You have to decide!

From Randy M.

I was raised in the Catholic Church and I went through the motions as a child. In college, I studied science/engineering, and rejected Christianity & religion. Now, as 28 yr. old, my life was nearly destroyed by alcoholism and other addictions. I was led back to a belief in a Higher Power in recovery.

What do I believe now? I not only believe in God, but Christianity makes sense to me. Why do I believe in God? Look around you...where did you come from? Your parents...where did they come from? The cell...where did the cell come from? The universe...where did the universe, with its laws come from? There is only one logical answer: a supreme and intelligent being.

By the way, don't identify Christianity with Christians - identify it with Jesus. So the atrocities committed by Christians in the past and now is not a true reflection of Christianity.

Read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis for a reason-based explanation as to why Christianity makes sense. After reading that book, I've seen my religion with a new light.

Also, why does Christianity make sense and not other religions? Only Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, whereas other religions were led by humans. So Jesus was either a mad-man, the real Son of God...or a demon (paraphrasing Lewis). You have to decide who he was.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is another option...he never actually existed

Anonymous said...

If those are the only choices I have: mad-man it is. Cause there are no gods and no sons of gods, and no demons either. At least, I haven't seen any of them.

But I really have to agree with the other poster: he didn't exist.

Anonymous said...

I have a girl friend who lives in India. She is a Hindu, but she's more spiritual and not that religious. She tells me that when ever she feels down, she visits the temple of Hanuman (the Monkey God). And once she asks him for guidance, she immediately feels better. This instant comfort makes her to believe that somehow this God helps her. Now she does have her reservations about this system- but she claims that it works for her.

It's all in the mind. It has nothing to do with a real God up there.....

webmdave said...

"Only Jesus claimed to be the Son of God."

Actually, it's other people writing the gospel accounts that make Jesus a god. I don't recall this Jesus character writing anything.

There is always the possibility that those writers simply lied. The Book of Mormon is an example of that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

"There is only one possible answer..."

...For people who refuse to look any further.

No thank you, Randy. Christianity makes no sense to me, and I have no emotional interest whatsoever in Jesus.

And I'm really not impressed by your attempt to brush off centuries of atrocities and mind control with "not a true reflection of Christianity." IMO, if you choose to self-identify as a Christian you automatically inherit that dark and bloody heritage.

Nonetheless, I'm glad to hear that you dumped your earlier addictions. Unfortunate that you replaced them with another one.

Anonymous said...

What a sad story. Trapped again in the lies of religion. Yes, addiction is a problem, but there are other answers to it than religion.

Randy M. wonders where did the universe comes from. I wonder where his answer, the supreme and intelligent being, came from? It is the only logical answer only because he declares it so. It is no answer at all to anyone who really considers it, or to a scientific perspective.

Randy M. says to identify Christianity with Jesus. But there is no Jesus outside of the Scriptures, nothing at all in the historical record. And the Scriptures contradict themselves on what he is. So Randy M. identifies with nothing identifiable.

Not to mention that the authority of Christianity was given to the Church, not to any individual person, who is too subject to error.

As to Christianity making sense, it doesn't, and Randy M.'s assertion about only Jesus claiming to be the Son of God are wrong. There are probably hundreds of ancient religions with claims of Son of God.

What Jesus represents is the extension of the Passover myth, where the blood of the lamb absolves a people from sin. Except that the lamb really does die, whereas Jesus, however he suffers, didn't. It's a confusing myth, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Great, I'm supposed to care what an alcoholic thinks about religion?

You said it, your an addict and you can't live without your addiction. You just swapped one for the other.

Anonymous said...

Randy, there are several secular, non cult-like recovery programs out there.

Rational Recovery and S.O.S.are two that come to mind,..good luck!

Anonymous said...

"Only Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, whereas other religions were led by humans."

Gee, you're right. I mean, no one else claimed that. Except David Koresh (who claimed to be "the Son of God, the Lamb who could open the Seven seals"), Sun Myung Moon (who claims that he is "humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent"), Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda ("I am Jesus Christ Man ... the second coming of Christ.") These are people who (combined) actually managed to attract a few millions of followers and (in David Koresh's case) have people willing actually die for the false religion they taught.

PerryStL said...

Religious people love to attribute good things to their imaginary firends, but their "intelligent beings" never get the credit for the bad stuff.

Why did your imaginary friend invent addictions? And starvation? And cancer? And competing religions? And republicans? And herpes? And cold weather?

Anonymous said...

This has to be a parody--this post includes all the stock answers a xtian gives for their belief.

If it's not a parody, I feel very, very sorry for this person.

webmdave said...

Unfortunately, it's not a parody.

Roger O'Donnell said...

Mere Christianity is probably the last book I'd advise anyone to read if they wanted more than apologetics and piss poor scholarship.

However, one does what one does to get through one more day... the camel works for a lot of folks, so don't knock it.

For me, I'd say the 'higher power' is the person I could become. 12 step plans don't define who your higher power is... it's something to get you through today. If you like Jesus, then that's fine by me. Flying Spaghetti Monster... fine too. Mithras, Krishna, Osiris, Odin... all good stuff...

Anonymous said...

To believe in Jesus is to believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus claimed being God the Son and being one with the Father [God]. But the Father has been portrayed in the Bible as a genocidal maniac, a sadomasochist, a racist, an egotist, a hypocrite, a liar, a hooligan etc [any pejorative you wish to add]. To believe in the Trinity is to believe or say that the Trinity did everything God allegedly did, as narrated in the Bible. Just add the word "Trinity" after the term "God" whenever God appears in the text. One cannot have one's cake and eat it, too, if one believes in Jesus. In other words, Jesus was just as guilty as God, who must be considered as the biggest sinner, the biggest culprit of all.

Anonymous said...

You say "Your parents...where did they come from? The cell...where did the cell come from? The universe...where did the universe, with its laws come from? There is only one logical answer: a supreme and intelligent being."

Where did your supreme being come from then hmmm? And even if you can answer that, there have been thousands of supreme beings in human histroy. Pretty damn arrogant of you to think you have the one true supreme being whose ass you kiss. Grow a brain.

Farris said...

Randy M,
I would rather be a drunken athiest than a brainwashed Christian...at least when I wake up I'll be sober!

Anonymous said...

Jesus was an alcoholic wasn't he?
He turned water into wine, why didn't he turn water into lemonade?
Also he run a vineyard, called Blue Nunn wineries.

Anonymous said...

The first half of your story could mirror my life: I was born into a Catholic family (by my Confirmation was more of a Deist than anything, but...), am studying engineering and became an atheist.

Thankfully I am not addicted to anything, and as an atheist, the "addiction is a sin" line doesn't really mean anything to me so, what to do?
My reasons for being sober come mainly from this logic: As far as I can, I want to be free from the whole "coffee to wake up, smoking at the break, drinks to enjoy the night, rinse, repeat" cycle of life. But if you need a placebo to escape that, try not to become addicted to IT instead.

Anonymous said...

Religion in general and Christianity in particular are simply man-made remedies to man-made insecurities; any "warm and fuzzies" after praying to any variety of god are simply a very intricate placebo effect that your brain is humoring you with.

Anonymous said...

