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Friday, February 24, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

A Question of Statistics?

I am an ex-christian and I have been on a Christian forum. One of the Christians on this forum wrote the following about why Christianity must be true:

Member
Member # 3741
posted 02-21-2006 12:25 AM

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Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific events-in detail-many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors. (The remaining 500 or so reach into the future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.) Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 102000 (that is 1 with 2000 zeros written after it)!

God is not the only one, however, who uses forecasts of future events to get people's attention. Satan does, too. Through clairvoyants (such as Jeanne Dixon and Edgar Cayce), mediums, spiritists, and others, come remarkable predictions, though rarely with more than about 60 percent accuracy, never with total accuracy. Messages from Satan, furthermore, fail to match the detail of Bible prophecies, nor do they include a call to repentance.

The acid test for identifying a prophet of God is recorded by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:21-22. According to this Bible passage (and others), God's prophets, as distinct from Satan's spokesmen, are 100 percent accurate in their predictions. There is no room for error.

As economy does not permit an explanation of all the Biblical prophecies that have been fulfilled, what follows in a discussion of a few that exemplify the high degree of specificity, the range of projection, and/or the "supernature" of the predicted events. Readers are encouraged to select others, as well, and to carefully examine their historicity.

(1) Some time before 500 B.C. the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel's long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26). He further predicted that the Messiah would be "cut off," killed, and that this event would take place prior to a second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation shows that these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life (and crucifixion) of Jesus Christ. The decree regarding the restoration of Jerusalem was issued by Persia's King Artaxerxes to the Hebrew priest Ezra in 458 B.C., 483 years later the ministry of Jesus Christ began in Galilee. (Remember that due to calendar changes, the date for the start of Christ's ministry is set by most historians at about 26 A.D. Also note that from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. is just one year.) Jesus' crucifixion occurred only a few years later, and about four decades later, in 70 A.D. came the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)*

(2) In approximately 700 B.C. the prophet Micah named the tiny village of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Israel's Messiah (Micah 5:2). The fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Christ is one of the most widely known and widely celebrated facts in history.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)

(3) In the fifth century B.C. a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave—thirty pieces of silver, according to Jewish law-and also that this money would be used to buy a burial ground for Jerusalem's poor foreigners (Zechariah 11:12-13). Bible writers and secular historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus, and they indicate that the money went to purchase a "potter's field," used—just as predicted—for the burial of poor aliens (Matthew 27:3-10).

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1011.)

(4) Some 400 years before crucifixion was invented, both Israel's King David and the prophet Zechariah described the Messiah's death in words that perfectly depict that mode of execution. Further, they said that the body would be pierced and that none of the bones would be broken, contrary to customary procedure in cases of crucifixion (Psalm 22 and 34:20; Zechariah 12:10). Again, historians and New Testament writers confirm the fulfillment: Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross, and his extraordinarily quick death eliminated the need for the usual breaking of bones. A spear was thrust into his side to verify that he was, indeed, dead.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1013.)

(5) The prophet Isaiah foretold that a conqueror named Cyrus would destroy seemingly impregnable Babylon and subdue Egypt along with most of the rest of the known world. This same man, said Isaiah, would decide to let the Jewish exiles in his territory go free without any payment of ransom (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; and 45:13). Isaiah made this prophecy 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus performed any of these feats (and he did, eventually, perform them all), and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1015.)

(6) Mighty Babylon, 196 miles square, was enclosed not only by a moat, but also by a double wall 330 feet high, each part 90 feet thick. It was said by unanimous popular opinion to be indestructible, yet two Bible prophets declared its doom. These prophets further claimed that the ruins would be avoided by travelers, that the city would never again be inhabited, and that its stones would not even be moved for use as building material (Isaiah 13:17-22 and Jeremiah 51:26, 43). Their description is, in fact, the well-documented history of the famous citadel.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 109.)

(7) The exact location and construction sequence of Jerusalem's nine suburbs was predicted by Jeremiah about 2600 years ago. He referred to the time of this building project as "the last days," that is, the time period of Israel's second rebirth as a nation in the land of Palestine (Jeremiah 31:38-40). This rebirth became history in 1948, and the construction of the nine suburbs has gone forward precisely in the locations and in the sequence predicted.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1018.)

