Why I Left Christianity

While I was quite young my mother began taking me and my other siblings to an inner city Southern Baptist mission. At the age of twelve I went to a religious summer camp by invitation of one of my Junior High school teachers. It was at this camp that I “accepted” Christ and first professed Christianity. I continued attending the Baptist mission until I was 17 when I realized that I was not living the Christian life that I professed. I then dedicated my life to being a consistent Christian and became intensely interested in theology.

At this early stage of my life I went through a number of theological changes and transitions. I moved from dispensationalism to amillennialism, Arminianism to Calvinism and embraced the tenets of Landmarkism. For those interested Landmarkism is a branch of the Baptist family that sees itself as the true heirs not only of the Baptist faith, but of the apostolic faith. Landmarkism and Landmarkers believe they can trace their churches back through the centuries of Christian history back to the apostles. They call it Baptist Church Succession or chain link successionism. This viewpoint was popular among Baptists of the 19th century but has many holdovers still today.

I was with the Landmark Baptists for about 20 years and even created a website dedicated to defending the basic ideas of Calvinistic Landmarkism. During this time my theological views continued to develop and change. My views of the church (and Landmarkism in general) began to moderate, so for example, I came to reject the chain link succession view and instead I embraced the concept of a “spiritual kinship.” I also rejected tithing which is very popular among most Baptists of all types. Although many of my theological views tended to moderate, some on the other hand became more hardened such as my Calvinism. I found the concepts preached by the Protestant Reformed Church and Gordon Clark very interesting and couldn’t deny their logic. I was drawn to their double predestinarianism, superlapsarianism, denial of the free offer of the gospel, and their emphasis on rationality and reasoning.

Although I remained with the Landmarkers for 20 years it was during the last two to three of those years that I came to fully reject their views. Instead I embraced “house church” theology and ecclesiology as I found it to be very scriptural and aligned very well with the way many scholars conceived of the early church. The problem for me was that I could not find any house churches in my area that were Calvinistic as most were typically Arminian and Charismatic.

Around the year 2000 I had found a strong Calvinistc group that met in my area where the guy pastoring the group was sympathetic to many of the house church concepts. After some reluctance I finally visited the group and then joined them and remained with them for over 8 years. The thing that sets this group apart from the ones that I had been in contact with in the past was their emphasis on the work of Christ (understood from a strictly Calvinistic perspective) and the doctrine of Justification by imputed righteousness. For them these were the heart of the gospel message so much so that they denied a person was truly a Christian if they did not hold to them. They had no problem with the idea that all Arminians were lost and even traced their “true” conversion to the Christian faith to when they embraced these views. Any religious faith before then was defined as false religion holding to a false gospel. And yes, I did embrace these viewpoints as well because they made sense to me. Oddly enough it was during my time with this group that I also embraced evangelical egalitarianism.

This should give you enough information about my theological background to give you an idea of where I came from and the direction of where I was headed.

One of the things that I have always been very interested in since I first became theologically aware was Christian apologetics. I have read numerous books on different topics from young earth creationism, to the inerrancy and reliability of the Bible, to the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ.

About two years ago I was studying a number of related topics: the historicity of the Old Testament, the creation account in Genesis, and the age of the cosmos. It was during these studies that the evidence for an ancient earth became so strong that I could no longer deny it. Of course this led to a number of questions related to Genesis, the flood, Adam and Eve, and creation and evolution. Having been taught young earth creationism all of my life this was quite shocking to me. This led to my restudying the historicity of the Old Testament, especially the early chapters of Genesis, and this in turn opened the whole question of biological origins. These studies and four books in particular are what led to my rejection of the Christian faith.

These four books changed my whole perspective on the Bible and biological origins so I want to briefly mention each one and some of the arguments that they contain. All are written by evangelical Christians who still hold to some form of conservative Christianity.

The first of the books was Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. Much of what Enns is saying corresponds to a lot of what other Old Testament scholars like Paul Seeley have been writing about: in order to understand the Old Testament we need to understand its background. The literature of the ancient near east has a huge impact on understanding and interpreting the Old Testament whether we are talking about the creation account, the Noahic flood, or the wisdom, or prophetic literature. There is also the amount of theological diversity within the Old Testament that can be found between the different authors, books, and time periods that are often contradictory. There is also the issue of how the New Testament authors understand and interpret the Old Testament using first century Jewish hermeneutical principles that we would reject today.

The next book that had a major impact on my thinking was Coming to Peace with Science by Darrel R. Falk. This is the first pro-evolution book that I had ever read and once I finished it I was thoroughly convinced. Evolution is not what most Christians make it to be and the evidence for it is overwhelming. Some of the things that Falk brings up include the evidence for an ancient universe that can be accurately measured using radiometric dating. I had always been taught to not trust this dating method but Falk shows that we can indeed believe its results. The distribution of fossils in the fossil record corresponds to the evolution of life, from single celled organism, to multicellular life, to the vast array of life forms that we see today. There is the evidence of organisms with transitional features such as Pakicetus and Archaeopyeryx and the various fossil series such as the whale and the horse series. There is also the evidence from the geographical distribution of life and DNA. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Another book that clinched it for me in favor of evolution was Stephen Godfrey and Christopher Smith’s book Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology, and Biblical Interpretation. What Falk did for biology, these guys do for paleontology. The evidence of fossil footprints and various other types of trace fossils at various levels of sediment blow “flood geology” out of the water. The natural history of life that is recorded in the sediments is easily explained by evolution, but cannot be done by any form of creationism.

The fourth book was God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship by Kenton Sparks. By the time that I read this one I had already rejected inerrancy and was looking for a way to still hold to the Bible as some form of God’s word. Sparks does want to maintain the inspiration of the Bible but most evangelicals would not agree with his explanation and besides the evidence he brings forth is just too overwhelming against it. It is simply a fact that most evangelical scholars do not deal seriously with biblical criticism and Sparks calls them on the carpet over and over again. Some of these critical problems include the close similarity of the ancient near eastern literature with the Old Testament which needs to be adequately assimilated by evangelical scholarship. There are serious problems with the Pentateuch such as authorship (it is pretty much a consensus that Moses did not write much, if any, of it), its chronology, theological diversity, and historicity. There are the questions of the historicity of Exodus, and more generally Israelite historiography. There are multiple issues with the prophets including their message, content and failed prophecies. Take Daniel for example, the evidence is that it was written around 175-164 BCE and that the four kingdoms prophesied where Babylon, Media, Persian, and Greece (and not the traditional Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek and Rome) and that the author thought that the kingdom of God would break in to destroy Antiochus but that his prophecy failed. In the New Testament there is the issue of the liberty that the Gospel writers take in presenting their stories and the flawed hermeneutics used by the New Testament writers in general. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

By the time I finished reading the book by Sparks I sat down and realized that there was nothing left for me to believe. The overwhelming evidence for biological evolution, the natural history of the world, and the historical critical problems with the Bible left me dumb founded. I came to the conclusion that I was no longer a Christian and that I had to reject the faith that I had believed, loved and cherished for so long. I now consider myself an agnostic but am very suspicious that atheism is probably true and am leaning more and more in that direction.

I am still very interested in things related to religion in general and Christianity in particular as it helps me to see where I was, where I am now and to be more equipped at discussing these things with Christians who are still locked into their false hope.

98 comments:

rgz said...

Let me try to push you a little in the direction of atheism.

Think about someone you love, your wife, your daughter, your mother. Someone you interact daily with. Is that person alive? Dumb question perhaps, or perhaps not, haven't you heard of metal illnesses that cause people to hallucinate entire persons into their lives?

Of course its unprovable that you have this illness, how are the odds? 1%? 0.1%? 0.00001%?

Whatever the odds are these people actually exist and we know about them.

Now what are the odds that an incredibly complex God just exists with no explanation? None really, we just can't write him off because of a logical loophole.

But the thing is that the possibility of pretty much anything is above God (except for other goofier Gods) so if this logical loophole is the only thing preventing you from saying "there is definitively no God" then consider how the possibility of your daughter being an hallucination is larger by several million orders of magnitude... without exaggerating.

If you can't say a personal creator doesn't exist you can't say much at all.

Brad Haggard said...

Anthony, I feel your pain coming from a YEC background, but it's interesting to me how we ended up on different sides of faith. I thought Enns book was great, too but it wasn't a faith killer for me. Instead, it was a strength.

You might like to read anything Nahum Sarna has written on the OT, it's very enlightening.

Anthony said...

rgz, I agree with everything that you wrote. I am a religious skeptic so this allows me to doubt any religious claims. By being agnostic I can be open to the possibility of the existence of some type of god(s) but so far all evidence is against it. So for example I could be open to some type of deistic or panentheistic being, but as John has said if such a deity existed it would not be worthy of our worship.

themadandwild said...

I think a more succinct explanation of what rgz is trying to say is that there is no evidence for the judeo christian god. People who are not nuts admit that, after all, you need faith, not evidence, and evidence excludes faith.

In fact, if you look at the scientific evidence, there is no evidence for any god. So therefore there is no reason to believe in a god that there is to believe in the FSM or any other wacky theory

Anthony said...

Brad,

Enns book wasn't what destroyed my faith and I also liked it. It opened up many avenues of thought and research. I was open to accept some form of Christianity, even a liberal one. The killer for me was after reading Sparks book and looking at the cumulative evidence of evolution, natural history, the problems of biblical historicity and biblical criticism I had nothing to "hang my hat on" as they say. This is when doubt set in and nothing I read after that changed that doubt.

Anthony said...

themadandwild, again I agree with you. I do not find any evidence of such a divine being existing. I am not convinced by any of the arguments by Intelligent Design advocates, nor of the so-called "fine-turning" arguments. Maybe the problem is semantics.

Mark Traphagen said...

Anthony,

I want to thank you for your honest sharing here. Though your post doesn't talk about it, I know leaving a faith and community you'd known your whole life was probably a painful experience.

I happen to be an acquaintance of Kenton Sparks and good friend of Peter Enns. Your story would sadden but not surprise either of them. Saddest for them would be that their books did not, in the end, serve to rescue your faith, for you are exactly the kind of person for whom they were written.

Like too many thoughtful people of the current generation raised in Evangelical Christianity, you were given a faith built on a house of cards. Its pillars of special creationism and biblical inerrancy crumble all too easily. Enns and Sparks wrote because they believe that Christian faith should never have been placed upon such termite-infested supports. They wrote to demonstrate that one could receive the Bible as the "word of God" while fully embracing what science has overwhelmingly shown us to be true.

Though enemies of Sparks and Enns reading your post will blame them for "shipwrecking" your faith, the real fault lies with those who led you in your walk through Christianity, who gave you a false and destructive apologetic.

John W. Loftus said...

Mark Traphagen, thanks for writing. I've heard this argument of yours quite often before and it's an interesting one. I don't think it holds up though. I have not read Sparks and Enns books to be able to specifically comment on them, but the thought that one can take the supports out from under the Christian faith and still think people can reasonably believe is baffling to me for so many reasons I don't know where to start. Anthony was merely consistent with what he learned about those so-called supports.

Cheers.

Mark Traphagen said...

John,

I understand you entirely, and think you are essentially correct. However, my point was that the supports upon which Anthony's faith leaned were the wrong supports. Again, that is what Enns and Sparks were after in their books: that defenses of biblical literalism are doomed to failure and unnecessary to biblical faith.

However, in the end, it is indeed a faith. Neither Enns nor Sparks set out to provide "proof" that the Bible is "true." Their goal, rather, is for those who do have faith in the God of the Bible to realize that that faith is not necessarily incompatible with modern science and history because the Bible never set out to be a science or history textbook (in the modern sense of those genres).

John W. Loftus said...

Mark said...However, in the end, it is indeed a faith.

Faith? Why should I or anyone else take that "leap"? This could be a very long discussion but I assure you that you would not win it. Faith is a cop out especially when it comes the the number of things you must take on faith in order to believe.

Would you like to defend the existence of the social Trinitarian God (versus an anti-social Trinitarian God) of the Bible (which had a long process of formation and of borrowing material from others) who never began to exist and will never cease to exist (even though everything we experience has a beginning and an end), who never learned any new truths, who does not think (for thinking demands weighing temporal alternatives), who is not free with respect to deciding his own nature, who revealed himself through a poor medium (history) in a poor era (ancient times), who condemns all of humanity for the sins of the first human pair, who commanded genocide, who allows intense suffering in this world (yet does not follow the same moral code he commands believers to follow), whose Son (the 2nd person of the trinity) became incarnate in Jesus (even though no one has ever made sense of a person who is 100% man and 100% divine) to be punished for our sins (even though there is no correlation between punishment and forgiveness) who subsequently bodily arose from the dead (even though the believer in miracles has an almost impossible double-burden of proof here) and now lives embodied forever in a “spiritual” human body who will return to earth in the parousia (even though the NT is clear that the end of all kingdoms and the establishment of God's kingdom was to be in their generation), who sent the 3rd person of the trinity to lead his followers into "all truth" (yet fails in every generation to do this), who will also judge us based upon what conclusions we reach about the existence of this God and what he has done (paralleling the ancient barbaric thought police), and who will reward believers by taking away their freedom and punish the dammed by letting them retain their freedom?

