Ambiguity in Islam

Islam is a touchy subject. But it’s also a historical subject, a cultural and worldview subject, and it’s a subject of ethics and politics. For that reason, wisdom demands we discuss and learn about Islam no matter how touchy it may be. As a non-muslim myself, I understand the media’s fear–the fear of an “outsider”–of making matter-of-fact claims about Islam, especially politically incorrect claims.

After all, Islam is a force to reckon with, serving as the common denominator in most world terrorism. Onlookers, like myself, have to put words into the mouths of the terrorists to make them say, “This isn’t ‘true’ Islam.” To what extent can we rightfully tell the muslim extremist that his version of “Islam” is wrong? Is this kind of distinction between “radical” and “moderate” Islam a foreign invasion or a native distinction?Even with the important contributions of Islam in the arts, philosophy, math and sciences those would seem to be the irrepressably beautiful face bloodied and beaten by centuries of violence. Were such violence bygone, these questions might be outdated. But these are urgent and present questions. Hostilities remain hot.

Though I am a professor of world religions, I am no expert on Islam. I speak as an outsider. I approach this topic not as a claim but as a plea for self-proclaimed Muslims to clarify for the onlooking world what grounds do we have for denying the ‘muslim’ terrorist his claim on Islam? Is there a grounds? If so, what is it?There are plenty of ‘moderates’ who teach that Islam or the Qu’ran does not advocate violence. But there are also self-proclaimed “moderates” who refuse to call Hamas a terrorist organization. The same can be said of Hezbolah and Al Quaida. Such “moderates” give true moderates a bad name. Hence, “moderate” is a relative term, confusing to outsiders. Some might consider themselves “moderate” because they’ve never pulled a terrorist trigger themselves, yet they would knowingly and willingly support groups who do. Even “moderate” is ambiguous.

Yet the voice of true moderates is being heard. We wish it were louder, but it’s real and clear for its size. Meanwhile, the extremists and false moderates have their own references in the Qu’ran and Hadith, not to mention a history of Islam which easily suggests militancy. It would be a historical whitewash to think of the Prophet of Islam as anything less than a warlord (though He may have been more than that), or to neglect mentioning the military expansionism of Islam up through the middle ages and today, or to ignore the nagging border disputes in most every Muslim country, nor can we forget the prophecied empirialism where Islam is to be the reigning religion subjugating Jew, Christian, Atheist, and all manner of Kafur. Honest historians widely recognize that most every border to a Muslim-dominant country has been a bloody border. Even admitting the same kinds of bloodshed and empirialism by Jewish and Christian swords in world history, these other Abrahamic faiths have their respective reformations wherein religious militancy took a back seat to democracy and produced such political innovations as “priesthood of the believer,” “separation of church and state,” and “freedom of religion.” There remains a substantive and historical distinction between Judeo-Christian militancy and Islamic militancy. I know of no widespread or overarching reformation in Islam to suggest that this religion has outgrown those warring ways. Scholars reading this, am I wrong? Am I missing something?

I reiterate that there are many non-violent muslims and self-proclaimed moderates who are proud of their Muslim faith and Muslim heritage yet abhor all forms of terrorism, including that of Hamas, Al Quaeda and Hezbolah. I’m thankful for the moderates opposing tyranny and terrorism. So I mean no disrespect, nor hostility. I’m simply asking for a clear and defensible demarcation line between “true” Islam and that espoused by terrorists.

Those of us on the outside looking in desperately want to believe there is a kind of safe Islam that is both true to itself, being faithful to the Qu’ran and the Hadith, but which still represents a reformative split from the darker parts of Islam. The Qu’ran and Hadith ground that faith for the future so it is not enough for a liberalized or compromised form of “Islam” to reduce the Qu’ran and Hadith to pleasant metaphors, or allegorize their content into fairy tales. Islam has been and will be largely defined by it’s holy books, so that true Muslims must rightfully find in those books an Islam that is basically peaceful and uncoercive.Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all imperfect. But there are clearly discernable historically defensible reformations in the first two. Does textual, historical, or theological Islam distinguish “radicals” and “moderates” or are we arbitrarily deciding that the “safe” Muslims represent Islam while the dangerous ones don’t?

Perhaps, true Islam encompasses both so that truly peaceful non-coercive Muslims will have to pioneer their own reformation of Islam before they can effectively distinguish themselves from the ambiguous shades, shy of the middle, and the lunatic fringe of rioting and terrorist outlyers?

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213 replies
  1. Dan says:

    FUN ACTIVITY!!:
    Transport yourself back the the 11th, 12th, or 13th century with the power of imagination and read this article again- but this time replace ‘Muslim’ with ‘Christian’. Pretend your a Muslim and feel the fear of centuries filled with 11 separate crusades raining down upon your beliefs! It’s fun for the whole family!

    It wasn’t that long ago.

    Reply
  2. johnferrer says:

    Dan, did you read my article at all? Making the point you do suggests you weren’t not really paying attention. I already addressed and responded to your objection in the article, so I’ve no need to redress it here.

    Plus, you might want to check your sarcastic tone, it undermines whatever academic respectability you might get with pointed objections and responsible discussion.

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  3. Dan says:

    Yes, I read the article. I was making the point that there is no real difference in these two religions. Yes, there have been reformations but brushing off the past in one or two sentences does little to clear the christian name. Like I said…It wasn’t that long ago. And what is your point in the article anyway? To ask for a line between true islam and the terrorist take on it? You can take a ‘no true scotsman’ approach to both Islam and Christianity.

    List of ‘ambiguous’ Christians:

    Joseph Kony- Lord’s Resistance Army
    Iron Guard
    National-Christian Defense League
    the Lancieri
    Patrick Pearse-Easter Rising
    Sons of Freedom
    Orange Volunteers
    National Socialist Council of Nagaland
    National Liberation Front of Tripura
    Russian National Unity (RNU)
    Klu Klux Klan
    Scott Roeder
    Eric Robert Rudolph(debated)
    Army of God
    Westboro Baptist Church (WBC)

    Exodus 32-
    26Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
    27And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
    28And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

    “Does textual, historical, or theological (Christianity) distinguish “radicals” and “moderates” or are we arbitrarily deciding that the “safe” (Christians) represent (Christianity) while the dangerous ones don’t?”

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  4. John Ferrer says:

    Dan, I understand your point entirely and anticipated and responded already in the article. I’m sorry if the brevity of my original response bothers you, but you have not countered it in principle yet. Instead, you show no real intention of observing the relevant and critical distinctions between ancient Christianity and modern Christianity, and between Judeo-Christianity and Islam. (I often find non-theists homogenize religions under some blanketing category of “superstition” proving their apathy and ignorance toward this complex field of study).

    I can add a few more red herring examples to your list too:

    Adolph Hitler (he claimed he was catholic)
    David Koresh (he claimed he was Jesus Christ)
    The Salem Witch Trials
    The Spanish Inquisition
    etc., etc.

    The No True Scotsman fallacy applies only if there is not a clear or effective means of distinguishing Scotsmen. If for example, your criteria is not moral behavior but a birth certificate then you can distinguish a true scotsman from a false one. In this case, you can distinguish True christianity and Judaism from fanatical offshoots by their textual and historical and theological consistency with the development of these respective religions. Abortion clinic bombers, for example, often claim to be down the line Christian. But they stand outside the history and tradition of Christian pacifism while, oddly enough, going further than any “just war theory” in the Augustinian tradition. It certainly does not align with teachings of Jesus to turn the other cheek, love thy enemy, and do unto others as unto yourself. While there are theological reasons for intervening in cases of abortion–such as, helping those who can’t help themselves (unborn babies) a principle packed into the teaching to “care for widows and orphans”–Christian theology does not permit prooftexting in contradiction to other clear teachings in the Bible such as “thou shall not murder.” Hence, they have historical, traditional, Biblical and theological criteria demonstrating that they are no true Christians in regards to that practice (ie: that is not normative practice for Christianity). My point in the article, is that these real lines of distinction, as far as I’m aware, do not exist in Islam. Whatever texts in islamic holy books speak peace and tolerance are abrogated later by texts, theology, and practices of militancy and warfare.

