Are We Angry Atheists?

Someone recently wrote this about us here at DC: “I find it amazing how much anger there is on this board.”

I find this to be an interesting charge. People have said this before. Is it true? If it is, does it imply anything important?

I don’t think it’s true, at least not with me. I am not an angry atheist toward anyone. If I have ever shown anger it’s because I was responding to what I considered to be willful ignorance, idiocy and/or attempts to belittle me.

But what if I am angry, and what if others here are angry? What then?

If we are angry, Christians will see this as a sign we are “God haters.” Christians are looking for psychological reasons for why we don’t believe, because many of them don’t think we reject their faith on intellectual grounds. They believe we reject the Christian faith on emotional or psychological grounds.

R.C. Sproul’s book, If There’s a God, Why Are There Atheists?, is typical of this kind of thinking. Sproul claims that the nature of God is “repugnant” to human beings. We want to be our own authority, and we refuse to acknowledge our sins before a holy God.

I deny this explains why I don't believe. I just don’t think the Christian God exists. I am not a God hater. How can I hate God if God doesn’t exist? How can I hate someone like Jesus, whom I have never met in person?

To better understand us, the Christian merely needs to ask himself what he thinks about Islam. Do you hate Allah? Are you angry with Allah? Do you refuse to acknowledge his authority in your life? Are you in rebellion against him?

The point is that these kinds of questions are silly, aren’t they? They are silly because you do not believe Allah exists. You do not consider yourself in rebellion against Allah. You are not an Allah hater, either. You just don’t believe he exists.

That’s us, when it comes to the Christian God. We just don’t think he exists. We don't consider ourselves to be rebelling against him, just as you don’t consider yourself to be rebelling against Allah.

Let’s go a little deeper.

Let’s say we are angry ex-Christians. What would we be angry about? Some of us might be angry for “wasting” a good portion of our lives on something that we finally concluded was a delusion. Christian, let’s say this described you in a few years. How would you feel about it, when you could’ve been doing something different with your life? That may describe some of us. The time, effort and money we spent on this Christian delusion was simply “wasted” in some sense.

We might be angry because our friends no longer seem to care for us. They just want to convert us. We might be angry because we've lost friends or family or because we've lost business opportunities. Some Christians don't what to "fellowship" with us any longer, you see, and they'll try to bankrupt us if they can.

We might be angry simply because we felt duped.

We might be angry at how we were treated by church people. We could tell plenty of stories about abuse and mistreatment at the hands of leaders in the church who hid behind the cloak of the Bible. People who have left the Catholic Church because of molester-priests and the subsequent cover-up, have a right to be angry, correct? Then there are Muslims who are angry because other Muslims blow up their children while walking to school. We too may have been abused by church people in some different, milder ways, but it is abuse just the same. And if we are angry about this, we have a right to be angry.

There are other reasons to be angry. We could be angry for the way religion is forced upon us by the majority through the law and upheld in court cases. We could be angry at what Richard Dawkins describes as child-abuse in the form of indoctrinating children to believe. We could be angry with how our tax money is being used to support churches, or that churches don't have to pay taxes. We could simply be angry at ignorance parading itself as education, or angry at the inhibiting of science because of religious based beliefs and fears.

If what we believe is correct, then we have a right to be angry.

Besides, I see a great deal of anger coming from the Christian community. We have a right to be angry about how we're treated because we no longer believe. We have a right to be angry at the vicious attacks on us. According to many sermons preached in America every Sunday we are evil doers, God haters, tools of Satan, and unworthy of any kindness at all, for we're already headed to hell. I have personally been viciously verbally attacked for arguing against Christianity. If Christianity wins in the marketplace of ideas, why should Christians be angry with me? Let the truth prevail. In a prior era Christians would burn me at the stake for being an evil doer.

The reason for anger on both sides of this great debate is because we're in a cultural war of values over the hearts and minds of people, especially the children.

But we're simply not angry at God at all. We might be angry with ourselves, those who led us to believe in the first place, church people who abused us, and so on. But we're not angry with God. We don't believe the Christian God exists.

For Christians who think we left the faith because of psychological reasons I say this: I don't believe conversion or deconversion experiences take place strictly because of epistemic reasons in either direction, in most all cases. There are most always social and psychological factors. Anyone who ever hears most Christian conversion stories knows exactly what I mean. All of the stories I’ve ever personally heard have to do with someone who has either grown up in the church, or someone who had some dramatic experience when down on his luck to some degree. If anyone wants to discount our rejection of Christianity because of bad experiences in the church, then I could discount the overwhelming number of Christian conversion experiences due to similar factors like divorce, bankruptcy, jail, addictions, and so forth.

I hope this helps.

First posted, revised a bit 2/26/07

80 comments:

George Hasara said...

Unfortunately, many people will automatically associate anger with any rebuke of an action or idea. This may be done to deflect criticism since after all, the other person is being emotional.

For Christians, the “angry” label along with “pride,” and being “deceived by Satan” helps the Christian to discount the viewpoints of freethinkers. It creates quite a conundrum to admit that there are thoughtful, honest, decent, intelligent people who find no validity in their Bible God.

Anonymous said...

John

So you feel youve wasted time with Christianity-by this you mean praying, going to church, reading, or is it something else?

I think there is an element of truth to what Sproul said, similar to Lewis who stated the true nature of men is to desire to,paraphrased, to be treated as gods. As men we all must deal with pride and greed, all of us.

You seem a smart guy, I doubt the anger is from feeling duped,because you made the decision intially to believe, it wasnt forced on you.

Was it the turnign the other cheek that was a waste? Was it abstinence from sexual immorality which as men we understand can be transiently tempting? Drugs? Greed and love of money?

Im trying to understand how much better the new atheist life is-because it sure doesnt seem terribly peaceful-or you guys wouldnt be rejoicing at a DC visit to fight Christians, and you sure as hell wouldnt have taken the time to set up this website.

Youre right, Im not angry at Allah or Mohammed-but unlike your crew here and other atheist blogs, i dont routinely post caricatures of Islam or attack Allah.

The truth is, I would suspect alot of you guys hate the kernel of truth left inside you that's telling you that all's not well-because youve already learned the basic truth that God makes so simple a child can understand it.

For what its worth John, the ex believers arent the only ones who have doubts at times-but based on soem of the factually incorrect premises which answered a previous post of mine, it seems some of you are grasping to find reasons to disbelieve-something I used to do when I wanted to go off and live my way, knowing it wouldnt fly with God.

Kim said...

I always find it humorous when Christians claim atheists are angry. True, some are, but from my experience, the most hateful and mean spirited comments came from people who call themselves Christians. I am not talking about all Christians, but there is significant segment of Christians out there that is just plain mean and nasty. These people go around spewing all kinds of hatred towards gays, women, atheists, minorities, other religions and even other Christians. For a group of people who claim they are filled with love of Christ, I see very little evidence of this so called love.

However, I would certainly agree that the liberal Christians that frequent this board are not among this group. I would suggest that before Christians come on here and tell us how angry we are, why don’t they go away and fix the anger management issues within your own religion.

Mark said...

Kim

On Sundays mobsters go to church, Hitler was a Lutheran, it goes on and on-hypocrisy and essentially nothing but show.

The truth is, every week Muslims, Jews and Christians as well, or so they all call themselves, will attend a service and fly their theological flag, all the while not really believing. It is not exclusive to Christianity.

The behavior of a person who professes a faith really doesnt say much about the target of that faith.

I have had Christians write me off in a New York second for minor flaws. This says nothing about Jesus Christ, only something about them. You cant write off belief because some believers are imperfect, or hypocritical.

Stupac2 said...

I think some people confuse passion and anger.

Kim said...

Mark,

You missed the point of what I was saying. I am stating that Christians should not come here and tell us how angry we are when there is so much hate and anger within your own Religion. Christians should sort out their own anger issues before they point the finger at us. It is that simple

If you read carefully at what I wrote, I did not say I disbelieve because Christians are all angry and nasty. Lots are not, many are very nice people in fact. I acknowledged that in my post. I have a many non emotional reasons to reject the Christian myth, but I am not going to enumerate them here.

Mark said...

Kim

Given the extremely small time interval from the NT events and the gospels/letters, I wonder whether the word myth is very appropos. There simply wasnt enough time for legend to explain the Nt, unless you want to discuss apocrypha/gnostics, which seem to be sexy with liberal scholars today.

Ive read the accounts of pliny,lucian,josephus, claudius,suetonius enough to know that it wasnt just the apostles who beleved Jesus existed. Especially interesting was the epigraphy in a Nazareth cemetery mandating death penalty for exhuming graves, care of Claudius Caesar.

Kim said...

Mark,

Go re-read the introduction to this post. We are discussing anger, not the validity of the NT. Go find another post on this blog to discuss those questions.
There surely will be someone who will gladly debunk your notions of 1st century Christianity

Curiosis said...

"It creates quite a conundrum to admit that there are thoughtful, honest, decent, intelligent people who find no validity in their Bible God."

This reminds me of something my wife (who's a Christian) said to me when I told her I was an atheist. She said that highly intelligent people often have trouble believing in god.

I immediately thought of a corollary to her statement. Doctors often have trouble believing in the healing power of blood-letting. There's a reason for this.

Curiosis said...

Anonymous,

I, for one, don't wish to be treated as a god. I would feel guilty if I were knowing that I am not a god.

I would guess that all ex-theists feel duped to a certain extent. Yes, it wasn't really our fault. We were most likely indoctrinated as children. However, we feel duped because we continued to believe something without really considering it. We fooled ourselves into thinking something was true when it was obviously false.

As an atheist, I am much happier now than I ever was as a christian. It is a huge relief no longer to be forced to make all the inconsistencies and absurdities of christianity fit together like a 1,000 piece puzzle with only 500 of the pieces. It is a relief knowing that my life is mine. To succeed or fail on my own. To know that there isn't some invisible being out there just itching to roast me for all eternity for something I might do wrong.

DC actually isn't about god. It is about god-believers. If everyone just followed their religion and never tried to impose it on others or use the power of government to endorse their beliefs, this website probably wouldn't exist.

I really don't care if you believe there's an invisible pink unicorn in your garage. This belief may be sad, but it doesn't have any effect on me. I might try to talk you out of it, only because I hate to see someone waste their life on foolish beliefs.

You say that you "dont routinely post caricatures of Islam or attack Allah."

True. But I bet your attitude would change if suddenly every piece of money in your pocket had "In Allah We Trust" on it. If passages from the Koran were on courthouse walls where you hoped to get justice.

You say, "The truth is, I would suspect alot of you guys hate the kernel of truth left inside you that's telling you that all's not well.."

What's not well? For me, any remaining kernal of truth about god popped a long time ago.

"...because youve already learned the basic truth that God makes so simple a child can understand it."

Much like Santa Claus. Things that children believe are not good models for adult beliefs. Children are gullible and do not typically see the big picture.

"...but based on soem of the factually incorrect premises which answered a previous post of mine, it seems some of you are grasping to find reasons to disbelieve..."

I would have trouble not finding reasons to disbelieve. Besides, I don't need any reason to disbelieve. I only need a reason to believe, and I don't have one.

"...something I used to do when I wanted to go off and live my way, knowing it wouldnt fly with God."

I'm very sorry that you require an imaginary being in order to behave. I want to live freely, but not if it means harming my fellow human beings. I don't need a sky daddy to tell me right from wrong. I can see that clearly for myself.

Calvin said...

From hanging out at this blog I can honestly say that so far Lee Randolph is a nice Atheist. (as far as I know). He has yet to call me a psychopath, narcissist, sick, twisted, screwed up person. Though I will admit I have acted that way at times in my life. I'm used to hearing from people that are mad at Christ and the church. I went to AA for seven years. They talk about some of the same reasons why they don't care for Christ or the Church that are on this Blog. Hell scares the hell out of people. People are terrified of a punishing God. As far as arguing and criticizing goes if you don't ever get upset when you argue and debate you might be more screwed up than the person that does.

Mark said...

Curiosis

As an atheist, I am much happier now than I ever was as a christian. It is a huge relief no longer to be forced to make all the inconsistencies and absurdities of christianity fit together like a 1,000 piece puzzle with only 500 of the pieces. It is a relief knowing that my life is mine. To succeed or fail on my own. To know that there isn't some invisible being out there just itching to roast me for all eternity for something I might do wrong.

I understand the point about harmonizing-but given multiple accounts of Christianity by different writers, thereis going to be a variance in which specific items are reported-unless theres collusion involved. Do you think the NT authors would have xhosen women, whose testimony was worthless, as key eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus? No.

As far as I can tell, you always were able to succeed or fail on your own, as all here have free will-what was the issue, were you tired of toeing the line, or did you view God as a cosmic despot sitting back waiting for you to sin?

As far as God itching to roast you-please illuminate where in the bible this is stated, as all I recall is reading how God wished nobody would be lost, on multiple occasions, especially recalling the one lost lamb.

As far as pink unicrons go, I havent yet seen a giant combination of works written over a 1500 year period deatiling the behaviors of this unicorn, nor did groups of followers spring up and die horrible deaths rather than denounce it.

You mention you odnt need a sky daddy to know right from wrong-I just wonder where this ultimate objective morality comes from.

You sound to me like you burned out on the faith a bit.

As for blood letting, well, as a surgeon, we dont really do that except for maybe polycythemia-but every day I ponder what a pure miracle it is to simply be alive- to be what I am today from a union of two cells. You may believe our morality and existence was the result of a random process born form a 15 billion year old bang-to me that requires faith in what mathematically has already shown to be impossible.

Kim said...

Mark said

"As far as God itching to roast you-please illuminate where in the bible this is stated"

Go read your Bible. On at least 8 occaisions in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his followers that they will go to HELL if they do not follow him. There are many more examples of Hell I could dredge up if I had the time.

Curiosis said...

Mark,

I appreciate your reply.

Since multiple writers did independently pen the bible, I expect variances and inconsistencies. But this is not christian belief. Christianity maintains that god wrote the bible through these men. If a perfect being wrote a book, I would expect it to be perfect. Or did god fail to proofread?

"As far as I can tell, you always were able to succeed or fail on your own, as all here have free will..."

Actually, no, if there is a god intervening in our lives, then success or failure is not entirely my own. God can magically cause me to fail despite my acting correctly.

"As far as God itching to roast you-please illuminate where in the bible this is stated, as all I recall is reading how God wished nobody would be lost, on multiple occasions, especially recalling the one lost lamb."

If god wanted me to avoid hell, then he just has to provide me proof of his existence and identity. This, so far, hasn't happened. If I do end up in hell, roasting for eternity, then god allowed that to happen by refusing to provide sufficient proof. Anyone in hell is proof that god doesn't wish to save them.

"As far as pink unicrons go, I havent yet seen a giant combination of works written over a 1500 year period deatiling the behaviors of this unicorn, nor did groups of followers spring up and die horrible deaths rather than denounce it."

You are absolutely right. You've convinced me. There is but one god Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet. Or were referring to some other religion?

"You mention you odnt need a sky daddy to know right from wrong-I just wonder where this ultimate objective morality comes from."