Interesting hypothesis, if so. This is such a large claim. The larger the claim is, the harder it is to defend it.

feeno said...

Anthony,

Your E-Mail won't show up. Try mine when you get the chance. feeno@fuse.net

Peace, feeno

Former_Fundy said...

Anthony,

Thanks for sharing. Welcome to intellecutal honesty. I too am agnostic although I am convinced that the God of the Bible is not real. I earned a Ph.D. from Bob Jones and taught in a Bible college for 9 years before my faith evaporated. Its tough to admit you have been wrong for so many years but at the same time its liberating.

Good luck to you

exrelayman said...

It never ceases to amaze me how some Christian will come here and say "If you would only read this book by so and so it will explain things so as to restore your faith".

Isn't God supposed to have his own book, the Bible? Why is God's book inadequate to the task, requiring input from so and so?

Jim Turner said...

Anthony,

Thank you for posting your personal story. I've always enjoyed reading your comments on this site.

It is interesting to read how a Calvinist lost their faith.

- Jim

Jason Long said...

Thanks for sharing Anthony. I almost missed your post because John's been writing like mad lately.

John W. Loftus said...

"John's been writing like mad lately."

Call me the "Mad Hatter" then! ;-)

I've had some extra time lately so why not?

akakiwibear said...

I sat down and realized that there was nothing left for me to believe. The overwhelming evidence for biological evolution, the natural history of the world, and the historical critical problems with the Bible left me dumb founded

Well Anthony, it is hardly a surprise, given your background, that you had theological problems. It is interesting that you identify the turning point for you to be the lack of scientific or historical inerrancy of the bible to be the tipping point for you.

Your situation is akin to the pagan who believed in god in the form of a statue. When the pagan discovers that God is not in the statue they can draw one of two conclusions
(1) There is no God OR
(2) God is not a statue – i.e. the theology is flawed but the primary concept still holds true.

In your case you have chosen to believe (1) – why do you not think that the theology you rejected is definitive of Christianity? – don’t you think there may be more to it than the fundamentalist experience you had?

For example in the world’s largest Christian denomination you would have had no problem regarding the natural history of the world, and the historical critical problems with the Bible … the Catholics do not believe that the bible is historically or scientifically inerrant. Quite logically they believe that the bible was never written to serve as a scientific or historic reference text.

So it is interesting that the key point in your rejection of Christianity is recognised and is not a problem to the world’s largest denomination of Christians.

Do you think you maybe threw out the baby with the bath water? It is a pity you did not broaden your horizons before you decided – I hope you are a little more rigorous in your new found atheist scepticism.

Sala kahle - peace

openlyatheist said...

Besides Creationism and Innerancy, the only pillar left is Rationalization. Only believers call it Faith.

akakiwibear said...

John it is good to see you wade into one these topics again – you say but the thought that one can take the supports out from under the Christian faith and still think people can reasonably believe is baffling to me for so many reasons I don't know where to start

.. and therein lies the real flaw in your atheism.

Like Anthony you have rejected a perspective on Christianity and in so doing rejected Christianity.

What support do you think has been pulled out from under Christianity by accepting that the bible is not a work of science and history but of theology?

Certainly if you insist that the bible is only a valid document only if every word in it is true – then you adopt a minority view and from that position you can only reject the bible as valid – but I would like to see you defend that position as rational!

You continue with your distorted reasoning in your invitation Would you like to defend the existence of the social Trinitarian God (versus an anti-social Trinitarian God) of the Bible an argument you know only you can win because the God you challenge us to defend is of your making – the straw man God found in a literalist inerrant approach to the bible.

I would like to see you defend rejecting Christianity per se based on a minority Christian theology.

Sala kahle -peace

Gary Charbonneau said...

By being agnostic I can be open to the possibility of the existence of some type of god(s) but so far all evidence is against it.

Hi, Anthony. Why can you only be open to that possibility by being agnostic? Could not an atheist be equally open to the possibility?

Deist Dan said...

Anthony has escaped the matrix, congrats...

akakiwi said...

"For example in the world’s largest Christian denomination you would have had no problem regarding the natural history of the world, and the historical critical problems with the Bible … the Catholics do not believe that the bible is historically or scientifically inerrant. Quite logically they believe that the bible was never written to serve as a scientific or historic reference text."

Pardon my french, but what the hell is the point in believing in it then? If everything else in the bible is spiritualized, and not literal, why not the same for Jesus, his atonement, resurrection and everything else. Jesus atonement/resurrection are pointless without the adam/eve connection (original sin), and exodus/giving of law/commandments (covenant/knowledge of sin). When one goes, they all go.

Anthony said...

So Akakiwibear, my problem according to you is that I did not accept the right version of Christianity. You ask "don’t you think there may be more to it than the fundamentalist experience you had?" Yes, I did consider it and as I stated in my post I was open to other versions of Christianity, even liberal forms. I was even open to deistic and panentheistic versions. You may not like the fact that I didn't accept your version of Christianity but I will not apologize for it.

The problem is that any version of Christianity, yes even Catholicism, has its foundation in the Bible and biblical history. Some form of Christianity may be able to exist in the light of biological evolution and maybe with a number of historical critical problems with the Bible, but when the historicity of much of the Bible comes into question in a major way there just isn't much left. Hence my rejection of Christianity.

Anthony said...

Gary, you asked "Why can you only be open to that possibility by being agnostic? Could not an atheist be equally open to the possibility?" You are correct. I tend to like John's term "agnostic atheist." I do find it sometimes difficult to find the words to describe my position. Semantics is a big problem.

akakiwibear said...

Anthony
If you want to base your rejection of Christianity on a flawed premise – that the bible should be scientifically and historically perfect - then that is your choice.
I am not offended, it is just that I need a more substantial base from which to launch my leap of faith.



Deist Dan
There is no logic to your point. When one goes, they all go. why? The bible is a theology text – it is not a science and history text – it deals with the revelation of the nature of God over time. The narrative (which you seem to see as of necessity being inerrant science and history) is merely the vehicle for conveying the revelation.

Are there stories in your family from generations back that demonstrate the values the family held dear – perhaps why they migrated but the dates or even who was in the party may not be perfect – does that detract from the message? …. well only if you want it to!

Sala kahle - peace

Anthony said...

Sigh. Akakiwibear, I understand what you are saying about the Bible not being a scientific or history book (in the modern sense). But even if the Bible is mostly theology it still has to have some basis in history and if much of that history is bogus then what are we to think? The Bible does makes historical claims that have been refuted.

What then is the basis for considering the Bible the word of god? If the narratives are mostly fiction how does it differ from other works of fiction? What makes the Bible different from other books of antiquity?

Deist Dan said...

akakiwi said...

"Deist Dan
There is no logic to your point. When one goes, they all go. why? The bible is a theology text – it is not a science and history text – it deals with the revelation of the nature of God over time. The narrative (which you seem to see as of necessity being inerrant science and history) is merely the vehicle for conveying the revelation.

Are there stories in your family from generations back that demonstrate the values the family held dear – perhaps why they migrated but the dates or even who was in the party may not be perfect – does that detract from the message? …. well only if you want it to!"

Um theology is supposed to convey some sort or truth, usually in some kind of organized fashion (hence systematic theology).

Your trying to say the bible has no historical or scientific basis, yet still conveys some kind of fun things to believe in? Um have you even read the bible? I don't find the biblical stories very appealing at all, it is filled with racism, violence, threats, and disruption. Are those the kinds of values you hold dear akakiwi? How much easier would it have been for God to inspire, ummmm i dunno...say 1 person..and then had that person write down a bunch of pearls of wisdom for living and deep truths, and then kept that one book free from distortions and corruption?

If the goal was simply to communicate some truths and values to humanity, could there have been a worse way of doing so? To load it with a bunch of fake stories that only undermine moral values, load it with a bunch of absurd and barbaric laws, to make it coincidentally similar to many other ancient books, to not preserve it in original form, to allow it to be written who knows when, by who knows who.

You asked why if one goes do they all go, because the one is the reason for the other. Jesus died to atone for sins, if there were no sins to die for, then jesus death loses its meaning. Thus if the one goes (sin/covenant/original sin) then the other goes with it (atonement/resurrection)

Now here is my question for you, why do you believe the bible contains "the revelation of the nature of god over time."?

rgz said...

I also find it interesting that it was the loss of faith in biblical inerrancy that made you an agnostic.

I realized these problems before age 10, I figured out that God made the world in a deceitful way. I also knew of the contradictions in the Bible but again God himself said he wanted smart people to get lost.

For me it was the sheer immorality of God what disgusted me to no end. Reading the Bible was an exercise in outrage, now the Bible contains ass-covering clauses, but I could see they were cop outs, so I began reading apologetics too, not so much interested in science (I was very interested in science but Christian literature is appalling in that subject).

Of course the apologetic garbage was a HUGE TANGLE OF COP OUTS some of them incredibly ridiculous like the ontological principle. I realized there was zero sustainable truths in christianity. Then I looked around and found people of many religions buried in the same circularly logical belief. Then I simply detached of any belief in Gods.

Fear of God and belief in Souls and afterlife lasted longer though.

Fear of God was programmed in me but I knew it was irrational, for many weeks before going to sleep I found myself wondering "What if..." but then I remembered "Are you afraid of Allah, Zeus, Quetzalcoatl? Of course no." You grow out of that fear eventually.

Belief in souls or afterlife is even more sticky, but my interest in science eventually lead me to neuroscience...

Knowing enough about your brain shatters many conceptions of "self" let alone souls.

The last problem was a problem of attitude. I was emotionally attached to the concept of souls, I found my new soulless yet pure model of reality unsatisfactory. It was dualism what was holding me back somehow. The problem is realizing that dualist is pointless.

It doesn't matter if your sol is made of meat or ectoplasm, it is still a fragile -and malleable- piece of clockwork that could be tampered with.

If dualism doesn't protect your "self" what is the point of holding into it? especially when you consider it is false anyway.

I'm, now, free :)

akakiwibear said...

Deist Dan – you managed to avoid responding to any of points – well done. Perhaps my analogy was too complicated.

You say Your trying to say the bible has no historical or scientific basis, No I am not saying that, I am saying it is not an inerrant scientific and historic text. Try another analogy

By your logic, anyone in say 1000 years reading of the inauguration of Obama and faced with the material discrepancies between accounts in the different media of say the number of people who were there or what he said – you would expect them to claim the event never happened! … that is grist to the mill of holocaust denial and other rational … oops no wait not rational groups.

You also propose some thoughtless babble “If the goal was simply to communicate some truths and values to humanity, could there have been a worse way of doing so?” your alternative to telling people and getting them to write it down being … ?

Or is then kept that one book free from distortions and corruption your point. If so can you demonstrate that the message (not the history) has been corrupted to a material extent?

Now for your big one Now here is my question for you, why do you believe the bible contains "the revelation of the nature of god over time."? … and you want a complete answer in a blog comment … ?

OK, try this, accepting that its brevity opens it to attack.

1) Survival. The message has survived intact against all expectation that it should.
Start with Abraham – an unimportant leader of an insignificant tribe gets the message. He lives in world dominated by polytheists worshipping physical Gods who tend to kill off the opposition. In the face of that and the opposition encountered over the years the revelation of one supernatural God survives to become the belief of billions today.

2) Credibility. The theist message of the bible is consistent with ALL the evidence for the existence of God. It is and has been supported by the personal experience of many over many generations.

3) Consistency. The core messages of love God and love your neighbour go through from beginning to end – yes the bible literalists mess it up, but you would expect that.

4) Commonality. The core messages of Christianity are also found in other religions, which is what one would expect from multiple revelations of the nature of the same one God to different groups within their cultural settings.

Sala kahle - peace

Teleprompter said...

akakiwibear,

Of your four points, I'm don’t believe that any of them make a good case for Christianity.

Point one says "the revelation of one supernatural God survives to become the belief of billions today". Yet you don't realize that Christianity has fractured into thousands of smaller fragments? Christianity is just about as intact as the levees in New Orleans after Katrina struck.

Sure, the Christian revelations survive. You've got the Methodist revelation, the Lutheran revelation, the Catholic revelation, the Baptist revelation, the Orthodox revelation, the Unitarian revelation, and many more.