    Citing Exodus 32 does little to make your point unless you intend to pull it out of its original context expecting Christians to presently apply that particular message to ancient, pre-canaan, recently enslaved, heavily persecuted, nomadic Israel. Basic hermeneutics (interpretation theory) says that where the contexts are different between then and now the application is liable to differ. It is only where the contexts are the same that we can draw the same applications.

    also, if you think there is no real difference in militancy between Islam and Christianity then you don’t know your religions very well. Too illustrate this problem, let me suggest a comparable analogy (that is equally simplistic).

    “Atheism is atheism, and so all atheists share the genocidal guilt of the institutionalized atheism of socialist Russia. There is no real difference.”

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  5. Dan says:

    I’ll say you’ve got me on this one. I’m not scared to say i’m wrong.
    I know that there are differences in the two religions (I’ve been a christian my entire life) but these types of ethnocentric articles can be damaging when they create fear of another race or religion by saying “we are civil now that we have changed, they are still murderous and will not change because their book tells them not to”

    I will resign my argument that there are no differences but will hold on to the argument that “it wasn’t that long ago.” In the time line of human history, it really was just around the corner that christians acted in a similar way, so be careful when asking for clear lines to be drawn in the sand between moderates and extremists.

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  6. TobyR. says:

    islam will eventually calm down, but it’ll take the middle east and africa finding a way to give it’s citizenry a better quality of life. once that’s established the taste for blood in the qu’ran will seem distasteful to it’s followers. But it’ll take many, many generations.

    and why have we gone from koran to qu’ran?

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  7. johnferrer says:

    Toby, have you studied much about Islamic theology and history? On what do you base your faith in Islamic peace? While history does not DETERMINE the future, it is certainly the best indicator of what to expect. And so I ask, what muslim dominant country has not become so through military expansion? What theological tenet in Islam allows Muslims to esteem constitutional law above Sharia for issues of public practice? What global trending suggests to you that Islam is poised for a pacifist turn? If you are going on anecdotal evidence, you are going to have to start drawing your sample set from the middle east, pakistan, india, and more Muslim dominant countries to get a feel for how Islamic culture acts in majorities. Don’t forget that “Freedom of Religion” and “Freedom of Speech” is offspring from Judeo-Christian western culture and is entirely foreign to Islam ever since the first Islamic expansion in the 7th century. these core principles of freedom are considered unislamic in much, if not most, of the Muslim world since they constitute a free opportunity for blasphemy–which is illegal in the theocratic system typical of Muslim dominated countries.

    And if you have to ask about the spelling then you have not likely dialogued much with Muslims on their religion. “Koran” is a westernized transcription for those not used to the gutteral phoneme in that world. The “K” sound is not as close as the “Qu” sound, but neither are quite right. Plus, I have been corrected on it by Muslims when I tried to use the K spelling (once, when I couldn’t remember where the accent goes).

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  8. Toby R. says:

    “Toby, have you studied much about Islamic theology and history?”

    No, I have not. I generally dismiss it.

    “On what do you base your faith in Islamic peace?”

    On christianity. We could go through the bible and find the multitude of passages that are steeped in blood, stoning your bad child and so forth and so on. Yet through the centuries these things have been gradually sloughed away. Why? You tell me. Why don’t christians stone their children anymore or abandon their families to follow jesus? I tend to think it has a little to do with intelligence and the availability of information. Education in other words, reaching for the full potential of the mind. I just happen to think that muslims are running a little behind.

    Pakistan is a bad example of a “muslim dominant country has not become so through military expansion”. Pakistan broke away from the occupying forces of British India. It has vacillated between civilian rule and military take overs. It was a muslim republic from the beginning, not due to military expansion.

    “Don’t forget that “Freedom of Religion” and “Freedom of Speech” is offspring from Judeo-Christian western culture and is entirely foreign to Islam ever since the first Islamic expansion in the 7th century. these core principles of freedom are considered unislamic in much, if not most, of the Muslim world since they constitute a free opportunity for blasphemy–which is illegal in the theocratic system typical of Muslim dominated countries.”

    You seem to think people are unable to change and base this solely on them not sharing your religion. Do you think you’d be spared by early christians? I don’t think they’re recognize what you call christianity and they’d probably kill you.

    These things happen gradually. Hell, less than a 100 years ago we wouldn’t let women vote. And who opposed that I wonder? Perhaps christians with their bibles that tells them that women are less than men. Women are evil and the cause of the fall of man, why let them into politics?

    Your religion changed. Don’t be so quick to discount another religion’s ability to evolve as well. Just don’t expect it to happen over night.

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  9. johnferrer says:

    First off, if Christianity is your basis for understanding Islam then you are bound to misinterpret Islam according to non-islamic values, principles, and views. The religions are radically different and to treat each in light of the other is guaranteed to skew one’s views. I might as well interpret and predict Atheist-buddhism as definitive of Secular atheists. These are radically different, and the similarities are just not relevant enough to matter.

    Second, evolution might be a bad analogy for you and a good analogy for me. What you are suggesting is the equivalent of a carbon based life-form evolving into an inert non-carbon based life-form. In your worldview that sounds feasible, perhaps. But in mine that is merely a faith statement and not an informed interpretation from scientific observation.

    What I mean is this, Islam and Christianity are text based religions. They have some room for “evolution” but there is a ceiling. If you know the texts and its subsequent theology and life-application in the definitive life of the Prophet, you’ll know that Islam has a lower ceiling than Christianity has. Christianity has, in its texts, a strong argument for pacifism, submission, for dividing church and state, and so on. Islam, is quite the opposite. It is monocultural, fusing church and state, prescribing militancy, and that with the combined force of history and practice.

    I know that outside of “religion” people tend to conflate religions and think of them all as being cut from the same superstitious ball of wax. But, for those willing to look into the matter, Islam and Christianity are culturally worlds apart.

    Reply
  10. Nathan barley says:

    Is evolution just a worldview now? Good grief. If evolution is merely a worldview then there’s barely anything in science that could not be described thus, from heliocentrism downwards.

    Reply
  11. John Ferrer says:

    Let me try again, . . . what Toby was suggesting was a Text-based, Mohammad copying religion could evolve into a non-text based, non-Mohammad copying religion. That is such a radical shift that I know of no parallel in the religious world. Judaism and Christianity remained text-based, and continued to follow the lives of their patriarchs IN THE MIDST of their reformations. Islam would have to defy both of those parameters to become overall peacable. If you are going to keep the evolution analogy, that is the practical equivalent of a Carbon-based life form evolving into a non-carbon based life-form. You are positing something that has never happened in world history, at least not anything that has been observed, much less documented. To believe such a thing would be faith based, not science minded.

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  12. Nathan Barley says:

    As I understand it, Islam generally cleaves more strongly to the text of the Koran than Christians cleave to the Bible. But there are so many different possible interpretations of both books, that there’s no reason that either religion cannot evolve to go along with the norms and mores of whatever country its adherents live in.

    Already we can see a huge difference in the way Islam is practiced in different countries, just like with Christianity.

    I don’t see why it’s such a leap for Toby to say that Islam could evolve in the same way that Christianity managed to slowly slough off violence, slavery, etc.

    Reply
  13. Toby R. says:

    Certainly American muslims are different than Iranian muslims. Nathan’s point is a good one. I think we’d all like to see the Sufi version of islam spread.

    Reply
  14. John Ferrer says:

    Again, you have to understand Islam. Islam is a strictly legalistic religion which centers as much on the actual practices of Muhammad as on his teachings. History books about Muhammad take on a heightened importance because his life is seen as the central definitive example of how people should live. Christians also are to follow the life of Christ, but his life is taken by Christians (throughout church history and throughout the world) to be broadly emblematic of how to act. He never married but that is not taken a prohibition on marriage.

    Jesus never raised a sword.
    Muhammad was a warlord.

    Second, whatever legalistic points are unclear in the Qu’ran are clarified in the Hadith. The Hadith is commentary and elaboration on the Qu’ran which is also taken to be authoritative for Muslims. Hence, if a person takes a different interpretation of a certain passage, the Hadith weighs in to decide.