My ability to empathize with my fellow human beings. If I don't like being murdered, then it must be wrong to murder someone else.

Are honestly saying that the only reason you can think of to refrain from molesting children is because god told you not to? Can you not think of a single reason that doesn't involve god?

"You sound to me like you burned out on the faith a bit."

I realized that faith is pointless. Faith is beliveing something when there is no good reason to do so. I now try to believe only those things for which there is compelling evidence. I take nothing on faith.

"As for blood letting, well, as a surgeon, we dont really do that except for maybe polycythemia..."

So if someone came to you and requested blood-letting and said that they knew it would work based on their faith, would you accept that? Would you want evidence? If you faith is an accurate guide to truth, how do you know their's is not? If faith, by definition, requires no evidence, then all truth-claims without evidence are equal. All faiths have the same claim to truth.

"...but every day I ponder what a pure miracle it is to simply be alive- to be what I am today from a union of two cells."

If you are so ignorant of the simple biology involved in reproduction that you consider it to be a "miracle," then I'd be suspicious of your medical credentials. By the way, if you'd been born with some terrible birth defect, would your existence be just a little less miraculous?

"You may believe our morality and existence was the result of a random process born form a 15 billion year old bang-to me that requires faith in what mathematically has already shown to be impossible."

Shown by whom? Please site the mathematician who has provided this proof and where it was published.

It requires no faith to observe the natural world and create theories based on those observations. It requires no faith to test those theories to determine what is correct and what is not.

Believing in something for which there is no evidence, something that cannot be tested. Now that takes faith.

Robert said...

Anonymous wrote:

Im trying to understand how much better the new atheist life is-because it sure doesnt seem terribly peaceful-or you guys wouldnt be rejoicing at a DC visit to fight Christians, and you sure as hell wouldnt have taken the time to set up this website.

Would you consider the folks at this Mormon debunking site to be angry ex-Mormons who hate the "kernal of truth" left inside them? Your words echo the words of the Mormons who write those Mormon debunkers.

Mark said...

Robert

Id consider leavijg Mormonism a step towards truth, whereas I consider leaving Christianity a step away from it-there is an ultimate truth, everyone may have some portions of it, but we cannot all be right.

Kim

Yes, Hell is talked about quite abit in the NT-but what is the context? Ive yet to read a shred where God is eager to place people there-I am told it was not made for men, that Jesus' atonement saves us from it, and that it will be unpleasant. But most of all, it seems to me thise in Hell will essentially ask for it.

I havent yet seen an argument from anyone here justifying the logical possibility of a heaven with no Hell. To have one, there must be another-otherwise God has no choice but to force those who want nothing to do with him into heaven. This makes no sense.

Mark said...

Curiosis

Variances occur as different people reported different things-inconsistencies posited have in my view been dealt with sufficiently. We may all wish more was written, but we have what we have.

Actually, no, if there is a god intervening in our lives, then success or failure is not entirely my own. God can magically cause me to fail despite my acting correctly

Curiosis, you have a very negative view of God-almost an enemy to you, causing you to fail. It would be interesting to know the relationship you had with your father, my tkae would be that it wasnt a great one. The way I see it, if God grants you the free will to walk away from Him and end up in Hell, He places quite an emphasis on it and never abuses it, but having god torpedoe your efforts is a new one to me. That is not the Christian God.

If god wanted me to avoid hell, then he just has to provide me proof of his existence and identity. This, so far, hasn't happened. If I do end up in hell, roasting for eternity, then god allowed that to happen by refusing to provide sufficient proof. Anyone in hell is proof that god doesn't wish to save them...........okay, Ive heard this argument before. I read about a guy in WW2 who asked god to manifest himself directly-when God didnt comply, the guy started an atheist museum as he surmised god surely would have complied with his request.

Think about what youre saying- if God paid you a divine visit, He'd have to do it for everyone else. Faith would no longer be an issue. I agree with Dave Wood here-morality would be compromised. In allt ruth, at times I think the same way you do-then realize it is absurd to require God to act as your manservant-could you respect a God who caters to your demands? Do you think you deserve to see God? Dont you think the martyrs of 1st century had more of a right befroe they were burned, crucifies or tortured?

You have a brain, you have a physical incarnation two thousand years ago born i historical records and the holy spirit-for now that will have to do.

As far as pink unicrons go, I havent yet seen a giant combination of works written over a 1500 year period deatiling the behaviors of this unicorn, nor did groups of followers spring up and die horrible deaths rather than denounce it."

You are absolutely right. You've convinced me. There is but one god Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet. Or were referring to some other religion?
............I dont recall Mohammed ever professing to be God, or resurrecting form the dead, do you? Ill put a,little more cred on Jesus' shoulders resultantly.


My ability to empathize with my fellow human beings. If I don't like being murdered, then it must be wrong to murder someone else.

Are honestly saying that the only reason you can think of to refrain from molesting children is because god told you not to? Can you not think of a single reason that doesn't involve god?......good point, which argues for the existence of ultimateobjectibe morality, regardless of religious belief.

I realized that faith is pointless. Faith is beliveing something when there is no good reason to do so. I now try to believe only those things for which there is compelling evidence. I take nothing on faith.
.......that you are cynical on faith is pretty apparent. There is no good reason for believing in the pink unicorn God, theres alot more evidence for the Christian belief. But, you really do live each day on faith...faith your pilot knows how to fly properly, for instance.

So if someone came to you and requested blood-letting and said that they knew it would work based on their faith, would you accept that? Would you want evidence? If you faith is an accurate guide to truth, how do you know their's is not? If faith, by definition, requires no evidence, then all truth-claims without evidence are equal. All faiths have the same claim to truth...........who said I had faith based on no evidence? Ive evaluated the resurrection narratives, its a historical event. Theres an empty tomb with only one good explanation. Do you think Id believe in Jesus' resurrection if there was nothing written about it? If people hasnt died instead of admitting it was a fabrication?


"...but every day I ponder what a pure miracle it is to simply be alive- to be what I am today from a union of two cells."

If you are so ignorant of the simple biology involved in reproduction that you consider it to be a "miracle," then I'd be suspicious of your medical credentials. By the way, if you'd been born with some terrible birth defect, would your existence be just a little less miraculous..........arent you being abit arrogant here? You find NOTHING impressive about two cells specializing into a walking talking functioning human being? Maybe you should do a bit of research. Better yet-as the process is mundane, I merely ask that you, using all that science has to offer, create one solitary living cell...not a whoile human, just a small cell. Yes, its impossible. Yet, you likely find the prospect of life from a prebiotic soup easily believed in, not noting the impossibility based on the time periods involved. I find your position here simply ridiculous, and wonder if you even believe what you wrote.


Shown by whom? Please site the mathematician who has provided this proof and where it was published........pick up any article on the fien tunign of the universe for life, especially energy densities...there youll see that the fact the universe is tuned to less than 1/10 to the 20th makes a nontheistic universal birth sheer fallacy.

Or, you can keep walking around with your eyes closed.

DagoodS said...

Mark,

You raise a number of issues not necessarily related to this blog entry. If you are truly interested, I will go more in-depth on these topics

Nazareth Stone:

Here is a brief synopsis of why it was not Claudius that issued this, why it was probably not from Nazareth, and why it had nothing to do with Jesus’ situation. McDowell is not the best source to derive material from.

(Also interesting is that if this law was in effect, it would bar the Pharisees from parading out the body, as Christians so often claim they would have done. They couldn’t. It would be death. “Hoisted on your own petard” comes to mind.)

Development of Legend

What is the minimum amount of time required for a myth to develop? What is the time between Jesus’ death and the first Gospel is written? Don’t we need those two items to make the grandiose claim that there would not be enough time for a legend to develop?

Oh, and here is a fatal problem with this claim that I have never seen a Christian respond to. According to Matthew 28:11-15 the “myth” that the Disciples stole the body was created on Easter Sunday, and continued to circulate until the time Matthew was written. (Personally, I think the soldiers are completely a fiction of Matthew, but I have written on that already. The point being is that Christians believe it is true.)

If your own God inspired a writing that claimed a myth could develop the day Jesus allegedly rose from the dead, and continued to be in circulation until the time the Gospels were written, aren’t you contradicting your own God by saying that couldn’t happen?

Women as eyewitnesses

Mark was writing a story with a great deal of interplay. It was with constant irony that Pharisees were mocking Jesus for who he really was—when that is who he really was! His own disciples didn’t get who he was. They failed him. (Do you not get the irony of re-naming Peter a “rock” in light of Mark 4:5-6?) It was the women throughout the story that were the faithful followers of Jesus.

But the last we hear of the Disciples is they all fall away, just like Jesus predicted. (Mark 14:27) The last of the twelve was Peter’s denial. But the women stayed with Jesus until the end. (More Markan irony.) But even they failed Jesus, because they did not tell anyone, as they were instructed. (Mark 16:8)

Christians don’t realize how close they brush the truth with the claim of the oddity of having women be informed. It was EXACTLY because they were women.

Combination of works written over 1500 years

Well. Not really. The earliest example we have of Hebrew writing is dated to 1000 BCE. The books of the Tanakh were probably written, at the earliest, in the Eighth century BCE. Daniel was not written until the Second Century, BCE. We have the New Testament written, at the latest, 150 CE. So really, we are talking a period of 900 years, and that is being very lenient with the dates. More likely a lot less.

Again, McDowell--Not the best source.

Die for a Lie

How did the Disciples die? Source, please? Again, a topic I have written more than enough on.

James the lesser—political scapegoat.
James the Just – political scapegoat.
Peter – unknown (and that is presumed upon a late date for John and 2 Peter)
Paul – unknown and not listed. Unless you want to rely upon 1 Clement, a NON-inspired book that lists him as a martyr.

Did they have the opportunity to recant prior to dying?

We don’t know how they died, Mark. The myth that they “died for a lie” did not develop until late in the second Century, and more likely not until early Third Century.

Heaven & Hell

Really? You need a place of torment in order to truly enjoy Heaven? How sad…

Mark said...

Dagood

Thanks for the Nazareth link, from unsurprisngly the secular web-Ill look into it, but prima facie I see nothing to refute what McDowell, whom I may add isnt my only source of info. I see nothing in the decree which would stop the Jewsih leaders from presenting the body. And, although you may want to throw away Matthew's guard narrative, I would think that if the Jewish leaders had enough sway over Pilate to cover for a guard, the mere presentation of a corpse would be no problem.

Regarding legend, Im not tryiong to be quarrelsome here, but your argument sounds illogical. The fact that Matthew reports a rumor started by Jewish leaders has no bearing at all on the fact that Paul wrote of resurrection 15 yrs after the event, and that the gospels were penned before enough time was present for legend to develop.

Women as eyewitnesses...again, my point was that their tertimony would be suboptimal, but thnaks for the observations youve made.

Ill have to research any extant sources regarding the deaths of the disciples, although tradition Im sure will likely be involved.Ive read some of your posts on other blogs about this-in the least you seem to agree that in any event the martyrs believed Jesus was resurrected. Yoube thrown financial greed intot he mix so when I get some more time I am sure Ill find your theories interesting.

As far as Hell goes, ther sarcasm notwithstanding-I highly doubt anyone when being serious requires hell to enjoy heaven-but as you object to the idea of a Hell, please furnish a solution for the problem of what God should do in this case.

One final point-I read your history, how you got depressed and paid a price for finally admitting your unbelief. It seems you feel God didnt do anything to help you out of your condition-and I am reading that alot here. This is a difficult point to argue as I dont know the recesses of your heart, and have been fortunate neough to have God bring me around to Him when Ive wandered-I have no doubt He can do the same for all of you, if its what you really want.

Randy Kirk said...

The thing I find as I move around the atheist blogs is a huge amount of mean-spirited responses to folks. Yeah, some are asking those same old questions. Yep! Some are coming hoping to convert someone. And no one could deny that some (I've done it) don't scope out their audience very well before spewing their self righteousness.

What the nastiness on Atheist websites says to me is that any claim that a secular or humanistic set of morals will be equal to or better than Christianity is belied by such offensive behavior when it is so unnecessary and counterproductive.

This leads me to a variation of this rant. Why doesn't anyone here (I admit to only reading through three complete, but long threads so far), ever say "I see where you are coming from. Christians and non-theists alike never give the other side any affirmation.

I have a whole bunch of atheist friends, even one famous one named Michael Shermer (actually he was agnostic the last time I asked him), and by and large the ones I know (almost all intellectuals and well off) are fine, decent, folks I would trust to take my kids on a weekend at Big Bear.

I absolutely understand how a person can come to the purely scientific or intellectual decision that God likely doesn't exist. I don't believe anyone can be intellectually honest and claim God doesn't exist (Even Dawkins puts the chance at something like .002%)

I also do not understand how anyone who is not a believer could fail to
affirm the potential for a scientific or intellectual decision that the weight of the evidence is that God does exist. This decision would then lead to a leap of faith to act in ways consistent with said faith. But I find it off-putting when I see http://theother95%ofyouaremorans. And that is commonly the sense I get from sites like this. And sometimes it is done with anger, which my lowly BS in psych would suggest comes from unresolved issues. Maybe. Maybe not.

Curiosis said...

Mark,

"Variances occur as different people reported different things..."

But then why do we see differences when the same event is being described? Each of the four gospels have four different descriptions for what happened at Jesus's tomb.

"Curiosis, you have a very negative view of God-almost an enemy to you, causing you to fail."

I'd feel this way about anyone who thought eternal torture was acceptable.


"It would be interesting to know the relationship you had with your father, my tkae would be that it wasnt a great one."

You'd lose that bet. My father and I have a wonderful relationship.

"The way I see it, if God grants you the free will to walk away from Him and end up in Hell,..."

A hell he created, by the way.

"He places quite an emphasis on it and never abuses it, but having god torpedoe your efforts is a new one to me. That is not the Christian God."

So the christian god had nothing to do with that whole Job episode?

"Think about what youre saying- if God paid you a divine visit, He'd have to do it for everyone else."

Sounds pretty easy for an omnipotent, omnipresent being. He could visit us all simultaneously.

"Faith would no longer be an issue."

Why is faith so important? Why would god rather you believe with little or no real evidence than have you be able to make a well founded decision?

"I agree with Dave Wood here-morality would be compromised."

You mean people would more likely to behave? My, how awful that would be!

"In allt ruth, at times I think the same way you do-then realize it is absurd to require God to act as your manservant-could you respect a God who caters to your demands?"

I don't think less of people who answer questions about life and death matters. If god wants us to all go to heaven, then he knows what would guarantee that. It would take so little to perfectly reveal himself.

If you tell me that you can fly by flapping your arms, don't blame me for disbelieving when your refuse to show me.

"Do you think you deserve to see God? Dont you think the martyrs of 1st century had more of a right befroe they were burned, crucifies or tortured?"

If hell really awaits us, then god has a moral obligation to do everything within his power to ensure that we don't go there. Showing up and saying "Hi" is the very least that he could do. And, yes, the martyrs should've had the same opportunity to know the truth.

"You have a brain,..."