Intact? I don't think so.

Point two doesn't even make sense.

"The theist message of the bible is consistent with ALL the evidence for the existence of God. It is and has been supported by the personal experience of many over many generations."

What evidence for the existence of a god, or your specific concept of a god, exists? Please explain your evidence and how it is consistent with the Bible (or how the Bible is entirely consistent and does not provide contradictory viewpoints).

Islam and Mormonism and Hinduism have also been "supported by the personal experiences of many over many generations". Yet you reject those belief systems. Please explain why.

Point three is just wrong.

"The core messages of love God and love your neighbour go through from beginning to end."

Uh, really? So, Yahweh commanded the Israelites to kill thousands in Joshua is the same kind of thing as Jesus instructing his followers not to resist an evil person? Are these the same "core messages of love"? Love your neighbour? The OT definitely does not live up to the standard of love your neighbour. Kill your neighbour, plunder their territory, and kill the women who have never slept with a man for yourselves (Numbers 31:18, NIV). That's not the same as love your neighbour. Not by a cubit, not by a country mile.

I'm not sure how Point Four helps your cause. Let's examine it.

"The core messages of Christianity are also found in other religions, which is what one would expect from multiple revelations of the nature of the same one God to different groups within their cultural settings."

We disagree here.

Let's speculate that individual societies took their moral preferences and intuitions, and grafted them into the framework of their societies, and religion emerged. You would expect some societies to worship multiple gods; some would start out worshipping multiple gods and then switch to monotheism; some would have an atheist belief system. The particular details of the religious belief system would be subject to the distinct differences in each society.

If there were one common source for all religions, you would expect all of the religions to be more or less similar. If there were one source from a single origin, wouldn't you expect all the societies to have monotheistic religions? If there were multiple sources from the same origin, wouldn't you expect there to be polytheistic societies?

Why is monotheism such a relatively recent development if this is the predominant concept of god (as hypothesized by Christianity)?

I don't think point four holds up under closer examination.

I don't see how any of your points do anything to establish that Christianity may be valid.

Teleprompter said...

Instead of "kill the women", I should have said "save the women", for Numbers 31:18 (NIV). Sorry about that.

Anthony said...

rgz, you wrote, "I also find it interesting that it was the loss of faith in biblical inerrancy that made you an agnostic."

It wasn't strictly the issue of inerrancy that resulted in my loss of faith. It was the cumulative evidence especially the problems with the historicity of the Bible. I was actually willing to adopt a form of Christianity that held to an errant Bible. But when I realized that events such as creation, the flood, the tower of Babel, and the Exodus and individuals like Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not historical and knowing that these events and people are foundational to most of the theological themes of the Bible I had no foundation for faith in the traditional Christian god.

Anthony said...

Akakiwibear wrote, "Start with Abraham – an unimportant leader of an insignificant tribe gets the message."

You keep telling me and others that the Bible is not a history book, but here you start with the historical personage known as Abraham. According to you the Bible was mainly theological and now you are building your case for the Bible being God's revelation on this narrative being true history. Why cannot Abraham be strictly a fictional character that we can draw theological and moral themes from? The problem of biblical historicity is the issue here and one of the principles reasons why I rejected the faith.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Anthony,
welcome aboard!

akakiwibear said...

Anthony, you seem to miss the point about the historic accuracy of Abraham, who cares if we got some of the personal details wrong – maybe even his name. Your thinking is clearly in the literalist trap!

Instead you should be asking yourself is: Is the idea that - in an age of polytheistic worship of physical gods - the story of a spiritual single God being revealed to someone consistent with the emergence of such a faith?

If you can’t accept that then you are faced with the obvious conundrum of the development of the Jewish faith without any origin.

Sala kahle –peace.

akakiwibear said...

Teleprompter – yeah, I could have done better, hence my qualifying comment that try this, accepting that its brevity opens it to attack Certainly I would have to write my points up a lot better if I was going to seriously defend them

However, one of your comments attracted my attention;
Islam and Mormonism and Hinduism have also been "supported by the personal experiences of many over many generations". Yet you reject those belief systems. Please explain why. You assume too much. Who said I rejected the totality of those belief systems – there is much in common with what I believe (Hindu Trinity for example) and much that adds to my understanding of the Christian message – that said I take nothing from Mormonism which in my opinion is a thinly veiled plagiarism with about the same claim to authenticity as the “Church” of Scientology.

One should always be very sceptical about what one chooses to believe or not believe – hence my fondness for the quote “"An unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account is the only method of preservation against the fluctuating extremes of fashionable opinion” from Alfred North Whitehead.

Now within the context of Antony’s post, I ask Anthony if he has done that – has he been sceptical enough and considered all the evidence – it certainly seems like he depends on literalist interpretation to justify his position.

Anthony, I wonder what reasons you can give for leaving Christianity that do not depend on a literalist interpretation of the bible?

From all that I have read of JWL's work he can't give any (other than PoE) - can you?

Sala kahle - peace

Anthony said...

Akakiwibear, since you are convinced that I have thrown the baby out with the bath water, please give me reasons to believe your version of Christianity. I'm saying this in all sincerity. What books or authors would you recommend that represent what you believe to be the truth? I am willing to listen.

Deist Dan said...

akakiwi said...

"By your logic, anyone in say 1000 years reading of the inauguration of Obama and faced with the material discrepancies between accounts in the different media of say the number of people who were there or what he said – you would expect them to claim the event never happened! … that is grist to the mill of holocaust denial and other rational … oops no wait not rational groups."

Um your kidding right? Obama's inauguration is on video for anyone to verify, the stories of the bible, and the people that supposedly wrote them cannot be verified, you simply believe it on faith, not evidence.

However regarding WW2 and the holocaust, i would not bet my life on the official western story of what took place. Whenever there is war, the is war propaganda from all sides that accompany it, and it is not always easy to find out what exactly happened. Historically we know many "holocaust survivors" lied about their ordeals, we know the germans were tortured into confessions during the nuremberg trials, we know the plaque at Auschwitz was changed from 4 million to 1.5 million in 1989, and we know in many countries you can be thrown in jail simply for questioning the official holocaust story (lke historian david irving for example), this causes me to have some questions about what precisely took place.

akakiwi said...

"You also propose some thoughtless babble “If the goal was simply to communicate some truths and values to humanity, could there have been a worse way of doing so?” your alternative to telling people and getting them to write it down being … ?"

"Or is then kept that one book free from distortions and corruption your point. If so can you demonstrate that the message (not the history) has been corrupted to a material extent?"

Are you to stupid to acknowledge that if God simply wanted to communicate truths and expectations to mankind there is a million better ways of doing so than by the way you believe it was done? He could write it in the clouds, he could speak to mankind audible, he could have bibles descend from heaven and say "this is my book in which i am well pleased, read it." Yes there are countless better ways of communicating with mankind than by expecting us to blindly trust a book of which we do not have the originals, a book which we cannot confirm who wrote it, a book which contains as you admit historical and scientific errors, a book which contains contradictions in theology and content, etc.

Do you seriously believe that the history it contains is incorrect but yet the theology it presents is correct? Again, the theology in the book isn't coherent either which is why theologians have to constantly write books explaining the "real" meaning of different passages and books. Why the need for "systematic theology" books if the bible is so clear about it's theological message?

Your 4 reasons are a joke

1. You said the message of a single supernatural god has "survived" miraculously from Abraham to today.

Um it has been archaeologically shown that the ancient israelites were polytheists and came out of canaan. Early palestinian synagogues had all kinds of pagan idols and inscriptions in them. Monotheism was not even firmly in place amongst the jews of jesus' day. They exalted and worshipped beings like enoch, melchizedek, archangels, etc.

2. You said your personal experience is proof of a personal god, and your theism is consistent with all the evidence that exists for god

Um, thanks for your opinion but that is not an argument.

3. The core of love god and love your neighbor is consistent throughout the bible.

Um, you realize that "love your neighbor" was a jewish law regarding other jews right? You realize this didn't apply to the gentile dogs who were to be conquered and slaughtered. Your racist god isn't seen as very loving to anyone else, nor to the israelites whom he poured out his wrath on when they disobeyed him. Read the loving god's list of curses he says he will pour out on his chose people if/when they disobey him (deu 28)

4. the core of christianity is found in other religions

Um, this is proof of christianity/judaism borrowing from other religions, not that christianity is the correct religion.

akakiwi,

Clearly you have no good reasons to believe the way you do.

akakiwibear said...

Anthony, happy to oblige, but as a guide for me it would help to know what reasons you have for rejecting Christianity that do not depend on a literalist interpretation of the Bible.

sala kahle - peace

Eric said...

"What books or authors would you recommend that represent what you believe to be the truth?"

I don't think any single author has 'the truth' when we're talking about such complicated issues (be they scientific, historical, theological, philosophical, etc.), but some do make better cases for their positions than others. Look here for a good introduction to a great book on the resurrection by an outstanding scholar (Wright -- scroll down to find his talk), one whose arguments certainly are open to criticism (as your own beliefs are), but who defends them ably, and who, I would say, is in within his epistemic rights in accepting their conclusions.

Anthony said...

Anthony, happy to oblige, but as a guide for me it would help to know what reasons you have for rejecting Christianity that do not depend on a literalist interpretation of the Bible.

I have no idea what else to say to you. I have stated the principle reasons why I could no longer believe. If it makes you feel better to dismiss my reasons as being based in "literalist interpretation" that's fine. I already said that I was open to consider any arguments or resources that you could recommend but you do not seem to be forth coming.

akakiwibear said...

Anthony, OK, since you offer no reasons for your position other than a literalist view of the bible I can't fine tune a list of reading for you.

But as this seems to be at the heart of your "faith" I suggest you start to widen your horizon by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church (www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM) to see how a Creedal church works on a basis of tradition and scripture.

INTERESTING though, that when challenged neither you nor John can offer any serious reason for your atheist position that does not depend on a minority view of the bible .....

... should make people think ...

sala kahle - peace

Anthony said...

Eric, thanks for the recommendation of N.T. Wright's book on the Resurrection. I currently have 12 books in my library dedicated to the topic of the resurrection of Christ written from different perspectives. I did have Wright's book but gave it to someone who wanted a copy. I have ordered a replacement but have not yet received it.

The issue of the resurrection is only one component of Christianity. To me if most of the other components have problems like the lack of historicity of many of the events and people of the Bible, the problems of even the so called Messianic prophecies, failed prophecies, and the many critical problems in the Bible itself all make the resurrection of Christ less likely.

John W. Loftus said...

akakiwibear, I've followed your comments here and I believe Anthony merely refused to be baited by you. And to suggest that we can offer no serious reasons for our positions is so ignorant I don't know where to begin. I suppose you'd say that of any skeptic, right, or you just haven't been reading here. I have given plenty of reasons.

Sheesh.

Kenn said...

John,

"to suggest that we can offer no serious reasons for our positions"

From Faith is Not an Acceptable Answer thread: "you offer very little of substance."

Seems our friend has a pattern of evading difficult questions with "you offer no..." or "you offer little..."

Thanks for noticing.

Anthony said...

Akakiwibear: Anthony, OK, since you offer no reasons for your position other than a literalist view of the bible I can't fine tune a list of reading for you.

Well, you could start by suggesting material on how the Bible and tradition should be properly understood. I shouldn't have to read the entire Catholic catechism.

Akakiwibear: INTERESTING though, that when challenged neither you nor John can offer any serious reason for your atheist position that does not depend on a minority view of the bible .....

Reasons have been offered by me, John and many others, you just refuse to listen. Instead you simply dismiss them as you believe your version of Christianity is immune.

John: I believe Anthony merely refused to be baited by you.

Correct.

akakiwibear said...

or you just haven't been reading here. I have given plenty of reasons. John, as you well know I do read hear, but not every day, so perhaps I missed the day when you gave a reason that was not based on a literalist interpretation of the bible - outside of you take on PoE which could be argued as not being based on the literalistic although I would disagree.

I would seriously like to hear if you have any sufficient reason for leaving Christianity that is not based on a literalistic bible view.

You have read my comments here before and so you know that my original reason for visiting was as an enquiring atheist but that largely helped by the obvious flaw of your literalist arguments I came to see atheism as little more than the "Emperor' s new clothes"

So again - do you have any sufficient reason for leaving Christianity that is not based on a literalistic bible view?

sala kahle -peace

Patrick said...