    Third, the notion of “different interpretations” might work when it comes to small details such as whether a women should cover her face or not (a relatively minute detail that is not mandated in the Qu’ran or Hadith). But you are essentially talking about a form of Islam that takes a “different interpretation” about one of the clearest teachings Islam has ever had. You might as well suggest they could take a different view than monotheism, or that they might evolve past this “Muhammad is the last prophet” stuff.

    Sufi islam is a cult (it denies core tenets of Islamic doctrine), and world Islam does not recognize it as islam. Only outsiders think Sufi is still part of Islam.

    I reiterate that your points are mere faith statements unless you can show evidence that Islam is “turning a corner.” One could have done this in the 1400’s with Christianity in response to Catholic theocracy by pointing to proto-reformers who were gathering strength and disseminating their ideas before Luther ever did his thing. You could point to 1st century Jewish life and see reformation coming in the form of Roman occupation. These are substantial evidences that are more than anecdotal and more than presumed analogies.

    I ask, which American muslims are you talking about? Are you talking about Syrian Immigrants that don’t speak english, live in a secluded community of Muslims, and consider themselves enemy occupants of America? Again, it is a faith claim to assume that muslim immigrants to America will continue to assimilate as “they always have.” History speaks a different story for every other predominately muslim country in the world. The American way of life, is understood by many many muslims in the world to be expressly anti-islamic so that to even immigrate to America means you are not a true-muslim in the first place (or your an enemy occupant). There is explicit and long standing theological reason for this view too. Those on the outside of religion tend not to appreciate the role of theology and text in anchoring ideas within a faith. Whatever waves of change may come, the ship is unchanged and unturned.

    Reply
  15. Rick says:

    John Ferrer sounds alot to me like what someone would sound like in colonial america blathering on about the dangers of native american tribes.

    Reply
  16. Tim D. says:

    Third, the notion of “different interpretations” might work when it comes to small details such as whether a women should cover her face or not (a relatively minute detail that is not mandated in the Qu’ran or Hadith). But you are essentially talking about a form of Islam that takes a “different interpretation” about one of the clearest teachings Islam has ever had. You might as well suggest they could take a different view than monotheism, or that they might evolve past this “Muhammad is the last prophet” stuff.

    You could say the same things about Christianity — except there ARE sects of Christianity which could be called polytheistic (Catholicism), and there ARE sects of Christianity which follow prophets post-Jesus (Church of Latter-Day Saints).

    I ask, which American muslims are you talking about? Are you talking about Syrian Immigrants that don’t speak english, live in a secluded community of Muslims, and consider themselves enemy occupants of America?

    Oh please, if there are any American Muslims who consider themselves “enemy occupants of America,” I’d like to hear from them.

    I reiterate that your points are mere faith statements unless you can show evidence that Islam is “turning a corner.”

    Compare moderate American (and Canadian….and Indonesian….) Muslims with Muslims from the Middle East 100 years ago.

    It seems to me that you’re more angry that some kinds of Muslims do seem to be becoming more tame and less murderous, just because it doesn’t fit your stereotype of how they “should” be according to your religion. Hm?

    Reply
  17. John Ferrer says:

    Tim, all your examples show that you are not well schooled on the subject of religion.

    Catholics–monotheist, not polytheist (they do not WORSHIP mary, nor any other saints, they are indeed still a Christian group)

    Mormons–polytheistic cult of Christianity, not a sect (ie: not a denomination since they divide over core doctrine–priesthood, [poly]theism, Jesus is numerical distinct from the deity of the Father, etc.)

    Tim, as for the “enemy occupants” objection you make, . . . We’ve had 5 terrorist attacks within America in the last 18 months, all self-proclaimed Jihadists. The current chief terrorist threat in Afghanistan was raised in America (ie: being a terrorist threat against America, he obviously does not support the American Dream). While the CIA and FBI are not going to publically broadcast the fact, there are hundreds of terrorist-sympathetic cell groups that are being monitored while we speak, and that’s not counting the individuals who are so anti-american in their form of islam that they act individually, such as the car-bomb attempt that was thwarted in dallas last spring. Oh, and there have been numerous Fatwas (declarations of war) issued against America which, non-arabic speaking, Americans are largely unaware of. This also aligns with the fact that numerous American based pro-Islam organizations have been exposed, since George Bush’s era, as covertly sponsoring Hamas, Hezbolah, and Al Quaida. CAIR is just one of the most notable of them.

    When you say “Moderate American ()” Muslims, you are employing the exact terminology I’m questioning in my article. You are donning the very terminology that presumes there is a clear distinction between “moderate” and “radical.” I know of plenty of peaceful Muslims, and I’m not denying the legitimacy of their own claim on Islam. I am thankful for them, and encourage them to deconvert as many radical muslim friends as they can to a more peaceful reading of islam. I am asking however for clear historic, textual, or theological justification for that category of “moderate.” If there is not such thing, then I would advocate a Muslim reformation to forge a new, peaceful Islam. But it will take a reformation, and not just a gradual and natural evolution. I’m too familiar with World Islam and the History of islam to have faith that that kind of thing will happen. Most of the people claiming that Islam is heading in a more peaceful direction just are not well informed about World Islam nor Historical Islam.

    In rebuttal to your evidence I point out that there have always been “moderate” muslims in the sense that they are middle-of-the-road muslims not willing to go as far as Jihad, but not all that Qu’ranic in their faith either. Every world religion is constituted largely by nominal members. But those people do not necessarily represent the heartblood of their religion, since islam Christianity and Judaism are textually anchored faiths (unlike Hinduism and Buddhism which are much more allegorical and amorphous in handling their scriptures). There has always been a significant minority of Islam which has the theological, historical, and textually support for terrorist initiatives and since they have such a strong religious case in their favor, the moderates are (or might be) left representing pseudo-Islam rather than Islam. Just like, liberal Christianity (ie: Jesus is just one among many ways, the Bible is not inspired, etc.) is widely popular and peripherally “Christian” but not representative of Christianity proper. Mormonism had to forge a new religion (ie: a cult offshoot) to conduct polygamy and assert polytheism. That was not an internal denominational spat, but a cult offshoot universally recognized in the Christian world as a false claimant to “Christianity.”

    Plus, I wonder, why do you want me to compare Moderate American Muslims with Middle Eastern Muslims from 100 years ago? Why not today, the Muslim worldview is homogenous enough (with some admitted diversity) to where the views on Jihad and terrorism have not significantly changed much in that time. The latest innovations in Jihad theology were much older and included promises that while women could not get a free-pass to heaven for suicide bombing, they could get a free-pass for a loved one by killing themselves in an act of war. And I ask why you do not want me to compare “moderate” American muslims with “moderate” Middle eastern muslims? There are just as many or more peaceable muslims overseas as there are here. And there are a lot of activist and radical muslims in both places too. If you want me to compare bad apples to good oranges then it’s a bad comparison. What you are seeing of peacable muslims in America has been a part of islam throughout it’s history, but that was no sort of witness to some eventually peaceful conclusion.

    Oh, and I’m not angry. I’m willing to mold and change my views about islam, but so far the only people correcting me on my views about Islam are non-muslims who are not very informed on Islam. I tried to keep to the facts so that even Muslims, and especially muslims who know their own faith well, would have to admit that I’m bringing up true and relevant evidences for my case.

    Reply
  18. John Ferrer says:

    Tim, I read this this morning and thought it relevant to our conversation:

    A recent AP article reports: “Since 2009, at least 63 American citizens have been charged or convicted for terrorism or related crimes, ‘an astoundingly high number of American citizens who have attacked — or intended to attack — their own country,’ said Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent and the committee’s chairman.” (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/09/22/homegrown-terrorism-evolving-officials-tell-congress/?test=latestnews)

    The rest of the article is pretty good too, talking about homegrown terrorists who attack or plan to attack the US.

    The point is not that there’s some “conspiracy.” Jihad as a theological tenet is to plain and forthright to be a “conspiracy.” Nor is the point that these kind of people are some ‘majority.’ They are not. Rather, the point is that Jihadist terrorist activity occurs most everywhere that muslims achieve even a significant minority. Though the vast majority are peacable, one does not need a majority for a movement to be dangerous.

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  19. Nathan Barley says:

    Catholics and Protestants committed terrorist activity against each other for years in Northern Ireland. Thousands died over the 20th century. Same goes for Tamil Tigers, Basque Separatists, etc.

