Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if Christianity is True?

20) That while scientific tests on petitionary prayers have produced at best negligible results and at worst completely falsified them, God answers these kinds of prayers anyway.

64 comments:

Raiyden said...

God answers prayers by a system he created called chance every time someone prays he rolls his magical dice!

For every 10,000 rolls of his dice someone gets cured of cancer or some other illness.

Not sure what the exact odds are but it's close to what you would expect as if he didn't exist. If he made it too obvious that he existed you couldn't choose to have faith on whether he existed!

shane said...

Good point Raiyden!

God doesn't want to make it too obvious so that our faith can be invoked, yet Jesus says "anything you ask in my name it will be given to you"?

This is an interesting post.
I former friend of mine who is a devout christian, recently spread across facebook that his newly wed wife was having problems with her pergnancy.
He was asking all the christian friends of his to pray for help with this issue.

I had been talking to him two weeks prior, and he informed me that he was closer to the lord then he was 3 years ago when I attended church with him.
He honestly feels that his wife was given to him by God...etc..

Then all the sudden, his wife begins to have complications, and he is appealing to other believers for prayer and was obviously very upset.

As sympathetic as I felt, I could not help but wonder-"where was all his faith in God"?....."If God was working in this man's life then why was he so earnestly appealing for prayers"?

To me this just went to show that even the most devout and faithful believer has doubts deep down inside as to whether God really has their back or not!!!!

No doubt, if eveything turns out ok, then he will believe God intervened!
If not, then it must have been Gods will, 'right'?

Raiyden said...

I never said I agreed with how God answers prayer and it's truly sad that he couldn't have made a better system but i don't know how else you would explain it!

Worst part is some believers go to extreme lengths in hopes their prayers will be answered even though their chance is the same as anyone else.

Andre said...

Pardon me, but your admin would also be slow if you had 2 billion people nagging you every day ;)

shane said...

Raiyden.

I know what you meant, I was agreeing with you sarcastically!

Raiyden said...

I love it when Christians tell you the reason you didn't get an answer to prayer is because you didn't pray hard enough, or there is sin in your life as if that explains it, lol

Chris Porter said...

The Cruci - Fiction

Recent Alterations.

First of all I would like to point out the fact that the bible is not a static source of information and is constantly being changed to fit the religous organizations agendas. One of the most blatant examples of this is the fact that the King James Version was written in 1604 and completed and published in 1611. When we look at specific passages of Acts and Galations we see the word tree in the scriptures. Then when we look at the (New American Standard Bible) which was copyright in 1960 we see the word tree has been replaced with the word cross.

1. Lets take a closer look at a verse from the (King James Version) Acts 5:30 which states “..... continued at http://jesusasthesun.blogspot.com/

Ajay said...

1. If prayers are answered, then God exists.
2. I have often prayed that DM would stop posting here.
3. DM continues to post here.
4. My prayers have not been answered.
5. God does not exist.

Chris Porter said...

Oh My God!!!

Mark Plus said...

1. What happens when you pray, "Lord, I ask you to ignore this prayer"?

2. The Protestant churches ended the Catholic practice of praying to saints, even though Catholic tradition claims that their saints performed miracles in response to these prayers, often in living memory. Protestants might still believe that historical figures with the saints' names existed, worshiped the right god, lived exemplary lives and went to heaven after they died; they just stopped believing that these dead Jews or Christians could hear prayers and had the power to do anything about them.

Despite the weight of Catholic evidence for the saints' miraculous powers, why didn't the Protestants suffer for their "atheism" regarding them?

3. Why do people who pray to just any god at random can't tell the difference between praying to a false god and praying to an allegedly true god? Plenty of Christians converted to Islam in the lands the Muslims conquered, for example, so why did they switch the object of their prayers so readily like it didn't make any difference?

T. A. Lewis said...

Of course this is true and crystal clear to anyone who understands science but I’ve heard fundamentalists dismiss this reasoning and the studies behind it with Matthew 11:25 “At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.’”

To counter such stupidity, I like to point out that all religions and superstitions have “answered prayers” and that they are verifiably nearly identical claims to what many Christians believe constitutes an answered prayer. From big things in one’s life like “God gave me my wonderful family” to small things like “the Lord helped us with this mechanical job today by making it go smooth”, they are all ad hoc attribution.

If the rejoinder claims that the prayers of other religions are being really answered, I point out that this completely undermines any sort of truth claims one has about any one religion. But that usually isn’t the response.

The usual one I hear is that for those other religions it is a case of confirmation bias. But answered prayers are really real in Christianity.

I point out that this is an example of the special pleading fallacy. I’ve heard at this point the knavish reply “one can’t use logic to ascertain some things.” So, then I’ve brought up demographics.

If only Christian prayers are answered, then health statistics should be better in highly Christian countries since obviously health is a big thing people pray for. This isn’t the case.

At this point I’ve heard a fundamentalist refer back to Matthew 11:25 because the reasoning involves statistics.

Yeah, it’s a brutal, dumb circle but once some people believe something, no amount of clear reasoning or facts will change their mind.

Chris Porter said...

The Cruci - Fiction

http://jesusasthesun.blogspot.com/

zenmite said...

Years ago, my father walked into his business and found the manager (a born-again christian) on his knees praying to god for a piece of electronic equipment to be miraculously repaired. (it wasn't) Prayer works like astrology. You rationalize or ignore the misses and play-up the few hits.

shane said...

Here are some famous sayings I heard from christians in regards to unanswered prayer, or prayer in general.
Im sure most of you can relate to these.