12-step Christan's are often thinking clearly for the first time in their adult lives. They go thru all they "where did I come from, why am I hear, what's the meaning of life" kinds of stuff everyone goes thru but they are only able to think that far because they have already put their faith in a higher power to even get to that point. This is the kind of stuff I hear from teenagers who convert at bible camp, not from mature critical thinkers. They are all impressed with CS Lewis too, often because it's assigned in youth group and is the only reading they have ever done outside the classroom.
By the way, we don't all have to make a choice. You made it because it offered you an out to the mess you made of your life. Some people go happily through life never having to deepened on the things you depend on.

Anonymous said...

Good job "Randy". All the stinking rotten bullcrap we've debunked a gazillion times already in the same posting.

Thanks for another bit of proof that we all were right in leaving your mind-corroding cult.

Fucking loser.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...maybe one of the big problems here is a sever lack of understanding of the language. The terms "god" or "gods" simply means "ruler", or in the plural, "rulers". God is not a name it is a title. So, Randy, you make the statement,"The universe where did it come from? Has it never occurred to you that the universe/multiverse is a living entity in it's own right? That it rules itself? That it is the only "omnipotent" or supreme and intelligent being that could conceivably be called 'god' in the way you and most every crispie uses the term?? And, how can you NOT identify xianity without identifying it with the crispies? Sorry, it doesn't work that way. As for the divinity of Jesus, if this particular one existed at all, that was a mantle bestowed by Constantine when he and the Council of Nice laid the ground work for this infernal religion....which by the way started by being the Catholic church.
The terms messiah (hebrew) or christos (greek) simple mean
'king'. Neither term has anything to do with any references to some man-god, or demi-god. If this person existed then he was a wise, and talented man...but still JUST a man.

I am glad that you kicked your habits...I'm sure that it has made marked improvements in your life.
I just find it a pity that you can't seem to just live happily and find reasons and strength within yourself to have kicked your addictions without having to have reverted back to religion. I've no qualms with SPIRITUALITY, which isn't the same thing as religion or being religious.A spiritual person is usually a logical and thinking person who seeks facts in order to get to truths. Great thinkers like Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Carl Sagan, Terry Pratchett, etc. Are very spiritual people, but NONE of them have, or had, any truck with religion. Like my call name implies....religion kills...physically and spiritually.

skeptic griggsy said...

The god notion is simply"hiding our ignoranace behind a theological fig leaf."Lewis was a shallow thinker.He thought that because atoms couldn't think, therefore because atoms compose us, only God could make our thoughts rational.That is the fallacy of composition- the whole in this case is different from the parts . Some Christians think that Yeshua was a son of God metaphorically like anyone else.He had a faulty ethic.Turning the other cheek is not necessarily turning from more violence but an inducement for more .He was a mere magician, a worker of psychosomatic cures if one can have trust at all in the accounts , which one cannot.The cosmos is just here for ever in one form or another. And through natural forces things come about .We do not need any mountain god to know that isostasy causes mountains. We don't need Thor to explain the weather. We don't need Yahweh to explain life forms . We use science, not the fig leaf, to explain.And the cosmos just is.It won't do as Sahakian alleges that we atheists commit the fallacy of multiple questions in asking about God what we ask of other beings as he question begs and special pleads for God to be an exception.Logic is the bane of theists.

Anonymous said...

OK, for the sake of argument, we can assume hypothethically that there is or was some kind of creative force that set the universe in motion and which even has/had some kind of intelligence and so, for want of a better word, we can call this thing "god." What no christian has ever explained to my satisfaction is how this "proves" that this god thing is the one depicted in the bible. A leap of faith is nothing more than jumping to insupportable conclusions.

Anonymous said...

translation:

I was raised in the catholic church but never really believed or analyzed any of what I was told.

In college I rejected what I never believed to begin with.

I failed at formal logic in college.
I was not required to take biology or life sciences.

Now, with little self-control or self-esteem left I discovered the glories of the christianity.

i no longer have to think, i no longer have to analyze, i no longer have to make hard decisions.

Everything is so easy! Black and white! yes or no! good or evil! Look around you! My crippled brain can think of no other possibilities! I have no post high school knowledge of biology, astrophysics or any other advanced disciplines in the sciences.

You know science/engineering you focus on very specific fields. the Chemistry of materials, electricity and circuit boards. Very small and very specific applications. Often the things I work with are very black and white, on or off, logical step by step progression.


But that's not the point! It is because this higher power helped worthless, helpless, pathetic me out of my addiction. It wasn't me, I'm useless and worthless. I wouldn't be able to drink myself out of a paper bag!
It was... God! and because I am no longer addicted, everything else in the bible MUST be true! TRUE!


And don't identify Christianity with Christians (they were all fake christians anyway). Identify it with Jesus. It doesn't matter that all those Christians performed dastardly deeds in blind faith under the thrall of Jesus. It doesn't matter, because I'm SPECIAL. GOD saved me after all! ...special.. so sssspecial... mmm

Anyway, yeah.. remember, Jesus doesn't put silly atrocious ideas in people's heads. People do! But remember, I don't need think for myself, Jesus puts ideas in my head. And of course, because it's ME, they are the RIGHT ideas! I'm always right because JESUS loves me!


For you doubters out there, read CS Lewis! It's the only book you need.. besides the bible that is.. which reminds me, I really should read it. No need to examine any other books or angles, I mean it's so simple, Mere christianity is all you need! Christianity may look small in comparison to the universe, but that's because it is! it's safe... and I'm SPECIAL. Jesus saved me from my pathetic loser self. I couldn't have done it myself. I couldn't. I just couldn't. They offered me the easy way out. All I had to do was believe.

But Jesus was sort of like a circuit. Open or closed. Mad-man or REAL son of god. It doesn't matter that there are many flunctuations in the voltages of a circuit, we engineers treat it as a discrete states. As long as there is enough power to drive it.. just like god. Enough people believe in black and white and it's true I tell you! TRUE. special..

So LOGICALLY, like a circuit, you can throw out the possibilities that Jesus suffered from delusions of grandeur, was schizophrenic, was a lying charlatan, etc.. don't even bother comparing him to Jim Jones of Jonestown who thought himself a god as well.. that's different..

anyway, so OBVIOUSLY there's no other alternative. You have to decide, and I'm telling you there are only two choices. This is a TRUE/FALSE test god damn you, not a multiple choice test! Not a math test with many solution, or a logic puzzle! So yes.. it's obvious!

Q.E.D

Anonymous said...

If? you ever get your head out of you ass watch out for the big "BOP"

jimearl said...

Randy, you don't give yourself credit for breaking the additions. And YOU are the only one that matters. YOU and YOU alone pulled that one off. I have a saying: I can do anything because I am the only one that can do it. No one else, living or non-living, can do it for me. You are the same so give yourself some credit man, you deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Randy, You give credit to your imaginary friend for stopping your addiction and no credit to self. I bet you I can guess who you will give credit to if you go back to the addiction. Its not your god. You will blame yourself. Can you see the contradiction here? What a double-bind mind bend. You are compartmentalizing your success and future failure. Why not blame your god for your failure?

muttmutt1978 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
muttmutt1978 said...