    You can reply that these have political elements, but the same goes for Islamic terrorism. There are complex forces that go towards individuals getting radicalised and drawn into terrorism. Muslim anti-terrorism didn’t happen in a vacuum either. It had many causes. eg, America deposed a democratically elected Iranian leader in the 1950s. If another country had done the same to America, there would be similar ill-feeling in return from the US.

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  20. Tim D. says:

    Catholics–monotheist, not polytheist (they do not WORSHIP mary, nor any other saints, they are indeed still a Christian group)

    1) Catholics worship the Trinity of the “father, son and holy ghost.” Some people (I’ve heard more than one Islamic preacher) have interpreted this as a “polytheistic” form of worship because they see it as three patron deities.

    2) I said “it could be called” polytheistic; I know that Catholics consider themselves monotheistic, but not everyone sees it that way.

    Mormons–polytheistic cult of Christianity, not a sect (ie: not a denomination since they divide over core doctrine–priesthood, [poly]theism, Jesus is numerical distinct from the deity of the Father, etc.)

    Call it a cult, but they believe in Jesus Christ and the Christian God. Wait, maybe you’re on to something there….? 🙂

    While the CIA and FBI are not going to publically broadcast the fact

    Ah, yes, I’m sure you’d know that with your own secret connections to the FBI and CIA.

    :/

    there are hundreds of terrorist-sympathetic cell groups that are being monitored while we speak, and that’s not counting the individuals who are so anti-american in their form of islam that they act individually, such as the car-bomb attempt that was thwarted in dallas last spring.

    Three words: Hutaree Christian Militia.

    Just off the top of my head.

    Reply
  21. johnferrer says:

    Tim, anecdotal fallacies. Show how and why the Hutaree Christian Militia are normative of Christianity and I’ll grant that example, otherwise you are entirely sidestepping and ignoring the central thesis of my argument.

    Just because a person has a different interpretation does not make it a correct interpretation. You know full well that no one theologically educated within the Christian world thinks Catholics are genuinely monotheistic. If a Muslim deliberately and maliciously misinterprets that doctrine, he is simply wrong. He has a different and wrong assessment. I’m not saying that there is or isn’t a monotheistic God. I’m not making that argument here. I’m just saying that Christianity is trinitarian-monotheism and Islam is strict monotheism. Anyone who says otherwise is standing outside the wide world of religious scholarship. They are simply wrong.

    Mormons do not believe in the same Jesus Christ or the same God that the vast history of Christianity, the text of the Bible, and the whole tradition of Christian theology affirms. You are showing your unfamiliarity with world religions again. I could go into the differences, but you don’t need to hear that from me. If you bothered to look up the subject for yourself, you’d know that this is the case.

    Do your research and then challenge my points. I’m not saying I cannot be corrected. But your rebuttals are all informed of Religious studies.

    check out a list of known and publically acknowledge terrorist groups (http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/terrorist-groups.cfm). See what percentage of them are muslim. And then check and see how many of them have cells or sponsoring organizations in America. I’d also recommend the videos: “What the West Needs to Know” and “Third Jihad.” Feel free to disagree with any of that, but please bring some support in doing so. I’m not speaking my own opinion, I’m pointing out well acknowledged facts that scholars in the field of world religions readily admit. The people disagreeing with me are (as I’ve come to find out) uninformed about serious religious studies in islam and world trends. If you can demonstrate otherwise, I welcome the counsel.

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  22. Nathan Barley says:

    “See what percentage of them are muslim.”

    Whose interpretation of Muslim? I wouldn’t be surprised if many of these Muslim terrorist sects would be dismissed by the majority of Muslims as ‘not true Muslims’ in the same way as you dismiss Mormons. Many would say that in their recourse to ‘un-Islamic violence’ these terrorists are ‘by definition’ not true Muslims. Who are you to say you’re a bigger expert on Islam than them?

    You can say this is the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy, but in exactly the same way I’ve heard many Christians dismiss murdering Christians as by definition not being of the true faith.

    At any rate John, you’re pointing to merely a ‘higher percentage’. That’s a difference of degree, not in kind. This could be explained in large part (if not totally) by the demographic differences of most Muslims currently living in third world countries. Yes, there are wealthy terrorist masterminds, and isolated cases such as a few radicalised middle class Muslims in Britain, but the vast majority of footsoldiers – the ones blowing themselves up for example – are poor, living in divided countries.

    I see know evidence that if the political situation is ‘right’ for it, such as in Northern Ireland, you’re no less likely to get terrorism carried out by Christians. So why assume this is a religious problem rather than a political one?

    Reply
  23. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, I’ve rebutted most or all those points already. I’ve already answered the oh-too-hasty-jump to the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. That fallacy actually works in my favor. You see a scotsman is defined by his founding document, ie: his birth certificate. Even if he is a jihadist scotsman, he’s still a scotsman just as much as the peaceable scotsman. It is not his peaceableness nor his militancy that defines whether he’s a “scotsman.” As that would be a fallacious claim of “no true scotsman.” Islam is not defined by whether a person calls himself muslim and is peaceable or militant. Islam is defined by the life of Muhammad, the text of the Qu’ran, and the text of the Hadith. Plain and simple. Even American muslims admit that.

    As for my “percentage” claim, I remind you that there are relevant and irrelevant uses of percentages. I was relevantly pointing out objective evidence that terrorism is not an anomaly to Islam (as it would be, say for a Christian Militia to Christianity). Rather, the vast majority of world terrorist groups are self-proclaimed patriots of Islam. If militancy were an anomaly, and an object merely of misinterpretation, then we are at a loss to explain why dozens and dozens of practicing terrorist groups are continuing under the financial support of groups like Hamas which the majority of world muslims will not identify as a terrorist organization. Hamas is widely billed as a freedom-fighting organization.

    Your suggestion that Christians are just as likely to commit violent terrorist acts as are muslims speaks in spite of the evidence. Have you perchance tried tallying how many deaths were publically claimed by Muslim jihadists–again, publically self-proclaimed–and then compared these numbers to the equivalent in Christianity? I dare you to tally the numbers. You’re making a faith statement uninformed by real-world knowledge of terrorism and Islam.

    Plus, your view of terrorism as being (I gather) a product of poverty rather than the cause of poverty is likely a byproduct of believing too much media. I ask for your evidence that poverty produces terrorism over and above the obvious fact that terrorism produces poverty. It is clear that terrorism produces at least some poverty since shooting guns, throwing stones and bottles, blowing one’s self up, sermonizing hateful tyrades against the West, destroying buildings, burning oil, razing land, and killing people are all economically vacuous even detrimental, not exactly putting wealth back into an economy nor stabilizing a healthy middle-class. Moreover, if you study world economics, the protestant work ethic has proven more industrious and wealth-generating than Sharia. The most successful Muslim countries are those that are most westernized (ie: least like a true-Sharia society). The wealthiest of the remaining Muslim countries survive almost entirely on accidental resources–like oil (as opposed to an industrious or creative product like clothing, movies, technology, etc.). I would further suggest that there are a host of systemically hate-focused theological tenets in islam that foster a distracted economy by orienting populations to expansionism and terrorism. Rather than simply establishing and building up a robust economy, Iran and Iraq have been struggling with tyrants and genocides against Gay people, Kurds and Shiites (respectively). Afghanistan is a world leader in exporting illegal drugs, and is a front for a great deal of arms trading in Pakistan. A great deal of war-torn Africa is fueled by Islamic expansion leaving lots of blood and little economic stability to show for it. Turkey has one of the largest genocides in the early 20th century with the Armenian genocide, which to this day is largely denied in Turkey. The Gaza strip, instead of being a center for Muslim palestinian trade with Jerusalem has been a launching pad for attacks on the interior of Israel. The money for those bombs could have been invested into that small and fragile economy. And even the crusades, as awful and shameful as they were for Christianity, they could not be RECLAIMING european and middle eastern lands if they hadn’t be militantly stolen by the 7-8th century infant expansion of Islam. Islam’s glory days, economically, are either borrowed from vestigial western culture or they date back to the medieval era where Sharia was a step up from feudalism.

