Don't condemn Jesus!

A letter from John

I've read the articles on your site, and I realize that some of the Christians and atheists are 2 sides of the same coin: both angry at people who don't follow their ideals.

A lot of atheists have taken pot shots at Jesus.

But, in truth, did Jesus found Christianity? NO!

Jesus was a guy who thought he had some good ideas. He may have been deluded into thinking that he had some message from God or maybe he did genuinely receive some inspiration from a higher source. I don't know and I don't care.

Christianity as we know it was created by Roman politics. The bible, which Christians claim to be inspired by Jesus - and thus has credibility, was in fact just a few of a great many writings on Christianity which happened to be... politically correct, and hence were compiled to form the bible that we know of. The other writings were suppressed and destroyed.

To what extent Jesus preached about going to Hell for your sins and insisting on Sermons every Sunday and forcing creationism down every one's throats... no one knows, IF he ever preached such things.

Indeed, why did Jesus and the apostles abandon the Jewish practice of not eating pork? (Jesus and his followers were Jews who simply thought that they had some great ideas)

Because they considered substance to be of more importance than form.

The religion is not about the ritual. U can have a great healthy diet and eat pork or not eat pork. It doesn't make a difference. You can be a great human being in many ways. They were unlikely to be as anal retentive as the militants of today.

"Christ wasn't a Christian, Buddha wasn't a Buddhist, and Mohammad wasn't a Muslim. These organized creations of other men came about after their death, and with them came the titles, rituals, and terminology's which created a separation of dogma. The terminology, the 'word' printed and bound, became the thing. As Krishnamurti said, "the name is not the thing". Shakespeare doesn't exist inside the ink on the page, the soul doesn't exist within DNA, and god cannot be found in a book." (quote from http://www.straightblastgym.com/why.htm)

Indeed the early Christians are not the militants we know of today; they were SO passive that they REFUSED to serve the Roman army, even when the Roman empire was suffering barbarian incursion after incursion. They were not all fired up and eager to kill. They did not say- I’ll burn you at the stake because you don't believe in Jesus... that came later, when Christianity was organized. Today militants threaten us not with "fire and sword", instead they manipulate the law. Instead of killing us, they only attempt to kill our souls- our ideals, our perception of freedom.

The evangelists and other fanatics like Osama, believe that if individuals do not follow certain rituals or form, like morning prayer in school and covering woman up respectively, the world will go to hell.

But was that EVER the emphasis of the prophets? Historical evidence says NO.

So to conclude, I've got this to say: Don't condemn Jesus, and as for fanatics who claim their ideas come from Jesus, I say- you have no legitimacy.

--- John

159 comments:

Piprus said...

John, I can agree with much of what you say here. I too believe that christianity in the form of the roman church was created as a political institution and government body. But there is no evidence that Jesus ever lived, much less that he abandoned jewish dietary prohibitions against the consumption of pork. The character we read about in the NT may have been loosely modeled after the life of some obscure jewish rebel leader, there were rebellious religious sects all over the place in those times. But we don't know.

And the christian religion is, and was, very much about aspects of dogma and ritual. In its various incarnations, the bottom line has always been, "believe it or else". And if you believe it, practice it like we (the leadership) say, or you're out.

The reason we ex-christians take potshots at Jesus, as you say, are simply because we've come to accept that christianity is built on myth, and by ridiculing the beliefs of the fundamentalist christians from which many of us have sprung, it gives us confirmation that we have indeed escaped from a cult based on fear, guilt, and shame. You can't condemn someone who never existed, but you can indirectly condemn the nonsensical belief system of his devotees.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of truth in what you say. Many atheists do appear angry, although they may have every reason to be after learning the truth about Christianity. And I agree that the teachings of Jesus as written in the Bible have very little to do with the most outspoken form of Christianity today. I think people are starting to wake up to the things that are wrong with Christianity and that it's on its way out as a religion.

Anonymous said...

Piprus said many of the things I wanted to say, just expressed more elequently and detailed than I would have done. I will add a few additional points, though.

John, the end of your post summarizes your admonishment to us to abandon the argument of the legitimacy and/or existence of jesus. Allow me to say that this is a bit too simplistic a solution given the importance of god/jesus in the believer's life, and the importance of free thought in the athiest/non-christian's life. As long as it is the christian's agenda to obtain converts and dilute the separation of church and state, atheists and other non-christians will continue to speak out against christianity, even if it is only at a place like this site. Remember that christians come HERE to start arguments, we don't go to christian sites and interfere with their purposes--we're a little more open-minded in allowing like-minded people to gather and discuss their opinions in peace.

John, not everyone here is focused on taking "pot shots" at jesus because a lot of us don't even believe he ever existed. I personally will mention idiotic things he was attributed with saying ("If thy hand offendeth thee, cut it off . . . ," etc.) But that is just to prove the uselessness of following jesus' teachings, which is the purported basis of christianity. Christians are taught to emulate jesus and follow his teachings. Well, you better love your neighbor but also cut off your hand and pluck out your eye if they "offendeth thee." You can't pick and choose what you want to obey. And because the bible is supposed to be the inerrant word of god, not even one sentence should be ignored. So by my logic, it's all correct or none of it is. And that's just one of the many reasons why I am an ex-christian.

Ex-christian. That is the key word here. The webmaster has created this site as a place to "encourage ex-christians." For me, finding this place and reading the ex-testimonies, articles, research, and other information has actually helped me to release my anger, confusion, anxiety, and depression that my christianity and subsequent deconversion caused. For me, it's a form of self-help to rectify a long and oppressive episode in my life. But the self-help wouldn't be possible without the webmaster and the many others who contribute to this site. John, don't you think it would be ridiculous for me, never having been a muslim, to go to an ex-muslim site and say, "Hey, come on guys, Mohammed never existed, just get over it already." I may believe that to be true, but my lack of experience in the debate would have no credibility there. Do you see the similarity regarding your post?

The things I've explained to you are already contained in various areas in this site, but I'm thinking that you don't have much of a reason or interest in doing the research yourself. Your security and comfort in thinking your are above what you see as the main argument here is evident. If that's the case, good for you. I'm sure you have more fulfilling things to do with your time than to come here and comment on things you've already figured out. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

Michelle

Anonymous said...

I've been reading the rantings of ex-Christians on this site for some time now. Rarely do you find a critical article that's so reasonable in tone. Usually you read four letter words written by younger readers who make me feel that it's the first time they've been allowed to flex their intellectul muscles and rebel against the religion they found themselves in as they were growing up.
I don't entirely agree with your assessment of the character that Christians have come to identify as Jesus Christ. I admit though that I sometimes wonder if, indeed, such a guy ever existed except in the minds of Christians centuries later. You know, a lot of Christian based scholars would probably tell you that there's not much evidence for a historical Jesus,anyway. It's the belief that counts, at least in the minds of the believers. Yes, the governing bodies of the later Roman Catholic Church took over Christianity and made it the powerful force that it is today in the world. That power does not make the belief true.
There is very little that can be done to deprogram Christians from their irrational, brainwashing belief structure. The problem I perceive is the powerful but harmful effect these people have in society today. Their votes do count. When you have to work with these true believers who harass unbelievers in the workplace all in the name of Jesus; when you see faith based funding in these prisons that practically demand that inmates enter those programs for forgiveness from Jesus; when you have a president openly endorse those programs and declare that he, too, is a firm believer in the mission for Jesus, we have a serious threat to our freedoms in America. You might also reflect upon some of the very damaging effects Evangelical Christian pastors have had upon members of their flock. These members who have been sexually molested or raped and those who have had all their savings robbed by their pastors will probably be mentally and emotionally damaged for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, some of them can receive some kind of therapy for the harm that's been done to them.
I am, for one, not "angry." And I don't care to take "potshots at Jesus." Perhaps, I'm just too old now to enjoy that kind of fruitless reaction or rebellion. I also have no desire to declare my atheism or agnoticism like another religion which is sometimes the criticism towards arrogant guys like Richard Dawson. I guess I've come to see that it's pretty pointless to try to get people to rationally examine their irrational beliefs when it comes to the hold Evangelical Chrisitanity can have on the naive gullible minds of people who are susuceptible to the fictious promises of Evangelical Christianity. As a American citizen and a working person I am, however, deeply concerned and sometimes frightened by the harmful, fanatical, true believer mentality of these people who say they follow Jesus. They are just as scary as the Muslim terroists who set off bombs and kill innocent people all in the name of their prophet. I, too, would like to believe that the present fashionable craziness of Evangelical Christianity is just a passing phase in society but I'm afraid it will be here for a while longer.
The place to begin is in our schools. We need to teach students that there is a rational means to look at the feelings, the psychology of belief systems and especailly the predominant religion of Christianity in America. This does not have to been done in a demeaning, disrespectful manner. It can be done in a constructive way through literature and films that offer alternate means of educating people to look at the rational evidence for their feelings; and not offer their feelings as evidence of proof for their beliefs. Afterall, that won't work in real life when you have to, say, prepare your income tax or stand before a judge in a court of law. It might be lastly pointed out that in America, we are still free to believe whatever we chose to believe about our beliefs no matter how irrational they sound to others. In a Christian led America, the exact opposite is true.

Anonymous said...

John,

I think you make some really good points here. I am an ex-christian and I have really benefitted from this site, however, I do think that some of the "humor" has been taken too far. For example, the dress-up Jesus game, where you can put clothes on a paper-doll figure of Jesus on the cross.

Jesus may have never existed, so it might not be disrespectful toward a respected teacher from history...BUT, there are, of course, many Christians that would take offense to that. As for the Christians that take offense to this website in general, they are simply narrow-minded and immature.

But I think it best to respect what other people believe. We don't have to agree with it, but there should be a line. If I were an ex-Buddhist, I wouldn't want to mock Buddha. If I were an ex-Muslim, I wouldn't want to play pin-the-tail on the Mohammad.

It's about respect, maturity, and tolerance. Are all Christians respectful, mature, and tolerant toward others? Hell no! Which is just another reason I want to be. I'm an ex-Christian all the way.

- Sarabhi

Roger O'Donnell said...

TBH, the only 'Buddist' sect I know that has a deist style cult attached is Tibetan.

Zen/Chan are both pretty agnostic, and Stephen Batchelor is proposting an Atheist stance... Buddha himslef wasn't much interested in if there ws a God or not, but take great pains to avoid becoming a god himself (he failed)

Jesus was certainly a theist, but, looking over the Aramaic, he appears to have been Unitarian/Pantheist, rather than typical Hebrew...

Ah well...

Grandpa

Anonymous said...

Yeah all the "shrink wrap" placed around "Jesus" - it was made up by man along the way right? No doubt, even foretold, and some of the junk put in there by man twists everything. I acknowledge this sad truth.

However, I challenge you, if you are truly "intellectually honest" to read a couple of things and then tell me this God thing is made up.

I suggest that you check out http://yadayahweh.com/ and The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel if you haven't already.

Of course, you've got all the answers, right? Then this challenge should be a no-brainer and you'll gain more fodder for your site.

:)

Anonymous said...

Shohn,

Strobel? YMBJ! Tell me, are you intellectually honest? Do you think Lee Strobel is? Can you please explain why Strobel did not interview a single skeptic for any of his books? Yes, I've read Strobel. His arguments are very weak, consisting mainly of straw men, special pleading, and begging the question. This is probably why he stayed far away from anybody who might expose his fallacies. Have you read any of the rebuttals to Strobel's work? Here, you can start with these:

The Rest of the Story

Challenging the Verdict

After you've read them, come on back and tell us what you think. Bye now.

Anonymous said...

Oh, poo. Another Lee Strobel endorsement. Yikes. What's next? Any moment now I am expecting someone to jump in and say - "Every knee shall bow...". -Wes.

boomSLANG said...

Why does.... ::trumpets sound:: ...."GOD'S WORD" need companion books in the first place? Seriously, one of the more "pop" soundbites by Christians who stumble on to this site is that it's MAN who has failed you, NOT GOD!!!...yet, out of the other side of their yapper they say "go read this book by {insert arbitrary Christian "man" apologist here} and you'll see that God is real!!!"

Let's get real, okay?...the notion that an "all knowing" and "all powerful" being would need "assistance" in getting "His" message across is utterly absurd. My digital camera has 5 "companion books" for instruction...but that's a little different, don't you think? (Rhetorical)

Anonymous said...

You know really!
I really don't this bothers Jesus "Christ" one way or the other, "what" you "think" or say about Him. Why should He? He founded the earth without you and your help, as if you could! Most humans cannot even help themselves. Onde million will not even live the night out. evey minute one dies and every minute onwe is born, can you or we do anything about it? "No"

Anonymous said...

Okay I'm back. More fodder!

Thanks for the info - I performed a a cursory review of both sites, and will admit that they do poke holes in Strobel's arguments; however, Strobel's work was never the basis for my faith - it was just the start of a conversation. I should have read your site more first so I apologize for pulling the trigger on that book a bit too fast.

Just so you know, when I read his book, I wondered the same questions about why he didn't interview "leading" atheists as well to present a balanced account.

I also agree that from a "scholarly" point of view, Strobel could have done more work, but I do think both reviews you pointed me to miss the "big picture" in that Strobel claims he set out to prove something to himself and landed in the opposite direction. Isn't the guy a pastor now?

Now back to the point of the original post.

I think the very nature of this site would draw in debate and I think you would all recognize that. However, I think I understand where you and others with this belief system are coming from. I think you feel like you have been lied to and want people to know your version of the truth. I could even imagine that you find it annoying for these poor misguided believers to come to this site trying to show you their light.

However, given what these people believe are the stakes for you and others this site is leading away; I think even the "ex-christians" can at least appreciate the nobility in such efforts however misguided they may seem on the surface. Stated another way - these "misguided" believers (at least those whose heart is true ) are trying to save your soul and have nothing to gain from it - just as there is nothing to gain from this site except for perhaps donations, ad-revenue, and some sort of warm fuzzies in your heart that you are helping people out by keeping them from wasting their lives in some misguided belief system.

Let's get to it.

excerpt..."GOD'S WORD" need companion books in the first place?

The companion books are to reach different audiences and ultimately bring people to truth in alignment with the objectives I stated earlier - you can't reach a Spanish audience with a Greek book. Obviously Strobel wasn't smart enough for this crowd.

excerpt....."the notion that an "all knowing" and "all powerful" being would need "assistance" in getting "His" message across is utterly absurd"

That is part of question isn't it.

What then is the purpose of this life and your life? Why did this "all powerful" and "all knowing" God not just start everyone in this mythical Heaven?

Let the verbal beatings begin!

Anonymous said...

The name Jesus, as it turns out to be, Jesus was the brunt to and the forefront of biggest joke and prank that went wrong, that the world has ever seen. Many thousands, if not millions of lives have been lost and families have been destroyed because of a silly prank that went totally wrong, a little over 2000 years ago.

How it happened, Mary was only 12 years old, when she put her trust in her preist and he molested her and she became pregnant, out of fear of being stoned to death, this also included the preist and Joseph and Mary, the preist quickly devised a plain to save them all from being stoned immediately.

The preist made a public anouncement of Mary having been inseminated by an Angel of the Holy Ghost, this is exactly just what the religious loonies wanted to hear, their long awaited saviour had arrived, their messiah to lead them into the kingdom of God.

Joseph freely admitted he had not touched Mary, so who else could it have been, except a Holy Ghost, as reaffirmed by her God ordained, friendly preist.

So Jesus saves, yes he saved those three from instant stoning to death, and the embellishments went on from there, it was open season of fables and lies and myths as to how and why the Christ Child had arrived.

The three wise men where so wise, that no one remembered to catch their names, and they are still roaming the Earth to this very day.

Jesus saves, yeah that's right!

The same thing for Billy Graham. In 1920, a group of 20 religious loonies in Charlotte, NC were praying for someone to lead them to Jesus, well lo and behold, up sprang out a young rising evangelist named, Billy Graham.

Why didn't someone in the group of 20 lead them to Jesus? Because they wanted it to look like their prayers had been answered.

See the mental pyschosis the mind plays of wanting to believe in miracles and myths?

Jesus was born out of wedlock plain and simple, but in order to save their own skins, they all agreed to start the folly of emaculate conception, this is exactly what people want to believe, even today over 2000 years later.

Anonymous said...

Shohn, wrote “Let the verbal beatings begin!”

Glad to oblige…

I’ll keep mine simple.

Provide evidence that there is such a thing as a “soul”.

If you had no bible, or any other “holy” book to refer to, Shohn, would you even know you had a soul?

If so, how?

That’s the gist of the verbal beating I have for you.

Anonymous said...

What is the purpose in this life?

To be totally honest with you....no one knows, not one person can say absolutely for 100% certain as to why we are here and how we got here.

If any one person had the exact answer, there would not be all the different religions and beliefs and crimes against humanity and wars.

The daily events around the world with wars and crimes against each other, with starvation and bloodshed is a reflection on human beings not knowing absolutes.

All we have is assumptions and presumptions and no absolutes.

We're not sure how many ancient civilations have come and gone, nor where they went.

In my opinion, we are not alone in the universe, I think there are many civilizations out there in space in other galaxies.

I believe that this planet was seeded long ago with many thousands of types of DNA by other civilizations, by higher thinking beings that know how to travel great distances in very little time.

There has to be superior beings on other planets on other galaxies, in my way of thinking, there's so much we do not know about our own planet.

All we have is made up stories that need a huge amount of faith for them to appear real.

We really know very little about our brain, there's so much that we do not know. How can anyone expect people that lived 2000 years ago, to know more than we of today?

We've had more time to think scientifically and to explore using scientific methods, whereas the people who lived 2000 years ago forbade scientific knowledge.

The people that lived 2000 years ago, all they could do is guess, we now know guessing does not produce truth, nor correct answers.

So we quit guessing and presuming and assuming, because those methods do not produce truth. it produces myths and urban legions.

boomSLANG said...

Shohn: Why did this "all powerful" and "all knowing" God not just start everyone in this mythical Heaven?

Wild guess: Um, because "God and "Heaven" are "mythical"? D'oh!!!

lol

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you Shohn! I always try to give credit where credit is due. You read through the links I provided and you were intellectually honest enough to admit that they (at least partly) undermined Strobel's arguments. Good for you. But, of course, we've got some more quibbling to do... :-)

You said "...but I do think both reviews you pointed me to miss the 'big picture' in that Strobel claims he set out to prove something to himself and landed in the opposite direction." But think about this, Shohn. If it was your intention to find out the truth, one way or the other, why would you only seek input from one side? Even if Strobel decided in the end to only publish the arguments that he thought were true, this does not explain why he failed to address the real arguments against his position! In other words, I do not believe for one second that Strobel attempted any kind of balanced research. If he did, then he managed to hid all traces of it exceedingly well.

Shohn: "I think the very nature of this site would draw in debate and I think you would all recognize that."

Yes we do. Many of us welcome debate. However, more often than not, what we get from visiting Christians is proselytizing, not discussion or debate. There is a big difference, as the former is quite tiresome and is often delivered with sneering condescension. We're only human here, and everybody has their limit.

Shohn: "...given what these people believe are the stakes for you and others this site is leading away; I think even the "ex-christians" can at least appreciate the nobility in such efforts however misguided they may seem on the surface....

What you are asking is actually a very complex question, in my opinion. I do not wish to be flip about it, but let me start by asking you what seems to be a very silly question. Suppose I was sure that you were on fire, and that your life was in grave danger. Am I justified in dumping a bucket of water on you? Does it depend on whether you really were on fire or not? What if you had insisted that you were just fine, and asked me to please go away? What if you calmly demonstrated for me that you were not on fire, but I still insisted that you were? Where do you draw the line between acting compassionately and being a complete jerk?

Shohn: "The companion books [to the Bible] are to reach different audiences and ultimately bring people to truth..."

But that misses the point. Why is anything other than the Bible (translated into all the world's languages) required? Wasn't it god's will to record his wishes in the Bible, and to illustrate them in a way that would reach all people? Why is Christian apologetics a billion-dollar industry? Moreover, why do all the "companion books" not agree, even on basic elements of theology, such as what is required to secure salvation?

Shohn: "What then is the purpose of this life and your life?..."

It's unclear to me whether you were quoting somebody here or asking this yourself. If it is your question, let me first pose a simpler question: "Is there is purpose to life other than what we give it?" If we can establish that there is, then we can set about trying to discern what it is. Okay?

Anonymous said...

Jim,

I can tell that I'm going to like you already! I expected a big verbal club over the head and instead I got some challenging questions. Not bad.

I don't have all the answers, but I think this quibbling should at least be fun.

I'll continue tomorrow ;) - my wife and I need to hit the sack.

Thanks,

Shohn

Anonymous said...

I think this is a really good point concerning Strobel's book given by Jim:

~~If it was your intention to find out the truth, one way or the other, why would you only seek input from one side?~~

I'm an ex-christian, but am reading a case for christ now, actually, b/c i've been doing a lot of research about christianity from BOTH sides.

I have a bit of a theory as to why Strobel didn't interview, or at least didn't include interviews, from skeptic/atheist scholars. In the intro to the book, Strobel says that he and his wife were both atheists, but then she became a Christian. He says that she started becoming "happier" and he attributed that to her conversion. I think that he WANTED to believe after his wife converted b/c I think he wanted to be "happier," whether it was founded on truth or not...

So, my theory is basically that it was easy for him to switch from atheist to christian b/c he wasn't looking at the interviews from a completely objective point. He had personal interests involved.

Obviously I could be completely wrong, but the theory came to me as I got further into the book and began realizing that he wasn't going to interview any skeptics....Just a theory tho..

-Sarabhi

christuffer said...

Well said piprus.

Long held assumptions by people, fed by the Church mean those who deny the historicity of Jesus have been considered eccentric. But that is changing...

The 'Christian' message itself, is not even original, never mind the idea of a godman.

Check out this website. Extremely useful.

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/

webmdave said...

Shohn wrote: "However, given what these people believe are the stakes for you and others this site is leading away; I think even the "ex-christians" can at least appreciate the nobility in such efforts however misguided they may seem on the surface."

As an addendum to Jim's comment, Islam is also an evangelical faith system that believes the stakes are quite high. Perhaps their efforts to convert others should be viewed as noble as well?

And, considering that the stakes are for eternity, Christianity once resorted to forced conversions, just as Islam is still practicing today.

As Jim said, discussion is one thing; proselytizing is something else entirely.

Anonymous said...

We're all just an "evolved" collection of chemicals that love our families (some of us); have some sense of right and wrong (conscience) that was evolved as well; merely exist to further our own special blend of chemicals through offspring, and many of these special blends of chemicals have randomly dreamed up the existent of a god.

Anonymous said...

John got it wrong!
Indeed Jesus talked all of the things the Christian preachers of today have been talking about. As a matter of fact Jesus talked about Creation (Matthew chapter 19), Hell (Luke chapter 16), condemnation of the unsaved and the great tribulation(matthew chapter 24). He also talked about why atheists do not come to or leave Christ in John chapter 3 (19: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20: For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21: But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.)
According to Jesus, atheists got only moral reasons for refusing him, not intellectual reasons. Intellectually, atheism is gibberish.
You also maintained that Christianity formed out as a Roman organization. But Christians were killed amass under the Roman dictators. You are right, when Christianity became the offical religion of the Roman empire, the Church became corrupt. There is no denying to that fact. As Lord Acton told, 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely'. Even the church is not exempt from it. So, the power-hungry church committed lot of atrocities in the history. But, if you compare their works with the teachings and life of Christ, you will see the blaring contradiction between the two. We should focus on Jesus, not on the church.
Jesus also claimed that He is God. He claimed that seeing Him would be tantamount to seeing the God the Father (John 10). Blessed be the name of Jesus. Let us praise His name, not condemn Him.

freeman said...

All religions were created out of political necessity.

Paul, your jesus is a fable, nothing more!

webmdave said...

Paul, Islam is the one true religion. Please repent and praise Allah lest you be confined to hell!

The Bible has been corrupted by the Roman Church. The Gospel of Barnabas is the only authentic record of Jesus' life.

n/a said...

shohn wrote:

We're all just an "evolved" collection of chemicals...

