, yet will not give the Bible the same benefit.

The books that went into the Bible were not chosen just because someone liked it. There were criteria agreed upon by the early church leaders that had to be met if the book was to be included. For example, if Jesus quoted the book (such as Isaiah), that was sufficient for authentication and canonization. The number of hands "tinkering" worked in its favor, as the greater number that had a say, the more likely it was that the books that met the standards were included, and those that didn't, weren't.

BTW, so what if the Bible was written by man? It's a logical fallacy to say that everything created by man is imperfect. I could use a computer created by man to calculate Pi to a million places and publish it, and there wouldn't be an error in it.

-TK

Corky said...

TK says...
You may not agree with it, but the Bible does make that claim of authority for itself.

Yes it does and that is what is called circular reasoning. The Bible testifies of itself that it's true and you are simply taking the author's word for it.

To prove the Bible is true, you first have to prove that God exists. Then you have to prove that this same God inspired men to write what he dictated.

Sorry, but the "suicide by cop" analogy just isn't a good one here.

Yes it is, you just don't want to see it. Jesus was not a sacrifice because it doesn't match Abraham's intention to sacrifice Isaac and that is the supposed shadow of things to come.

Jesus also does not fulfill the burnt offering. Jesus was not sacrificed to God on an alter, he was crucified as a criminal and his body was not burnt as Abraham intended to do with Isaac.

The whole thing is a fictional story and you can tell that it is a fictional story from two facts. The gospel writer knew what the characters said when the writer was not present and the gospel writer knew what people were thinking in their minds.

You could say that God inspired the writer but you are back to the first part of the circle again. You first have to prove there is a God or else it's simply circular reasoning.

Sorceror said...

TK: "It's a logical fallacy to say that everything created by man is imperfect."

Actually, I don't think it is, at least not without proving that perfection can be a product of imperfection. In that case, what need is there for an external "perfect" being or existence?

"I could use a computer created by man to calculate Pi to a million places and publish it, and there wouldn't be an error in it."

Nor would it be perfect. What is 1 divided by 3? 0.33333.... ad infinitum. It is physically impossible to represent an infinite number of 3s in a basic mathematical system; so to is it impossible for a computer to store infinite places of pi.

Anonymous said...

TK: Sorry, but the "suicide by cop" analogy just isn't a good one here.

Corky: Yes it is, you just don't want to see it. Jesus was not a sacrifice because it doesn't match Abraham's intention to sacrifice Isaac and that is the supposed shadow of things to come.


TK: Keep in mind, Genesis is more a book of history than of doctrine, such as Romans. Don't fall into the trap that just because a sacrifice was carried out using one procedure back then that God is bound to have it carried out the same way in the future. The important concept of a sacrifice is shed blood. The mechanics of the procedure are secondary. God may have had reasons for the priests to have sacrificed things a certain way at the time Genesis was written that we may not fully understand, but nothing binds God to have it done the exact same way in Jesus' time.

Corky: You could say that God inspired the writer but you are back to the first part of the circle again. You first have to prove there is a God or else it's simply circular reasoning.

TK: I'll be the first to say you can never prove God's existence. If you could, there would be no need for faith. Faith is actually better, because if there were proof, only an insane person wouldn't follow God, and there goes your free will for all intents and purposes.

That said, there's enough evidence out there to make faith in God plausible. And I'm not talking about blind faith either. I'm talking about the same kind of faith you rely on every time you step on a plane, knowing there are no guarantees that you won't crash before you reach your destination. The odds are high enough in your favor that you take the flight without proof of safe arrival until you reach your destination.

One evidence is simply the existence of the universe. The big bang theory is as strong as just about any out there. Things don't create themselves. The creation of space and time out of nothing violates every physics law in the book. It implies a cause outside of space and time with the power to create it. God fits that definition. Physicists have yet to come up with a better explanation.

Another evidence is creation of life from non-life. Evolutionists have come up with elaborate conjectures to explain how early life overcame entropy to become mind-bogglingly complex on its own through random chance (which I think in itself is weak), but every time they get together to discuss how life actually came to be in the first place, they're no closer to an answer either.

Given these problems, I think the title of Norm Geisler's book I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist sums it up pretty well.

Getting back to your original point about divine inspiration of the gospels: if you can summon enough faith to believe the first verse of the Bible, divine inspiration and every other miracle becomes easy to believe. Any God with enough power to create the universe out of absolutely nothing (not even a vacuum!) certainly has enough power to inspire a message to mankind.

Sorceror said...

"Things don't create themselves. The creation of space and time out of nothing violates every physics law in the book ... Physicists have yet to come up with a better explanation."

Stephen Hawking is one who would disagree with you. There have been experiments where particles spontaneously appear in created vacuums. Quantum theory also appears to violate the Law of Conservation of Energy, so there's a good chance that the "something can't come from nothing" perception is incorrect.

"Evolutionists have come up with elaborate conjectures to explain how early life overcame entropy"

What entropy? Evolution is not a hierarchical or progressive process; it is not a mountain to climb with a defined summit.

If your understanding of entropy was correct, humans would need to constantly consume more than their body weight in food just to prevent their energies from escaping. Some basic grasp of biology might help you here.

Experiments have shown RNA proteins forming and even evolving from natural, non-organic materials in laboratory conditions that mimic certain environmental factors. Even an arsenic-based lifeform has been discovered.

"if you can summon enough faith to believe the first verse of the Bible, divine inspiration and every other miracle becomes easy to believe"

In the beginning, there was nothing. (Gen 1:1)

Really? Is that all you need to believe in to say that divine inspiration and miracles are true? There is no mention of a god, or a creator, or anything in fact in that verse.

Regardless, relativistic physical theory argues that there is no "beginning". In layman's terms, before the universe, there was no time (nor space), therefore nothing could have existed "before" the universe; the universe has always been.

Back to the problems with the bible:
There appears to be some confusion of the term "immaculate conception". Let's see now: "immaculate" means unspoiled; in the case of a woman conceiving a child, could that not mean that the mother is a virgin?

Most importantly, was Mary really a virgin? If so, what purpose does the lineage traced from Joseph serve?

Joe Staub said...

Hey Lady Atheist. As a Christian I couldn't resist responding to this top 10 list. All in good fun, but from the heart, too. Respect!

http://joestaub.blogspot.com/2011/01/top-ten-cheers-for-bible.html

Anonymous said...

TK: Things don't create themselves. The creation of space and time out of nothing violates every physics law in the book ... Physicists have yet to come up with a better explanation.

