Dr. Valerie Tarico's Interview With the Internet Monk

This is a great interview!

115 comments:

edson said...

There are so many points to rebut or refute about what Dr. Valerie said in this interview, but I must first say that I respect her because she is a gentle one.

I’ll only concentrate on Michael Spencer’s question # 7-as biblical authority is the most complicated point in all this fuss between Christians and the second group (non theists)- but I should start by saying that I’m intrigued by the label Dr. Valerie uses in describing herself- “spiritual non-theist”. What does she mean? You will just wonder at what strange labels these people (former Christians) use after they’ve rejected Christianity.

John labels himself as “Agnostic atheist”, Bob Price calls himself “Christian atheist” and now Dr. Valerie loves to be known as “spiritual atheist”. Truly hilarious! So much to talk about here but let’s go straight to the point.

Well, when Dr. Valerie says of “……..but The Dark Side is less a challenge to Christianity than to bibliolatry…, and goes on to give her anecdotes about what she thinks is the best, that always Love and Truth should triumph over everything, initially you will marvel at her eloquence and her unique ability to play with words.

In fact what she says here is that we need to cherry pick only the “best” and the “true” when we read the bible (quote emphasis indicative of that what she thinks is best or true mighty not be the case ). In other words, we need to read the bible but when we get to those chapters that emphasize or that a biblical God killed so many ancient people, or that an animal can speak human language, or any other stuff that Dr. Valerie sees do not bode well scientifically or morally, then those chapters should not be taken as God’s word but rather human-and failure to do so she terms it “bibliolatry”. Just read it all!

See, I do not say that Dr. Valerie opinion is wrong, in fact she might be true –but what I’ve always said here and will always say in the future is that the likes of Dr. Valerie have no rights whatsoever to call anyone who believes firmly on the indisputable biblical authority a bibliolater. To do this is insult of the first order magnitude. These people have believed in God of the bible and if this does work for them who are you to say they are bibliolaters? I hope I’m not sounding harsh, but actually liberal theology has no standing. It’s just like erecting pretty huge sand edifice or building a huge house of cards, a simple blow of air is sufficient for give a sudden crumble to both.

But I must say it again that, Dr. Valerie, I really appreciate you.

Walter said...

I hope I’m not sounding harsh, but actually liberal theology has no standing. It’s just like erecting pretty huge sand edifice or building a huge house of cards, a simple blow of air is sufficient for give a sudden crumble to both.

I would say the same of fundamentalist Christianity which is based on the belief that the bible is somehow inerrant and the absolute word of God. Talk about a house of cards!

How many fundamentalists begin to study biblical contradictions only to lose their faith because they were taught the inerrancy of the bible, and reality did not match what they were trained to believe?

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

I agree! Thanks for the link, John.

Edson,

I also agree that typically liberal theology has "no standing" because it is intellectually inconsistent. However, what it loses in intellectual inconsistency, it gains in its wisdom and humanity and liberals know their connection to God has nothing to do with defending indefensible doctrines. So it is implausible that we aren't supposed to take what the Bible says at face value and liberals do need to deal with that to be taken more seriously. Their excuses typically just don't work.

As a humanist, I'm not concerned with taking people's core values away, but I am concerned about science and solidarity. And to that end, I've formulated what I think is an intellectually consistent Biblical argument that enables many aspects of liberal theology to get along more plausibly with Biblical statements to the contrary. I understand you many not be interested in listening to a Christian argument from an atheist, but I do think it works. The gist is that if God was willing to mislead Abraham into believing that he wanted Abraham's son Isaac sacrificed as a burnt offering, (but as we find out, really didn't mean it) in order to inspire some spiritual dividend, then there's no reason that much of the Bible might also be some loving (yet not entirely true) construct through the ages in order to facilitate or inspire similar spiritual dividends in other believers. Shortcuts for communicating with lesser minds when only certain things were important. If God owns our bodies and therefore murder for him is morally meaningless, then it seems just as consistent to think that God owns our very beliefs and that lying is morally meaningless for him as well. And there are many instances in the Bible where God has no problem sending lying spirits and "strong delusion" as judgment for other righteous ends. If you are interested in knowing more about it, please check out my argument map (link), I've been developing a systematic defense based on the critiques of four other Christians. Even if you disagree, I would appreciate any feedback and objections you might have that others may not have offered.

Thanks,

Ben

Scott said...

Dr. Valerie loves to be known as “spiritual atheist”. Truly hilarious!

Edson,

I'd ask you to step back and think about this statement carefully. While I don't think it was intentional, It's an arrogant assumption to think that Christianity (or theism in general) has a corner on "spirituality." This sort of statement strongly suggests a lack of concicousntous inquiry regarding the history of religion an the origins of spirituality.

Nor do I, as a non-theist deny that people have profound experiences. I just do not think they come from God.

This is the kind of narrow mindedness that led me to reject theism.

See, I do not say that Dr. Valerie opinion is wrong, in fact she might be true –but what I’ve always said here and will always say in the future is that the likes of Dr. Valerie have no rights whatsoever to call anyone who believes firmly on the indisputable biblical authority a bibliolater.

The likes of Dr. Valerie?

Edson, are you suggesting that someone other than Valerie has the right to say those who firmly believe in the "indisputable" authority of the Bible a bibliolater? What is it in particular that disqualifies her or those like her?

Furthermore, it's unclear as to why the "authority" of the Bible is actually indisputable. In fact, it seems you must depend on this as being true to make such an assumption, which is precisely what Valerie is questioning. This does not a good rebuttal make.

To do this is insult of the first order magnitude.

Again, you''ve made just such an insult by suggesting that someone who does not share your particular beliefs cannot be "spiritual" or have profound experiences. And, from my perspective, it was made from a position of ignorance.

This is comparison to Valerie, who has presented a clear argument and appears to be operating from a position of objectivity.

These people have believed in God of the bible and if this does work for them who are you to say they are bibliolaters?

Can you explain what you mean by "works for them"? Could you mean that they act as if the Bible was authoritative? Surely we could hold any book as being "authoritative" by treating it as such. This in no way means such authority is indisputable.

but actually liberal theology has no standing. It’s just like erecting pretty huge sand edifice or building a huge house of cards, a simple blow of air is sufficient for give a sudden crumble to both.

As does the idea that the Bible is a "indisputable authority" in any particular way, which has not been established. It all comes down to interpretation, which varies greatly. Calvinism is one such example, which results in God having a radically different nature. Yet one might consider it even more Biblically consistent than Arminianism.

Do you not reject the idea that Jesus died to save only the elect, rather than all mankind, because in conflicts with your interpretation of what a loving God would or would not do?

edson said...

If you are interested in knowing more about it, please check out my argument map..... Even if you disagree, I would appreciate any feedback and objections you might have that others may not have offered

War On Error,

Thanks for the invitation. I have visited your blog and checked on the arguments at your well designed argument maps, notably on the one about the thesis that possibly Jesus lied about hell, and my feedback on this is that, well, I I'will not argue with you on this.

It's due to the fact that I'm not trained at complex logic balderdashes that I see you use in your argument maps. All that ardous odysseys of logic premises and inferences that you use to prove that Jesus was a lier are a big problem for me to follow and comprehend.

There is another guy here at DC known as Spencer Lo, who seems to believe he is a master at logic with his cutting edge logic pocedures of labeling his premises and inferences with letters and numbers (e.g. from A1 and B2 we can conclude that C3 and D4 could not have happened supernaturally)in order to show that Jesus resurrection should not be taken seriously. Frankly, for me it was really hard to follow him and that's it.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Edson,

I do appreciate you taking a look. In my zeal to find organized ways to communicate, perhaps I just manage to make it complicated in just some other way. I will have to work on that. If you do happen upon any other Christians who take well to that format of debate, please send them along (if you remember, of course).

thanks again,

Ben

edson said...

Dear Scott,

About the label "spiritual atheist" stem from the fact that for someone to deny theism and yet claim spirituality, she is either wrongly informed about the "spirit" term and thus missing the point or a person is something too strong for words to express here for someone very learned as Dr. Valerie is and for someone I respect for who she is.