Shohn, that's true, but you could also say a car is just a collection of metal and plastic parts. I think what you are saying is that from your Christian perspective, without God there is no purpose in life. But why do you need someone else to give you a purpose? And what is the "purpose" of life for a Christian? Well you don't really know, since that's up to God, but generally its worship God, read and believe the Bible, and go to heaven. But what about being good stewards of the Earth so that we don't wreck the planet, having tolerance for other beliefs (or atheists,) controlling our fertility so that we have sustainable populations, democracy, science, critical thinking, exploration of the universe, etc? The Bible doesn't address these issues, or does so very poorly; these are things we need to address in order to survive in the long term and grow as a species. Instead of living for beliefs for which we have no real proof, we need to start facing reality and improve the human condition here on Earth.

Anonymous said...

Many atheists are angry because:

1) They are constantly attacked by Christians who threaten them with hell

2) Believers refuse to be honest about the nature and orgin of their beliefs

3) Atheists are considered second-class citizens with things like "under God" in the official loyalty oath of the nation being rubbed in their faces, "In God We Trust" on the money, etc.

4) Atheists are liable to lose their jobs and suffer other socioeconomic consequences including kids being ebaten up at school, etc. by all the "loving" believers

need I go on - ?

Anonymous said...

Shohn, I think Alan said it very well in his post above. There's not much to add... but then, that's never stopped me before. Although you did not make this point explicitly (and we therefore need to guess), I'm assuming that your observation about being a "collection of chemicals" is an attempt at something resembling reductio ad absurdum; that is, an argument that purports to disprove something by showing that it entails an absurdity. The absurdity here being that mere chemicals cannot exhibit the features we all know are present in humans, such as the capacity to feel love. I'm not fond of wrestling with straw men, so before I proceed to put this one in a Half Nelson, please tell me whether this is your thinking.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul…

The acronym “SSDD” applies to your posts.

We can’t seem to get through to you that quoting from the bible is as effective as quoting from Mother Goose.

So, in light of your posts Paul, please read and heed this “scripture”:


From The Holy Mother Goose, Bunny Foo Foo Chapter 1, Verses 1-3

1) Little Bunny Foo Foo, hoppin' through the forest, scoopin' up the field mice and boppin' em on the head.

2) And down came the Blue Fairy, and she said: “Little Bunny Foo Foo I don't want to see you scoopin' up the field mice and boppin' em on the head.”

3) And now I'll give you three chances, and if you keep it up, I'll turn you into a goon.

See Paul, the magic Blue Fairy (the “jesus” figure in this scripture) will change you into a goon if you don’t stop. The Mother Goose scripture is clear.

You believe this don’t you, Paul? Because you believe in that other fairy tale….

Anonymous said...

A most excellent point Warnepiece! I think this deserves far more attention from scholars. For instance, it's unclear to me from the passages that you cite whether "bopin'" is intended literally or metaphorically. Would it also include "shootin'" and "squashin'"? And what about the field mice? Can we assume that the same injunction applies to, say, bunnies? These are important questions, as we wish to act rightly in the eyes of Blue Fairy. We must all strive to rescue ourselves and our fellow humans from the awful fate of becoming a goon. We must spread the word! (Once we fully understand it, that is.)

Anonymous said...

To be honest Jim, I’ve wondered about those points as well. I would think the passages were meant to be taken literally, but I have only a limited understanding of the wisdom of this scripture since my kids are now all grown and I rarely read from the Goose stories anymore.

However, I take comfort in the words of the High Priest of the Church of the Holy Water Fowl who said, “We can’t begin to understand, it’s the mystery of Mother Goose”

LOL!

Anonymous said...

So it sounds like most of you agree then that we're nothing more than an evolved collection of chemicals at least as far as modern science can tell us - forgive me, but in effect dust :)
------
Alan - The car in your analogy had a builder. Yes it is a collection of plastic and parts - but it still had a builder, a source, a designer - whatever you want to call it. Conveniently the car just happens to be about just the right size for us wee little humans to drive.
-------
All I'm trying to work on here is whether there are gods, God, Yahweh, higher power, the Great Spirit, buddha god thing, unnamed big bang inventor, Mr. Intelligent Design dude, the Easter Bunny, the great Creator, or something whatever you want to call it.
----
Is the universe finite or infinite?
-----
Is there a better forum to talk about this - I find the comments system here somewhat clumsy.
------

n/a said...

Shohn

I'm not saying that at all, I guess I didn't make myself clear - you can describe man as a collection of chemicals, as you can describe a car as a collection of parts, but obviously it misses the point. You seem to be hung up on the idea that some external someone or something must have created man in order for him to have a purpose or "meaning." Why not accept that we just are, and realize that it is we who give our lives purpose? And that does not mean that purpose is therefore arbitrary or trivial. A professor once said something that has stuck with me: if we have been asking a question for thousands of years and still don't have an answer, maybe we're asking the wrong question. And it should come as no surprise that Christianity (and religion in general,) has us constantly asking the wrong questions.

Anonymous said...

Shohn: "So it sounds like most of you agree then that we're nothing more than an evolved collection of chemicals..."

As far as I know, I consist largely of elements formed (from hydrogen and helium) in an ancient star that exploded into a super nova some 5 to 8 billion years ago, and the organization of said elements is due to a long process of biological evolution that began some 4 billion years ago. One could also say that I am a collection of subatomic particles, or even quarks, just like inanimate objects are.

Shohn: "The car in your [Alan's] analogy had a builder..."

Right. We know that a large number of people participated in its design, manufacture, sale, and (presumably) maintenance. It's also true that cars can be disassembled and reassembled, that their parts are fungible, and that they only require energy when moving, not standing still. We can say a great many things about cars. Which of these facts do you deem relevant?

Shohn: "Is the universe finite or infinite?"

I don't know. There is some evidence to suggest that it's finite, but nobody knows for sure.

Anonymous said...

Shohn, although the responces on this site tend to be atheistic in nature, the only god we're concerned with is the christian god. There are several people on this site who have religious/spiritual beliefs and would easily conceed to the existance of supernatural or otherworldly beings - just not christ. (Hence the name 'Ex-christian.)

Anonymous said...

Jim and friends,

Okay - we're at least getting some
good dialog I think. Let me know if I start to cross the line or violate protocol or something.

With the car analogy - it wasn't my analogy, but I went with it. The point was that it originated from somewhere. We know that our molecular structure seems to continue to go to smaller and smaller levels (e.g., quarks) and at the same time our universe is infinite right? If it is finite - where is the container? Is it the nothingness / vacuum that holds it? Isn't the nothingness in and of itself then something?

Conceeding that there is at least something behind our existence is better that we "just exist", which is all I was going for.

I can also understand where some of you are coming from as far as the following comments - What has "religion" done for us? It has started many wars, but has not advanced our society, etc. I'm with you on some parts of that.

I'm asking if there is something behind all of this (God, Easter Bunny, christian god, Jack the Ripper, Mr. Creator) then that means there are very real next questions.

Anonymous said...

Shohn: "If it [the universe] is finite - where is the container? Is it the nothingness / vacuum that holds it?"

If the universe is finite, it needn't have a boundary. This is one of the many conceptual errors that amateur cosmologists always fall into. Looking at what's "outside" the finite universe is like looking for a corner on a circle; it's semantic nonsense. This is where mathematics leaves the realm of everyday experience with "classical" physics at macroscopic scales. I must have written this a million times, but simulating the universe in your brain is a fruitless exercise if you rely on naive intuition; I call it armchair cosmology. Does your intuition tell you anything about quantum tunneling? If not, then you cannot expect it to tell you anything useful about cosmology either.

Shohn: "Conceeding that there is at least something behind our existence is better that we 'just exist', which is all I was going for."

But your destination is showing that there is a god, right? If so, then at some point you will be making a fantastic leap from the relatively mundane things we've been discussing thus far. At some point you will claim "God did it!", simply because you see no other way to explain something. How can I say that? Because that's how these discussions always go. There is always a "poof" somewhere in the theists argument; guaranteed. So, keep going, Shohn. See if you can avoid the "poof". I'll be watching... :-)

Anonymous said...

What is inherently wrong with "God did it" if we are presuming that there is a God ;)

n/a said...

shohn wrote:

Conceeding that there is at least something behind our existence is better that we "just exist"

Shohn

Why? Why does there have to be something "behind" our existence?

Anonymous said...

Alan,

Sorry man - wasn't trying to drag you down. Sounds like you're a nice enough guy. The concept that something sprung from nothing just doesn't compute for me. I have this intuitive thing etched into my brain /heart/ psyche / whatever you want to call it that says something like "Where did I come from and why?" I'd really like to understand how your answer became "I came from nowhere and it really doesn't matter anyway". Again, not trying to be rude - just wanting to understand.

Piprus - your thing about dogma and ritual is on the surface correct, but I think it is also a critique of something that you don't seem to understand - in fact one of the core messages of "christianity" was that "religion" (i.e., the Pharisees) is bad. It seems like you never really got it - I could be wrong and I'm not trying to be arrogant - honestly, but I think this may be like trying to explain what it is like to have kids to someone who doesn't have them. It just can't be done until they've experienced it. The best comparison I can think of is maybe Jodi Foster's experience at the end of that movie "Contact". She just couldn't explain it.

Even the "believe it or else" line while on the surface I can see how that message would sometimes be received and is often preached, that is not it. "Believe it or else" is forced. Love isn't forced - if someone told you "believe it or else" they had it wrong - the book is very clear about that part.

It's kind of hard to explain though - I guess where I'm struggling is I'm trying to explain something that you probably can't understand because you've never felt it and thus the only channel we can communicate on seems to be reason and "evidence". Things like love, anger, sacrifice, etc. are difficult to explain in terms of reason and that is really the challenge here.
Sheesh I feel like a Muslim saying "You're taking that out of context".

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I can relate to what you're saying about the dogma/rituals. For example, the Catholic church was and still is the worst about twisting the message. The most recent teachings from that church are that all good persons go to heaven even atheists, hindu, and the good muslims, but that is clearly not what the book says. How they got that out of the book is confusing as all get out to me, but it is what it is.

What happened to you guys anyway - a couple of corrupt pastors (gimme your money), a molesting priest, self-righteous people?

Anyway guys - it was certainly nice chatting with all of you, but I feel the steam running out on this thread. Good luck and hopefully not too many angry Christians come here to verbally assault you!


--

Shohn

Anonymous said...

Shohn,

There are a million things I can't explain; that's precisely why I don't explain them. Quantum mechanics and cosmology (and even to some extent biological evolution) violate everyday intuition; that's why I don't insist that they conform to my intuition. Maybe it's my background in mathematics and science, but I've learned that there is far more to thinking than listening to one's gut. The gut thing is fine for some things, such as trying to find your way back to the highway when you're lost in an unfamiliar city, or even when you're trying to figure out what problem to work on next in a scientific discipline. But one's gut has absolutely no authority when it comes to determining how things actually are. In fact, it's often quite the opposite, and for good reason. The gray matter between our ears is honed for an existence on the surface of a planet where water is predominantly in a liquid state; we interact with things that are macroscopic, yet are small enough that gravitational forces are insignificant and space-time curvature are unnoticeable; Our lives are so short we don't even notice the drift of continents or the progress of glaciers; Our native logic is just adequate for quickly apprehending danger, recognizing kin, and keeping track of who owes what to whom. When we put before our brains the task of determining where life came from, why anything exists, or how we came to be the way we are, we must reason well beyond what our intuitions are prepared to handle. It's rather remarkable that we can do it at all. But the key has consistently been to ask questions, then let nature answer; that's what science does. When we impose our inner-most feeling on the world, it's no surprise that the world ends up looking a lot like us. That is what religion does. It elevates feelings to the level of absolute truth.

You are quite welcome to believe what you wish, and for any reason you wish. But there are some of us who insist on trying to grapple with what is "out there" rather than simply what we feel "in here". I do not mean to disparage the latter. I've said many times that intuition and emotion are vitally important to us. But to live by either logic or intuition alone is like trying to clap with one hand. Without intuition, one would not feel motivation to act. Without reason, one's actions would have little to do with reality--they are simply emotions writ large.

I've spent a good deal of my life pondering the big questions, and trying to learn all I can about what we known today, and how we came to know it. One of the most stunningly clear conclusions I've come to is that the elaborate edifice of religion is a castle built of human emotion; it's a self-portrait of humanity that captures our needs, our fears, our ways of influencing one another, and our most elemental understanding of how to survive--by seeking to gain favor with and thereby influence the dominant member(s) of our tribe. If there is a god or goddess out there other than the ones we've created, she has not deigned to bring this fact to our attention, and I refuse to invent her for the mere convenience of explaining that which I cannot otherwise explain. I think there is far more wisdom and infinitely greater potential in saying "I don't know."

Anonymous said...

Jim... excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Jim,

Thanks for being respectful of my beliefs - I'll try to be as respectful of yours in return, but I'm not perfect - I'm going to ramble a bit - you have been warned!

So let me get this straight - we shouldn't live our lives by logic or intuition alone - yet the only thing that is valid for explaining our world is logic and we should focus our efforts on understanding what is "out there" and not "in here".

Or is it that we should focus on what is "out there" because that is where the greatest benefit to humanity as a species is or that is what helps us feel like we are something more than just a randomly thrown together collection of atoms and quarks. Is that perhaps on a personal level, given your skills and abilities, that science is what affords you the greatest opportunity to contribute to the preservation of the human race and that lets you fill the emptiness?

If there is no God and all we are is atoms / quarks / random electric currents, etc. then nothing we do matters because in the end we're still just dust. What value is there in preserving dust?

Now, I'm not saying that understanding scientifically how our world works is pointless because I do believe science and math has helped us out quite a bit. Cars and computers, and voice activated contraptions, and nuclear bombs and missiles so we can better fight our religious wars, space shuttles, and photon torpedoes, and maybe one day a real moon base or hotel.

You and I could argue all day back and forth about the values of science vs. religion and logic vs. intuition and emotion. Net net I think I we would both agree that "religion" is bad when used to advance "evil" and so is science, but both can be used for good as well - but to sit there and say that there is nothing behind our intuition reduces the concept of good and evil right and wrong to futility.

I'm still struggling with what exactly is so bad about the "biblical" message of "christianity" at least in its pure form.

Love the Creator, love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Don't kill people. Help your neighbor. Don't be hypocrital / self righteous, etc. and yes all of you are "sinners", but don't worry I'm going to become one of you so that we can both hang out after I die for all of you who are interested in me. Oh and yes that means there's more to life than emptiness and that instinctive intuition that I built into you tells you so and yes it is actually right.

How exactly does that hurt us as a species, if not at least giving quite a few of us a sense of hope?

Sure, I'll be the first to admit that there are plenty of people who twist the message. Love God or else you will burn in hell or simply die and yes if you want to say it that way I guess that is okay. Kind of harsh, but okay.

I think of it more as this spiritual father and his woman side got together one day and said -- Gee whiz - I feel kind of alone - I should make something. S

So he setup this thing called life so you could hopefully reach inside yourself and realize that he made you and that there is nothing you can do to ever change is love for you, but if you don't want love him back, then he still loves you enough to say okay. Like a father saying you will always be my son and there is nothing you can do to ever change my love for you, but you're not getting the keys to the car unless you finish your homework.

That this life lasts what seems like a long time to you, but is not even in time for him, and that time is a gift designed for you just so that you could experience the ups and downs of life prior to entry to paradise so that you'd actually be able to truly appreciate it. To be provided good times and bad and showing you through analogy what he feels like as you turn away from him by what it feels like to have your own children make mistakes and turn away from you.

Do those of us who feel this way about God really suffer from some kind of mass delusion that only the lords of science are smart enough to figure out and eventually explain away?

Why do science and God or whatever you want to call Him or Her have to be mutually exclusive to be able to make sense of this life and this world?

boomSLANG said...

If there is no God and all we are is atoms / quarks / random electric currents, etc. then nothing we do matters because in the end we're still just dust. What value is there in preserving dust?

No, this wasn't addressed to me, but I'd rather go before Jim Arvo, than after = )

To any Christian: If you "KNOW" you're guaranteed a life of unadulterated eternal bliss in the clouds, this, for merely professing belief in "the one True God"---then it stands to reason that you "KNOW" you'll later on have an "eternal" amount of time to do what "really matters", and/or, whatEVER you passed up in this life. Yes? Yes, it would only make perfect sense.

Question: Then why does anything "matter" in this life, other than kneeling once or twice a week and professing your "God? Who cares about hugging a child in this life, when you could be praying to get into the next, instead? Who cares about family, friends, work, ANYTHING in this life, when you could be spending that time doing what it takes to get into the next life?---doing what "really matters"?

In fact, since you'll have an "infinite" amount of time to do what "really matters" in "heaven", then why don't all Christians grab up their loved ones tonight, and go play in traffic until they're "called to God", thus, getting a free ticket to the place where you can do what "matters" the most?

It might seem insensitive the way I posed it, but it's a valid question, especially if people are going to asssume that because this life "ends", then nothing in this life should "matter". Quite selfish and arrogant, too, I might add.

I'm still struggling with what exactly is so bad about the "biblical" message of "christianity" at least in its pure form.

Pure form, free form, rare form, reform---Christianity is a very EXCLUSIVE "club". It's "bylaws" CANNOT be questioned. Even if the Chairman of the Board is a sadistic tyrant and turns your stomach; even if this club doesn't interest you----guess what?..... you're incinerated.

One needn't "struggle" to see that "Club Christo" has a very CONDITIONAL "membership". And don't hand me your "free gift" bullshit, either.

Anonymous said...

Boomslang,

Let me try to summarize what I think you are saying - hey God and your "children" - go f*ck yourself.

Did I misunderstand :)

n/a said...

shohn:

When you say "came from nowhere" you must be referring to the big bang, since everything is traceable to some extent after that. As far as what caused the universe to exist I am perfectly happy to say "I don't know" and follow the developments in science as best I can. My sense of purpose or meaning or whatever you want to call it does not depend on knowing why the universe came into being or why humans exist on the Earth. I not saying it doesn't matter but like I said earlier, these are questions that people have been asking for thousands of years and we still don't have the answers, and I think we waste too much time trying to "figure it all out." There are a number of mythologies to try to explain "why," including Christianity, and none of them are credible IMO. And if you just absolutely have to know "why" before you can feel you have a sense of purpose or meaning or whatever in life, then you are going to have to subscribe to one of those mythologies, or make up your own.

You mention a false dichotomy that either there is a God, or else we are just the result of random processes. From what I understand of physics matter does organize itself, there are large-scale structures in the universe that are not random, and obviously we are not random chemicals, we are thinking human beings. Evolution is not a random process (although random mutations play a part,) it is an adaptive process. The good parts of Christianity you mention are good. But you don't need a supreme being in order to love others, prohibit crime, not be a hypocrite, and behave in a positive and responsible way. In fact I think these good things are better if there is no supreme being, since they are proof that the human race is capable of behaving in a civilized fashion without a "cosmic parent" to enforce the rules. Maybe you can explain to me why man can't be good or meaningful or have a purpose without this supreme being. And science and God aren't mutually exclusive, there's just no evidence that God exists. The only "proof" is the Bible, which is a questionable document at best, and various psychological phenomena, which can be explained without invoking spirits or the supernatural.

What's the problem with believing in a religion? Well first off, not all Christians are like you - many are into the fire-and-brimstone thing and they want to shape public policy accordingly. Religions in general are anti-democratic, they promote an obey-the-king mentality. Religion gets people thinking in simplistic terms of black-and-white and good-and-evil, and has them looking for simple answers to complex problems. Religion wants to deny science, since science keeps making it look bad. And with Christianity there is this idea that the Earth is just a temporary place, so if we wreck it, well that's just part of the grand plan, right?

Anonymous said...

Alan - well thought out. I think I better understand where you are coming from.

I don't agree with the explanation of many events (e.g., miracles, life transformations) as you suggested, but I'm okay to agree to disagree on that for now.

Are you a physics nut by chance? I have a site I'd like a couple of you guys to check out to get your thoughts on the physics - does it hold water.

Anonymous said...

Shohn, what do the natural sciences have anything to do with a supernatural god... nothing. So, what is your point. Is it to try and diminish the human understanding of natural events, so that your supernatural belief becomes more believable?

If your god is supernatural and 100% transcendent, then it's 0% understandable by a natural person such as yourself.

In order for you to chop science down, so that it is equal to the 0% understandable supernatural belief system - you'd have to suggest that science is not even 0% understandable.

You lose, if that is your intent. However, maybe you just like a change from the Christian religion, and talking about something that is real for a change.

boomSLANG said...

Boomslang,

Let me try to summarize what I think you are saying - hey God and your "children" - go f*ck yourself.

Did I misunderstand :)


Hey Shohn, nah, that would be as useless as telling Amon Ra and his "children" to go f%ck themselves. I am saying, however, f%ck ALL legendary thinking, including Christianity......so you're pretty close.

Moving on, I asked a valid question in regards to your implication that if life's "events" are temporal(in the eyes of a non-theist), then they must be meaningless. I guess you don't have an answer to my question.

Or did I misunderstand = ) ?

Anonymous said...

Shohn, I'm a bit taken aback that you seem to have derived all manner of bald assertions (and normative ones at that) from what I wrote above. The short answer is "No, you haven't gotten it straight at all." As a side note, this happens with such frequency when discussing things with believers that I am becoming convinced it's more than coincidence; it may in fact be a fundamentally different point of view. More on that at some future time...

Let me ask you this. Is it important to you to understand how the world really operates (as best you can), or are you more concerned with being comforted by your beliefs, whether or not they are true? Forget the should / shouldn't for a moment -- that's for another discussion. If it's the former, then you cannot expect intuition to get you there. This I can demonstrate in many ways, and I've already alluded to some of them. If it's the latter you're after (i.e. comfort), then I don't see any need to be overly concerned with checking facts scientifically. You can get there through many inventive means; at least in a society where there are others to look after the reality-based stuff, like medicine and agriculture. And I don't mean that derisively. I truly mean that it is an option before you, as many an artist and poet have demonstrated, often to the enrichment of others.

But if you want to know whether your view of the world is accurate or not (for whatever reason you might cite, be it altruistic or purely personal), then I see no way to avoid testing your ideas against reality, and then accepting what reality has to say, at least provisionally. That is science in a nutshell--it's really nothing more than that. You don't need to wear a white lab coat to do it. All you need to do is ask questions, and try your best not to color the answers with your own desires.

Let me put this another way. You ask what's so bad about the "message" of Christianity. That's a value judgment, and I was not speaking to that in what I wrote above. However, if you were to ask me whether the stories in the Bible are true, or whether the Bible is the word of god, then I insist that we test these claims in whatever manner we can before making a determination, and NOT settle for consulting our feelings on the matter. The reason for this should be clear; how we feel about something needn't have much to do with whether it is true or not. Does that make sense to you? Please, let's stop here and agree on this point, if possible, before going any further. If we cannot agree on this fairly straightforward point, then it's futile to address other more complex topics.

Anonymous said...

Fundamentally from a different point of view is probably the biggest understatement ever, but you are now asking me to reduce the scope, in effect, asking me to use a microscope to see the world when I have been given eyes.

We probably won't be able to get much further than this because my next question would be "How do you define reality?" Is this reality simply the physical world that we can measure and make statements on whether something is likely to remain true based on empirical evidence alone?

I think your question is HOW can I scientifically define the reality that I am in, indeed that we are all in, and I'm asking something more like "How do you know you're not some brain sitting in a jar on God's desk?". Would any amount of scientific or "emotional" evidence be able to refute or prove that?

Your answer is probably going to be - well I can measure it and if I can't then one day science will.

One day science will be able to prove that people love or hate each other.

I'm with you in that the feelings in the sense of the reality that I think you are going to define would not be useful from a purely scientific basis for determining how the sun works or how the laws of the universe work in this thing we call reality.

However, to the degree that science can not measure intuition or the space of consciousness it just seems like use science alone is limiting the scope.

If I ask "Do you love your mother/daughter, wife, friends, or whatever - then prove it"

The response I'm getting seems to be
"I'm can't because I can't provide any scientific proof - besides those things don't matter for defining how the universe works"

In essence, saying yes feelings and all that junk are valuable - after all we are human; however, feelings and intuition are not useful for anything other than the preservation of the species and are really not much beyond an ant's need or function to be social with the ant colony. Once again, in effect, nothing much more than dust.

I know there is a God, but I think you remain unconvinced and that is okay, but let's just say that there was in this line of questioning.

If there were this "all-knowing" deity, then would it not make sense for this all-knowing deity thing to put some physical laws that define how the little world he made work?