Here is what John wrote in one comment and my response:

"Would you like to defend the existence of the social Trinitarian God (versus an anti-social Trinitarian God) of the Bible (which had a long process of formation and of borrowing material from others) who never began to exist and will never cease to exist (even though everything we experience has a beginning and an end), who never learned any new truths, who does not think (for thinking demands weighing temporal alternatives), who is not free with respect to deciding his own nature, who revealed himself through a poor medium (history) in a poor era (ancient times), who condemns all of humanity for the sins of the first human pair, who commanded genocide, who allows intense suffering in this world (yet does not follow the same moral code he commands believers to follow), whose Son (the 2nd person of the trinity) became incarnate in Jesus (even though no one has ever made sense of a person who is 100% man and 100% divine) to be punished for our sins (even though there is no correlation between punishment and forgiveness) who subsequently bodily arose from the dead (even though the believer in miracles has an almost impossible double-burden of proof here) and now lives embodied forever in a “spiritual” human body who will return to earth in the parousia (even though the NT is clear that the end of all kingdoms and the establishment of God's kingdom was to be in their generation), who sent the 3rd person of the trinity to lead his followers into "all truth" (yet fails in every generation to do this), who will also judge us based upon what conclusions we reach about the existence of this God and what he has done (paralleling the ancient barbaric thought police), and who will reward believers by taking away their freedom and punish the dammed by letting them retain their freedom?"

1. If God created time then he/she/it is independent of time. This is the claim. Obviously, either the universe or God has had to exist forever. (Stenger's bizarre claim that nothingness has the property of instability aside.) Since we can show that the universe had a beginning then we have the epistemic right to posit a God. As far as God's nature is concerned, is it really so strange to believe that a God existing outside of our matter/energy, space/time world would be radically different from us?

2. That would include God's omniscience.

3. John, you continually assume God in some kind of physical context. If the probability of God's existing can be shown to be so low as to be negligible, so be it. But, at least let us deal with the traditional claim of a God who is spirit and exists in a dimension far above ours. The 'otherness' of God would then have to be taken into account. Once done, many of your objections simply fall away.

4. Most historians don't share your skepticism of historical claims. This is a minority view and one necessary to your view.

5. If the Christian God claim is true then we are not condemned for the first human beings sins but our own.

6. Yep. Genocide is cruel and I agree that God often doesn't seem to play by his own rules.

7. The incarnation is understandable from a practical standpoint. If I, as a 100% man were somehow given 100% the essence of God would I cease to be a man? Again, I would say that putting God in a physical box makes the incarnation impossible but no intelligent christian makes that claim.

8. No one has made the claim that there is a one to one correlation between punishment and forgiveness. The claim is that sin must be punished. Once sin is punished forgiveness becomes possible. At least, this is the claim.

9. The historical evidence for the resurrection is impressive.

10. Not all NT scholars agree with your position that the NT claims Jesus is coming back soon.

11. I admit to being as puzzled as you on the "being lead into all truth" claim.

12. Accountability is not irrational.

eheffa said...

akakiwibear,

The literalist understanding of the Bible is actually the "Christian" view. Your personal modified version of Christianity (like the myriads of other sects out there) is really only an attempt to keep the bits you like without having to contend with the anachronisms and clear fabrications found in the Christian Bible. How much can you cut out or dismiss before you would be willing to consider the possibility that no god had anything to do with its authorship or inspiration?

The primary assertions & accounts of the of the Christian Bible claim to have an historical core. When those Bible "histories" are falsified, the metaphysical leftovers (which are unfalsifiable claims) are only that much more incredible & unbelievable. In other words the metaphysical unverifiable dogmas of the Christian faith have no credibility because their supportive histories are found to be fatally flawed fictions.

The burden of proof rests with the party making the assertion. You assert that there is some sort of non-literalist core of truth to the Christian faith. It is therefore your job to offer some evidence for this assertion. My job is to be skeptical & unaccepting of such claims unless you can provide some good verifiable evidence to support your position.

To ask for assent and agreement for your position without supportive evidence, (when there are so many competing & largely unbelievable religious claims made by other religious proponents), is quite illogical & ridiculous. A bald assertion without support is only convincing to those already brainwashed in the faith or those wanting to indulge their wishful thinking.


Peace to you too.

-evan

ZAROVE said...

eheffa, sayin the Literalist View is actually the Christian Veiw may make sense if you think only Evalgelical Christendom is Christianity, but I seem to recall ancient Theologians liek Origen and Augustine rejecting Biblical Literalism quiet a long time agio, and they are still read as CHurch Fathers, arethey not?

I think perhaps a study of CHristian historical thought is in order for you, before you ddictate what is and is not THE Christian view is.

That said, Andrw, you seem to be arguign that the loss of the Creation Narrative and full historical reliability o the Old Testament ruined your Faith.

May I ask if this is due to the Calvinistic views you held?

Take for instance Total Depravity, whih was the result of the Fall. Obviosuly if you eliminate the fall of Adam and Eve as literal events, the Total Depravity odf man as understood by alvin is lost. However, plenty of CHristians have a differing understanding of the narraive, or even Original sin, so this is no obstile. SOem Christains even reject Original Sin outright.

S, I wonder just how much of this loss of Faith was effected by Calvinism on yor part.

ZAROVE said...

Oh and eheffa, when I listed Origen and Augustine, I meant them as evidence of the truth of CHristian CLaims, as well as proof that the Christian Position sin't as clealry Literalistic as you'd pretend.

I coudl list other Church Fathers or Midaevel writers if you'd like. The Orthodox especially enjoy using Alegorical Exeggesis, to see SPiritual subtext to the scriptures, with many arguing that some of the stories aren't true in a literal sense, or are baed ont ruth but have soem changes used in order to further a spiritual reality.

Perhaps you shoudl read more.

ZAROVE said...

themadandwild, one hting, I'll be clled oen of those irrationl people for sayign this, and have in the past been told what an idiot I am, but, you said soemthign that is quiet common these days, especially in these debates, that actulaly isn't true.

You said Evidence precludes Faith, and have said beleif in God rests on Faith, not evidence.

However, dispite the popularity of this sentiment, its not true. Ones faith can be rooted in Evidence. Faith is not "Beleif without Evidence", Faith is defined as trust, Loyalty, or confidence.

This is true also of REeligious Faith.

When soemone says they have Faith in soemthing, like Christianity, this doens't mean they beleiv ein it even though they have no evidence, it simply means they trust it. That trust can be built up from past experunces and evidence, and isn't always blind Faith that has no evidence at all.

eheffa said...

Zarove said:
"sayin the Literalist View is actually the Christian Veiw may make sense if you think only Evalgelical Christendom is Christianity, but I seem to recall ancient Theologians liek Origen and Augustine rejecting Biblical Literalism quiet a long time agio, and they are still read as CHurch Fathers, arethey not?"

Yes the old "it's only meant to be metaphor" dodge goes back a long way; a convenient excuse to avoid conflict when all the evidence contradicts the Biblical text. By the time one employs this exclusionary process, there is little left that would distinguish the Bible from "The Lord of the Rings" or other inspiring epic fiction.

As a non-literalist, how does the Bible offer any useful guidance to understanding god or metaphysical or moral truth?

I understand the fact that there are many sects within "Christianity" - all divided by their differing interpretations of the ambiguous & contradictory "scriptures". Non-literalist interpretations are legion. Many who hold a metaphorical view of the Bible may still consider themselves faithful to the spirit of the text. But again, if there is no confidence that the histories recorded in the Bible have any connection to real events, how can these pseudo-histories have any power over their adherents? The "non-literalist" label strikes me as the identity of those who would have their cake & eat it too.

Al Moritz said...

Anthony:

Akakiwibear is spot on about Catholicism, the largest Christian denomination, and its having no problem with science. I also concur that, upon embracing modern science, you have thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

I am a Catholic and a die-hard evolutionist. I also assume an origin of life by natural causes and, being a biochemist, I even have written a review of the research on the issue for the leading evolution website talkorigins.org:

http://snipurl.com/dsl9d

Yet the same analytical thinking that lead me accept evolution and the high probability of an origin of life by natural causes also forced me to reject atheism and agnosticism.

Atheists triumphantly point out that science has shown that all nature develops by itself, by physical evolution of the universe and biological evolution -- no God needed. This, however, is fantastically short-sighted. What atheists do not appreciate is that the laws of nature have to be exceedingly special as to to allow for physical evolution of the universe and biological evolution in the first place, and that this requires an explanation (any slight change in physical constants, and the possibility for evolution and generation of complexity collapses). These laws shout out for a designer.

Atheists may downplay fine-tuning arguments, and you, Anthony, do not seem to be convinced by them either, but atheist or agnostic cosmologists, who are the real experts (e.g. Suesskind, Weinberg, Rees, Hawking, Davies, Linde), know perfectly well how thoroughly problematic the issue is and try therefore to come up with naturalistic explanations. The problem is that none of these work. Of course, you may think that it could be "brute chance" that we are here, but that is highly unlikely -- even childish to assume -- given how special the laws of nature really have to be. I strongly recommend reading on the issue:

a) Stephen Barr's "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith" (he is a Catholic physicist)
b) Martin Rees's "Just Six Numbers" (he is an atheist and a very known cosmologist-astrophysicist)

There are two alternatives for brute chance, the multiverse and a necessity of the laws of nature ("they could not be any other way"). The multiverse would be a conglomerate of trillions of trillions of universes other than our own, all with slight variations of physical constants, which would make our particular combination of constants, unlikely as it is, nonetheless a statistically necessary outcome. Yet the multiverse does not really solve the design problem, see my reply # 7 on:

http://snipurl.com/dskr0

And a necessity of the laws of nature is impossible, see my reply # 46 on:

http://snipurl.com/dsks5

The by far most rational assumption is that evolution, both physical evolution of the universe and biological evolution, is God's design.

As Stephen Barr puts it well in his essay "The Miracle of Evolution":

If biology remains only biology, it is not to be feared. Much of the fear that does exist is rooted in thenotion that God is in competition with nature, so that the more we attribute to one the less we can attribute tothe other. That is false. The greater the powers and potentialities in nature, the more magnificent must be nature's far-sighted Author, that God whose "ways are unsearchable" and who "reaches from end to end ordering all things mightily." Richard Dawkins famously called the universe "a blind watchmaker." If it is, it is miracle enough for anyone; for it is incomparably greater to design a watchmaker than a watch. We need not pit evolution against design, if we recognize that evolution is part of God's design."

Yet I don't find a deistic approach to satisfying either. If there is a God who fine-tuned the laws of nature so carefully as to allow for life, why then would He walk away from it in disinterest? I remain a firm theist, also because I find belief in divine revelation rational. The idea that the Catholic Church is guided by the Holy Spirit also removes any major problems with the interpretation of the Bible.

And what about a naturalistic origin of the Big Bang?

Here is what I wrote elsewhere:

The worldview of atheism, featuring the absence of belief in God(s), automatically entails a positive belief in a naturalistic origin (what else, if there is no God?) of the universe, of everything that we see around us. Now please where are the scientific DATA that support such a notion? On the contrary, in order to be able to believe in a naturalistic origin of the universe, the atheist must NEGATE DATA on what science tells us about actual matter, energy and fields, and instead believe in miraculous properties of such entities that science has not shown to exist.

An atheist has to accept either eternal matter or eternal fields as an alternative to an eternal God when it comes to creating the universe. A naturalistic creation out of nothing is absurd: true nothing has no properties whatsoever (Victor Stenger’s pseudo-philosophical and pseudo-scientific drivel notwithstanding) and thus cannot produce anything.

Eternal matter

An essential demand on eternal matter would have to be that it does not have to obey the second law of thermodynamics (by the way, this demand also holds for the "re-set" of a potential cyclic universe upon each bounce). Otherwise, what use would be eternal matter if it had all run down into an undifferentiated mush that would not have the thermal/motional energy anymore to produce universes? In the ekpyrotic model (or one may think of equivalent other options if string theory, upon which it is based, will be refuted), for example, we have the birth of our universe from a collision of membranes (branes) in multi-dimensional space.

Where does the energy of collision come from if the second law of thermodynamics holds in an eternal universe? It could never self-renew, and if it cannot, it would eventually run down into thermal randomness, and one would be forced to ask the question: where did it come from in its original "fresh" state?

If the postulated eternal matter once had to be in an original "fresh" state, it cannot be self-sufficient and eternal after all, certainly not in a state that eternally can produce universes. Thus it would beg the question for an originator of this matter anyway.

Of course, energy is equivalent to matter, but analysis shows that this does not solve the "moving" problem: the universe becomes less and less capable of converting matter to energy (one can see this by analyzing the issue of star formation and star burning).

Certainly, one may believe in the magic of a wider universe where the second law of thermodynamics does not hold, but I find this unlikely (we know how matter behaves *)) and we probably can never observe this, given the absolute observational limits in cosmology (the visible horizon and, even more problematically, the particle horizon). Here, blind faith needs to replace observational evidence.