"By the way, don't identify Christianity with Christians" By your comment you have rejected your own bible, "by their fruits you shall know them" (quoted from the bible mind you, forgot the verse) , ive seen nothing but rotten fruits, and dismissing them as false christians, does NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT in any way change the fact that they called themselves christian, and represented thier faith, I grew up catholic, and i know far more than some upstart that thinks he/she has all the answers in the bible, for instance, the bible was written and dictatced by criminals, not people I would call moral or upstanding, and the idea that you have to be saved, from yourself, the self that God created, is a very repulsive one. I know that you mean well, But i also know that christianity, the religion and relationship, is for weak minded people and criminals that cant use the brains God gave them. thats why some of the greatest minds of all time were NEVER NEVER NEVER CHRISTIAN! Nor did they have a relationship with Jesus. Now you can go back to your Crusades, or Inquisition, or Holocaust, or Dark Ages, or Witchtrials, or whatever it is you christians do, Ill go back to being more moral than a christian will ever be. PS Im a Pagan because the Gods want me to be, who are you to question THE GODS AND GODDESSES?

myqel said...

Randy M.

You claimed that "Only Jesus claimed to be the Son of God ... "

Maybe you ought to brush up on your knowledge of other gods ...

This is a good start: http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/jesus_similar1.html

Dionysus was sometimes identified with the lamb; King of Kings; Only Begotten Son; Saviour

Horus was called: Resurrected One; 'Iusa', the 'ever-becoming son' of 'P'tah' or 'the Father'; 'the Way, the Truth and the Light'; 'Messiah'; 'Son of Man'; 'Son of God'; 'the Word'; 'the Word made Flesh'; 'Holy Child'; 'God’s Anointed Son'; 'Word of Truth'.

Mithras was known as: Saviour; Son of God; Redeemer; Lamb of God; the Way, the Truth and the Light; Messiah; Light of the World.

Attis Good Shepherd; the Most High God; Only Begotten Son; Saviour. He was both the Divine Son and the Father.

I am sure there are other "Son of Gods"

muttmutt1978 said...

Another thing, C.S. Lewis became christian because he was scared of death, he was an ignorant man that didnt know the history of his own religion, Maybe you should read one of my books instead: the Dark side of christian history, by helen Ellerbe, when religion becomes evil author unknown, and ten things i learned wrong from a conservative church by john killinger. The proof of christianity is in the history books, and a relationship with Jesus is STILL CHRISTIANITY, a follower of christ is still a christian, a child of God is still a christian, doesnt matter what new fangled words you Jesus freaks come up with, youre still a christian like it or not.

Anonymous said...

By the way, don't identify Christianity with Christians - identify it with Jesus. So the atrocities committed by Christians in the past and now is not a true reflection of Christianity.

I can see why you have to distance yourself yourself from your fellow believers. See below an example of the "ethics" generated by a hypothetical "if gawd told you to would you?" situation.

(from this site)


http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/2007/02/shocking-news-vox-day-is-amoral-jerk.html

Vox says:

If I am correct that my God is the Creator God, that we are all his creations, then killing every child under two on the planet is no more inherently significant than a programmer unilaterally wiping out his AI-bots in a game universe. He alone has the right to define right and wrong, and as the Biblical example of King Saul and the Amalekites demonstrates, He has occasionally deemed it a moral duty to wipe out a people.



See Randy, that's because Christian morality is based on a fear/reward system. At least in argumentation, if not practice, it is self-centered. It is not based on feelings of compassion, sympathy or empathy.

It is a pathetic morality.

Anonymous said...

God bless you Randy, continue to share the good news of life that is found in Jesus.

I am encouraged by all the rebuttals to Randy's post because if nothing else, it shows that life is important to most of you and there is a fire inside that is looking for answers, and willing to engage ideas.

Here is where I stand, I believe that the bible is the word of the God who created the universe and that salvation(eternal life in heaven) can only be attained by having faith in the substitutionary death of His Son Jesus Christ.

This belief system comes with some consequences, such as; If any other God of any other religious system is true, I will not be partaking in their version of heaven.

Also, if there is no God, I along with everyone else will end up as dirt, and my faith is in vain.

These are my perverbial "cards on the table." Are you willing to state what the consequences are if you are wrong?

Everyone has a world view, what separates Jesus from every other worldview is that He rose from the dead, every other propagator of every other worldview has died.

The bible and the Christian faith lend itself to criticism (which it should be criticised)because there is nothing to hide, since it's inception people have tried to stamp out this faith with no avail.

I hope we can have an honest dialogue without hostility. For what gain is there by incessant name calling or unneccessary rhetoric.

In His service,
Kevin

Anonymous said...

Kevin espoused:
"This belief system comes with some consequences, such as; If any other God of any other religious system is true, I will not be partaking in their version of heaven.

Also, if there is no God, I along with everyone else will end up as dirt, and my faith is in vain. "


There are some finer points of the consequences I believe you are neglecting in your statement.

For if another religious belief system is correct (which has about the same miniscule chance that your current one is), then not only may you suffer endlessly and horribly in their non-heaven, but you may suffer in their heaven as well if their "heaven" does not hook up with your own developed values. Depending on the other belief system, you the end may be the same for all, or you may be separated from those who believe and those who don't. In the end your entire worldview will be turned on its head and that may be the greatest suffering of all.. that is if you still believe you can suffer post mortem.

On the other hand, if there is no god and you end up as food for the worms, not only have you wasted your life and possibly inflicted undue suffering and mental dysfunction on yourself, but also on your children, your friends, your families, or other societies. You have unwillingly (or willingly) and blindly perpetuated a lie that divides lovers, ruins families and has been the source of much suffering and death in this world. And all for a god that never existed.


What I don't understand what sort of concept the religious have of their so-called heaven. What do they intend to do there? by all accounts it sounds more like drugged nirvana in which everyone continues to exist in a cult-like euphoric and drug induced haze. A nearly pointless existence to be sure. One in which you forget pain and suffering.. but then how do you know how much joy and ectasy you are experiencing.

How about those who are interested in learning and furthering/developing their minds? Perhaps the mind is not needed in heaven. Or is it proposed that you will instantly know all and everything there is to know? And how pointless is that? Where is the challenge, the sense of accomplishment? What is the point of contiuation if there is no more to explore, to investigate, to learn? Or is it a world of four score virgins in you live on in mind numbing ectasy in which you can no longer distinguish between one orgasm and the next? Pointless to be sure.

What. Is. The. Point. Of. Heaven.

..is it only an excuse to escape from hell where you might actually feel something?

and how does one feel anything without a body to go with the brain.

pointless

pointless

pointless

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

You stated that if there is no god then I am possibly inflicting undued harm and suffering on myself and others.

I would disagree that I am harming my family, however I will use your argument to make a point.

By saying that I am causing harm you are making a moral judgement. You have a standard in your worldview of what harm is and is'nt. Without a moral absolute, your view of morality carries no more weight than mine or any other persons. This goes as far as you want to take it. You can't make any judgement's about murder, genocide, rape, child abuse or any other atrocity because morality would be relative to the individual.

There is definitely a black eye on the church because of the events that took place during the dark ages. But you cannot overlook the millions of people who have been killed in the name of atheism. See Karl Marx.

There have been some on this post who say you can't separate atrocities committed in the name of the church from the person of Jesus. I would disagree, those acts do not reflect the person of Jesus, just as the heinous crimes of Marx do not reflect on all who call themselves atheists.

I believe there is a moral absolute. Jesus claimed to "be the truth" not just to know the truth.

In His service
Kevin

Jim Arvo said...

Hello Kevin,

I think the anonymous post above was an excellent reply to yours (I agree with it completely), however let me say this about your statement:

"This belief system comes with some consequences, such as; If any other God of any other religious system is true, I will not be partaking in their version of heaven."