Yes, the one you think god gave me. It tells me that god doesn't exist.

"...you have a physical incarnation two thousand years ago..."

One that I never saw. There are physcial manifestations of countless gods throughout human history. Why should I buy this one and dismiss all others?

"...born i historical records..."

I really hope that you aren't referring to the bible as a historical record.

"...and the holy spirit-for now that will have to do."

It doesn't do at all. If that is enough for you, then fine. But if god really wants to save my soul, then I require more. So, just how much does Jesus love me?


"I dont recall Mohammed ever professing to be God,..."

I could probably find a dozen people professing to be god at the nearest mental hospital. That proves nothing.

"or resurrecting form the dead, do you?"

Plenty of gods have come back from the dead. It was old schtick by the time Jesus got around to it. Again, your belief is not evidence.

"good point, which argues for the existence of ultimateobjectibe morality, regardless of religious belief."

If we define morality, as I do, as the greatest happiness for the greatest number while respecting the freedom of every individual, then yes, you can compare any action to this "objective" morality. Notice that I didn't have to invoke the supernatural to arrive at it.

"that you are cynical on faith is pretty apparent."

I'm also cynical of astrology. I consider cynicism in these areas to be a virtue.

"There is no good reason for believing in the pink unicorn God, theres alot more evidence for the Christian belief."

According to you. Muslims think that about Allah. Hindus think that about Shiva. Romans thought that about Zeus. And on and on.

"But, you really do live each day on faith...faith your pilot knows how to fly properly, for instance."

I don't need faith in my pilot. I know that he must be certified to fly the plane. I know that there are safeguards in place to ensure that he is not impaired. Any trust I have in my pilot is based on knowledge, not faith.

"who said I had faith based on no evidence?"

I did. Perhaps I should have said credible evidence, but evidence without credibility isn't really evidence.

"Ive evaluated the resurrection narratives, its a historical event."

No, things like the assassination of Caeser are historical events. There is as much evidence for the resurrection as there is for the ascension of Mohammed.

"Theres an empty tomb with only one good explanation."

Did you see this empty tomb? This statement begs the question so badly that it should come with sign that reads "Will work for food."

"Do you think Id believe in Jesus' resurrection if there was nothing written about it?"

You wouldn't have ever heard about it without the bible being written. That doesn't make it true.

"If people hasnt died instead of admitting it was a fabrication?"

Does this mean that I should convert to Islam since they are willing to blow themselves up for their beliefs? I'm going to start calling this the Argument from Suicide.


"arent you being abit arrogant here? You find NOTHING impressive about two cells specializing into a walking talking functioning human being?"

Of course it's impressive. But that doesn't make it magical.

"Maybe you should do a bit of research. Better yet-as the process is mundane, I merely ask that you, using all that science has to offer, create one solitary living cell...not a whoile human, just a small cell."

Give me a few billion years, and you might be surprised at what I can come up with.

"Yes, its impossible. Yet, you likely find the prospect of life from a prebiotic soup easily believed in, not noting the impossibility based on the time periods involved."

We are here. We got here somehow. You choose to believe it was magic. Since I've never seen evidence for magic, I am left looking for a natural explanation. We learn more everyday about how abiogenesis might have occurred. If you are too impatient to wait for us to discover the answers, then by all means, feel free to cop out with "God did it."

"pick up any article on the fien tunign of the universe for life, especially energy densities...there youll see that the fact the universe is tuned to less than 1/10 to the 20th makes a nontheistic universal birth sheer fallacy."

This is like saying, "Look at the 13 cards you were just dealt. The odds of that combination of cards occurring is 1 in 635 billion. It's a miracle!"

Perhaps we are fine tuned to the universe, not the other way around. The earth is not right temperature because humanity is here. We thrive in this temperature range because we evolved on the earth.

You think that the universe was created just for your species. Get over yourself!

"Or, you can keep walking around with your eyes closed."

Does this mean that if I open my eyes I will be able to actually see god? If not, then it seems to make little difference.

Curiosis said...

Randy,

I don't know if you were referring to me or not, but if I appear mean-spirited, then I apologize. I can be very sarcastic at times, but I always assume that the person on the other side of the argument is intelligent, unless he proves himself otherwise.

Mark, the gentlemen I've been debating here, seems to be very intelligent. But I also believe him to be mistaken. The two, unfortunately for all of us, are not mutually exclusive.

When Mark refers to revelation, he automatically gives precendence to christian revelation and completely ignores the revelation of all other religions. The evidence he uses to defend christianity can be used to defend almost any modern religion, and even some ancient mythologies.

Unless faith leads to the same answer for all who use it, it is worthless as a means to discovering truth.

Are there intelligent christians? Without a doubt. My wife and father are two examples well known to me.

All I ask is that they apply the same logic and reason to their beliefs as they do to all other aspects of their life. I ask that they apply the same rationales used to defend their beliefs to all other religions.

You say, " Why doesn't anyone here...ever say 'I see where you are coming from.' Christians and non-theists alike never give the other side any affirmation."

I do know where christians are coming from. I used to be a christian. But understanding the other person's viewpoint doesn't mean that I have to have any respect for that viewpoint. I can respect Mark as an intelligent individual, but have complete disdain for his belief in a god for which there is no evidence.

I seriously doubt that I will have any effect on Mark's beliefs. And that's okay. He is entitled to believe as he wishes, and I would fight anyone who tried to force him to do otherwise.

My hope is that there is someone who might read something I've written who then might start asking questions. Asking questions is what led me away from superstition towards reason. And that journey has greatly improved my life.

Preacher said...

Hmm... This post got hijacked on a ton of other topics.

I am a somewhat angry atheist. I am angry at the mindset that requires people to make the facts fit what they believe. Christianity denies anything that could disprove it, and it necessarily must do so. Atheism on the other hand, simply wishes to make sense out of known facts, not fit them into some predefined system. Atheists are not tied down to "absolutely believing there is no God" they are simply waiting for a reason to believe it, while Christians believe it without reason, and point to "facts" which support their thinking, all while trying to discredit the ones who don't support their thinking.

That said, I am not angry at Christians, (excepting sometimes those who call you an idiot and ignore your arguments entirely, and yes it has been done. They even tried to justify mocking people who didn't believe in God.) but angry at the system of Christianity, because I see it as a detriment to better understanding the world.

To answer Mark on two points, (which is off topic, but oh well).

The first point is this: We have no idea what size the universe is, so there is no statistical way to prove that God is necessary for life. Also, the universe may be infinite in size for all we know, and then the possibility of life evolving from "Chance" would at least have to happen at least once.

Secondly, the resurrection was not universally thought of as being a physical event, but it was also thought of as being spiritual. (See here for a detailed explanation).

Preacher

"I preach logic and reason, the cornerstones of understanding."

DagoodS said...

Mark,

He He He. Caught ya on that McDowell thing, eh? *wink*

I was really only giving a brief synopsis of some of the problems with the issues you raised. Figured anyone lurking along might like to research both sides of the issue. But…in for a penny, in for a pound, I guess.

Nazareth Stone

If you don’t like the SecWeb library, perhaps you could provide me (as well as those lurkers) with a Christian site that provides argument (NOT blind assertion) as to why the Nazareth Inscription was written in the time of Claudius, or why it came from Nazareth, or why it had anything to do with Jesus at all. If you look at your first comment referring to it, you hint it supports a historical Jesus. Are you now saying it had nothing to do with Jesus?

Mark: …I would think that if the Jewish leaders had enough sway over Pilate to cover for a guard, the mere presentation of a corpse would be no problem.

In my brevity, I was not clear. First of all, the Jewish leaders did NOT have enough sway over Pilate to cover for a guard. In fact, the gospel account records the exact opposite. According to Mt. 27:64, the chief priests and the Pharisees asked Pilate for a guard. But in vs. 65, Pilate replies, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” Pilate said, “Do it yourself.”

If you had read my previous blog entry, then you will already know the argument as to why this was a Jewish Temple Guard and not a Roman Guard.

But even if it WAS a Roman Guard, this would still not be persuasive. Pilate would have full autonomy within Judea to place a guard as he desired. Caesar would not bother to get involved in such a provincial decision. (pun intended) If Pilate wanted to guard a tomb, or a food house or a rabbit—what would Caesar care?

However, the argument is made by Christians that the Nazareth stone prescribed the death penalty to anyone robbing a grave. Pilate would not have full autonomy to violate Caesar’s decree on a law with a death penalty. He would be subject to death himself, simply by agreeing to it!

The Jewish leaders asking Pilate to do something that he has full right to do or not do (and he chose “not do”) is one thing. The Jewish leaders asking Pilate to commit an act that, if brought to Caesar’s attention would mean a death sentence is quite another.

Development of Legend

You said that not enough time had happened between the New Testament events and the writing of the Gospels for them to be legend.

Mark: …and that the gospels were penned before enough time was present for legend to develop.

While there are other factors to be considered, the only method you brought to our attention was one of time. That there must be a minimal amount of time to happen before a legend could develop.

I’ll ask again—what is that time? You’ve established a method, now let’s get specifics. How many months, years or decades MUST elapse in order for something to be a legend?

If the Gospels were written in, let’s say 50 CE. Is that too short a time for a legend to develop? What about 60 CE? Or 70 CE? At what point do we switch from “too short a time” to “enough time had elapsed for a legend to develop”?

Are you saying that everything written within, say 5 years of its happening must be true? No legend can develop that quickly?

And, again, I will point out. Regardless of what time frame you pick, Matthew records something that is not true, a legend, a myth about the Disciples stealing the body that was started on Easter Sunday, and persisted until the time Matthew penned his Gospel. Matthew most certainly did NOT write, “And because not enough time has developed since this myth was started, it must be true.”

I see that in your response, you introduce a new factor with Paul’s record of 1 Corinthians. Sure you want to go there? Paul records a completely different order as to appearances, fails to mention the women at all, and fails to give us any historical markers by which to place these instances. Paul mentions a round figure of “500” that appears nowhere else until the Acts of Pilate.

No Stone, no guard, no angels, no Galilee, no Thomas, no fishing, no road to Emmaus, no ascension. A straightforward, bare-bones account. Then we go to Mark with a resurrection, but no guard, no angels, no Galilee, no Thomas, no fishing, no road to Emmaus, no ascension. A little more, but not much.

Then Matthew and Luke, with Galilee or Jerusalem (take your pick) guard or no guard (take your pick), Road to Emmaus or no Road to Emmaus (take your pick). Then we have John with Thomas and fishing and “feed my sheep.”

In point of fact, it looks exactly like a myth developing! When we start to get even later Christian works, we are introduced to the 500, to the raised saints of Matthew, to Pilate’s conversion, etc. Even MORE myth.

I understand that you most likely reject those later writings as legend and not historical. But why? What is the method by which you do so? You accept Paul, the more fantastic Mark, the even MORE fantastic (and divergent) Matthew, Luke and John, but then you draw the line?

At some point it got too fantastic for you? Why?

How many years must it take between an event and a writing before it is legend? Is everything claimed within five (5) years of its happening true? Or can legends and myths develop more quickly than five years?

Can you stay consistent in the claim that x amount of years (whatever “x” is) must pass before a writing can be questioned as a legend?

Die for Lie

Good luck with your studies. Come back with whatever you find. An interesting topic, and one that comes up often enough that input is always welcome.

Hell

I apologize for my flippant response. I find it…(and this is not very nice, either)…humorous that you asked US to justify Heaven OR hell, when we are not persuaded either exists. Kinda like us asking YOU to explain the logical possibility of life arising from non-life. You would scratch your head and say, “But I don’t believe that happened. Why should I be the one arguing for why it does?”

Yet, in for a penny and all that…

Mark: I havent yet seen an argument from anyone here justifying the logical possibility of a heaven with no Hell.

I love “logical possibility.” It is such a minimal standard of proof. Since the premise of God and after-life is supposition anyway, and not based upon an ability to empirical confirm or deny, as long as we propose something that is not logically contradictory, it could be possible.

If you read my writing, you would see that I don’t generally use “any logical possibility” because it leaves way too much open. For example, if we use “any logical possibility” to resolve apparent contradictions, I agree it resolves them, but it also makes the Bible about as outstanding as a grocery list.

That being said—“Logical possibility of heaven with no hell.” Easy enough. We have numerous instances of God imposing on Free will here on earth (Flood, Tower of Babel, Pharaoh, David, Mary, Pharisees, Saul/Paul) it follows that God has the ability to impose on free will.

Post-mortem, God could impose an obligation upon all that they desire and enter heaven. (If some system of “justice” is slowing you down, that too is “logically possible.” It is logically possible there is a law that says sin must be punished after-death. It is logically possible that Jesus’ death was sufficient punishment. It is therefore logically possible that no one need enter a hell, since the punishment has already been completed.) With no need of a hell, there is no need for God to create it.

Voila—it is “logically possible” to have a heaven and not a hell. We can, obviously, turn this same argument on its head and conversely demonstrate it is “logically possible” to have a hell and not a heaven. Or logically possible to have both. Or logically possible to have neither.

Perhaps, after that verbose response, you can see why “No one here has argued for the logical possibility of heaven without hell” struck me as amusing.

Mark: …please furnish a solution for the problem of what God should do in this case.

If there was a God, and there was a heaven and hell, and God was asking for my take on the situation, given my human knowledge, then my solution would be for God to do everything within his power to keep as many out of hell as possible. Forget free will and all that jazz—if hell is a place of billions and billions and billions and billions and trillions of years of horrendous torture, I can sleep quite well with myself impinging on free will left and right. I can live with giving humans (and any other creatures destined for its fire) as much information as possible and as much opportunity as possible to avoid it.

But since I am complete unconvinced of God, Heaven, or Hell, probably my thoughts on the matter don’t mean much.

My Situation

Mark: It seems you feel God didnt do anything to help you out of your condition-and I am reading that alot here.

Oh my, no! Do you know the play, “Waiting for Godot”? Well…Godot never comes. The premise that is that throughout the play, we are looking forward to his appearance.

The question arises—does Godot even exist?

It is not that I feel God didn’t do anything to help me (although I could see where, as a theist, you have that impression due to my limitation of explanation, not due to an error on your part).

It is that I was forced to face the prospect that the God I was taught existed was not plausible, partly in light of the fact that he was not answering a prayer that everyone assured me he would. Even you say so!

Mark: I have no doubt He can do the same for all of you, if its what you really want.

Of course it was what I really wanted. If I didn’t want it, why would it have been so hard to lose it? That’s plain silly! (I will write more on this elsewhere, I think.)

Remember the story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal? And how the fact that Baal did not respond was evidence of its non-existence? Well…I asked and danced and did everything I humanly knew how to do. If Baal’s non-response is evidence enough for you that he didn’t exist; then YHWH’s non-response is evidence enough for me.

Ya can’t have it both ways, you know!

Rich said...