(8) The prophet Moses foretold (with some additions by Jeremiah and Jesus) that the ancient Jewish nation would be conquered twice and that the people would be carried off as slaves each time, first by the Babylonians (for a period of 70 years), and then by a fourth world kingdom (which we know as Rome). The second conqueror, Moses said, would take the Jews captive to Egypt in ships, selling them or giving them away as slaves to all parts of the world. Both of these predictions were fulfilled to the letter, the first in 607 B.C. and the second in 70 A.D. God's spokesmen said, further, that the Jews would remain scattered throughout the entire world for many generations, but without becoming assimilated by the peoples or of other nations, and that the Jews would one day return to the land of Palestine to re-establish for a second time their nation (Deuteronomy 29; Isaiah 11:11-13; Jeremiah 25:11; Hosea 3:4-5 and Luke 21:23-24).

This prophetic statement sweeps across 3500 years of history to its complete fulfillment—in our lifetime.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 120.)

(9) Jeremiah predicted that despite its fertility and despite the accessibility of its water supply, the land of Edom (today a part of Jordan) would become a barren, uninhabited wasteland (Jeremiah 49:15-20; Ezekiel 25:12-14). His description accurately tells the history of that now bleak region.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)

(10) Joshua prophesied that Jericho would be rebuilt by one man. He also said that the man's eldest son would die when the reconstruction began and that his youngest son would die when the work reached completion (Joshua 6:26). About five centuries later this prophecy found its fulfillment in the life and family of a man named Hiel (I Kings 16:33-34).

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 107).

(11) The day of Elijah's supernatural departure from Earth was predicted unanimously—and accurately, according to the eye-witness account—by a group of fifty prophets (II Kings 2:3-11).

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 109).

(12) Jahaziel prophesied that King Jehoshaphat and a tiny band of men would defeat an enormous, well-equipped, well-trained army without even having to fight. Just as predicted, the King and his troops stood looking on as their foes were supernaturally destroyed to the last man (II Chronicles 20).

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 108).

(13) One prophet of God (unnamed, but probably Shemiah) said that a future king of Judah, named Josiah, would take the bones of all the occultic priests (priests of the "high places") of Israel's King Jeroboam and burn them on Jeroboam's altar (I Kings 13:2 and II Kings 23:15-18). This event occurred approximately 300 years after it was foretold.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1013).

Since these thirteen prophecies cover mostly separate and independent events, the probability of chance occurrence for all thirteen is about 1 in 10138 (138 equals the sum of all the exponents of 10 in the probability estimates above). For the sake of putting the figure into perspective, this probability can be compared to the statistical chance that the second law of thermodynamics will be reversed in a given situation (for example, that a gasoline engine will refrigerate itself during its combustion cycle or that heat will flow from a cold body to a hot body)—that chance = 1 in 1080. Stating it simply, based on these thirteen prophecies alone, the Bible record may be said to be vastly more reliable than the second law of thermodynamics. Each reader should feel free to make his own reasonable estimates of probability for the chance fulfillment of the prophecies cited here. In any case, the probabilities deduced still will be absurdly remote.

Given that the Bible proves so reliable a document, there is every reason to expect that the remaining 500 prophecies, those slated for the "time of the end," also will be fulfilled to the last letter. Who can afford to ignore these coming events, much less miss out on the immeasurable blessings offered to anyone and everyone who submits to the control of the Bible's author, Jesus Christ? Would a reasonable person take lightly God's warning of judgment for those who reject what they know to be true about Jesus Christ and the Bible, or who reject Jesus' claim on their lives?

*The estimates of probability included herein come from a group of secular research scientists. As an example of their method of estimation, consider their calculations for this first prophecy cited:

Since the Messiah's ministry could conceivably begin in any one of about 5000 years, there is, then, one chance in about 5000 that his ministry could begin in 26 A.D.

Since the Messiah is God in human form, the possibility of his being killed is considerably low, say less than one chance in 10.

Relative to the second destruction of Jerusalem, this execution has roughly an even chance of occurring before or after that event, that is, one chance in 2.

Hence, the probability of chance fulfillment for this prophecy is 1 in 5000 x 10 x 2, which is 1 in 100,000, or 1 in 105.

Is what this poster said really true? Is this correct statistics and probabilities for Bible prophesies? Please respond as soon as possible I want to hear yours and other ex-christians argument against this.

Tim D.

Saturday, February 18, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

A weekend intensive for letting go of religious indoctrination and reclaiming your life.

Led by Marlene Winell, Ph.D.

The effects of authoritarian religious training can last a long time and run deep, seriously impacting your ability to enjoy life. The process of leaving one's faith often creates intense feelings of confusion, grief, anxiety, and anger. Full recovery can be difficult if the issues are not clear and you feel alone in the struggle.