My bewilderment can be summed up as this: Christianity claim that God is of spiritual essences. Dr. Valerie rejects Christianity but later acknowledging some way on what Christianity teaches (John 4:23;Galatians 5:22) but still denying Christianity. Confusing ya'know!

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Edson,

Well "spiritual" doesn't only refer to metaphysics but also to personal philosophy and values. It means they care deeply about their life and those around them. So the easiest way to understand it is as a metaphor.

Ben

Rob said...

Can someone please explain to me what an atheist means by "spiritual"? Do some atheists still believe in the supernatural realm, but just not God? How exactly does that work, and where would such beliefs come from, and on what information are they founded?

Just curious.

edson said...

War On Error,

Personal philosophy? Values? caring deep about other people and their lives? Metaphor?

So all these translates to "spiritual" that's what you say?

You've got to be correctly informed about what "Spirit" means and then come back to me so we can argue about this.

Anthony said...

Rob: Can someone please explain to me what an atheist means by "spiritual"? Do some atheists still believe in the supernatural realm, but just not God? How exactly does that work, and where would such beliefs come from, and on what information are they founded?

Spirituality can be defined in many ways that do not have to be related to the supernatural. Thinking so only demonstrates your religious and specifically Christian bias.

I saw one place where it defined spirituality as being "about gaining insight, knowledge & a better understanding about life."

Edson: You've got to be correctly informed about what "Spirit" means and then come back to me so we can argue about this.

This comment is just plain silly. Christians do not corner the market on what spirituality means. Why are you stuck on this issue? If you are not satisfied then contact Valerie directly and ask her how and why she uses the term the way she does.

Rob said...

From Wiki:

"Spirituality is matters of the spirit, a concept often (but not necessarily) tied to a spirit world, a multidimensional reality and one or more deities. Spiritual matters regard humankind's ultimate nature and purpose, not as material biological organisms, but as spirits or energy with an eternal relationship beyond the bodily senses, time and the material world.

The spiritual is contrasted with the physical and the temporary. A sense of connection is central of spirituality — connection to a reality beyond than the physical world and oneself, which may include an emotional experience of awe and reverence. Spirituality may also include the development of the individual's inner life through practices such as meditation and prayer, including the search for God, the supernatural, a divine influence, or information about the afterlife. Spirituality is the personal, subjective aspect of religion, mysticism, magic and occult."

Russ said...

Edson,

Long ago, religions, especially the myriad Christianities, violently laid claim to exclusive rights to the then-unexplained neurological activity that is often called "spiritual." The suite of neurological experiences that fall under the rubric "spiritual," consist of awe, wonder, puzzlement, love, the sense of another's presence, compassion, empathy, transcendence, care, internal peace, and concern, among others. These all exist in varying portions in all unimpaired human beings on the planet.

Indeed, impairments and defects that affect these aspects of spirituality are one indication of their natural causation. Some people, psychopaths, for instance, have no empathy. Some disorders, like temporal lobe epileptics, give rise to extremely intense religious experiences, a sort of transcendence gone awry. Brain damage from physical injury or disease, often completely changes a person's emotional/spiritual makeup.

Another indication of the all natural nature of spirituality is the fact that we know how to, and can, influence it through all-natural means. For centuries, religious people have observed, studied, and reproduced circumstances that give rise to the 100 percent supernatural-free spiritual experience. Then, they slapped their own labels on it: "being born again," "experiencing the Holy Spirit," or "touched by God."

But, it always amounts to the same thing: through purely naturalistic means - silence, ritual, music, scents like incense, cavernous echoing spaces, shiny gold and stained glass - they induce those desired feelings and emotions while the spirit guide, often a clergyman, explains in terms of their tradition, what it is that's being experienced. A different spirit guide in a different tradition, will explain the same experience as something quite distinct, even if both are Christianities. [It's worth noting that the particular god "being experienced" never explains what's happening, it's always a vested human being.]

Religions also have employed all-natural physiological distress to elicit psychological experiences they then recruit as deep religious insights, like "revelations." Fasting, dehydration, sleep deprivation, and intense pain have all been used to evoke religious experience. Such trauma certainly alters one's perception of the world, but they do not lead to great insights, religious or otherwise.

That many of these experiences can also be turned on and off by drugs, strong electromagnetic fields, and repetitive lights, sounds, and motions, further indicate their all-natural nature.

Valerie Tarico understands the notions I have outlined here and she correctly understands that her "spiritual" experience is very much the same as what the religious call "spiritual," but without the supernatural hocus pocus. Fact is, we all know the sense of well-being that comes from having these neurological experiences, but many of us know that they do not imply the existence of a god, nor is a god necessary to have those experiences.

To be sure, as attested to by many atheists who are former members of some Christianity attest, the "spiritual" does not disappear when they abandon theism. All those feelings and emotions remain the same, but the atheist has stopped allowing some clerical spirit guide who seeks to follow ancient traditional superstitions and impose them on others to devalue their moving personal experience of being human.

Rob said...

"This comment is just plain silly."

It was not a comment, it was a question.

Rob said...

Do some atheists believe in reincarnation, or that they can talk to their dead relatives, or things of that nature?

Anthony said...

Russ, awesome response, thanks!

Rob said: It was not a comment, it was a question.

Please read what I wrote, I was responding to a comment made by Edson.

Rob said...

Anthony,

My apologies. I should have read that better.

Scott said...

Rob Wrote: Do some atheists believe in reincarnation, or that they can talk to their dead relatives, or things of that nature?

Rob,

Many Buddhists are atheists in that they do not believe in a creator God, despite believing in reincarnation. Some Buddhists believe in deities that live in different realms, but are mortal. However some sects of Buddhism do believe in a creator God.

Monotheists nearly always believe in a creator God, while polytheists might think the universe formed naturally or that it was unintentionally form as a side effect of the actions of one or more Gods.

If anyone here is really interested the various forms of belief thought history, I'd recommend The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. I'm reading it now and it's a real eye opener.

Scott said...

In addition to Russ' excellent comment...

About the label "spiritual atheist" stem from the fact that for someone to deny theism and yet claim spirituality, she is either wrongly informed about the "spirit" term and thus missing the point

Edison,

There are religions that do not have creator Gods but have the concept of spirits. Again, should you have actually made a conscientious investigation of the beliefs of others or the history of religion in general, you'd realize theism does not own the exclusive right to the word "spiritual." As such, YOU might be wrongly informed about the term "sprit."

As a non-theist, I do not deny that people have peak or profound experiences. I've had them myself. Nor do I think you're hallucinating when you've had a "mystical" experience. Instead, I think these experiences are natural and therefore falsely attributed to God. In other words, they can be naturally explained.

However, this does not change the fact that these experiences are often associated with a feeling of insight or connectedness and concern for others. When you nurture these experiences, regardless of if they are supernatural in nature or not, they still motivate people to take action and exhibit compassion.

or a person is something too strong for words to express here for someone very learned as Dr. Valerie is and for someone I respect for who she is.

Things that cannot be easily expressed in words do not necessarily originate from God. This is a non-sequitur. It's an assumption on your part.

Perhaps we use the label "God" and "spiritual" when we want to talk about things we cannot describe easily. However, or tendency to do so does not necessarily mean "God" actually exists. It could simply be a catch all term for that which we do not understand.

Rob said...

How will an atheist explain a prophecy that comes true like the prediction of a soon coming earthquake that will be in the news? Coincidence?

edson said...

Scott,

Sorry for a delayed response.

There is so much mis-interpretation and mis-information about the term Spirit and Theism.

While it does look like you acknowledge some form of spiritual reality when you say "As a non-theist, I do not deny that people have peak or profound experiences", but when you add that "I think these experiences are natural and therefore falsely attributed to God", you create an immediate problem that require an appropriate response from you.

To begin with, do you know that this physical/natural world began to exist? I mean this universe began at certain point in time in the past and not an ad infinitum one in terms of its existance.

Since now we have a natural/physical universe, it does follow then that from nothing it came something which does not make sense logically. A logical inference is that from a supernatural reality it gave rise to a natural reality. Spiritual realm gave rise to physical realm. Now, this powerful supernatural spiritual force that gave rise to the natural/physical Universe is what Theism describe as God.