-"God does not answer prayer on our timing, He answers it on His timing".

- "God works in mysterious ways"

- "You did not have enough faith, the problem is not with God, its with you".

- "God did not answer your prayer because you probably have unconfessed sins".

- "God DID answer your prayer, He just did it in a way you do not see/understand".

- "You did not pray earnestly enough".

- "Your prayer was not inline with Gods will".

To me, these are just copouts, but they are so abundant among the christian community!

Breckmin said...

The problem with "scientific tests on pititionary prayers" is that no mature believer would ever test God.

These so called "tests" set themselves up for failure and perhaps judgement (worse results
due to falsely testing the Holy Creator and a false interpretation of these results which results in the deception of those doing the testing -self fulfilling).

I don't need to talk about the thousands of answered prayers I have had. There are 100 million Christians who can testify to this.

20) That while scientific tests attempt to test God which is unscriptural, the results are not only meaningless - but could have a reverse affect as a result of God's LOGICAL judgement of such evil.

IF you say "how is testing prayer evil?"

The answer is clearly "testing a Holy Creator with your lack of trust in Him - which demonstrates your disregard for His Holy Law."

Loving God is the greatest commandment. Trusting God is part of loving Him.

No believer I know would EVER participate in such a "scientific" experiment to test a Holy God.

Some would logically even be too afraid (most wouldn't do it because of their love for their Creator and their knowledge of how they should always trust Him).

T. A. Lewis said...

Breckmin,

The "thousands of answered prayers" that you've had are exactly equivalent to the thousands of interventions in reality claimed on behalf of countless deities and superstitions around the world.

How do you reconcile this?

Russ said...

Breckmin said,

I don't need to talk about the thousands of answered prayers I have had.

Good, since you've never had a prayer answered. What you consider to be answered prayers are simply favorable outcomes which you misattribute to the intentional intervention of some god. These misattributions result directly from ignorance, coincidence, charlatanism of clergy, intentional actions taken by 100 percent supernatural-free human beings, not the intervention by an otherworldly deity. What you attribute to your god, different believers attribute to their god, and non-believers recognize same for the natural phenomena they are.

All people reside in the same reality, but the religious insist on misreading and misattributing that reality to accommodate and prop up superstitions perpetuated through tradition, revelation and authority. The religious have developed habits of behavior and language which continually reinforce their superstitions and assure the continuation of their being misinformed about the true nature of the world they dwell in.

Your prayers are not answered, Breckmin, but don't despair since no one else's are either.

Hendy said...

Interesting posts. Someone asked me what I thought about Lourdes miracles now that I disbelieve. I first began responding that 67 confirmed miracles out of 5 million visitors was hardly a success story.

Even so, the logic is that if pilgrims go to Lourdes and experience healing that is statistically highly improbable, it's god's doing.

Well, with a little bit of research, I found these:

- 40 Lourdes Pilgrims killed in train collision
- 24 pilgrims die headed for holy site; bus drives off steep cliff
- 12 pilgrims die in Philippines bus crash
- 15 die on way to Fatima
- 7 Shiites die in crash
- 36 Hindu pilgrims die
- 60 Hindu pilgrims die
- Canadian Holy Year pilgrims coming from Rome via plane crash
- 2 buses of Catholic pilgrims collide, killing 83

So, here we have examples of individuals headed to pray to god, probably many of them for healing (especially the Lourdes crash; check the headline on the first link) who were killed or hurt in a statistically highly improbably situation.

I mean, take the number of times pilgrims specifically get together for a trip compared to daily commuters and figure out the probability of dying in an auto, train, or plane crash in which the vehicle was carrying only pilgrims. That's got to be low. Very low.

Yet in one or just a few of the crashes above, we have more deaths (not just injuries) than the entire history of Lourdes' verified miracles over the last 150 or so years (1854 or so - present).

In any case, my point is that if god is responsible for the great miracles (statistically improbable occurrences of good), then he should be responsible for the bad (statistically improbable occurrences of horrible things happening specifically to worshippers).

This is one of the reasons for my disbelief. Countless times I find natural explanations so far superior to my previous beliefs that I don't know how I could hold them anymore.

- Supernatural: god heals people in response to prayer in a real manner, but makes it look just like chance occurrences of amazing self-recoveries, answers prayers only when certain conditions are met which no one even knows. Good is always his doing, but bad (like pilgrims dying) is not his fault.

- Natural: it's all chance. Some people recover amazingly without treatment, others don't. Everyone travels and every transportation method has had fatal accidents. Pilgrims travel so pilgrims will have fatal accidents. It's unfortunate but their deaths happen because they are a subset of the group of humans known as 'travelers', not because they are pilgrims. In the same way, their 'healings' happen because they are a subset of the group 'humans', not because they are pilgrims.

Russ said...

Hendy,

The natural remission rates for many forms of cancer are higher than the rate of purported miraculous healings at places like Lourdes. We can be quite sure that while 67 are claimed to have had a healin' at Lourdes, many thousands out of those millions of pilgrims to Lourdes will have had their lives shortened significantly by the strain of making the trip. It's quite conceivable that more than 67 of those millions will have died at Lourdes itself or in route there or back. Many more will have had their quality of life worsened due to the expense, and more still will have left the financial burden of the excursion to Lourdes as a legacy for their families. The true benefit of Lourdes skips the afflicted and their families and makes its way to the church and other businesses.

The farce that is religious healing can be seen at some of the websites cataloguing such things. Christian Scientists are particularly good at citing as a miraculous healing any successful human immune system response, or a headache that disappeared, or an intestinal gas bubble which followed its natural course. Their testimonies make sad comedy, but they serve to highlight how religion's superstitions are maintained by the ways belief conditions the believer's thoughts.