*) Yes, we know that all matter moves at all times on the microscopic particle level, but this is different from eternal movement with always fresh kinetic energy on the macroscopic level. And a universe (a large closed system of spacetime and matter) for which the second law of thermodynamics holds will become cooler and cooler over time, restricting also microscopic movement more and more.

Eternal field

An alternative to eternal matter would be an eternal field. Think of the quantum vacuum.

We know that quantum vacua can produce virtual particles and anti-particles that, however, eliminate each other in the tiniest fractions of milliseconds. Some extrapolate that the universe could have arisen in a similar manner from a quantum vacuum, from almost nothing. However, we do not have any theoretical, and even less experimental, evidence that would make a link between such hugely different events like the humble appearance of a tiny virtual particle and, even if it started on the quantum sub-microscopic level, an event of such unbelievable magnitude of energy as the Big Bang (the universe was 10E32 Kelvin hot a miniscule fraction of a second – Planck time of 10E-43 seconds – after its the beginning, that is "1 with 32 zeros behind it" Kelvin, or billions of billions of billions and more Kelvin). It is pure, wild speculation that has little to do with evidence-based science -- and all with fantasy run amok.

If this kind of events could happen "just like that", why haven't we observed the birth of another universe within the 15 billion years time that ours exist? (Yeah, it is argued that it creates its own spacetime and thus vanishes into other dimensions, but it is hard to believe that the event would leave no trace.) Certainly, there will be those that say that in eternal fields anything can happen at some point, unlikely as it may seem, but this is the ultimate "just-so" story that you can tell a senile grandma but not me. Embarrassingly, atheists seem to seriously consider such "just-so" stories.

Eternal matter that does not obey the second law of thermodynamics, and eternal fields that can produce sudden high-energy events from "nowhere"? All those "scientific" scenarios are not scientific at all, they are modern fairytales dressed up in the language of science. Atheists, however, would never concede that they believe in fairytales, they just accuse believers of doing so.

Atheists may of course believe whatever they want. But where is the scientific evidence – the experimental or observational evidence? (Purely theoretical mathematical models don’t count.)Many atheists, however, hold that their beliefs are purely “evidence-based”. With this they brutally lie to themselves. This is the ultimate delusion, not the God idea, or what some prefer to call, without evidence, the “God delusion”.

Al Moritz

Anthony said...

Wow the Catholics are coming out in droves. Let me just say since it was either missed or not explicit enough in my posting: Science was not the main reason why I left the faith. In fact I was an evolutionist and rejected biblical inerrancy for nearly a year before leaving the faith. It was the major problems of biblical historicity and criticism that finally did it for me. It was the cumulative effect of science, historicity and biblical criticism.

Akakiwibear, I'm going to say this one more time, it's not about a "literalist bible view" as dispensational fundamentalists are the ones that emphasize a literalistic interpretation. It is however about a trustworthy Bible. If the Bible is not trustworthy then what basis is there for either Judaism or Christianity. That is the crux of the problem for me.

As for the Catholic view, historically the literal interpretation was one level in addition to the allegorical view and a host of other ways of seeing the Biblical text. Keep in mind akakiwibear that even the Catholic church believed in creationism for most of it's existence. Catholics are as varied on the subject of the Bible and its interpretation as protestantism.

What many Catholics have done is to accommodate the findings of science and historical criticism into their interpretation of the Bible. Nothing essentially wrong with that until those elements undercut the core of what makes the Bible of any real value except as strictly a religious text that one can built a narrative theology from but one wholly divorced from our time/space framework of reality.

Al Moritz said...

Anthony:

Keep in mind akakiwibear that even the Catholic church believed in creationism for most of it's existence.

So? If it did in these not strictly faith matters, then it just followed the prevailing views of the time, and nobody can blame it for that. After all, if in 50 years science says fundamentally different things about certain issues, should we be blamed for having accepted what science tells us now? I don't think so.

Also, as one of the greatest Fathers of the Church, St, Augustine, already wrote in the 5th century, 11 centuries before the scientific revolution (Literal Commentary on Genesis (1.19.41):

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens and the other elements of this world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and relative positions… Now it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of the Holy Scriptures, talking nonsense on these topics, and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

ZAROVE said...

eheffa, its not a dodge, and no one said "It sonly a metaphore". You are once again showing wy I have no real respect for the Ahtiesm that is militantly opposed to Christianity.
I doubt you have ever read either Augustine or Origen, yet you wan tot wave your hand and say "Yes the old its all a metaphore dodge is old". Are you really that incredibely unread in these men and others to actulaly advance this as just a dodge?

Also, the evidence dons't actually contradict the Biblical text, if you'd bother to read soemthung by a real theologian or Philosopher. Even Atheist Philosophers have critiissed such simplistic and shallow understandins of the Scriptures.


Also, takign things like the Creation account as Allegory is not the same as saying the whole Bible is Metaphorical.

You act as if there ar eonly the two options,compelte Binlical literalism or compelte Binlical Nonliteralism. This means if soemone rejects the Creaiton accnt as literlaly true they also rejct the era of the Kings in Israel or the Life of Jesus. Thats just absurd, sicne no one advances that sot of understanding of the text.


Furthermore, even IF someone proposed it was all Metaphore, then the point woudl be the underlying lessons the text teaches andnot the events it purports, in much the same way as we still read Homers Oddessey and Virgils Anead.

Not that it matters, sicne I know of no seriosu theologians who say that none of hte Bible is historiclaly accurate.

What you have done is to erect a strawman.

This is why I dont arue with the likes of you any longer, either, since your too wrappe dup in your need to discredit Christianity to even see why your statements above are horrendoursuly bogus. Your on a mission to debunk Christianity, so every CHristain argument must be attacked, even if you dont bother to udnerstand it.

ZAROVE said...

Anthony, I think you misunderstand the Catholic position, as you do some others.

For one hting, the Catholcis didnt accept Carte Balnk Creationism, as I said, Augustine rejected that as did Origen.

But that aside, you seem to act as if the whole Bible is proven inacurate if we dispose of the Creation Narrative as actual History, am I to udnerstand that?

Anthony said...

Zarove: Furthermore, even IF someone proposed it was all Metaphore, then the point woudl be the underlying lessons the text teaches andnot the events it purports, in much the same way as we still read Homers Oddessey and Virgils Anead.

You are finally getting to the point that I am trying to make. If the substantial historicity of the Bible is undercut then the Bible really isn't any different than Homer or Virgil, except that Christian and Jews have built an entire religion on the Bible. Has anyone built a religion on Homer or Virgil? Has anyone used Homer or Virgil to justify the use of violence, for war, crusades, witch hunting, etc, etc.?

Zarove: But that aside, you seem to act as if the whole Bible is proven inacurate if we dispose of the Creation Narrative as actual History, am I to udnerstand that?

This is actually the point that I am NOT trying to make. It's the extent of the problems of historicity that is the problem. It's not just the creation account, it's most of the events and persons in the Penteteuch, in fact it's much of the historiography of the nation of Israel itself. See the works by William Dever. This all undercuts the foundation of the old testament. Take for example all of the prophecies related to Christ as the Messiah, see Joseph Fitzmyer's "The One Who is to Come" which undercuts the foundation of Christ as the Messiah. As I said in my original posting these issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

Anthony said...

Al Moritz: Atheists may downplay fine-tuning arguments, and you, Anthony, do not seem to be convinced by them either

The evidence of cosmology is simply too inclusive because there is so much that we do not yet know. This is the reason why I am not convinced of the fine-tuning argument.

If there is a God who fine-tuned the laws of nature so carefully as to allow for life

Some have argued that the universe is actually fine-tuned for black holes and that life was simply a by product.

ZAROVE said...

Anthony, the whole "People kill for Christianity so its bad" argument is an abject failure on me. People killed for Atheitic ideologies, such as Soviet Philosophy, or during the French Revolution. Worse, both of those examples I mentioned also tie to todays modern Humanism, one as its foundation and the other as a direct result of it.

When contrasting this to the fact that most of the claims of how violent Christian history have been are exagerated, and many cliams outright false, such as the now infamous Burning Times that never happened, I see a world in whch Christianity really isn't as bloodthirsy as it is pretended to be in these debates, and where rhe violece that ha been issued in its name also has other societal causes that have to be examined.

If not, if we just lump all the bloodshed into one basket and blame Christianity itself, then we shoudl be fair and blame all Humanism for Stalins purges and lennins tyranny, and for Ropesphere in France.

That said, you also seem not to know htis but Homers works where part of a religious tradition at one time, and some modern Neo-Pagans have adopted the text as sacred.


The same goes for Virgil.


As to the last point you make, the undercut history of CHristianity is really another old arugment I tire of. For oenthing, its roote din assuming fallacies that themselve arne't proven.

Yes I know Joseph Augustine Fitzmyer is a Jesuit Priest, but why shudl this mean he is automaticlaly right? Are those who are Schoalrs yet hol to Conservative Christian stances deemed reliable?

Worse, in what way fdos Fitzmyers actulaly disprove Christianity? The last I checked he wa stsill a Catholic Priest, and in good standing.

If we accept hsi argument, all we are left with is that Jesus idnot fulfill the expected role of Messiah as anticipated. It doens't mean jesus wasn't Messiah, it just means that the ay in which he fulfilled the role of Mesiah wa sout of step with how people imagined Messiah would come and hwat he wodul do.

But beign out of step with someones anticipation is not equel with beign out of step with a divine plan is it?

Also, it shoudl be noted that recent discoveries fom late last year shed doubt on the claim that the Jews did not expect a sufferign Messiah, and two improtant artifacts came ot light, one recountign another Messianic Candidate who suffered, and another a commentary about hwo Messiah woudl suffer and die, made the news.

SO what if your scholarly support is itself mistaken?

As ot he Old Testament, the Historacity of it hasbeen challenged before. I rmember reaidng na old book tjat said it was all myth ad that cited the Hittites as an emoie existant only in Hebrew Imagination. The claimw as that snce no records of the Hittite Empire existe doutside the Bible, it never did exist. Today we have Ruins and artifacts and records galour of the Hittites.

Once upon a time Pontius Pilat was said to be a myth, as no outside record existed of him, and today this is no longer een as so.

Just because someone casts doubt on the reliability o the Old Testament, doesnt mean it is, inf act, unreliable.

Thats another logical flaw I've always enocuntered, the presumption that these schoalrs are somehow right on all they say.

In fact whle refreshigng my memry I ran accross this article.


http://singinginthereign.blogspot.com/2007/06/did-jesus-claim-to-be-messiah.html


It does raise an interestign point. As FItzmyers oes presuppose Markian Priority, one does have to onder why he bases his claim on what he wodl contend are later redactions.

Al Moritz said...

The evidence of cosmology is simply too inclusive because there is so much that we do not yet know. This is the reason why I am not convinced of the fine-tuning argument.

Oh yes, the promise of future discoveries -- " there is so much that we do not yet know". There might be a necessity of the laws of nature, "they could not be any other way". This argument does not work.

Here an exchange from another discussion in which I participated:

Question by participant 1:
To pick up on the Fine-tuning argument - what if a consensus emerged that explained the bio-friendliness of the universe that specifically excluded the need for a designer?

Participant 2:
I guess you are asking what if a physical law was discovered that allowed the apparent fine-tuning to be predicted? I'm with Humphrey on this - I'll go with the cosmologists, and Susskind, Rees and Davies at least seem to be quite clear that this is now very unlikely, if not impossible.

My response:
It is, in fact, logically impossible. Let's assume the die-hard folks are right who claim that the physical laws "could not be any other way", in the sense that the physical constants (and even initial conditions of the universe) are all tightly interrelated. The apparent fine-tuning of all the physical constants then would be, extremely unlikely as that might seem on the face of it, a direct consequence of a unified system based on general relativity and quantum mechanics.

But could it really not be any other way? The physical laws could simply be based on another unified system, which is not founded on general relativity and quantum mechanics. Any mathematically coherent structure, of which there are many, possibly an infinite number, could logically serve as template for physical laws. Thus, even if not necessarily within a framework combining general relativity and quantum mechanics, the laws of physics could, in fact, be any other way. This cannot be logically disputed.

Logic here also sets an absolute limit to what science might in the future discover. Even if it were to discover -- again, extremely unlikely -- that in the framework of general relativity and quantum mechanics all physical constants are necessarily so tightly interrelated that this accounts for all the apparent fine-tuning of the laws, it could never logically answer the question "why this framework and not any other"? Unless the fabric of nothing only allows for certain frameworks of physical laws to arise, but then "nothing" would have to have properties, which is philosophically and logically absurd. Nothing has no properties whatsoever -- nothing is, in fact, nothing (Victor Stenger’s pseudo-philosophical and pseudo-scientific drivel notwithstanding).