While there are religions that do subscribe to some form of spiritual reality but denying entirely of the existance of any deity, well, that's beyond them. It's not ignorance, it's just simply beyond them. For Christians, it's not beyond us. It's about "God is with us".

Back to you. How do you explain the existance of something from nothing?

Anthony said...

Rob: How will an atheist explain a prophecy that comes true like the prediction of a soon coming earthquake that will be in the news? Coincidence?

Give specifics of the prophecy. When will it take place? Will there be casualties? Can you give date, time and specific location?

That really is you isn't it Dennis?

Anthony said...

Edson: There is so much mis-interpretation and mis-information about the term Spirit and Theism.

This really is the issue, isn't it? You think that you have all the answers and you want to straighten out us ignorant skeptics.

Edson: To begin with, do you know that this physical/natural world began to exist? I mean this universe began at certain point in time in the past and not an ad infinitum one in terms of its existance.

This issue continues to be debated by scientists and philosophers and I doubt that any definite answers are all that forth coming, nor are they simple ones, as you seem to think.

Edson: How do you explain the existance of something from nothing?

See above.

edson said...

Russ,

You are not getting the point. You are not even aware or have any slight idea of what you are taliking about when you confidently say:

"Another indication of the all natural nature of spirituality is the fact that we know how to, and can, influence it through all-natural means."

You can join Scott about the answer I posed to him.

And what does it imply if you can influence nature of spirituality through natural means?

It does not imply that there is no spirituality, it only implies that you can only influence it, negatively or positively, by any possible means natural but also supernatural.

A spiritual essence of Love can be influenced naturally by stimulating certain parts of brain using electrodes and a person could react with an emotion of love (positively) or Hate (negatively) but that does not mean a spiritual essence of Love does not exist.

Similarly, that's the way Life is. Life can be influenced naturally by enzymes, hormones, water, air, and you know those biological stuff, but they are there to influence Life. Life exist independent of these elements.

The fact that you cannot visualize in your mind the existance of Life or Mind, separate from the physical or natural elements, is a serious problem, not only to you but so many people out there. But make no mistake, there is God right there where you are watching you. It's not scary, He is a gentle one!

Russ said...

Rob said...

How will an atheist explain a prophecy that comes true like the prediction of a soon coming earthquake that will be in the news? Coincidence?

When a soothsayer promulgates foreknowledge of a natural occurrence, it is never a precise date and time and place. I can make such a prediction right now.

LET IT BE KNOWN that Russ, on Tuesday, August 11 of the year 2009, predicts that an earthquake will take place in the United States in the year 2010.

Of course, I am trivially correct, but that is exactly how many prophets tally up the hits. Now imagine I make my prediction more specific, say instead of saying United States I name a particular state. But, I don't stop there. I make the same prediction for each of the 50 states and send off that prediction to the astrology columnist for the largest newspaper in the state. My state-specific prophesying would be more impressive than the US prediction to the astrology columnist(s) who got the correct prediction, but still trivial in how I go about making my correct prophesy.

Now, imagine I'm a big name psychic who can make thousands of trivial predictions - a tiny fraction of which will likely come to pass while almost all will be failures - but when I get on Larry King, I get to highlight the few guesses that were "hits" as I keep the converted from knowing of the misses.

Seriously, Rob, this is how many popular psychics work. They make a vast number of predictions, after which they highlight the hits and cover up the misses.

True story.
Not far from where I live in mid Michigan, a good Christian lady beat her 7 year old son to death with hammer, buried him in the woods a few miles away, and made a big public to-do in covering it up as she claimed he had run away. It was several weeks before she confessed and during that time the police received more than two thousand "psychic" predictions pinpointing where the boy would be found. One psychic alone sent in a couple hundred predictions. Several others submitted a few dozen. Why a legitimate prophet can't just make one "correct" prediction and call it good, we can only guess. Clearly, such piles of predictions are of no use whatsoever to law enforcement. But, true to form, several psychics claim to have benefitted the search effort with their great insight.

As an aside, I have an acquaintance who has contact with several active psychics. Those psychics use data from the US Geologic Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, NOAA, and other publicly available sources to make their high-volume scattershot "predictions." To add detail they use Google Earth, and a great many other online resources. There is no prophesy involved.

A cute numerical tool of "prophesy" in the financial services industry is worth looking at. Say you want to make it seem to potential subscribers to your newletter that you can reliably predict stock directions. Start with a good sized mailing list, say 32768 potential subscribers. To half of them, 16384, predict stocks are going up; to the other half, stocks are going down. To one of those halves you will be correct. So, after the appropriate time, throw out the wrong predictions, and send half, 8192, of those who received the "correct" prediction, that stocks are going up and the other half that stocks are going down.

At each stage half of your predictions are correct and your mailing list shrinks by half. After stage one 16384 think you correctly predicted the stock movement. After stage 2, 8192 think you were correct two times in a row. After stage 3, 4096 see 3 consecutive correct predictions. After 4, 2048; after 5, 1024; etc.

So, after several iterations you will start looking like quite the stock guru, although you have made no predictions at all. Much of the financial advising sector uses very similar tactics.

So, Rob, the explanation of how the psychic can be "correct" has nothing at all to do with them having made an inspired prophesy.

Rob said...

Russ,

What if I said that there will be an earthquake in China this week and it happened? Lucky guess? What about the lady on a recent Dateline that had a dream about where her lost sister had driven off the road, and they found her a week later still alive in her car in that exact spot!! How does an atheist expalin that?

Scott said...

While it does look like you acknowledge some form of spiritual reality when you say "As a non-theist, I do not deny that people have peak or profound experiences"...

Peak or profound experiences do not necessarily come from God. This is an assumption on your part.

For example, I stay at one of the beaches on the coast of Florida at least once a year. During the day, the vast amount of water stretching out as far as the eye can has a soothing effect on me. At night, the ocean can seem like an infinite void that reminds me of how finite and fragile we are.

But just because I have an affinity for the ocean, this does not mean the ocean has an affinity for me.

but when you add that "I think these experiences are natural and therefore falsely attributed to God", you create an immediate problem that require an appropriate response from you.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by a "problem" and "appropriate response"? You seem to imply that I must agree with the Christian definition of spiritual.

Since now we have a natural/physical universe, it does follow then that from nothing it came something which does not make sense logically. A logical inference is that from a supernatural reality it gave rise to a natural reality. Spiritual realm gave rise to physical realm. Now, this powerful supernatural spiritual force that gave rise to the natural/physical Universe is what Theism describe as God.

Edson,

It's really quite simple. You make at least three assumptions which there is no clear support for.

01. "God" is sentient

Imaging that what you call God is really a non-sentient force or system. While you assume it's sentient, we do not have sufficient evidence to suggest is indeed the case. Therefore, whatever caused the universe as we know it to exist, might not have done so as part of some kind of all knowing plan. This is your claim.

02. The Supernatural

Furthermore, you make a particular distinction between this force or system and the universe as we know it. I do not hold a dualistic view of the natural and the supernatural. Even if what you call God is sentient, I would consider him part of nature, just like the Higgs boson, should it exist, would be part of nature, despite it's supposed role as a particle that gives everything in the universe mass.

The Higgs boson would be a subatomic particle, not a superatomic or supernatural particle.

Since we have yet to discover a unified theory of the universe, we have gaps in our knowledge of nature. You choose to call these gaps "supernatural", while I call them aspects of nature we have not yet discovered.

03. Dualistic nature of self

You wrote: And what does it imply if you can influence nature of spirituality through natural means? It does not imply that there is no spirituality, it only implies that you can only influence it, negatively or positively, by any possible means natural but also supernatural.

Here you assume that, since we perceive ourselves as being non-materiral and you perceive "God" as being sentient non-material being, then we must be part of the same supernatural force created the universe.

But if [01] is false, there is no dualism and no natural and supernatural. It's all the same thing. We would be part of the same force as everything is natural.