Why are the two mutually exclusive?

There are things that science can't explain and there are things that "religion" or the spiritual side of us can't explain yet at the end of the day all of you seem to know that "human" life has value otherwise you would not be here trying to make people's lives better and support them in what you otherwise perceive to be a waste of people's lives.

I have never said science was a waste or without value, all I'm saying is that using it alone is limiting the scope . Perhaps this is not much different than a "christian" using one "variant" of that "religion" to define what he knows about God - the Great Spirit or the giant spaghetti ball tosser or whatever you want to call him.

Anonymous said...

Boomslang,

I suppose it depends upon how you define humanity.

If humanity is in fact nothing more than atoms and quarks - then at this moment were are in fact nothing more than atoms and quarks debating and truly it is almost comical that your atoms and quarks insistent are that what my atoms and quarks know to be true is wrong and vice versa. Atoms and quarks then arguing over what constitutes self worth and value in their "lives". Would that constitute a joke?

Anonymous said...

Shohn: "...you are now asking me to reduce the scope, in effect, asking me to use a microscope to see the world when I have been given eyes."

I've said nothing even remotely approaching this. Please quote me, and explain how you got this.

Shoh: "...I think your question is HOW can I scientifically define the reality that I am in, indeed that we are all in, and I'm asking something more like 'How do you know you're not some brain sitting in a jar on God's desk?'. Would any amount of scientific or 'emotional' evidence be able to refute or prove that?"

I cannot prove that I am not a brain in a vat. I cannot prove that I am not the plaything of some invisible being. I cannot prove that all of reality is not a projection of my imagination. If you wish to argue that any of these things pertain, then please go right ahead. Until there is some reason for me to suspect that any of the above might be true, I will continue to assume that they are not. Does that seem like an unreasonable position to you?

Your worldview seems to hinge on a deep desire for certainty, and an ineffable trust in what you feel to be true. Mine hinges on testing assertions to see if what I and others suspect actually corresponds to something real--something that is more than a projection of what I wish to see. I see your position as unreliable, and you probably see mine as unreasonable.

Shohn: "Your answer is probably going to be - well I can measure it and if I can't then one day science will."

No! That's a ridiculous statement! Please refrain from attributing any such assertion to me. Is there some way I could test such an assertion? No, there is not. Hence, it would be a baseless conjecture.

Shohn: "However, to the degree that science can not measure intuition or the space of consciousness it just seems like use science alone is limiting the scope."

Yikes. No! I'm going to ask my question again. Please cut and paste this into your reply, and do not tamper with the wording at all. Please address this question, precisely as I've asked it.

=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=
Is it important to you to understand how the world really operates (as best you can)?
=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=

That will be a yes or a no. If no, then we honestly have nothing to discuss. If yes, then we can compare notes about how we go about this. Does this make sense to you? Yes or no.

Shohn: "If I ask 'Do you love your mother/daughter, wife, friends, or whatever - then prove it'"

We can perhaps make some progress if you drop the word "proof" altogether. I demand no "proof" from you. You will get no "proof" from me. All talk of "proof" is nonsense to me, unless you want to talk about mathematics, which would be an entirely different discussion. So, let's talk about evidence. Yes, of course I can give you evidence that I love my friends and family. Although what I mean by "love" may not be precisely what you mean by "love", as we are both humans, we will share at least some of the same ideas, and those ideas will manifest themselves in similar ways. I don't see anything so mysterious as you do here.

It would probably also be useful to stop using the modifier "scientific". When I use it, all I mean is an attempt to see past one's preconceptions and prejudices. When believers use it, it's almost a pejorative, conjuring a stuffy insistence that there is only one way to think, and all else is bunk. More on this below.

Shohn: "The response I'm getting seems to be..."

In every case that your have tried to echo what you heard from me, you replace openness with dogmatism, and you replace critical thinking with narrow-mindedness. Perhaps you should simply state your own case instead of trying to paraphrase mine. I try my best to be patient, but in all honestly, I do not have infinite tolerance for having my words tortured so, and I'd rather not let this degenerate into a heated exchange. Understood?

Shohn: "...feelings and intuition are not useful for anything other than the preservation of the species and are really not much beyond an ant's need or function to be social with the ant colony. Once again, in effect, nothing much more than dust."

Okay, I have no idea where any of this came from. Is this supposed to be a paraphrasing of my position, or something that you think follows from what I said? As I pointed out earlier, if we cannot agree to the most basic things, none of the subsequent rhetoric will make any sense at all, as you demonstrated here.

Shohn: "I know there is a God,..."

You believe there is a god, yes. And you correctly stated that I am unconvinced.

Shohn: "If there were this 'all-knowing' deity, then would it not make sense for this all-knowing deity thing to put some physical laws that define how the little world he made work?"

I don't know.

Shohn: "Why are the two mutually exclusive?"

What two?

Shohn: "...all of you seem to know that 'human' life has value otherwise you would not be here trying to make people's lives better..."

There is no way we can communicate our positions to each other concerning "values" until the much more basic things are sorted out (if, indeed, that is even possible). So I'm not even going to attempt a reply to that at the moment.

Shohn: "...using it [science] alone is limiting the scope."

I think you are wrestling a straw man. Can you point to anybody here who has implied that science is the only way to obtain information about the world? I will state my position on it. If you wish to address it, please quote it verbatim in your reply.

By "science" I mean the practices that tend to mitigate our built-in prejudices and our common errors in reasoning, thereby allowing us to be more objective in our observations of what is around us. I believe it to be the best tool for gaining knowledge that has yet been discovered/invented. I do not claim that it is the only such tool, as I have no way, even in principle, to arrive at that conclusion.

Please note all the qualifiers. I have not made a single dogmatic assertion in this statement. I have seen that people are very prone to making errors based on what they wish to be so. (Do you disagree with this?) The tools of science are aimed squarely at this human propensity, and they have been stunningly successful. You cannot infer from what I just said one single thing about whether some other approach may also be successful. If you think there is some other approach, then let's hear it, and give me some way to determine whether it is in fact successful. If you cannot do the latter, then simply explain why I should believe that it is a good approach? If you cannot do even that, then is there anything we can profitably discuss?

(This will be my last rambling post for a while. Unfortunately, I have some pressing deadlines to contend with.)

Anonymous said...

We may be at an impasse. Oh well.

Is it important to you to understand how the world really operates (as best you can)?

Define the world and we'll go from there.

Anonymous said...

I meant "world" in the sense of "all there is", "everything that is real", "the totality of things that exist". It does not include things that only exist in the imagination. If you don't care for my definitions, please offer one of your own.

Anonymous said...

The imagination is what allows us to define the world, but then is excluded from the definition. Interesting.

1/0.

Darn annoying impasse.

Physics Schmisics - you already know I'm going to fall back on faith with whatever you come up with, and we've already established that I'm not quite smart enough to debate you point for point on physics, etc. but I think it would be interesting for all to get your thoughts on a rather curious idea. You may have already done this, but either way I think your thoughts would benefit this cause of yours if the information is incorrect by pointing out more "logic fallacies" and if the information does have merit well perhaps it could use some additional scrutiny which is all I'm after.

Yes I'm going to point you to a web site. The risk I see here is that you may have already done this exercise.

Does this sound acceptable. We don't have to do this now - I know you are busy.

Anonymous said...

One last comment before dashing off to a meeting...

Do you admit that there is a difference between something being "real" and something being "imaginary"? If your answer is anything other than "yes" (e.g. "What to you mean by..."), then I truly have no interest in continuing this discussion. While there absolutely are fascinating epistemological angles to examine here, as philosophers have demonstrated for centuries, I do not wish to plunge into that quagmire in this forum. I've done so elsewhere, and it's quite entertaining, but I need to draw the line somewhere.

As for your link, I'll be happy to take a look. I may not get to it for several days, however. Gatta go now...

(By the way, I can't imagine what "cause" you think I'm advancing.)

boomSLANG said...

The imagination is what allows us to define the world, but then is excluded from the definition. Interesting.

The "imagination" and the mind are not the same thing. If a child is left to "define the world" with his/her "imagination", they come up with "talking" stuffed animals and invisible friends. Interesting.

n/a said...

shohn

Please don't take this as an insult, but the impasse here is that you "know" there is a God. Unless you are willing to take a long hard critical look at that particular bit of "knowledge," the impasse will remain.

Anonymous said...

Boomslang,

You smell funny.

Alan,

Thanks man - but I think you'd probably have to die and come back as a ghost before we could have a common frame of reference on where I was trying to take this, but alas let's just focus on what is "real and observable" since that's all you guys seem to want to understand - anything else is a waste of time here and I didn't mean any offense by that.

Jim,

Thanks for the patience - you've been a really good sport - most of the time I just get insults from atheists (I presume you are).

Here is the link - poke and prod!

http://yadayahweh.com/Yada_Yahweh_Foundation_Hayah.YHWH

Private email addy is t e s t d i r t @ g m a i l. c o m if you care to give your thoughts or share a link to your thoughts - otherwise I'll just check back.

boomSLANG said...

Hey Shohn, instead of sniffing men, maybe try to stick to the facts in this debate. You're a Christian guest on an EX-christian website. For you to expect to get treated with kid gloves isn't really realistic, especially, when like all Theists, you have not one shred of evidence for your belief, and instead focus on what you think is "wrong" with non-belief. Yeah, yeah, I know..... "define is". lol

Moreover, if it's a fact that you "define the world" with your "imagination"(your words)...then, that says a lot right there.

"Ssssssssee ya later".....said the talking snake!

Anonymous said...

Shohn: "The imagination is what allows us to define the world, but then is excluded from the definition. Interesting."

Actually, that is incorrect. The imagination is what happens after one experiences reality/world. Thus, sensory "experience" is the fluctuating connecting between humanity and the external reality. Imagination is the afterthought one uses to describe their "experience". The world and reality would exist, despite the imagination.

Perhaps you would like to delve into cognitive psychology while you are seeking to find your supernatural god in this natural reality?

Anonymous said...

Boomslang,

Sniff. You still smell funny and yes my "imaginary" god is bigger than yours.

Shawn,

"Actually, that is incorrect. The imagination is what happens after one experiences reality/world."

Based on what? Science? Logic? Intuition, or again what your mind tells you to be real?

You can't "prove" my God doesn't exist just in as much I can't offer a mathematical proof that he does.

Yeah I know, I can't "prove" that unicorns exist either.

boomSLANG said...

Dearest Shohn,

It seems your Holy handbook would frown on such homosexual tendencies as "sniffing men".....so maybe keep your nose away from the "twin's play-pen" if you don't like the smell of sweaty balls, k? Meanwhile, surely even you know that it's nobody's job to disprove what's in your "imagination". Thanks.

How about a little scrub-a-dub-dub for our Christian troll? He's over-due...he's in a rabbit stew. lol Bye now.

Anonymous said...

Boomslang,

Come on man, calm down - I was playing along. I took off the kid gloves just for you.


Alan, Shawn, or Jim,

I guess I'm going to have to get into the "world" box. I may not be able to break out, but we'll see.

So my assumptions are:
Everything has a beginning or an origin.

Let's just say that the "big bang" theory is true, and I think it is, by the way.

Assuming it is even partially true, then as I understand it (armchair cosmonaut) there is either going to:

Continue to expand until the "universe" has "run out of steam" at which point gravity will pull everything back together - the big crunch some time in a few trillion years or something.

It is going to continue to expand without bound and the rate of expansion is actually increasing.

or as I think Jim suggested it is wrapped around on itself in an infinite twist.

Great. Where did the universe come from? Am I asking the wrong question or am I using a hasty assumption?

webmdave said...

A HA! I have a question for which you have no answer! A HA! Therefore Jesus is God! A HA! Refute that logic if you can!

A-hem.

Q: Where did the universe come from?
A: No one knows.

Class dismissed.

Now, let's talk about your deity. What evidence did you say you had there is an invisible, all-powerful, all-loving, all-wrathful, all-merciful, all-judging, all-in-all creator that cannot be seen, felt, tasted, touched, or smelled, that is incomprehesible, is only known from the incoherant writings of Bronze and Iron Age peasants from the Middle East, and is not properly believed in by most of humanity, so as a punishment for that lack of belief, this deity will roast the bulk of the human race in a pit of horrific torture for all eternity, because unbelief is unforgivable so he tortured and killed himself so that that he could show us how much he loved us and appease his offended deity-ness, but if you don't love him back you're fucked?

What was your evidence again?

Oh, yeah, and the answer to where the universe came from again? No one knows.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for trying to answering my question about where the universe came from. That was kind of weird yet fun. You kind of put me in a 1/0 moment.

1 - What if instead of the bulk of humanity being roasted alive - they simply died, but only those who follow the great evil and take others with them get to hang out with their dear evil buddy forever?

Also, interesting you mention peasants. Tell me again, how did these peasants get the crap kicked out of them by the romans, then in the world wars, and then somehow get part of their "home land" back after being scattered like sticks in the wind after oh - what was it give or take a couple thousand years?

freeman said...

Shohn,
If everything has a beginning as you claim, then what created your deity?

Oh that is right! Reality ceases and imagination begins.

Sounds like you are Windy and your deity is Peter Pan, and heaven is Never,never land!

Anonymous said...

So many roasting weenies, so little time. I've been hanging out over at Richard Dawkins' site having some fun debating over omniscience vs. free will, abiogenesis vs. creationism, and the interpretation of prophecy and haven't had time to work on anything of my own. Just thought I'd pop in to say hello to all my mates here.

Oh, and shohn, just in case you didn't get it I'm sure the WM was being quite serious when he said:

"Oh, yeah, and the answer to where the universe came from again? No one knows."

There's nothing to fear by saying "I don't know."

By the way, where did your God come from?

And to briefly answer the other two questions in your latest post...

"1 - What if instead of the bulk of humanity being roasted alive - they simply died, but only those who follow the great evil and take others with them get to hang out with their dear evil buddy forever?"

I would have to ask what scriptural basis you have for that, or if you came up with it on your own? The Bible is quite clear that those who don't believe are destined for eternal punishment. If you want chapter & verse, just let me know.

The point is your human sense of justice tells you that a loving and just God couldn't possibly consign people to hell for eternity merely because they didn't believe. This is a reasonable conclusion to reach. However, it is not scriptural. Your Bible paints a picture of a God not worthy of being worshipped.

"...how did these peasants get the crap kicked out of them...and then somehow get...their "home land" back after being scattered like sticks in the wind..?"

A very brief history can be found here. There is also a longer one here.

webmdave said...

"1 - What if instead of the bulk of humanity being roasted alive - they simply died, but only those who follow the great evil and take others with them get to hang out with their dear evil buddy forever?"

First answer my question: What if Napoleon had had an atomic bomb?

What if? Huh? Well? See?

AHA!!!

Can't refute that, can you?!

A: The word logic when used by a Christian.

Q: What is an example of a contronym?



Christian logic is oxymoronic.

Anonymous said...

Shohn said "...let's just focus on what is 'real and observable' since that's all you guys seem to want to understand..."

That's all we want to understand? Suggesting that the difficulty lies with us is a bit disingenuous, don't you think? Have you tried to understand anything we've said? I've made several attempts to find something straightforward and uncontroversial that we could agree upon, to gain a foothold. It seems you are averse to even admitting that imagination differs from reality. I am now of the opinion that you are too covetous of your pet beliefs to risk agreeing to anything at all, no matter how basic and obvious, lest it expose a chink in your armor. That's not my idea of a discussion. That's posturing.

As for the link you asked me to look at, I honestly can't imagine what you want me to comment on. It's so thick with presuppositions that every sentence practically drips with Yahweh's magical phantasmagoria. So, to me it's all uproariously ungrounded babble. Here's one tiny example, plucked from the middle of the page you pointed me to:

"Since Yahuweh created language, since He used language to create, and since Hebrew is His chosen language,..."

Since? Did he say SINCE?! This author apparently expects his reader to nod in acceptance at such bald assertions. I spent my requisite fifteen minutes scanning this site in slack-jawed disbelief. (FYI: I initially limit myself to fifteen minutes when examining such sites. If I do not uncover something that strikes me as worthy of further examination in that time, or if I spot too many logical fallacies, then I dismiss the site.) In my opinion the assertion that one needs the theory of relativity to truly understand the Bible's creation account is howlingly ridiculous, as are all the other assertions of that ilk. I'm not even going to try to put this delicately: I flushed that site with the expediency of an airline toilet.

Shohn: "Where did the universe come from?"

I don't know and, by the way, neither do you. (The question itself is probably meaningless, but I'm not going to get into that with you.)

Given that we can't agree on even the most trivial of matters, is it reasonable to expect that we've something to gain by discussing cosmology? I think not.

Anonymous said...

I find it incredible that the existence of Christ is questioned when the overwhelming evidence is undeniable. Do you question the existence of Plato, Tacitus, Demosthenes, Aristotle or Euripides? Do you question the existence of Julius Caeser? Of course not! Then why do you question the existence of Jesus Christ? How foolish! At least be consistent!
What about the Bible? Such uninformed remarks as, "The bible, which Christians claim to be inspired by Jesus - and thus has credibility, was in fact just a few of a great many writings on Christianity which happened to be... politically correct, and hence were compiled to form the bible that we know of. The other writings were suppressed and destroyed."
are either made from ignorance or dishonesty.
What was written of Christ in the Bible can be attributed to contemporaries of Jesus, some claiming to be eyewitnesses (Luke 1:3; 1 John 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:6-8; Acts 10:39-42; 1 Peter 5:1, etc.). The same cannot be said of any other classic historical figure. The idea that you set forth, namely that any writing not found in accord with the Roman interpretation of Christianity was either omitted or destroyed is sheer POPYCOCK! The Roman Catholic Bible itself contains many of these so called non-canonical writings. In reality, it is the Bible itself that has survived many attempts to obliterate it, yet no other book has been published in so many languages and read by more people than any other book. There is all kinds of evidence that first generation disciples and early church leaders such as Polycarp (A.D.)115, Ignatius (A.D. 50-115) and Irenaeus (A.D. 180) all recognized the books of the four gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philemom, Colossians, 1& 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, 1 Peter, 1 John and Revelation.
In addition there are well over 5,000 known original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, and over 10,000 Latin and 9,000 found in other languages. No other document of antiquity even comes close. Compare, for instance Homer's Illiad which comes in second with only 643 manuscripts known.
I hope this shatters your misconceivings of the Biblical text.

Anonymous said...

RH said "I find it incredible that the existence of Christ is questioned when the overwhelming evidence is undeniable."

If the evidence what "overwhelming" and "undeniable", then it would be "incredible" that anyone denied it, yes. However, your characterization is a wee bit over-stated, no? In any case, what's wrong with questioning?

RH: "Do you question the existence of Plato, Tacitus, Demosthenes, Aristotle or Euripides?"

Of the people you've listed, I have no reason to suspect that they were not real people. However, it's not of great interest to me one way or the other, so I've not researched them myself. If somebody claimed that Plato, for example, was perhaps fictional, and had some interesting evidence to support it, I'd be quite curious and want to check it out. For example, I think it quite possible that Socrates (who is not on yor list) was fictional.

RH: "Do you question the existence of Julius Caeser? Of course not!"

You are right! I do not question the existence of Julius Caesar. Here are some of the reasons I feel that his existence is quite firmly established: we have writing from his own hand, we have volumes of detailed material written by contemporaries (both friends and enemies), we have physical artifacts such as coins and statues that bear his likeness, we have corroboration from numerous reliable historians of the period and later, and there is extensive evidence of his influence (e.g. the crossing of the Rubicon) that are extremely well corroborated, and these attest to the physical existence of such a man (as opposed to mere belief in such a man).

RH: "Then why do you question the existence of Jesus Christ? How foolish!"

Sir, I'll respectfully ask that you refrain from calling anyone foolish unless or until you have some inkling of what it is that they are saying. Is that reasonable?

Now, you ask why we would not also accept the existence of Jesus with the same certainty. The answer is very simple. The evidence is almost non-existent. Moreover, there is even some intriguing positive evidence for his being mythical until the gospel writers retroactively invented a "history" for him. Let me summarize:

1) We have nothing written by Jesus.

2) We have not a single artifact attesting to the existence of Jesus. The first artwork depicting him appears in the fourth century.

3) First-century historians who would have been contemporaries of Jesus do not mention him, and those who later include brief passages that might refer to such a man are either a) very late and therefore probably obtained from Christian sources (e.g. Seutonius), b) interpolated/forged (e.g. Josephus), or c) hopelessly ambiguous (e.g. the Torah).

4) Paul is inexplicably silent about the life of Jesus, never giving any indication that he believed such a man ever walked on Earth or had a ministry, and never tying such a being to a specific time in history.

5) The gospel writers (whoever they were) do not claim to be eyewitnesses themselves, and in any case write many decades after the presumed life of Jesus. Most of what they seem to "know" about Jesus is clearly obtained through midrashic interpolation from the OT. (And the gospels are anything but independent attestations.)

6) Early Christian apologists (e.g. Justin Martyr) did not seek to differentiate their savior from other contemporary mythical saviors by arguing that he really existed as a human being. Instead, they affirm that their beliefs are simply no more fantastic.

7) There were many Jesus cults in the early first-century, and they had widely differing theologies. Some categorically denied the existence of a physical Jesus.

8) Many other cults have existed before, during, and after the advent of Christianity, professing belief in similar god-man saviors figures who bore many startling similarities to Jesus. Mithra, for example, was the "Son of god", and "The Lamb", who was born in a "cave", preached a message of salvation, was put to death by hanging on a "tree", and rose again. All of this pre-dated Jesus, and all of this took place in a spiritual realm.

9) Jesus fits the mythological hero figure almost to a T. If you take away all the elements of the Jesus story that are found in more ancient mythological motifs, there is almost nothing left.

10) Placing the gospels and the epistles in chronological order and striking late interpolations, what we see is a very clear progression of historizing and mythologizing; that is, adding more and more "historical" detail as well as more and more fantastic miracles as time progressed. The earliest traditions contained almost none of these details.

There is much more. Now, if you still insist that doubting the existence of a historical Jesus is as ridiculous as doubting a historical Julius Caesar, then please address the stunning contrast that I assert exists between those two positions.

RH: "The idea that ... any writing not found in accord with the Roman interpretation of Christianity was either omitted or destroyed is sheer POPYCOCK! The Roman Catholic Bible itself contains many of these so called non-canonical writings."

The Bible as it exists today does not contain the gospel of Thomas, nor that of James, nor Peter, nor Mary, nor Judas, to name just a few. In fact, there are dozens of gospel stories that have been deemed noncanonical for reasons that remain unclear (other than that they presented unsavory or very blatantly contradictory accounts of Jesus).

As for the number of ancient manuscripts available, and the number of copies in circulation today, can you please explain what you think that indicates? The manuscript evidence of the Book of Mormon is far more intact and clear-cut than that of the Bible. There are millions of copies of the Koran in print. Yet, I'll wager that those facts mean very little to you in regard to the veracity of the Book of Mormon and the Koran, and on that point we will agree. However, in the case of the Bible, you insist that it is meaningful, and that is where we part company.

Anonymous said...

A small correction: I meant "Talmud", not "Torah", in my point #3 above.

RH, If you would like to do some reasearch of your own on the historicity of Jesus, I suggest that your read what Earl Doherty and Robert Price have to say. They are not the only contemporary proponents of the Jesus myth theory, of course, but I think they have assembled the most cohesive case. Here are some links to get you started:

The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty

Putting the Jesus Puzzle Together...

A review of Deconstructing Jesus

And, in the spirit of openness, here are some additional links to rebuttals and counter-rebuttals. This is far from a complete list, but I hope it will at least give you some appreciation for the scope of the argument, and what those arguing for a historical Jesus must answer to. For what it's worth, I think the rebuttals below are simply awful; they are filled with straw-man arguments. But, draw your own conclusions.

Mythological Jesus

Taking the "Jesus Puzzle" Apart Piece-By-Piece

Responses to Critiques..., by Earl Doherty

Anonymous said...

Jim,

Thanks for looking at that site, I was reviewing the sites provided by some of the other folks as well.

I was hoping to get your comments specifically on the relativity portion, "big bang", etc., but it seems the site was dismissed before you got that far.

You pointed me to your site when I opened this dialog. I read the information, indicated it had merit even though I thought it had missed some other points.