You said,

Countless times I find natural explanations so far superior to my previous beliefs that I don't know how I could hold them anymore.

I've investigated many miracle claims by the religious in my life and in every case faulty thinking or understanding proved to be the real stuff of miracles. In my own family the Christian fundamentalist faction is a veritable volcano of miracle claims; none of which are miracles; all of which bespeak an habituation of uneducated medieval thought.

"I noticed the transmission fluid leaking from my truck. It's a miracle."

"Madge cut back to smoking only two packs a day. It's a miracle."

"The tree smashed my garage to smithereens, but it missed my new mower. It's a miracle."

"If I hadda been two hours earlier coming through that intersection, it wouldda been me in that accident. It's a miracle."

"Little Jimmy couldda got gangrene in that paper cut, but instead, it healed. It's a miracle."

One of my personal favorite miracle claims is one my aunts saying, "The income tax refund came on Monday. The brakes went out on Tuesday. The Lord kept the brakes from failing until He knew we could pay to have 'em fixed. It's a miracle."

Seriously, those are what passes for miracles with most of the Christian fundamentalists in my family. Those are actual miracle claims made by members of my family. They trade them back and forth at family gatherings, and, inevitably, one or more will end up in tears.

Russ said...

Hendy,
You said,

Good is always his doing, but bad (like pilgrims dying) is not his fault.

Isn't it curious how that works! I see the religious balkanizing reality to fit their purposes which means, in part, fulfilling their sacred confirmation biases. The fallen tree damaging the garage beyond repair is overlooked in order to extract the miracle of the spared mower. The specter of a gangrenous finger serves as the curtain which can be pulled aside to reveal the healed paper cut miracle. They chop up reality into what they know - the source for what they accept as natural phenomena, and what they don't know - their wellspring of miracles.

While I've noted Christian fundamentalists here, the difference between them and other not-quite-as-fundamentalist Christians is only a matter of degree when it comes to miracles.

The way of science, that is, considering all results whether they confirm or disconfirm an idea and guaging them against the standard of nature, has shown itself to be of great benefit to all people. The way of the religious, that is, restricting one's view to only those parts of reality one likes or wishes were true, has failed mankind through time to this very day.

The success of science makes it possible for most persons to live out their lives with as narrow a view and truncated an understanding of the real world as they like. Their thinking can be as fractured and scattered as possible, yet the fruits of science keeps them fed and clothed, and warm and safe and dry.

Coincidences of birthplace and circumstances show the religious one face of reality's die, and they content themselves with thinking that that single face is all there is to it, that they have been shown the full picture. They can live out that perspective only because science has done the necessary work to keep the incompleteness of their understanding from being fatal. They can say that their god is doing what they need to have done, but when the stakes are high, like life or death, they turn instinctively to naturalistic science to do what their imaginary god cannot. Then, when science has made things right, they turn back to their face of the die and shout, "Praise the Lord. It's a miracle."

Ignerant Phool said...

"So, here we have examples of individuals headed to pray to god, probably many of them for healing (especially the Lourdes crash; check the headline on the first link) who were killed or hurt in a statistically highly improbably situation."

Hendy, don't you understand that because of free will these things will happen? Don't you understand that God knew these free will thoughts and actions before he even knew that he knew? Don't you understand that he knew what these people were going to pray for, but because he already knew what was going to happen, he couldn't change what he knew, just like he couldn't change the miracle it would be considered if he had intervened and save those that have died from the crashes? (As you can see in this case, he will only disregard your free will if it's to do miracles.) Therefore, don't you understand that a miracle seems to us as a decision God chose to make, but in reality, to him it was a necessary being-I mean thing!(sorry)? Don't you understand that since God is necessary, prayer is necessary, or else God would not be necessary? (That follows so I hope you're following) Don't you understand that I could go on and on because there is so much you don't understand to understand God? But I hope you understand I have to go now. And don't you understand that I really think prayer is a waste of time?

Andre

Raiyden said...

Christians don't have a single example that can be verified to be a "Mircale" or "Supernatural" answer to prayer, everything can be explained naturally.

Why wouldn't God have done a better job of making it obvious that he existed and prayer is truly answered?

GearHedEd said...

If God made himself obvious, then He would have thereby taken away our free will to choose to disbelieve.

:o)

GearHedEd said...

How did this happen to be OUR fault again?...

Breckmin said...

"How do you reconcile this?"

They are NOT exactly equivalent.

They are even close.

We are not only talking about coincidences which address specific behavior on my part, but we are also talking about miracles.

If you were me you would know that the Infinite Creator was factual. You would know that all of the born-again Christians going around the world are the ones who are on their way to heaven and their would be absolutely no doubt in your head regarding this reality.

This isn't just about witnessing miracles, it is also about relationship.

Exclusive truth. The fact is that Jesus said that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life...and "no one comes to the Father except through Him."

Choose this day Who you will serve.

The question will always remain "What are you going to do about Jesus?"

IF you say "What are you going to do about Mohammad, Buddha, etc." Nothing...these examples fail to address objective guilt for sin NOR did they claim to be God.

There is much more that could be addressed (in the specific differences between Jesus and others who did NOT die for our sin).

T. A. Lewis said...

Breckmin,

How exactly are the answered prayers of Christians differentiated from those of other religions and superstitions?

Breckmin said...