    Those Muslims that are peaceable have a big job ahead of them in pioneering a reformation that can forever distinguish themselves from the overwhelmingly brutal and bloody history of world islam. In the mean time, I stand by my claim and call for true Moderate Muslims to forge ground for that title in the modern world.

    You do not show familiarity with Islam. I could just as well get the producer of “Third Jihad” an American Muslim, to get up here and argue the same case I am. You seem to think I’m speaking with some narrowly biased Christian-american perspective. I’m speaking, not so much as a Christian or an American, but as a student and teacher in World religions. It is my job to be familiar with Islam, as interpreted by muslims, and not just American muslims, but muslims internationally.

    Reply
  24. Nathan barley says:

    Thanks for your reply John, but it’s mostly built on strawmen interpretations of what I actually said. Subsequently, I hardly know where to begin in replying! Regarding the reasons behind some Muslim nations doing better than others, it has nothing to with any of my points. I agree with all you say there, but am baffled as to it’s relevance.

    Reply
  25. Nathan Barley says:

    “Your suggestion that Christians are just as likely to commit violent terrorist acts as are muslims”

    Please quote where I said or even suggested that, John.

    “Those Muslims that are peaceable ”

    So you admit that some Muslims are peaceable? What percentage of Muslims would you say are peaceable?

    Do you deny any political factors in producing terrorism? When it’s Christian terrorism, as seen for decades in Ireland, at one point in 1984 coming close to slaughtering the whole of Margaret Thatcher’s governement, I presume you put that down to politics rather than religion?

    “You do not show familiarity with Islam.”

    If you think so, then YOU do not show familarity with me. No crime there, but I’ve barely made enough statements about Islam to demonstrate either knowledge or ignorancem, so I don’t know where you’re getting such an opinion from.

    For example: “Islam’s glory days, economically, are either borrowed from vestigial western culture or they date back to the medieval era where Sharia was a step up from feudalism”

    I happen to agree with everything you say there. The Arab nations ruled the world once in science, maths, you name it. That era came to an end as Islam took hold. But that doesn’t affect any point I’ve made in previous posts.

    “Iran and Iraq have been struggling with tyrants and genocides against Gay people, Kurds and Shiites (respectively). ”

    Again, I agree. And Iran (and other Muslim nations) made progress when it was governed in a more secular way. So yes, up with secularism and down with theocracy. But do you think this helped (from Wiki):

    “The 1953 Iranian coup d’état, on August 19, 1953 (and called the 28 Mordad coup d’état in Iran), was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh by the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States.

    The crushing of Iran’s first democratically elected government launched 25 years of dictatorship under Mohammad-Rez? Sh?h Pahlavi, who relied heavily on U.S. weapons to hold on to power until he was overthrown in February 1979.

    For many Iranians, the coup demonstrated duplicity by the United States, which presented itself as a defender of freedom but did not hesitate to use underhanded methods to overthrow a democratically elected government to suit its own economic and strategic interests”, the Agence France-Presse reported”

    Again, do you believe that anti-Americanism comes from a political vaccuum?

    Reply
  26. John Ferrer says:

    Nathan, one way that these the demographic/geographic points are relevant is that if Islam is the more common denominator in world terrorism, than say, political settings, prior-economics, etc., then your suggestion that politics might be a better explanation than mine is wrong. It matters tremendously if terrorism and expansionism happens EVERYWHERE that Islam constitutes a majority. We cannot, in those cases, consider terrorism to be simply a byproduct of poverty or political oppression. Rather, there is a reverse causal relation–Islam indeed correlates with political strife and economic strife, but as I pointed out, the theologically backed tenets of Jihad can bring economic wealth only with military conquest (via plundering), and even that is only a temporary spike, not a sustained economic stability. Intermediary border disputes–as is more common in the modern era–drain an economy since blowing up buildings, killing yourself, and shooting people do not add wealth or value.

    The same cannot be said of Christianity, which by the way has serious theological and historic (ie: the life ministry of Christ) reasons for never resorting to militancy. People who just don’t understand the self-attested pattern of Muslim history, the life of Muhammad, the texts of Qu’ran and Hadith (one of the chapters of which is called Jihad, and is an abrogation section of their scriptures wherein it has “trump” power over prior peaceful passages which date to the pre-expansionist period). Your drive to find a no-true-scotsman shows your unwillingness to look at the birth-certificates.

    As for anti-americanism, I fully affirm that America has many abuses that need accounting. But I would push it further than you do. Anti-americanism has theological tenets as well because we have a constitution that is not Sharia. By definition, no self-respecting muslim is allowed by the tenets of Islam, to swear by the constitution. Since God did not directly quote the constitution it is understood to be an idolatrous law. Only Allah can make laws. Democracy, freedom of religion, freedom of speech (including the freedom to blaspheme) are inherently anti-islamic concepts in that sense so that Qu’ranic muslims should oppose them vehemently. This is not some new, rare, or isolated interpretation of Islam, this is by and large the most common view within the Muslim world as attested by numerous muslims who have gone on record in America and here.

    Reply
  27. Nathan barley says:

    Hmm, the militancy claim re your faith is hard to take given how much Christianity was quoted during America’s adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Reply
  28. Nathan barley says:

    By the way, I never played no true Scotsman. I pointed out that both religions play the same game with regards to their more violent proponents. How often have we heard that Hitler was too violent to have been a true Christian, though you’d have to also make the same argument for the rest of Germany too.

    Reply
  29. Nathan barley says:

    But I do take on board your points about the difference ideologically between Islam and Christianity. For what it’s worth I have made many of the same arguments as you do here. Christianity can encompass scientific advances like evolution and a billions of years old earth and enlightened attitudes to gays in ways that Islam cannot. I had a funny argument with a friend of mine who insisted not all Muslims were creationists. To ‘prove’ it to me, he phoned his friend Nas… Who then confirmed he was bound by his faith to reject it!

    Reply
  30. Tim D. says:

    Tim, anecdotal fallacies. Show how and why the Hutaree Christian Militia are normative of Christianity and I’ll grant that example, otherwise you are entirely sidestepping and ignoring the central thesis of my argument.

    “No True Christian” fallacy in full effect. Next?

    A lot of people say Fred Phelps is not “normative” of Christianity, but I think that’s because people just don’t like how unfriendly and hateful they are. But you know what? They have a site with Bible quotes supporting every major act they take as a church. I’m inclined to believe that what’s “normative” of Christianity is not necessarily what’s “accurate” about Christianity, same with Islam (or any other religion). That’s basically an argument from popularity.

    Just because a person has a different interpretation does not make it a correct interpretation.

    I didn’t say that it did. Maybe you should try not to be so defensive.

    You know full well that no one theologically educated within the Christian world thinks Catholics are genuinely monotheistic.

    Watch Islamic television sometime. Or read about it, or watch some of the broadcast videos people put up on Youtube. There’s a video floating around from Al-Jazeera(sp?) IIRC of a Muslim guy (imam? pastor? I dunno the exact term) who says basically that “Americans” have split god into a polytheistic trinity; I recall his most famous line was something like, “who would not have hate in his heart for the man who would worship god as a polytheistic trinity?”

    If you were not thinking so defensively you would’ve realized that I was not saying such people are correct. However it’s helpful to understand how other people see you, however “right” or “wrong” they are. Especially since you claim to understand them so well.

    I could go into the differences, but you don’t need to hear that from me. If you bothered to look up the subject for yourself, you’d know that this is the case.

    Blah, blah. “You’re lucky I’m wearing my good shirt,” etc. etc.

    See what percentage of them are muslim. And then check and see how many of them have cells or sponsoring organizations in America.

    I’m actually in the middle of reading “American Jihad: The Terorrists Living Among Us” by Steven Emerson (on recommendation from a friend) at the moment. I’ve also read some books by more Muslim-friendly authors, however, and from what I can see, not even ‘most’ of the Muslim community supports actions like that. May I point to Indonesia, which has the world’s historically largest Muslim population? How many terrorists originate from Indonesia?

    Islam is not defined by whether a person calls himself muslim and is peaceable or militant. Islam is defined by the life of Muhammad, the text of the Qu’ran, and the text of the Hadith. Plain and simple. Even American muslims admit that.