I'm trying to get into your mindset to understand the atheist point of view. It is challenging, but I am honestly trying. Respectfully, can you do the same?

Anonymous said...

To RH (or anybody else who cares to comment):

Lest my previous posts seem like too much to respond to, let me ask you a very simple question (one that Earl Doherty raises). Can you please explain to me what is meant by Hebrews 8:4

"For if he [Jesus] were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:"

Please do read the surrounding context, and tell me what you think it means. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Shohn: "I was hoping to get your comments specifically on the relativity portion, 'big bang', etc., but it seems the site was dismissed before you got that far.

No, I actually read those portions. The author uses nothing more than poetic license to make strained analogies between Genesis and modern physics. I'm sorry, but "Let there be light" does not contain within it any deep insight into the nature of light. Nor do any of the other cited passages, whether read in the original Hebrew or in translation. Colorful analogies with tents and scrolls do not indicate insight into string theory. Passages that hint at gravity do not indicate difficulties with unifying quantum mechanics and the theory of gravitation. It's all laughably far fetched. If you grant me that much freedom with textual interpretation, I'm quite sure I could read Moby Dick as a stunning precursor to the modern science of genomics.

Shohn: "I'm trying to get into your mindset to understand the atheist point of view."

There is no "atheist point of view" any more than there is an "a-unicorn point of view". If you interviewed a thousand people who claim there is insufficient evidence of unicorns to believe they have ever existed, what do you think would be their common "point of view"? Here is my guess: there would be precious little that they all share, except for the fact that they have no belief in unicorns, which you already knew. So, I think your stated objective is a silly one.

Shohn: "Respectfully, can you do the same?"

Are you asking whether I can try to understand your point of view as a "believer"? If so, the answer is both "yes" and "no". The answer is "yes" in that I have been trying for many years to understand why people believe in invisible beings. I've posed all sorts of questions, and entered into long and detailed discussions/debates with believers, here and elsewhere. I've come to a partial understanding of some of the common reasons for their beliefs, but I readily admit that I remain largely mystified, never having been a believer as an adult myself. Frankly, I find it intriguing, and I will continue to try to understand it, as best I can.

But the answer is also "no" when it comes to the current discussion, in that you seem dead set against exposing any common ground, which makes meaningful discussion nearly impossible. Once again, if you are not willing to admit that purely imaginary things are somehow different from real things (Is that really such a big stretch for you?), then I quite honestly DO NOT wish to waste my time talking to you about your beliefs. Either they are totally off limits, and not available for inspection/discussion, or they are (frankly) too silly for me to entertain. (There is also a third option: That you are a deep-thinking philosopher who has well-thought-out objections to realism. However, I think the odds of this are so remote, given the other arguments you have offered, that I'm willing to risk foregoing a fascinating discussion with you.)

Capisce?

Anonymous said...

Jim,

Agreed on the current discussion. It is more or less fruitless. I suppose it is just has hard for you and others of like mind to accept the possibility for a spiritual world to exist outside of what is ordinarily defined as real as it is for me and others of like mind to accept that we just exist.

Thanks for indulging me though.

Praise God.

boomSLANG said...

Shohn's "farewell" post: I suppose it is just has hard for you and others of like mind to accept the possibility for a spiritual world to exist outside of what is ordinarily defined as real as it is for me and others of like mind to accept that we just exist.[bold added]

"Others of like mind"???? Muslims certainly don't accept that "we just exist".

Praise Allah!

Anonymous said...

I find it astonishing, Shohn, that even still you fail to apprehend this simple fact; that we ask you merely to give us some way to distinguish your claims from the rantings of a lunatic. To this you have consistently replied by attacking the integrity of science and the soundness of our thinking, impugning our motives, and most strikingly of all, by refusing to acknowledge that you perceive a difference between reality and fantasy. The fault does not lie with us for failing to imagine the supernatural or granting the possibility of its existence--as we have done neither--but with you for failing to clear the lowest of all conceivable hurdles. Good day.

Anonymous said...

tigg13 said...

"There are several people on this site who have religious/spiritual beliefs and would easily concede to the existence of supernatural or otherworldly beings - just not christ."

Who? All I think I've heard from are atheists who call themselves ex-Christians.

Are there really people here who think that there may be a spiritual side to us (besides the obvious stray christian post)?

n/a said...

shohn wrote:

I suppose it is just has hard for you and others of like mind to accept the possibility for a spiritual world to exist...

shohn, you supposed wrong. I think it would be great if a "spiritual world" existed. Where is it?


JC, good to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

Alan,

I'm not trying to beat anyone up here man - I know I've jabbed here and there upon request, but I'm struggling to explain something amazing - that's all. My skills and abilities as a debater definitely leave something to be desired so please excuse this set of atoms, quarks, and associated consciousness for its weaknesses.

I must admit that I saw it the atheists and "ex-christian" way once. I hated organized religion and in many ways still do. Honestly, I'm not trying to be arrogant, act like I have a "superior" point of view, none of that. I can understand where you are because I was there, not my whole life, but for several years.

The talk keeps coming back to belief in "invisible" things. I've never seen a ghost and still wonder about people who say they have. What is their motivation? Attention perhaps?

Crazy people - yeah I've seen them and I don't think any of you are crazy so far. You just have a different point of view.

Is the Easter Bunny imaginary? Sure thing - something that exists in the mind of a child. It is not real as we have been calling it.

Amon Ra, Zeus, the sun gods, the list goes on, I have no idea where some of those came from, but I suspect it is something devilish or possibly originated from something made up in the mind of a child. I researched the origins of most the the "popular" religions and have wound up at a dead end. Can they all be right or is just one right? I have noted the consistencies between pagan customs now embodied in much of modern "Christianity".

I wondered the same thing about this "Christian" stuff as well. I've read godlessgeeks.com etc. and what I find interesting is that there are over 300 supposed "proofs" of the existence of a God, but all are ignored or dismissed as having no merit at all.

Where did God come from? I don't know. It was just as pointless of me to ask you all where the universe came from. That someone could think that something can originate from nothing just baffles me, but I digress.

I used to wonder what it was about people who run around with shirts that say things like "I love Jesus" or whatever and could not for the life of me figure out what it was that they had. I called them Bible thumpers, etc. and had quite a level of disdain for them. Something about many of them having a sense of "self-righteousness". They seemed to drip with disdain and have something that said "I am better than you". No doubt, some of my posts may have read that way, though I assure you it was not my intent.

I have been touched by something spiritual that I can not begin to explain, no puny and feeble words can describe.

Do I know the future and do I see ghosts? Nope.

One way to explain is to ask "Do you have kids?". If so, could you understand that it is impossible to explain to someone who doesn't have kids what it is like to have them? They will never know until they have experienced it.

There are scientists and students of the universe that have concluded that yes there is a God or at least admitted that it may be a solution to the creation of the universe.

There are scientists and students of science that think the exact opposite. Both sides of this seem to be intelligent yet stick to their "beliefs" in invisible things or lack thereof.

Do I have all the answers - no and I never said I did. Do I admit that people tend to "rationalize" the truth wherever they seek it? Yes. That's man at work.

I like science and science fiction. In fact, Carl Sagan was one of my favorite authors as a boy, yet through all of this science has yet to provide answers to why we exist, just an educated guess at how we came to be.

The evidence you seek is in people's lives. I'm not talking about the people that just follow the rules and go to whatever church is the latest craze. I'm talking about the kind of people that are willing to be feed to lions or act as human shields to demonstrate their belief with conviction.

The Muslim extremists are an example. They believe so much that they will die for it. Would you die for science? It is conviction, though dead wrong, why - because they kill the innocent and their prophet's "prophecy" of returning never came true.
Statistics - what are the odds of a universe popping up and making a universe? Pretty low, but what are the odds of a God popping up and making a universe? They seem to be fundamentally asking the same question.

Biology - we can make amino acids in a test tube, but are not sure where life came from.

Philosophy - what do you believe?

Astronomy/Physics,etc. - Where did the universe come from? I don't know.

If the "constants" of the universe had been tweaked just a bit, what would happen? Umm, we think the universe wouldn't work.

Call me crazy or stark raving mad, but I just can't get over something coming from nothing and I struggle with how you guys are okay with at least not asking these kinds of questions. I can see how you would think it doesn't matter for deriving some satisfaction with your occupation and your interests, but at the end of the day - how do you deal with the emptiness and unanswered questions about what happens when we die?

I asked people coming to the end of their life what they would have wished they would have done differently - it almost never seems to be - more work, but rather more relationship, more time with the kids. They know something that I can't know from their vantage point.

So if there is someone here that thinks that yes - it is possible for the grand puba, the great spirit, or the grand pumpkin head or whatever you want to call it to be out there, then speak up.

webmdave said...

Shoan, rather than ramble on forever, I'll just post a link to a little rant I threw together on the very topic you bring up:

Conversion, Spiritual Epiphanies and Mystical Experiences

I think you may find it interesting.

Anonymous said...

I read it, what I found most interesting was the following passage:

"Christian conversion is emotional, much like falling in love, or going into an angry rage, or having an episode of hysterical laughter. Once the passion subsides, it's often difficult to explain why it was ever felt in the first place. Emotional feelings can't be proved or disproved, but they aren't reality. Emotions exist, in essence, only in the mind."

It can't be proved, but I suspect that one day it will. I can't wait to see falling in love and the mind defined in mathematical and scientific terms.

Then we'll be able to write a logical/scientific argument for the existence or lack thereof of love.

It will be fantabulous!

Anonymous said...

To Jim Arvo:

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments. I will attempt to specifically answer them in the order that you have posted them:
1) We have nothing written by Jesus.


This is a true statement that I cannot dispute. The only thing I can say that Jesus wrote was written in sand and I cannot say what it was although it had a very definite effect on those who were there. John 8:3-11

2) We have not a single artifact attesting to the existence of Jesus. The first artwork depicting him appears in the fourth century.
There are a few artifacts, (some of which are admittedly controversial) such as the Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium of Oviedo would fall into that category, however my intention is not to deny your statement other than to say that it was not exactly accurate. The Apostle Peter's house in Capernaum was found in 1906 beneath the ruins of a fifth-century church, but not confirmed until the 1980s. Of course there have been many frauds such as the Ossuary of James but that doesn’t destroy the Bible anymore than the fraudulent Piltdown man destroyed the theory of evolution. The ossuary of high priest Joseph Caiaphas, who's mentioned in the Bible as helping interrogate Jesus before the crucifixion was found in Jerusalem in 1990. An inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who approved Jesus' crucifixion was found in 1962 near the Mediterranean Sea. Higher critics often denied the existence of Pontius Pilate since there had been no extra biblical evidence of his existence until 1962. The higher critics often denied that Crucifixion was used by the Romans at the time of Christ and then they found a heel bone of a crucified man in burial caves in 1968. Did Jesus exist?
Even without the Bible I would have to answer unabashedly, yes!
First-century historians who would have been contemporaries of Jesus do not mention him, and those who later include brief passages that might refer to such a man are either a) very late and therefore probably obtained from Christian sources (e.g. Seutonius), b) interpolated/forged (e.g. Josephus), or c) hopelessly ambiguous (e.g. the Torah).
Luke was a contemporary of the disciples and a doctor/scientist of the day. Here is what he says in his Gospel: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. – Luke 1:1-4 (NASB)
Because I’m running short on time I would like the opportunity to address your other statements at a later time. That would be alright, wouldn’t it? By the way I just saw your post about giving my thought on Hebrews so I'll address that too.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Jim, I just noticed that your questions and my answers ran together. I will try to fix it now.
To Jim Arvo:

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments. I will attempt to specifically answer them in the order that you have posted them:
1) We have nothing written by Jesus.


Answer: This is a true statement that I cannot dispute. The only thing I can say that Jesus wrote was written in sand and I cannot say what it was although it had a very definite effect on those who were there. John 8:3-11

2) We have not a single artifact attesting to the existence of Jesus. The first artwork depicting him appears in the fourth century.

answer: There are a few artifacts, (some of which are admittedly controversial) such as the Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium of Oviedo would fall into that category, however my intention is not to deny your statement other than to say that it was not exactly accurate. The Apostle Peter's house in Capernaum was found in 1906 beneath the ruins of a fifth-century church, but not confirmed until the 1980s. Of course there have been many frauds such as the Ossuary of James but that doesn’t destroy the Bible anymore than the fraudulent Piltdown man destroyed the theory of evolution. The ossuary of high priest Joseph Caiaphas, who's mentioned in the Bible as helping interrogate Jesus before the crucifixion was found in Jerusalem in 1990. An inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who approved Jesus' crucifixion was found in 1962 near the Mediterranean Sea. Higher critics often denied the existence of Pontius Pilate since there had been no extra biblical evidence of his existence until 1962. The higher critics often denied that Crucifixion was used by the Romans at the time of Christ and then they found a heel bone of a crucified man in burial caves in 1968. Did Jesus exist?
Even without the Bible I would have to answer unabashedly, yes!

3. First-century historians who would have been contemporaries of Jesus do not mention him, and those who later include brief passages that might refer to such a man are either a) very late and therefore probably obtained from Christian sources (e.g. Seutonius), b) interpolated/forged (e.g. Josephus), or c) hopelessly ambiguous (e.g. the Torah).

Partial answer: Luke was a contemporary of the disciples and a doctor/scientist of the day. Here is what he says in his Gospel: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. – Luke 1:1-4 (NASB)

Because I’m running short on time I would like the opportunity to address your other statements at a later time. That would be alright, wouldn’t it?
Looking forward to this.

Anonymous said...

Jim Arvo said:
“Lest my previous posts seem like too much to respond to, let me ask you a very simple question (one that Earl Doherty raises). Can you please explain to me what is meant by Hebrews 8:4”

"For if he [Jesus] were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:"

Jim, this seems like an easy one.

If Jesus remained on the earth as a Jew He could not have been a Jewish priest. He was from the tribe of Judah: Judah is the line of Jewish Royalty. (Genesis 49:9-11) The Hebrew priesthood came only from the tribe of Levi, (Numbers 1:48-50) and was established under Moses according to the law.

There is another priesthood that precedes the Mosaic Law and is greater than the Levitical priesthood. Abraham paid tithes to a priest named Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:2-6) who was not only a priest but a king (Genesis 14:18) and greater than Abraham. Jesus is a priest greater than the Levitical priesthood. He is a priest “forever after the order of Melchizedek”–(Psalm 110:4)

I hope that answers Hebrews 8:4 to your satisfaction.

webmdave said...

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,

Notice that MANY had undertaken to compile an account. Not three others, but MANY. And notice also that the stories are HANDED DOWN. Not stories that were told directly to me by any eye-witnesses, but stories that were HANDED DOWN.

I wonder, since so many had undertaken to compile an account, why it is that Ms. Luke found it expedient to compile another account, why Ms. Luke, if she was a buddy of the original disciples, found it necessary to copy and paste nearly the entire book of Mark into her account, and why Ms. Luke, if she was really somebody, keeps her name anonymous. We really have no idea who compiled this so-called gospel at all. There is, however. some indication that it may have been compiled by a woman.

Who Wrote the Gospels.

Wikipedia: Gospel of Luke

n/a said...

shohn wrote:

Amon Ra, Zeus, the sun gods, the list goes on, I have no idea where some of those came from...

They were developed, along with Christianity, Islam, and other religions, to explain reality and to give absolute authority to the king. We have finally devised a testable, verifiable method to explain reality, and as science progresses, religion retreats. Unfortunately religion is still a very effective way to reinforce political authority.

Can they all be right or is just one right?

You left out one question: can they all be wrong?

I have been touched by something spiritual that I can not begin to explain...

If you can't put it into words, it can't be discussed.

...Do you have kids?". If so, could you understand that it is impossible to explain to someone who doesn't have kids what it is like to have them?

Its not impossible to explain. I don't have kids, yet I can understand to some degree what its like to have them. Not the same as the actual experience, but it is still an understanding on some level.

There are scientists and students of the universe that have concluded that yes there is a God...

Did they conclude there is a God by using the scientific method?

The evidence you seek is in people's lives. I'm talking about the kind of people that are willing to be feed to lions or act as human shields to demonstrate their belief with conviction.

That's still not evidence that a spiritual world exists. People can and do have that kind of conviction over political or ethical ideals.

how do you deal with the emptiness and unanswered questions about what happens when we die?

There's only emptiness if you believe there is a God, and then try to imagine the universe without him or her or it. When you die, you die, end of story. You have to make the most out of your life here and now, instead of living for some imaginary "second life." Thinking that things will be wonderful in your "second life" lets you avoid making this one better. You are the one that gives your life meaning/purpose/whatever, within the context of society, however it seems most people don't want to accept that, so they use a proxy (religion) which lets them think their meaning/purpose/whatever comes from a "higher power."

Anonymous said...

RH: "This is a true statement [i.e. that we have nothing written by Jesus himself] that I cannot dispute. The only thing I can say that Jesus wrote was written in sand..."

So, concerning the point I was addressing, do you then concede that it is one significant difference between the evidence for a historical Jesus and a historical Julius Caesar? With respect to Jesus writing in the sand, that's a cute reply; I've not heard that one before. However, I do hope that your recognize the difference between having a well-established record of such writing, and having nothing more than a hearesay account in a hagiographic tract. Asserting that Jesus did produce such ephemeral writing, and that it did affect people is simply begging the question. If those were indeed true, then Jesus existed, yes. Thus, you must establish that they are more then mere stories if what you intend to establish is that Jesus existed.

RH: "There are a few artifacts, (some of which are admittedly controversial) such as the Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium of Oviedo would fall into that category, however my intention is not to deny your statement other than to say that it was not exactly accurate."

To say that the shroud and the sudarium are "controversial" is a rather dramatic understatement. The shroud is widely thought to be a hoax, as there is nothing conclusive linking it the first century, and even some specific signs of artifice. The same can be said of the sudarium, whose history is highly questionable. I will grant you this, however: there are people who believe such artifacts to be authentic, and their authenticity cannot be definitively ruled out. But are you willing to merely concede that the physical artifacts associated with Julius Caesar are very significantly greater in number and in trustworthiness than those associated with Jesus? By the way, there have been a huge number of fraudulent Jesus artifacts, ranging from fragments of the cross, the nails used to hang Jesus upon it, straw from his manger, fragments from his tunic, leather from his sandals, etc. etc. etc. This speaks to the pervasive gullibility of those who have sought such artifacts, and to the unscrupulous ingenuity of those who have attempted to provide them (usually for handsome profit).

HR: "Did Jesus exist? Even without the Bible I would have to answer unabashedly, yes!"

Based on what? Josephus perhaps? Maybe Suetonius or Tertulian? The Talmud? What extrabiblical information are you alluding to here? You do realize that it's all exceedingly scant and problematic, don't you?

HR: "Luke was a contemporary of the disciples..."

Based on what? First, we do not even know who "Luke" was, as that name was affixed to the gospel well into the second century, and by highly suspect means. Also, as pointed out by the webmaster, even if you took "Luke's" words to be accurate, you cannot conclude that he was a contemporary of Jesus or the disciples. Again, the comparison with Julius Caesar could not be more striking: Cicero, Sallust, Catullus, Vergil, and Ovid were all contemporaries of Caesar--we know who they were, what they wrote, and can verify their overall accuracy in many other ways. Absolutely none of this is true of Jesus.

I asked about Hebrews 8:4: "For if he [Jesus] were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:" To which RH offered the interpretation

"If Jesus remained on the earth as a Jew He could not have been a Jewish priest....

and then offered some interesting support for this view. Of all your replies thus far, I admit that I like this one best. It's specific, and on the face of it, even reasonable. However, I think you have granted yourself a bit too much liberty with your interpretation considering the context. One crucial element of this analysis is whether the statement is intended to speak to an essential property of Jesus, or to a situation of Jesus. The implication

on earth ==> not a priest

can perhaps be taken in either way. I suspect that it is the former (an essential property), while you assert that it is the latter (a present situation). Here is why I see the former as a far more reasonable interpretation than the latter, when context is taken into account. Hebrews 8 begins by asserting that we have a high priest in the person of Jesus, who "is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Hebrews 8:1). It goes on to say "For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer." (Hebrews 8:3). So Jesus, being a "High Priest", must make an offering of some kind. Right? What "offering" do you suppose Jesus made? That's easy, isn't it? He offered himself; he offered his own blood. Thus, Hebrews 8 is clearly discussing the status of Jesus as a High Priest, and what relation this might have to his blood "offering". That is the context. Do we agree so far?

Now look at Hebrews 8:4-5: "For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,..." So there is something about Jesus being "on earth" that is at odds with being a "priest," whose gifts are offered according to the law, and are shadows of things in heaven. For example, sacrificing a bull on the alter, one presumes, would be such an offering, which would derive its value by shadowing what is in heaven. But what, specifically, does it shadow? Does it not shadow the sacrifice of Jesus? If Jesus' sacrifice had been on earth, what would it be shadowing in heaven? Nothing! Hence, he would not even be a priest, for his sacrifice would shadow nothing in heaven.

So, to my reading (and the reading of some Biblical scholars), the passage is saying that the sacrifice of Jesus took place in heaven, and it is that sacrifice the earthly priests "shadow" with their offerings here on earth. For if Jesus had been a man who sacrificed himself on earth, then the sacrifices of the priests on earth (including Jesus) would not have any value; they would not "shadow" anything in heaven. This view is strengthened by the fact that Hebrews never even hints at a transition of Jesus from an earthly priest to a High Priest in heaven, and certainly not by the act of sacrifice. Rather, it seeks to explain why a sacrifice has any value at all. This places Jesus in heaven at the time of his sacrifice (which was a common Hellenistic idea appearing in other contemporaneous religions, such as Mithraism), and furthermore places this act before all animal sacrifices on earth. Only later was the sacrifice re-interpreted as that of a man living in the recent past. So, in my view, Hebrews 8:4 is a remnant of the original Hellenistic notion of Jesus as a purely "spiritual" being who "lived" in some unspecified distant past in a heavenly realm, and "sacrificed" himself there. While this may sound implausible to our 21'st century ears, that is only because of the historical layer we've become accustomed to, and to our general failure to appreciate how widespread the notion of such goings on within an spiritual realm were at the time.

Of course, I should point out that this early view of Jesus beautifully explains the stunning silence of Paul when it comes to details of an earthly Jesus. He doesn't mention them because he does not know them. He never appeals to a ministry of Jesus on Earth, nor to any specific time period for Jesus, because he did not think that Jesus ever had been on Earth. That whole notion seems to have popped up much later on, primarily as the invention of "Mark". I think this scenario is very plausible--certainly not proven, but very plausible.

Anonymous said...

Webmaster, It is evident that the writer of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts was by the same author. They were both written to one Theophilus with reference to the first made in the second: (Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-4, respectively). The events in Acts are a natural continuation and dovetail perfectly to the events written in Luke.

1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. - Luke 1:1-4

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. - Acts 1:1-4
I will not spend valuable time trying to prove that the author is one in the same as it is unnecessary except to say that the book of Acts dovetails perfectly into the Gospel of Luke.

What information can be known from the introductions?
A. A number of partial and or disordered accounts of the facts of the life of Christ were extant at the time.
B. These facts were well known to the Christian world of the day.
C. He stated that his purpose was to put the events of the life of Christ in an accurate and logical order.
D. His record goes back to and includes insights that would be known to apostles, eyewitnesses and possibly even relatives of Jesus
E. The author considered himself at least as well informed at the others and as capable of writing an account on his own responsibility (“it seemed good to me also”).
F. He cites his sources as ‘eyewitnesses’ and ministers of the word who were able to account for things ‘from the beginning.’ This is a reference to the beginning of the information he sets forth to record.
G. He was a contemporary of the disciples and early church leaders.

Authorship

The author was a participant in many of the events he writes about because of the word he uses; “we.” The book of Acts goes on for 16 chapters before the “we” is introduced in Acts 16:10-12 (In one manuscript it appears as early as chapter 10). His occupation as a physician is noted in Colossians 4:14; “Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas.”

10. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
11. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
12. And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony:
and we were in that city abiding certain days.

This establishes Luke as a traveling companion on Paul’s second missionary journey. He accompanied Paul to Philippi, but did not share his imprisonment there. After Paul’s release Luke remained at Philippi. On Paul's third visit to Philippi (20:5, 6) probably seven or eight years later, he meets with Luke and again they travel on together. From this time Luke was Paul's constant companion during his journey to Jerusalem (20:6-21:18).