I would specify "born-again" Christians and those who are genuine Jesus Followers who have experience spiritual regeneration and have God's Holy Spirit living inside them. These are God's "adopted" children who have been bought with the price of Blood from God's Only Holy Son (Jesus, the Man that God became).

1. They would consider testing God evil (and foolish).
2. They have an on going relationship with God which is one of the reasons why they ask other Christians who have an on going relationship with God to pray for their "needs." Shane was asking earlier why a Christian would ask other Christians to pray for his wife's pregnancy that is having trouble. It is all about relationship with God...and asking God (in complete humility recognizing their/your helplessness)to together act with all circumstances (including our prayers, btw) to allow the child/baby to live.
God has relationships with His children and when we ask in humility for individual things God can together act with such individual circumstances.
We don't pray to end all evil or end world hunger or end all suffering. This would be a general prayer which would go against all that we know that is coming with respect to God's judgement upon the earth. Jesus said that "the poor you will always have with you." Clearly we will not be poor in heaven..and the concept of "poor" has little to do with hell...so Jesus' statement is in context to people being poor until the Day of Judgement.

3. We are praying to an Infinite Creator Who is responsible for ALL finite existence. Anyone else who prays to such Creator may have the same 'God concept' (like in Islam), but unless they are praying with the covering of Jesus' Sacrifice for their sin they are NOT in close fellowship with the Infinite Creator.
This is because Jesus is the Mediator/Bridge between God and men. Bottom line: God concept is sine qua non.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Breckmin

You are an object lesson in why I no longer believe christianity to be anuthing more than a cultural superstition. It is the born againwith god living inside of them that are the most ignorant of science and in posession of the most extreme narcissism. You don't offer anything here but ad hoc hypotheses and do it in a self-congratulatory tone. Either the Holy Spirit who in-dwells you is either an idiot or a 14 year old with ADD and too much Dungeons and Dragons knowledge. The idiocy of the born again claiming god lives in them is the most profound defeater of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

shane said...

Breckmin.

You said if "we" were you, then we would know God was real, and would believe in miracles.

But we are NOT you?
If you were us, then you would not believe in miracles anymore (as a former believer) if at all!

Likewise, you were asked, how we are to differentiate, between the authenticity of the truth claims and miracles testified for in other religions compared to christianity?

You answered by basically saying that the born again in Jesus are the ones with true claims?......this is not a substantial answer, its just your assertion.

Breckmin, here is a question-"How can we possibly know that born again christians truly have a real relationship with the almighty creator, as oppossed to your experiences being nothing more then an emotive, mentally decieved frame of mine?.......especially when we take into consideration the fact that there is no (visible), (audible), (physical sensation), or (scent) by which God is made tangible to our reality?

shane said...

Breckmin.

You said no religious figure in any other religion cliamed to be God, only Jesus claimed this.

So what are you saying.....?....that we should put our faith in a person who claims they are God?
A person who claimed something like this in this day and age, and actually believed they were God, would be put in a straight jacket and would be recieving mental treatment!

Why should we believe in someone who claimed to be God, who lived 2000 years ago in a superstitious, tumultuous, and scientifically inept time?

T. A. Lewis said...

Breckmin,

Thank you for your response, but I have read it three times now and can’t tease out a direct answer to my question. I’ll see if I can add to the great responses already.

I appreciate the fact that you think your particular version of Christianity is true and that you think your prayers are answered, but I asked about the material claims of prayers.

Let us take for example a common thing prayed for: the recovery from an illness.

Let us say that there is one individual that meets your criteria of having a born-again relationship with Jesus. Another being a practicing Neo-Pagan who prays to Thor and a member of a traditional tribal society who has alerted the shaman. All these individuals pray to their deity or use their method of magic or ritual in an effort to force the illness into remission. And in all three cases the individual recovers.

Since there are documented instances where all these circumstances have been satisfied, we won’t have to even say they are hypothetical; merely simplified for this argument.

What separates the Christian from the rest of the sample? What makes their ad hoc attribution correct while the others aren’t?

Are they all a case of communication with Jesus? Besides being peculiar that Jesus responds to prayers to Thor, if this is the case any claims of exclusive truth are out the door.

If you say they aren’t, but rather coincidence in the pagan and tribal context but divine intervention in the Christian one, that is a blatant commission of the special pleading fallacy that would also fall under the category of self-serving bias.

These really are the only two options that I am aware of. If I am missing one, please let me know.

GearHedEd said...

FYI...

Nothing we say or CAN say penetrates Breckmin's "Jeezo-Filter" (TM).

You're wasting your time talking to him (her?).

Russ said...

Breckmin,

You said,

We are not only talking about coincidences which address specific behavior on my part, but we are also talking about miracles.

How is it that coincidences "address specific behavior on my[your] part," as you've put it?

When you say "miracle" you are talking about lies, frauds, deceptions and the wanton charlatanism of religion. Such skullduggeries are not miracles. They are the tools of controlling one's mind and picking one's pocket.

You have never witnessed or experienced a miracle, Breckmin. You have been lied to by Christian clergy.

Those things your pastor has told you are miracles are not exclusive to you. They are experienced by everyone, everywhere. Your clergyperson has lied to you.

Good things do not fall to you more often than they do others. You are an otherwise normal person deluded by religion to think you are special to the imaginary creator of the universe. You are deluded to think that said imaginary creator alters the way reality operates when you make personal requests.

You are not special and the events in your life are just regular ol' normal events.

Yes, I understand that your religious group reveres the notion of miracle to such a degree that miracles have become your intentional addiction, your drug of choice. So strong is your need to feel special, that you simply pretend that the ordinary run-of-the-mill things and events in your life are miracles. They aren't.