In that statement you accomplished something that precious few believers visiting this site have done: you actually acknowledged that there are OTHER religions with OTHER requirements for "salvation", and that it is possible (even if remotely) that they are correct and you are not. Well done on that. Usually it takes a volley of increasingly pointed posts to even get the visitor to admit that much.

You also began your statement of faith with "I believe...," which is refreshing as it acknowledges that we are discussing beliefs here, and not offering up absolute truth. Good again.

You then asked "Are you willing to state what the consequences are if you are wrong?"

By that do you mean what if Christianity as you perceive it is actually correct? (There are many many ways in which I could be wrong, so I'm making an assumption here given that you proclaim to be a Christian.) That's a very easy question, Kevin. If the major tenets of Christianity (according to most Christians) are correct, then one obvious consequence is that I will be doomed to Hell when I die, as I do not believe that Jesus was divine (in fact, I think it doubtful that he even existed), I view Yahweh as a horrendous make-believe Bronze-age war god, and I've blasphemed the silly notion of a Holy Spirit no fewer than 327,142 times... Um, make that 327,143 times. Is that a satisfactory answer to you? If not, I'll gladly provide more detail.

Now it's your turn. What if you are wrong about Islam, Kevin? What would be the consequences of that error? (You can include all of us in that as well, if you like.)

Kevin: "Everyone has a world view, what separates Jesus from every other worldview is that He rose from the dead, every other propagator of every other worldview has died."

Oh dear. Where to start. First, what makes you think Jesus rose from the dead? Seriously. I would like to hear a nutshell summary of why you believe that. Second, have you never heard of Attis, Adonis, Osiris, and Mithra? There are "resurrection" myths surrounding all of those ancient god-men (and many more) as well. In fact, being born of a human-divine union (e.g. "virgin" birth), and rising again after death were very popular motifs long before the advent of Christianity. Rising on the third day was even a common twist, as was being "the light" or "the word" or even "the lamb".

More on that later if you're willing to go there. That's all for now.

In the service of reason,
Jim

Jim Arvo said...

Kevin: "By saying that I am causing harm you are making a moral judgement. You have a standard in your worldview of what harm is and is'nt. Without a moral absolute, your view of morality carries no more weight than mine or any other persons."

No, I disagree most vehemently. This is an argument put forth continually by believers, and it's based on two faulty premises. Those premises are:

1) That in the absence of an "absolute" morality handed down from god, our moral judgments are nothing more than personal opinion, and

2) That believers are in possession of an "absolute" morality.

I'll deal with #1 first. The fallacy here is a false dichotomy; the assumption that morality is either written by god, or anchored in nothing but personal experience or whim. The truth is almost assuredly neither of these: our moral judgments are anchored quite firmly in our biology and our evolutionary history. Our species has been spectacularly successful by cooperating in hunting and child rearing. We abhor murder, show indignance toward theft and treachery, and are disgusted by incest. We show great empathy toward our kin and immediate community (yet have inherent distrust of strangers). These traits helped our ancestors to maintain communities and to reap the enormous ensuing benefits. This is the bedrock of morality.

On top of this substrate are social customs that have slowly been shaped and improved by intellectual means. Every nation has complex laws and a system of punishment that has been built up over many generations. We teach our children how to behave in ways that are more "refined" than our base instincts mandate, but the bedrock is still there, and still serves a vital role in sparking indignation.

As for #2, I claim that you have nothing even approaching an absolute moral code. If you point to the Decalogue, I will ask how you interpret even the most clear of the commandments: Do not kill. Does that mean to NEVER kill, or to only kill under certain extreme circumstances? What if someone is about to murder your child, and your only way to prevent it is to use lethal force? Do you think it's okay then? What if you must lie to prevent a rape or a murder? You see, courts all over the world are kept busy day and night making decisions about whether acts are justified or not. Why not step in with your "absolute" moral code and make everybody's job easier? Answer: you have no such code. You are in no better position than anybody else when it comes to difficult tradeoffs and tricky moral judgments.

Kevin: "You can't make any judgement's about murder, genocide, rape, child abuse or any other atrocity because morality would be relative to the individual."

Absolutely false! We can all make strong judgments about murder, rape, and child abuse without ANY reference to an invisible law giver, because we are humans with brains that are strongly wired for social behavior. Aside from the occasional sociopath, we can all strongly condemn murder. We all love our children and wish to protect them; woe to the intruder who would dare harm our children!

In summary, I see absolutely nothing to support your assertion that morality comes from god, yet many well-grounded reasons to suppose that it is rooted in our own biology.

Your turn.

In the service of reason,
Jim

Anonymous said...

Kevin wrote:

Are you willing to state what the consequences are if you are wrong?

If you're right and we're wrong then the universe truly is a dismal place, since man was created by a "loving" supreme being to go straight to hell, unless "saved" by one specific religious belief out of many.

Without a moral absolute, your view of morality carries no more weight than mine or any other persons.

You can't make any judgement's about murder, genocide, rape, child abuse or any other atrocity because morality would be relative to the individual.

We live in these things called societies, where we have developed laws (moral absolutes, if you will,) prohibiting behavior such as murder or child abuse. These laws have evolved over time, usually through rational deliberation, and are not specific to any particular religion.

Anonymous said...

Jim Arvo: Excellent post!

Kevin said: "These are my perverbial 'cards on the table.' Are you willing to state what the consequences are if you are wrong?"

Okay, here goes: If I'm wrong, the consequences are a smorgasbord! If the Christians are right, I'll go to biblical hell, If the Muslims are right, I'll go to koranic hell, If the Buddhists and Hindus are right, I'll be reincarnated, if the Pagans are right, we'll all go to the same afterlife (it's a nice place called Summerland.) If the atheists are right, I'll just be dead. And that's just for starters!

How's that?

Incidentally, all told, my chances of being reincarnated are probably the best.

Jamie said...

Some general ramblings inspired by these posts...

If the Seventh-day Adventists are right, you'll just be dead as well...no everlasting hellfire belief in the Adventist church (Thank God I was spared THAT particular belief being drilled into me before I was old enough to think!)

Someone mentioned other "sons of god". One important one in Christian history is Caesar. According to Marcus Borg, author of "Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary", Caesar was considered to be a "Son of God" (I think of Apollo, but I'd have to go look it up). By referring to Jesus as "Son of God" early christians were being subversive to Roman rule.

Reading Borg, I was struck for the first time with the idea that maybe Jesus simply didn't claim to be God, and therefore wasn't either a lunatic or liar, if he wasn't divine.

I don't have a problem with the existence of Jesus. There is enough evidence for me that he existed. However, I don't find that there is enough evidence to take the gospels as factual.

Maybe I'll change my mind on this while in the process of deconverting, though (if that is indeed what is happening to me).

I'm part of a 12 step group...higher power can be anything. To some, the group itself becomes the higher power that helps them kick an addiction.

Finally, I'm not sure what I believe about God. Does that make me agnostic? I don't know. I was Christian and maybe I still am...but if I am, it means something different than swallowing the party line. If I seek deep inside, I find I believe in God, though I acknowledge that my belief doesn't make Him real if He isn't. Other than that deep-seated belief, and some meditation and prayer, I've got nothin' I figure it will all work itself out in time...

Anonymous said...

I believe that Christianity is an addiction. People need to believe in something other than themselves sometimes in order to feel better. For some, this something can be love or religion, but for others maybe with a little less psychological control this something needs to have a more direct effect on the chemicals controlling our bodies (i.e. alcohol or drugs). Most religion is harmless, since people rarely take it to extreme levels. However, for people prone to certain psychological problems like schizoid or obsessive compulsive personality disorders, religion can become a destructive medium. This is what happened to me.