The ‘we’ references eliminate Timothy and all of those mentioned in Acts 20:5 as writers because ‘we’ didn’t accompany these on their trip (Demos fell away from the faith and abandoned Paul so he’s not considered as the writer either). They all waited for “us” at Troas. Luke was a physician according to Paul and he was a man who could write well and was very observant as can be surmised from the best account we have of ancient shipping (Acts 27).
There is external evidence as well. The Gospel was used by Justin Martyr (second century), Tatian, Marcion and Tertullian who quoted or alluded to the Gospel in excess of five hundred times.

DATE

Luke was written after the death of Christ and before Acts was written. Since Acts ends abruptly with Paul’s confinement in Rome with no mention of Paul’s later travel to Spain or his execution which occurred under Nero about 67 AD. Some scholars fix the date of the writing of Luke around 60 AD or less than thirty years from Christ.
There is plenty of evidence I have not covered here but suffice it to say all the best evidence of the Gospel points to Dr. Luke being the author, contemporary with the Apostles.
Seeing the hardships of travel through the region, especially for persecuted Christians, and taking into account most women of that day were wholly uneducated, I seriously doubt that a so called Ms. Luke even existed. There is no mention of her except I suppose on the skeptics internet.

You and JA are helping me. My typing skills are really getting a workout.

Anonymous said...

Jim Arvo,
I realize that there are people out there who have a cottage industry producing "relics" such as the ossuary of James. I was excited when I first heard about it but my faith isn't in those things anyway. Now if it turns out that the Mt. Ararat Anomoly turns out to be Noah's ark then I might get uncontrollably excited.
But like I said, frauds are produced because there are people who are looking and willing to pay for them. Like the Korean scientist who claimed to have cloned a human http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/22933/ that nearly made him some kind of scientific icon.
I was a bit confused by your response to my interpretation of the Hebrews verse.
Would you like me to elaborate more on that?

webmdave said...

RA,

Who is Theophilus?

I'll tell you: no one knows.

What does Theophilus mean?

Theophilus means "lover of God."

Conveniently poetic, isn't it?

It's just as likely that most excellent Theophilus is just a general opening meant for a group of believers as much as a personal letter to "god knows who."

It is BELIEVED by many that the two works (Luke and Acts) were penned by the same author, but no one really knows who wrote either. They are anonymous writings. They are unsigned. No one knows who wrote them.

Q: Who wrote the writing now called the gospel Luke and the book of Acts?

A: NO ONE KNOWS.

All the complex permutations you outlined are the usual conservative Baptist apologetic, but regardless, the honest answer is this: NO ONE KNOWS.

You should at least be honest and say that you have chosen to BELIEVE a certain version of the history of where these writings come from.

Further, the word "we" was typically used in writings dating from that time whenever the characters in the story traveled by sea. Although this "rule of writing" would be odd in a modern writing, it was common then. Therefore, the use of "we" doesn't necessarily mean the author was actually with the characters in the story.

It was not until 170 CE that Luke was posited as the author of either work. When Luke was written is by no means agree upon. Conservative Christian scholars argue for 63 CE, all other scholars lean more toward 75-100 CE.

Each group of scholars has interesting arguments for their respective positions. Ultimately, NO ONE KNOWS.

Nearly the entire gospel of Mark is word-for-word copied and pasted into the gospel of Luke. A copy job hardly witnesses to an eye-witness, or even a good reporter.

For more information on Luke, please read here: The Gospel of Luke.

RH, the overriding assumption that bleeds through every one of your comments is that you think your audience is ignorant of the text of the Bible and its history. If you were communicating with Christians in Sunday School or Church, that presupposition would probably be quite accurate. However, I think I can safely say that the several ex-Christians who post here, collectively know more about Christianity than several thousand pew warmers, including you.

Anyway, you may find this exchange exhilarating, but frankly I've had every conversation you bring up so many times over the last few years, repeating it again with you at such an elementary level is dull.

You have apparently absorbed much of the conservative Christian rhetoric on certain topics, but if you really want to be educated, you should learn, as Paul Harvey might say, the rest of the stories. Then you would have the tools to at least make for a slightly more interesting conversation.

Sincerely.

Anonymous said...

RH, perhaps I should have clarified what I see as a striking difference between fraudulent scientific claims and fraudulent religious claims. In science, corroboration and verification are the norm; that's why they get caught, and often very quickly (like the claims of Hwang Woo-Suk). However, religious claims are often accepted on faith, or by consulting scripture, or by pondering whether they agree with one's perceived "nature" of the deity in question. None of these invite true criticism, but foster gullibility. Hence, one would expect, and indeed we observe (IMHO) rampant credulity in religious claims as compared to scientific claims.

As for my comments on Hebrew 8:4, you're asking whether I want you to explain what you are confused about? That's entirely up to you.

About "Luke's" gospel, and the book of Acts. I think it's quite plausible that they were written by the same author judging by textual analysis (both form and content), and by something akin to "cross-referencing". Also, in some ancient manuscripts they are contiguous. But, as the webmaster pointed out, they were both anonymous texts, so we are left to guess. There is very little to suggest that the author of either book was Luke, the companion of Paul, however.

Here are the conclusions that you draw from the introductions of Luke and Acts, followed by brief responses to each:

A. "A number of partial and or disordered accounts of the facts of the life of Christ were extant at the time."

Agreed. The author(s) suggest this, and there are other facts that would seem to corroborate this, such as the apparent existence of the missing Q document. So we agree on this point.

B. "These facts were well known to the Christian world of the day."

This is a bit misleading, as there were many different Christian cults with conflicting doctrines. Thus, it would be more apporporiate to say that many Christians believed they possessed the facts, but the facts did not all agree, even on very fundamental issues, such as the nature of Jesus, whether he was a man, and whether he died on the cross.

C. "He stated that his purpose was to put the events of the life of Christ in an accurate and logical order."

Yes, this is what the author of Luke states. It does not, however, mean that he did so, nor that he even tried to be objective. As the intent of an evangelist is to instill belief, it would have served his purpose to make the story more cohesive and more in line with his personal understanding (e.g. confirmation bias) than an objective recording of the available "facts" would have produced.

D. "His record goes back to and includes insights that would be known to apostles, eyewitnesses and possibly even relatives of Jesus"

This is what the author of Luke suggests, but we have no way of knowing how accurate that assessment is. We also have no way to determine how many layers of embellishment existed between the purported "eyewitnesses" (if there were any) and "Luke's" rendering of it. We also have no way to determining how critically "Luke" examined the material available to him; for example, he gives us no indication that he found some of the material to be exaggerated or lacking in credibility. How do we know that he went about his task in a responsible way? We do not.

E. "The author considered himself at least as well informed [as] the others and as capable of writing an account on his own responsibility (“it seemed good to me also”)."

This is a real stretch. The author of Luke gives no explicit indication that he has any direct knowledge of the facts other than what has come down to him, although this is a favorite assumption among apologists. To me, this is a lovely example of how believers are want to exaggerate their claims, and I see absolutely no reason to believe that "Luke" was immune to this ubiquitous tendency.

F. "He cites his sources as ‘eyewitnesses’ and ministers of the word who were able to account for things ‘from the beginning.’ This is a reference to the beginning of the information he sets forth to record."

As per my comments above, I see no reason to believe that his information was traceable to eyewitnesses, even if he believed that it was, for there is not way to critique his unnamed sources, how the information reached him, or how objectively he recorded it. All we have is some brief assertions by an unknown author.

G. "He was a contemporary of the disciples and early church leaders."

This is pure fabrication! It clearly does not follow from "Luke's" own words. How did you arrive at this conclusion?

Anonymous said...

Jim Arvo and WM(webmaster) let's at least begin at a point we all agree on. As you said concerning Luke's gospel, and the book of Acts. “I think it's quite plausible that they were written by the same author judging by textual analysis (both form and content), and by something akin to 'cross-referencing'. Also, in some ancient manuscripts they are contiguous."

OK, so much for the headway here.

A point you and I disagree on is the time of the writing of Luke’s gospel.
Webmaster places the time of the writing later than AD 60
I base the writing of that book simply on a study of the text - what it says - and a knowledge of the history of that day. Luke had to have been written before Acts and Acts had to have been written before Paul’s [journey to Spain and his re-arrest and] execution under Nero (around AD 66). Nero himself died in AD 67. Also there is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in AD 70 under Titus. Further, I maintain that the pronouns (we, us) are a clear indication of Luke referring to his personal involvement in the account. To view it any other way would be to ignore the obvious context of the scripture or the writing style of its author or in general the common use of the language today.

Who was Theophilus?

I don’t know, nobody knows but he was not a ‘group of people,’ he was an individual.
First of all, both Luke and Acts begin by addressing him directly "Theophilus" meaning, (as webmaster pointed out) "lover of God." Perhaps he was Jewish and Greek like Paul.
Using the quasi reliable resource of Wikipedia you can check it out even as I have the reference to Luke that WM suggested. Though nobody knows for sure who he was, there are some clues. Consider that Theophilus was a man’s name, ergo he’s male. Then consider how he is addressed by the writer:
"...most excellent Theophilus"
This is an indication he (Theophilus) was a man of position, importance, and respected by his peers. He was interested in knowing if what he’d been taught about Christ was accurate, obviously interested specifically in the facts surrounding Christ and the Christian sect. Therefore I suspect he was a believer or contemplating conversion into the Christian faith.
Hence the statement by the writer (Luke) "Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." The writer puts his personal guarantee that he carefully investigated everything from the beginning so that Theophilus could rest assured the following documentation concerning Jesus Christ was certain. To say anything different flies in the face of logic and the likelihood that the writer would fabricate lies to such an honored person as Theophilus is virtually null. Now compare other translations of that statement:
Amplified Bible - SINCE [[a]as is well known] many have undertaken to put in order and draw up a [[b]thorough] narrative of the surely established deeds which have been accomplished and fulfilled [c] in and among us,
2Exactly as they were handed down to us by those who from the [[d]official] beginning [of Jesus' ministry] were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word [that is, of [e]the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God],
3It seemed good and desirable to me, [and so I have determined] also after [f]having searched out diligently and followed all things closely and traced accurately the course from the highest to the minutest detail from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,(A)
4[My purpose is] that you may know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error the accounts (histories) and doctrines of the faith of which you have been informed and in which you have been [g]orally instructed.
And in fact, Luke’s gospel is an orderly account of the life of Christ.
Did Luke ‘copy and paste’ from Mark, as you say?
Most scholars believe that Mark was a resource used by both Matthew and Luke. So do I. But remember Mark is a very short gospel that begins with the ministry of Jesus unlike the other gospels. Matthew is much longer and goes back to the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, and views Christ as the Jewish Messiah from a strictly Jewish perspective as evidenced by his statements, "this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet…"
Mark, on the other hand was youth and his Gospel reflects that as his perspective centers on the miracle power of Christ.
Luke's gospel is much longer than Marks by comparison and concentrates more on the teachings of Christ. Luke's viewpoint and genealogy of Christ is through Mary's lineage. (That's a summary of the synoptic gospels in a nut shell).

If Paul was a contemporary of the disciples, (and he was), then Luke was a contemporary of the disciples. Not at all a fabrication! He was a full grown man, educated in the healing arts (called a physician) and on occasion he traveled with Paul. Note also that Paul traveled with Mark who’s home the last supper was held and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2) occurred; but Paul had issues with him because of his immaturity.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09672c.htm

Why do I say the writer was Luke? It’s an assumption on my and many scholar’s part. That’s the prevailing theory based largely on tradition, and a process of elimination. Let me illustrate what I mean by that. We can see in some of Paul’s letters references to Luke in some locations with him at certain points in his ministry. They correspond to the statements that the writer of Acts (Luke) makes when he uses the “we – us.” Though there were at times others present, the others don’t fit; i.e. one time it was Paul, Luke and Demas who were traveling together. (Col. 4:14). Demos was not considered because Paul writes Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.” I therefore maintain that it was Luke who was present with Paul as he wrote this epistle from house arrest in Rome and the specifics are mentioned by the writer of Acts (notice the “we” references in Act’s 28) at the close of the book. Is the evidence conclusive; no. Is it the best we have to go on? I firmly believe its superior to any other theory regarding the authorship of the book. Until someone comes up with something more conclusive I’ll stick to the theory…not because I’m some conservative evangelical nut case but because I truly believe it’s the truth based on the best evidence available.

webmdave said...

RH, whenever a person has to resort to a line of logic of, "If this, then this, and probably this, followed by more than likely this, and then, and so..." it shows that it's more wishful thinking than anything else.

You infer what you believe because you want to see it that way. The fact is, no one knows who wrote Luke or Acts. There is absolutely no way to know when it was written. You infer the date from the content and your belief that Paul traveled after it's composition. Really, you have no way of knowing why the account ends when it does, if it was written decades later, or even if Paul ever went to Spain. It was imperative for the early Church, once they figured out Jesus wasn't coming back anytime soon, to assign authors to the writings they were using as authoritative. It just wouldn't do to have an anonymous document presented as "gospel."

Believe whatever you like, stick to your fundamentalist hypothesis regarding Luke/Acts but Luke and Acts were not signed, it is not clear who or what the book was written to and it is also painfully clear that whoever wrote Luke plagiarized nearly all of what later became entitled the Gospel according to Mark.

Of course you will stick with your guess on the background of Luke/Acts , but the evidence is far from sure, and your belief is only your belief.

Anonymous said...

I have assembled the information that has come to me, and taken a keen interest in its accuracy, so that no fact shall be stated without proper justification. I do this so that you will know the truth.

After that preamble, it follows logically, that everything I say subsequently is trustworthy and without error. Do you agree? Let's make this more interesting. I actually can make the above statement sincerely, and I actually have availed myself of a huge amount of research. Now do you agree that it is logical to view everything I say as true? Please do take a moment to answer that--it is not a rhetorical question. If you feel there is some reason to doubt my words enough to to seek corroboration on any point whatsoever, please do explain why. (You will no doubt be tempted to dismiss my question as nonsensical, but I urge you to give me an honest reply.)

A brief comment on another topic--the dating of Luke. There is wide dispute over the dating of Luke and Acts, even among conservative Biblical scholars. I do no hang my hat on any particular date. However, in all this talk of dates, one significant point is usually overlooked. Those who strenuously argue for an "early" dating of the gospels often assert that this makes them more reliable as history, since they are closer to the assumed period of Jesus' ministry. However, there is a chicken-and-egg problem here. The gospels are far and away the most significant documents that place Jesus in a historical context; outside of them and the later epistles based on them, there is nothing unequivical that places a man named Jesus at the beginning of the first century. (I know you vehemently disagree with this, but until you produce something specific to contradict me, my point stands.) Therefore, it is deeply problematic to assert that the gospels are historical based on their proximity to the events that only they place in history. This is circular.

Anonymous said...

Jim,
I've read your hypothetical assemblage of information that you compare to Luke. It really is hypothetical and has little that equates to Luke's statement in the first four verses of Luke and Acts.
As a matter of fact, the type of evidence that Luke assembled was gained from those who had first hand knowledge, and in the case of the book of Acts he was himself the source of much of that first hand knowledge.
Luke traveled with Paul, who was present at the stoning of Stephen, the very first Christian Martyr when Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) was a persecutor of Christians. (Paul's mentor was Gamaliel, also a contemporary of Jesus who died about 18 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and some traditions say that Gamaliel himself became a believer in Christ).

Still, no argument can convince one determined not to believe (as Abraham to one rich man), even if one were to rise from the dead.
Luke 16:31

Anonymous said...

RH: "As a matter of fact, the type of evidence that Luke assembled was gained from those who had first hand knowledge, and in the case of the book of Acts he was himself the source of much of that first hand knowledge."

Really? And... of course, you were there, or are you trying to pitifully attempt to create your own personal vintage of "hypothetical" reasoning.

RH: "Luke traveled with Paul,..."

Prove it...

RH: "...who was present at the stoning of Stephen, the very first Christian Martyr when Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) was a persecutor of Christians."

Prove it...

RH: "...Paul's mentor was Gamaliel, also a contemporary of Jesus..."

Prove it...

RH: "...who died about 18 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and some traditions say that Gamaliel himself became a believer in Christ)."

Prove it... when you think you have something, I will invite your comment to a few orthodox Jews, who will rip your comment to shreds... waiting.

RH: "Still, no argument can convince one determined not to believe (as Abraham to one rich man), even if one were to rise from the dead. Luke 16:31"

Your comment about having first hand knowledge, is useless unless you have first hand empirical evidence - which you don’t'. Telling others they don't have it doesn't do anything for "your" argument. The fact still remains, "you" don't have the evidence, all anyone else need do, is point that out. The burden is on you... and while we are on Luke, he shows that hell does indeed exist, and he contradicts another gospel writer John.

Luke 16:22-24 - "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."

1 John 2:2 - "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

If the best you can do, is tell others they can't prove/disprove your bible... then the "bible" itself becomes its own test for validity... and I assure you, if you post a rebuttal to this post, I will throw out a few thousand contradictions that you can attempt to reconcile - and of course you will not be able to. It's why the Jews are still "Jewish", not "Christian".

Anonymous said...

JV wrote:

RH said: "Luke traveled with Paul,..."

JV: Prove it...

RH: I did already. But for your benefit I’ll post a passage that “proves it.” Paul writes:2 Timothy 4:10-12 - For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus


JV wrote - RH said: "(Paul)...who was present at the stoning of Stephen, the very first Christian Martyr when Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) was a persecutor of Christians."

JV said: Prove it...

RH: I did already. But again for your benefit I recommend the following website. http://www.answers.com/topic/tertius
………………………………….
RH: "...Paul's mentor was Gamaliel, also a contemporary of Jesus..."

JV said: Prove it...

RH: Here you go: http://www.answers.com/topic/gamaliel
………………………………….
RH: "...who died about 18 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and some traditions say that Gamaliel himself became a believer in Christ)."

JV said: Prove it... when you think you have something, I will invite your comment to a few orthodox Jews, who will rip your comment to shreds... waiting.
……………………………………
RH: again: http://www.answers.com/topic/gamaliel

RH: "Still, no argument can convince one determined not to believe (as Abraham to one rich man), even if one were to rise from the dead. Luke 16:31"

Your comment about having first hand knowledge, is useless unless you have first hand empirical evidence - which you don’t'.

................
I do have a myriad of first hand experiences but I equate none of them to the veracity of the Bible.
.................

JV wrote: If the best you can do, is tell others they can't prove/disprove your bible... then the "bible" itself becomes its own test for validity. It's why the Jews are still "Jewish", not "Christian".

RH: You're the one who keeps saying, 'prove it.' Ask any Orthodox Jew about the ‘serpent in the wilderness.’ (Look and live my brother). By the way, when a Jew accepts Christ as the Messiah, he or she remains truly Jewish. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. They define themselves not as Christians but rather Messianic Jews. Suggest you go to the following website.
http://www.menorah.org/mjews.html
......................
JV wrote: and I assure you, if you post a rebuttal to this post, I will throw out a few thousand contradictions that you can attempt to reconcile - and of course you will not be able to.

RH: Is that your attempt to threaten me? I’m quaking in my boots! Go ahead and I'll make an attempt on a few of the so called contradictions.

Question for JV: You have posted two passages from the Bible but for what reason you failed to say. Perhaps you could elaborate on that for me, would you?

Anonymous said...

RH, predictably, you came nowhere near addressing my question. Here is what I asked:

"I have assembled the information that has come to me, and taken a keen interest in its accuracy, so that no fact shall be stated without proper justification. I do this so that you will know the truth.... After that preamble, it follows logically, that everything I say subsequently is trustworthy and without error. Do you agree?"

So, do you agree or not? The question, as posed, does not depend on any similarity to Luke. Start with a simple Yes/No to that direct question, then elaborate if you wish. Thanks.

As for your supposed "proofs" of your other assertions (in your reply to JV), they are laden with presuppositions, such as the authorship of "Luke", and the presumption of trustworthiness of the passages you quote. In my opinion, it makes little sense to delve into those things if you refuse to take the little baby step toward critical thinking that my question above entails.

A note to the regulars here: I've finally learned that it's absolutely futile to discuss the interesting stuff with ardent believers if agreement on trivial matters proves impossible. Case in point: A while back I could not get a Christian visitor here to agree that "purely imaginary" things are different from "real" things. At that point I had to throw up my hands and admit that I was wasting my time discussing anything with him. So, if my questions sometimes seem trivial and pointless, just bear with me. Okay, sometimes the are pointless and trivial, but sometimes not. For example, if RH cannot bring himself to address the painfully simple question I posed above, is there much point in discussing more complex matters? I think not.

webmdave said...

Jim, as usual, your question pierces right to the heart of the matter.

I doubt RH will answer at all. You are trying to magnify a fairly obvious point that is, unfortunately, invisible to most believers. I'm thinking that the layers and layers of presuppositions and truckloads of Christian rhetoric that have been shoveled into RH's head may make it quite difficult for him to even understand the question.

Anonymous said...

WM said "RH, whenever a person has to resort to a line of logic of, "If this, then this, and probably this, followed by more than likely this, and then, and so..." it shows that it's more wishful thinking than anything else."

Sounds logical to me.

Anonymous said...

JA said: "I have assembled the information that has come to me, and taken a keen interest in its accuracy, so that no fact shall be stated without proper justification. I do this so that you will know the truth.... After that preamble, it follows logically, that everything I say subsequently is trustworthy and without error. Do you agree?"

So, do you agree or not? The question, as posed, does not depend on any similarity to Luke. Start with a simple Yes/No to that direct question, then elaborate if you wish. Thanks."

No, I don't agree.

Just because you say so or Luke says so doesn't necessarily make it true. But when you couple what Luke said with Paul's references to Luke traveling with him and the fact Paul and Luke were contemporaries of Mark and James, (the brother of Jesus), and since Luke, in the book of acts has given us some of the most accurate and enlightening historical records we have of Mediterranean shipping in that era...not to mention the historical, geological and geographical links to people, places and events in both Luke and Acts; I therefore conclude (based on that voluminous, cumulative information) that the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are both reliable records, NOT simply because someone brainwashed me or someone said so...but because of the evidence I just mentioned

Something to think about:
I once asked you about the existence of Julius Caesar, and you answered by stating that there were artifacts that proved his existence.
But what of the writing attributed to him- “The Gallic Wars?” Do you believe that he wrote it?
I’ll tell you right now that it’s universally attributed to him. Nobody challenges it. Yet the earliest manuscript is dated to about 900 AD (over 900 years from its writing) and there are a total of only 10 early manuscripts. Contrast that with the entire New Testament of which there are over 5000 Greek manuscripts in existence and most of the New Testament books as we have them today by the middle of the second century or about a generation of when they were originally written.

Anonymous said...

RH: "No, I don't agree."

Excellent! That really was a very simple question, no? Am I correct in assuming, then, that you do not hang your hat on the author's assertion at the beginning of Luke? (Actually, there is much much more to explore here, but I'll save that for later.)

RH: "...But when you couple what Luke said with Paul's references to Luke traveling with him..."

Your argument rests very heavily upon the author of Luke being the companion of Paul. As we've discussed at length already, the evidence for that is scant; it's little more than tradition. As for the "historical accuracy" of "Luke's" account, much is made of that. Yes, a great many geographical and other assorted facts that "Luke" records have been corroborated. But let's do this little thought experiment: Let's partition Luke's assertions into two categories, "natural" and "supernatural". For example, the demise of Capernaum and the practice of crucifixion by the Romans are in the first category, while the virgin birth and the resurrection are in the second. It's clear what I intend by this, is it not? Now, let's put a (mental) check mark next to a category whenever there is corroborating evidence for one of the assertions within it. Luke gets a good many check marks for his "natural" category, as I'm sure nearly anyone will admit. (So does Stephen King, by the way.) But what of the second? What corroborating evidence is there for any of the miraculous claims of Luke? "Matthew" perhaps? But "Matthew" got much of his information from the same place "Luke" did, which is "Mark", and perhaps Q. (This raises the old question: If Luke's information came from Paul, why did he need to copy so much from "Mark," claims to be neither an apostle nor an eyewitness?) Are we to simply assume that "Luke's" veracity with regard to natural phenomena carries over to the supernatural? If so, on what grounds? Have we any way to judge "Luke's" reliability on such matters?