Sorcerer: Stephen Hawking is one who would disagree with you. There have been experiments where particles spontaneously appear in created vacuums. Quantum theory also appears to violate the Law of Conservation of Energy, so there's a good chance that the "something can't come from nothing" perception is incorrect.


TK: And there are a number of prominent (though less well known) physicists that would disagree with Hawking in several areas, such as Leonard Susskind and Gerard 't Hooft. The physics community is far from unified (no pun intended) in their theories. And what of the experiment you refer to regarding spontaneous particle creation? Was it truly spontaneous, or did the experimenters create an environment to cause them to appear? I'm genuinely curious. Regardless, we cannot duplicate the conditions prior to the big bang (neither vacuums nor even time existed), so it seems difficult to make an authoritative claim that this is how things happened. Even if that were so, a few particles here and there does not a big bang make.

TK: Evolutionists have come up with elaborate conjectures to explain how early life overcame entropy

Sorcerer: What entropy? Evolution is not a hierarchical or progressive process; it is not a mountain to climb with a defined summit.

If your understanding of entropy was correct, humans would need to constantly consume more than their body weight in food just to prevent their energies from escaping. Some basic grasp of biology might help you here.


TK: Not sure if we're on the same sheet of music here. I'm referring to the statistical mechanics definition of entropy (developed by Boltzmann) regarding order, rather than the thermodynamic definition. Simply put for the sake of other readers, things break. Without the benefit of the input of energy and information, things always go from more complex to less. You can make the argument that the sun provides an input of energy, but where does the information come from?

Not sure what you mean by "hierarchical" IRT evolution, but it certainly seems to fit the definition of progressive to me, as we're talking about less complex life forms progressing to more complex forms over time. It seems reasonable to define the "summit" as the most complex form at any given time.

Sorcerer: Experiments have shown RNA proteins forming and even evolving from natural, non-organic materials in laboratory conditions that mimic certain environmental factors. Even an arsenic-based life form has been discovered.

TK: I'd need more info on the experiment you refer to to comment. Curious to know how contrived (or not) the environment is. I'd want to make sure it's not a totally discredited faceplant like the Urey–Miller experiment. Even given the benefit of the doubt, spontaneous creation of RNA is still a long, long way from even the simplest self-sustaining life.

BTW, the bacteria found in Mono Lake are not arsenic-based. They're carbon-based, like everything else, but merely substitute arsenic for phosphorus in their DNA.

(to be continued)
-TK

Anonymous said...

TK: If you can summon enough faith to believe the first verse of the Bible, divine inspiration and every other miracle becomes easy to believe.

Sorcerer: In the beginning, there was nothing. (Gen 1:1)

Really? Is that all you need to believe in to say that divine inspiration and miracles are true? There is no mention of a god, or a creator, or anything in fact in that verse.


TK: What version are you reading? Seriously. Every version I've read (including interlinear Hebrew) says something along the lines of In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Sorcerer: Regardless, relativistic physical theory argues that there is no "beginning". In layman's terms, before the universe, there was no time (nor space), therefore nothing could have existed "before" the universe; the universe has always been.

TK: Could you point me to a reference that says IRT relativistic theory that there is no beginning (to the universe, I presume you mean)? How does the big bang fit in? Aside from the apparent contradictions here, it's a logical fallacy to conclude that the universe has always existed if nothing could have existed before it. A creator outside of time and space that created it is a perfectly plausible explanation as well.

Sorcerer: Back to the problems with the bible:
There appears to be some confusion of the term "immaculate conception". Let's see now: "immaculate" means unspoiled; in the case of a woman conceiving a child, could that not mean that the mother is a virgin?

Most importantly, was Mary really a virgin? If so, what purpose does the lineage traced from Joseph serve?


TK: "immaculate conception" is a concept created within the Catholic church. It has no basis in scripture and I don't personally subscribe to it. Interesting, that in the opening lines of the Magnificat, Mary refers to "God my Savior", as opposed to "God their Savior". Seems that she's implying a need for a Savior herself (confessing her condition as a sinner) along with everyone else.

The Bible states that Mary was a virgin, which happened to be predicted hundreds of years earlier in Isaiah (7:14). I'll stand behind that. If God created the universe, then causing a virgin to conceive is easy.

Although both Mary and Joseph were both descended from David, the purpose of including Joseph in Jesus' lineage is to provide him the legal right to the throne of Israel, which would have been passed through the legal father.

-TK

Anonymous said...

Oops, missed this one:

TK: It's a logical fallacy to say that everything created by man is imperfect.

Sorcerer: Actually, I don't think it is, at least not without proving that perfection can be a product of imperfection. In that case, what need is there for an external "perfect" being or existence?

TK: I could use a computer created by man to calculate Pi to a million places and publish it, and there wouldn't be an error in it.

Sorcerer: Nor would it be perfect. What is 1 divided by 3? 0.33333.... ad infinitum. It is physically impossible to represent an infinite number of 3s in a basic mathematical system; so to is it impossible for a computer to store infinite places of pi.


Perfection doesn't need to be a product of imperfection; all it needs to be is a subset of it. The book of Pi may not be complete, but it can be published as far as it goes without errors. Another example might be better, such as the collection of temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit at a particular location for a particular time period, rounded to the nearest degree. You get the point.

-TK

Sorceror said...

TK: "Perfection doesn't need to be a product of imperfection; all it needs to be is a subset of it."

Granted. Unfortunately for your worldview, this is a logical fallacy. If perfection is a subset of imperfection, then all perfect things are imperfect. You have the same problem going the other way: if perfection is a superset of imperfection, then all imperfect things are perfect.

What is important for your worldview is a demonstration or proof that a perfect entity can PRODUCE an imperfect one. However, if imperfect entities can produce perfect ones, then the worldview must be false (as it stands to reason that Man could create God).

Corky said...

TK said...

A creator outside of time and space that created it is a perfectly plausible explanation.

If that sounds plausible without any evidence of a creator or any evidence of an "outside of space" or what "outside of time" even means - then, yeah, it makes perfect sense.

However, I got lost way back when you talked about "free will" when the Bible you preach never mentions it. In fact, it says that we are all subject to God's will. Therefore, we have no free will but are all predestined - just as Paul says we are.

Eph. 1:5,11; Rom. 8:29,30; Rom. 9:13-18.

Freewill is the ability to make an uncaused choice. The problem is, we don't have that ability. We can make choices, if we are given choices, but choices are not the same thing as freewill.

Try and make an uncaused choice and you'll see that you can't do it. Any and every choice you make will have a cause.

Anonymous said...

TK: A creator outside of time and space that created it is a perfectly plausible explanation.

Corky: If that sounds plausible without any evidence of a creator or any evidence of an "outside of space" or what "outside of time" even means - then, yeah, it makes perfect sense.