This workshop is designed to support you in this process of healing and growth. The weekend is a powerful group experience of sharing personal history, examining key issues, and exploring new liberating concepts. In addition to discussion, we will use experiential methods including art, guided visualization, movement, and role-play. There will also be time for shared meals, relaxation, and fun. Because we are staying together, we will have the chance to get acquainted and begin a lasting support system beyond the weekend. As a special bonus, we will have massage and acupuncture treatments available, and guests are welcome to stay another night.

WHEN: FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 7PM until SUNDAY, MARCH 5, 3PM.

WHERE: RIO DEL MAR, CA (east side of Santa Cruz, near the beach)
The closest airport is SAN JOSE, and we will arrange transportation together from there. The setting is a large wonderful house with hot tub, fireplace, and other amenities. See http://agptspics.homestead.com/TRM.html for photos

REQUIREMENTS: 1) Telephone discussion with Marlene Winell to determine appropriateness for you, 2) completion of pre-workshop written exercises.

COST: $320 for the workshop, $120 for room and board Total: $440
A deposit of $100 will secure a space, half of the remainder is due by Feb. 18 ($170), and the balance due at the workshop ($170).
Early registration discount: $20 (Full payment by Feb. 18) REBATE for completed written exercises: $40 (email or bring writings to workshop; rebates will be given at the workshop)

Workshop objectives are to help you:

Release the hold of dysfunctional religious teachings.
Reclaim your own thoughts and feelings.
Discover self-love and learn to trust yourself.
Recognize and draw from your own inner resources for wisdom and strength.
Explore new avenues for meaning in life.
Appreciate the freedom and power when you take personal responsibility for your life.
Practice enjoying life now instead of waiting for the next; reclaim your right to pleasure.

A Resource list will be available with recommended books and readings and websites.

To register, send an email to mwinell@gmail.com with your contact information. You will receive more details, a registration form, and written exercises.

Register soon to save a place. Group size is limited by design.
For more information, write to mwinell@gmail.com or call 510-649-1256. Also, if you want to take part in a weekend but this one does not work for you, please ask to be on the mailing list.

About Dr. Winell: Marlene Winell is a psychologist and Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies. She grew up in a fundamentalist missionary family, spent some years as a "born-again" Christian, and then went through her own recovery and growth process. She has worked in human services for 30 years and specializes in helping clients who are recovering from religious indoctrination. She is the author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion. Her private practice is in Berkeley, CA: she also consults by telephone.

www.marlenewinell.com
510-649-1256

Say hello to yet another EX-christian

I was not abused by Catholic Priests, or by anyone in any way.

Nothing catastrophic made me "angry with God".

There was no single event that lead me to atheism; rather, it was a very gradual journey of examining the evidence, (or lack thereof) all the available facts, falsehoods & myths, actual cross-referencing history, from sources both within and hostile to christianity. Not to mention those that are purported to be "evidence" from an alleged "Jesus" contemporaries - most of which turn out to be hearsay, early christian forgeries, or conglomerations of mistranslations and misinterpretations.

It was the use of logic, science and reason that lead me to atheism, as it has many here.

After all, this is the default position.

I am not the one making the claim that there is a god, afterlife, ghosts or demons or anything supernatural. It is religionists that make the claim(s).

The burden of proof is on them.

Carl Sagan used to say, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof".

And instead, we are asked to take these wild claims of divinity that defy physical law on "faith".

But what exactly is "faith"?



" 'Faith', noun:

Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks, without knowledge, of things without parallel."

- Ambrose Bierce


Yup, that pretty much sums it up. Belief based in ignorance, not information. Religion is born of ignorance, hope and fear. Not information or enlightenment. It continues and festers through yet more ignorance, and more hope and a LOT more fear.

No supernatural all powerful all seeing "God" exists, standing above time and space, able to will the behavior of every subatomic particle that has ever existed or ever will.

The paradox of the christian tennant of free will & salvation are entirely null and void when considered alongside their own belief that their god is all-knowing, all-seeing, the author of a divine plan - and yet allows us to mess it up at will, committing "sins" that this god supposedly couldn't see coming - just like the angel Lucifer that supposedly turned against god in heaven.

What?!?! HUH!?! You can commit a sin in heaven and STILL be cast down into the pit?!?!!

So what's the point of getting to heaven in the first place?

Christians are very confused people, they don't even understand the paradoxes of their own creation.