There are alot of topics going on here, which are all interesting, but as far as the anger issue I didn't find anger here unless provoked. Someone mentioned not specifically saying that one understood the others side. I actually have said that very thing a few times and also agreed with points of view when they are truth, or follow what I believe. I personally want to see what and understand what those here have to say, wether they be of a different religion then my own or athiest. I try to find beliefs we have in common, and at the same time I don't mind affirming that I see what someone is saying but still disagree. I think you'll find the attitude of someone changes immensly when you simply try to see their side instead of push yours.

Mark said...

To the atheists who have commented here in this thread:

A long day and bad mood are going to probably result in a less vebose rebuttal, however:

As is typical of what's read in apologetics blogs and texts, the problem of evil and Hell weigh heavily in much of what is said here. Lets leave aside the philosophical argument style,lofty speech and intellectual battgles we all love and regress to a more simple, emotional appeal-beacuse alot of what I read here and elsewhere concerns this, which is why I made the observations youre all angry, and at God-or at least, for the God you prefer to exist,not exisitng.

I find it an excellent argument for the presence of an inate God given sense of justice that you all are appaled at the level of evil in the world-and we all should be. But why? Many here, unlike me, find no apparent wonder at the remarkable tuning of the universe for life, or how a singularity can expand with the creation of time and space and following this event a conscious, thinking group of organisms can arrive and strabgely enough disavow the being that mad eit possible. Why would a chaotic explosion result in abrain which recoils at the evils around us? If all is chance, there is no higher moral order-but even the staunchest atheist behaves and seems to operate within a framework of universal moral order-why? Why do we sense injustice and get irritated by it?

So far, nobody has addressed my question of what God should do with those people who hate, or disbelieve in Him upon death. The single rebuttal Ive read so far has been that God should make personal appearances to all of us-and impoinge on our free will if must be. Trouble is, He obviously isnt going to do this, and never has-except for the post-resurrection appearances, which were noted by Paul, who, incidentally, wasnt trying to present a full narrative in Corinthians as brought up by another poster.

I dont consider it a waste to post here because the most cynical of you appear the most affected by a perceived inhustice toward yourself on the part of God- the worst enemy is the ex-best friend.

I also have no explanation to why your faith went down a path to nothingness- it would make God a liar to insinuate he didnt care about your situation-but if the prayer was for a physical appearance by God for proof, is that really in itself an unanswered prayer? Not really. Wed all like to see God, but I somehow doubt that is what you were all requesting. Guilt seems to have ruffled up Loftus' spirit and he wanted out-and finding no obviousrepose in prayer he sought it in the Chgristian community-and obviously lacking hekp there-he gave up.

Some times it does seem the war is over many qualifications-but name me one piece of work that has been attacked, often with poor scholarship, than the NT-there is none. There isnt a word that hasnt been turned on its head, more so than any writing of antiquity to be sure.

Does it deserve a thorough analysis-sure, claims are made and shoudl be taken seriously. But I have seen PhD after PhD publish patently false atheistic assertions just as much as I have incorrectly applied prophecy or weak hermeneutics on the opposing front. If you lost your faith due to the likes of the Jesus seminar, im not sure it was there to begin with.

I actually did say a prayer twice for Loftus, and probably will for all here- the realization of lost faith and loss of faith in eternal life, whatever you say, cannot be pleasant. But one never knows-if you were truly once svaed, you can be brought back. Tne truth is, I believe you when you say you tried to believe, but only you all indivdually know the real truth.

On to Hell. Ive noted a subtle trend thats sprung up with some of you..."God, go ahead and throw me into Hell when I die, beacuse I didnt understand" While impugning God for being a mosnter for creating Hell in the first place, you appeal to His mercy and love to keep you out due to your situation-why, if He's such a monster? Almost like deep down you all know He really is as forgiving as Christians do.

It seems the atheist community wants a God who appears at His creation's whim, destroys all evil, leaves no room for faith, offers absolute proof of existence and allows all into Heaven, even thsoe who reject Him-but that Gid doesnt exist. Would you respect Him if He did? Is it reasonable to expect this?

Preacher said...

Mark,

You seem to think that atheists believe in God. You have to try to understand that the points we bring up when arguing things like the problem of evil and hell, are simply to point out that the Biblical idea of God is inconsistent with the world in which we live, so he cannot exist.

For instance: Saying a Just and Merciful God would throw people into hell for eternity for not believing in him (for a time period of 80-100 years for most people) is not logically consistent. If God did that, then he would be neither just or merciful. That is the point, as defined by the Bible, he cannot exist because the Bible teaches contradictory things.

The same goes for the problem of evil. If God was really good as the Bible says, he would not be able to stand seeing anyone suffer from evil, yet evil still happens. Therefore the Bible is telling us God is something that is not possible. Again, we don't believe in God because it is a logically inconsistent idea within reality and within the teachings of the Bible.

"I preach logic and reasoning, the cornerstones of understanding."

Shygetz said...

Mark, you seem to assume, like most Christians do, that everyone has a God-shaped hole in them, and that we must be lying or in denial to say that we are happier as non-theists. As long as you cling to this unfounded assumption, you will never understand us, never be able to relate to us, and always end up preaching at us instead of talking to us.

I got my faith due to my surroundings. I lost my faith due to the fact that it made no sense and did not make me feel any better. I have said before in other threads that the one reason I find valid to be a theist is that it makes you happy without harming anyone else. That is the side of the theistic argument that I can see, and that I will not disparage. If believing in flying pink unicorns makes you happy and doesn't harm others, go be happy. But don't insist that everyone has a flying pink unicorn-shaped hole (or Zeus-shaped hole, if you require ancient writings for your faith) in them and is just in denial about it; that's just insulting. Unless you don't mind that I posit that you are a Christian because you lacked a father figure growing up, and are merely trying to compensate for an overly-feminized upbringing that immasculated you. Such a pop-psychology diagnosis would be unworthy of me and insulting to you, so I will refrain; you should refrain from baseless pop-psych evaluations as well.

I wonder about the fine-tuning of the universe for human life about as much as I wonder at the fine-tuning of a puddle for exactly the shape of the water that's in it.

I don't hate God any more than I hate the Easter Bunny; I simply believe that God is a fabrication that some people turn to for various reasons; because it gives them joy, or due to greed or lust for power, due to a desire to belong to an exclusive community, due to that being all they ever knew, etc.

The atheist community doesn't want a God with all of the characteristics that you list; they want a reliable, testable truth. If your god exists, he knows how to convince us and it is easily within his power. Since he is omnipotent, he could do so without jeapordizing the already-faithfuls' free will. And yet nothing has happened and I still do not believe.

In most cases, you disregard scholastic analyses of the Bible because they disagree with your theology, not due to flaws in the studies themself. Indeed, I have yet to see you make a scholastic criticism of a single academic analysis of the Bible or the "historical Jesus".

I don't appeal to God's mercy and love to keep me out of Hell, because I don't believe in either. But, if either exists, then God has left me in an unwinnable situation. How am I supposed to choose from all of the various unsupported religions out there, all of which say different things and many of which posit horrible punishment for picking the wrong one. Even if you accept Pascal's Wager, there is such little chance of winning that I'd rather save my money and not play. Perhaps you can say that I am relying upon God's sense of fairness; on the other hand, aren't you? After all, if God turns out to be unfair, why couldn't he just throw the true believers in Hell for the (pardon the pun) hell of it? And if he is fair AND he plans to punish all who believe incorrectly, then why can't he provide SOME reliable evidence that sets his religion apart from the rest? I mean, eternal damnation for not picking up on the subtle hint among the din doesn't really seem fair to me. Perhaps you can say that I am wagering on God being unfair; after all, for all your bowing, curtsying, and toadying, I expect that you will end up the same as me after you die.

On to the question of would I respect God if he did all this stuff...you bet your ass I would respect him. I might fight against him if he was evil (or worship him if he were good), but I would certainly respect him.

DagoodS said...

Mark,

I saw some statements about the New Testament that were debatable. I posted some alternatives that lurkers may want to consider. You provide another outstanding example with:

Mark: ..but name me one piece of work that has been attacked, often with poor scholarship, than the NT-there is none.

That may be true. But the primary “attackers” of the Bible are Bible-Believers “attacking” what other Bible-believers are saying. If those that believe in it cannot agree on authors, time of writing, original writing, dependency, historicity, etc., why are we barred from equally investigating it? And I would suspect what you consider “attack” many, even Conservative Christians, would consider good scholarship.

But let’s discuss your “emotional appeal.” You state:

Mark: So far, nobody has addressed my question of what God should do with those people who hate, or disbelieve in Him upon death.

I am completely unconvinced of a God, a heaven or a hell. Therefore asking me what a non-existent creature “should” do in a non-existent situation and then being unsatisfied with my answer seems…well…I am sorry, but ridiculous.

I am not trying to trivialize your belief, but let me put it in strong enough terms so that the concept will hopefully sink in.

“Should the tooth fairy approach the pillow from the left side or the right side when retrieving teeth?”

Again, I am NOT comparing God to the tooth fairy, or saying there is as much evidence for a tooth fairy as God, or some other silly nonsense. What I am trying to demonstrate is that asking people who believe something is a mythical creature and what that mythical creature “should” or “should not” do in a mythical situation is getting us nowhere.

I do always find it interesting, the type of God that a person posits. Let me ask you—what do you think God “should” do? Only let me ask it on your terms of an emotional appeal. (I love mixing it up.)

There is a person who you consider is the greatest candidate for hating or disbelieving God. Perhaps it is someone you interacted on-line, or you know in person, or you know from history. Imagine that person. Get their face in your mind. The least likely candidate you know to ever enter what you consider heaven.

On judgment day, you see that person standing in line, waiting their turn. They are laughing and joking with those nearby, about how they think they have been pretty good in life, and they figure God will be their best buddy. That heaven is about to be one big bar scene, just like they enjoyed in life. Although you can’t help it, a very small, intimate part of you is looking forward to seeing their face when they learn the truth. When Pascal’s Wager comes full-force.

You hear a voice in your head.

“This is God. I see the person you are looking at. I have to tell you that these types really get my goat. Ever ounce of my being has but one desire—to enact the just punishment and send them to hell. I plan on doing so in this situation as well. I can because I am God, and my justice demands it.

“BUT, before I do, Jesus implored me to do one more act of mercy. So I leave it up to you, Mark. The choice is yours. No one will ever know of this conversation. If you think nothing, I will do what I plan to do anyway, what my justice allows. I will damn them to the hell they want and deserve. No one will know or even care about this conversation.

“Likewise, if you say anything on this creature’s behalf, they will forever believe they earned heaven by their own works. They will never know how you saved them, or how close they came to my wrath.

“I’ll give you 3 seconds, and if I don’t hear anything, we can move on and enjoy an eternal relationship together without another thought of that person.”

THAT! That first thought that just crossed your mind is what you think God “should” do. Not the next thought. Not the thought after you start to consider how you should be a good person, and follow the Golden rule. Not the thought as you carefully frame a reply to this comment about how humans have a different sense of compassion, and simply because you are so forgiving doesn’t mean God must be.

That first initial BANG that flashed through your mind—that is the “should” you are looking for. I suspect what you are looking for is other humans to give credence and rationalization in order to justify that thought. Until we support what you think your God “should” do, you will continue to be unsatisfied with our answers.

Paints an interesting picture as to what you think your God “should” do, eh?

Tell me, Mark. When you picture God judging non-believers on Judgment day, do you see Jesus, prone on the ground, weeping in anguish before a non-believer, or do you picture a YHWH in a throne high, high above the non-believer, banishing them to eternal torture with a beaming smile and a gleam in His eye?

Is your God a reflection of what you think a “just” God “should” do?

Curious that you say an innate sense of justice is demonstration of God’s existence. I would equally say, that if we are to use our “innate senses” to determine god(s), that our human compassion, mercy, forgiveness and recognition of people making mistakes, especially through lack of knowledge is an innate demonstration that your God does not exist.

Rich said...

ah, dagoods,
once again you bring up an excellent point. I have never bought into the heaven/hell belief of christianity. But lets look at some good points you bring up.
1st, Should someone be punished for eternity, or even a millisecond, for commiting a sin they didn't know was a sin, or as you put it, because of lack of knowledge? This may be where I differ with Christianity but I say he doesn't and won't. I believe we are judged according to our knowledge, not according to everything we "should" know, if that makes sense. I belive this to be exactly what God will do, judge us according to our knowledge of right and wrong. As always I try to find an example from Jesus to help. at the time he was heading to be crucified, al sorts of things happened to him, as he is being nailed to the cross he has every opportunity, being Christ, to do any number of things. He could physically stop them, supernaturally stop them, or curse them to be banished to this hell we speak of, but instead he asks the father that they be forgiven, because they know not what they do.
does he not have every reason right there to hand out justice? These were unbelievers right? So do unbelievers have to wait until the end for justice? It seems to me that a standard is set, that we should not judge other people as good or bad, acts maybe but not the person. More importantly this shows, in this instance, me that God doesn't want to punish unbelievers.
Somehow, maybe one too many low sleep nights, I either included both points together or I completely forgot the other. hmmm
anyway I don't see God being at all happy about sending any one person to eternal torture. I actually see the two together, Jesus and the unbeliever, weeping together as Jesus sends him to a lesser kingdom of heaven, not eternal torture. It just doesn't make sense, nor does it fit the supposed character of God to punish one for eternity for having even just one single unrepented sin.

Anonymous said...

As an atheist I can't say that I am angry. I am just disappointed and annoyed.

I am disappointed that so many people fail to apply critical and rational thinking skills to the question of an existence of a deity. Most of this is the due to the perpetuation of myth from generation to generation. This is a form of brainwashing. Ironically, when we see it happen in cults (ie., Heaven's Gate), society condemns it. Yet millions of children are brainwashed into christianity, islam, judaism, etc., every day. We are conditioned from a young age to believe, and such faith becomes an integral part of a person's self, much like language or personality. To doubt one's faith is to doubt one's self, it cuts into the very core of a person's being. Most people are not comfortable with doing this. It opens up every idea to doubt, and if a person is extremely religious, it creates a huge void and loss of purpose and meaning. Thus, most people are extremely reluctant to critically analyze the foundations of their faith.

I was raised roman catholic. I went to church every sunday and on "holy days of obligation." I even considered becoming a priest at one time. I was force-fed a steady dose of catholic and christian doctrine by my parents, the clergy, and the community. Thankfully, through my education in science, I began to learn critical thinking and was exposed to the evidence that contradicted the very doctrine that was so deeply burned into my psyche. Fortunately, my rational mind won out.

Second, I am annoyed that I, or my children, are forced to endure the persecution that comes with atheism. My children have to say "One Nation, under god" when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or they will become anathemas in their schools. They will likely be subject to persecution based on their non-religious beliefs. This is annoying. And I guess it borders on anger. How do you think christians would feel if they were forced to profess atheism?

There is much more I can say ... but it will have to wait.

Anonymous said...

Dedicated to all the atheists:

oooooo child things are going to get easier

oooooo child things will get brighter

Mark said...

Ive noticed alot of atheists enjoy the title of "free thinker", yet find it starnge Christians are considered not to be so...a recent poster or several have intimated we are brought up in the faith and never quesiton.