TK: There's plenty of evidence for a Creator outside of space and time. Augustine came to the conclusion over 1,500 years ago that God must be outside space and time, simply by realizing you couldn't have an infinite series of yesterdays without some sort of first cause.

A God outside of time sees all of time like watching a parade from the air; you can see the beginning, the end, and everything in between all at once, as opposed to watching out a window only at what is in front of you.

This is what allows God to know the future, and tell us about selected glimpses in the Bible. For example, on Palm Sunday, Jesus predicted that Jerusalem would be leveled to the point that "not one stone would be left upon another". This took place at the hands of the Romans in 70 A.D. As they were overrunning the city, a torch was thrown into the temple, and the resultant fire melted the gold decorations, which flowed into the foundation. Titus Vespasian gave the order to dismantle the temple completely to recover the gold. I could go on.

A God outside time and space isn't an easy concept to wrap your head around, but there you have it.

-TK

Anonymous said...

Corky: However, I got lost way back when you talked about "free will" when the Bible you preach never mentions it. In fact, it says that we are all subject to God's will. Therefore, we have no free will but are all predestined - just as Paul says we are.

Eph. 1:5,11; Rom. 8:29,30; Rom. 9:13-18.

Freewill is the ability to make an uncaused choice. The problem is, we don't have that ability. We can make choices, if we are given choices, but choices are not the same thing as freewill.

Try and make an uncaused choice and you'll see that you can't do it. Any and every choice you make will have a cause.


TK: I'm not sure what you mean by an "uncaused" choice, but regardless, I can't say as I agree. I think choices are exactly the same thing as free will. If you have the ability to make choices and carry them out, what better definition of free will is there?

What you may not be aware of is the difference between what theologians refer to as God's permissive will and His sovereign will. Imagine two concentric circles. The inner circle represents God's permissive will. This represents everything that isn't sin; that which pleases God that we do, such as loving each other, obeying civic laws, etc. We're free to do anything within this circle, including neutral things such as what we eat or what career path we choose.

We are also free to cross the boundary into the outer circle where God does not want us to go. This includes disobeying civil or moral laws, etc. If you put your accelerator down to the floor, God will most likely allow you to cross from a legal speed to an illegal one without an angel coming down to hold you back. Be prepared for the consequences, though. It's this privilege of being allowed to cross this boundary that makes us accountable to God for our actions when we die.

At the outer limit of circle, though, is God's sovereign will. You couldn't cross it no matter how hard you try. This includes things like any attempt to keep Jesus from the cross to accomplish the salvation of mankind. Paul ran into this wall on the Damascus road, as God would not allow him to persecute Christians any longer, and set him on the path he would have gone on earlier had he realized it.

As to the verses you quote, that's always a tricky concept to explain, but there's an illustration referred to as Ironside's door that does a decent job. Imagine you're in an infinitely long hallway with doors on both sides. Each door has a sign "Whosoever will may enter". You choose a particular door of your own free will and go through it. Inside is a banquet table set up with sumptuous food, and a place card with your name on it sit in front of a chair. On the inside of the door hangs another sign "Foreordained before the world began". The concept is that God, seeing all of time as the present, knows whether you will ultimately accept or reject Him. There's no reason to call those to repentance whom He knows will reject Him without coercion, so He only calls those He knows will accept Him through faith (gotta have the free will component there). In that regard, salvation is both your choice and God's at the same time. Did God call you? The only way to know is to accept or reject Him.

-TK

Corky said...

TK: There's plenty of evidence for a Creator outside of space and time. Augustine came to the conclusion over 1,500 years ago that God must be outside space and time, simply by realizing you couldn't have an infinite series of yesterdays without some sort of first cause.

Then how can you have an eternity of yesterdays when it comes to the creator? What was the creator's first cause?

Anonymous said...

TK: There's plenty of evidence for a Creator outside of space and time. Augustine came to the conclusion over 1,500 years ago that God must be outside space and time, simply by realizing you couldn't have an infinite series of yesterdays without some sort of first cause.

Corky: Then how can you have an eternity of yesterdays when it comes to the creator? What was the creator's first cause?


TK: Here's the kicker - the concept of "before" has to do with time; specifically, the relationship between two events in time. Since God created time itself and He is outside of time, the question actually becomes irrelevant. Kinda like asking "What was that bachelor's wife's name?"

No matter how far back you go, something had to exist without cause that started everything else. That's the definition of first cause, and that's who many call God.

It's a tough concept to wrap your head around; if you can, you're ahead of many people out there. I still have trouble with it if I think too hard about it. There's a good book in my library called Evidence for God, which consists of 50 short essays on various aspects of evidence. It just so happens that this concept of first cause is covered in the first essay, which is included in the Amazon sneak peek at http://www.amazon.com/Evidence-God-Arguments-History-Philosophy/dp/0801072603/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295997504&sr=1-1. It's not the simplest read, but it's not bad. Dave Beck explains the concept better than I can.

-TK

Corky said...

TK:No matter how far back you go, something had to exist without cause that started everything else.

Anything before the 'big bang' would only be speculation at the present time but that is still no cause for calling in the supernatural to explain it.

For one thing, we don't know that it doesn't have a natural cause that we don't know about yet.

Consider all the other "God-did-it" things that at one time had no natural explanations that now they do.

The supernatural was called in to explain thousands of things but turned out to be 100% wrong, 100% of the time.

Anonymous said...

TK:No matter how far back you go, something had to exist without cause that started everything else.

Corky: Anything before the 'big bang' would only be speculation at the present time but that is still no cause for calling in the supernatural to explain it.

For one thing, we don't know that it doesn't have a natural cause that we don't know about yet.

Consider all the other "God-did-it" things that at one time had no natural explanations that now they do.

The supernatural was called in to explain thousands of things but turned out to be 100% wrong, 100% of the time.


How do you know with 100% certainty that a supernatural explanation was 100% wrong 100% of the time? That's a very bold claim. I've heard numerous anecdotes to the contrary that you wouldn't have grounds to refute.

Having no cause to call in the supernatural is not sufficient grounds to discount it, either. Currently, creation is explained quite plausibly by the Bible. Science has no better explanation, even after the brightest minds have wrestled with the issue for centuries. For the sake of argument, what if they never find one? What if more and more evidence over the next millenia piles up in favor of God? By the time science admits there is a God, you're long dead and your eternity is sealed based on "we don't know, there might be something else out there." Might that faith seem more blind than that of believers?

Dr. Robert Jastrow tells a story in his book God and the Astronomers about a group of scientists climbing the mountain of nature’s truths. Exhausted, they barely crawl to the top. They are surprised to find a convention of theologians. "What took you so long? We have been here all along."