Lucifer ("satan" or "the devil") had already turned against his creator by the Garden of Eden story, or else satan wouldn't have been tempting Eve to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. (Because knowledge is a bad thing).

So satan's tempting, already evil, already having committed the sin of turning against god. And yet, we poor humans are the ones saddled with "original sin". Seems this perfect god doesn't get much right.

I believe with all conviction that atheism is the necessary and sole destination of any mind capable of truly critical examination of the evidence.

Of course christianity will not be abolished in our lifetimes, but if our species is to survive into the far future, we must eventually shed the monsters under all our beds. And that means shedding off impossible god fantasies as well.

It began long ago, there have always been a few people who "got it". Atheism and agnosticism is growing worldwide. The USA is sadly one of the few industrialized nations that's actually going backwards in this respect.

(Thanks, you freakin Republicans).

We must get louder, not sit in silence for fear of reprisals or "rocking the boat". Rock away people, rock away.

MOST sincerely,

atheist99

Thursday, February 09, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

The Challenge to any Fundementalist Chrsitain reading this

sent in by Mike

This is a challenge to any fundamentalist Christians reading this.

I have posted this challenge already but it seems to have been ignored by the Christians who view this site, and hijacked by those wanting a political debate. I would challenge any Christians who insist that the bible is the inerrant word of god, to specifically answer the three questions below.

Lots of you think that the ex-Christians on this site are either running from God or have given up because they want to be 'in the world' in order to sin. You just can't get your heads round the fact that the Bible is full of holes, and that we haven't 'chosen' to disbelieve. Instead we disbelieve because once you read the Bible you realise that it is full of holes. I have three types of problems with the Bible, and I challenge the Christians to explain them, without resorting to personal attacks such as "If you were a real Christian, you wouldn't need to ask these questions".

Problem 1: There are many, many passages that clearly contradict each other. E.g. how many men were healed in the region of the Genesarenes, where the pigs hurtled down the bank into the water? How many angels were present at the empty tomb? Was the stone rolled away before anyone came to the tomb or while some were present? There are literally dozens and dozens of examples of these contradictions, and many are listed on other testimony pages. You would have thought that the Word of God, your response to which is supposed to dictate your destination for all eternity, would be clear, concise and consistent. However, it is none of the above. How the hell are we meant to be condemned to hell, when the only book we are supposed to be guided by is so contradictory?

2. There are passages containing promises that clearly do not work. In Isaiah 53 it says "by his stripes we are healed". But of course we aren't. In the new testament we read that if two or three agree in prayer, the prayer will be answered, and if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can literally move mountains with prayer. Of course, this is also rubbish, (and please don't try and tell me 'mountain' just means 'large problem').

3. Finally there are those passages that are clearly undefendable, as they contradict what the Bible says elsewhere about God being loving. I submit two examples for you: 1. In Exodus, when Moses and Aaron are demanding the release of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity, God's final plague kills all the firstborn, including innocent children and babies. Imagine George Bush and Tony Blair telling the world that, in order to speed up the Iraq way, the allied air forces would bomb the schools and orphanages instead of the command bunkers and ammo dumps. That would be a war crime and yet here is the God of love doing just that. If God can do all things, he could have struck down each pharoh that said 'no' to Moses' demand, just like God did with Ananias and Saphyra in Acts 5. Eventually, one of the replacement pharohs would have wised up and said yes. God didn't do that and instead killed innocent babies and kids. Great one. The second example is the book of Job. God and Satan are involved in what we in industry call a 'pissing contest' for bragging rights. As a consequence, Job loses his health, his livelihood and all his children. His three friends try to console him, with such wisdom as 'you obviously are guilty of sin because bad things happen when you sin' and 'you must not have had enough faith. (You obviously haven't been to enough church services, revival meetings etc)'. Job dismisses all of this BS. God eventually turns up and answers Job's questions of 'why did this all happen' with this gem: "I'm big and powerful, look at all the big things I created. I could snuff you out in an instance, I'm that powerful. Don't talk to me like that". God THREATENS Job. After all he's put Job through, (don't forget, God TOLD Satan to afflict Job), all God has to say is 'I'm big, don't f**k with me". That's God's message to the bereaved and the hurting who want to know 'why'. Nice one, God!

So, there we are. Let's see how the Christians answer the above. Let them tell us how they can believe in the god as portrayed in the Bible. I'm waiting.

Birmingham
England
Became a Christian at 17
Left Christianity at 39
Was: Evangelical, charismatic
Now: Serious doubter
Converted because: Youth club membership
De-converted because: Serious concerns with the bible