So, to summarize, I do not deny that the universe as we know it was formed. I just do not believe what ever formed it was sentient or had some kind of plan. I do not deny that people have peak or profound experiences, I just do not think they came from a supernatural sentient being. Nor do I deny that whatever formed our universe was unique, I just think it's a unique part of nature.

Rob said...

Scott,

How do you form a universe, and galaxies, and life, without a plan? Chaos cannot produce order.

Scott said...

Rob, this depends on the atheist.

An atheist who is a naturalist will explain such a prophecy as having a natural cause, such as given enough prophesies and events, someone is statistically bound to predict something correctly.

Furthermore, some disasters strike at particular intervals on average, such as earthquakes and even meteor strikes of a particular size. For example, objects over 50 meters strike the earth on an average of once every thousand years. An earthquake of a magnitude of 8 or higher occurs once every year on average, while earthquakes of a 5 - 5.9 magnitude occur 1,319 each year. I'm sure thousands of people are predicting an earthquake on the west coast of North America (California cost). Should one occur, would this mean God told them?

Did the woman live in the same town as her sister? Did she know what routes she took on a regular basis? If so, this could have been the result of her subconscious mind revealing the most likely place she might have had a car accident in a dream.

However, technically, an atheist simply doesn't believe in one or more Gods. This is a negative position, which doesn't necessary prevent them from having positive beliefs in precognition, etc. They simply wouldn't think a supernatural "God" was the source of said abilities.

Scott said...

Rob,

There is an order to everything. Even in a randomly shuffled deck of cards, the cards are still in a particular order. You're assuming that the order we have is the order that was intentionally chosen before hand. I do not.

Rob said...

A deck of cards does not rotate on it's axis in the middle of space. It does not revolve around the sun and change seasons. If the sun was 10% closer or further away, we would not exist. We need vitamins, minerals, water, oxygen, etc etc to sustain life. Is this all just a huge coincidence that we have everything we need to suststain life on this planet? What are the odds of that? 400 kazillion to one? Where did our brain come from with memory, intelligence, dreams, bodily function control, speech and communication, eye sight with color recognition, the brain inverting the upside down image of the eye, balance, coordination, etc etc etc etc???? How much planning does it take to make a robot? How much to make a human and a universe and a planet to sustain him?

Rob said...

Also, the deck of cards shows intelligent design with numbers 1-10 and jack, queen, king in each suit. There are drawn faces and written numbers with a specific and orderly design. Each individual card has oredr to it. That proves that the deck was designed and created with a plan.

Scott said...

I wrote:There is an order to everything. Even in a randomly shuffled deck of cards, the cards are still in a particular order.

Think of it this way. You're playing a game of cards. The deck is shuffled. Whether the order of the cards will result in you "winning" the game depends on what game your playing. Are you playing Blackjack, Poker, War, Go Fish, etc.

The series of cards that would have given you a full house in poker might cause you to be under or over in blackjack. We simply interpret the same pattern in different ways.

Rob said...

typo - ORDER to it...

Rob said...

Who made the deck of cards? Are they all the same size and shape? Do they all have numbers or faces? Do they have a pattern in how they were designed? Who put them into a "deck"? Did that deck just appear by random occurence, or did someone design that specific deck using a plan for the purpose of palying a game with that deck?

Scott said...

Is this all just a huge coincidence that we have everything we need to suststain life on this planet? What are the odds of that? 400 kazillion to one?

Rob,

First, the odds are not as outrageous as you seem to suggest.

Second, even then, you're talking about the odds of having exactly THIS universe, with THIS kind of life, which includes human beings with exactly five fingers, etc. You're assuming THIS outcome was exactly what God wanted.

But this is exactly my point.

When you step back and drop the idea that God intentionally designed salamanders with the ability to re grow limbs, including skin, bones and even nerves, but intentionally decided human beings should lack this ability, then the odds of have a stable universe with some kind of life is much greater.

In fact, it might be a brute fact that universes can only exist in a relatively narrow range of variation. And from this variation, some form of life is very likely to emerge. But it's not guaranteed that OUR form of life will appear. It could have been some other form, which could have make the same assumption that you have - that their form of life was intentionally planned.

Rob said...

Scott,

Isn't it amazing that we still have not found any life outside of outr little planet in any form whatsoever?

How come there is no number 11 in a deck of cards? Because they were not DESIGNED that way! That was not a part of the PLAN!

Rob said...

Scott,

Why is there an Ace in a deck of cards and not a number 1? Did the designer make a mistake?

Scott said...

Rob,

Do you really thing God intentionally designed salamanders with the ability to re grow skin, bone and even nerves, but intentionally decided not to give this ability to human beings?

Is this really how you picture God?

Rob said...

Salamanders do not sin - people do. This human body is temporary until the new earth when we will all have perfect bodies with no more sin, sickness or death.

Scott said...

Salamanders do not sin - people do. This human body is temporary until the new earth when we will all have perfect bodies with no more sin, sickness or death.

This implies that animals were not effected by man's "sin". Yet, I'm guessing you would disagree that God designed animals to eat other animals.

Also, why would God create a heat and light source for his eternal world that will eventually expand into a Red Giant and either turn the earth into a glowing ball of scorched rock or vaporize it completely? This doesn't seem like a "plan" created by an omniscient and omnipotent being.

What will happen when the sun dies?

Rob said...

The Bible says there wil be new heavens and a new earth. God will remove all the effects of sin from this world. Everything will be restored to a state of perfection.

Scott said...

Rob wrote: The Bible says there wil be new heavens and a new earth. God will remove all the effects of sin from this world. Everything will be restored to a state of perfection.

Rob, you didn't answer my question. Do you think God designed animals to eat other animals? Also, after the fall of many, why did God allow Salamanders to re-grow limbs but cause Tigers to start eating meat? This doesn't seem very consistent.

God will remove all the effects of sin from this world. Everything will be restored to a state of perfection.

Now, it seems, you're claiming the entire universe, including the sun, was also effected by man's sin. However, there is a serous problem with this claim.

It's estimated the earliest human beings appeared roughly 250,000 years ago. However, we've actually observed a star going supernova in 2008. You might ask, why is this important? This star was 88 million light years away, which means astronomers observed a star running out of hydrogen 88 million years ago.

Human beings did not exist yet, so their "sin" would not have effected stars (or the universe in general) at that time. Yet, we have an example of a star running out of hydrogen. So, again, it seems that if God created stars, he intentionally created them to eventually explode in a supernova or expand into a red giant, as they behaved that way BEFORE man even existed, let alone sinned.

Again, this doesn't seem like the kind of "perfect" light or heat source a omniscient and omnipotent God would create for his eternal world.

Russ said...

Rob said,

What if I said that there will be an earthquake in China this week and it happened? Lucky guess?

For me to evaluate whether you actually predicted an earthquake in China, I would need a great deal more information. Do you not see this?

If you are an expert seismologist, I would think that you had detailed information at your disposal that suggested to you that a Chinese earthquake was imminent, and further that you then used that information to correctly predict the quake. But, if you were an honest seismologist, you would not say that you knew a quake was going to occur since the state of the science of seismology does not allow such a prediction to be made. At best you could give me a probability of a quake happening in a timeframe, and even then, such a statement would be quite subjective.

Predictions of quakes by uninformed others are exactly what you suggest: Lucky guess.

How do we know it's a lucky guess? Because there is not a single one of those prognosticators who can reliably predict anything. How do we know this? Because even the followers of psychics don't behave as if they believe what the psychic predicts. What's more, is that the psychics themselves do not behave as if they believe their own predictions.

It's a game. Everyone knows it's a game. And, no one believes them.

What about the lady on a recent Dateline that had a dream about where her lost sister had driven off the road, and they found her a week later still alive in her car in that exact spot!! How does an atheist expalin that?

This, too, would require a lot more information to make an informed assessment. I can't attempt to explain it without good data.

As Scott pointed out, if the sister had information about her sibling's daily activities, she may well have worked out a plausible, even somewhat detailed, disaster scenario in her sleep.

When I was a college student, I often studied more than ten hours a day. Sometimes after such a long study session, in my dreams I would memorably piece things together. A lot of my best studying happened after I went to sleep. Subjects like physics, human anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology, and physical chemistry coalesced into a unified consistent body of knowledge as my mind motored on while my body rested.