Keep in mind, science and religion lived harmoniously for hundreds of years. I could name about 30 prominent scientists like Copernicus, Kepler, Mendel, Newton, Joule, Ampere, Planck, and others that were all devout believers. They believed that science does a good job of explaining how God's creation works.

It wasn't until the last century or two that we've seen a split between the two. My personal opinion is that it's not about the quantity or nature of the discoveries (the big bang is relatively recent, and points to God in a big way). I think that more and more scientists have become so proud that will go to any lengths not to acknowledge God. If they did, they would then have to ask what is the nature of God, and what does He require of me? And they're just not willing to admit there's someone they may have to answer and bend the knee to. They'll come up with any explanation for nature as long as it doesn't lead to God. Sounds pretty closed minded to me.

-TK

Sorceror said...

TK: "A creator outside of time and space that created it is a perfectly plausible explanation."

This has created quite a lengthy discussion, but neither side has realised that the point is completely moot. The problem relates directly to Cartesian Dualism: given that all things within time and space have a physical and detectable presence, any entity, including God, that exists outside time and space must also have a physical presence, and must provide a bridge between the physical and metaphysical.

However, that bridge must exist both within and outside of time and space, therefore it is a direct logical contradiction. So even if there is a God that exists outside of time and space, there is no way for that God to interact with the physical universe.

Anonymous said...

TK: "A creator outside of time and space that created it is a perfectly plausible explanation."

Sorcerer: This has created quite a lengthy discussion, but neither side has realised that the point is completely moot. The problem relates directly to Cartesian Dualism: given that all things within time and space have a physical and detectable presence, any entity, including God, that exists outside time and space must also have a physical presence, and must provide a bridge between the physical and metaphysical.

However, that bridge must exist both within and outside of time and space, therefore it is a direct logical contradiction. So even if there is a God that exists outside of time and space, there is no way for that God to interact with the physical universe.


Methinks you are out-thinking yourself there. The Bible describes God as spirit, but also describes numerous physical manifestations. Being omnipotent, God is not limited in form or manifestation, and having created the universe, He can interact with it anywhere, how, and when He chooses. If you are describing an entity limited by form, manifestation, or interaction, you are simply not describing God.

-TK

Sorceror said...

"The Bible describes God as spirit, but also describes numerous physical manifestations."

How can a spirit manifest physically? Isn't that a direct contradiction?

"Being omnipotent"

which is impossible: can God prove that there is no God? If so, God does not exist; if not, God is not omnipotent.

"having created the universe, He can interact with it anywhere, how, and when He chooses."

This assumes that God exists both within and outside the universe simultaneously, or is even capable of this. If God can exist within the universe, then His method of manifestation or entry must be scientifically observable and explainable; so by what method does God manifest Himself as matter?

"If you are describing an entity limited by form, manifestation, or interaction, you are simply not describing God."

What you forget is that the universe is a physical place that is limited by form, manifestation and interaction; this is what is at issue. No one has proven conclusively that there is an existence "outside" the universe, let alone that anything outside the universe can interact with what is in the universe. Your appeal to authority (a recognised logical fallacy) is no exception.

Anonymous said...

TK: The Bible describes God as spirit, but also describes numerous physical manifestations.

Sorcerer: How can a spirit manifest physically? Isn't that a direct contradiction?


TK: You've been watching too many Casper cartoons. You're thinking of a "spirit" as a spooky ghost, a product of our pop culture. My best interpretation of the way the Bible describes God's nature as spirit entails a lack of limitations of the physical realm. Being omnipotent, God can manifest Himself physically as He chooses. The two are not contradictory as described in the Bible. Beyond that, I would be getting into too much speculation.

TK:"Being omnipotent"

Sorcerer: which is impossible: can God prove that there is no God? If so, God does not exist; if not, God is not omnipotent.


TK: Can we get past these childish word games please? The definition of omnipotence does not mean there's nothing He can't do. This includes the ability to do mutually contradictory things. No, God cannot make 2+2=6. God also can't lie, nor can He violate His own nature.

If you look at the root words of omnipotent, it means "almighty" or "infinite in power", like energy release from a thermonuclear bomb. How much power does it take for God to prove He doesn't exist? The question is meaningless. What it does, mean, though, is that He has the ability to do anything He chooses to do.

TK: "having created the universe, He can interact with it anywhere, how, and when He chooses."

Sorcerer: This assumes that God exists both within and outside the universe simultaneously, or is even capable of this. If God can exist within the universe, then His method of manifestation or entry must be scientifically observable and explainable; so by what method does God manifest Himself as matter?


TK: The Bible records numerous examples of God manifesting His presence in physical form: the burning bush in front of Moses, fire from Heaven in response to Elijah's prayer, the handwriting on the wall in front of Belshazzar. Scientifically observable and explainable? You mean could you have photographed it had you been there? Who cares? The point is that God is fully capable of interacting with the universe any way He wants to. You're missing the forest for the trees.

TK: If you are describing an entity limited by form, manifestation, or interaction, you are simply not describing God.

Sorcerer: What you forget is that the universe is a physical place that is limited by form, manifestation and interaction; this is what is at issue. No one has proven conclusively that there is an existence "outside" the universe, let alone that anything outside the universe can interact with what is in the universe. Your appeal to authority (a recognized logical fallacy) is no exception.


Once more, and (hopefully) for the last time GOD IS NOT LIMITED BY PHYSICAL MATTER, TIME, OR ANYTHING ELSE. If you think He is, your concept of God is way too small. We're not talking some piddly Greek-type god here. We're talking someone that can bring the entire universe into existence with a thought!

PLEASE go back and read my earlier posts so I don't have to constantly repeat myself. No, you can't prove the existence of anything outside of time and space, nor would God want to prove Himself beyond doubt, because at that point only an insane person wouldn't follow, effectively destroying our free will.

There is enough other evidence that points to the necessity for God to be outside of time and space (refer to my earlier posts) that makes faith in God a logical decision.

-TK

Sorceror said...

"You're thinking of a "spirit" as a spooky ghost, a product of our pop culture."

No; I'm thinking of a "spirit" as an entity with no physical presence; no matter; no energy. Until you can demonstrate how non-energy can produce energy, your argument is trivially invalid.

"No, God cannot make 2+2=6."

So God is constrained by the laws of mathematics; is He also constrained by the laws of logic?

'If you look at the root words of omnipotent, it means "almighty" or "infinite in power", like energy release from a thermonuclear bomb.'

You show absolutely no understanding of the term "infinite". This is only part of your problem.

"How much power does it take for God to prove He doesn't exist?"