All humans undergo the neurological, emotional and psychological perceptions you call religious experience, but such states of mind are manifestly not due to a communing with a god. They are part of what it is to be human. Their past inexplicability allowed the clergy to seize on those perfectly normal human mental functions and claim them to be exclusively of a religious nature. They aren't. You have been lied to.

All humans have up times and down times. Religion itself neither increases the portion of up times nor reduces the severity of the down. When we compare the US, the nation with the highest rate of Christianity professing on the planet by far, to other nations using the UN Human Development Index, we see that many countries with largely atheist populations fare as well as or better than the US. The HDI compares societal measure of well-being like life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. The HDI shows clearly that the religiousness of the US affords them no advantages and in many measures they fare very poorly.

If the Christianities had anything useful about them, we would see it. It would be obvious. What we do see is members of the Christianities pouring money into the maintenance of clergy and their families, buildings, salaries, insurances, utility bills and all the other costs of doing business only to end up no better than atheists, and oftentimes much worse.

From the HDI your imaginary god appears to work harder at making life good for non-believers than it does for its faithful followers. I could really like a god that sticks it to believers and makes them pay the bills while atheists are given as much or more than believers with none of the overhead. No weekends interrupted by "worship." No giving money. No time outs to pray. No studying the inane conflicting and contradictory content of the Bible. No lying to stupid clergy..."Oh, wasn't that a nice sermon." No pretending to love the gruesome Biblical monster god. None of the silly rituals.

What would be my incentive to worship your god when it's does more for me than it does for the typical Christian? My atheism apparently impresses your god much more than does your belief.

It appears to me, Breckmin, that your god wants to keep you around to pay the bar tab, but he really wants to demonstrate to me how much he likes that I don't believe in him and I think the whole notion of him is just so much fart gas.

Breckmin said...

"If you were us, then you would not believe in miracles anymore (as a former believer) if at all!"

This is true and this is why it is so important to pray to the Creator for protection from that which is not the truth from such Creator.


"How can we possibly know that born again christians truly have a real relationship with the almighty creator, as oppossed to your experiences being nothing more then an emotive, mentally decieved frame of mine?.......especially when we take into consideration the fact that there is no (visible), (audible), (physical sensation), or (scent) by which God is made tangible to our reality?"

There are several ways... and we can look at them individually.
First, you can examine worship music all over the world and see the clear difference. If God created music then at some point music would glorify the Creator.
I can give you hundreds of links like the END of this performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejg7haph29w&feature=related

This is just one OBSERVATION that we have throughout the world.
No ones doing this to Thor or any pagan deity. This worship music is specifically about Jesus and the Holy Creator.

Question everything.

Question why there is worship music like this all over the world?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vX3HHtytDo&feature=PlayList&p=3AC29D7438DED873&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=96

There is a difference...and this isn't just about Western Music or "our music verses their music." No. There are other styles all over the world that glorify the Great "I AM."

Breckmin said...

"Likewise, you were asked, how we are to differentiate, between the authenticity of the truth claims and miracles testified for in other religions compared to christianity?"

Clearly you have to be in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time if it is a supernatural miracle of the enemies of God which could lead toward your deception).

I've seen miracles from both sides..but the reason it makes no sense to go through them is easily seen in Russ's post to me.

Even if someone were to be raised from the dead - there will still be an agenda NOT to believe (and until you identify this disposition in yourselves you will not see the NEED to be saved from it).

Breckmin said...

"What separates the Christian from the rest of the sample?"

A soteriological structure which acknowledges the fact that since you are infinitely small and have a inherited nature that has been cursed that there is NO way you can save yourself. God had to become a Man and save you because you are logically "helpless" (and often don't know it).

All other religions are performance based....what you can do to improve yourself/save yourself. Born-again Christianity teaches that there is NOTHING you can do. God has to rescue you from yourself and your own bad decisions.

You want to see the difference betweeen the miracles of false religions and the miracles which corroborate born-again Christianity.... yet the Kingdom of God is in the hearts of men.

Is it an eternal Kingdom that will one day be revealed to all who rejected and doubted it? The question is "why?" isn't it accepted by everybody now?

Answer: Not all will trust the Creator. This "trust" is an important part of love.

You have to choose Who you will follow. Will you follow empty philosophy which doesn't even take into account the logic of special pleading for infinite/finite relationships or Creator/creature relationship or these basic concepts? Will you follow philosophy that has no answer to the difference of millions of people worshipping a Holy Creator verses Zeus or Thor or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (made up of matter and can not be the Creator of all matter)and ALL of these other foolish concepts?

Clearly there is much more to this... but at some point the wise man will recognize the difference.

shane said...

Breckmin.

Music has a tendency to create emotions in us, or bring them to the surface.

I cant remember how many times I have heard a song somewhere which reminded me of a time in my life, or a song that an ex-girlfriend and I used to listen to, and how often it has brought a flood of emotions to me!.......

This is not a spiritual experience, its an emotional one!
Why do you think commercials play sad music when they show you pictures of starving kids in Africa?
They do this to create an emotional response in us, and hopefully it will motivate us to give money!

As far as I see it, a bunch of people crying and praising God do to the emotional response ( as well as the power of suggestion), the music is causing them, is not a testamony of the supernatural.

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"First, you can examine worship music all over the world and see the clear difference."

Music is just so much organized noise, without power. There is no god listening to this, or the other form of organized noise known as "prayer".

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"...the fact that since you are infinitely small and have a inherited nature that has been cursed that there is NO way you can save yourself..."