If you want to suggest some supernatural thing has a hand in such things, go right ahead. But, I won't believe it, since perfectly acceptable all-natural explanations exist and are much more satisfying.

Russ said...

edson,
You said,

Russ,

You are not getting the point. You are not even aware or have any slight idea of what you are taliking about when you confidently say:

"Another indication of the all natural nature of spirituality is the fact that we know how to, and can, influence it through all-natural means."


edson, I do indeed have a very good idea what I was talking about when I made that statement as well as the others I made.

Simply put, edson, I do not need your version or any other version of a god to experience all those wonderful emotions and feelings that your religion forces you to attribute to something outside yourself. I even have that "born again" feeling, but it has nothing to do with a god. Why do I not need a god to experience these things? Because it's part of the physiological makeup of every human on the planet.

In a few hours, around two o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, August 12, I will go to the deck on my roof and take in the Perseid meteor shower. I will share in an experience that mankind has taken in and recorded for more than two thousand years. I will be awed and impressed. I might even cry a bit as I lay there thinking about the thousands of people throughout history who contributed to our understanding of Perseid and so much more. It's those people, not some goofy notion of a god, to whom I owe reverence and respect. They have been of real benefit to humankind.

There won't be any gods present there on the roof, never have been, but I will be there feeling at once completely alone in the universe and yet completely a part of it all.

It's too bad that the stupid Jesus of Nazareth, who it is claimed possessed all knowledge, spent his time cursing fig trees and the like instead of explaining to those present the magnificence of events like Perseid. If sins were real, that would be one of the biggest ever. What an immoral putz Jesus must have been to have known what caused meteors and comets and sunlight, but to have kept it to himself knowing that those who followed him and worshipped him would kill people for their proposed explanations of such things.

Actually, it's quite clear that Jesus didn't share these things because those who created Biblical Jesus couldn't give to him what they did not possess themselves. Ignorant scribes invented ignorant Jesus.

So, edson, I don't need your god or your Jesus person, and I am elated to be a 100 percent supernatural-free part of this amazing cosmos.

BIuemongoose said...

Russ:

Ignorant scribes. The scribes were not ignorant. God inspired them. They weren't ignorant since they were filled with the Spirit. Don't believe Ehrman. I can debunk him.

Anthony said...

Blue: Don't believe Ehrman. I can debunk him.

I doubt that, but I would love for you to try to debunk fellow evangelicals such as Peter Enns (Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament) and more importantly Kenton Sparks (God's Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship).

eheffa said...

Well said Russ!

A few of your posts here are just excellent. Thanks for your great contribution to this discussion.

Your listing of the natural causes of so-called supernatural spiritual experience was excellent. (I will copy it & file it away as a wonderfully pithy summary.)

When I was a Christian it really troubled me that Jesus would have been so vague about so many practical issues of life. As the Creator, why wouldn't he have spoken to the people about germs and the source of disease or provided more complete theological answers that could have avoided so much suffering from disease or the deadly factional wars that resulted from his ambiguities? I wondered why he would have said so little & written nothing - leaving it to his later errant followers to interpret & misinterpret his intentions...

Two very disturbing possibilities lurked: He had no insights because he was nothing more than a man of his times - as ignorant as everyone else (and not divine) or alternatively, he never lived at all and was simply (as you put it)the result of "ignorant scribes" who "invented ignorant Jesus".

Since my de-conversion I have had many experiences of awe and wonder that I would have formerly attributed to the presence or work of god / the holy spirit in my life. When I stand outside & stare at the stars or walk along an ancient mountain ridge or even walk the dog to the accompaniment of some beautiful music - I am moved to my very core with awe and appreciation for the wonderful beauty in this moment of life I have experienced; but now I can experience these moments without the guilt. The profound mystery of life calls out for explanation; but, I no longer need to content myself with fabricated made up explanations. Like you, I do not need a god to validate or explain these experiences or emotions.

If this is spirituality - I am content.

-evan

eheffa said...

Bluemongoose said:

Ignorant scribes. The scribes were not ignorant. God inspired them. They weren't ignorant since they were filled with the Spirit..


How would go about verifying that God did in fact inspire the anonymously written un-dated gospel accounts that were included in the New Testament Canon? These accounts are only four (not even independent) accounts among a host of many other contradictory stories written about this man named Jesus. How would you decide which ones were reliable and which ones were fictional as they can't all be correct?

Don't you find it interesting that this wonderful creator come in the flesh is unable to provide even the faintest hint of information or insight into the nature of the universe at large that wasn't already part of the general understanding and consensus of the day?

The only way to support your statement that the authors of the Gospels were "God-inspired" is to wish it to be so...In the end, against all the evidence to the contrary, you must make a leap of faith that this is in fact true.

I'm sorry to say, but wishing really hard for something won't make it true. Like Dorothy, when you look a little closer we can see that there isn't anything supernatural there behind the curtain.

-evan

BIuemongoose said...

Anthony:

Easy. Peter Enns just fits the evidence to support his conclusion. Next.

Inspiration. How do you know they weren't inspired? I have a great rebuttal to objections that even scholars can't answer. Does a PhD mean anything anymore?

Walter said...

Easy. Peter Enns just fits the evidence to support his conclusion. Next.

Inspiration. How do you know they weren't inspired? I have a great rebuttal to objections that even scholars can't answer. Does a PhD mean anything anymore?


I have not read any of Peter Enns books, but I have read almost all of Bart Ehrman's. If you feel you can debunk him, I would like to hear it.

I, also, would like to hear the great rebuttal that stumps scholars with PhDs.

Anthony said...

Blue: Peter Enns just fits the evidence to support his conclusion.

First, have you even read his book? Secondly, show where he "fits" evidence to support his conclusions.

Show us where he is wrong with the ancient near eastern material in relation to the OT.

Show us where he is wrong in regard to the theological diversity in the OT.

Show us where he is wrong with how the NT writers mishandled and misinterpreted the OT.

Blue: How do you know they weren't inspired?

Umm, well, let's see, the shear amount of historical-critical problems with the bible. The lack of historicity with much of it. The overwhelming evidence of biological evolution and the natural history of our planet all speak against the bible being divinely inspired. Rather, it has all the marks of being written by pre-scientific, near eastern, superstitious people.

Blue: I have a great rebuttal to objections that even scholars can't answer.

Quit trying to be coy and just come out with your rebuttal or at least point us to where those arguments are located.

Does a PhD mean anything anymore?

What does this mean? Are you saying you have a PhD? If so, in what area?

BIuemongoose said...

Anthony:

Reading a book. I wouldn't need to read Enns to know that he is wrong. He holds to erroneous premises. Hence erroneous conclusions.

Pre-scientific. Why is this a bad thing? Science can't tell us everything.

PhD. I don't have one nor need one. I find that having degrees from schools results in a lack of realistic thinking. Agendas replace honest inquiry. Relativism reigns with scholars. But why do they expect people to understand them? Hmmm.

Showing where someone is wrong. Can you show where I am wrong? I can show where the liberals are wrong.

I am setting up for my upcoming apologetic. I just need you to prepare and comprehend it. It will be something truly new to you. If my apologetics fail, so do I. But they won't, and I won't. Only humanism does.

BIuemongoose said...

A hint: why hasn't Christ returned to the earth. Think about it. This is top level thinking I am going to engage you in.

Walter said...

A hint: why hasn't Christ returned to the earth. Think about it. This is top level thinking I am going to engage you in.

A) Because Jesus was just a failed apocalyptic prophet who claimed that he would return within the lifetime of his contemporaries.

B) The return prophecies may have been later embellishments by devoted believers, but I consider (A) to be more likely.

C) He was a completely mythical construct who never existed at all. (I do not find this likely).

This is three plausible reasons why Jesus fails to return century after century.

Anthony said...

Blue: Reading a book. I wouldn't need to read Enns to know that he is wrong. He holds to erroneous premises. Hence erroneous conclusions.

How do you know what his premises are without having read his book? And just what are his "erroneous premises" that you find objectionable? My suspicion is that he doesn't presume that the Bible is God's inerrant Word and you disagree.