How much power does it take for a bush to spontaneously ignite and not suffer a chemical reaction that causes the fire's fuel to be consumed? More importantly, given that we are discussing physical energy, where does this energy come from, and how does it travel to the bush?

As soon as God starts interfering with the physical universe, there is an implication that God has a physical, and therefore detectable, presence. So where is God?

"He has the ability to do anything He chooses to do."

What are God's restrictions on choices? Can God defy the laws of physics? Apparently so, as demonstrated by the miracles listed in the Bible (assuming it's historically authentic, which is dubious). So why can God not cause 2 plus 2 to equal 6? If I have two pens and obtain another two pens, is it impossible for God to choose not to manifest an additional two pens spontaneously when I put the four physically obtained pens together?

"You mean could you have photographed it had you been there? Who cares?"

Logic does. It is not true simply because you say it is; nor is it true because it is written in a book. These are both appeals to authority and are recognised logical fallacies. There must be some evidence outside the story itself to show that it, at least, could have happened; without such evidence it is impossible for a scientist or sceptic to accept it as a possibility.

"No, you can't prove the existence of anything outside of time and space"

Then it is impossible to prove the existence of God. Why are you so sure He exists?

"nor would God want to prove Himself beyond doubt, because at that point only an insane person wouldn't follow, effectively destroying our free will."

So rather than "destroy" free will by proving God exists, you choose instead to give up your free will and live your life by the anachronistic rules of a 2000 year old book. Riiiiiiiggght ...

Anonymous said...

Sorcerer, I cannot explain anything further without repeating myself again and again and again. Good luck, dude.

-TK

Sorceror said...

TK: "I cannot explain anything further"

Actually, you cannot explain anything. All you can do is point to your book. There is no room for empiricism or logic in your worldview.

Riece said...

I'll jump in for a sec. Anonymous, the "prophecy" about the virgin birth is a mistranslation. The original text said "almah" which means young women, and not "betulah" which means virgin.

It was talking about a child that would be born to continue Ahaz's line. Not some "Christ"

Anonymous said...

Riece said...

I'll jump in for a sec. Anonymous, the "prophecy" about the virgin birth is a mistranslation. The original text said "almah" which means young women, and not "betulah" which means virgin.

It was talking about a child that would be born to continue Ahaz's line. Not some "Christ"


Although the word almah is usually translated as "maiden" it appears only ten times in the Old Testament. In the few verses where almah appears, the word clearly denotes a young woman who is not married but is of marriageable age. Although almah does not implicitly denote virginity, it is never used in the Scriptures to describe a "young, presently married woman." In that culture, a young Jewish woman of marriageable age was presumed to be chaste. In other words, it is never used in scripture to mean anything other than a virgin.

The word betulah (commonly understood as virgin) is still not precise, because there are actually two types of betulot—the true virgin, and the "betrothed virgin". If scripture had used betulah, there would be grounds to debate that as well.

One reinforcement to the meaning of almah is found in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, which you may already be familiar with. The Greek translation of almah, parthenos has a much stronger connotation of virgin than simply young girl.

Also consider that the child would be called Immanuel - God with us. It's one thing to give your own child a moniker, but to be predicted by someone else will make people take notice to see if the description fits. Jesus claimed to be the literal fulfillment of that name. If it didn't refer to Jesus, who in Ahaz's line did it apply to?

There's more evidence, but I'll stop here. I tend to ramble.

-TK

Corky said...

TK, if you go back to verse one and read the context you can see that the child was a sign to Ahaz that he would win the war.

Of course, that explains the rest of that prophecy that you don't quote:

Isa 7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
Isa 7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Sometimes, context is everything. Too bad Matthew didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

Corky: TK, if you go back to verse one and read the context you can see that the child was a sign to Ahaz that he would win the war.

Of course, that explains the rest of that prophecy that you don't quote:

Isa 7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
Isa 7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Sometimes, context is everything. Too bad Matthew didn't know that.


I would go a step further and say that context is everything, all the time (as long as it's properly understood), and Matthew knew it all too well.

In verses 10-12, Ahaz is told by God to ask for a sign to confirm Isaiah's prophecy of deliverance. He is even told to make his request as big as he wants, but Ahaz refuses, with a false humility.

In response to and in spite of Ahaz's lack of faith, God then gives a sign bigger than Ahaz could imagine: the Savior of mankind in the form of the child to be born to a virgin.

In Hebrew writings of this era, parallelism and double meanings are very common. In all the commentaries I've run across, the vast majority of scholars believe either that this prophecy refers to Jesus alone (the literal fulfillment of Immanuel, born to a literal virgin), or it refers to both Jesus and to someone born as a contemporary of Ahaz to a young woman (with Immanuel referring to the immediate divine deliverance God would bring Ahaz). I haven't run across any credible scholars that believe the prophecy refers to a contemporary of Ahaz alone.

Also consider this: if someone were to write that JFK was killed with a bow and arrow, they would immediately be discredited because so many people know otherwise. Likewise, if Matthew had made such a gross error in his interpretation, how could he have gotten away with it? Too many people would have known otherwise to allow a book with such a huge mistake qualify for canonization. Common sense dictates that other writers, scholars, apostles, and church fathers were in agreement with Matthew's interpretation of the prophecy.

Or was it all part of a big Christian conspiracy? ;-)

-TK

Corky said...

No, TK. No conspiracy, they just wanted to believe it - just like you do.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, just doesn't make sense to me for so many learned people to turn a blind eye to such an obvious mistake if it were one.

How many people would die for a lie? All the apostles except John were killed for their faith.

-TK

Corky said...

TK, one word, "Mormons".

People die for lies all the time, sometimes even the one who invented them. Like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Joseph Smith and in ancient times, Judas of Galilee and then his grandson at Masada, not to mention all the Zealots who died with them.

Anonymous said...

Corky, I apologize for not earlier making a distinction between those who truly believe something that happens to be a lie, and those who know a lie to be false but pretend it to be true.

I have never known any sane person to join a false religion (knowingly or unknowingly) without the lure of money, sex, power, or a combination of the three. The former Mormon doctrine on polygamy and their doctrine of many wives in the afterlife are a good example. BTW, I'm not talking about how a religion is corrupted down the line; I'm talking about what it teaches in its purest form.

The Mormons want to make Joseph Smith out to be an altruistic martyr, but the facts tell a different story. He accepted arms from fellow Mormons to defend himself when it became apparent that the jail he was being held in was about to be stormed. His last act was to attempt to elicit help from any Freemasons in the lynch mob with their secret catchphrases. This is a man who clearly did not want to die, with all the appearance of knowing what he taught was a lie.