Jim Arvo said...

Hi Jamie,

Back in the first century, "Anybody who was anybody" had to have been born of a human-divine union. That included Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Alexander the Great, Hercules, and Plato. To get any attention at all, your father had to be some kind of deity. Is it any surprise that Jesus was (retroactively) given a divine father? Not in the least. By the way, the fact that the virgin birth rendered Jesus' lineage from David moot is a telltale sign that the idea was grafted on much later, to keep up with the Jones'.

By the way, I like that your are thinking things through and not committing to any particular belief currently. Have some fun with that. Read, ponder, and read some more. I agree that it will probably sort itself out at some point. I suggest you not worry about giving yourself any label until/unless you really want one. Labels aren't necessary.

Kyan said...

Just because *you* cannot understand natural selection doesn't mean we can't.

Your lack of imagination doesn't prove the existence of god.

Anonymous said...

If I am wrong then the universe is ruled by an evil, sadistic monster and we are all (including the christians) doomed.

Anonymous said...

kevin claims, "I would disagree that I am harming my family.."

well, of course, I would expect anyone to disagree. Impersonal, unbiased views are very hard to come by from the inside. In any case, I was thinking more of other more noteworthy examples that abound forums like exchristian.net, exmormon, exscientology, ex-what have you. Many, many lives and families torn apart due to a combination of delusional thinking, religion and family dysfunction often stemming from religious or superstitious beliefs.

"By saying that I am causing harm you are making a moral judgement. You have a standard in your worldview of what harm is and is'nt. Without a moral absolute, your view of morality carries no more weight than mine or any other persons. This goes as far as you want to take it. You can't make any judgement's about murder, genocide, rape, child abuse or any other atrocity because morality would be relative to the individual.

Ah, and that is where I think you fail to understand the purpose of morality and where it comes from.

Morality is not relative to an individual, it is relative to a society. Yes, my morality carries no more weight than yours and vice versa, but if let's say you and your 2 friends all had the same moral values, then I would be at a disadvantage in the comparison would i not?

When you claim morality is only relative to an individual, that only flies if that individual lived in an isolated bubble world. Then yes, their morality is subject to their whim. But then the point is also moot, as issues I would assume you would claim as "absolute morality" such as murder, theft or rape would not apply to an individual with no one else to interact with.

You seem to imply that "absolute morality" brooks no dissent, needs no discussion and is always correct for each and every case. However, I have yet to see listed anywhere a guide to morality for each and every case in which you plug in your situation and out pops the answer. Is not even your source of "absolute morality" not subject to dissent and differing views by differing people? Some may claim homosexuality is immoral, others claim that polygamy is not immoral. In what way are your supposed "morals" absolute?
And in what way are they not individualized by the people who receive them.

In the end, your morals are dictated by your particular church, priest or religious leader. Once adopted by the majority of a group, dissenting opinions are often ruthlessly silenced, especially by those who believe they have god-given "absolute morals" that brook no dissent.

Yet, how do morals arise. You claim from some silly book written by primitive man. And you descry the relativity and whimsical nature of "individual morals", incorrectly assuming that a system of moral beliefs stems purely from within.

So let us assume a world with no bible, and no god, in which morals run amuck. Or even, god-forbid, everyone is their own boss with no morals at all as many would claim.

Because of that you assume that you can do whatever you want, so you start stealing other people's belongings. And other people start stealing your belongings as well, but maybe you don't care because you think everyone can do what they want?

Well, there's a group of 5 people and they're pretty fed up with having their stuff stolen. Now that's a purely selfish desire-not wanting their possessions stolen, but they have a pretty good plan, they'll watch the other 4 people's belongings if each of them will do the same for the others. Thus each persons' vested interest in preserving their own belongings dictates that they must reciprocate and watch out for the others.

They are now fairly protected from thieving persons like yourself who think they can steal. 1 of you versus 5 of them? I don't think so. Let's say you band up with other thieves to take on this larger group.. oops! they all think it's okay to steal as well and you all end up stealing from each other. doh!

Now the small band of 4 has gotten larger, as more and more people notice that the group is not getting their stuff stolen by basically "scratching" each others' backsides.

Reaching a sizeable group of 100, by now there are pretty well protected from outside theft. But wait, you've got an idea! Why don't you infiltrate the group, _pretend_ to reciprocate... oh good idea!

You join the group, and before long are back to your thieving ways. Unfortunately, those 100 pairs of eyes are pretty watchful and you are caught. They have rules now for people who break betray the trust of reciprocation though. In the old days they would cut off your hand. But in these enlightened days, they put you in a newly constructed "jail" so they can keep an eye on you. Maybe even hope you will reform and learn to behave according to the rules of selfish reciprocation. Maybe even learn that in their group, you would be protected by not having your own belongings stolen by someone more clever than you?

This "moral majority" would then perhaps arrive at a beneficial societal rule, "Do not steal from others"?


Think about rape. As we all know that without laws and morals men would be on the rampage, raping anything that moves, their brains interrupted every 8 seconds by the thoughts of sex.

Would you rape your mom? or your sister? the ones who loved and took care of you when you were growing up? Would you want them to be raped by someone else? Assuming you would not, what can you do to protect them from other rapists out there? Banding together would be a good idea, perhaps a group of women who dislike being raped, and the brothers, fathers and sons who do not wish to see their family raped as well. This structure of course will fall apart if the men within the group choose to rape other females in the group without compunction and become self-defeating (no group, no protection for your family). Therefore rules would need to be established, something along the lines of "Men shall not rape any female within our group".

Well, that's all and good, but what about outsiders to the group? Groups who may attempt to raid and rape and pillage your own group? There's no reason to keep from raping their women is there?

See that much in the bible..?

However, many animals on this planet have developed empathy for pain and suffering of others. Perhaps as you are watching your friend rape a girl who could have been the same age as your sister, you not only feel her pain but the potential suffering of her and her family.

What are you morals? Do you choose to not do harm to someone in your own group (your friend), or do you choose to help out the girl your friend is raping? Primitive man most likely had to make the same moral decisions we face today.

Do morals shift through time? Of course they do. Morals are shackled upon humanity by their own society, by their desire to live without worrying about those that would do them harm, and to control and punish those who do not "play along".

Why do you think morals differ across different societies? Even christian or religious ones? Because it is the society that developed those morals.

Really, sad landlocked americans should get out more to other countries, live there a while and learn exactly how "absolute" morals in life are.

Anonymous said...

Randy
Miracles are witnessed by all faiths and no faiths. People have had their lives turned around by religion, by abandoning religion, by AA , by sports by the military by getting a job by getting married etc. Having a purpose to living does not require a God.

Anonymous said...

Jim Arvo,

I respect your willingness to have a respectful dialogue. There are many post's I would love to respond to but for now I am only responding to yours in order to be examine some issues closely.

In response to your question about the Koran; if Allah of the Koran is the real God, I will be in eternal torment no doubt about it.

In regard to your comment about competing belief systems that have similarities with Jesus Divinity and the resurrection. The mere existence of an alternate theory does not validate said theory. Look at any previous culture in which there was a committed religous system such as the Egyptians with their many gods, or the Greeks with their many gods. It is safe to say they were false because they have gone away. There is only sense in believing something if it is relevant. These systems are no longer relevant. Same as the other gods you compared to Jesus, the fact that they have gone away shows they are inferior. This in itself does not validate Jesus, it is just one of many concepts to consider when honestly analyzing what you believe.