Blue: I can show where the liberals are wrong.

Please proceed.... I'm waiting.

Blue: I am setting up for my upcoming apologetic. I just need you to prepare and comprehend it.

I hope this isn't the so-called Transcendental Argument for God (TAG) or some form of it. If so, then I expect you will get some of the following responses....

"You have got to be kidding, this again...."

"Yawn... anything else...."

Tyler said...

"Because Jesus was just a failed apocalyptic prophet who claimed that he would return within the lifetime of his contemporaries."

Verse please?

Walter said...

Tyler says..."Verse please?"

Certainly:

Matthew 16:28
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Matthew 23:36
Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Matthew 34:34
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

Mark 9:1
Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Mark 14:62
And ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.


All these words were spoken directly to people standing around Jesus at the time.

Tyler said...

Hi Walter,

Those verses are talking about the transfiguration, not the second coming!

Tyler said...

Read the following 2 verses after Matt 16:28

Mt 17:1 And after six days, Jesus is taking aside Peter and James and John, his brother, and is bringing them up into a high mountain, privately,

Mt 17:2 and was transformed in front of them. And His face shines as the sun, yet His garments became~ white as the light.

Walter said...

Those verses are talking about the transfiguration, not the second coming!

Mark 14:62 has Jesus talking to the Jewish High Priest. It is not referring to the Transfiguration. It is a failed prophecy.

Also note:
The later written Gospel of John no longer has Jesus talking about his immanent return with the Kingdom of God. It is because the verses of his immanent return were beginning to be an embarrassment to the early church.

Tyler said...

Also, Mark 9:2

Mk 9:2 "And after six days, Jesus is taking aside Peter and James and John and is bringing them up into a very high mountain, privately, alone. And He was transformed in front of them."

Identical. So why are you quoting verses out of context that you do not even understand?

Tyler said...

Mk 14:62 "Now Jesus said, "I am; and you shall be seeing the son of mankind sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven."

So there is no WHEN in this verse! And you are making assumptions that you know what this verse is about. Do clouds COME? What is the "right hand of power"? Who is the son of mankind? WHEN shall they see this? WHAT are they going to see?

Walter said...

Mark 13:24-30
"But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens...when you see these things happening you will know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened."


Typically conservative Christians will attempt to use the rationalization of Dispensationalism: that Jesus was 'talking' to a future generation, but the plain reading of the text has Jesus talking to his contemporaries. Also, he qualifies this prophecy by saying that God would gather the elect before the kingdom of God comes in power. Did not happen before the Transfiguration.

Tyler said...

"It is because the verses of his immanent return were beginning to be an embarrassment to the early church."

What utter nonsense! Who told you that, the Bible fairy? Why do you make such unsubstatiated claims? Are you really that desperate to make a case? PLEASE!

Walter said...

If I may post an excerpt from Paul N. Tobin's site RejectingPascal'sWager:

http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/kingdom.html

"In the fourth century, some Christian theologians hit upon the idea that Mark 9:1 could be interpreted as referring, not to the parousia, but to the Transfiguration! [8] We have already discussed the Transfiguration elsewhere. It is obvious that the explanation is absurd in the extreme and amounts to no more than theological wishful thinking. There are two reasons why this why this explanation is absurd. Firstly, if we look at the Transfiguration account as depicted in any of the gospels, it was an event that could hardly have been interpreted as "the kingdom of God come to power". And secondly if someone says "some of you will still be alive when such-and-such a thing happen" the time lapse he is thinking about would be around a few years or a few decades. According to Mark 9:2, the Transfiguration took place six days after Jesus said that some of those listening to him will still be alive during the coming of the kingdom. To ask a rhetorical question: how many of the hearers did Jesus expect to drop dead within that six day span such that only some of them would be alive at the time of the Transfiguration? [9] No the transfiguration hypothesis simply does not hold water." -Paul Tobin

Anthony said...

Tyler: Verse please?

Typical Christian, if you don't have chapter and verse then they are not very likely to listen or believe anything you say.

Since there are a number of issues and texts I would suggest the following works on the topic.

1. Bart Erhman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium

2. Dale C. Allison, Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet

3. James D.G. Dunn, Jesus Remember

There are a host of other scholars as well.

Tyler said...

"it was an event that could hardly have been interpreted as "the kingdom of God come to power"

WHAT????? According to whom???? What is the "Kingdom of God"? How does it COME? This joker does not have a clue what he is talking about! The baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts could be considered the Kingdom of God coming in power!

Also, the Greek word for GENERATION is "genea" which can also be translated as age, nation, and time.

Tyler said...

Anthony,

As is clearly pointed out from the verses mentioned, these verses do not say that Christ was returning in their lifetime. That is a false assumption and misinterpretation of those verses, as I have clearly pointed out. Your hermeneutics and exegesis need some fine tuning.

Tyler said...

James D.G. Dunn agrees with me. So why did you list his book?

Walter said...

Tyler aka DenCol says:
The baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts could be considered the Kingdom of God coming in power!

No it could not, because Jesus clearly stated that the elect would be gathered before the kingdom comes in power.

Try reading the book that you worship.

Anthony said...

Tyler: So why are you quoting verses out of context that you do not even understand?

Oh, so you understand them because you have the "holy spirit" in you right? Not.

Tyler: And you are making assumptions that you know what this verse is about.

And you are doing the same thing my friend. Sorry, but you do not corner the market on understanding the Bible.

Tyler: Are you really that desperate to make a case? PLEASE!

Cool down my friend, why so hot under the collar?

Tyler said...

Walter,

Who are the elect and what does it mean to be "gathered"? The Holy Spirit unifies the body of Christ! You do not have a clue what you are talking about! Do some resaearch before you make such asinine statements.

Walter said...

Liberal Christians have no problem admitting that the bible contains human mistakes. I am not interested in arguing with fundamentalist bibliolaters who cannot accept the plain truth that the books of the bible are neither harmonious nor inerrant.

Tyler said...

Walter,

FYI I am NOT a fundamentalist, nor do I hold to Biblical inerrancy. In fact, I do not believe that II Thessalonians was written by Paul, nor do I believe it should be included in the Canon. So please, once again, stop assuming things and find out the facts before you speak.

Anthony said...

Tyler: James D.G. Dunn agrees with me. So why did you list his book?

Does he now, see the following from page 479 of Jesus Remembered:

"Jesus' own experience of anointing and ministry empowered by the same Spirit/power of God may in itself have convinced him that God's longed-for (final) manifestation of his royal rule was already in evidence and that its full manifestation could therefore not be long delayed... The point is that such treatments have found it impossible to deny that Jesus had expressed expectation for the imminent happening of events which did not happen. Jesus' kingdom preaching cannot be disentangled from imminent expectation, with or without 'apocalyptic' features. Which also means that Jesus had entertained hopes which were not fulfilled. There were 'final' elements in his expectation which were not realized. Putting it bluntly, Jesus was proved wrong by the course of events."

Notice that Dunn states that Jesus expectations were wrong and were not fulfilled! That's the essence of the failed apocalyptic prophet view.

eheffa said...

So Tyler...

You seem to be quite discriminatory; recognizing that the pseudoepigraphical book of II Thessalonians is unworthy of its canonical status. How would you recognize or determine the inspirational source of any of the other canonical works? You don't take the traditional canon of the 4th C CE as a God inspired decision?

Where & how did the author of the book we call "The Gospel of Mark" get his information? (Besides the Septuagint that is, as many of his Midrashic themes closely parallel OT stories...)At what point would be willing to consider the idea that it could be little more than a pious fabrication - just like II Thessalonians?

Don't you consider it remarkable that the precision freak creator of the Hydrogen atom or the designer of the chromosome could be so sloppy in his documentation of the most important event in human history?

Just wondering...how do you keep these anachronistic ideas from eroding your faith?

Tyler said...

Anthony,

I just went and read pg 479 on Amazon. YOU ARE CORRECT! I am shocked by the ignorance of such a great scholar as Dunn. His commentary on Romans (which I have) is outstanding. I had no idea he believed that about eschatology. I have lost almost all the respect I had for him.

eheffa said...