Thus, waiting for "a physical law to be discovered that allowed the apparent fine-tuning to be predicted", that way eliminating the need for a designer, is illogical and futile.

***

You need to make a distinction between what science has not yet discovered and what it cannot discover. The scientific method is outstanding when it comes to discover what the laws of nature are and how they work, but it cannot discover the why of the laws of nature for the logical reasons just mentioned. A belief that the scientific method has no inherent limits and one day will allow us to discover the deepest mysteries of existence is naive, uninformed and irrational.

For the multiverse, see my initial post on this thread and the links therein.

Al Moritz said...

Anthony:

Some have argued that the universe is actually fine-tuned for black holes and that life was simply a by product.

Pure speculation, and nonsensical at that. Common sense suggests that much more black holes would be produced if gravity were much stronger than what we observe jn our actual universe. The prominent atheist cosmologist Suesskind agrees with this first intuition and says in a discussion with Smolin, who brought up that idea, at edge.org:

"If for example, the minute density contrasts in the early universe, which had the un-naturally small numerical value of 10E-5 were not so weak the universe would have been dominated by small black holes. Those black holes might have coalesced into larger black holes, but I said I would be generous and count them all.

"Combine the increase of density contrast with an increase in the strength of gravity and a rapid inflation prehistory and you can make stupendous numbers of black holes. In fact if gravity were made as strong as it could reasonably be, every elementary particle (except photons and gravitons) would be a black hole!

"I have exactly the opposite opinion from Smolin's. If the universe were dominated by black holes all matter would be sucked in, and life would be completely impossible. It seems clear to me that we live in a surprisingly smooth world remarkably free of the ravenous monsters that would devour life. I take the lack of black holes to be a sign of some anthropic selection."

Al Moritz said...

Anthony:

I actually understand your situation of losing your faith quite well. Three years ago I was at a crossroads too. I switched from an Intelligent Design position to a hardcore evolutionist position (that was easy) and to a position that the origin of life probably had natural causes (that was less easy because it required me to study the primary scientific literature); see also my article on the issue linked to in my initial post. At that point I seriously pondered atheism. Without my philosophical background and my practice of critically distinguishing between actual evidence-based science and purely speculative pseudo-science (facilitated by me being a scientist myself), especially when it comes to certain cosmological hypotheses, I might have lost my faith and even switched to atheism.

Your situation makes it even more difficult for you. As a Protestant you relied on Sola Scriptura, the Bible only, and I did not encounter any of the difficulties that you had and have with the Bible as a document of divine revelation. For me there was and is always the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, which helps guiding the interpretation of the Bible and decisions about what is the most relevant. Again, for me the belief that the Holy Spirit guides the Church is rational (why should God provide divine revelation if He does not provide guidance with regard to it?), but not everyone shares this belief, of course.

Later in life you may or may not find Catholicism. Whatever it may be, for right now I would strongly suggest not to give in lightly to atheism. Atheists often pretend that their views are not a belief, but lack of belief. This is not true. Atheism is a positive belief in, and an active philosophy of naturalism. As I have hinted at in my initial post, rigorous intellectual scrutiny reveals that this belief is, in fact, evidence-less. Embracing atheism would mean, in effect, to close your mind. Agnosticism might be better for now. Certainly, atheism has the self-made aura of evidence-based "rationality". Yet when, as it often happens, atheists are loudly proclaiming to be "rational" and "clear-thinking" this does not necessarily make it so. It may make it tempting to listen to their voices, however.

***

As for my own situation, informing myself more thoroughly about all the issues in the process of pondering what both sides have to say has made my faith much stronger than before, and I feel considerably closer to God, and more appreciative of His creation.

John W. Loftus said...

Al, Catholicism does not fare any better than evangelicalism. Ever hear former catholic Julia Sweeney's testimony? You should.

While I haven't written much about Catholicism, as a former Catholic myself I know enough about it to reject it. I think you should too. You should read William Lobdell's blistering critique of the Catholic "mafia" during the molestor priest debale.

Then if you want more to read I did an extensive review of Catholic scholar John F. Haught's book on the new atheists. [The linked post was the last one where he responded, so you'll need to back up to the first post to read them in order].

Thanks for commenting.

ZAROVE said...

John, an imbittered ex-wife is not the first source one goes to for reliable information about a man they have met, and I do not beleive that an imbitteed ex Catholic woudl be able to really tell me uch of Catholisism.

One hting Ive noticed about these Aheists Testamonies is that the overwhelming majity tend to be bitter, and whats even worse is the same people will discourage reading Christian testamony as evidnce of anything whilst promoting their own stories.

Just beause someone rejected Catholisim doens't mean their rejection of it is true, and in fact it doens't make tem expert in understanding it.

Im not a Catholic but I don't see why this sort of thing is going to be oursuasive to anyoen whose been round this block.

Al Moritz said...

John:

You should read William Lobdell's blistering critique of the Catholic "mafia" during the molestor priest debale.

I read your review. Certainly, it is clear to everyone that the history of the Catholic church is marked not just by immense good, but also by immense human weakness and even by scandalous behaviour of church leaders, right up to the popes. I will not make any excuses for that, and for the pain and confusion this has resulted in. However, the rational attitude here might be to make a clear distinction between the message and the transmitters thereof.

Then if you want more to read I did an extensive review of Catholic scholar John F. Haught's book on the new atheists. [The linked post was the last one where he responded, so you'll need to back up to the first post to read them in order].

I will read this too.

Thanks for commenting.

You're welcome, and thanks for the opportunity on this blog. My apologies for the harsh tone in some of my comments, particularly in my first post on this thread. I guess I have been hardened by discussions with atheists who constantly call belief in God "irrational" for no informed reason, while pointing out their uncritical ways of thinking falls on deaf ears -- and by the insulting yet uninformed writing of New Atheists like Dawkins, Harris and the like. I will try to tone it down in cases where it may be appropriate.

eheffa said...

Zarove,

I am an ex-Christian who prior to rejecting the faith, struggled for years to make sense of the many flaws & anachronisms of the Christian Faith.

I was prompted to re-think my Christian beliefs by a trip to Spain, touring the many Cathedrals & holy sites. El Escorial, the headquarters for the Spanish Inquisition under Philip II, is a truly evil place despite it being filled with holy artifacts & priceless relics (including a Ptolemaic model of the solar system). You can spend a whole day there & not once will anyone point out that this was in fact the nerve center for one of the greatest evils of Christendom. It would be like going to Auschwitz & no-one mentions the war or the "Jewish Problem". I was struck by how reluctant the Church is to acknowledge its sins while insisting that we common folk confess ours. The hypocrisy of this institution is jaw-dropping.

The history of the Catholic Church & indeed the Protestant church is replete with examples of violence, murder, sexual exploitation & fabrication of histories & miracles.
This does not completely negate the potentially positive underlying message of God's love to man, but it does make one realize that one had better check the facts (as much as one can know them) before one accepts any sort of Ecclesiastical judgment on the ways things are or ought to be.

My doubts eventually prompted me to investigate the veracity of the claims of Christianity for myself with the intention to act on whatever the data prompted me to do.

I spent a fair bit of effort checking the evidence & facts for the Christian position (as much as I could know them through reading & research) & the conclusion I came to is that the Church, (catholic & otherwise), the Bible and all unfalsifiable claims about a personal creator God are groundless & almost certainly a man-made fabrication. There is nothing to distinguish the veracity of the Christian claims from those of Islam or any other religion. They all have the hallmark appearance of man-made wishful thinking organized into a religious imperative.

I am not bitter. Subjectively, I feel more alive now than I ever did. That doesn't prove anything of course, but there isn't a lot of room for bitterness when you are grateful for the free air you breathe.

I only wish I had come to my senses a few decade earlier. (The problem was that I was unable to be honest enough with my doubts to investigate these questions with an open mind.) Ah well, better late than never.


Anyways, Zarove, when making the case for the veracity of the Christian faith, I would think the history & character of the Catholic church would be a distinct liability to your argument that there is any sort of Divine involvement in the Christian enterprise.

-evan

akakiwibear said...

eheffa, check reality The literalist understanding of the Bible is actually the "Christian" view the largest Christian denomination does not take that position. I understand that it is convenient for atheists to do so.

anthony until those elements undercut the core of what makes the Bible of any real value except as strictly a religious text that one can built a narrative theology from that is the point of the Bible.

I bow out to the vastly superior scholarship of Al Moritz and ZAROVE. Well done guys!

sala kahle - peace

akakiwibear said...

John as a former Catholic myself I know enough about it to reject it - well the links you provided did little to back that up!

... or should I not be so sceptical?

sala kahle - peace

Al Moritz said...

Akakikiwibear said:

well the links you provided did little to back that up!

... or should I not be so sceptical?


I am starting to wonder what kind of Catholicism John grew up with, when I read his comments:

http://snipurl.com/dwkn3

(I stumbled upon this when googling for Howard van Till.)

Howard Van Till wrote the book The Fourth Day, which was one of the books that put me on a course of study that eventually led me away from the Christian faith. On page 79 in a footnote he listed several works on Genesis 1-11 that I proceeded to read. These initial books led me to still others, and others. After reading them I came to deny Genesis 1-11 was historical. I concluded these chapters were mythical. Anyway, Van Till has now been led down the same path as I. He has moved away from his Calvinism, and taken a much more ambiguous position on religion. That too is where I was for a time in my intellectual journey. But it eventually led me to atheism. I wonder where he will eventually end up? William Dembski comments on it here. [Update: I noticed that the link to Van Till's paper no longer works. I wonder what's up?]

I cannot remember when I ever thought Genesis 1-11 was historical. Certainly not when I decided to become a scientist at age 17!

Al Moritz said...

I cannot remember when I ever thought Genesis 1-11 was historical.

Oops, my bad. I meant Genesis 1.

ZAROVE said...

eheffa, there is no Protestant CHurch. As a former Catholic, you should at leats udnerstand one of the cheif critisisms of Protestantism is its disunity, and with many actual Protestant CHuches distinct form one another you'd think this oversimplification woudl be avoided.

Worse still, I'm not a Protestant either. I'm also not Eastern Orthodox.

I am of the CHurches of CHrist. They properly belong to the Restorationist movement, which is distinct from Protestantism by its rejection fo the foundational theology of Salvaiton by Faith Alone.

All this said, ytour critisim is still shallow. One can always go to Red Square in Russia, or see how the current Governemnt in Russia has released textbooks that whitewash STalin, and see the same things your critisismmg in CHristianity.

Somehow I shoudl be compelled ot be an Ahtiest because some CHristians in Spain do the same things as Atiest in Russia?

Why is it wrong for Christians and not for Russians? Or if it is wrogn for Russians to whitewash the violence and depraity of the SOviet Era, why is it not proof agaisnt Athiesm in the same way that the Inquesition proves Christianity questionable?


If tjis is the gorund of your critisism, then you are ocmmiting the logical fallacy of asusming the execution of action reflects the veracity of an ideology, which snt nessisarily so.


That said, I've spent year stsudying the Bible and its history, and I dont mean just form apologetic soruces. I've read up in two-soruce theory nd Biblcial decinstrucitonism, and can tell you theories abot the origins fo the Bibl hthat preclude any divine intervention.

However, I am convinced that the Bibel actulaly does have historical merits, which is the concluson of most scholars, including Ahtistic ones, in relevant feilds. I alo proffess that I do think it has divine guidance (thugh I do nto subscribe to the 19th century view that God distacted the Biel word for word)

This isnt simple "Becuzase I take it on faith" meanign beleif wihtotu evidencee, its because Ive spent years studyign the matter, and htis makes the most sense to me logically.

You won't accept that though, btu it is the truth.

However, I find the critisim you level weak, because they aren't relaly relevant.

DOes the fact that the Inquesiton occured prove God doesn't exist? Or that Jeuss dien't de on a cross and ressurect three days later? What does it prove other than that flawed humaniy wil execute their ideals in a flawed fashion and often do things they shoudln't?

It proves nothing.

eheffa said...

Zarove...

You're right. The inability of the Church to properly acknowledge its past sins proves nothing except to demonstrate its human frailty & arrogance.

I related this anecdote as an example of how troubling it is to think that God is somehow intimately leading & guiding this corrupted organization. If he is, it is none too apparent.

It was this disturbing anachronism that prompted me reassess the roots & reasons for any belief in Jesus. i.e. "the Christian Faith". Although it would seem that some of the posters here require very little input from or confidence in this entity called the Bible, my faith was based on a confidence that it was authoritative & reliable. My faith was based on the confidence that we could know who Jesus was by the reliable testimony of the Canonical Gospels. I was quite happy with the (clearly false) dichotomy of the Liar, Lunatic or Lord Trilemma, & believed that if the Old Testament Scriptures were good enough for Jesus they were good enough for me.