The sanity of Jim Jones and David Koresh appears at least questionable, so they may have believed the lies they were teaching, but it seems they were also fairly intoxicated on the power they held over their followers.

I give the Zealots credit. Their faith was much more similar to that of Jesus' followers, but it just wasn't God's timing to bring deliverance from the Romans yet.

Contrast Smith, Jones, and Koresh with Jesus and His followers. They didn't have any kind of wealth, nor harems, nor throngs of people to do their bidding. What's the incentive to want to believe in Matthew's interpretation of the virgin birth if the only benefit you get out of it is persecution?

Consider the fact that the apostles ran like scared rabbits when Jesus was arrested and crucified; only John was present at the cross. As I mentioned, John was the only apostle to die of natural causes (but in exile at that); the rest ended up willingly dying for their faith. Why the change? Jesus' death alone wouldn't have done it, but His resurrection would, which validated everything He taught.

We're not talking about believers far removed from the founder with lots of tradition and support of a church to buoy their beliefs. We're talking Jesus' inner circle that spent the better part of three years with Him 24/7. You don't think at least one of them would have caught on if Jesus was anything other than who He claimed to be? All any of them had to do was recant what they'd seen and heard, and their lives would have been spared. Instead, they affirmed with their lives that Jesus was God in the flesh, born of a virgin, that He performed miracles, that He was crucified, buried, and resurrected, and that He appeared to them afterward, eventually ascending into heaven. Why would anyone willingly die for such a fairy tale if it weren't true? What did they gain from it? Was every one of them insane?

-TK

B.R. said...

@TK-

I hate to say it, but your analogy about the apostles is nonsense. Seeing as how the gospels were written by anonymous authors, possibly a century after the death of Christ, this piece if McDowell propaganda falls short. the gospels, which are the foundation of Christianity(and without which the entire religion turns to dust), are fictional. Within the narrative, we see multiple contradictions that would not be made by eyewitnesses. We are given two conflicting genealogies for Jesus, different accounts of his arrest, trial and death, and logical fallacies. According to the gospels, Jesus was alone in the garden of Gethsemane, and all of the apostles were asleep; so how did the gospel writers know about his prayers? EH?
And then you have the fact that according to the gospels, the apostles were hiding while Jesus was being grilled by the Sanhedrin.
So how did they know what was said and done? Did they stand on each others' shoulders and peek through the windows? And the details of the Sanhedrin bears no relation to reality.

http://www.tzemachdovid.org/israel/feldman.shtml

How do you know that the apostles ran away, when you have nothing but contrived, discredited, and fictitious documents to go by? Simple. You can't. And there are many, many, more examples of fallacies in the NT; this was just a sample.

Anonymous said...

Pt. 2

How did the gospel writers know what took place in Gethsemane when at least some (if not all) of the disciples were asleep? To be honest, I don't know for sure. Do we know for a fact that nobody else was there that wasn't mentioned in the gospel accounts that related events after the fact, such as a Roman guard or night watchman? I don't. Divine inspiration? I wouldn't argue against it (I provided evidence of at least the possibility of divine inspiration elsewhere in the Bible describing Jesus' ability to predict specific details about the destruction of Jerusalem in the future). Same with the account with the Sanhedrin? I don't know. I'd have to look into it further. But to dismiss the account because you weren't there to explain it, or dismiss the possibility of supernatural guidance without explaining why it couldn't happen seems to me as closed-minded an attitude as you likely think I have.

How do I know the apostles ran away? Matthew 26:56 says they did.

BTW, I did look at the link you refer to, but didn't find it at all convincing. I'd have been very surprised if the JCC or their sponsored guests were truly objective regarding Christian issues, but Prof. Feldman is waaay out to lunch.

First, it's more a critique of the movie than of the Bible, but that's no big deal. Second, though, he's flat-out wrong on critical points, such as none of the gospel writers knowing Jesus personally; John was in Jesus inner circle of three disciples along with Peter and James. Third, Feldman is biased, if not downright bigoted. Luke begins his gospel stating the explicit intent is to convey "the exact truth about the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:4) In his dismissal of the gospels, he points out that Luke wasn't a Jew. What's that got to do with the accuracy of his account!? At that point, he lost all credibility with me.

-TK

B.R. said...

Divine inspiration is nonsense. The bible was heavily edited by politically active church councils in the Fourth Century; so the only logical conclusion is that, if this passage really does appear to predict details of Jerusalem's fall, it's because these churchmen wrote the prediction into the bible; it wouldn't be the first time.
Furthermore, your standards are patently absurd. You want me to prove a negative which is not only impossible, but irrelevant as well. If you can't prove your positive(the gospels are accurate, reliable, true eyewitness accounts), then they're bullshit; period. You're trying to wave away the logical contradictions in these books by calling in magic; that a magical "holy ghost" somehow magically showed these men the gaps in their narrative, but this is nonsense. If the H.S. showed them these things, why do they each give a slightly different account of them? That doesn't make any sense.

B.R. said...

continued...

"How do I know the apostles ran away? Matthew 26;56 says they did."

You're just falling back on a discredited, fictional text that wasn't even written by the apostles, unless they lived to be well over 100 years old.

As for the article I linked to, it makes a valid point as concerns the Jewish practices. How did the apostles get such details wrong? If they were really eyewitnesses, they wouldn't; and on top of that, they were supposed to be Jews themselves. The whole point is that the gospels are unreliable, even in small details.

Anonymous said...

B.R.: Divine inspiration is nonsense. The bible was heavily edited by politically active church councils in the Fourth Century; so the only logical conclusion is that, if this passage really does appear to predict details of Jerusalem's fall, it's because these churchmen wrote the prediction into the bible; it wouldn't be the first time.

TK: B.R., I really want to answer you with respect, but your assertions are so absolutely ridiculous that it makes it very difficult. The purpose of the early councils was not to edit scripture to their liking, it was to make sure everyone properly understood doctrinal issues such as the trinity, the dual nature of Jesus, etc. Any decisions regarding canon involved making sure all books being considered met sufficient standards, and rejection of those that didn't. You keep asking for proof, here it is: the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were written well before any councils took place, and very closely match the content of the Bible today. If the councils had made significant edits, we'd have detected them once we found the scrolls, so your assertion is absolute nonsense. BTW, there are dozens of examples of prophecy in the Bible, many of which predate their fulfillment by hundreds of years. I gave but one example.