What makes me think Jesus rose from the dead? This event occurred 2,ooo years ago. Let's look at what history says. First of all, if you apply the standards of analyzing ancients text; Earliest manuscripts available, time between event and earliest writings, and number of manuscripts, no other writing comes even close to the reliability of the New Testament.
You cannot simply rule out the New Testament because it makes a claim, you have to weigh that with the other evidence. For example if there were many reliable stories about Jesus being a myth, or him never existing than there would be serious doubt about whether he did. But since history unequivocally accounts for his existence, it has to be taken seriously.

The resurrection:
Jesus was executed publicly, and the Romans were notorious for being a well trained, disciplined army. It cannot be assumed that the body was misplaced or lost. So what happened to the body? There are 3 groups involved: Romans, Jewish leaders, and followers of Jesus. The Roman guards would not have allowed the body to be stolen because it would cost them their lives, if the Jewish leaders knew where the body was they would have easily stopped this new movement by producing the body. It doesn't make sense for Jesus followers to have taken it because they would be dying for something they absolutely knew wasn't true. Only the resurrection seems to make sense especially in light of the fact that the disciples had given up after Jesus' death. They had no motivation for starting a movement because they considered their movement to be over. They simply chalked Jesus up with every person who claimed to be the One.

You also have to account for the spread of Christianity, any objective look at the odds for the survival of this movement would be dismal. How did this belief survive the persecution of Nero and Dometion, the Christians had no power, they had no influence, their choice was either renounce their belief or be burned alive or fed to lions. Honestly look at this and say that these people were willing to undergo such torture for something they knew to be false, the disciples were able to endure this because they KNEW that Jesus was reason.

The obvious rebuttal is to say that there are many people who die for what they believe. This is true, however, show me someone who is willing to die for something they know is a lie. Then show me how that lie radically transforms the history of man.


In His service,
Kevin

Roger O'Donnell said...

Fer crying out loud... the Guy is SICK. Addiction is an illness. It's a mental and physical illness. Don't care if it's crack or nicotine... it's still the same.

Dislike Christians all you like, but I'd sooner live with one than a nasty drunk or a junkie. Most Christians DON'T kill you, or try to rape you, or try to beat you up. Vast majority just get on with their lives.

Now, Kevin is pretty open that it's HIS truth. This is what gets him through one more day without snorting something, or polishing of a bottle of purple meths before lunch.

It's easy to belittle the prosletysing of the mind fucked, but here, Kevin doesn't say it's anything other than it is always is; a crutch or a plaster or a calliper. It's a point of view that I can understand, but that very few believers are willing to admit; they need something bigger because they're fucked up. Well, Kevin knows he's fucked up and that's it.

Calling him a loser is just offensive. Rather like calling people in wheel chairs 'Gimp' or 'Crip'. Shall we start going for race next? Nigger, Spick, Yid, Wop, Greaser, Loser...

Addiction, you howling bunch of loud mouthed know nothings, is NOT a choice. How one finds the strength to pull oneself out of the hole is down to the addict. No one can help then until they want to be help. If Kevin uses Jesus, that fine. Anyone here want to be responsible for him crawling back in the bottle by taking that away? If so, you take him in if he falls off the wagon. See whether a nasty drnk or a junkie is easier to live with than a Jesus Freak

There are times I just despair of the whole human fucking race... muppets.

Grandpa

Anonymous said...

Does it make sense to renounce believe in god? In my humble opinion it does not. By believing, you lose nothing. You can keep all of your physical possessions and everything you hold dear. If there is a god, you have a shot at eternal life. If not, you have forgone nothing. All you must do is remember that there is a god and that he loves each and every one of you. Also, if you choose not to believe ideally god will forgive you for denying him and allow you into heaven anyway. My personal experience is that due to a great loss in my life i ran from god. I denied him. Every time someone said "the power of Christ compels you" I laughed uncontrollably. As it turned out, the power of Christ did just that - it compelled me. I was driven to the brink of insanity by a force which I never felt before in my life. It was holding me hostage. I couldn't think about anything except my inevitable doom. I tried and failed to run from God. Sooner or later he will catch up to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Does it make sense to renounce believe in god? In my humble opinion it does not. By believing, you lose nothing. You can keep all of your physical possessions and everything you hold dear. If there is a god, you have a shot at eternal life. If not, you have forgone nothing. All you must do is remember that there is a god and that he loves each and every one of you. Also, if you choose not to believe ideally god will forgive you for denying him and allow you into heaven anyway. My personal experience is that due to a great loss in my life i ran from god. I denied him. Every time someone said "the power of Christ compels you" I laughed uncontrollably. As it turned out, the power of Christ did just that - it compelled me. I was driven to the brink of insanity by a force which I never felt before in my life. It was holding me hostage. I couldn't think about anything except my inevitable doom. I tried and failed to run from God. Sooner or later he will catch up to all of you.

Astreja said...

Dog said: "Does it make sense to renounce believe in god? By believing, you lose nothing."

Wrong on two counts. One: I cannot "renounce belief" in something that I never believed. Two: I stand to lose confidence in my rational mind, which IMO is a must-have if one wants to survive in this world.

"If there is a god, you have a shot at eternal life."

Not a selling point for me. I'm not interested in living forever.

"I was driven to the brink of insanity by a force which I never felt before in my life."

Possibly a panic attack. Did you consult with any doctors or psychiatrists at the time, or did you just assume it was something magical/spiritual?

"It was holding me hostage. I couldn't think about anything except my inevitable doom."

Sounds suspiciously like obsessive-compulsive disorder. But if it actually was some sort of supernatural being, its methods leave a lot to be desired. How can someone have a decent relationship with an entity that uses fear and compulsion to coerce would-be worshippers?

Diogenes said...

According to my boyhood pal who is now an archbishop in the Catholic Church, Jesus is quoted often as saying "I am the son of man" never the son of God.
The original poster claims to be trained in science. Science is derived from the Greek verb "to know"; knowledge is categorically different from belief, in that knowledge can be proven. Belief may or may not be proven; in these modern times, it is article of faith.

Dan ( Rationalist) said...

Kevin wrote:
"The obvious rebuttal is to say that there are many people who die for what they believe. This is true, however, show me someone who is willing to die for something they know is a lie. Then show me how that lie radically transforms the history of man.
In His service,
Kevin "

Dan observes;
We now know that the bible is full of contradictions, absurd, incredulous, stories, terrible behavior by "Bible God," and a lot of just plain wrong stuff.

So in reality, many people died for a belief in a lot of silly stuff, just like the 19 true believers who flew the planes into the twin towers.

Some of the suicide bombers in the Middle East are not hard-core believers in Islam. They are kidnapped and told that if they don't do it, their familles will be killed. So in essence they do it for their familles, but at the same time they are helping the Islamoterrioist cause. They are "transforming the history of man"

When the Pope ordered the "Crusades," and they started torturing millions of people, by lighting fires under their feet, and pulling their guts out to make them confess that they were heretics, the good Christians who were the enforcers of this edict, probably thought they were doing Gods work "In the service of Him" so to speak. They transformed the history of man.

When the American Evangelicals, got George elected, they believed they were being good Christians. They transformed the history of man. Radically!

All of the money we have spent trying to make "Democratic Christians" out of the Muslims would have paid for college eductions for any American who wanted one, not to mention health care. Our Born Again President is radically transforming the history of the world!