Show us where it says anyone needs "saving" without using the Bible.

Hint: You can't.

GearHedEd said...

Prayer is an attempt to coerce god into granting the petitioner a favorable outcome, except when it's a prayer of thanksgiving.

shane said...

Breckmin.

You speak of wise men and their recognition.

The wise man will recognize, that "even if" this world and this universe was the work of a creator, that nothing in this world/universe gives as a clue in regards to that creator!

-The wise man will recognize that there is no clue as to whether there is only one creator as oppossed to a multitude.

-They will recognize that nothing in this universe shows us that the creator/creators is all powerful, for even if they had the power to create a world, it does not mean they are all powerful.

-They will recognize that even if there is a creator/creators, there is no evidence of them being eternal.

- They will recognize that the evil which exists in this world, can not be reconciled to an omnibenevolent creator.

-They will recognize that a church full of people praying to an invisible, inaudible, intangible being because a book tells them to is irrational.

- They will recognize that the bible unwarrantly accuses us of the disease, and then offers us the cure at the same time.

On the contrary, I think wisdom points us in the opposite direction.
It is gullibility, fear, acceptance and dependability which leads us into religion.

GearHedEd said...

This includes the notion of "sacrifice" as an appeal for favor.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Breck

You keep defeating the doctrine of the in-dwelt Holy Spirit as a wise counselor with your special pleading. You are a solipsistic idiot. YouTube clips of man made worship music? What are the sales of that vs. the Beatles catalogue? That is your evidence? Like I said before, your holy spirit is either an idiot or an anxious teenager (or superstitious control belief).

Breckmin said...

- They will recognize that the bible unwarrantly accuses us of the disease, and then offers us the cure at the same time.

----------------------------

The scriptures give us a mirror (the Law) so that we can see our diseased condition (sin), and then offers us SALVATION from the bad decisions (choices) which we make on a day to day basis.

You must differentiate between original sin, the sin nature and actual decisions that are cosmically a violation against a Holy God/Creator when talking about the disease.

Likewise you must distinguish between the Atonement and obedience when discussing the cure.

Unless you clarify, you will present truth incorrectly.

Breckmin said...

-They will recognize that a church full of people praying to an invisible, inaudible, intangible being because a book tells them to is irrational.
-------------------------------

Yet churches existed long before the bible was even put together through canonization and long before the 1600 years it took before there was a printing press for them to have access to "the bible."

The bible exists because of Christianity. Christianity does NOT exist because of the "bible."

Your statement is inaccurate because people prayed to God long before there was a "book" that told them to.

It was their observation of creation itself and the knowledge of God that was placed into their heart that caused them to NOT be so foolish as to never acknowledge God in their lives.

The specifics of a canon are evasive to the spread of the gospel without ever seeing a so called "bible." QE

Breckmin said...

- They will recognize that the evil which exists in this world, can not be reconciled to an omnibenevolent creator.
----------------------------

Or they are NOT wise..and they are BLIND to the reality that Love requires choice and that humankind blew it as far as choice goes (and this was inevitable) and that there is something now wrong with humankind that it keeps choosing evil... and that the evil in this world testifies to the fact that we need a Savior to rescue us from our choices, etc etc.

Omnibenevolent is an English word which fails to address that fact that God doesn't love satan nor demons which are judged already.
A wise man would recognize the imperfection of these English words and seek to clarify their meaning.

The evil that exists in the world is because of both the judgement of the Creator as well as the continued bad choices (disobedience) of those who have the ability to love.
You wouldn't even be able to understand and know that God is "good" unless you could contrast it by observing evil...
and all disobedience (moral evil) which is not forgiven (paid for by Atonement) will some day be judged perfectly and display God's Holiness for all of eternity.

Clearly, there is far more to it than this...and we need to talk about dozens of more specifics.

Breckmin said...

-They will recognize that even if there is a creator/creators, there is no evidence of them being eternal.
--------------------------

They would understand that the Creator is Infinite due to the fact that you would have an infinite regress with finite creators. They would recognize the nature of both infinite conceptual inner space as well as infinite 3 dimensional existence and its relationship to matter and motion and why we would expect such a Creator to be logically infinite.
Clearly, this is a long discussion on "how a Creator of all matter would be expected to be Infinite"
I can't over simplify it with infinite mathematics or infinite 3 dimensional existence since it is an accumulative case argument...
but there have been brilliant men in the past like Leibniz who have understood why an Infinite Creator would be an eternal Creator.

Breckmin said...

-They will recognize that nothing in this universe shows us that the creator/creators is all powerful, for even if they had the power to create a world, it does not mean they are all powerful.
--------------------------

"All powerful" here doesn't address infinite power that is consistent with One's Own Nature. I was once accused of limiting God by logic by saying He was a logical God, but do you see how ridiculous it is to require that God be illogical?

I would always specify "all-logically-powerful" and address those things which are consistent with God's Nature and not self-contradictory.

Breckmin said...

"that "even if" this world and this universe was the work of a creator, that nothing in this world/universe gives as a clue in regards to that creator!"

Breckmin says "unless the clue is spiritual and in the heart of men/women who love such Creator."



-The wise man will recognize that there is no clue as to whether there is only one creator as oppossed to a multitude.
------------------------------

If the Creator is Infinite then it would be illogical to impose multiple creators whose existence would be finite.

An Infinite Transcendent Atemporal Creator is One Who does NOT result in infinite regress since such Creator is Uncaused Cause.

Multiple creators which would move and travel from place to place are a failed God concept because they are not much bigger than we are.