Now, when statistics come out and half of the supposed believers cant name who wrote the gospels or think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife, one may be inclined to, but not justifiably, assume this. However, myself included, many of us have thought through the positions of the pother religions as well as atheism, yours.

The prsence of indignation toward God here is palpable-people balk at the idea of eternal Hell, consider God an absentee deity, an unfair tyrant who is also too weak to abolish evil-its almost as if- you consider the Abrahamic God,evil.

What do I think? I often wonder why Hell is eternal-why punishment exists eternally when compared with a lifetime-I have no answer-but I do know that 60-80 years is a long, long time to make up one's mind to choose God's redemptive path. Still, emotionally it does seem unfair- but I dont make the rules. A weak argument-maybe-but the truth is, we arent Gods, we didnt even make ourselves-to an extent, we really have no crdibility in judging the god ofg the universe.

Some of you, loftus esp, intimate that people believe what they do based on where they live, how theyre brought up. Of course a muslim in Bin Laden's family will have a different knowledge of the Christian faith than Dick and Jane raised in the small town in the USA. I believe those not exposed to the Christian redemption plan are judged by God fairly based on His merciful and fair nature. I havent heard too many Christians saying a bushman in Africa will be tossed into Hell because he hasnt been saved by the vhristina message he's never heard.

However, all here have been exposed to the message and are accountable.

As far as evil, and Gods ability to tolerate it-Im no hypocrite-I often ask how He can stand to tolerate some of the evil we see;as a human Im irate about sufferings and injustice toward others-but as a human, maybe my way of dealing with it is a bit different than God's. I think we forget patience and long suffering can be just as limitless as justice, mercy and overall power.

I as a human see or hear about people who behave in such a fashion that I would sooner terminate their excistence than the ant I just stepped over. Why God tolerates evil He clearly in the Bible hates is likely better explained by His having a divine patience.

I never thought the argument from evil had merits as I bever have had difficulty seeing god as being all powerful, loving and merciful and able to eliminate sin, all the while not choosing to do so-YET. And that is the key point. Atheists on this board Im sure would agree Heaven would satisfy their demannds-only problem is, God cant force you to believe in, or love Him.

As a human, of course alot of my arguments will fall back to God's mystery-for the simple truth that I am a mere human, not God.

With all the studying, debating and obvious mental gymnastics that burned some of you out-maybe its time to try somethig basic. Go out tonight, look at the stars, ponder what we know about the universe, its origins, life on earth-and consider whether you as a thinking,feeling being, are the result of a random accident. Either God was present before the universe was created, or He want-if He wasnt, you have an extreme amount of explaining to do-and your very existence as chance requires faith with absolutley no evidence whatsoever- I have a 66 volume set which does nothing but tlak about one thing-God.

John W. Loftus said...

Mark said: Some of you, loftus esp, intimate that people believe what they do based on where they live, how theyre brought up. I believe those not exposed to the Christian redemption plan are judged by God fairly based on His merciful and fair nature.

Okay then, do tell us what a fair judgment of God's would be with the people around the world. I suspect you will either be forced to deny what the Bible says here, or conclude most everyone will be in heaven. Do tell us....

Your choice is to cherry pick the Bible or conclude as any reasonable person would do. Which will it be for you?

Mark said...

Well John,as you know, when Jesus was asked how many woudl be saved, all He said was " strive to enter" and refused to answer-so my conjecture will be pure opinion.

The way some of the posters here write, God is dying to toss everyone in Hell-but having recieved advanced training, surely you disagree, as youve read the passages where 1)Hell was made for the devil and not man initially 2) God's wish is that all will come to repnetance and saved-and there are others as we both know.

The NT stance is NOT one of God seeking to toast as many people as He can.

I recall Paul indicating those not exposed to Christ will be judged on works, and I wouldnt find it hard to assume that God knows the heart and would judge perfectly.

So- although all have been washed by Christ, not all believe. In my mind, those never exposed to the message are judged by God by workds and an appraisal of the soul. Less clear is the muslim who hears the name Jesus, the name is somewhat revered but scoffed at in light of mohammed. There are converts from Islam-but in this case I have to assume the individual is judged by what they know, we have to trust God to evaluate this.

But I can be sure of the fact that you, me, the ex apologists, ministers, etc, are all fully aware of the message and will be held to our knowledge.

As far as you John, I am curious what youd tell Jesus upon death-somewhere in your soul you still wonder about this. I was never a fan of Pascal's wager, as it makes God an idiot-but just the same, what would your defense be? You studied and learned, were bought and paid for IF your conversion was sincere-what will you say? I misunderstood? How? You fully understand whats written.

You felt abandoned by God, prayers not answered? I think God is fully aware of this as anyone can see that you didnt start this blog just for the conversation and intellectual exercise. Maybe you wanted the reaffirmation of others who chose to leave God? Or maybe its a way of getting back at God? Lets be fair here, the blog is one not very respectful of a God nobody claims to belioeve exists.

What you will say to God is almsot entirely an emotional appeal, because you wont have the benefit of the sin atonement God has already worked out Himself with the human race. You will be asking for mercy, all the while forgetting that God had already spent 33 years as a human on this planet demonstrating this mercy and providing you with the emrcy you need.

I dont want to think about what it would be like to stand face to face with God even with Jesus salvation- once youve exhausted God's sin solution, youre betting His mercy outweighs his justice-but since God doled out the justice on Himself and gave us the mercy, youve already thrown out the mercy card when you disavowed Christ. Then you get told "Thy will be done" as CS Lewis wrote.

I dont know about you John, but I do feel God's presence at times, there is no mistaking it. Ive had some people say things that ring to my soul and seriosuly wonder if iot wasnt God talking in their stead. I would like to talk with God personally not for proof, but to be closer to Him. Id love to have a vision of what Jesus looked like, to see him for just a second. The hardest thing to do was to ask God to work my pride out of the picture to remove a big barrrier, but it was worth it-it was very hard, but worth it.

Nothing on this planet is worth a second of time knowing God is present with you-nothing.

The atheistic view is to me amazingly depressing, but most of all unecessary. Now, if I believed there was no Heaven, or Jesus, Id deal with it as truth is everything-Id rather be miserable in truth than comforted in falsehood.

The prodigal son parable never really hit home until recently, at which point I finally understood why the older, obedient son was wrong- it IS far better to always be with and know God than to be apart from Him and not know Him.

DagoodS said...

Rich: I believe we are judged according to our knowledge, not according to everything we "should" know, if that makes sense. I belive this to be exactly what God will do, judge us according to our knowledge of right and wrong.

This was not exactly the surprise of the century. Although I hate to make the generalization, I certainly see a tendency for a God to reflect what a theist is like. From what I have seen, Rich, you are a kind, decent person that actually considers what other people say (theist and non-theist alike) and you are genuinely attempting to believe the right thing.

Therefore it did not bowl me over that your God would act in the same way. And yes, I, too was thinking of the phrase, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” when I wrote the previous comment. I wonder how many “angry” atheists there would be if we had more “thinking” theists such as yourself.

However…

(You didn’t think I would be buttering you up without the eventual stabbing in the back, did ya? *grin* )

Aren’t you equally guilty of imposing your human vision of life about God as Mark is? On the one hand we have the gleeful Mark with a gleeful God, gleefully tossing people in Hell. On the other we have the reflective Rich, with a contemplative God, saddened by people’s decision to be immoral.

To coin a phrase, aren’t you each making God in your own image? To some extent we can’t help it. Those of us who like sports, assume God must like sports. Does any person here really think God likes chick-flicks? (Thus showing my own bias.)

Can we remove that bias when considering a God? Could you live with Mark’s God? (Don’t answer that—I’m not trying to start a theist-on-theist fight.)

This is partly why I see God as such a human creation. Because of the variance in the Bible, just about any manifestation of God a human wants can be justified by picking some scriptures and ignoring others. And, that is exactly what we see.

But thanks for the comment. Just when I wonder how bad it can be, you remind me that a select few may have a loud voice, but do not speak for all.

DagoodS said...

Mark: As far as evil, and Gods ability to tolerate it-Im no hypocrite-I often ask how He can stand to tolerate some of the evil we see;as a human Im irate about sufferings and injustice toward others-but as a human, maybe my way of dealing with it is a bit different than God's. I think we forget patience and long suffering can be just as limitless as justice, mercy and overall power.

I as a human see or hear about people who behave in such a fashion that I would sooner terminate their excistence than the ant I just stepped over.


Ding! Ding! Ding! Ring the Bell! Lo and behold I was dead on. Maybe I ought to try this emotional appeal thing more often. So…it turns out that the “should” YOU think God should be doing is wiping out those people left and right. If there was a judgment day, you would be laughing in glee as people you think deserve it are tossed in hell.

When we have a different view of humanity, a more forgiving view (dare I say a more Christ-like view? Hmmm) and apply that “should” to your God, your brain cannot process it. It won’t compute. When we claim that as a “should” for God, you simply call it wrong and move on, complaining more how no one has provided an adequate response as to what God “should” do.

I’ll say it again. You are most definitely NOT looking for what God “should” do. You already have that locked in your mind. You are looking for justification from others to support your revenge upon the non-believer. You are looking for “Here, Here, Mark! You are so right that God is entitled to exact Mark’s revenge on those he believes deserve it.”

No small wonder you see us as angry. If, for even a brief moment, you dare see us as human, or genuine, or sincere or questioning or thoughtful, you may have to develop actual sympathy. It might make your position a bit harder.

Much easier to write us off as angry or sinners or heathen or whatever term you desire. Do you know what the first step to a genocide is? Convince the people that those to be exterminated are not quite human. This is precisely what you have done. You just remove the genocide to the afterlife.

Mark said...

Dagood

You are way, way off on just about everything you wrote of me.

The point I made which you cite as genocidal is totally out of context-my point is, if I as a fallible human can become incensed with evil, how much more can God? The whole point is that God is much more long sufefring than any of us-look at the bible-God gave the Canaanites hundreds of years prior to the Isrealite invasion;Noah preached for a hundred years prior to the flood, and so on. You criticize Him for tolerating evil, believing if He was perfectly good He would abolish it-then turn around when He shows long suffering with His creation and declare Him impotent. Talk about a straw man. Which is it? Not good for allowing evil, or weak for not abolishing it? You argue for your own annihilation-God comes to earth to prevent it.

For you to assume Id be laughing at people tossed in hell means you have completely missed my points, entirely. It is the diametric opposite-as it is with God.

Im not sure gleeful is a term Ive ever been described with-nor is my view of God gleeful-and if I didnt care what happened to some of you arrogant narrow minded rebels on this site I wouldnt take the time to type a word.

Where have I ever called for revenge on the nonbeliever? Have you read any of my posts? Is your rebuttal to brand me another Hitler? Come on. Any theist who posts here doesnt do it for revenge, they do it precisely out of sympathy whether they admit it or not. You lost your faith-it is an unenviable, unesteemed position. I suppose you might pat yourself on the back for your honesty in declaring it- but dont expect a flood of accolades from theists as you essentially argue from positions AS GODS that God couldnt exist.

Ive questioned my "gleeful" God as much as any "free thinker" here. Im aware that God has many facets which demonstrate themselves at different times, and above all, that as a man I cannot have an answer for everything God does.

You have a problem with evil? Reread Job-pages and pages of nothing but a mere man being reminded he isnt God and cant know everything about God.

Dagood, maybe the best point about God I could have made is, be glad God ISNT like us- but to many here it seems they equate their reasoning power as equal to that of God-reminds me of someone Ive read about, who wasnt very fond of his position of subordination.

Intersting on this site how free thinking is exalted...yet being a"free willer" is down played. You bless man's free thought, but when it comes to God's emphasis on free will? Well, thats a bad thing.

Mark said...

My argument, having composed my thoughts subsequent to Dagood's quite inaccurate rendering of my nature:

God creates a universe and man to exist in it. God gives man free will-this leads to sin.

If God removes all sin He is a monster, and not all merciful because he removed evil people from existence. If He is a monster He cant be the all good God of the bible.

If God tolerates man's sin and is merciful He is either evil or weak, as He should being God not logically be able to exist with all the sin present.

These two points refute Preacher's arguments that God cant exist because of logical reasons-but the atheistic logic is incongruous and impossible to reconcile.

What is truly amazing is that the god of a quadrillion light year across universe can love any of us-but does.

What is even more amazing is that God wants us to love him in return-cares about it-and free will is necessary for that to occur.

Question for all male atheists: which would you rather have-a hundred beautiful women programmed to obey all you say and follow you aorund with out choice to do so-or an average woman who loved you and purely on her own volition?

Free will is of ultimate importance-even if it meant evil would enter the universe.

Calvin said...

The Bible teaches that there is a sense in which God doesn't desire the death of the wiked. But the Bible also teaches that God delights in His glorious Justice. Sinning against a Being that is infinite in value and worth requires infinite consequences. There is no injustice with God in punishing the wicked. He will do it gladly as the Bible says all to His glorious Justice and I will be in heaven with a coke and a smile on my face when He does.

DagoodS said...

O.K. I don’t get you, Mark. I tried to follow along, but it just doesn’t seem to work.

First you cite some statements about New Testament events that were questionable. I pointed out some problems with these statements.

You commented back. I commented in reply, wondering how you would respond to the questions I raised.

Instead of a discussion regarding those claims, you took a hard right turn with:

Mark: Lets leave aside the philosophical argument style,lofty speech and intellectual battgles we all love and regress to a more simple, emotional appeal

Hey, I am accommodating enough. Besides, good ol’ fashioned emotional appeal is fun enough once in awhile. So, I set aside my questions as to your factual claims, and engaged in an emotional appeal.

But, after doing so, and ascribing to you what you appeared to be saying, you apparently took offense. Curious, that. Your comments and statements are replete with what atheists do and think and are and feel, and I (along with a few others, by their comments) are scratching our heads wondering who the heck you are talking about. Because it sure isn’t us.

You would seem to prefer to assign us to some role you have pre-determined in your mind and regardless what we say, mandate we must be so. Therefore, using this fun emotional appeal, I turned it on you. I told you what you seemed to be like by your comments.

And you didn’t like it, it would seem. Not at all.

You tell us what we are like, but you don’t like it when others tell you what you are like. How is that Golden Rule thing working out for you? You know—“Treat others how you would like to be treated”? Or do you get an exemption?

Oh, and “God’s patience” with the Canaanites? Are you aware that there is zero archeological evidence for the Exodus? That the evidence for an invasion is so devoid that Christians cannot agree within a millennium (NOT century, but millennium) as to when such an invasion occurred?

That the Israelites were just another Canaanite tribe? In other words, all those atrocities (any evidence for them, by the way?) which are ascribed to the Canaanites must equally be ascribed to the Hebrews. “God’s Patience”? According to Numbers 31, God did not have the patience for a male child that was four day’s old. I am not impressed with a God that does not have four days worth of patience.

Mark, you seem to have very little practical knowledge of Christianity, and very little pragmatic knowledge of Christianity, you don’t want intellectual discussion, and don’t like emotional appeal—so what precisely ARE you doing here?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy discussing with theists of all stripes, and you are no different. I just can’t figure out what playing field you prefer to discuss. If all you want to do is preach—fine by me! (Not so much for others, though, so beware.) I can discuss elsewhere.