Having done a fair bit of reading & scrutiny, it appears that the Bible is more than a little flawed & is not a reliable guide to either events of history or the more metaphysical issues it addresses. I have concluded that it is no more than a man-made collection of writings with no evidence of any divine involvement. I am no longer convinced that this Jesus Christ was even a real flesh & blood historical character. He may not have had any more substance than Robin Hood or Hercules.

The Spanish Inquisition was only one piece of evidence for the lack of divine involvement in that mighty institution we call the Church. I am grateful that this experience prompted me to open my eyes & to be truly honest with the evidence for the first time in my life. I could be wrong, I have been wrong before; but, I see nothing in the Christian case that indicates that at its heart it is anything but a human construct motivated by a desire to know the unknowable & to escape the reality of our all to obvious mortality.

-evan

eheffa said...

Oops.

That last sentence should read:

I could be wrong, I have been wrong before; but, I see nothing in the Christian case that indicates that at its heart it is anything but a human construct motivated by a desire to know the unknowable & to escape the reality of our all too obvious mortality.

ZAROVE said...

Effa, I actually do think the Bible is reliable and trustworthy. This is ater years of reading Modern Schoalrship.

But that said, the CHurhc has acknowledge past sins, if by "THe CHurch" you mean he Catholic Church. Need I remidn you that john Paul 2 apoloised twice for the Inquesition? One only 9 years ago.

Uou seem rather a bit nieve if you think it hasn't.

eheffa said...

Zarove,

If you think the Bible is a reliable source for historical or other verifiable information (read falsifiable), then may I suggest that it is you, who is naive. Your reading like mine in the past, is likely far too safe & affirming for your well-entrenched presuppositions.

Try reading something simple like "The Bible Unearthed" by Isaiah Finkelstein & tell me how this book (the Old Testament) is a reliable historical source...

Or perhaps you accept the Gospels as reliable testimony to actual events?

I'm afraid the naivete may be in your mirror.

Cheers

-evan

akakiwibear said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ZAROVE said...

Effa, I've read Bart Ehrman, so lets not pretend that all I do is sit abou and read Ray COmfort.

I've studied the Bible and its history for years now, and by no means have I limite dmyself to apologetics or Evangelical Authors.

I've read every theory out there, nd formulate dmy own conclusions.


why do I need to read Isaiah Finkelstein, whom I've never hear dof, to prove Im soehow open minded?

That said, to denythe Bible has any valid and reliable hisorical informaiton in it is the oposite of what you claim every Christian must beleive, and is also dubious, isnt it?

SHoudl we beelive that nothign in the Bibel is reliable history? Is that really a logical thing o buy into?

John W. Loftus said...

Akakiwibear, you have been banned for your participation in an anti-Loftus Blog. Get the point and show some personal integrity here, which is lacking among so many Christians anyway. Abide by my wishes. I can no longer hear your words of faith and commitment when you show an utter disregard for integrity here at DC.

Be gone. Never come back. Use your own blog if you wish for you are no longer welcome here.

Period.

Bruce said...

Anthony,

Thanks for the link to this. I appreciate your willingness to share your journey.

Maybe some day I get down the Cinci way we do lunch or something. I live in NW Ohio now.

Bruce

eheffa said...

Akakiwibear,

You say this:
"That said, to denythe Bible has any valid and reliable hisorical informaiton in it is the oposite of what you claim every Christian must beleive, and is also dubious, isnt it?

SHoudl we beelive that nothign in the Bibel is reliable history? Is that really a logical thing o buy into?"


Well, I'm not sure where one would draw the line here. It seems that so many of the key "events" of the Bible when scrutinized closely, are not verifiable or are in fact falsely described in the Biblical narrative. Does it matter that the the creation story is only at best metaphorical? That there is no evidence for a special creation of man? Fossil & geological records show us that the flood story is a fanciful myth. The Abrahamic saga has the hallmarks of 9th century authorship with towns & camels not present at the time when the story was to have taken place. The captivity of Israel in Egypt & the Exodus appear to have no substance in reality with all archaeological records & evidence contradicting the possibility that it was a real event. Jericho was uninhabited at the time that Joshua supposedly destroyed the place. David, if he existed, was little more than a chieftain in his small village of Jerusalem in the time when he is purported to have reigned. The glories of Solomon's kingdom have all the appearances of gross exaggeration for the purposes of promoting King Josiah's puritanical reforms ..& on & on it goes.

The New Testament is no better with Mark, written by an author unacquainted with the area he writes of using a Midrashic style, integrating Old Testament themes & verses into a narrative that again has no external corroboration. The other canonical gospels clearly had access to the Markan story but put their own spin on the story for their own religious or political purposes. They contradict each other in ways that invalidates the veracity of their accounts. The optimistic first century CE datings of these writings are put forward by those motivated by the desire to bring the gospels closer to the purported events, but we have little evidence that anyone else had seen or read them until the second century & rather late at that...

On & on it goes. Is this really God's word or is it a man-made construct? Do you really believe that the God who supposedly created the precise balance of the universe or the complexity of the genome would be this sloppy in documenting the essential & only path to salvation for those he supposedly loves? Would you let your son die a horrible death & neglect to document that fact for the next 40 to 80 years & then only preserve the writing of authors who weren't even there? It would laughable if it weren't so widely believed.


"Where bible can be relied on is in regard to salvation.

If the Bible fails to be reliable in the mundane things of history & biography, let alone miracles & other fantastic events, do you really think it can be relied on for anything that you can't test or see? Why would you consider the Bible to be a more reliable indication of God's word to man on matters of salvation & moral law than any other non-falsifiable religious book like say the Koran?

Unless the verifiable aspects of the Biblical accounts can be shown to have some measure of reliability then it makes no sense to rely on its unfalsifiable metaphysical claims.

-evan

Anthony said...

eheffa: The glories of Solomon's kingdom have all the appearances of gross exaggeration for the purposes of promoting King Josiah's puritanical reforms ...

Kenton Sparks spends some time in his book demonstrating how the Hebrews used propaganda in their writings mimicking her neighbors.

Is this really God's word or is it a man-made construct?

Evan, what you wrote in your last post is what I have been trying to say (unfortunately falling on deaf ears) and is the principle reasons for my rejecting the faith. Evolution and some of the critical problems of the Bible were not enough in themselves to reject the faith, but combined with the shear amount of problems related to historicity especially of critical events and persons was just to overwhelming for me to believe anymore.

Anthony said...

Bruce: Maybe some day I get down the Cinci way we do lunch or something. I live in NW Ohio now.

That would be awesome! If you decide to come down for a Reds game let me know as I can get tickets. (If you haven't noticed my profile picture was taken at a Reds game).

eheffa said...

Anthony,

Thanks for your very well articulated story.

Our personal stories have many parallels. It is liberating to not have to hide from the evidence or the truth isn't it?

I wish you all the best in your pursuit of integrity & honesty.

-evan

inevitab1e said...

IQ is why some people 'get it' and most people don't. That is not arguable and simply fact..

truth finder said...

Dear readers

Would you please read my recent posting on the same issue at
http://whyidonotleavechristianity.blogspot.com/?
Your any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much in advance.

With love and respect,
Truth Finder

Alan said...

"It was during these studies that the evidence for an ancient earth became so strong that I could no longer deny it. Of course this led to a number of questions related to Genesis..."

The "evidences" don't support an ancient Earth but the "interpretation" of those evidences. Likewise, there are numerous scientists who don't interpret T. Rex soft tissue in supposed 68-million year old bones as good evidence for an old Earth. Radiometric dating comes with a lot of assumptions whereas microbes in supposed 4.5B year-old meteorites refutes the idea that radiometric dating is fool-proof. The philosophy of "materialism" is older than Christ, was well refuted by Socrates, and exists today in a new package called "evolution". Newton, Pascal, Boyle, Pasteur, Faraday, Kelvin, Fleming, Joule, Mendel, etc. all refuted this age-old philosophy and believed in special creation. Intelligence being birthed from non-intelligent random particle motion is not "scientific" at all since it defies the law of entropy. I think you were too easily swayed by a dead-end philosophy of evolution which is a actually a recent nineteenth century phenomenon that will soon fall to the wayside. Look at the works of the creationist scientists that I listed above. Most of their hypotheses, theories, and discoveries have withstood the test of time whereas Darwin's has already failed - thus the need for Neo-Darwinian theory. Some people don't even think that Darwinian evolution can be classified as a theory since it fails falsifiability on many counts. It's like a Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme with the govt. and university professors at the top and gullible student "investors" at the bottom.

eheffa said...

Alan said,

The "evidences" don't support an ancient Earth but the "interpretation" of those evidences.

If you weren't clinging to the Genesis account as having some sort of God-given authority over this question you wouldn't write this sort of nonsense.

The young earth creationist propaganda you are spouting is so far removed from the real evidence on the ground, that no scientists working in the fields of paleontology, geology, astronomy or biology would even give your assertions a moment's consideration. Is that because they are close-minded? No as you point out, evolution is being modified over time as new data comes to light & new hypotheses are put forward to explain the findings. Scientists will adapt their hypotheses to new evidence as good scientists are committed to truth over dogma. Your YEC contentions don't get past first base with real scientists because these YEC ideas are refuted by the evidence at the most basic level.

The difference between a scientist and a Young Earth Creationist or an Intelligent Design proponent is that the scientist looks at the data & creates an hypothesis that explains the observations whereas YEC or ID evangelist have decided the conclusion and then start looking for data that might support the conclusion. Any uncooperative or contrary evidence is redefined or simply thrown out. This is not science but dogma...

How do the anonymous undated writings of the Pentateuch (probably crafted sometime under the reign of King Josiah) have any scientific authority in 2009? I used to defend them too, but I now recognized them for what they are: Pious Fabrications (i.e. Holy Bullshit)

The evidence completely & utterly refutes the Young Earth Creationist position. Quoting from 18th & 19th century scientists won't change that. I have no doubt that were any of these great men of science living today, they would scoff at the supposition that the Genesis version of events had any more validity.

Sorry, but it is delusional BS...

Anthony said...

Alan: The "evidences" don't support an ancient Earth but the "interpretation" of those evidences. Likewise, there are numerous scientists who don't interpret T. Rex soft tissue in supposed 68-million year old bones as good evidence for an old Earth. Radiometric dating comes with a lot of assumptions whereas microbes in supposed 4.5B year-old meteorites refutes the idea that radiometric dating is fool-proof.

Alan, what you wrote is wrong on so many levels. The ancient age of the earth and the universe in general have been confirmed by so many different lines of evidence that only the most ardent and subborn Bible literalist will deny it. Can I recommend that you read more than just young earth creationist material? Let me recommend a book written for the layman that shows just how solid radiometric dating really is, it's called Nature's Clocks: How Scientists Measure the Age of Almost Everything. There is also a good article written by a Christian for Christians called Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective. Although you do not mention it I'm sure you are familiar with the RATE project which was designed to decredit radiometric dating, it was a miserable failure and has been totally exposed on numerous websites including this one.

Alan: The philosophy of "materialism" is older than Christ, was well refuted by Socrates, and exists today in a new package called "evolution". Newton, Pascal, Boyle, Pasteur, Faraday, Kelvin, Fleming, Joule, Mendel, etc. all refuted this age-old philosophy and believed in special creation.

Most of these early scientists that you list lived prior to the time of Darwin. I don't know off hand what Kelvin's views on evolution were but he did believe that the earth was at least several million years old, much older than the Bible (with a straight forward interpretation) would allow. Have you even bothered to study what the early scientists of whom most were professing Christians believed about the age of the earth. The more scientists looked at the earth the more they realized the 6,000 years was just not old enough for natural history to have occured.

Anthony said...

Alan: Intelligence being birthed from non-intelligent random particle motion is not "scientific" at all since it defies the law of entropy.

Unfortunately you show that you do not understand the theory of evolution. Again, quit reading just YEC material and read something written from an oppsoing position. But since you already believe that you have the truth I double that you are open and objective enough to do that.

Despite what you have read or heard entropy does not refute evolution, nor do you have the qualifications to decide what is "scientific." And yes, I know, I do not have the qualifications either, but the difference between you and I is that I can defer to the findings of science, you on the other hand have to buck against it.

Alan: I think you were too easily swayed by a dead-end philosophy of evolution which is a actually a recent nineteenth century phenomenon that will soon fall to the wayside.

Sir, evolution is a scientific theory (I'm waiting to hear you say "it's only a theory, not a fact") and has been since Darwin, nor is it going to fall soon. I know creationists and IDers keep telling you that, but it's not going to happen, at least not any sooner than the theory of gravity is going to fall.