Sory Tyler, That should be "Discriminating"...I didn't mean that as a pejorative term.

-evan

eheffa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyler said...

eheffa,

My faith is not in the current canon. I judge whatever I read for myself. I do not let any man tell me what should or should not be canon. I read each book and each statement for myself. If God speaks to me, then fine.

Man put the canon together, and man is fallible. I have doubts about the book of James, Jude Revelation, 2 3 John etc. My faith is in God, not in some man made canon.

eheffa said...

Tyler said:

My faith is not in the current canon. I judge whatever I read for myself. I do not let any man tell me what should or should not be canon. I read each book and each statement for myself. If God speaks to me, then fine.

Man put the canon together, and man is fallible. I have doubts about the book of James, Jude Revelation, 2 3 John etc. My faith is in God, not in some man made canon.


So God speaks to you to discriminate between those man made books & those he inspired?

I hope you can appreciate that this is a rather subjective and unfalsifiable criterion for determining the veracity of any given work of pious intent.

To repeat my question in different terms; How would you go about distinguishing between works of pious fiction and those of reliable historical veracity?

How do any of the Canonical books of the Bible achieve any sort of authority or measurable reliability? Why stop at the books you list above - aren't they all rather suspect?

-evan

Tyler said...

eheffa,

I let the Holy Spirit lead me into HIS truth. God has the ability to speak to me when He so chooses. If parts of the Bible do not encourage or edify, then I do not spend my time there. I do not need to figure it all out. God is capable to show me the truth. If I make a mistake, then God knows my fallibilty, and I do not worry about it. I do not need a correct Canon to commune with God.

Anthony said...

Tyler, the last couple of posts from you have confirmed in my mind what Walter already suggested. That you are Dennis Collis (DenCol, savedbygrace, DRC, etc.) assuming yet another name and profile so you can continue posting your constant dribble.

Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John W. Loftus said...

Tyler/DenCol, don't you understand you're on an atheist site? Are you that dense? You can't burst in here proclaiming something you cannot back up, which you do all of the time?

Once again. Go away. Sheesh.

BIuemongoose said...

Anthony:

Jesus's return. Why haven't you figured it out yet? This one has stumped scholars for ages. Proof a PhD isn't worth much.

Another hint: Think about the fact that we have bodies and can't doubt that.

I am leading you through something new so the process will be slow.

Debunking Ehrman. He relies on his students for his sources. Enough said.

Transcendental argument. If you mean Kant, he is just a minor figure with nothing important to say.

Anthony said...

Blue: Jesus's return. Why haven't you figured it out yet? This one has stumped scholars for ages. Proof a PhD isn't worth much.

I haven't tried to figure anything out regarding "Jesus's return" since I do not believe he will do so. I'm not sure what your point is anyway, but the simple fact that you believe you have an answer that has eluded scholars is interesting but arrogant.

I've read much on the various views of the "second coming" from liberal to conservative, from literal views to figurative, so I doubt that you can contribute anything that hasn't already been said.

Blue: I am leading you through something new so the process will be slow.

This should be interesting, bring it on. But I question why the delay and why the evasiveness.

Blue: Debunking Ehrman. He relies on his students for his sources. Enough said.

This is simply silly. Many scholars use their students to assist in research and publication, this is pretty standard so your issue with it is unfounded. If you mean something else then be specific and document your accusation.

Blue: Transcendental argument. If you mean Kant, he is just a minor figure with nothing important to say.

I mean the so-called transcendental argument for god's existence as in TAG, presuppositional apologetics, Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, etc.

BIuemongoose said...

Anthony:

Bodies. Tell me why we cannot doubt that we have bodies.

Van Til. Van Til did not use transcendental arguments. He was a presuppositionalist.

The return of Jesus. This has to do with why we have bodies.

BIuemongoose said...

Anthony:

Tell me why evolution has failed to solve many problems in theology. And why relativism is the only outcome of science. Hmmm. Why can we trust the scientific jargon if it comes from chaos?

My argument. The return of Christ explains why we have bodies and it cannot be doubted. It also has to do with Hebrew numerology.

Owlmirror said...

«"Tell me why evolution has failed to solve many problems in theology.

Why should evolution solve problems in theology? Evolution explains how life changes over time. Theology is fiction.

«"And why relativism is the only outcome of science.

It isn't.

«"Why can we trust the scientific jargon if it comes from chaos?

Since science doesn't come from chaos, but is rooted in the empirical world, and uses the self-correcting scientific method, we can indeed trust it.

«"The return of Christ explains why we have bodies and it cannot be doubted.

LOL. I doubt that.

«"It also has to do with Hebrew numerology.

LOL! Gematria, for the FAIL. Bring on your gematria.

Anthony said...

Bodies. Tell me why we cannot doubt that we have bodies.

Well, Blue, maybe we don't. Maybe we are brains in a mad scientists vat, maybe we are only spirit beings dreaming about having bodies, or maybe we actually live in the Matrix, and it's all a mental/virtual construct. You tell me why we cannot doubt we have bodies. I'm interested in seeing where you are wanting to take this. Although it would be nice if you would just spell out your argument instead of being evasive.

Van Til. Van Til did not use transcendental arguments. He was a presuppositionalist.

Well TAG is very much a presuppositionalist viewpoint and Van Til did in fact use it, see here.

The return of Jesus. This has to do with why we have bodies.

Quit being coy and evasive and spell out your argument. After all you are the one who keeps saying that we do not engage you, how can we when you won't tell us your arguments.

Tell me why evolution has failed to solve many problems in theology.

You make me laugh Blue. Evolution isn't here to solve any problems in theology. In fact theology continues to compromise and give heed to evolution. The reality of it is that evolution actually refutes theology (which is partially why I ended up rejecting Christianity).

And why relativism is the only outcome of science. Hmmm. Why can we trust the scientific jargon if it comes from chaos?

It would help if you would educate yourself on science and evolution. The constant reference to relativism is what is making me wonder if your trying to lead us into a transcendental argument for god's existence.

My argument. The return of Christ explains why we have bodies and it cannot be doubted. It also has to do with Hebrew numerology.

"My argument," you haven't made any arguments yet, only assertions. Put your assertion that Christ's return explains why we have bodies into an actual argument.

Hebrew numerology? Seriously? I think I'm starting to lose any confidence that you will have anything of real substance to say. Numerology is really akin to astrology. Numerology? You are serious, right? Wow.

Russ said...

BIuemongoose,
You said,

Russ:
Ignorant scribes. The scribes were not ignorant. God inspired them. They weren't ignorant since they were filled with the Spirit. Don't believe Ehrman. I can debunk him.

I was a rather precocious child, so, now, in my fifties, I've been following, analyzing, and assessing these issues for more than forty years. Those who concocted the Bible were profoundly ignorant. Concerning Ehrman, my guess is that you'll not even make a good attempt at debunking him.

Did you understand what was going on in "Misquoting Jesus"? How about "Lost Christianities"? [Note the plural here. Who'da thunk sucha thang? Who'da thunk that more Christianities have come and gone than still exist today, even though somewhere around 40,000 distinct Christianties exist today?]

Realize that Mr. Ehrman was once like you Blue. He was once upon a time (kinda fairy tale like ain't it) a fundamentalist Christian like you. He was "born again" in his youth(me too, while I was too ignorant to understand that what was really happening to me was completely natural. I've even seen "born again, the sequel"). He attended Moody Bible Institute. He attended Wheaton College(For Christ and His Kingdom) when Billy Graham(Heaven is 1600 miles long, 1600 miles wide and 1600 miles wide. Clearly, heaven is far more compact than the rest of the cosmos.) was its President. Then, he went to Princeton Theological Seminary(oops, not all things theological are exactly what they seem). And, now, his mind has been changed - by the evidence - to something distinct from mindlessly credulous. If you're lucky, you might be so influenced here and follow Ehrman's path to intellectual respectability.

So, regale us with your awesome insights that will save the poor sinners, but you can leave me out since I've never been a sinner. Fact is, I've never seen a sinner. I've seen many wonderful people, but never a sinner. Maybe you could tell us what you think sinners look like because I've never seen one.