Mark said...

Dagood

little time to write, please address the points I made in the last few posts

i already really did anmswer your rebuttals in aprevious psot, and am not above talking "practically" but as i prefaced my previous discussions witn an emotional appeal, thought that would eb enough

I dont care who thinks they win debates here, my ego doesnt need it- I dont think youve read what ive wrote with much depth. We can argue scripture, as long as the context is there, but ive read so many verbal dick measuring contests in the last year its aslmost futile.

you havent reaaly addressed my emotionmal appeals-reread and consider my queries. si vu plait.

BTW- exodus accdng to OT Solomons temple accts math mid 1400 BC, but difficult given canaanite archeological evidence of invasion; Ive read mid 1300 BC more likely but this has its problems also...so yes, were not sure of the date over a range of several hundred years-NOT millenium.

Tommy said...

I don't consider myself to be angry, except when would be theocrats seek to impose tyranny on others.

It's more a sense of frustration. To Christian readers here, imagine how you would feel if you and other Christians amounted to 10% of the population and the other 90% relied on astrology and tarot cards to guide them through life. You would probably think you were one of a handful of sane people stuck in an insane asylum. You know that astrology and tarot cards are a load of bunk but there is little you can say or do to dissuade people from believing in it. That is what it feels like to be an atheist in a religious majority society.

Anonymous said...

Thats because deep inside everyone, they know there is a God. We were made that way. That is why there are so many religions in the world, even if wrong, because inside of us we know there is a God.

Shygetz said...

Calvin said:

He will do it (throw people into eternal torment) gladly as the Bible says all to His glorious Justice and I will be in heaven with a coke and a smile on my face when He does.

And that says everything that ever needs to be said about you, Calvin.

Mark:

If God removes all sin He is a monster, and not all merciful because he removed evil people from existence.

You don't have to kill evil people to eliminate sin if you are omnipotent. You can make it impossible to sin; any time you try, you feel debilitating pain. You still have the free will to try to sin, but immediate punishment as opposed to delayed punishment means that your would-be victims are spared.

If God tolerates man's sin and is merciful He is either evil or weak, as He should being God not logically be able to exist with all the sin present.

Who has argued this? This would make him merciful and forgiving, not weak and certainly not evil. And none of this even begins to address the evil that God performs himself (birth defects, earthquakes, tsunamis) that have nothing to do with free will.

These two points refute Preacher's arguments that God cant exist because of logical reasons-but the atheistic logic is incongruous and impossible to reconcile.

Saith the pot to the fluffy white pillow "Thou art black as night."

What is truly amazing is that the god of a quadrillion light year across universe can love any of us-but does.

A quadrillion light years in which direction? Someone get a telescope...

Free will is of ultimate importance-even if it meant evil would enter the universe.

Even if you accept this hypothesis as meaning that God cannot intervene in human affairs (which he apparently did with regularity anyway...why didn't he protect the Egyptians free will when they enslaved the Israelites?), this does not account for evil Acts of God.

DagoodS said...

Mark: i already really did anmswer your rebuttals in aprevious psot…

I’m sorry, Mark. I must have missed it. Now, going back through the comments, I can’t seem to find it either. Perhaps it was deleted? If you could be so kind to re-supply the information, that would be very helpful. Let’s see, in reviewing it we have:

1) Is there another site more agreeable to you as compared to SecWeb that can provide some argument, not mere assertion, that the Nazareth stone has anything to do with Jesus, or was written under Claudius?

2) Is there a difference between the Pharisees asking Pilate if they could place their own guard as compared to asking Pilate to commit an act that would result in a sentence of death for him?

3) Oh, a most important question. What is the minimum amount of time required for a legend to develop, and if something is written in less than that time, is it always true?

4) Was there something logically contradictory for my proposition of how there could be a heaven as compared to a hell?

And Christians debate over dates for Exodus over a millennium, not just centuries.

Mark: please address the points I made in the last few posts

In the words of Thomas Crown (The Thomas Crown Affair) “Now how can I seriously commit to answering your question when you cannot commit to answering mine?”

But hey, if you want a response, I’ll try and comply.

Mark: You are way, way off on just about everything you wrote of me.

Shrug. Very likely. I only know you from a few thousand words written on one very limited topic. All I can tell you is how you are coming across to me. If you do not like this impression, perhaps listen to us, rather than telling us. If you think I am wrong in this impression—what do you care?

More: The point I made which you cite as genocidal is totally out of context-my point is, if I as a fallible human can become incensed with evil, how much more can God?

Mmmm. And if I, as a human, can forgive others, how much more can God? And if I, as a human, can provide knowledge to others, how much more can God? And if I, as a human, can communicate in different ways to different humans, depending on their needs, how much more can God? And if I, as a human, would do everything within my power to prevent people from suffering both here and (presuming there was such a thing) in an afterlife, how much more can God?

See, it isn’t a question of what God can or cannot do. It is a question of how the human perceives other humans. If they perceive them as evil (such as you appear to do so), then so does their god. If they forgive others (such as I tend to do so) then so does their god. And so on.

Your point was well made. I am explaining what your point says to me about you.

More: The whole point is that God is much more long sufefring than any of us-look at the bible-God gave the Canaanites hundreds of years prior to the Isrealite invasion;Noah preached for a hundred years prior to the flood, and so on.

The God you are informing us about could only muster up a few hundred years of patience? The God of a “universe a quadrillion light years across” as you put it? The God that loved us so much he died for us? And yet after a few hundred years he tires of us? Curious.

More: You criticize Him for tolerating evil, believing if He was perfectly good He would abolish it-then turn around when He shows long suffering with His creation and declare Him impotent.

I do? Good to learn of it. (See how you inform us of what we believe? And see the puzzled look on my face ‘cause I don’t.)

No, I believe that the human notion of a “perfectly moral God” clashes with the concept of a God that can create a universe with the choice to perform moral and immoral acts, as well as the concept of a “perfectly moral God” that is unable to reign in immorality takes some ‘splaining. I read what Christians proffer. To me, it boils down to “Frankly, we don’t have a clue, either.”

Not very compelling. To me.

But I don’t criticize God for tolerating evil. For all I know, God is evil, thus his/her tolerance is quite understandable. What you don’t get is that I am convinced there is no God. I am wide open to any God there could be—deist, evil, good, perfect, flawed—you name it. But if a theist proposes a god concept that raises questions—such as a perfectly moral God that creates a world with the option to perform immoral acts—I may ask question as to how the human can explain that works.

More: Talk about a straw man.

Yep.

More: Which is it? Not good for allowing evil, or weak for not abolishing it? You argue for your own annihilation-God comes to earth to prevent it.

I have no idea what you are talking about here. I think God is weak for not abolishing it? You apparently have me confused with someone else, ‘cause I can’t make heads nor tails of this statement.

More: Talk about a straw man.

Yep.

More: For you to assume Id be laughing at people tossed in hell means you have completely missed my points, entirely. It is the diametric opposite-as it is with God.

Im not sure gleeful is a term Ive ever been described with-nor is my view of God gleeful-and if I didnt care what happened to some of you arrogant narrow minded rebels on this site I wouldnt take the time to type a word.


But you would rather terminate someone committing evil than step over an ant? What am I missing here? As you eloquently stated earlier—your position logically requires a hell in order for there to be a heaven. Without hell—no heaven. The only way you get to enjoy heaven is if we are tortured in hell.

If you are laughing in heaven, it is only because (according to your logic) we are burning in hell. As calvin, the next commentator puts it—you’ll be having a coke and a smile. If evil upsets you so much on Earth, why would it be a surprise that it equally upsets you in the after-life. I would think elimination of such evil (since no ant-stepping is required) would make you thrilled. It is, after all, the reason you think you get heaven.

More: Where have I ever called for revenge on the nonbeliever? Have you read any of my posts? Is your rebuttal to brand me another Hitler? Come on. Any theist who posts here doesnt do it for revenge, they do it precisely out of sympathy whether they admit it or not.

What else is hell but a form of revenge? A non-believer, in some way, shape or form, gets it wrong. God is angry at them for getting it wrong. Isn’t hell a result of the wrath of God? Oh, you can couch it in terms of “justice” or “righteousness” but in the end it is a human not acting the way God wants them to, and since he has the power, and it makes him angry, he throws them in hell.

I don’t seem much difference from petty revenge, frankly.

No, I don’t think you are a Hitler. What I would hope to do is say something anything that would jolt you into realizing that the words you pour out sound of venomous contempt for fellow humans. That you have little understanding of us (which is fine) and little care to understand us (which is not so fine) and that your joy in life logically requires that we are more worthy of termination than an ant to you.

And now you are not only telling atheists what they think, feel and do, but are telling other theists what they think, feel, and do. That Golden Rule thing?

More: You lost your faith-it is an unenviable, unesteemed position.

It is? Guess it depends on the person you talk to.

More: I suppose you might pat yourself on the back for your honesty in declaring it- but dont expect a flood of accolades from theists as you essentially argue from positions AS GODS that God couldnt exist.

Bwahahahahah! Yep that is me. Expecting a flood of accolades from theists.

Any day now………any day.

I am arguing from a position of a God? News to me. (And I couldn’t help but recalling that old Calvin & Hobbs cartoon. “But DagoodS was not a nice god. He was one of the Old gods. He demanded sacrifice.”)

More: Ive questioned my "gleeful" God as much as any "free thinker" here.

Really. And you used Pliny to say Jesus existed? And didn’t know the arguments about the Nazareth stone? Or the soldiers at the tomb? Or any backing of “die for a lie”? Or how many years it takes for a legend to develop?

Or the complete lack of archeological evidence? Or the millennial difference in dates for Exodus?

Are you sure you want to compare “questioning” to any person here? I might be tempted to take you up on that offer!

More: Im aware that God has many facets which demonstrate themselves at different times, and above all, that as a man I cannot have an answer for everything God does.

Oh, we aren’t asking for an answer to everything. Just the things you posit. Those are more than enough handful.

More: You have a problem with evil? Reread Job-pages and pages of nothing but a mere man being reminded he isnt God and cant know everything about God.

Problem with evil? Are you talking to me or someone else? I don’t have a problem with evil. I attempt to eliminate as many evil acts as I possibly can in myself and others. So do Christians. The “Problem of Evil” oft-referred to is NOT someone saying “Gee, I don’t have a qualm over people committing evil” it is how it exists with the person’s claim as to the development of the universe.

Being a naturalist, “problem of evil” ain’t a problem. Even being a theist it is not necessarily a problem. A theist that says their God is solely moral, yet evil exists—now we have a problem!

He he he. I wrote a blog entry on Job, too.

More: Dagood, maybe the best point about God I could have made is, be glad God ISNT like us- but to many here it seems they equate their reasoning power as equal to that of God-reminds me of someone Ive read about, who wasnt very fond of his position of subordination.

You are comparing me to Satan? Sheesh! At least you think I only compared you to Hitler! *grin*

Right, so God isn’t like us. If we have nothing to compare God to, then what can we say about God? Nothing!

You can rest easy that I do not equate my reasoning power to that of a god. First of all, I don’t have any comparison to make—no god ever challenging me to a battle of wits. Secondly there are a great number of humans that are vastly more equipped in the brains department than I am. Not too hard to image that, if other humans are smarter, a god could be as well.

But, on the other hand, my brain is the only one I have to work with. It isn’t like I get to trade it in for a new model each year. How it processes, how it is persuaded, how it retains memory, all those items combine to make my brain unique. So when I DO reason, I have no choice (*cough, cough* no free will, one could say) in the manner in which I do so. I cannot think in the ordered fashion similar to an engineer—I am not an engineer. I cannot think in imagery concepts like an artist—I am not an artist.

I gotta work with what I have. So sure, your God concept isn’t like me. He isn’t like you.

Could you live with a God that, unlike you, would not send a single soul to Hell? Which one of us, Mark, is equating their reasoning to that of a god?

More: Intersting on this site how free thinking is exalted...yet being a"free willer" is down played. You bless man's free thought, but when it comes to God's emphasis on free will? Well, thats a bad thing.

No, what we question is the Christian attempting to find some justification as to why a moral God would permit immorality. Why a loving God would not reveal himself to us. Why an awesome God can only come up with fallible humans by which to communicate his message. And Christians latch on to “free will” as if it is some sort of lifeline. That God must bend his own will and physical ability to the Supreme Being—that of FREE WILL.

But when we look at the God the Christian proposes, He sure doesn’t seem too bent of shape in preserving free will. Just a minor list of people to whom God did not provide free will—Adam, Eve, all the people in the flood, all the people at tower of Babe, Abraham, Moses, Pharaoh, Joshua, Saul, David, the Pharisees, the Blind man, and Saul/Paul.

What we cannot help wonder is if the Christian is talking about of both sides of their mouth. (Sorry.) At one instance, we are told that God must be subordinate to the almighty FREE WILL, yet in the next, we are told God is Sovereign and he can do what he wants, unless it violates his character, or is unjust, or is untruthful.

Being a free-thinker AND/OR a free-willer is fine with me. Not sure how that is “down played.” But as an excuse for a God that you admit is nothing like anything we know, including free will we observe—well…not very convincing, that.

Now. I addressed every single line in your comment to me. Even without my previous questions answered.

Mark said...

Dagood

Forgive any brevity tonight in relation to the time you spent posting, im beat.


1) I have never in any study come across anyone who posited an Exodus outside of 1440 BC through 1250 BC. Im sure youve read Kitchen and others. It would seem we may have to wait for more archaeological info before firmly agreeing on a date, but then again, whenever a biblical passage is dipsuted with subsequentr corroboaration archaeologically that usually doesnt bode well for the atheist camp. For now, all the facts Ive studies agree on a 200-300 year window.

Regarding the nazareth stone, the truth is, if it never existed would have no bearing on my beliefs at all, and the article you mentioned really didnt do much to affirm either one of our cases. The main point is, nothing on the stone would have precluded the jews from identifying the body.

As far as Matthew and the guard story-there is no basis at all for you to conclude this would have meant death for pilate.You argue the guards were tmeple guards-but why would the leaders have had to bribe Pilate if the guards werent Romans? Because sleepingon a watch got you burnt alive with a sword in the back. You believe Matthews account spurious with no reasoning for this whatsoever-I am more inclined to agree with scripture agreed upon 2000 yrs ago than a perosnal opinion. There is no reason whatsoever a roman procurator would face death for having aguard placed-to keep the peace at Passsover no less.

what else- heaven and hell and logic. It seems logical to me thet God would have to do somehting about where his creations would spend eternity. Your own free will as well as the other atheists here is easily obliged as I am sure hell is essentially a place where God's presence is no longer felt. None of you care about going to hell, thats okay. Nobody is cheering you on from heaven or laughing, its just a chouice you make which God allows. The thing is, what will it like to be separated from God, who still operates i the world today although you disbelieve. my money is that it wont be a fun place to be, but I think youll agree, it will be fair for you to end up there after death-right?