    You’re missing the point entirely: you could also say the same that “Christianity is not defined by whether a person calls himself Christian and is peaceable or militant, it’s defined by the life of Jesus and the text of the Bible.” Still, many people who claim to follow Jesus and the Bible are denounced by Christians as ‘not true Christians’. Given that logic, we have to allow the same wiggle-room for Muslims, otherwise we are being logically biased against Muslims. I’m all for pointing out mistakes and atrocities within Islam, but if you have to be unfair and irrational about it then that kind of undermines the sincerity (and gravity) of your argument, no?

    Plus, your view of terrorism as being (I gather) a product of poverty rather than the cause of poverty is likely a byproduct of believing too much media.

    Oh, boy….

    Do you deny any political factors in producing terrorism? When it’s Christian terrorism, as seen for decades in Ireland, at one point in 1984 coming close to slaughtering the whole of Margaret Thatcher’s governement, I presume you put that down to politics rather than religion?

    I think I see how it works. If there’s a terrorist somewhere, and that terrorist is Muslim, then he’s a “Muslim Terrorist” and the Islam made him do it, regardless of how tenuous or obvious the connection may be. If a Christian (or many Christians) commit violent acts of terrorism anywhere, then “they weren’t true Christians” and “just because they were Christian doesn’t mean their Christianity influenced their violence.” Which is a load of bull. I’ve been reading about the genocides in Africa that took place over the last few decades and from what I can see, there are *still* Christian and Catholic acts of terrorism being committed around the world. It’s just that we only get to see the American “moderate” image of Christianity, and “the media” tends to just not address the more radical elements elsewhere.

    I mean, notice how that Mormon compound was not referred to in the news as a “Mormon compound,” but as a “polygamous compound?” They won’t even use the proper name for the religion involved. But when Islam comes into play….the bias is evident.

    Reply
  31. Nathan barley says:

    Tim you notice that I said there were complex causes in radicalising people to becoming terrorists, and that poverty can be a factor. And then John basically summarised my position as “poverty causes terrorism”

    And you’re right about Christian terrorism in Africa.

    Reply
  32. Nathan barley says:

    Tim, I’m glad you got my point about that brought on John’s reply about the definition of Islam. He seemed to miss the point so completely, I didn’t think it worth even clarifying. Thanks for doing the job for me.
    I think John is mistaking us for Islamic apologists, and further assuming that anyone who disagrees with him must simply be less ed

    Reply
  33. Nathan barley says:

    …educated on the subject as him. At any rate, I’ve never seen a person’s argument improved by their telling the other person that they are ignorant or too influenced by the media. It’s a lazy way of attacking your opponent.
    My concern is that if people simplify the situation to being purely about religion they are doomed to perpetuate the problem.

    Reply
  34. Nathan barley says:

    “As for anti-americanism, I fully affirm that America has many abuses that need accounting. But I would push it further than you do. ”

    You don’t ‘push it further’ here – you completely change the subject! BTW, I wasn’t saying ‘US deposed Iran’s democratically el

    Reply
  35. Nathan barley says:

    …elected leader = terrorism, just that talk or ‘they hate because of our freedoms’ and such is hopelessly simplistic, when you consider other factors such as the events of 1953. As for your constition point, I’ve heard Frank make the same point. It seems to come up as a one-size-fits-all repost to any discussion of Islam. I don’t know whether it’s true, but it sounds like the kind of thing students of one religion say about another religion, like Muslim’s jibe about Catholicism’s ‘three God’ thing. Usually, if you take it to genuine adherents, you get told you’ve got an inaccurate, simplistic view, together with a long, complicated reason why you’ve misunderstood their religion, often involving terms like heuristic and context. Sound familiar? So you might be right, but I’d want to hear a Muslim-American scholar’s explanation first. At any rate, Muslims seem to manage to pledge allegiance all the time, and I’ve not seen evidence they find it harder to keep to your laws anyway. And as I said, your point was not relevant to mine anyway, more of a ‘you may be right, but what about THIS’ response.

    Reply
  36. johnferrer says:

    I do not have the time t address all of your many points. So I’ll make only a few comments in the general direction of what you guys have been saying.

    First, getting back to the article. Little that has been said in the comments has addressed the theological, textual, and historical substance of Islam which leave the notion of “moderate” Muslim ambiguous at best.

    Second, I do not pretend that anti-americanism or terrorism is ENTIRELY theological in its basis. Other causes undoubtedly swirl in. You guys have mentioned several of these. I have never denied these–such as, a poverty can fuel some terrorism, religious abuse from Christianity, miscues by the state of Israel, american immorality. These can all fuel can feul either terroism or antiamericanism. These are obviously the case. I point to the theology and history because frankly people generaly do not know nor appeciate how deeply theological, historical, and textual militant Jihad is. Whatever other factors mght be involved, I will keep pointing back to the intractable theological causes if for no other reason than that people–in my experience–refuse to admit the qualitative distinction between textual Islamic links to terrorism and say, the relationship of other religions to terrorism. Till people appreciate this aspect of Islam they are just ignoring mountains of evidence preferring to generalize over anecdotal cases and a general faith in humanity.

    Third, I grant degrees and shades of variation within Islam. And I have already admitted that Islam is mostly constituted of peacable muslims who mean no particular threat to western values nor the American way of life. But there is a difference between muslims and Islam. Islam is defined by texts, history, tradition, and theology. Muslims are self-defined. There are nominal muslims. There are “cradle” muslims (those raised in the muslim faith). There are liberal muslims. There are orthodox Muslims. There are unorthodox Muslims. Not to mention there are theological/denominational divides within Islam. My argument is that even if the overwhelming majority of muslims in America and the world were peaceable, and even if Hamas was not generally approved within the Muslim world, and even if there wasn’t an extensive history and present reality of militant Jihad. Islam has proven to return time and time again, in place after place, to its textual roots and the example of Muhammad. Both of which overwhelming testify to intentional militant expansion of Islam over the whole world, with forcable conversion, by oppression or threat of death. Muhmmad never said “turn the other cheek,” nor “pray for your enemies.” Feel free to disagree with me, but I ask for textual and theological reasons for your belief. Anecdotal points only go so far, since there are just as many contrary anecdotes.

    Reply
  37. Toby R. says:

    “. . . religious abuse from Christianity . . . ”

    This if off topic and if there is a better post on this site that the question applies to, then tell me and I’ll put it there.

    Why follow christianity or believe in a god if doing either of those things doesn’t make you a better person? “I could be a better person if I would just—-(fill in the blank).” Doesn’t this simple sentence, if someone genuinely considered it and wished to act upon it, present a better, easier, and more self-effacing way to live? It cuts through the malarkey of religious texts and allows one to live morally without the need to be somewhere on a sunday morning between 8 and noon.

    Sure you might say, “Well, how does one define “better”? Or “What do you mean good?” and so I’ll give a half and inch and say, “Let’s take the 10 commandments for example. All of them basically boil down to “do not kill and do not steal. You could make a argument for do unto others as you’d have done to you,” but there are plenty of sadimasochists out there and I don’t want to wear a ballgag or tight leather pants or have things inserted where I’d rather not have them inserted. So to do not steal or kill add do not usurp one’s right to live freely so long as they follow rules 1 and 2. There you go. Simplify whatever religions are out there. Distill them to their essence without all the worry of unjust eternal punishment.

    Reply
  38. matthew says:

    “Let’s take the 10 commandments for example. All of them basically boil down to “do not kill and do not steal. You could make a argument for do unto others as you’d have done to you,”

    Actually, the first one is to Love the Lord your God with all of your mind, body, and soul. That is first and foremost, and does not boil down to not killing and not stealing.

    Reply
  39. Dan says:

    You guys are getting off topic…

    I know this will be thrown out as evidence by johnferrer because it goes against his article and comments but I thought I would share this article:

    Koran a Book of Peace, Not War, Scholars Say

    Peter Standring
    National Geographic Today
    September 25, 2001

    Osama bin Laden, who is widely assumed to be the force behind the September 11 hijackings in the United States, cites the Koran, Islam’s most holy book, as the inspiration for terrorist attacks. But Muslim scholars around the world who are reviled by such actions explain that the Koran preaches peace.