RH: "...I therefore conclude (based on that voluminous, cumulative information) that the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are both reliable records, NOT simply because someone brainwashed me or someone said so...but because of the evidence I just mentioned..."

But your evidence rests upon several crucial assumptions: 1) The author of Luke was the companion of Paul, and 2) "Luke's" reliability with respect to commonplace information carries over to his supernatural assertions, which most people will readily acknowledge is highly influenced by one's theological beliefs/interpretations, and 3) the author of Luke is also the author of Acts. Of these, I think only #3 has anything approaching reasonable support, and yet it is still speculative as well. Your argument is only as solid as your premises which, in my view, are weak.

RH: "I once asked you about the existence of Julius Caesar, and you answered by stating that there were artifacts that proved his existence."

I said NO SUCH THING!!! I said that the physical artifacts, such as busts and coins bearing his likeness, constitute credible evidence for his existence. There is NO absolute proof! Can we please be clear on that?

RH: "But what of the writing attributed to him- “The Gallic Wars?” Do you believe that he wrote it?"

No, I cannot assert with much conviction that Caesar wrote the Commentaries, having never researched that particular question myself. From what little I've read, there seems to be substantial agreement among historians that he was the author, based on its style and content, and on references to the work by (presumed) contemporaries of Caesar. The dating of the manuscripts is not a major factor in this inference. But in any case, I'm certainly open to the idea that the work was written by someone else and then attributed to Caesar.

As to the number of extant manuscripts of the New Testament, this is again one of those "fun facts" that is often tossed out as though is has some great bearing on its veracity. It does not. One thing that is made very clear by those early manuscripts, however, is how much redaction and interpolation went on (e.g. the ending of Mark) from the beginning, right up through the 16'th century. For some reason you wish to believe that the earliest known manuscripts did not suffer from that perennial preoccupation of the pious! But on what basis? You presumably also deny the extensive practice of midrash in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, or at least deny that the gospel writers would partake of this practice. If so, on what basis?

In short, I still see nothing that indicates the gospels are more than they appear to be on their face--which is hagiography, written by ardent believers, with the intention of glorifying the object of their adoration. As such, I see no a priori reason to ascribe greater significance to their claims than other hagiographic tracts that boast of supernatural feats and miraculous births; which is to say, about as much credence as a Superman comic book.

shohn said...

Interesting, but I thought everyone knows that superman wasn't real - so is that a valid comparison?

webmdave said...

If you don't like the Superman analogy, then just fill in Zeus, Apollo, Allah, Ra, Hercules, Mithras, or any other of the plethora of once-believed-to-be-magical-entities documented throughout history.

shohn said...

Possibly real but made legend over time - Hercules

Once believed - Zeus and family

Still believed - Allah if you believe it is the same God as that of the Jews, What modern folks call Jesus

Never Believed - Superman - fictional character, Mary Poppins


Isn't that comparing several different things?

Anonymous said...

Shohn,
Lets compare several similar things. Please tell me which ones are real and which ones are fantasy/mythology?


A person can ride a winged horse to heaven and back?

A snake can have a conversation with a humans?

Ants can talk to humans?

A donkey can have a conversation with a humans?

A guy in a red suit delivers gifts to every boy and girl once a year?

A person can live inside of a whale for 3 days and 3 nights?

A bush can have a conversation with humans?

A horny ghost can impregnate a virgin?


Cheers

Anonymous said...

shohn said "Never Believed - Superman - fictional character, Mary Poppins... Isn't that comparing several different things?"

I should have learned by now that believers will dismiss such analogies as being "different," and thereby conveniently overlook what is the same. The point is this. If you are looking for evidence of X, you must look to facts whose ontological status is more secure than X. If you want to show that Superman is real, and not just a comic book character, you must look to facts that exist in the real world, not just within the pages of a comic book. If you want to show that Jesus is real, you must look to testimonies of people who are more demonstrably real than Jesus. Appealing to unnamed "witnesses," and putting words in their mouths gets you no further than pointing to the words that anonymous writers put into the mouth of Jesus. It's as silly as analyzing Lois Lane's comments, seeking to prove the existence of Superman. Do you see the analogy now?

Anonymous said...

Speculation, misuse of information, formulation of lies to disguise the fact that most. Disprove factually and fully Jesus, Scripture, Faith, God, etc.. and you will have written the most sturring and money making thing in the world, but you can't, no one can. I don't know why when I tell any of you that I believe in Jesus, His Word, His Will, why that is such an offense to you. My faith in Christ has brought me more joy than I could describe. I don't lie when I say that putting my faith in Christ changed my life, but for some reason I can't be believed. Have you ever heard that scripture predicted that Christians would be one day brought to a point of persecution, where the world around them would outrightly an with intent cast down and not just that but mock, as many here do the very faith we believe in. Don't be a muse to fulfill the evil side of that prediction. If you are trully so happy with your lives, why do so many of you come here to angrily rant and rave about Christianity. My guess though is that many of you were never exposed to Christ, but instead, religiosity, rules, hypocrisy, anger, the idea that God sits unattainably on high casting lighiting bolts down upon humanity. Im am so sorry that those who call themselves Christians have hurt you so much. Christs message was love, not hoping you say a certiain number of prayers daily, not that you were baptized at the right time, took first communion at the right time, ate the right foods, etc... It is about seeking truth (searching) and being WILLING to let your heart be changed. A willing heart without the walls of false human intellect, anger and selfishness will always be reached by Him when He is sought. I promise. Why do millions believe? Are we all being fooled? Ever asked yourself if your being fooled? God loves you, he really does.

webmdave said...

Millions believe that Allah is Lord and Mohammad is his prophet.

So, is Islam true?

Millions follow the teachings of Buddha.

So, is Buddhism true?

Millions followed Hitler.

So, is fascism true?

You're going to have to do better than lunatic ranting. If your god exists and really, really, really, really loves me, then I have nothing to worry about. Someone who loves me that much would never torture me for all eternity just for not believing he/she/it exists. Unless, perhaps, you have a different definition of love than most people.

Anonymous said...

Theology points not just to the existance of God but also Satan. When God created mankind, he did it to express Himself. We were created with the purpose of being in communion with God, we were created to love God and to worship God. The kicker here, is that true love requires the choice to love. Though God didn't want it or wasn't His intention, he had to allow the first man to fall, and even before that for satan to fall, because to truelly love God, we must have the choice to love Him. In other words, he could have created a world of robot like creatures who inherentley worshiped and loved Him, but that would not be true love or worship. He'll always love you, but its your choice to love him, and your love for Him and acceptance in Him alone puts you with Him, when you deny wanting to be with him, or deny him outright, you CHOOSE to not be with Him.

shohn said...

Webmaster said something like this

"Someone who loves me that much would never torture me for all eternity just for not believing he/she/it exists"

Have you ever thought that maybe we are nothing more than a talking monkeys and are pretty much worthless in God's eyes until we try to rise above that and get to know Him - then he's like "Hi there - nice to meet you - would you be willing to introduce other people to me?" That's more or less what happened to me.

So let's get back to your comparison. Why is fascism wrong?

Fascism = Killing right?

Killing someone in this life - if we are just atoms and quarks - who cares? Really - what does it matter - it is just more atoms and quarks getting put back into the rotation.

But what about the soul? You know - that part that gives us conscience - that tells us that killing is wrong whether we choose to listen to our conscience or not.

So Hitler killing millions - really who cares, for which is worse killing someone in this life or robbing their soul of eternal life?

Killing someone's soul by leading the masses away from God = Eternal separation from God, commonly referred to as hell.

On the other hand, what about the person who lives his life out in "blissful" ignorance of the source of the universe, conscience, and men's ability to feel love, hate, anger, confusion, puzzlement, etc.

The "bible" mentions death as one choice.

If a person chooses not to know God and doesn't condemn any other souls to eternal death, then they just die. It makes me sad, but at the end of the day aren't they nothing more than a talking monkey or just another set of atoms and quarks? In effect, useless and of no account to God.

So - if you choose not to believe - that is fine, it is your choice, but the part that worries me for you is that you may be leading others away, in effect condemning their souls to death - that is robbing them of their eternal life.

No big loss for them, after all, they were just some more talking atoms.

However, what do you think should be justice for someone who robs souls of eternal life by leading them away from God?

webmdave said...

Actually, shohn, fascism is a political ideology.

And, no one dies... at least not in Christian theology. All your religion does is promise blissful eternal life in heaven or eternal life in hell being sadistically tortured, much like the way Hitler treated his prisoners.

Hmm. Maybe, based on how your god is going to be treating most of humanity for the rest of eternity, there is nothing wrong with fascism.

I'm just following your line of "logic" here.

Shohn, here's a suggestion. Finish high school, go to college, and then come back to chat.

Thanks.

shohn said...

Webmaster,

"And, no one dies... at least not in Christian theology."

Really? Or is that more of a mix of a little constantine and some dante?

Isaiah 26:14 is an example of a little bit of death.


Jim,

My point was that "believers" easily distinguish between those analogies. They know superman is a comic book and also know that God is real.

I mean really, the whole thing is comical though.

The whole science "belief" system seems to be that we don't know where the universe came from, nor humanity, but figuring out how it came to be will really help out humanity which by the way is nothing more than atoms and quarks. Isn't that just going in circles?

We think humanity doesn't have a soul because we can't measure it scientifically and we can't measure the Creator scientifically either - yet all the while we choose to ignore the benefits to humanity provided by belief in God.

Science has also been an enabler for twisted religions and political agendas to kill even more folks.
Can't wait till we get space travel, then we'll just invent deathstars and really kill some folks. It will be even better once we figure out equations for love and all the stuff that makes us a species. Atoms creating equations to define why they love other atoms. Now that is comical.

I still don't get it what exactly is so twisted about the "christian" beliefs. I hear about a few lost souls out there molesting kids and blowing up stuff once in awhile, but it seems like all the good that is done is largely ignored.

It would be like me just focusing on the atom bomb as far as the value provided to humanity by science.

Steven Bently said...

To anony's above,

If Faith is the foundation for your beliefs, then by using faith we would all agree that it's easy to presume that the Bible is true, by using faith, any literary works can be presumed true.

But by using common sense, logic and intellectual honesty, we can plainly see that it's all a bold face lie and a bunch of garbage.

Belief by faith, any literary scenario can be presumed true.

Knowing what is real and not using faith, beliefs and presumptions become imaginary and false.

Have a great day in your faith-based delusional state of mental insanity.

shohn said...

Steve,

So billions of us suffer from some mass delusion?

Interesting article I found though - I suspect there are similar phenomenon in various religious sects as well.

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3168

Anonymous said...

This "delusion" has brought millions to a tangible change in life. This is not en empty faith derived from ignorance (not knowing any better). To do this, you must condemn every world religion, therefore all humanity not believing by your perspective. Before you tell me that i am the one that condemns, please know that I pass no judgement any human. I do not come to forums like this to watch my words fall onto the screen and to praise myself. As far as knowing what is real, no one can be sure can they? I feel that I am sure? Are you 100% sure that God does not exist? Who created the universe? Does something come from nothing? Science has not come that far and will not? It takes a lot of faith just to walk outside and count the number of things we see that man in all of his "genius and science" could never derive from nothing. Not a tree not a bird not a blade of grass not a fly, nothing. In this you put your faith in the fact that science can or will eventually fulill all of these questions.
Now, In my experience, those who walk away from the religion someone told to them was "christianity," usually come from a painful experience or series of experiences in life exerted upon them. This is probably the case for most who come here, speaking in anger and of experiences. If you are an "ex-christian" just due to your intellectual realization of reality, why would you even give Chritianity the legitimacy to call yourself an ex-christian? I don't call myself an ex-santa believer or ex-superman believer. If Christianity is such a load of bull, why give it the time of day.
Hopefully my statements bear enough validity to not be deleted before they can be seen.

webmdave said...

Anony-fundy-bots:

Personally, I could care less what fantasy you believe in. You can have any belief you want. I really don't care.

However, your constant, poorly expressed, evangelical proselytizing is quite tiring.

NEWS FLASH: I'm not going to convert. I no longer believe in your Jesus or the rest of your mythological stories and characters. It's all made up! -- It's all bunk -- I wasted a considerable portion of my life on it -- and mindless robots like you who can't stop vomiting religious crap all over this site sometimes just really torques me off.

NEWS FLASH: We can talk about whatever topic interests us. If you don’t like the topic – TS! Who the hell do you think you are to barge into a conversation and demand that the conversation cease because it offends your pretend deity? Read the damned site disclaimer!

I wasted (WASTED) 30 years on your ridiculous religion, and if I want to talk about how stupid that religion is… well, guess what, genius… I’ll rant and rave and bitch and moan and complain and condemn and blast and blaspheme all I damned well I please.

It was my life that was messed up by your idiotic religion, and if I want or need or just enjoy talking about how much of a fool I was to be sucked into the mind-killing cult of Christianity, then I’ll talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. And there is not a damned thing you can do about it.

I know what you can do, though: PRAY! Pray to your god! Pray that this site is taken off of the Internet and confined to the bowls of hell along with all the bad old humans who don’t follow your mythological deity.

You’ll be wasting your time. But at least you’ll stop wasting ours.


Read the damned site disclaimer.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said "...I don't know why when I tell any of you that I believe in Jesus, His Word, His Will, why that is such an offense to you."

Just to be clear, Anonymous, who is the "you" in that sentence? In the future, can you please be more specific as to who you are addressing? There are quite a few of us here, and there is a wide diversity of opinions. Thanks.

In case it matters to you, I'm not the least be offended by what you believe. Nor am I offended by Buddhists or Muslims or Hindus or Mormons. Beliefs are not offensive to me, but behaviors (such as making assertions) can be. For example, if you assert not only your belief in Jesus, but that I am obliged to believe it too, that I am somehow lacking as a human being if I do not, and offer little or nothing to support your assertions, then... I will likely take offense, and I will say so. Does that make sense?

Anonymous went on to say "Theology points not just to the existance of God but also Satan." Surely you mean Christian theology, right? There are thousands of theologies, all making different fundamental claims about a supposed supernatural realm. You seem to be advocating one particular brand, that's all.

Now for our friend shohn...

shohn: "So - if you choose not to believe - that is fine, it is your choice, but the part that worries me for you is that you may be leading others away, in effect condemning their souls to death - that is robbing them of their eternal life."

Muslims believe that you are condemning people to Hell by spreading the blasphemy of Christianity. That's what worries them, Shohn. They ask what gives you the right to turn people against Allah. That is an unforgivable sin. What worries me, shohn, is that there are so many people who believe that they know of supernatural entities, and their behavior is greatly influenced by this "knowledge," which has many detrimental effects on society. But what matters most, shohn, is not what "worries" us, but what is actually so.

shohn: "However, what do you think should be justice for someone who robs souls of eternal life by leading them away from God?"

Okay, I'll play along. If someone was guilty of "robbing" someone of their "soul," and thereby condemning them to an eternity of torture, then I wouldn't look too kindly on them. Would I vote for having that person suffer for eternity? Well, I'd prefer that they just cease to exist, or morph into a completely different kind of person perhaps. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that I thought "Hell" was justified. What does that show? Does that show that "souls" actually exist, or that anybody deserves "Hell"? Nope. Not by a long shot. It's all hypothetical nonsense from beginning to end.

shohn: "My point was that 'believers' easily distinguish between those analogies. They know superman is a comic book and also know that God is real."

Yes, that has been your position from the start. I understand that, and so does everybody else. Have you understood anything I've said? Apparently not, as you seem to be oblivious to it.

shohn: "The whole science 'belief' system seems to be that we don't know where the universe came from, nor humanity, but figuring out how it came to be will really help out humanity which by the way is nothing more than atoms and quarks. Isn't that just going in circles?"

I love it when non-scientists tell me what science is, and what it shows. It's usually quite entertaining. Science seeks explanations that are free of our personal prejudices and biases. If that's too restrictive for you, then there's always religion, which elevates personal conviction to the level of truth. As for your continual appeal to atoms and quarks, please learn what the fallacy of composition is. Taking a course in logic or critical thinking at some point may be a benefit to you.

shohn: "We think humanity doesn't have a soul because we can't measure it scientifically and we can't measure the Creator scientifically either..."

Who is "we"? Again, you display an absurd caricature of science. Why can you not stick to presenting your side of the case rather than disparaging those who are skeptical of your claims? Why do religionists engage in the latter so frequently? (That's actually a rhetorical question as the answer is obvious to most of us here.)

shohn: "...It will be even better once we figure out equations for love and all the stuff that makes us a species. Atoms creating equations to define why they love other atoms. Now that is comical."

Yep, that's comedy at it's best. That's why we love to have you guys around. Please learn what the fallacy of composition is.

shohn: "I still don't get it what exactly is so twisted about the 'christian' beliefs...."

No, Shohn, of course you don't. Any one of us could physically sit you down, look you in the eye, and repeat over and over and over and over and over again "There is no credible evidence supporting your fantastic claims", and you would be just as mystified as you are now. You would continue to spout idiotic caricatures of science, you would continue to employ the fallacies of composition and division, and you would be unable to convey to anybody else what had been said to you. If you disagree with what I just said, then please paraphrase what my position is. I'll bet you can't do it.

Shohn, you WANT to believe what you believe. You really WANT it very badly. That's okay. You can cling to it, and convince yourself of it your entire life. That's your right. But please, do not expect anybody else to adopt your views unless you can support them. Does that make sense to you?

Steven Bently said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boomSLANG said...

Anony 2/01/2007 8:48 PM said: Speculation, misuse of information, formulation of lies to disguise the fact that most. Disprove factually and fully Jesus, Scripture, Faith, God, etc.. and you will have written the most sturring and money making thing in the world, but you can't, no one can.

Gee, I don't know about a "sturring" book, but as a Christian, you, yourself, could generate quite a bit of revenue if you could "disprove factually and fully" the Holy Q'ran, Allah, and Muhammad. But like you said... "you can't, no one can". And for that matter, nor can you "disprove" that a race of purple men live in another gallaxy, and from there they control the Universe. So? It MUST be true then, right?... because you can't "disprove" it.."factually and fully"? Of course not...things aren't made a "reality" by "default"..i.e..by one's inability to "disprove" them. The point is---no one is saying that your Jebus is disproven--only UNproven. The burden of proof is in the lap of the one making the outrageous claim, not in the person's to whom the claim is being asserted. Please learn the difference, so you don't continue to make the same logical fallacy.

Anony: I don't know why when I tell any of you that I believe in Jesus, His Word, His Will, why that is such an offense to you.

If you read the scriptures objectively, and take them at face-value(for what they actually say), then you'll see why people find it offensive. The problem is that people subjectively interpret the bible as they see fit. Others, completely ignore the verses that make them uncomfortable...and yet, others, follow it to the letter.

Notwithstanding, if you need to keep a bible on your nightstand to keep you from murdering and stealing?.... then by ALL MEANS, do it----BELIEVE IN GOD and "keep His word". If a "belief" has one single advantage..that's it---"control". After all, the belief in Santa keeps some children from being "bad", just like the belief in God keeps some adults from being "bad". The difference is, there's no conditions attached to the belief in Santa. The belief in Santa doesn't require you to make others believe in Santa. Santa's not going to incinerate you for not believing in him. Do you get the difference now?

Anony: My faith in Christ has brought me more joy than I could describe. I don't lie when I say that putting my faith in Christ changed my life, but for some reason I can't be believed.

Your faith has brought you joy. Goody for you. Likewise, Scientology has brought John Travolta "joy"(not more than he can describe, however). Furthermore, John Travolta isn't lying, either, when he says that L.Ron Hubbard has "changed his life"...but for "some reason"..he just "can't be believed". The point is, just because a "belief" makes someone feel good, it doesn't mean that said "belief" is grounded in any kind of reality.

Anony: Have you ever heard that scripture predicted that Christians would be one day brought to a point of persecution, where the world around them would outrightly an with intent cast down and not just that but mock, as many here do the very faith we believe in. Don't be a muse to fulfill the evil side of that prediction.

Speaking of---did I mention the prediction in my story? Once upon a time, I was hiking alone in the woods. At dusk, a winged monkey descended from the clouds and handed me a legal pad and a sharpie. He told me to take dictation.

He told me how the great cosmic bear "Baloo" created the Universe, and how He sent his only begotten cub, "Smokie", to teach the dangers of campfires. Lastly, he predicted that future generations would have a hard time believing "our story", so he made me insert a clause---a "prediction"---that told how those who believed my story would be mocked and ridiculed for believing.

LOL! Now seriously---is that a "prophecy" if people are skeptical of my story?..or is that me simply creating characters to support my agenda, that being, to warn of the dangers of campfires, while knowing that the shit I'm writing is totally f%cking OUTrageous? 'Got common sense?

If you are trully so happy with your lives, why do so many of you come here to angrily rant and rave about Christianity.

If you are truly so confident in your belief, then why do you give two shits that people "rant" about your belief not being true? If there was a website full of people who denied the existance of "oxygen", would you waste your time arguing about it? Would you care if they "ranted" about people who believed in "oxygen"? I seriously doubt it. Nonetheless, you can check out this site's "purpose" and disclaimer.

Anony: My guess though is that many of you were never exposed to Christ...

No one has been "exposed" to Christ. Christ doesn't exist. If you have evidence to the contrary, think about writing that book you were talking about. You could make MILLIONS.(make sure to include photos)

Anony: ...but instead, religiosity, rules, hypocrisy, anger, the idea that God sits unattainably on high casting lighiting bolts down upon humanity.

Well..if "God" can shapeshift into a burning shrub, surely he can sit on some lightening bolts. He's thick-skinned. lol

Anony: Im am so sorry that those who call themselves Christians have hurt you so much.[bold added]

Um, I'd be curious to know which "Christians" do NOT "call themselves Christians"? Every "Christian" labels themself as such. Either anyone who calls themself a Christian" IS one, or no one can be one.(Right Matthew? lol!)

Anony: Christs message was love, not hoping you say a certiain number of prayers daily, not that you were baptized at the right time, took first communion at the right time, ate the right foods, etc...

Christ's message was about "love", provided that that "love" is reciprocated. If not reciprocated, then "His message" quickly turns to one of "heat"...shit-loads of it.

Anony: It is about seeking truth (searching) and being WILLING to let your heart be changed. A willing heart without the walls of false human intellect, anger and selfishness will always be reached by Him when He is sought. I promise.

And I promise that when your Jesus appears to me, just like he appear to hundreds in the bible, that I will "change my heart"(mind)...and I will follow God's plan EVEN IF I HATE IT. If Jesus does not; can not; will not appear to me.....then JESUS IS DEAD. That's his problem..not mine.

Anony: Why do millions believe? Are we all being fooled? Ever asked yourself if your being fooled? God loves you, he really does.

Millions believe, because Millions can't fathom their own non-existance. In other words, without the greedy desire to live forever...the belief in such rubbish is impossible. Furthermore, "Truth" isn't obtained by popular vote. At one time in the dark ages, practically the entire population believed the earth was flat.

boomSLANG said...

Um, I don't know WTF is going on with blogger lately...I've never logged in as "Jeff".

Signed, "boomSLANG"

Anonymous said...

To Sholn,

"So billions of us suffer from some mass delusion?"

No of course not, the billion's of Christians, Muslims and Buddha's, Hindu's, Mormon's, etc. they cannot be deceived.

Sholn, you're way to smart for that, Christians have the uncanny ability to recognize ghosts, spirits, gifts of the spirit, virgin births, miracles, angels, demons, devils, dreams, prophesy, saviors, souls, speaking in tongues, etc.

We must never question the authority of the written word, especiially when it claims by it's it's admission, that it is true.

Even by it's age, written over 2000 years, why those people were so much wiser and smarter than we could possibly percieve of being today, they thought that the world was round, but now we all know it's flat.

God spoke to them directly, because they were not as corrupt as we are living today, why it's just like Sodom and Gomorrah if not worse than and incest everywhere and preachers raping little girls and embezzelment and murdering people.

Don't believe me?

google in - pastor charged - see if you get any hits.

There's no way Christians can be walking around in a mental delusion, no freaking way!

Christians are just to wise and clever they cannot possibly be deceived into believing a lie.

boomSLANG said...

Anonymous 2/02/2007 11:47 AM, asked: Are you 100% sure that God does not exist?

...::yawn::...