What I'm getting at is, yes, belief in supernatural stuff does transform the history of the world, but IT HAS TO STOP!

Dan (I'm in his service and more moral than you!)

Tanya said...

Dan,

There is a major difference between someone who is willing to die for what he believes and someone who is willing to kill for what he believes. The examples you gave were for the latter. The apostles however were willing to die for the faith because they knew that Jesus had risen from the dead.
I Peter 1:16 says "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty"

They were eyewitnesses of the resurrection, this and only this explains how they were able to spread their faith.

Diogenes,

There are many passages that refer to Jesus as the Son of God. Such as Mat 4:3,6 Mat 8:29, Mat 14:33, John 3:16, and so on. One of the most compelling verses is Mat 16:13-17. This exchange between Jesus and Peter, clearly shows Jesus' approval of himself being the Son of God. In referring to himself as the son of man Jesus is affirming the doctrine of being fully God and fully man.

In Mark 14:64 and John 10:33 Jesus claims to be God. The high priest had no doubt as to what Jesus was claiming which is why they charged him with blasphemy, the charge that led to his crucifiction.

In summary,

Jesus claimed to be "The way the truth and the life," He claimed to be God, for this he was killed, which led to his followers abandoning him. His resurrection validated his claims. This is the only reason his followers would have resumed the cause, and the only explanation for the spread of Christianity under impossible odds.

In His service,
Kevin

Spirula said...

You can keep all of your physical possessions and everything you hold dear.

Sure. Especially if you ignore the bible itself (e.g. Matt. 19:29).

That is a pretty pathetic and insincere "faith" you're advocating there. I'm sure gawd won't notice how you are just hedging your bet and will give you that eternal reward.

(BTW, it's called Pascal's Wager. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. We'd never have thought of that.)

Jamie said...

Belief may or may not be proven

Well...technically if a belief is proven, it ceases to be a belief and becomes knowledge.

This is the only reason his followers would have resumed the cause, and the only explanation for the spread of Christianity under impossible odds

It's not the only reason but it could be one reason. Many biblical scholars see the Gospels more a record of what believers believed about Jesus than a record of what Jesus actually said and did. For scholars who believe he did exist, they believe some of what he is quoted as saying in the gospels may have come from him (though in a more paraphrased way, rather than as direct quotes).

It's true that in the gospels that were written the earliest, Jesus does not claim to be God. In later gospels, and especially in John (which was written quite a bit later than the others) there are stories of Jesus claiming this, but it may reflect more what believers at the time thought of Jesus than it might reflect his actual words...

At least that is how I understand it.

jimearl said...

Kevin, you mentioned in one of your posts about testing things in the bible to be sure they're true. I wonder have you tested the scripture that says the way to tell a true christian? I recall it says something about being able to drink poison and not being harmed and also being bitten by a serpent and, again, no harm. Also, a scripture in the new testament recalls your savior telling his followers to bring the ones that would not believe in him and slay them at his feet. So much for loving your ememy.

In short, you're wasting your time here but I guess you can't see that. Hmm, I wonder why?

Jim Arvo said...

Kevin: "The mere existence of an alternate theory does not validate said theory....It is safe to say they were false because they have gone away."

No, that fails on two counts. First, there are still followers of all the ancient religions, such as Mithraism, albeit their numbers are miniscule to be sure. However, the more substantive objection is that your argument is simply a variant of the argumentum ad populum fallacy; that is, assuming that number of people who believe a proposition to be true somehow lends support to the proposition.

Kevin: "...the fact that they have gone away shows they are inferior."

If by "inferior" you mean unable to attract as many adherents (for whatever reason), then I would have to agree. But again, this does not speak to whether the claims are true or not. However, you did not address the inductive aspect of my argument concerning more ancient religions (which, I admit, was implicit). Let me make it more explicit. Many ancient religions incorporated the very same motifs as Christianity (human-divine unions, savior god-man, untimely brutal death, descending into "hell", rising again, spreading the word via apostles (often 12 of them), walking on water, raising the dead, turning water into wine, judging souls in an afterlife, etc.). We also know that "borrowing" such motifs among religions was widespread; often one culture would adopt the entire religious edifice of another culture, modifying the names, and sometime promoting or demoting the various deities involved. We also know that Christianity took root in ancient Rome during a period in which Mithaism was still growing and developing there (reaching its zenith in the third century). We also know that Mithraism and Christianity influenced one other quite substantially during this period, sharing artistic motifs, and presumably theological motifs as well. Now, assuming that what I just said is accurate (and please do check it out for yourself), does this not cast doubt on the legitimacy of these very motifs when they arise yet again in the guise of Christianity? If not, then you will likely wish to make one of the following arguments, all of which have been advanced by apologists at some time:

1) There was no "borrowing" in Christianity (for example, all of the "more ancient" religions actually adopted these motifs after the advent of Christianity, or they arose independently, with any similarities being either illusory or accidental).

2) The more ancient religions actually "borrowed" from Christianity in advance, in order to confuse Christians when the true savior arrived. (That is, the similarities were a deliberate ploy engineered by Satan.)

3) The more ancient religions incorporated the same motifs because they were "written on the hearts of men" by god, and represent man's yearning to discover the true religion. (This was essentially C. S. Lewis's twist, which is why he called Christianity the "one true myth".)

Among apologists, #2 was popular in the second century, #3 was popular in the first half of the 20'th century, and #1 appears to be most popular today. I've examined each of these arguments quite carefully, and I believe they all crumble under scrutiny. I am left to conclude that it is highly likely that Christianity obtained its magical motifs in the same way as all other religions; through assimilation and embellishment. I therefore view it as extremely doubtful that there is any truth to them.

Kevin: "What makes me think Jesus rose from the dead? This event occurred 2,ooo years ago."

I'm asking why you think this event actually took place 2,000 years ago, so you cannot start with that assertion.

Kevin: "L...if you apply the standards of analyzing ancients text; Earliest manuscripts available, time between event and earliest writings, and number of manuscripts, no other writing comes even close to the reliability of the New Testament."

I think that statement is an exaggeration, but there are two more fundamental flaws in what you just stated. First, a document that is written near the time of an event does not in itself make the event believable. Veracity hinges on corroboration and/or trustworthiness of the author. You need only browse the internet to see thousands of blogs recording bizarre events that took place within the last year, yet few take alien abduction stories seriously, for example, even if the "eyewitness" claims it happened only yesterday. Second, and more importantly, your assertion that the time between the events and the earliest writings (assuming we have reliable dates for the latter) was short depends on when the events actually took place. But our only source for when these events took place are the gospels themselves. Thus, arguing that they are reliable based on temporal proximity depends on them being reliable as history; this is a circular argument. If you disagree that the gospels are the only documents to fix the resurrection in time, then please provide some others. (Paul's epistles won't help you, as Paul never so much as asserts that Jesus was a human on Earth, let alone fixes him within a historical context.)

Kevin: "You cannot simply rule out the New Testament because it makes a claim, you have to weigh that with the other evidence."

No, you have that backwards. If I claim that I can fly, are you obliged to accept my claim as true until there is specific evidence against it? Fantastic claims (such as rising from the dead) require evidence. If an even goes squarely against what we observe about the world (dead people don't come back to life), then we need more than the say-so of an anonymous ancient writer. Or maybe I misunderstood you. Maybe you are saying that there is other evidence to support the gospel stories. If so, please tell me what you have in mind. Josephus? Suetonius? The Talmud?