Often our concept of God is far too small and we expect far too little from Him because we don't understand why there is an inevitable byproduct of choice so that love can exist.

zenmite said...

"All other religions are performance based....what you can do to improve yourself/save yourself. Born-again Christianity teaches that there is NOTHING you can do. God has to rescue you from yourself and your own bad decisions."

First, there are several that are not performance based.
There is amida buddhism. Anyone who calls Amida buddha's name, "Namu Amida Butsu," with sincere faith, trust, and devotion, will be granted by Amida an eternal life of happiness in the Pure Land which has been set aside specifically for those who call on Amida.

Pureland (amida) buddhism is known as tariki which means 'other power'. Specifically, just what you said about jesus is true of amida. This doctrine states that the individual can not effect their own salvation (jiriki). Salvation can only come from amida buddha.

Then there is bhakti yoga, a form of hinduism. Here's some of their writings;

Tiru-Mular, a Shaivite poet of the Middle Ages sang: "The ignorant say love and God are different; None know that Love and God are the same. When they know that Love and God are the same; They rest in God's Love." More formal but obscure bhakti texts can state: "The nature of bhakti is absolute love for Him," and "Bhakti is supreme attachment for the Lord." The bhakti poet Nammalvar sang: "My Lord, though endless pains afflict me, I will not cease to look for thy mercy."
The devotee hopes to attain salvation simply be worshiping god.

Another interesting aspect of hinduism is the doctrine of the avatar. According to this, god has become man not only once, but many times over and over. This is one reason hindus tend not to be overly impressed by christian claimes about jesus. For them, Krishna was 100% god and 100% man...so was rama and a long line of avatars.

Christians pick out aspects of christianity that are unique to their religion (or mistakenly believe this) then proclaim this or that aspect is why it is so much better. It is like Buddhists saying christianity is inferior because only buddhism teaches a comprehensive doctrine of karma.

To which the christian rightly says; "So what?" It's the same for us with your claims about all the unique tenets of christiainity...so what?

Then there's the question of what you mean by performance or saving oneself vs being saved by god. If I 'must' turn from sin and pray to god for forgiveness...then I am still doing something to effect my salvation. Even accepting jesus into my heart is still my action and is really no different than chanting to amida in order to be saved or hoping to be saved by my loving devotion to krishna. To an outsider it looks like different flavors of the same tired ice cream.

shane said...

Breckmin.

Dont want to go to far off topic but I'll say this.
Despite the fact that christianity existed before the bible, christians today go by the bible and nothing but the bible!
The bible is their sole source for knowledge about God, and they practice what it tells them to do.

Yes it is the bible which tells us we are evil and in need of a savior, then offers us the apparent savior?
The bible condemns us for being imperfect beings?

You said love requires choice, and the fall of man was inevitable?

So if the fall of man was inevitable, then God "choose" out of His love to create us anyway?....wow what love, thanks God.

Breckmin, you try to use the 3 dimensional existence and its relation to matter? But, believers like you will quickly point out that the universe is not eternal, that it had to have a beginning......SO....what evidence is there that a creator must be eternal?

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"The bible exists because of Christianity. Christianity does NOT exist because of the "bible.""

That's about the most serious indictment of the veracity of Christianity (bordering on fatal) that I've ever heard.

This is virtually tantamount to saying that the Bible was writen specifically to prop up the religion.

Thanks for articulating our most effective argument to date.

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"I stand by the position that it is the nature of truth, fact and reality to be in and of itself dogmatic and consistent with God's Omniscience."

God's omniscience (total knowledge) is utterly incompatible with human free will. You have never satisfatorily addressed this. All you have ever given us in response to this is apologetics and gibberish.

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"...They would recognize the nature of both infinite conceptual inner space as well as infinite 3 dimensional existence and its relationship to matter and motion and why we would expect such a Creator to be logically infinite.
Clearly, this is a long discussion on "how a Creator of all matter would be expected to be Infinite"
I can't over simplify it with infinite mathematics or infinite 3 dimensional existence since it is an accumulative case argument..."

Please stop trying to use your abysmally poor knowledge of Physics and Mathemetics to try and lend support to your arguments.

It's obvious to anyone who HAS studied mathematics that you haven't. And without a solid background in mathematics, you cannot possibly understand the first thing about physics, chemistry, or even biology.

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"...I was once accused of limiting God by logic by saying He was a logical God, but do you see how ridiculous it is to require that God be illogical?"

I was the one who "accused" you. And you don't even see where your reply was idiotic?

No one EVER said that for god to be subject to logic implies that if he wasn't that he would be REQUIRED to be illogical. That was YOU putting your ill-conceived counter argument into my mouth.

If you call God logical,and furthermore say that he CANNOT be illogical, YOU have limited him to logical behavior. Don't try to turn this around on me; I don't believe in god, period, so I don't have a problem with an illogical god since that is a null argument as far as I'm concerned.

YOU said God is fact.

YOU said God is logical.

All I did is point out where YOUR definition of God limits him.

T. A. Lewis said...

Breckmin,

I think you gave the answer to my question here:

“You want to see the difference between the miracles of false religions and the miracles which corroborate born-again Christianity.... yet the Kingdom of God is in the hearts of men.”

Thank you for being honest and you’d probably be very surprised to learn that I knew this as well as agree (being a “born-again” for a decade lets you in on all these notions).

You’ve basically stated that the difference between the healing attributed to Jesus and the healings attributed to Thor and to shamanistic magic/ ritual to be in the interpretation and mind of the believer.

Well, of course that’s true. That’s been my entire point.