B.R.: Furthermore, your standards are patently absurd. You want me to prove a negative which is not only impossible, but irrelevant as well. If you can't prove your positive(the gospels are accurate, reliable, true eyewitness accounts), then they're bullshit; period. You're trying to wave away the logical contradictions in these books by calling in magic; that a magical "holy ghost" somehow magically showed these men the gaps in their narrative, but this is nonsense. If the H.S. showed them these things, why do they each give a slightly different account of them? That doesn't make any sense.

TK: What's absurd about proving a negative? We do it in courts of law all the time. Can a prosecutor not ask a suspect to prove he wasn't at the scene of the crime when it took place? You're using it as a smokescreen. You're not able to prove that divine inspiration didn't happen, so you're trying to deflect the burden of proof to avoid admitting it was a possibility. I'm not saying with certainty that that's how it did happen in that particular case; I wasn't there. But at least I'm open-minded enough to entertain it as a possibility.

But just for good measure, here's some evidence that the gospels are indeed true and accurate: many scholars questioned for years the existence of a Roman governor named Pontius Pilate, the procurator who ordered Jesus' crucifixion. Outside the Bible, there was little reliable historical evidence he ever really existed. It was a favorite weapon of skeptics to "prove" the Bible was wrong. In 1961, however, a limestone block was excavated in the amphitheater near the coastal town of Caesarea. On the face is an inscription which is part of a larger dedication to Tiberius Caesar which clearly says that it was from "Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea." I have personally seen this inscription on a trip there in 1988, before it was replaced with a replica and moved to a museum some time before I returned in 1998. The more we dig up, the more the Bible is vindicated. I submit this as evidence that the gospels are accurate. The burden of proof is on you to prove me wrong. BTW, what historical research have you personally done? Also, I answered the question of differences in gospel accounts in the previous post.

Anonymous said...

B.R.: You're just falling back on a discredited, fictional text that wasn't even written by the apostles, unless they lived to be well over 100 years old.

TK: Easy to make derogatory statements like "discredited" or "fictional" without having to back it up with real proof. I'm not talking about "this doesn't make sense, so it must be false" kind of "proof". I'm talking about solid stand-up-in-court kind of proof, like "the Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the content of scriptures today are the same as when the scrolls were written in the first century, so they couldn't have been altered by any council or faction in between."

BTW, did you know that only about 50 portions of copies of source texts exist for accounts of some historical figures like Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, and that some were written hundreds of years after the events they describe? There are about 5,000 portions of copies of source texts for the Bible, and they were written no more than a person's lifetime after the events they describe. Do you question the accounts of those historical figures as well, or do you simply apply a double standard to the Bible?

B.R.: As for the article I linked to, it makes a valid point as concerns the Jewish practices. How did the apostles get such details wrong? If they were really eyewitnesses, they wouldn't; and on top of that, they were supposed to be Jews themselves. The whole point is that the gospels are unreliable, even in small details.

TK: I really don't care what points Feldman makes to support his claims. To make a claim that none of the gospel writers knew Jesus personally when John was one of Jesus' three closest friends on earth is academically inexcusable. I don't know if Feldman is simply clueless or fabricated the lie hoping no one would notice. Regardless, I don't know what other details he may have gotten wrong or what fiction he may have made up to try to support his views. To me he is a worthless source.

-TK

Anonymous said...

Looks like my post regarding an explanation for differences between gospel accounts slipped through the cracks of cyberspace, so here it is again:

Imagine taking your child to a portrait photographer. Over the course of the session, the photographer captures several aspects of your child's personality: one minute he's happy, another minute he's pensive, another minute he's cranky. Each photo tells a different story, yet each one is accurate.

In the same way, God used the personalities of the four gospel writers to focus on a different aspect of Jesus' personality and identity, recording different details and different events of His life.

Matthew focused on Jesus identity as a Jew, making frequent references to Abraham and to Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah. Therefore, his genealogy begins with Abraham, the first Jew.

Mark emphasized Jesus' role as a suffering servant. Nobody cares about the pedigree of a servant, so no genealogy is included.

Luke (a physician) concentrates on Jesus' humanity, and thus begins his genealogy with Adam, the first human.

John highlights Jesus' divinity; His identity as God in the flesh. As a result, his "genealogy" is contained in the first verse, equating Him with God, who had no beginning.

Nothing says that all accounts had to agree in every detail. If so, there would be no need for all four gospels. Keep the writing style in mind is not Western; it was the 1st century Middle East. It was not uncommon for events to be written in an order other than chronological. That in itself probably accounts for more than one "inconsistency" noted in the gospels. The fact that we have four gospels that vary in their details gives us a broader, more complete picture of who Jesus was than if they were simply carbon copies of each other.

-TK

B.R. said...

Clearly, no one ever took the time to explain the trinity to you.

http://www.agelfire.com/pa/greywlf/trinity.html

You say that my assertions are "absolutely ridiculous". Really? Then how do you explain the fact that the trinity is not even a biblical concept, yet because of some church council declaring canon, Christians have mindlessly believed in this superstition ever since? If the trinity is real, then why didn't Jesus talk about? You see, you think that the church councils couldn't just edit the doctrines to their liking, yet that's precisely what they did; just look at what they did to Arius for not agreeing with them.
That's what your precious church councils did; they made the decisions regarding what was "true" and what was false; there was no one sitting by to examine the canon and see if it was even authentic, and if you disagreed, then you were a filthy heretic.
And what about eternal damnation? One thing I find interesting is that most Christians didn't even believe in it until the Fourth Century or so.
Mindlessly declaring something to be "true" does not make it true; the whole concept of the councils was just an appeal to authority anyway; they're church elders, they're always right.

As for your next paragraph, let me guess; you got this crap from Joshua McDowell.
First off, we know these documents are factual because A), there is physical evidence(monuments, tombs, bones and swords at battlefields, etc.), B), because they have corroboration from contemporary sources; the gospels have none of this. There is no evidence for ANY of the magical events of the NT; not even one miracle. And if they'd happened there would lots of documentation and corroboration; but there's none. And here's the most important distinction; these documents have evidence for their claims; the gospels don't. It borders upon the imbecilic to suggest that there is as much basis for the existence of Jesus as there is for Julius Caesar. Caesar had great temples and monuments constructed by him, in addition to countless documents referencing him; in addition to the documents, we have overwhelming physical evidence.
Jesus has nothing. the only documentation for his divinity is the gospels; and they can't be the evidence for the claims they're making; they must have proof first, and they dont't.

B.R. said...

continued....

Oops, I seem to have missed part of it. Let me explain to you why your standards are worthless; you say that I have no excuse not to believe in a supernatural event if I can't explain it could not have happened; but his is B.S. I can't "prove" that Thor and Odin don't exist, but since I have never seen any evidence for their existence, or any other part of Norse mythology, and I can see where their mythology was inspired by natural events, their existence is highly unlikely, so I can conclude that they don't exist. Going by the weak standards you set up to defend the magical events in the gospels, YOU have no excuse to discount the Koran's account of Muhammad flying to heaven on a winged horse. Proving a supernatural negative is impossible; but through logic and deduction, this can be performed in terms of likelihood.