Kevin: "...if there were many reliable stories about Jesus being a myth, or him never existing than there would be serious doubt about whether he did. But since history unequivocally accounts for his existence, it has to be taken seriously."

Your second sentence is a gross exaggeration. There is NO unequivocal evidence that Jesus existed, let alone that he rose from the dead. All the evidence we have suffers from one or more of the following difficulties: They are anonymous, they are second-hand, they are late, they show signs of interpolation, they are written by self-proclaimed evangelists and/or in the form of hagiography. Moreover, accounts such as the gospels show unmistakable signs of midrash and embellishment over time. (Mark has Jesus spit in the eyes of the blind man, while the later apologists refine this. Same with the withering fig tree.) As for early arguments that Jesus was a myth, there were many. In fact, there were known Jesus cults that worshiped a purely spiritual Jesus, which would have been much more in line with Judaism. There were also authors, such as Celcus (2nd century), who vehemently argued against the claims of the Christians. Obviously, the vast majority of the Jews did not find the Christian case to be compelling, as positing that god took human form would have been absolute blasphemy. Interestingly, the early Christians did not seem to be troubled by this particular theological element, which is evidence that it was not actually part of their theology.

Kevin: "Jesus was executed publicly,..."

According to the gospels, and the gospels alone. (Other references to this event are late or dubious for other reasons--e.g. Tacitus.)

Kevin: "It cannot be assumed that the body was misplaced or lost. So what happened to the body?..."

What body? All you have are several anonymous accounts of this event (written decades after the presumed event), and the anonymous authors even borrowed from and redacted each other's accounts. Paul makes vague reference to a resurrection, but makes no mention of a tomb, empty or otherwise. Paul's comments are perfectly sensible in the context of a purely spiritual being, as there were many stories of tragic "deaths" and "resurrections" of beings in various heavenly spheres at the time. It's quite likely that Paul borrowed some of these Hellenistic ideas, which were in vogue in Tarsus when he grew up there.

Kevin: "The Roman guards would not have allowed the body to be stolen because..."

All the details about the Roman guards come from the gospels and the gospels alone. Paul mentions nothing of the sort, nor do any historians of the period.In fact, most historians of the period do not mention Jesus at all.

Kevin: "Only the resurrection seems to make sense especially in light of the fact that the disciples had given up after Jesus' death..."

What we know of the disciples comes from the gospels and Acts; all are anonymous hagiographic tracts filled with midrashic interpolation. There is no corroboration for any of this.

Kevin: "You also have to account for the spread of Christianity, any objective look at the odds for the survival of this movement would be dismal."

There were many different Jesus cults with conflicting doctrines competing with other religions (e.g. Mithraism). Until Constantine forced the unification of the theological ideas in the fourth century, and made it the official religion of Rome, Christianity was no different from myriad other cults. That was the major turning point, and it spelled disaster for the other religions of Rome. Countless Pagan temples were destroyed at the hands of the recently empowered Christians, and countless books were burned that no doubt would have shed much light on the assendancy of Christianity. We can only speculate.

Kevin: The obvious rebuttal is to say that there are many people who die for what they believe. This is true, however, show me someone who is willing to die for something they know is a lie."

That is a complete non sequitur. Obviously, if you believe something, then you do not know that it is a lie. If there were martyrs, and there no doubt were at some point, nobody is suggesting that they did not believe in what they died for. But martyrdom speaks only to belief; one can believe many things that are not true. If you want to lend the martyrdom argument more force, then show me the evidence of a martyr who died specifically defending the idea of the resurrection after having seen it himself. You can try to argue this, but all you have to go on are anonymous texts and a lot of inference based on hearsay. It's extremely weak.

I will issue you a challenge, as I have with others elsewhere. Pick any aspect of the Jesus story you want--anything at all--and find me a chain of credible evidence that supports it as historical. I claim that no matter what you pick, there will be a very weak link in the reasoning; e.g. taking the word of an anonymous writer, or assuming that Paul knew Jesus, or assuming that Luke was the companion of Paul, or assuming that Jesus lived in a given time, etc. Let's see what you can come up with. (Hint: The account of Josephus would come very close to what I'm asking for, were it not for the dubious nature of the passage pertaining to Jesus.)

In the service of reason,
Jim

Nvrgoingbk said...

No, my friend, Jesus is not the only one who claimed to be the "Son of God". Please research the world's other crucified saviors that are much older than stories of Jesus. While you are at it, please be sure to secure yourself a copy of some of the gnostic gospels which do NOT confirm any supposed deity on Jesus' part.

While I will admit that Evolution does not answer all questions, neither does Christianity. I happen to own a copy of "Mere Christianity" myself, and it did nothing to solidify belief in the Christian god, for me. C.S. Lewis is an eloquent writer, indeed, but even with all of his literary talent, he can not answer the timeless question of "Where did God come from then?"

The Christian left chasing his tail. It's the cold hard fact of all religious belief.

Any credit that you give to Jesus or God for curing you of your addiction is wasted on most of us here. My husband and I are both ex-christians. Neither of us have gone back to lives of addiction. My morals are even more intact, actually, than when I was a Christian. Abstinence leads to obsession buddy. My husband was a pill head, a pot head, a heavy drinker, smoked Meth, crack, and did just about everything "sinful" and addicting one can do with the exception of needles, but STILL has no craving. Hmm...why is that? Surely, without a belief in "god" he will go back, though. He's probably only fooling himself, huh? Guess, he's just a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off any second.

If Jesus is the end all and be all, then why do you consult doctors for you medical care? If "He" cured you of your addiction, then can't he cure you of any ailment you have? Why bother with Tylenol? Why bother with Chemo if you have cancer, and FUCK antibiotics, just PRAY. NEWSFLASH: Millions of people pray every day for the simple necessities of life and still die of starvation. Millions pray every day to be cured of debilitating illnesses and diseases only to meet death with the rest of humanity that went before them.

Wake the fuck up! Give yourself some credit for overcoming your addiction! Stop all the self-loathing. Love yourself. I know that is a concept far removed from Christian dogma, but just try believing for once that you are inherent of dignity just because you exist and not because some Sky Daddy may or may not exist. Stop looking for him for your self-worth. You already had worth. You didn't begin being worthy simply for saying the "sinner's prayer" and your worth can not be deminished simply for believing the wrong thing.

And the cold hard fact is, my friend, that we CAN judge Christians by other christians. The Bible admonishes Christians to live their lives worthy of "the calling" and to live in such a way that "heathens" would be ashamed to criticize them due to the blameless lives they live, but that isn't what we are seeing now is it? Christians give Christians a bad name. If you don't like it, take it up in a family meeting with your "brothers and sisters".

notblindedbytheblight said...

Kevin

Mat 4:3 deals with the temptation of Christ. Compare that with the temptation of Siddhartha Buddha.

The other Matthew verses has Jesus saying "Son of God". There isn't one place that you will find him saying he is God.

Now, John 10:34 - 10:38,

10:35 is very telling...there have been other sons of God, Kevin. Check out Psa 2:7. Jesus didn't claim to be the only son of God.

This tells me that he was telling everyone that they too are God's "sons".

notblindedbytheblight said...

Kevin... Psa 82:6 is a wonderful example:

"I have said, Ye [are] gods; and all of you [are] children of the most High."

This is the verse Jesus was referencing.

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