Am I not correctin saying that you would find it just to be separated from God after death?

The rest of the issues could be debated forever, I doubt youll see my views however heated the discussion gets.

Suffice it to say, Dagood, you are a mere man as am I, and all the arguments in the world will never approximate the wisdom of God, howver much men judge him, criticize him, deny him. If you ever acquire divine attributes let me know, as until then, the fact you can choke and die on a piece of meat or slip and break your neck makes your higher criticism of God meaningless and almost a joke.

Lord Timothy said...

Most atheists I have experienced online, or elsewhere rant and rant about all the evil done in the name of religion. (conveniently forgetting about all the evil done and wars justified in the name of science)Many (the vocal ones at least) conclude that all religions should be done away with, etc. ect. That possibly may lead non-atheists to conclude that atheists are angry. Possibly this along with ideas that God is good etc. etc. so if you are against God, then it means you must have some personal problem.

DagoodS said...

Mark,

At this point, I am probably beating a dead horse. But in the remote chance a lurker is still interested, I will wrap up the few straggling ends.

First, I notice that again you did not provide any minimal amount of time required for a legend to develop. After asking repeatedly, I will presume no answer will be forthcoming.

Second, I am glad, if nothing else, you learned within our discussion that Christians debate over a period of more than 1000 years as to when Exodus occurred.

Not sure much more can be said on the Nazareth Stone. Now you say:

Mark: The main point is, nothing on the stone would have precluded the jews from identifying the body.

But when you first mentioned the Nazareth Stone you said:

Mark: Especially interesting was the epigraphy in a Nazareth cemetery mandating death penalty for exhuming graves, care of Claudius Caesar.

If it would be a death penalty for the Pharisees to exhume the body, doesn’t that preclude them from identifying the body? Your two statements don’t seem to jive.

Guards

Mark: Because sleepingon a watch got you burnt alive with a sword in the back.

Ah. McDowell has let you down again. He obtains this information from Middoth i. 2. Unfortunately, no Christian ever bothers to actually read what that states. Go google it. Read it. See where it says that sleeping on duty resulted in a beating and one’s uniform burnt, not the person themselves.

Mark: You believe Matthews account spurious with no reasoning for this whatsoever-I am more inclined to agree with scripture agreed upon 2000 yrs ago than a perosnal opinion.

Actually, I have quite a bit of reasoning here: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/04/one-of-many-problems.html

If you’re really interested…

Mark: As far as Matthew and the guard story-there is no basis at all for you to conclude this would have meant death for pilate.

Apparently I was not clear. Originally you pointed out that the Nazareth Stone prescribed the death penalty for anyone exhuming bodies from graves. I agreed with you. You also stated that the Pharisees could have bribed or requested Pilate to violate the edict of the Nazareth Stone. Here I disagreed.

For Pilate to go against a decree from Caesar, without permission from Caesar, in which death was the penalty—he would have received the Death penalty. He wouldn’t do it.

Further, Matthew records that Pilate was not even inclined to give the Pharisees a guard—he told them to use their own. My point was that if Pilate would not even give them a guard, it is even less likely he would do an act which would result in the death penalty for them.

I didn’t mean to imply that Pilate giving them a guard would mean the death penalty. Violating the Nazareth Stone, as you brought up, would. Pilate did neither.

Mark: Am I not correctin saying that you would find it just to be separated from God after death?

Thank you, Mark, for asking me what I think, rather than telling me what I think. It makes the discussion much more pleasant.

Frankly, haven’t a clue. In order of me to find it “just” I would first have to know what the law is, that God is following, and secondly would have to know whether God was following it. Since the knowledge of neither, as you aptly point out, is available to us, mere humans, any speculation on this point is simply guesswork.

See, that’s the problem with complaining that we, as humans, can’t know anything about God. That undercuts any statement you say about him as well. If I can’t know, neither can you.

For all I know if there was a judgment day, God would point out the situation and I would say, “Well what do you know. Justice in action.” OR God would point out the situation, and I would say, “Hey, that is not justice at all!” Would it matter? Either way, God has the bigger stick.

Again, you are asking me what I consider a mythical creature would do in a mythical situation, with facts even those who believe it to be real cannot verify. Far too nebulous for me to say what a God can or cannot do, and why. (Yet curiously, those of us who say we don’t know what God would do are considered “arrogant” and “attempting to be like God” and those who speak with thunderous proclamations as to what God MUST do are not. Crazy, mixed-up world, this.)

Mark: If you ever acquire divine attributes let me know, as until then, the fact you can choke and die on a piece of meat or slip and break your neck makes your higher criticism of God meaningless and almost a joke.

*Chuckle* Why is it that I am starting to get the impression it is me you visualize when I asked who you considered the least likely candidate for entering heaven?

Mark said...

Dagood

nazareht stone issue=i remain uncompelled by the article you posted. you use it to argue nobody would have found jesus' body while omitting the reason it would have come from nazareth it the first place.such a decree would have applied to the "people of the land" and not roman procurators. either way,the stone isnt pivotal for me i any sense

legend=3 or 4 generatins minimum. If Paul wrote 15 yrs after resurrection followed by gospels in less time there simpoly wasnt enough time for this to occur. accdng to NT Paul spoke with James, Peter soon after his experience on road to damascus-legend not in play at all here-either way, risen Christ not legend


i dont know where you learned math- if exodus either mid 1400 bc or mid 200 bc, that leave a gap of at most a couple hundred years, not a millenium-unless you dug up some radical "Christian" historian

i find none of your statements about matthews reports compelling...my udnerstanding of roman law was that guards who slept on wtahc were killed...read tacitus to find many, many other ways for which death was the ruslt of roman soldiers' derelitciton

i find no reason to assume pilate would have his hands tied from examinign a tomb and squashing a new religion from uprising ande further destabilizing judea-the empereor wouldnbt either-consider the fact that today our leaders are held to other laws than civilians,many examples

josh mcdowell isnt the only christina writer out there, dagood-you seem fixated on him

go to the hell threads to read my views there as well as thos eof the other atheist gods on this site

you like to debate and enjoy a bit of arrogance, its okay with me, but the reason i favor fewer debates philosophically here is because at least at the present, absolute evidential proof of god doesnt exist-and it seems atheists ehre neeed a one on one with the almighty to believe. I think it better to avoid philosophy to a degree as when you die and face God, you ceertainly wont be trying to impress him with an argument from your human reason-what a humorous thought-itll be one of emotional appeal

Shygetz said...

Mark said:

legend=3 or 4 generatins minimum.

I strenuously disagree with this statement.

Tommy said...

Son of a beast! I posted a big response and then it got lost because of some kind of error message. Sheeeiiiite!

Okay, let's try it again.

Christians, answer me this if you will. Any historian will tell you that the writings of ancient historians such as Herodotus, Plutarch, Tacitus and others cannot be taken as 100% literal truth. The writers relied often on what others told them about events the writers did not themselves witness. The historians themselves had certain biases and wrote their works to promote a certain point of view or ideology. The sources they relied on, even written, were not themselves 100% accurate. You have to remember, there was no internet back then, or public libraries either that were readily accessible. Oftentimes, ancient historians invented scenes or dialogues to illustrate an aspect of a certain historical figure either in a positive or negative light. Think of the legend, believed to be based on a falsehood, that Nero fiddle while Rome burned.

Given that, why should we believe that the Bible is 100% accurate? How do we know that the dialogue between the tomb guards was not invented by the author of Matthew to illustrate how he thought the guards would have reacted to an empty tomb?

Then there is the story of Jesus in the desert for 40 days being tempted by the devil. There was no one there with Jesus and the devil, so how can we be sure it really happened? Granted, it is possible that Jesus was sitting around the fire one night with his disciples and told them "I was once out in the desert with the devil for 40 days and nights, and it kind of went like this..."

Then we have the Sermon on the Mount. It is quite a lengthy section in each of the Gospels (except for John, I think). It is inconceivable that someone could remember with 100% word for word accuracy what Jesus spoke on the hill top. Are we to believe that Jesus had a stenographer with him on his perambulations throughout the Galilee? It is possible I supposed that the Sermon was Jesus's stump speech and that he gave it many times before, and that some of Jesus followers were familiar with it, but the Bible does not tells us if Jesus gave this sermon more than once.

Another example is the story of the unborn John the Baptist leaping for joy in the womb of his mother as she came near to Mary carrying the unborn Jesus. If such a scene happened at all, it was likely nothing more than an unborn child kicking his mother. Heck, my wife was kicked all the time when she was carrying our children. So it is quite a bit of poetic license for a writer to claim that fetus John felt a sense of joy being near fetus Jesus.

Granted, this is not proof that none of the things in the Gospels happened, but it should demonstrate why it is reasonable for any clear thinking person to be skeptical of all that is written in the Gospels.

One other thing, for an example of a religion that became established very quickly that worshipped someone who likely did not exist in real life, just Google John Frum Cargo Cult.

Mark said...

Tommy

You seem to consider the same things I do-we cna all be free thinkers.

Atheists would love to throw out the whole NT as unreliable...and it seems any nonChristian refernces to Christ as well-bbut they know thta doing this invalidates all classical literature, and theyd get embarassed in a debate there. Just because miracles are part of the NT does nOT make it an unhistorical document. Try reading the pagan references about 1st century Vhristians...Pliny, lucius, tacitus, josephus, suetonius, claudius-very interesting reads.

Had the gospel writers or Matthew invented anyhting, it would have been shown up as false quicjly, Recall-nobody questioned the gospel accts-except for a later developin myth Mary was impregnated out of wedlock by Pantera, a Roman soldier, which is patently false.


40 days temptation record-either Jesus passed this along or the writers received the holy spirit for remmbrance.

Your point on how the writers would have recalled all that was said is I think a good one, Ive thought about this recently also. There is much In john which is flowing-it appears on the surface to be too much to recall from hearing the first time. my inital impression is the writers were inspired by God when writing the gospels and recalled-but youre the first person whose ever brought this up, Ive not seen it addressed by atheist or believer. I will until further educated default to the hand of God, that or the disdciples had a quick pen or supernatural memories.

Tommy said...

Yes, but Mark, if we are supposed to believe that whomever wrote the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospels was remembering what Jesus said with 100% word for word accuracy, then we should expect then that all of the Gospels would be in complete agreement with the genealogies presented for Jesus to identify him as descended from King David, or which women visited the tomb of Jesus and so forth.

Secondly, how could anyone have "proven" the Gospels false say in the 2nd century A.D. Take people hearing the message in the Balkans or even Gaul. Most people had not the means to journey to Judea to investigate the claims of Christianity for themselves. You have to remember travel back then was a hazardous and time consuming business. And even if someone from Gaul could travel to Judea in the 2nd century A.D., what could he have hoped to have found? In the time between then and when Jesus supposedly lived, there were to Romano-Jewish Wars, many of the Jews scattered abroad, their cities and records destroyed. Even someone trying to write the Gospels in a post 70 A.D. environment would have been hard put to find the guards who allegedly guarded the tomb of Jesus or the shepherds recorded in Luke who gathered outside the manger in Bethlehem and heard an angel speak to them.

Tommy said...

Sorry, I left out a portion. What I meant was that if someone remembered the Sermon on the Mount with 100% accuracy because of the hand of God or some aid from the Holy Spirit, then we should expect that the Gospels would all be in accordance with the other things I mentioned.

Mark said...

We all may have preferred for God to have hand written the books of the bible, but as we know men wrote, with their own styles, contects, cultural influences, etc. Tradition heolds Matthew got the generology from Joseph, Luke from Mary hence the differences...Matthews aims were different, he grouped his geneologies, etc etc.

The resurrection narratives differ only depending on what was reported-none of the accounts are fully exhaustive, but hey dont contradict. Ive written before also, if youre going to knwingly lie about an event, you dont have women as eyewitnesses either, which adds to the strength of the narratives. Why write to the world you were cowards, and ran? Why have women as the first eyewitnesses?

If aguy had traveled to Gaul and broguht a false gospel, yes, the distances involved would have made it harder to checl o what was said...but ther you have to explain why someone would intentionally promulgate a doctrine they knew in advance was a lie. Tradiiton ahs the apostles dying for the faith...would you die for a known lie?

The truth is, everyone agreed on an empty tomb, and fifty days later you had disciples preaching the resurrection...15 yrs later Paul writes of his visioon of Jesus and mentions the resurrection, and appearances to 500 people-and not an ounce of debate over the veracity of his statements from any camp. The religion spread like wildfire throughout the hellenized world, very quickly.

Now, either Paul and the disciples were vile liars and have tricked the world, or Jesus was risen and witnessed and the belief developed into what it is today. Even the Talmud records Jesus worked sorcery-they just ascribed it to the devil/magic.

Historians adhere to principles, one of which is, trust the author until there is reason not to. You cant throw out the NT jsut because miracles are a part of them.

Tommy said...

I never said that the entire NT should be thrown out in their entirety. As I wrote above (I think it was this thread) that one can cast doubt on portions of the Gospel and yet there could still have been a man called Jesus who preached in Galilee and was crucified in Jerusalem.

Again, google John Frum Cargo Cult to see how a religion can spring up quickly based on a person who likely never existed. It does not disprove the existence of Jesus, but does support the argument that he did not. But personally, I do not have an emotional investment as to whether Jesus really existed.

As for the Disciples dying for a lie, that assumes that they really did die for their beliefs. Many of them may have died natural deaths. But you leave out the possibility that they could have been deluded people who thought they were dying for what they believed to be true. Take the Heavens Gate cultists for example. Apparently they returned the telescope they bought because they could not see the space ship that was supposed to be trailing the Hale Bopp comet and assumed it was the telescope that was defective, not their beliefs.

Here is my theory about Christianity Mark. It spread to non-Jews because it was a failure with the Jews. The early Christians did not want their religion to die out, and since they were not making headway among their Jewish brethern, their only alternative was to seek out Gentiles. It is interesting that the faith had better success spreading further and further from its alleged point of origin.

If one of the genealogies was derived from what Mary told them, then why don't we know more about Jesus before he began to preach? If we assume that Mary lived for some 20 or more years after Jesus died, then surely she would have regaled audiences with remembrances of Jesus at age 6, at age 12, or as a headstrong 18 year old on the cusp of adulthood.

Rich said...

No dagoods I didn't think you would butter me up without taking a bite. I certainly give you what you are saying, that we have about as many manifestations of God as we do humans. And yes, since you put it that way, I can see how that is reflective of the person. Did I invent this God I believe or did I mold myself to be this Rich you see because of what I believe about God?
I have to ask myself the same question. I am out of time now, but I will be back tomorrow maybe with more. Depends on the lurkers.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Mark: I'll get more involved in this one later, but I have to mention this -- I discussed it further in another thread. The crucifixion narratives do differ *ahem* slightly. Matthew has a whole bunch of dead people waking up during the Crucifixion and, after the resurrection, walking around Jerusalem where they were seen by many. He also has an earthquake happening. Okay, maybe Mark and Luke wouldn't mention the earthquake, but the march of the walking dead? I think this might have gotten a mention, if it happened. And Matthew says it did.