This is not evidence; just inane bullshit rhetoric. First off, proof for the existence of Pontius Pilate doe not equal proof for the gospels; do you have even the slightest idea of how historical research works? Clearly not. Physical evidence was found for Pilate; the gospels used a real person is their fiction; how impressive. You say that the more we dig up, the more proof we find for the bible, but this is just regurgitated apologetic propaganda; in other words, bullshit. You can't even prove that the gospels were written by the apostles; credible bible scholars(REAL, unbiased scholars, not hacks like Josh McDowell) date the gospels from 75 to 100 a.d.; got any hard proof against that?

As for the Dead Sea Scrolls...

http://www.bib-arch.org/online-exclusives/dead-sea-13.asp

This is the sum of your "evidence"?
Sheesh.

As for your final post; wrong. It's not just a matter of individual differences, it's matter of them contradicting each other on several events. And you STILL have not explained how they came about the knowledge of his trials(one before Pilate, one before Herod, and the Pharisees), or his prayer in Gethsemane. There are some major gaps here; in a court, the judge would be very suspicious of these accounts, when they can't even get his last words right.

B.R. said...

And lastly, let me make one more thing clear to you; even if they didn't have the omniscient third-person narratives, even if they had been written by the real apostles within just a few years of Jesus' death, the gospels would still be fiction. Why? Because there is no evidence and corroboration/independent documentation from credible, contemporary sources--and without these, a document is fictional, just like Jesus' family and apostles. Unless the proper evidence is found(and we've been looking for it for 2,000 years), the gospels are in exactly the same category as the Odyssey, with it's gods and monsters; "Myth".

GearHedEd said...

Anonymous said:

"A God outside of time sees all of time like watching a parade from the air; you can see the beginning, the end, and everything in between all at once, as opposed to watching out a window only at what is in front of you."

This is the nail in the coffin of your conception of free will, bucko. If God knows the end of that parade already, we only have an illusion of free will created by our undeniable perception of the flow of time, which you already noted is not how God perceives it.

It's a matter of differential perception.

The other side of that coin is that if we really DO have free will, then all of prophecy is bullshit, including Isaiah, Daniel, Revelation and the rest. For if we have free will, then we can actuate a world that God has not and CANNOT foresee.

GearHedEd said...

Anon said:

"Can we get past these childish word games please? The definition of omnipotence does not mean there's nothing He can't do. This includes the ability to do mutually contradictory things. No, God cannot make 2+2=6. God also can't lie, nor can He violate His own nature."

Then God is subordinate to logic, and per Anselm, "not the greatesst being that can be conceived".

GearHedEd said...

Anonymous said:

"Do we know for a fact that nobody else was there that wasn't mentioned in the gospel accounts that related events after the fact, such as a Roman guard or night watchman? I don't."

There WAS that naked youth mentioned in Secret Mark...

GearHedEd said...

" Luke begins his gospel stating the explicit intent is to convey "the exact truth about the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:4)"

And Luke 1:1-2 makes explicit that he was NOT an eyewitness, and is passing on hearsay.

Anonymous said...

B.R. and all:

After first stumbling across this blog, I was hoping to foster some civilized, respectful discussion. It has since devolved into a spitting contest on both sides. Further dialog with this attitude is therefore fruitless. I apologize for my role in this and likewise apologize if I have offended anyone.

Obviously, I have my views and you have yours. I have developed my views not only through study and reflection, but also through subjective experiences that I cannot deny, but would have no value to anyone here.

We are not about to change each other's minds, and I respect that. I wish you all well.

Never stop searching for truth.

I am done here.

-TK

B.R. said...

A "spitting contest on both sides"? Funny, I don't recall ANY spitting from either side. But, whatever. Thanks for the conversation.


B.R.

Anonymous said...

Tell these guys there is no God. I hope and pray no one ever again has to go through what they did.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/03/chilean-miner-sheds-light-on-underground-religious-life/?hpt=C2

Anonymous said...

T.K. Let me preface this by saying, I have been a believer of the scriptures for about 12 years now however, before this, I was an avid atheist. Thank You! You did an excellent job. I was going to reply but then I read the comments and saw that you had answered quite well. And I'm glad I didn't because I'm finding most people are extremely closed-minded when it comes to believing in God. Simply because they want to be their own boss and do and believe in their own intellect. I think it is probably a waste of time to argue with such as these. But how can you know who is open to learn and who is simply spouting random "facts" from "scientists" and philosophers? Sometimes I look for writings which are anti-Christ to study and muse through. This conversation has served to increase my faith so I thank you.

1 Corinthians 2:14

14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

LadyAtheist said...

Anonymous, "most people" are believers. Most polls indicate about 90% of Americans are believers, so where does "most people are extremely closed-minded when it comes to believing in God" come from? If you really were an atheist for 12 years you would have experienced ostracism from the "open-minded" believers you admire now. You would have felt left out and wouldn't have had much of a sense of community unless you lived in one of the few places where there are active atheist organizations.

"But how can you know who is open to learn and who is simply spouting random "facts" from "scientists" and philosophers?"

You could do something called "research" to see that scientific facts really are well established and grounded in reality.

You could also improve on your reading comprehension skills so you would see that when people point to a scientific fact it's not random but proving a point. (I can't speak to philosophy because I think all philosophy is bullshit)

If you want to read prose that's laden with "random" isolated out-of-context quotations and "facts" I suggest reading Christian writing.

Your post is a perfect example of Christian writing. You parrot the unproved claims of fundie preachers, using their language You close with a random quotation from the Bible rather than putting together your own thoughts.

Yes, we THINKERS do trust our intellects, and apparently you trust yours too because you believe that you have found the ONE true religion and that your ability to memorize random verses of scripture gives you some kind of authority to pass judgment on others.

jules manson said...

The belief in Jesus Christ breaks the very first commandment from the ten commandments of the Hebrew Bible (old testament). In other words, Christianity is false. No exceptions allowed not even for the "son of God."

LadyAtheist said...

Technically, the first commandment says "Do not have any other gods before me." ...and the second refers to worrshipping idols. In theory, the Jews could have other gods, just not make idols of them or worship them above *the* (jealous) god.

B.R. said...

A correction is in order; Jesus is supposed to have died around 35 A.D., so Some of my earlier comments were inaccurate in the amount of time I was referring to.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered why did satan rebel against God