No, I am not 100% sure that a non-personal self-existing disembodied entity does not exist. You would have to be omniscient to have such knowledge. However, I am 100% sure that the personal deity known as "Yahweh" does not exist, much like I know a "married bachelor" does not exist.

Now, if a non-personal self-existing disembodied entity exists, then it is literally immaterial to me, as a human being. The reason should be self-evident.

Annoy asked: Who created the universe?

Well, since no one was there at the beginning of time, the only honest answer is: "I don't know". Saying that "God did it!" answers jack'. Ancient man used "God" as an "answer" to what caused rain, thunder, and lightening. We now know there's logical explanations for such phenomenon.

Annoy~nomous said: In this you put your faith in the fact that science can or will eventually fulill all of these questions.

The "faith" that non-theists put in science in not the same "Faith" that theists put in God. Please stop comparing the two. "Faith", as in "Faith in God", is believing contrary to what science tells us about the universe. Theists have had their "answers" handed to them. These religious convictions("answers") are not subject to change, even though the only absolute IS change. Furthermore, the results of science are open to change as we gain more knowledge. It is a different "faith", altogether. Stick it in your memory bank.

Anony: If you are an "ex-christian" just due to your intellectual realization of reality, why would you even give Chritianity the legitimacy to call yourself an ex-christian?

If you are a "Chrisitan", why would you even give Ex-Christians the legitimacy to hang out on an EX-Christian website?

Anonymous: If Christianity is such a load of bull, why give it the time of day.

If Christianity is absolutely "true", then why give us the time of day? You're the "guest" here, right?(Rhetorical)

Anonymous said...

shohn wrote:

...we can't measure the Creator scientifically either...

Shohn, you're wrong, we certainly can "measure the Creator scientifically." We can test whether prayer does anything - it doesn't. We can test whether the Bible contains accurate information about the universe - it doesn't. We can test whether artifacts like the Shroud of Turin are evidence of the existence of Jesus - they aren't. We can test whether "having the spirit" means one behaves better - it doesn't. We can test whether Christians live healthier and longer lives than nonbelievers - they don't. We can test whether "this was created" is a good explanation for a biological structure - it isn't. If God is out there doing what Christians say he is doing then we can "measure" those deeds. If Christianity is true then science would confirm it.

Anonymous said...

The time of day i give is not of personal gain. I will stop because I see that I am not helping anything but just stiring anger. My faith, whether anyone here considers it as legitimate or just a cry for answers to the universe, tells me to share and encourage others to believe. In my "ignorant" heart, the way I see things is as if I knew the answer to something that could help others and I wanted to share. Forgive me for that. I came upin this sight by accident, i did not search it out. Reading different posts hurt my heart so I responded. I see now that everyone here has totally made up their minds about how to exist in this universe, and that is fine.

To Alan: Hypocrisy is what every Christian has to deal with and is why science can't measure what we as Christians claim to be the change, but I and many others don't claim perfection but forgiveness as the change. Amidst everything there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Im sorry to have thrown a wrench in this disscussion. I hope you all are trully happy and secure in your lives. Good day.

shohn said...

Don't believe me?

google in - "scientist charged" or "teacher charged" - see if you get any hits.

What is your point - I've already acknowledged hypocrisy that is out there - the same stuff exists in all walks of life - the constant is mankind.

Also - I trust you have looked into Hubbard.

If it is all a big lie - then what is the motivation to die for the lie? 70 virgins in paradise?


Alan,

You also said something about you could have an idea about what it would be like to have kids though you do not have them. Maybe I'm just a weirdo, but I asked lots of people about it before I had them and the experience was still indescribable in words. The best thing I could equate it to was that scene in Saving Private Ryan at the beginning of the movie when the captain went into shell shock.
I've had way too many prayers answered to even worry about that one. My guess is that you would ask me to pray for something ridiculous like having this web site shutdown, and then if god didn't answer immediately you would go "see - your god is dead", but just to humor you, I will pray for that. If that is where you are headed though, I must tell you that it would constitute "testing" Yahweh. I really don't want to send my life into the sh*tter for not following the rules so I'll just stick to his rules on that one. That said, I believe (not certain though) that there is one action that I know of that we are free to "test" Yahweh and that is in the return of blessings for the ol' tithe. I've never really been good about that, but my suspicion is that the tithe it has been corrupted over time. As I understand it now, it's fine to feed the pastors, but you don't have to tithe them. Really you don't have to do any of that, but people keep trying to buy their way in I guess. I can tell you that in my own life all kinds of crazy coincidences have happened, which are things I prayed for, but I don't think they are scientifically verifiable.

Although I did perform this same experiment once by writing down what I prayed for and receiving an answer. I've since started the practice of documenting most of my prayers to see how long before an answer occurs, but I digress.


Jim,

Sounds like I got your panties in a wad, sorry about that. There are plenty of "scientists" that barely knew how to tie their own shoestrings though they may be experts in "logical" arguments and plenty that make up sh*t, and plenty that are believers, so just because you are (I think) an atheist scientist doesn't necessarily mean that science and the word of God can't be reconciled nor that all spiritual works or descriptions of miracles are simply "hagiography".

If Jesus showed up and said Hi Jim - stop persecuting me in a dream or even in person, I bet you'd still chalk it up to a chemical imbalance or something in your brain instead of just accepting the obvious. I could be wrong though.

My continued focus on atoms and quarks is what I thought was a fairly basic question. How is it possible for atoms and quarks to have consciousness? Can consciousness be measured and verified?


Stated another way, you seem to focus on what is measurable in what we call reality - and basically I'm just asking is how would I know I'm not a brain sitting in a jar on someone's desk. Wouldn't the measurements still be the same, and still be just as verifiable from my point of view? Just to keep this going though - I'll leave that one alone - it is silly in this forum. There was an excellent Star Trek episode for explaining what I'm trying to say here - I'll dig that up later though, but basically if this universe is in the mind of God; how would science be able to prove it or disprove it?


"Appealing to unnamed "witnesses," and putting words in their mouths gets you no further than pointing to the words that anonymous writers put into the mouth of Jesus. It's as silly as analyzing Lois Lane's comments, seeking to prove the existence of Superman. Do you see the analogy now?"

I agree provided that both are known to be works of fiction; however, that is not the case here. One is presumed to be untrue depending on who you talk to, whereas the latter is untrue given its literary category is fiction. Two completely different things, though on the surface they seem the same.

Have ever heard of medical miracles? Are documented instances of such "miracles" hagiography as well and thus in effect equivalent to superman using what I think is your logic?

Also, I haven't heard of anyone dieing for belief in superman just yet so it lost all credibility for me right there.

So no, I don't see how the two are the same, but I digress.

Maybe we can start over again. I'll do my best to support my arguments - we'll have to adopt some sort of protocol to avoid the loss of the thread.

Let's see if we can agree on a few things first.

Do you accept that something can not come from nothing?

Do you agree that there can be quantum growth in a person's understanding of life, sciences, religion, etc. in the form of an epiphany. For example, a child discovering that Santa Claus isn't real.

Would you agree that if someone is willing to die for some belief, then there MAY be some truth to the belief; however, insane it may seem on the surface and that the insanity perceived on the surface may actually be from not having had the aforementioned epiphany?

If you accept that there may be some truth to a person's beliefs if they are willing to die for it then we are next left with some extremes. You have already brought up the Islam thing so I'll continue with that. We could have just as easily picked any other religion or political dogma with a suicidal tendency, but this one is fine. I acknowledge that you would be correct that just because someone dies for something doesn't mean it is true.

Let me know where you stand and then perhaps we can move beyond the dead lock here. Praise Yahweh - sorry couldn't resist.

webmdave said...

I deny the existence of Yahweh!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Steven Bently said...

shohn wrote:

"So billions of us suffer from some mass delusion?"

google in - "scientist charged" or "teacher charged" - see if you get any hits.

What is your point - I've already acknowledged hypocrisy that is out there - the same stuff exists in all walks of life - the constant is mankind.

The point is, that you conviently suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and you're in a constant state of denial.

A scientist, nor a teacher, nor a wino gets up in front of a church and proclaims his self-righteous calling from the Holy Spirit from a God of the Bible and pretends to have a gift of the Holy Spirit and then goes out and molests little children or embezzels the church funds or commits incest or murders someone, but apparently thats ok in your book.

I bet you never had the balls to google in - pastor charged either!

shohn said...

Webmaster,

Fair enough!

shohn said...

Steve,

Actually I have ;) I tend to shy away from churches if you must know.

Anonymous said...

Shohn,
Nice blinders you're wearing.

May you praise your Jealous god.

Steven Bently said...

What shohn? You shy away from churches? The very institutions that are built on the commandment of Jesus? God ordained, God-commissioned, God-ran, God-over-seen, Holy-Ghost-spirit-filled-churches?

"Let us not forsake the assembly of God's children." M-L-Acts?

I really think you're a closet Atheist shohn, but you refuse to let go of your childhood indoctrination. We all still remember that crap, it's very hard to let go, it's permentanly ingrained in our memory.

I believe you thought you could tear us down and convert us back to your faiy tale, if you could have you win, but you lose shohn.

There is no more evidence for a Bible God, than Allah, YAHWAH, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Trolls, Leprechauns, ghosts, spirits, miracles, angels, demons, virgin births, resurrections, divine intervention, etc., etc.

A god nor Jesus never wrote one part of the Bible, why not? Because it is the fabrication of superstitious bronze age men.

Anonymous said...

shohn: "Sounds like I got your panties in a wad,..."

And you sound like you're about 12 years old.

shohn: "There are plenty of 'scientists' that barely knew how to tie their own shoestrings..."

You went on to make a number of irrelevant observations and erect a straw man. Of course one's credentials don't automatically imply anything at all. Every sufficiently large group of people has its dregs.

shohn: "If Jesus showed up and said Hi Jim - stop persecuting me in a dream or even in person, I bet you'd still chalk it up to a chemical imbalance or something in your brain instead of just accepting the obvious."

That's a vague hypothetical. What do you mean by Jesus "showing up" in a dream or in person? How would I know it was anything other than a dream, or an insane person? Regardless of what it means, you have absolutely no idea what my reaction would be, and frankly neither do I. So this is a rather pointless discussion.

shohn: "My continued focus on atoms and quarks is what I thought was a fairly basic question. How is it possible for atoms and quarks to have consciousness?"

How can hydrogen and oxygen be "wet"? Answer: the very question betrays a deep misunderstanding about matter and its properties. If you think it remarkable that an enormous collection of atoms can have any property other than those exhibited by the atoms, then you have not realized that properties such as being "wet" or being "alive" arise from higher-level organization of matter, not from any property already present in the elementary particles themselves. Honestly, if we can't get past that basic point, then it's fruitless to discuss anything that requires more subtle reasoning and judgment.

shohn: "Can consciousness be measured and verified?"

Consciousness cannot even be adequately defined at present, although there are a number of very promising theories that I think are essentially on the right track. Lacking an adequate definition, and therefore tools to "measure" it (whatever that might mean) does not in itself imply anything about consciousness. Lack of knowledge is lack of knowledge; nothing more.

shohn: "...I'm just asking is how would I know I'm not a brain sitting in a jar on someone's desk...."

Simple. You don't. You also do not know for sure that solipsism is not the correct model of the universe. No experiment that you perform could absolutely rule out either scenario. However, there is no positive evidence to support either of those scenarios either, just like there is no positive evidence that there are invisible leprechauns living in my back yard, or that an all powerful being is watching my every move. In fact, one can make up infinitely many scenarios that cannot be disproved, even in principle. If you think that that somehow suggests they are "likely", or should be seriously considered, despite the lack of evidence for them, then all I can say is "Good luck". I, and most of us here, have found it to be far more rational to strive for warranted belief.

shohn: "I agree provided that both are known to be works of fiction;...[Superman comic books and the Bible are] Two completely different things, though on the surface they seem the same."

They are not "completely different things", as I and others have explained at length already. So as not to beat a dead horse, just substitute the "twelve apostles of Mithra", and the analogy will no longer suffer what you view as a roadblock. Do the apostles of Mithra count as witnesses to Mithra? The answer is NO! We have no more reason to believe in the existence/veracity of those "witnesses" than we do in Mithra himself (just like we have NO MORE REASON TO TRUST LOIS LANE THAN SUPERMAN HIMSELF). Do you get it now?

shohn: "Have ever heard of medical miracles? Are documented instances of such 'miracles' hagiography as well and thus in effect equivalent to superman using what I think is your logic?"

I can't quite parse that question, but I think I know what you're asking. First, I am aware of no well-documented miracles; sure, there are unexplained events, but how does one then reach the conclusion that such a thing is a "miracle". I don't know, and neither do numerous philosophers. But, ignoring that for a moment, would such a documented event count as hagiography? No, of course not. That's like asking whether giving somebody a made-up name counts as writing a novel. Hagiography is a genre. It's a style of writing geared toward a particular purpose--to convince others of the divinity or greatness of another. The important distinction here is that hagiography and history are vastly different genres, and no end of confusion ensues when the former is confused with the latter.

shohn: "Also, I haven't heard of anyone dieing for belief in superman just yet so it lost all credibility for me right there."

I know this is going to go in one ear and right out the other, but there have been several characters who risked their lives for Superman (e.g. to spare him exposure to Kryptonite). BUT THAT'S JUST FICTION! you cry. Yes, yes, yes, it's fiction. If you want that fact to help you in some way, you must demonstrate that the martyrs YOU believe in are NOT fiction! What evidence do you have for them and their martyrdom other than several anonymous ancient hagiographic tracts written long after the supposed events? My bet is absolutely nothing.

shohn: "Do you accept that something can not come from nothing?"

No, absolutely not! That notion was put to rest in the early 20'th century. According to quantum mechanics, which is easily the most thoroughly tested and verified scientific theory ever constructed, something not only CAN come from nothing, but does so continually. This has been verified (i.e. observed) through several clever experiments, so it's a tested and verified theory. I've posted at length on this topic many times here already. The "Nothing can come from nothing" mantra is just a bit of quaint armchair physics that rests on nothing more than naive intuition gained from everyday experience. It has no scientific validity at all. In fact, it's demonstrably false.

shohn: "Do you agree that there can be quantum growth in a person's understanding of life, sciences, religion, etc. in the form of an epiphany. For example, a child discovering that Santa Claus isn't real."

I'll take your use of the word "quantum" as metaphorical, and your use of the word "epiphany" in the sense of "sudden insight", devoid of supernatural connotations. In that case, the answer is "yes", of course we all have sudden realizations or "insights". But I suspect you will wish to overlook the fact that such insights constitute "belief", not "knowledge". I have "insights" all the time, which I then go on to TEST. Sometimes I'm right, and sometimes I'm wrong. That's the nature of intuition.

shohn: "Would you agree that if someone is willing to die for some belief, then there MAY be some truth to the belief...""

You are putting two things together that don't belong together. Let me separate them so that I can more clearly answer your question.

1) Is it possible that any belief MAY be true? Yes. Just about anything MAY be true.

2) Does willingness to die for an idea indicate that one BELIEVES the idea? Yes, martyrdom is a forceful indicator that the martyr BELIEVES in what he/she is dying for.

shohn: "I acknowledge that... just because someone dies for something doesn't mean it is true."

Good.

Anonymous said...

Shohn, if you're looking for a place to get a foothold, then here is a suggestion. Pick some aspect of the Jesus story--anything at all--and show me solid evidence that it's true. (Please note carefully the word evidence; I did not and shall not use the word proof, as that is an unattainable ideal.) Some words of warning in the interest of saving some time: Quoting the gospels will not do unless you can first demonstrate that they are trustworthy accounts. Quoting Paul won't do unless you can demonstrate that Paul actually knew something of an earthly Jesus. Pointing to supposed "eyewitnesses" will not do unless you can name them, relate exactly what they saw, and how you know your information is accurate. So, my challenge to you is to link some element of the Jesus story to reality through a credible chain of evidence that can stand up to scrutiny. If you think that doing so is impossible without "faith," for example, then please explain why I should have faith in this particular story and not hundreds of others (such as the Mormon story, which has vastly better supporting evidence).

Anonymous said...

shohn wrote:

I've had way too many prayers answered to even worry about that one.

Shohn, you also have to take into account people who have prayed just as you do and have received no answer, including many people who post here. You also have to take into account the largest study to date which showed that prayer has no effect.

My guess is that you would ask me to pray for something ridiculous like having this web site shutdown, and then if god didn't answer immediately you would go "see - your god is dead"

Why would I ask you to pray for something ridiculous? Pray for something meaningful, like an unmistakable sign that God exists. But if you prayed to have this website shut down and God answered by actually doing it, that would be far from ridiculous.

I've since started the practice of documenting most of my prayers to see how long before an answer occurs, but I digress.

You're not digressing, you're doing something to support your position - gathering data on the outcome of prayer. I would be interested to see what you come up with.

shohn said...

Steven,

Self-righteousness is bad. On that I agree with you.

Alan - the site got shut down for about a day or so as best I can tell though I'm sure the answer to my prayer will be chalked up to randomness not quite unlike the existence of the universe. Irony at its best. Also - praying for a "sign" is technically "testing" my God, but I asked Him for just a couple of days worth anyway - as far as I can tell I just got a day. I still pray for my parents to remarry, but I've been waiting on that one for years - we'll see, perhaps you could indulge me by saying a few prayers for my folks in the name of "scientific" testing of prayer ;) Seriously, I have written this stuff down, but its not like it would do any good because someone would just say - oh yeah well you wrote that after the fact not quite unlike many of the prophecies.


Jim,

I haven't forgotten about our little conversation and your questions - I'll work on getting you some better answers particularly the Mormon questions. I'll rant for a bit, but will see if I can't get some better answers on that. Really weird that you should mention the Mormons though - I remember praying one night for some indication from God about the truth and freakin Mormons showed up on my door the next morning bright and early. I let them come and visit with me for about three sessions, but it just didn't add up - I kept asking "why would God need Gold plates - why Gold plates". Maybe he does, but I suppose I'll have to do some more homework here to get better answers.

I do imagine that the feeling I had is probably not unlike how you feel when confronted by "Christians" trying to push the Trinity on you.

Either way - I think some of you questions are fair from your point of view; however, I think you might have gone a bit over the edge with the word "trustworthy".

"Quoting the gospels will not do unless you can first demonstrate that they are trustworthy accounts." - Trustworthy by whose standards - yours? I'm not sure I'd be able to find anything up to those standards, but let's at least try to determine where your standards lie. Would someone have to be a non-believer before they are considered trustworthy, a named eye witness, a noted historian? What is the standard here? Either way, I'd push back to the prophecies.

So let me ask an honest question - if the name of what English translations call "Jesus Christ" were removed and the miracles removed would the "Gospels" then be considered trustworthy from your perspective? I can see from your point of view how you would want to know how to weigh one account or Gospel as having more value or credibility than another (i.e., the Mormons' golden plates and "eye witness" accounts); however, what I'm wondering is at what point would we start to throw out various ancient "secular" texts using the same level of scrutiny?

"Quoting Paul won't do unless you can demonstrate that Paul actually knew something of an earthly Jesus." I still have questions on Paul, but I think the main point is that he liked to have people killed and then one day wakes up and starts founding churches and runs off and has himself killed or something - note - he didn't wake up one day and run off cutting people's heads off on national tv so that he could hang out with some virgins, but rather said he was an orthodox jew and came to know something that changed his life direction.


This is really not all that dissimilar a change of heart, from that Strobel guy that started this conversation, the guy who wrote amazing grace, C.S. lewis, etc. I guess Einstein didn't make the cut though and Hawkings hasn't quite yet. Perhaps he's still waiting on moon made out of blue cheese. Darwin's deathbed stuff I still have questions about, but net net, I know it doesn't matter just because those guys believed in something doesn't necessarily make it true. What is truth? Does truth always have to be testable and verifiable or can sometimes 1 and 1 sometimes just equal 2 that is can it be self-evident as well?

"So, my challenge to you is to link some element of the Jesus story to reality through a credible chain of evidence that can stand up to scrutiny."

There have been plenty of others that have already been down this path and came away with the conclusion that yes this stuff is real. I mentioned a couple of examples; however, the scrutiny that you are seeking seems to be defined by men, which would make me wonder which men are acceptable? Was Newton or was he too far out of touch with modern physics? I certainly wouldn't want you to risk you immortal soul based on my poor skills at debating, arm-chair cosmology, and as you have said critical thinking. So what I suggest is that since you are truly a seeker of truth then be willing to not put your blinders on every time someone mentions something spiritual as an explanation and not give up just yet on your search.

Ultimately, and I mean this as no offense, just reality, I suspect that you are simply at a point I was at several years ago. Yeah - you've got me beat hands down on the cosmology - I just read the critiques on both sides and try to see who is being backed into a corner. I imagine you'll see this as some veiled attempt to relate to you and perhaps it is, but I think its just something I recognize in myself - ironically I've asked most of the same questions that are being asked here in this forum, but just arrived at a different conclusion from this crowd and you, but the difference was at a point of time in my life. What I have realized is that several years ago I would have been arguing along side you not against you.

You seem to be a seeker of "truth", but your truth is defined by what is testable and verifiable - at least I think that is your position. Quantum mechanics as you have maintained is testable and verifiable. I think you may be seeking to define more "how" we came to be. The "how" I think I would largely agree with you on and would probalby not dispute you on most points; however, what I don't understand is okay - something comes from nothing - err at the umm quantum level (sorry for the poor wording). Isn't that still something? I mean the process of something coming from nothing - is that not something?

Stated another way - so the universe may wrap around on itself - okay great, but where did the thing that wraps around on itself come from? Doesn't that bug you even in the slightest? The universe may be finite - okay so it is just there - isn't that not much better than the flat-earthers? I don't mean to insult here, I just don't get it.
The earth is flat and that's that.

Years ago I had lost faith and most of it was due to all the hogwash put forth by modern "Christian" rituals, traditions, dogma, pastors, priests, etc. Turns out most of it was lost in translation. So you might say in a way I am "ex-christian"; where the term christian describes self-righteous - fake - self serving forms of the religion called "christianity" - treating Yahweh as though He were some sort of cosmic ATM. Ultimately, I think the answers to some of the questions you have asked are better captured by what is left of the Hebrew and Greek texts that haven't been transmongrified by evil or careless men. I've been finding lots of holes in our English tranlations - I assume you have as well.

Amazing what modern tools can do for a little 12 year old who has never even kissed a girl and even a non-armchair cosmologist such as yourself. The point to all of this is I think most of your answers are in the more original forms of the text.

If you've already performed the above exercise, then I guess I'll need to pray for you to have a nice little dream of special significance just to you- I'll record it somewhere else so you can verify later if you have to.

webmdave said...

Shohn, the site wasn't shut down for an hour. I don't know what you're talking about.

Now, the forum section of the site had server troubles for 12 hours, but this part of the site blazed away without a hitch.

For those who want to believe, everything is a confirming sign.

Shohn, don't be stingy with your prayer. Beg your god to strike this site off the Internet forever!

While you're at it, ask him to kill all the porno sites, the racist sites, the false religions sites, the science sites, the heretical versions of Christianity sites, and every other site that contradicts your narrow opinion of reality.

Oh, and then, pray for all those returning from Iraq without limbs to miraculously grow new ones.

And, pray that all Muslims convert to your version of Christianity.

Then, go to the jungles of Africa and preach the Gospel to those who have never heard your wonderful message of salvation.

Then, give all you have to the poor, take up your cross, and follow your god.

Then, obey the commands of your god and give to all who ask. In fact, I'll ask you right now for $10.00. Shohn, for the sake of Jesus, and in obedience to his command to "Give to all who ask" I'm pleading with you to give me ten bucks.

Please.

Jim Arvo said...

Shohn,

I just noticed your comment from a week ago. I'll try to keep this short. I asked you to explain why the gospel accounts are "trustworthy", for if you rely on them as a source of information, you presumably some reason to believe they are accurate. You gave me a typical reply--you suggested that my "standards" are too high, and complained that I would likely toss out other ancient texts as well. In other words, you did not even attempt to answer my question, except perhaps to say that "others" have looked into it, and been convinced. I have looked at the arguments assembled by many "others", and I find them to be uniformly poor--most of them even laughable.