DagoodS said...

Rich,

I chuckled after your comment. “Turn-about is fair play.” THAT will teach me to send you bite after buttering up. Your question started to bake my noodle. Guess I deserved that, huh?

Rich: Did I invent this God I believe or did I mold myself to be this Rich you see because of what I believe about God?

I have contemplated this and contemplated it. And have no easy answer. For once I find the fact that I cannot make my mind be persuaded there is a god is controlling my bias. It is too easy to fall into the thought, “Since there is no god, each person is molding God into their own worldview.” I cannot seem to make the leap into “But what if there IS a God…would a person be molded into that God?”

It is a bit of the chicken and egg—which came first.

All I can do is share some passing thoughts in the matter.

We see couples that start to exhibit traits of the other. The fact that they both chuckle at puns—was that something she did first, or him? Or both? But in that situation, we have a tool available to us that we do not with God—we can communicate. I can ask the couple, I can ask their friends; I can ask their relatives. I can trace their history.

If I really wanted to, I could research and make this determination. We don’t have that ability with God. No communication. No research. No way to say, “But what do you think, God?”

That effectively eliminates my ability to determine whether Rich is becoming like God, or God is becoming like Rich—how can I tell?

As I read your comments, I know my Bible well enough, that I could point out passages that would support Rich’s God. I could also point out some passages that you would need to struggle with to justify this God of yours. Equally, I could point out passages that would support Mark’s God. And some that he might have to struggle with.

Thus the problem with the Bible. Having been written by so many different authors, it provides different flavors of God. Each supported; each problematic.

I would safely bet, Rich, if you had an opportunity to talk to God, and learn what the requirements are for entry into Heaven, what it takes to be in Hell, and what God expects of you—you would jump at the chance. We all would. It is NOT a situation where you “want” God to be a certain way, I would suspect what you want is truth. If you learned God sent all red-heads to hell—so be it. While it may not sit well, it is the knowing that is key.

It is the same thing we want.

Yet, without that ability, you have no choice but to utilize your own conscience, your own experience and your own life to hope that the God you believe in is close to what is most comfortable to you. We all do. It is human nature.

Imagine we meet for the first time at a restaurant—you and I. When the menus come, I get an important phone call and say, “I have to take this—order for me, will ya?” What do you order? Doubtful you venture into some “flaming hog’s balls” territory. You retreat to something safe—salad with the house dressing (on the side), some standard beef product and baked potato. Something you would like as well. What are the chances you would order me something YOU don’t like? Not very likely.

Why? Because you have no communication. You don’t know. Isn’t it the same with God? We retreat to the most innocuous, bland description out of lack of information. We naturally presume that since we love the bad guy getting it in the end—so does God. We like the guy to get the girl—so does God. We like chocolate ice cream—so does God.

Doesn’t the lack of feedback from God necessarily result in humans creating God in their own image—we have no choice?

Anyway, thanks for baking my noodle. That’ll teach me!

Rich said...

"Your question started to bake my noodle. Guess I deserved that, huh?"

AH HA! Now we're getting somewhere. hehehe
Really though it is true, chicken and the egg is a good comparison I think. It's where a difference creeps in as to ones bias. I believe, therefore for me it's the latter, you don't believe, therefore for you it's the first.

"We don’t have that ability with God. No communication. No research. No way to say, “But what do you think, God?”"

To a certain extent I agree here. While the communication isn't comparable to someone talking face to face with you, I believe we have a path of communication, prayer. Now I know that isn't a very good answer for many, and many even those who believe in prayer don't see it as communicating with God in the same sense I do, at least I get that impression and I could be wrong, it has happened before. The research we are left with is the bible, not real effective since, well look where we're at with that. But I believe in other scripture, which supports my "Godview". It doesn't replace the bible nor make the bible secondary to this scripture, but it is there for the purpose of supporting the bible, being another testament of Christ, Old-New-Other. I believe prayer is our tool to communicate with God, by telling him about things much the way you would a father or spouse. The other side of the communication is different then we are use to but I believe we can get answers. My method, I know how you like methods;), is to study something out, make a decision, and then talk it over with God(pray), then be open to the answer of wether I have come to the right conclusion. You can be told no. It's a role the Holy Ghost plays in the Godhead, confirming truth, and you have to be doing your best to live right so you can recieve the witness of truth from Him. I should also point out that my direction is to try to be Christlike, so molding Rich into as close to Christlike as I can.

"I would suspect what you want is truth. If you learned God sent all red-heads to hell—so be it. While it may not sit well, it is the knowing that is key."

Exactly, we all want the truth, that is what we seek. I see you as a person who is seeking for truth, you've come to disbelieve in God for many reasons, but you continue to read the bible and try to work out what is truth and what isn't. And yes there things that don't sit well with me, even with the bad guy getting it in the end. we cheer in the movies, but then that is fantasy. When we talk about real bad guys getting it in the end, we start to get a little qweezy with justice. Death penalty, we don't like it, sure that guy brutally killed several people, but kill him hmmm I just don't know. Child abusers, God says it would be better if a mountain fell on them then to face his justice. Criminals in prison don't take kindly to child abusers, we have little sympathy for them, but not as many balk at the "justice" they recieve. I don't it's a crazy thing, and drives you bazerk to think about everything(noodle baking).

Oh just an end note, because of the little I know of you, and because I tend to be a smart ass, I would go right for the flaming hog balls with extra del scorcho sauce and rice pilaf, house salad blue cheese(maybe you actually like it), Fried octopus apetizer, small milk so I could sit across the table and yell " now you know about burning in hell!! change you heathen!!"
Or we could go to an Italian place where I could order you lasagna, baked noodle;)

PS. My word verification has why in it, now that's funny

Anonymous said...

im interested to know, are you actually an athiest or are you a fellow agnostic sceptical of religious movements genuine motives?

John W. Loftus said...

I am truly an atheist.

Erika said...

I just want to remind everyone who says "every athiest I see online is an angry jerk" or "every Christian I see online is an angry jerk" that most of the people you see on the internet act like angry jerks.

richdurrant said...

Testing 123.....

Father Gregory said...

From your masthead I am confused. You say first that you are debunking Evangelical Christianity; then that it is Christianity you are debunking. This could be because either:-
(1) In your view Evangelicalism and Christianity are synonymous.
(2) Or this is a typographical omission.
(3) Or that Evangelicalism is your real target .... but in that case, which sort?

Finally .... do you know ANYTHING about the distinctive position(s) of the Orthodox Church or is this just an indiscriminate salvo?

Once again I am disturbed to see a somewhat unscientific lack of precision in your terminology and arguments.

Finally, if it could be shown that there are Christians who dispute NOTHING in the realm of science except to disallow ANY religious / anti-religious comments on the grounds of erroneous categorisation what would be your response?

John W. Loftus said...

Father, Thanks for visiting us and for taking the time to comment. We appreciate thoughtful responses. We learn from them.

As a former Catholic and later in life Evangelical, I consider Evangelical Christianity to have the best chance to be correct about Christianity as a whole. It conforms to the Bible the most, although, no Christian group does as a whole. You are sure to disagree. I sure wish Christians could settle once and for all who is a Christian, so that I don't have to decide as an outsider.

Besides, there are sure to be things we say in response to one brand of Christianity that puts the others in a defensive corner as well.

My response to your question would be a question. What would you do if science showed we have the remains of the body of Jesus?

Father Gregory said...

Then I would believe it and cease to be a Christian.

Your assertion that Evangelicalism has the best claim because it conforms to the Bible the most assumes that:-

(1) There is such a thing as "biblical Christianity."
(2) That authority in the Church is "Sola Scriptura."

However, since these are the tenets of Evangelicalism itself, I can only conclude that your arguments are circular. By retaining them AND rejecting Evangelicalism as you have defined it, it is hardly surprising that you have (apparently) rejected Christianity. However, oranges are not the only fruit.

Father Gregory said...

Sorry, I forgot ... who is and who isn't a Christian ... and I suppose how and why?

Orthodox Christianity claims to be the most unadulterated form. There are empirically verifiable and falsifiable tests for that. However, this applies to "Christianity." Who is and who isn't a "Christian" can only be answered by a humble shrug. God knows, no human. It's a rather pointless, even misleading question.

BTW, the claim about Orthodoxy is no more than the claim of neo-Darwinians over Lamarck. It is not a matter for assertion but justification in the light of evidence ... albeit the empiricism has a quite different character.

John W. Loftus said...

Regardless Father, don't you think what I wrote here applies to a great many brands of Christianity?

Father Gregory said...

This is going to have to be brief John because in GMT-UK land I am going to bed!

The issues raised by Nicaea and Chalcedon in relation to the apostolic testimony may only be understood ... let alone addressed in respect of new questions by integrating the patristic context in which they are set. I don't (sadly) see many non-Orthodox Christians and Churches doing that ... so, yes, you are correct. Nonsense abounds. I do not have the time or wakefulness for now to deal with what is nonsense and what is sense. I should oike to take this further .... but perhaps privately. orthodox@clara.net

ComputerGuyCJ said...

Greetings fellow humans,

I am an ex-Christian as of January 2007. I can confess that I was quite angry at the beginning of my de-conversion for one simple reason - I still believed in God. I couldn't understand why he refused to reveal himself to me after more than 20 years of serving and loving him. I didn't understand why, at a time of great need, he wasn't there for me. Once I realized that he wasn't there because he doesn't exist, then the anger began to subside. I am extremely relieved to know that this person that I could never be good enough for is just a fairytale.

Since then I've noticed that I am actually less angry in my everyday life than I was while I was a Christian. I still do get angry about injustice though, and now I see even more injustice in the world now that I see Christianity for the evil that it is. I also get angry with stubborn people who have diarrhea of the mouth and refuse to listen to even an ounce of reason.

What I don't get angry about that I used to when I was a Christian: red lights, rude drivers, coffee that's too hot, gays and lesbians, and a whole lot of other things that don't make any difference in the world. This life is too short to be the cranky person I was.

John W. Loftus said...

Glad to hear from you ComputerGuy!

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is, Christians or atheists, we're all gambling with our lives:

In the end, if atheists are proven to be right, the Christians lose nothing. (Perhaps only their wasted time in their devotion to their God.)

But if the Christians are proven right, then my atheist friends, you lose everything!

I am not willing to take that risk with my life and eternity.

John W. Loftus said...

Anonymous, you've just repeated Pascal's Wager. Look the link over.

Michael said...

Wow. After being a lurker here and at Ebonmuse and Daylight Atheism, I have decided to post something. Here is how it happened. I have been in and out of church all my life. I have had problems with my faith all my life. One day, my friend and I were discussing Lord, liar or lunatic and I was regurgitating what I had read in "More Than a Carpenter" and "Mere Christianity." Then we discussed it whether those arguments were valid.

While searching on the internet one day, I decided I would Google reviews of "Mere Christianity." I decided to click a review by a site called Ebonmuse. As a so called liberal, lukewarm Christian I felt that he easily debunked many if not all of the arguments Lewis made. I have not let go of my faith in God. When I pray, albeit infrequently, I think I am addressing Jesus.

He is the main problem I have with my own faith. BELIEF. What is the purpose of belief. Whether or not I believed that Jesus was the son of God and paid for my sins would not change the fact that he did or didn't do it. So if he has paid the price, why does my belief change my salvation.
So because of my wavering belief or lack thereof I am as some would say "Luke Warm." According to the Bible I would go to Hell. I honestly struggle with the concept of Hell. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

I have read that we are all Sinners. That Jesus was crucified for sinners. Those two statements make sense if they are true. What doesn't make sense is by doubting the truthfulness of it or questioning it takes away from the gift of it. I still call myself a Christian.

I honestly do not want to live in a world without God. I just wonder if I had been born a Jew or a Muslim whether or not I would have as much trouble letting go of those faiths. I mean Muslims think that I am going to Hell. I guess so would some Fundamentalist Christians.

To this I say I can only ABSOLUTELY believe on something that I am ABSOLUTELY sure of. I think that paradox is obvious.

John W. Loftus said...

Michael, I agree with you about questioning why belief should make a difference to God. As for other things I think I've written about several of your questions in the sidebar under "John's Key Posts." Check them out.

Thanks for visiting.

goprairie said...

I came to FAQ to see if the purpose if this site is defined, and this question caught my eye. Am I an angry atheist? Yes, sometimes. I am angry when people use the term 'good Christian' to describe someone who has done a charitable act. As if they are synonyms and to be non-Christian excludes one being good. I was angry after 9-11 when 'good' people wanted to use the acts of a few extreme fundamentalist Muslims to discriminate against all Muslims and declare it a violent religion in spite of the violence in the Christian Bible and of past Christians. I get angry when my Fundamentalist Christian friend sends email to a big list of people, trying to get us to fear and hate Muslims because they are going to take over our country. I get angry when he does not see that the way Fundamentalists want to have school prayer and education about Creationism and ten commandments at the court house threat freedom just as much as ivolvement of Islam in government in other countries. I get angry at the constant threats to the separation of church and state as evidenced by Illinois' new "Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act" that in my child's school is impelemented by standing for a moment of silence before the pledge of allegiance, which also contains reference to God. I get angry when I have to hide my religios leanings because it creates such an 'issue' and such disapproval. I get angry with the stereotypes about what atheism means. I get angry when people tell me I am doing the wrong thing, roughly equated to child abuse, by not raising my kids in a faith. I get angry when people tell me that as I 'mature', I will 'come back' to Christianity, as though at 49, I am still in the throes of teenage rebellion and will get over it. Yeah, I guess a couple times a day, I am mildly annoyed at something related to the fact that I am a member of a misuderstood minority. And I guess a couple times a week, I am hugely annoyed at some discrimination against me specifically or when some threat to separation of church and state comes up. And I guess sometimes, when Christianity is used to be mean to Muslims or gays or any of a multitude of others that Christians are taught to hate, I do get a little angry at that. I get the feeling you are trying to debunk the 'myth' that atheists are angry, and well, I AM on occasion, very angry because of the way I and others are treated because I am an atherist or treated by Christians. Sorry. But I am not angry because *I* am atheist; I am angry because others will not let me be. I love being an atheist and looking to science and other people and myself for answers. I just wish there was more tolerance for it and more assurance that I will always be free to be atheist.

John said...

Anyone who has been fed a diet of lies since childhood, and then wakes up to that fact, has a fair right to be angry. notice i don't say what those lies are; they vary by country...YOU STOLE MY MIND AND MY LIFE FOR YEARS.

Refinnej said...

hey, only just came across your site. Doubt you'll ever read this, but as someone who believes in God, and loves the idea of 'following Jesus' (I have come to very much dislike the term Christian) I actually agree with much of what I've read here. I'm young, I'm still searching through my beliefs and very open minded to other points of view. I am by no means brain washed, but loving searching my way through this huge expanse of stuff that has most definitely been an interesting tangent of the last 3years of my life. Will definitely continue to search through your blog, i think you've got some amazing points. And I love your communication style-I think I can relate to it rather well! anyways, thanks, and keep up the chat.