Alan: Look at the works of the creationist scientists that I listed above. Most of their hypotheses, theories, and discoveries have withstood the test of time whereas Darwin's has already failed - thus the need for Neo-Darwinian theory.

The idea that evolution has failed because it isn't the same as what Darwin proposed is ludicrous. Evolution continues to be modified based upon further study and research, you know, using the methods of science. Back when scientists first began to understand genetics (yes, due to Mendel) that was the opportunity for the evidence to refute evolution, but no, genetics configured evolution in every possible way.

Alan: Some people don't even think that Darwinian evolution can be classified as a theory since it fails falsifiability on many counts. It's like a Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme with the govt. and university professors at the top and gullible student "investors" at the bottom.

Only creationists think that evolution is not a scientific theory. And since you mentioned it, is creationism falsifiable? Let me ask you Alan, is Christianity itself falsifiable? I'm willing to say that it is and the evidence has falsified it.

Zero-Equals-Infinity said...

Faith without a rational cage is possible, but it is not faith in a bounded projection conveniently labeled "God". We have faith whenever we do something which entails risk and where our knowledge of the risk is incomplete. Getting on an airplane, I may have a limited understanding of aerodynamics, engineering, and the procedures used by air traffic control personnel, but my knowledge is incomplete. My knowledge will always be incomplete. Faith comes in to support my incomplete knowledge, or fear of risk would prevent my being able to board the airplane. That faith is not rational, and by not being rational, it is not rationally undermined. The difficulty of belief premised faith is that faith is made contingent to a rational model. (i.e. The model is primary, while faith and experience are contingent.)

So then what is faith and how is it best practiced?

Faith is how we approach our ignorance. It is both a means to live in a universe in which our knowledge and experience is necessarily limited, and it is a confidence in the process and its origins, (whatever they may be), to allow us to move forward into unknown, uncharted spaces within and without. It does not require talismans, adherence to a particular tradition, or egoic attachment to a bounded projection labeled "God".

Artists, poets, scientists, mystics, lovers, and any one of us who experiences inspiration has a sense of ineffability. Being able to openly be in that state without ascription to a dogma of belief is the critical distinction.

One last note about religion: Studying the narratives which arise in different traditions is not without value, just as Tolkien's mythic narratives are not without meaning, despite their being fiction. Religious narrative has a lot to teach about the themes and forms which are meaningful to people, about the role of ritual, (and yes there are secular rituals also.) Those who have an interest may wish to read The Hero of a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces ).

rob__cottrell said...

I am without question one of the most blessed men in the universe.
Over many years God, through His Word has worked on me, a rotten sinner and produced, and continues to produce something most precious and wonderful.
At 76 years of age, I am so thankful that God calld me in my younger days. He redeemed me, regenerated me, liberated me and continues to liberate from ALL bondages, sanctifies me daily. Constitutes me with His life and nature daily, giving me the wonderful hope of the glorification of my body at His soon return.
The tragic direction of this world, which world has become a heap of collapse will see its culmination in the not too distant future.
The heavens and earth will be burned up and replaced by a new heaven and earth wherein dwells righteousness.

The consummation of all God is accomplishing is the New Jerusalen. The Universal Incorporation of the union and mingling of divinity with humanity. The processed and consummated Triune God incorporated with His redeemed, regenerated, sanctified, renewed, transformed, conformed and glorified tripartite elect.

eheffa said...

Sorry to break it to you rob_cottrell; but, like the made-up legends & myths of the Old Testament, it looks like the New Jerusalem you look forward to is also just "make-believe".

The positive changes you see in your own life might very well be the positive fruit of believing in an ennobling fiction; much in the same way as little boys & girls are better behaved in the few weeks leading up to Christmas because Santa is coming soon & "he can see you". This improvement in behavior is proof positive that Santa really does exist.

It's distressing to find out that Santa is a fiction. Some of us take a long time to realize that the same is true of the Christian god.

Better truth than dogma.
-evan

bfniii said...

anthony said: "my deconversion story?"
i saw some really good responses from theist thinkers.

my response:
1. i honestly don't know any christians there are as hung up on titles and categories as you were. the christians i know just focus on Christ's ministry and let God work out the rest. that's not to say they don't continue to learn because they do. some of the intramural debates on these issues just aren't as life-shattering as you made them out to be.
2. when you made moves like from yec to oec, you sounded like it was a funeral. have you ever heard of the copernican revolution? christians followed the evidence and not one doctrine was overturned.
3. the evidence for evolution is great. the evidence for universal common descent is still in question. this point is greatly misunderstood by many non-theists.
4. "The natural history of life that is recorded in the sediments cannot be done by any form of creationism." false.
5. "I had already rejected inerrancy" how would you know if the Bible is inerrant or not?
6."It is simply a fact that most evangelical scholars do not deal seriously with biblical criticism". there are tons of volumes written on this subject and i pointed out a mere fraction to you already. you are demonstrably mistaken on this point.
7. "it is pretty much a consensus that Moses did not write much, if any, of it". while this is an interesting academic mystery, in the overall scheme of things, this shouldn't contribute to someone questioning the validity of christianity. i'll be glad to explain why if you like.
8. "failed prophecies". i've been over this many times, in depth, with non-christians. there are explanations but some people choose to act like there aren't.
9. "Take Daniel for example, the evidence is that it was written around 175-164 BCE". some people maintain this view, not all.
10. "the four kingdoms prophesied where Babylon, Media, Persian, and Greece (and not the traditional Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek and Rome". this depends on which view you favor.

the reason to reject non-theism is because no person can substantiate the belief that naturalism is all there is. naturalism serves it's purpose but is woefully incomplete as a belief system. and yet, you're heading in that direction. you claim to be agnostic but, refusing to make a statement of belief in regards to theism does not mean you're any more enlightened or that there isn't enough evidence to decide one way or the other.

Zero-Equals-Infinity said...

bfnii,

The hoops that believers go through to maintain their beliefs leave me shaking my head and rolling my eyes.

Why go through the effort? Why insist on a belief-frame when the unfolding universe of which you are a part elicits potent states in a person who reflects upon it? Look at some of the Hubble photos, some extending back many billions of years in time. Look at life, and experience what it is to be alive. There is no frame of words which is adequate, and all that happens when belief becomes of overriding importance is that the ability to experience is constrained, limited and distorted.

Leave belief at the door of experience: With the soul of a poet and the mind of a scientist explore, experience and live fully.

Anthony said...

bfniii thanks for taking the time to read my story. See comments below.

bfniii: 1. i honestly don't know any christians there are as hung up on titles and categories as you were.

I wasn't "hung up" on any titles or categories. I was, however, very interested in theology. In fact a lot of people I knew throughout my 20s thought I would go into the ministry. I detailed my interest in theology in my story to show that I took the Christian faith seriously, wanting to learn about all it. This included reading what many had to say on different theological topics. Sorry that you are not as interested in things theological than I was, sounds like you may be the one with the hang up.

bfniii: the christians i know just focus on Christ's ministry and let God work out the rest. that's not to say they don't continue to learn because they do.

You actually sound like you are judging me because I took a more serious interest in my faith, that's a new one on me.

bfniii: some of the intramural debates on these issues just aren't as life-shattering as you made them out to be.

I didn't see any of my theological changes as "life-shattering." Are you referring to my statements about young earth creationism? If so, you misunderstand. My emphasis was on the initial shock of realizing that my young earth views were totally wrong.

If you are thinking about my thoughts after reading Sparks's book, then you have misinterpreted the situation as the topics he deals with go way beyond simple "intramural debates."

bfniii: 2. when you made moves like from yec to oec, you sounded like it was a funeral.

This is interpreting my words in the worst possible way. As I pointed out above, I went through an initial shock, but then I found as I went through OEC to theistic evolution, I became more excited as it opened the doors to new ways of seeing things.

bfniii: 3. the evidence for evolution is great. the evidence for universal common descent is still in question.

Hogwash, the evidence for universal common descent is overwhelming. Those who reject it do so for ulterior motives, usually religious. Not only is it the consensus in the scientific community I can point to scores of professed Christians (Catholics, evangelicals, others) who are scientists and also convinced by the evidence for UCD.

bfniii: this point is greatly misunderstood by many non-theists.

How so? And again, there are many theists (including the ID defender Michael Behe) who agree with the scientific consensus.

bfniii: 4. "The natural history of life that is recorded in the sediments cannot be done by any form of creationism." false.

Simply stating it to be false doesn't make it so. Demonstrate your position with evidence. So, are you going to argue that there are gaps in the fossil record (and there are) that that is evidence that God continuously intervened throughout history to create new species or to guide evolution along by injecting new information into DNA?

bfniii: 5. "I had already rejected inerrancy" how would you know if the Bible is inerrant or not?

What I meant was that I had already come to reject the typical notion of inerrancy in the sense that there are no errors at all in the Bible. This is simply not true. There are scientific errors in the Bible, there was no global flood, so the statements in both testaments that talk about it are wrong, there was no Adam and Eve, so Christ and his apostles were wrong in assuming that they did. Now, one can try to accommodate all of these issues and still try to argue some type of inerrancy, like Enns and Sparks do, but in the end they fail.

I will continue my comments in another post.

Anthony said...

This is part 2 of my response to bfniii's comments.

bfniii: 6."It is simply a fact that most evangelical scholars do not deal seriously with biblical criticism". there are tons of volumes written on this subject and i pointed out a mere fraction to you already. you are demonstrably mistaken on this point.

Peter Enns and especially Kenton Sparks are two evangelical scholars who are the ones that make this same assessment. Besides most of the "tons of volumes" written from the evangelical side are mostly apologetic in nature. Granted you do have some half decent ones mainly from scholars like Bauckham, Blomberg, and Wright but I would be willing to bet that most evangelicals would not be comfortable with many of their pronouncements.

bfniii: 7. "it is pretty much a consensus that Moses did not write much, if any, of it". while this is an interesting academic mystery, in the overall scheme of things, this shouldn't contribute to someone questioning the validity of christianity. i'll be glad to explain why if you like.

An academic mystery? Although by itself the non-Mosaic authorship of the Penteteuch is not a make it or break it position, but when taken with many of the other historical critical issues it has an accumulative affect.

Let me ask you, if Moses did not author the Penteteuch then who did? This opens up many questions regarding the origin of the various narratives and their historicity. This also affects many of the theological themes that runs throughout the text (and their implications for New Testament theology).

bfniii: 8. "failed prophecies". i've been over this many times, in depth, with non-christians. there are explanations but some people choose to act like there aren't.

Again you obviously haven't read Sparks nor his arguments have you? He details some of the evangelical responses and why they fail. Now, if you could provide proof of one of these prophecies being written prior to the time of fulfillment, then we can talk. For example, if you could provide a copy of Isaiah's prophecy about Cyrus dating before the time of Cyrus then you would have something to stand on. Barring that the consensus of historical critical scholars wins the day.

To be continued in part 3.

Anthony said...

This is part 3 of my response to bfniii's comments.

bfniii: 9. "Take Daniel for example, the evidence is that it was written around 175-164 BCE". some people maintain this view, not all.

Those who dispute the findings of critical scholars on this point have apologetic reasons for doing so. Sparks (again an evangelical) shows why the critical scholars are correct with their understanding of Daniel's "prophecies." Evangelicals need to deal with the information.

bfniii: 10. "the four kingdoms prophesied where Babylon, Media, Persian, and Greece (and not the traditional Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek and Rome". this depends on which view you favor.

This is not simply an issue of difference of interpretation or theology. The critical scholars have a consensus and arguments for why they take the position that they do. Evangelicals need to be honest with the data and work through it not obfuscate or offer arguments based mostly in apologetics.

bfniii: the reason to reject non-theism is because no person can substantiate the belief that naturalism is all there is.

One can take a non-theist position without having to work through all of the issues of naturalism. As I've stated in other contexts one can come to atheism simply because there are no other views they can take.

bfniii: naturalism serves it's purpose but is woefully incomplete as a belief system. and yet, you're heading in that direction.

I am more interested in evidential reasons than philosophical speculations. Whether naturalism is a complete system or not doesn't change my atheism nor does it mean Christianity is true.

bfniii: you claim to be agnostic but, refusing to make a statement of belief in regards to theism does not mean you're any more enlightened or that there isn't enough evidence to decide one way or the other.

I never said that I refuse to take a position. In fact since I wrote that piece (it was written a year ago) I have clarified in numerous places that I consider myself an agnostic atheist. I'm agnostic in the sense that I cannot say with absolute certainty that god(s) do not exist. Why? Because there is always a possibility of one that exists. I am an atheist in the sense that I am not currently convinced that any god or gods exist, especially the Christian one. But with that being said, I am not closed to change.