There’s no difference between what actually happens concerning the answered prayers of Christians and all other religions and superstitions. They are exactly equivalent, as I initially stated.

Furthermore - looking at the events in the lives of believers claimed to be touched by a divine hand or magic essence or controlling ritual - they are indistinguishable from stochastic natural events. This is much more parsimonious, logical, and universal explanation.

You’ve explained at length that the psychological and/ or epistemological conditions somehow matter or make a difference, but in reality they do not as I think to have shown with the example. If there is no discernable difference between Thor’s answered prayers and Jesus’, we have no reason to take the Jesus account any more seriously than any other.

GearHedEd said...

For myself, it occurs to me that if we atheists and agnostics were to conclusively demonstrate that believing in some sort of deity is optional, it necessitates that everyone who spent years studying the minutiae of religion has wasted their lives doing so.

This is most likely the source of the tenacity several current posters here exhibit; they CANNOT retreat from their cherished extremist positions, for to do so would bankrupt their whole value system.

It's OK, dudes. If you were to give it all up, the universe wouldn't come crashing down. I hear it's a liberating experience, a breath of fresh air; although I have no direct experience of this having never been emotionally attached to the myth.

We understand. But that doesn't make the myth any more convincing or appealing.

Chuck O'Connor said...

It is incredibly liberating Ed but, non-falsifiable cognitive bias can really make one feel powerful.

Hendy said...

These discussions just get nowhere and are so frustrating since both sides are going along completely different lines of thought...

It is extremely frustrating because the believer's task in evangelization using miracles as evidence is to try to lure out belief by proving that god has all the power claimed of him to do all of the wonderful deeds cited... but that he'll never do them while anyone's watching.

Yet the non-believer wants evidence he can 'sink his teeth into' and won't believe based on this tactic.

So the non-believer simply stays non-believing and asks for genuine evidence (like a limb regrowing).

Then the believer, rather than realize that there's nothing wrong with this request since it's exactly what he says his god can do, cries 'foul' and has to explain why the non-believer is pigheaded, how god 'sees through tests', how faith and relationship is more important than any tangible evidence of his existence... blah blah blah.

Why pray for anything if the relationship is the point? Christians should just spend their time in scripture study and meditation rather than intercession.

Breckmin, if you pray for something, are you looking for an answer? If so, why would god answer it (since he won't answer things that people expect answers from)? If he will answer it, why wouldn't he answer it if you shared it with all of us and then let us observe the outcome of your prayer repeatedly?

Hendy said...

Oh, and by the way... When I was still believing I set up a round the clock prayer vigil for friends of mine who had a premature baby. The placenta was shutting down and the baby would either die in the womb or need to be delivered at like 24 weeks or so and risk dying outside the womb.

They gave the baby as long as possible and then did the emergency c-section.

People signed up for prayer slots with a google form I made and prayed around the clock for 3-4 days. The baby did okay at first and then they found that the brain was hemorrhaging and that blood was pooling in the skull. There was nothing they could do and the baby died about a day later. I think he lived about 1.5 days total.

When one is a believer, however, the problem is never possibly with the prayer or the lack of response. Instead it shifts the answer. The family now believes in faith that god had a specific purpose for this baby who lived 1.5 days. They don't know what it is, but will find out in heaven. They have been role models for me as parents and are an amazing family.

On things like this, however, my beliefs do part ways. I think the natural explanation of simply realizing that certain complications are more or less likely explains things far better than trying to figure out what purpose this child lived 1.5 days for while being supported with needles and other machines as well as the trouble the family went through... as well as why god didn't answer the prayers of so many faithful Catholics praying around the clock for such a pure request.

We're talking about a 24 or so week old baby (just over half-term). What 'selfish' motive or 'unrepentant' sin makes sense of not answering that prayer?

And what 'free will' was involved? The parents would not have known the difference if god had 'intervened' and the child lived so he couldn't have risked forcing them to accept his life against their wills. The child essentially had no free will so it's hard to see how that could have affected the outcome.

Ah. I know. It's supreme divine mystery and god is sooo great in all things. We love him and his mysterious ways and can't wait to find out about them in the beatific vision.

Christian said...

I have a question, I don't know if any christians can answer it for me... why in the world is BELIEF so important to God? Believing in something is incredibly easy (especially if you're light on intellect) compared to actually going out and DOING good things. Someone said that God revealing himself would take away our free choice to believe in him or not... well, so what? Believing that something exists doesn't actually DO anything, it's completely useless. Why does this deity consider belief in him the most important thing? Why not good deeds done in his name, if he were truly good? Why would a truly good omni-being, pardon my french, give a shit if people did something as unimportant and effortless as BELIEVE in him?

GearHedEd said...

Belief isn't effortless; else there wouldn't be such things as "atheists".

Hendy said...

@Christian

Agreed. This is one reason I have proceeded in confidence in my recent doubting. If god is compassionate and I live proper values of love and charity, this strikes me as far more valuable to god than any sort of belief. He of all people will know my disposition, mental tendencies, and life experience such that the belief he left is unconvincing.

It's interesting to note that Mark, the earliest gospel, had no condemnation of non-belief in it's original ending. Only the added ending which came some good deal later (I forget... late 2nd century?) contain for one even a fleshly appearance and more importantly the condemnation of unbelief (Mk. 16:16):

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

This was not in earliest manuscripts.

Quite interesting, indeed.

@GearHed

Just came across a post yesterday sent to me by my dad with interesting thoughts on that very line of thinking! (LINK)

GearHedEd said...

Thanks, Hendy.