What would it take to demonstrate "trustworthiness"? There is no simple answer to that, as it would necessarily entail a complex web of evidence incorporating corroboration from other authors whose work must also be corroborated, etc. It also entails ruling out much simpler explanations. In my view, the gospel stories all admit infinitely simpler explanations than "the creator of the universe actually became human, performed miracles, died on a cross, and rose again, all as part of a pre-planned scheme for salvation". We have numerous other religions to observe, many incorporating the very same motifs, and we have ample evidence of such stories being borrowed or invented through midrashic interpolation. No fantastic explanation is necessary. And no compelling corroboration has been forthcoming. So, I ask again. Why should I consider the gospel accounts to be trustworthy?

I gave you a rather specific challenge: Pick some aspect of the Jesus story, and show me a credible chain of evidence that it is historical. You cannot simply pass this off by saying "others" have done this exercise. I have yet to see a single example of this, and I've read Christian literature extensively. If you actually try to do this, you may begin to see the point I'm trying to make. While it may strike you that there is an abundance of such evidence available, none of it connects back to historically verifiable/corroborated events. What we see is fictional characters attested by other fictional characters, all reported by believers whose stated purpose is to instill belief. There are no moorings to reality; at least none that I have been able to discern.

shohn said...

Jim,

First of all - I never mean to insult so if I come off that way, I apologize. I view this as us having a nice little conversation and I am definitely open to new information so please continue to dispense your best skeptical resources my way, but I prefer Internet sites - it saves a lot of time. That said, I've gone out and looked as many of the skeptics arguments and have found them more or less based on a poor understanding of the scriptures (not that I'm the expert) , in effect, reading the ol' KJ or whatever the most popular translation is lately and coming up with some argument based on an errant translation or lack of respect for historical context. To do this is just as silly as a Christian maintaining that the the dinosaurs never existed or were put on the Ark, etc.

One of my favorites is the Rabbits and the their cud argument - therefore the scriptures are wrong and are not the mighty inerrant word of Yahweh - nevermind that Rabbits lick their arse or something and reprocess their food after eating their own dung.

I do commend you for doing your homework more in depth than the folks described above.


Now this notion about God dying and becoming man - yes I'm well aware that there are plenty of other stories that are similar to this account, but if it were true, and there were a devil, then it would make sense for that devil to try to bring man down for whatever reason so I don't really have a problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is you simply dismissing an argument because it is not the simplest explanation. It sounds subjective and I think may be violating the rules of formal reasoning that you have been teaching me.

Ultimately the path I'm going to go for here is the ol' self-evident argument which you've probably heard about a thousand times, but I hope that it is at least a little bit different this time. This WILL take some time, but we can take it slow kind of like playing Civilization over email.

It is entirely possible that I'll never be able to "gain a foothold" with you, because we are now coming from mostly opposite points of view. My comment about the others have been down this path is that I'm trying to figure out what the difference between former atheits such a C.S. Lewis or a Lee Strobel going to prove this stuff wrong vs. a Jim Arvo or any other noted historians, lawyers, and other individuals from all walks of life. Is it that Jim Arvo is simply a better skeptic than those individuals, has a better reasoning unit in his head, or is equipped with better information perhaps?

Ultimately, I think it boils down to is that people often try to hold to whatever truth they want to believe. From your perspective, I suspect that you'd have to form a hypothesis to test both side of what your intuition tells you and you may have already done this so forgive me if you already have.

That means you'd have to do two things: set out to prove that God is dead and then set out to prove that He is alive. You'd have to test both to be truly fair I think.


Since we have different points of view what you find laughable is actually is kind of interesting.

Not your words I know, but just trying to paraphrase and summarize what I've come to understand of the ol' universe argument.

The universe and a gajillion galaxies and atoms with consciousness simply sprang from a random cosmic tremor and that can be likened to the "origin" of the earth being at the north pole - that is just a matter of implementation to me - it still doesn't answer where the earth came from though, which by the way we are Sooooo freaking lucky isn't made out of blue cheese. I suspect that was an inside joke of sorts.

"You cannot simply pass this off by saying "others" have done this exercise. I have yet to see a single example of this, and I've read Christian literature extensively."

My intent here was to not insult your intelligence. I know that you have done this, so I dismissed it as a conversation that would be fruitless with the assumption that you've already arrived at a conclusion here that is in alignment with your point of view - that is it must be testable and verifiable or there must be a solid historical chain of evidence to which I'd do the tired argument of bickering back and forth about John being the apostle and you'd come up with some other argument about why that wasn't the case because he wrote in 3rd person or there was no way he lived that long or something like that I imagine, and then I'd cite the mentions of James the brother of Jesus in the other accounts, and then I'd cite the "independent" historians who came about a ~100 years or so later who mentioned the martydom, and then you may come back with well they were too far after the fact - weren't eye witnesses, etc, and then I'd say something like which historical documents from that time period CAN we rely on then given that "legend making" was so common, and then I'd probably come back to why are you simply dismissing the gospel accounts, but not dismissing other ancient documents. I know you've been down this path Jim - I was trying to avoid all that because it would have been fruitless and again other have already been down that path and reached different conclusions from you - so what I was askins is - what is different for you? Is Jim simply smarter than the others - does he have more knowledge - was he raised in a different environment - what is it in Jim's neuropathways and connectors that allow him to form this conclusion and more importantly why are his neuropathways trying to test and verify the laws of the universe?
Would those same circuits allow him to "prove" that He loves his wife or kids- afterall love is nothing more than a chemical reaction that was evolved over a couple billion years or something with the express purpose of furthering Jim's genetic code.

Or I could just say "Poof - God did it" and be labeled narrowminded by some very angry ex-christians which in many people highly subjective opinion is the simplest answer.

Anyway, I know I got tangential, but since you are willing to take in new information - basically the "credible" chain of evidence started when I tried to "prove" the biblical accounts wrong because I told myself that this thing should be able to stand up to scrutiny if it is right. I was an auditor for 5 years so I'm not exactly new to being a skeptic, not that that helps you any.

Anyway - I think the easiest way to do this is for me to tell piece by piece where things started to add up and let you point out counter arguments as necessary, and hopefully one day we'll get to the bottom of this mess. At the minimum it should be interesting.

People should really start to use some kind short hand notation for all these arguments to save time. Let's start there instead, because the "historical credibility" game is a tired battle that is too subjective at this stage in the "chain of evidence".

Here is the first piece of your "credible" chain of evidence.

I happened upon some stuff from supposedly around 800-1000 AD that showed that the ol' Rabbis knew about the big bang theory close to a thousand years before we did. Something about a pellet as small as a mustard seed and that the universe was created in give or take 15 billion years. I can't remember where I found it, but I'm sure google can dig it up for you.

This was similar to that yaddayahweh.com site I found that you dismissed eons ago, ironically, it agreed with the some orthodox jewish commentary; however, in another argument you challenged someone with some orthodox jews, which makes me suspect that jewish commentary is being cherry picked no doubt like many of the arguments based on out of context bible quotes.

My approach was a bit different. I went out and started checking the guy's math and contacted several people to verify his accounting and translations and then did my own translations, downloaded the dead sea scrolls, etc. I solicited you to look at one very small piece of it, but I think I bungled the communication of what was needed so let's try it again.

Let's call it the

"Reconciling the Relativity Theory to the Genesis account by equating six days to 15 billion years when considering the Genesis account with the benefit of the the Hebrew words argument.

What are the counter arguments to this? Does the math add up or not?

webmdave said...

So, Shohn scoots out from under having read, or intending to read, any points of view in opposition to Christianity, unless it's on the Internet, because, I infer, quickly scanning through things on the Internet is quicker and easier.

Books are such a bother.

Hmm.

Then, Shohn holds up C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel has authoritative examples of atheists who became Christians and seems to hint that these two men (because they are published Christian authors, perhaps?) are better thinkers on this topic than Jim Arvo (or anyone else, one assumes -- again, because those tow are Christian authors?). I wonder if Shohn has actually read any of the books written by these two men. I sincerely doubt it.

Regardless, since Shohn prefers reading things on the Net, I challenge Shohn to read a few of the dozens of quick, easy, and convenient Internet articles reviewing Strobel's and Lewis' ideas:

Click here for Strobel

Click here for Lewis

Shohn, in case you are wondering, I've read all of C.S. Lewis' books -- every one. Strobel, I'll admit, puts me to sleep, so my reading of him is spotty.

Sorry for the interruption. You may now return to the regularly scheduled episode of "The Easter Bunny chokes on his cud."

shohn said...

Webmaster,

That's not quite what I said. I never used the word authoritive. I was merely asking the question - what is different here? Is it perhaps that Jim IS smarter and has more knowledge thus allowing his conclusion to be more correct because it is based on a wider pool of knowledge? I'm removing my faith hat temporarily, and then asking is it possible for Jim's conclusion to be made on a wider pool of knowledge, is he reading errant translations, does he lack understanding, or were we all wrong? Does Jim have all the correct information? Is that not fair to ask that?

I'm not afraid of books at all, but many of the arguments are fairly well summarized. What I have found is that each side of this great debate tends to leave out the counter arguments whether by accident or on purpose I'm not sure - so fundamentally - what is it that shapes the conclusion?

Honestly - I've never read a C.S. Lewis book. I just see the conclusion - atheist turned christian guy and wonder what happened, then in your example it was the opposite case - what was it that sent you in the other direction? Was it some particular text or translation that you found or just a feeling - a preconceived notion that you have since been trying to support.

Jim Arvo said...

Shohn,

I took no offense at anything you said; I'm not quite sure how you got that impression. I'm just trying to be direct and clear.

I can give a succinct reply to all this talk about me vs. whoever. I do not take anything on authority, as I think that's the surest way to propagate nonsense. I look at what is being said, and how the arguments stand up. While I do acknowledge that "credentials" and "reputation" are important, they are secondary; they are a shortcut, a way of prioritizing what to look at, and a means of tentatively ranking arguments. In the end, however, they are as inconsequential as the weave of one's suit. So, my position is that it is essentially a moot point. To drive this home, one need only recognize that virtually every idea has its brilliant advocates. Even if you were to defer to the judgment of a renowned expert, this is no help whatsoever, as you must now decide which expert to listen to. So, how can I go up against C. S. Lewis? The same way you go up against Robert Price or Richard Dawkins. Even the lofty make mistakes. Surely we can agree on that and put this issue to rest. (By the way, I omitted Strobel intentionally. His name was too incongruous in close proximity to the others I mentioned.)

From what you've written, it appears that your see Biblical criticism as consisting chiefly in finding contradictions or nonsensical statements (e.g. rabbits chewing their cud) in the Bible. I hope that is not the case. That would be rather like criticizing the theory of relativity by looking for typos in Einstein's 1905 paper. The criticism I'm talking about is vastly broader than that, encompassing the entire historical development of Christianity, detailed comparison with other religions, and examination of extrabiblical sources, as well as textual analysis. While I do agree that the Bible is brimming with primitive and outmoded ideas, to me this is not nearly so interesting or telling as the history of the religion as a whole, or how it stacks up against other religions. It also seems rather picayune compared to what we can learn about religious beliefs in general through the lens of science; e.g. sociology, neurology, and evolutionary psychology. To me, there is a dramatic conscillience (to borrow E. O. Wilson's term) of all lines of evidence, from vastly different fields, that all point to the same conclusion: religions and "inspired" holy texts spring from the imaginations of men.

You began to describe some line evidence that you found compelling; e.g. some very old text containing scientific insights that were far ahead of its time. However, from your description I have no way to critique the argument itself, as I have none of the details. I can tell you that I've looked into dozens of such claims, and not one has survived even rudimentary scrutiny. Perhaps the most universal error is in granting enormous leeway to the interpretation of words and phrases, with portions arbitrarily deemed metaphorical to suit the purposes of the believer. What is invariably left out is an analysis of what other conclusions one might draw from the SAME text, granting the SAME freedom of interpretation. It's the classic fallacy of special pleading; i.e. keeping the "positives" and ignoring the "negatives". I could go on and on about this. If you want to give me very specific details about the text you find so amazing, I'll gladly take a look. But I can virtually guarantee that it will entail a great deal of metaphorical interpretation, and turning a blind eye to those passages that don't quite fit. If I'm wrong about that, then produce the text. We'll see.

By the way, your story about the Mormons showing up on your doorstep was very funny. You see, that was god telling you not to dismiss those gold tablets quite yet.

webmdave said...

Shohn, I have read literally hundreds of apologetic books written in support of Christianity. And, I've only read dozens of books arguing against Christianity.

I had never read a single book critical of Christianity and written by an atheist author until I left Christianity. I left Christianity after really studying Christianity.

Perhaps settling for someone else's synopsis of a topic is not the wisest course of action. The wise person would actually study the subject him or herself.

Why did I leave Christianity? My testimony (it's not that long) is linked to every single page on this site. If you don't know why I left Christianity by now... well, it reveals something about your powers of observation.

Oh, and many (MANY) Christians consider C.S. Lewis to be heretical in his theology. He held to some fairly non-orthodox views, but since you have never read him, you would be ignorant of that.

Click the links I gave you. Educate yourself. Surely if what you are preaching is God's truth, it will stand up to honest scrutiny on your part.

Don't let fear, laziness, or apathy keep you from really understanding all sides of this issue. After you educate yourself, you may not change your mind, but at least you'd then be able to put on a more cogently interesting presentation of your position.

Think about it.

shohn said...

Webmaster,

I don't understand why you respond if you find this boring - I'm learning all kinds of new stuff from you guys though.


Jim,

Let's save some time - does the 6 days to 15 billions years math check out or not from a GR / SR perspective? I am making some assumptions that you've heard this argument regarding reconciling the 6 days to the estimated age of the universe before.

If not what parts aren't valid - what parts are?

Jim Arvo said...

Shohn: "...does the 6 days to 15 billions years math check out or not from a GR / SR perspective?"

I've seen numerous arguments along these lines, but it sounds like you have a specific one in mind. Details please. I cannot make specific comments until I know precisely the argument being made. One general comment: if "six days" is replaced by some other span of time, my first question will be "on what basis is that specific substitution made?" If a time span is chosen simply because it matches what we have learned through scientific means, then it's reading information into the Genesis account that was not there to begin with, and I regard it as nothing more than wordplay or wishful thinking. Same with any substitution. My question will be "what is the justification for that substitution?" The reason for this should be clear: If I am allowed to make arbitrary substitutions, then I can probably turn the Sunday comics into profound prophecies.

webmdave said...

You are right, Shohn. There is no point in my replying to anything you say. It is painfully obvious that you have no real desire to "learn" anything. Your transparent intention for posting here is for no other reason besides practicing a not-so-subtle form of preaching.

If you were sincerely interested in learning a damned thing, you'd read, read, read, instead of playing a childish game of question/answer ping-pong. You feign a desire for knowledge, but deep down you know you are only here in an attempt to peddle your religion.

Others on this site are more patient with disingenuous posters, like yourself, so I leave you to them.

shohn said...

Jim,

Okay glad I haven't been insulting you - I thought I was because of the tone in your notes - I get it now - you're just direct.

Any hoo, I can't seem to find that other site I mentioned previously - I'll keep looking, but this is one below is essentially the same, in fact, it is better. This site should provide some background behind what I'm asking and also has a link to the specific question once you have the background understood.
Missing Link

At the bottom of that site is a link to Doctor Shroder - whom I'm going to assume you've beat up on already, but I think the real question is whether Dr. Shroder's calculations are correct - that is he applying SR/GR correctly or it a stretch just to convince us arm-chair cosmologists? Is it plausible? Perhaps not perfect, but plausible?

I've read some accounts by non-believers that say the math is on with respect to GR/SR, but then there are some counter arguments that say that he used GR/SR inapproriately having something to do with his use of thermo. It has been about 6 or 7 years since I touched thermo so I'm going to rely on your super duper cosmological skills on that part. The specific part I'm after is the GR/SR calculations though.

Point source - beginning of time - all the mass of universe. Measuring time from the perspective of the point source with a reference to the time here on earth. Kind of like the classic explanation of relativity about a spaceship leaving earth at the speed of light coming back a short while later - meanwhile several thousand years have passed on our home planet.

If this same concept is applied from the perspective of an observer witnessing the big bang - would 6 days observer time correspond to what we would know as ~15 billion years?

Stated another way - if the entire mass of the universe is collapsed into a point source irregardless of whether my God created that point source or it showed up as a random cosmic fluctuation - do those calculations mostly align with GR/SR?

If not where are the holes? What parts are valid - what parts are not?hn

J. C. Samuelson said...

Shohn,

"Reconciling the Relativity Theory to the Genesis account by equating six days to 15 billion years when considering the Genesis account with the benefit of the the Hebrew words argument."

One can attempt such a reconciliation, of course. In my opinion, the evidence tends to argue against a favorable result (from your perspective). However, before getting into that (indeed, if it gets to that), it's worth mentioning that a huge leap must be made to go from a deistic creator god to a personal god.

I'd go into more detail, but at the moment I'm having to squint at the screen so I'm off to bed. Somebody wake me when things pick up.

shohn said...

Webmaster,

Umm, have I been being coy or something? Jim and I have been discussing foothold for quite few comments now.

I do have a secondary purpose and believe it or not it is more knowledge - strange as this may sound I figure what better ground to beat the tar out of some physics than here - atheists do have one thing - they seem to be somewhat unbiased in their science.

What I do find rather ironic and sad, is that an atheist, that is Jim, seems to have more knowledge of the scriptures than a thousand church goers.

Since you continually insult me, may I ask if you reviewed a single site I've posted?

I've looked at everything that has been thrown my way and offered my comments with the exception of your CS Lewis cites - sorry - frankly - I could care less about CS lewis at this point - he has no value to this discussion at where it is at. He had a story - he was atheist - something happened to him. If he disputed all of Christendom so be it I think most of em got it wrong after Polycarp anyway so I don't have a problem with that - he was probably onto something that wasn't warped by men and as usual got chastised by the political wing of christianity.

As best I can tell, you may have missed the entire point of my comment, regarding CS lewis though as evidenced by your posting of links.

webmdave said...

I also posted links to refutations of your beloved Lee Strobel.

He's a bit far removed from Polycarp, however. Of course, so are you.

So, could you also care less about ex-journalist Strobel?

Have you read a single book by Strobel? Or do you just like to name-drop authors you've never read?

Your comments are what leads me to believe you are disingenuous.

And thank you for confessing you have a hidden agenda.

shohn said...

J.C. Samuelson,

That's what I'm after man - balance - baby - yes that is it.

Something like this:

This argument states this, and has some validity; however, it worth noting that .....

The chief problem I see is scientists that are ill equipped with "understanding" of scriptural knowledge - what I mean is - I'm looking for making sure that an argument does not fail to consider ALL of the evidence for and against that particular argument, what I've found is that you really have to dig and dig and somewhere in the middle is something that is balanced - I think greater credibility is established if both sides are fairly presented.

For example, someone may say, well the earth was created in six days and that is that.... hold on man what about all those dinosaur bones... well God put them there to test your faith. Yeah I don't buy that.

Then on the other side atheist/agnostic it seems to be some variation of "that is just preposterous" or just a veiled insult of someone's character at times.

Wikipedia seems to do a fair job at this, but I don't think it has all of these arguments condensed into a list or something. There really should be some short hand notation for these arguments - a lot of brain cycles being wasted from the atheist perspective and a lot of soul saving opportunties being wasted from the theist perspective by having to restate each argument every single time.

webmdave said...

So, JC, are you saying that Shohn's point has some validity?

Is Shohn's creative re-phrasing of your comment an accurate representation of your thought?

Just wondering.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Shohn,

"This argument states this, and has some validity; however, it worth noting that ..... "

I only have a few minutes as I'm working on making breakfast for the young'un. However, this isn't an accurate restatement of what I said. So, to clear this up...

I said nothing about validity. My meaning was that yes, someone can attempt such a reconcilation of science with Genesis. A person can attempt anything he/she likes. However, I also said that I think the evidence is against the Christian that tries to do this. Furthermore, there is a huge leap to make from reconciling science with the idea of a disinterested creator god who caused the universe to be (little more than the prima mobile, or "prime mover"), to the kind of god that takes a personal interest in and/or influences its creation, particularly in the manner of the Christian God.

So, to sum up the basic idea: 1. You can try to align Genesis with science, but I think the evidence is against you; 2) Doing so does nothing to lend weight to an argument for the Christian God.

Going into detail, as I said, will have to wait. But hopefully this clears things up a bit.

Dave,

Wuz up wit dat, yo?

webmdave said...

Hey JC,

I gittin da big-daddy impression dat dude-o be phoney-baloney: learning notta, preaching lotta.

I'm out.

Jim Arvo said...

Shohn,

Here is a brief synopsis of the "calculation" you directed me to, which can be found here:

1 "divine day" = 1000 years, so
1 "divine year" = 365,000 years.
1 "cycle" = 7,000 "divine years", which is 2,555,000,000 years.
6 "cycles" = 15,330,000,000 years, which is roughly the estimated age of the universe, according to what is known today.

Now, please recall what I said earlier about arguments of this nature. I said that they usually make arbitrary substitutions, often by interpreting things metaphorically, and they overlook those bits that don't fit so well. I should have also mentioned that they occasionally take as literal what was meant metaphorically. So, here is what I see in the above line of reasoning:

1) Psalm 90:4, which is clearly metaphorical, is taken as a literal "equation": Thus, "A thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday," is taken to mean that "1 divine year = 1000 years". So the phrase "as yesterday" is taken to mean 24 hours. This may not seem like such a stretch, but one could have also argued (as is often done in these calculations) that a day really means a year, or that "as yesterday" means "since yesterday", which might have been eight hours, or ten hours, or twelve hours, etc. I'm sure there are also other verses that could have been mined from the Bible to argue for other lengths of time. Of course, the advocate will select from these a length of time that gives the desired result. (By the way, I thought god was supposed to be "timeless", so the very concept of a "divine year" seems peculiar to me.)

2) The phrase "Six thousand years shall the world exist, and one, it shall be desolate…" is interpreted to mean that a "cycle" is 7,000 years rather than 6,001 years. It seems the phrase could easily be interpreted the other way (at least, judging from the translation). I assert that the reason 7,000 was chosen is that it works, whereas 6,001 does not.

3) What happened to the "desolate" year (or thousand years)? I guess we'll just ignore that, as it doesn't seem to help the argument.

4) The argument concludes with "If we assume that the seventh cycle began with the Biblical account of creation,...". Why assume that? There is no justification given to use 6 rather than 7, or any other number. Here we have essentially an arbitrary fudge factor that could have been just about anything. If the value 3 worked, for example, rather than 6, I imagine the advocate of this argument would have pointed to the "trinity". If 7 gave the right answer, then that would have seemed natural. As is, it appears to be an arbitrary assumption thrown in to get the right answer.

5) It is stated that one "cycle" turns out to be approximately the time at which life arose on Earth. However, the best estimates today are about 3.8 billion years ago, not 2.5 billion years ago. Moreover, why was the origin of life chose? There are many other significant events that could have been chosen. No matter what a cycle turned out to be, we could find a significant event that was "close" to it, and thereby make it seem prophetic. (There are other examples of this arbitrariness too, such as the reference to the time at which "Homo sapiens became the only surviving hominids".)

Now, notice that I made reference several times to selecting numbers that give "the right answer". You might object that the original proponent of this argument didn't know what the right answer was, so he could not have fudged it; that is definitely the impression that the article attempts to leave the reader with. However, there are several levels of indirection and interpretation from the original argument to the current one. Why was the original argument not quoted precisely? I strongly suspect that it is because the numbers need to be fudged to get the "right answer". If I'm wrong about that, please show me where an ancient text states unequivocally that the universe is 15 billion years old. I'd wager you cannot for the simple reason that the calculation was never clearly articulated; it had to be pieced together in a very ad hoc fashion, complete with fudge factors.

There is one more thing I need to point out, lest you think I'm quibbling about small errors. If you follow what I'm saying, you will see that one can "justify" a large range of numbers, from perhaps the millions to a hundred billions of years. By creatively selecting and interpreting various phrases, one can produce just about any answer desired. It is primarily for this reason that I find nothing at all astonishing about such calculations. The one you pointed me to is no different.

Finally, I saw no reference to either special or general relativity in the article you pointed me to. But again, what I expect to see in such an argument is some "creative accounting" so as to get the numbers to come out right, even if what is being invoked is the Lorentz contraction rather than elementary arithmetic. It all comes down to figuring out how to justify the "right" numbers to plug in.

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