See, in my country, the US, I have freedom of religion which means that, just like you, I can pretend or makeup anything I want, and call it religion. Those US founding fathers were insightful.

Realize, too, that all of us have just as much religious authority as you or any clergyman has. Realize that my religious freedom means that, just like you, I am the ultimate authority concerning what any holy book says. The Bible, the Qu'ran, or any other holy book says exactly what I say it says. You have no authority to tell me what any religious book, creed or doctrine says. I determine any or all of it for myself. If I want to make up a whole new religion, even another whole new Christianity, nothing can bar my way. Joseph Smith did it. Mary Baker Eddy did it. L. Ron Hubbard did it.

If you allot even a moment's thought to that notion, you will see that you are no one's religious authority, Christian or other. So when you say things like,

I am setting up for my upcoming apologetic. I just need you to prepare and comprehend it. It will be something truly new to you. If my apologetics fail, so do I. But they won't, and I won't. Only humanism does.

I do hope you are at the same time prepared for few to be impressed. My guess is that you will vomit up something that is novel to you, that you've merely never heard before, so you think it is something quite special. You think it's special, it's unique, it's the real deal. But, that's not likely.

So, blather on all you like about what this bit means or that bit means from any religious book that you might choose. None of it means anything but what I say it means. I am a 100 percent completely religiously free individual, which means that I can completely ignore anything you have to say.

As for me, I say nothing in the Bible is to be taken as literal, and none it describes real people or real events. The Bible was not divinely inspired, being instead a poorly written and chaotically cobbled human fiction.

Cool Running said...

Russ,

The Jordan River and the Dead Sea, did not exist? Israel and Egypt did not exist? NONE of the Bible has any factual places?

Cool Running said...

So just the people and events were made up? For what puropse? To show what a jerk God was for flooding the earth? etc etc etc

If I was going to make up a book about a LOVING God, I sure would not have written the Bible! So what is the agenda of these man made events?

Walter said...

If I was going to make up a book about a LOVING God, I sure would not have written the Bible!

You said it, brother! Because the bible sure is NOT showing a loving god.

Cool Running said...

So why would men make up all of these horrible events if their agenda was to make up a story about a loving God???? What was their motive and agenda to depict such a terrible God???

Walter said...

So why would men make up all of these horrible events if their agenda was to make up a story about a loving God???? What was their motive and agenda to depict such a terrible God???

Life was harsh during Old Testament times, so the people's harsh lifestyles were reflected in their God.

O.T. God was a tribal Tyrant King who rained slaughter down on anyone for the slightest disobedience (as well as any group outside of the chosen tribe).

Jesus was a teddy bear compared to his Pappy.

Cool Running said...

"Life was harsh during Old Testament times, so the people's harsh lifestyles were reflected in their God."

So then you believe the OT stories?

Walter said...

So then you believe the OT stories?

Archaeologists are having a hard time finding evidence for the Exodus from Egypt or the conquest of Canaan during the times mentioned in the OT.

I am sure that there is some 'core' history in there, though.

Cool Running said...

Whay about the flood? Did that ever take place? If your answer is no, then there is one less thing for you to be mad at God about.

Walter said...

Whay about the flood? Did that ever take place? If your answer is no, then there is one less thing for you to be mad at God about.

No, I do not believe the flood happened.

No, I am not mad at God (if indeed a Deity exists).

No, I do not think that Elohim or Yahweh is God. I think it is a story.

Cool Running said...

So then you do not believe in the God of the Bible. Do you believe in any higher power or are you agnostic?

Walter said...

CR,

I am agnostic( and maybe a little deistic).

Cool Running said...

Fair enough. I was a full blown atheist for about 5 years before my conversion.

Cool Running said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

Fair enough. I was a full blown atheist for about 5 years before my conversion.

You must have been a very ignorant atheist with the way you have been arguing on this board. Otherwise you would know that a person's experience is unpersusative to a critical/free thinking mind.

Anthony said...

unpersusative

That was supposed to be "unpersuasive."

Cool Running said...

Yes, I am unpersuaded that you have loving and romantic feelings for and from your wife. That is just your experience. Maybe you are just delusional or wishful thinking.

Cromm said...

See, savedbygrace, you do get it after all. You can't even know that Anthony has a wife at all, so you should definitely be taking his claims about her with a grain of salt.

Especially if Anthony were demanding that you live your life in particular ways on the basis of what his putative wife wants you to do.

Scott said...

Cool,

Personally, I do not deny that people have peak or profound experiences. What I'm questioning is your claim that these experiences are caused by the Christian God or are "supernatural" in nature.

That we experience love, does not mean that love is "supernatural." This is an argument from ignorance.

Furthermore, so are your claims retarding "miraculous" transformations. Unless you know why these people became killers in the first place, and that only God could "cure" them, their change of demeanor is not evidence that supports your claims.

Cool Running said...

Scott,

Then give me another example of a mass murderer who changed his way for other reasons.

Scott said...

Cool wrote: Then give me another example of a mass murderer who changed his way for other reasons.

I'm closing out my comments with Cool as he has been banned.

However, I wanted close by noting that we do not need to provide "other" examples to show Cool's claims are without merit.

We have to get from point A to point B not be cause Cool asserts that the Christian God actually caused the transformation. Or that the mere idea of the Christian God may have caused the transformation. Cool must show that a transition from A to B is only plausibly explained by the Christian God acting and existing in reality.

Cool has not done so. Instead, he suggested that, because he could not think of any other reason, the Christian God must have used his supernatural ability to bring it about. We don't even know the Christian God exist in any form, let alone that he has the ability to cause the transformation, or actually applied said ability in any case or this specific case.

Clearly, this is an argument from ignorance.

Furthermore, should God exist, it may be the case that he can strike down people with bolts of lightning. However this does not mean that every person (or any person at all) struck by lighting must have been struck down by God.

The same can be said for these transformations. Should God exist, he might have the ability to supernaturally transform people's lives. But the burden in on Cool to show that God's supernatural ability is the only plausible explanation and therefore must be the cause.

BIuemongoose said...

Scott:

God striking people with lightning bolts. No! No! No! He is merciful. He cannot do that. He is bound to his goodness.

Anthony:

Hebrew numerology is serious businsess. It requires the utmost concentration and the ability to seek out meaning across a variety of disciplines.

Anthony, have you ever wondered why God has never been debunked? Have you ever wondered why arguments for him still exist? Because he exists. Since He exists, arguments for Him exist. And the return of Christ explains so much especially in light of Hebrew numerology. This is mind blowing stuff. I know.

Ravi Zacharias. Have you read and understood Ravi? Do you know why he says life is incoherent without God? Do you know that he refuted Kant? And he did that without a PhD! God has granted us wisdom the PhDs don't have!

Owlmirror said...

«"God striking people with lightning bolts. No! No! No! He is merciful. He cannot do that. He is bound to his goodness.

God is not merciful. You defend God's murders all the time.

Oh, and you also force your way back in when you've been asked to leave. Your arrogance and rudeness are noted.


«"Hebrew numerology is serious businsess.

Gematria is a crock.

«"It requires the utmost concentration and the ability to seek out meaning across a variety of disciplines.

It requires the willingness to lie to yourself about meaning.


«"Because he exists. Since He exists, arguments for Him exist.

This is the pathetic fallacy of begging the question. Not that I expect your pathetically tiny intellect to understand that.

«"And the return of Christ explains so much especially in light of Hebrew numerology.

Since Christ never existed except, perhaps, as a confused and/or lying mortal, much like yourself, he will not return, and therefore his return cannot explain anything at all.

Gematria is completely irrelevant.

«"Do you know why he says life is incoherent without God?

Because he doesn't know what "coherent" actually means. Neither do you, obviously.

«"Do you know that he refuted Kant?

He Kant have done that.

«"God has granted us wisdom the PhDs don't have!

Since God does not exist, God has granted you nothing. Your so-called "wisdom" is nothing but self-delusion.

After all, if your wisdom was real, there's no reason you could not also acquire a Ph.D. But your wisdom is fake, and your ignorance is appalling.