    “The Koran is saying to humans, this is the final guidance from your Creator, for the specific purpose of worshipping him and creating a civil society where you can live in peace with one another,” says Muslim scholar Imam Sulayman S. Nyang of Howard University in Washington, D.C.

    Muslims around the world rely on the Koran for guidance, says Nyang. Devout followers heed the call to prayer five times each day and recite passages from the holy book. Muslims believe that the Koran is God’s unfiltered message—teaching them how to lead a good life and become a better, more moral person.

    “The Koran is very specific with regard to the nature of human struggle, because in order for a human to be at peace with himself, they must control their baser instincts,” says Nyang.

    The quest to control base instincts such as greed, lust, and cruelty and to seek spiritual purity is known by Muslims as the “great jihad.” Featured widely in the Koran, the “great jihad” is a person’s most important internal struggle.

    Nyang quotes Chapter 3, verse 172, of the Koran: “Of those who answered the call of Allah and the messenger, even after being wounded, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward.”

    But also in the holy scripture is a reference to “lower jihad,” a more earthly and physical—and controversial—struggle. “To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to fight] because they are wronged; and verily, God is most powerful for their aid,” quotes Nyang.

    This verse speaks of combat or war to be waged against one’s oppressors—a struggle sanctioned by God.

    But the Koran also states in Chapter 2, Verse 190: “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors.”

    The essence of the verse, Nyang says, is to fight back “if you are attacked by your persecutors, but don’t fight back indiscriminately. Follow the rules of engagement.” According to mainstream Muslim clerics, those “rules of engagement”‘ are explicit: women, children, and innocent civilians are off limits.

    Perversion of Text

    Muslims believe the prophet Mohammed received these revelations directly from God some 1400 years ago. It was at a time when he and other Muslims were being driven from their homes, persecuted, and killed. But although the Koran advocates self-defense, its most prevalent message is one of peace and brotherly love.

    “If people are intent on using religion to motivate terror or violence, they’ll find an excuse there no matter what the actual text says,” says David Rodier of American University in Washington, D.C., who is an expert on the world’s religions. Like the Koran, he says, most holy scriptures are filled with stories of war and warriors, and these images have been used throughout history by some members of every faith to justify bloodshed.

    “Religion, after all, speaks to our most basic and ultimate convictions, and if you are wanting to use violence, if you can find a religious justification, then you can find a very powerful motivation,” says Rodier.

    Christians have killed in the name of God, as have Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and others. But it is Muslims who have most recently been accused of turning “divine commandments” into a divine license to kill.

    Terrorists have often said they are striking out against their enemies and oppressors “in the name of Allah.” But many Islamic scholars say such terrorists are not only violating the spirit of the Koran, but the letter of it as well.

    “You do not kill innocent people, you do not cheat, you do not lie, you do not destroy any property of other human beings,” says Imam Abdullah Khouj, an Islamic scholar and director of the Islamic Center, in Washington, D.C.

    The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon “can’t be in the name of Allah,” he adds.

    “Violation of Allah’s Wishes”

    Islamic scholars interviewed by the TV news show National Geographic Today agreed that terrorists such as Usama bin Laden and his supporters are fanatics using Islam to further their own worldly causes.

    “In order for them to generate support beyond their small group, they have to latch onto universal symbols, and this is where Islam becomes a target of convenience for them,” says Nyang

    People combine pieces of verse from the Koran and use it to justify their actions, says Khouj. “But to understand the full meaning of the verse,” he says, “you have to read the one before it, the one after it, maybe five to six verses to get the full picture.”

    The “full picture” of Islam and the Koran, say Khouj and Nyang, is captured by Chapter 5, Verse 32: “[I]f anyone slew a person—unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land—it would be as if he slew the whole people. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

    For most Muslims, the callous and indiscriminate taking of human life violates Allah’s wishes. It defies the Koran’s central message and undermines the peace that Islam promises to deliver to all people.

    “Human life in Islam is extremely sacred,” says Khouj. “We’re not talking about just Muslim [life], but human life in general.”

    This article was excerpted from a one-hour special, “The Geography of Crisis,” aired by the TV news show National Geographic Today on September 25 at 8 p.m. EST.

    Blah blah blah I’m not well schooled in religion blah blah

    Reply
  40. Nathan barley says:

    Meanwhile we’ve got a Christian bible that condones slavery and the stoning of unruly children. Quoting such passages will get you lofty replies that you’re taking an unsophisticated approach to the text, but the same apologists will take single lines from the Qu’ran and interpret them in ways rejected by the majority of Muslim scholars. This comes across as special pleading, double standards, whatever you want to call it.

    Reply
  41. johnferrer says:

    Dan,

    Concerning the source, Khouj, cited in your article, he’s since been outed as a terrorist supporter, polygamist, tax fraud, money laundered, has ties to Osama Bin Laden, and has hosted several terrorist/terrorist-supporters at his Mosque. Heres a little about him at a Muslim website:

    “A new director [of the Islamic Center in D.C.], or chief imam, was sent to the mosque-Saudi subject Abdullah M. Khouj. Khouj’s credentials, which became public in a messy lawsuit beginning in 2006, were, in retrospect, problematic. Khouj represented the Muslim World League (MWL), founded in Saudi Arabia in 1962 as an international agency for the propagation of Wahhabism [ultra-conservative Islamic sect typically affiliated with terrorism]. . . .Khouj was admitted to the United States as a diplomat, allegedly serving as an attaché at the Saudi Embassy, but actually dedicated to advancing the most radical interpretation of Islam in history. His diplomatic visa allowed Khouj to receive a tax-free monthly personal salary of $10,920. He also received $50,000 a month to run the mosque, which he kept in his personal account. The State Department, from 1998 to 2001, pressed the Saudi embassy to explain why its purported attaché was running a major mosque. And Khouj’s résumé betrayed yet another lapse: While the bylaws of the mosque called for its chief imam to hold a doctoral degree in Islamic studies, Khouj had training only in psychology. Still, Khouj was a thorough Wahhabi, and that was what counted for his Saudi masters.”
    (* The articles gets worse, read on at: http://www.ahl-alquran.com/English/show_article.php?main_id=4450)

    As for the other source, Sulayman Nyang, he seems to be a more credible representative of a peaceful kind of Islam. But since the first one was speaking out of two sides of his mouth leaving only one scholarly witness left the article should be titled:

    “Koran a Book of Peace, Not War, One Scholar Says”

    If you trust that scholar go ahead with what he says, or you can read the Jihad section of the Hadith yourself at: http://web.youngmuslims.ca/online_library/books/jihad/

    Don’t get me wrong, I know there is a textual argument for peacable Islam. But it has not yet be enough to trigger any kind of reformation except perhaps a reactionary Wahabism and thus swing certain Islamic communities back to ultra-conservativism (In this case, meaning terrorism).

    Self-proclaimed Muslim moderates have several obstacles to being considered legitimate.

    1) Wahabism–tradtionalist view of Islam which has ebbed and flowed since its emergence in the Muslim scene in the 18th century. It pushes for an abandoning of innovations and any kind of mysticism or magical worldview that might have accumulated in Islam since about the 10th cent. (when the Qu’ran was finally recorded). Incidently, it pushes for a return to the medieval militancy that typified Islam in those days. These guys make a pretty strong textual case for view of Islam.

    2) The Life of Muhammad–make no mistake, Muhammad killed thousands of people, had 11 wives, and intended for Islam to take over the known world in his lifetime, and if not then, then in the near future. Muslims agree that Muhammad’s life is not just special or notable but is the standard and example for Muslim practice. Self-proclaimed moderates have to address the tension posed by his immoderate militancy.

    3) Abrogation–as a rule, Muslims are supposed to take the later teachings as trumping or “abrogating” earlier teachings. Most all the peaceable teachings that Muslims cite to indicate how peacable Islam is are in abrogated passages.

    4) The Jihad section of the Hadith–just read it. It’s clear enough in itself.

    5) The history of expansionism in Islam which has never ceased ever since it started. History testifies that every muslim border has been a bloody border. The crusaders were not taking back gifted lands from the Moors (Muslims) they were (in poor fashion) stealing back the lands that were stolen from them in military conquest. Turkey was Christian before Muslim expansion took it over and retrofitted the Hagia Sophia to make it a Mosque. Jerusalem wasn’t Muslim until Muslim miltary took it over by force. Pakistan was forced through violence. etc. etc.

    6) The doctrine of promised Islamic reign of the whole world. Conservatives and liberals alike within Islam believe that Islam will spread and eventually take over the world. But what about those who do not want to become Muslim nor pay the tax of submission? How are they to be become Muslim? History has shown that such people are expelled or killed. Hardly, a peacable or moderate option.

    Reply
  42. Dan says:

    Ok yo’ve got me convinced….Muslims are evil by nature and can not change or else they aren’t muslims. now to the next step- looking down on them with prejudice like you.

    Reply
  43. John Ferrer says:

    Dan,

    I suspect you are blurring the distinction between “muslims” and “Islam.” Islam is defined by its history, traditions and texts. Muslims are self-defined. Every religion (and irreligion) needs some degree of reformation. So I would ask no more of the Muslim than I think is owed by Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, etc. I’m pointing out a critical area of reformation that, it seems to me, is necessary for islam if it is to ever abide under the banner of religious freedom (and religious and irreligious alike can bask in that freedom). I’m calling for discernment and honest discussion, not presumptions of either peace or militancy. I would not want pre-judgment (ie: prejudice) but rather factual fair discernment.

    My article, remember, primarily addresses to self-professing moderate muslims. I in no way told peaceable muslims that they are actually militant, nor did I say that Islam must stay any certain way.

    I think the problem we face over this kind of knowledge is that people who finally learn about the history of islam (or any other ugly history of a worldview, religion, or system of reason) have a knee-jerk reaction of prejudice. Given that kind of reaction we are not able to cope with such knowledge and must be sheltered from it lest we think, speak and act with bigotry. “My uncle was discriminated against by an X person, therefore all X people are evil.”–That reaction is no better than its trigger.

    Reply
  44. johnferrer says:

    Dan, please don’t resort to logical fallacies (hasty generalization, ad hominem). I am trying to make a subtle and refined point that, unfortunately, is easily misunderstood because there is little careful listening on issues of such heavy concern. I deny your characterization of my article, and ask humbly for a rereading. I think I made my tone and intention clear, if you are willing to receive it. If you are not willing, then there is nothing I can do about that.

    Reply
  45. johnferrer says:

    Calling me prejudice is an ad hominem. It’s logically fallacious as a hasty generalization too since the content of my article is not enough to justify the claim that I’m pre-judging people (ie: lit. “pre-judice,” to pass judgment without hearing the case); and of course, such claims distract from the argument by attacking my character rather than the content of my claims.

    Reply
  46. Patrick W says:

    Some clarification on the quran. Really many scholars divide it into two separate qurans, the meccan quran and the medinan quran. While Mohamed was in Mecca, the quran was mainly the general tenents of Islam. As a side note, this was the period he and his followers were being persecuted, and not the period jihad comes from. After the hijra, the quran begins to be more concerned with specifics about what Mohamed was doing at the time. Jihad comes from the period of his war against Mecca, passages condemning the jews come from when he came into conflict with them, etc… separation of church and state is a western concept, not a muslim one, and the medinan quran is very political in nature (from a western standpoint). But from a traditional muslim standpoint, there isn’t the distinction. The whole argument above about religious vs. Political motives for islamist terrorists is something that doesn’t really make sense from their point of view

    Reply
  47. John Ferrer says:

    Good input Patrick! I agree. It is not a native distinction for Islam to divide the “two cities”: the City of God (faith/religion) and the City of Man (state/politics). Those Muslims that would make such a distinction have the burden of proof to show that Islamic thought justifies such distinctions. Sharia, for one thing, would seem to demand the fusion of the two.

    We should also clarify that the Qu’ran was not compiled until almost a full generation after Mohammad died. His more faithful disciples who had been entrusted with the spoken revelations of God were dying off in battle (why in battle???), and so a later Imam (Uthman) conducted a rescension–destroying all fragment, impartial copies, and other versions, leaving only one official collection as the authorized version of the Qu’ran. Muslims however contend with this point, suggesting that Muhammad directed the recording AND ORDERING of these revelations over 22.5 years in his life time, all by divine revelation. Nevertheless, the rescension under Uthman narrowed down the versions to the present Arabic form used today.

    Reply
  48. Dan says:

    “Really many scholars divide it into two separate qurans, the meccan quran and the medinan quran”
    -devided into “testements”

    “While Mohamed was in Mecca, the quran was mainly the general tenents of Islam.”
    -old testement shows tenets of judaism

    “After the hijra, the quran begins to be more concerned with specifics about what Mohamed was doing at the time”
    -gospels

    “We should also clarify that the Qu’ran was not compiled until almost a full generation after Mohammad died”
    -Many scholars believe the gospels were written a full generation after Jesus died

    His more faithful disciples who had been entrusted with the spoken revelations of God were dying off in battle
    -being persecuted

    ” and so a later Imam (Uthman) conducted a rescension–destroying all fragment, impartial copies, and other versions, leaving only one official collection as the authorized version of the Qu’ran”
    -council of Nicea

    Reply
  49. John Ferrer says:

    Dan, there are some similiarities in the list you mention. But of few of them seem misconceived.

    1) The followers of Jesus were not dying off before having imparted the scripture. They were not giving “new revelation,” whereas the followers of Muhammad were dying off with (supposedly) some of the revelation unrecorded.

    2) If a generation is understood to be a standard 40 years, there are also many scholars who believe the synoptic gospels were all completed within a generation of the crucifixion.

    3) And the Council of Nicea did not include any rescension. The NT canon was formalized there, but it wasn’t like it was “invented” or fabricated there. The books of the NT were all in circulation and widely agreed upon with only 2 Peter, 2-3 John, and Revelation in dispute. Of these, only Revelation was doctrinally at issue–the others were smaller, later, and less circulated some some churches didn’t know they existed or at least didn’t have copies. Revelation was not really in “dispute” except that it was too close for comfort to many of the apocalyptic cults that were budding. But since it’s authorship was not disputed, they accepted Revelation. (BTW, Dan Brown is way off base in his account of the Nicean Council).

    Reply
  50. Karen says:

    If you want to learn about Islam then check out this website: http://www.thestraightway.org The man who created this website is a Muslim converted to Christrian. You can e-mail him your questions and he will give you straight answers about Islam. His ministry is devoted to reaching the Muslims for Christ.

    Reply
  51. Charles says:

    Religion; in and of itself, regardless of what belief system it is based on, is the problem behind all that is being discussed in this blog. Christianity, in it’s truest form, is not a religion. I say this because religion is not the point of what a True Christian bases their life on. It is the Person of Christ. The relationship between God and His creation. Man did not lose a religion on the Garden of Eden. Muslims, Bhuddists, Hindus, Athiests and all forms of organized “Christian” denominations need to realize that the legalistic, elitist, dogmatic approach to “believing” anything does nothing but separate a Holy God from His creation and separates the creation itself. The answers that are being sought in this discussion are trivial in Spirit, but only carnally relevant. We do need to figure out a way to Love one another while transcending our beliefs. I, personally, don’t dislike or disassociate myself from Muslims or anyone else who believes differently from me. As a matter of fact it is quite important that we learn and understand one another so that discussions, like this one, will lead us to the Way, Truth and Life we all seek.

    Matthew 22:37 – Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Reply
  52. Tim D. says:

    Religion; in and of itself, regardless of what belief system it is based on, is the problem behind all that is being discussed in this blog. Christianity, in it’s truest form, is not a religion. I say this because religion is not the point of what a True Christian bases their life on. It is the Person of Christ. The relationship between God and His creation.

    You say this, then you quote the Bible.

    If it was about a personal relationship with *anybody,* then there would be no need for texts, you could simply talk to that person.

    I find it odd that a personal relationship with a deity (who is supposedly omniscient) has to be consistently facilitated by a third-party human being (be that a biblical author or a local priest) who “knows better” than we do.

    Reply
  53. Charles says:

    “…you could simply talk to that person.”

    You can. Prayer.

    And yes, I quoted the Bible. Strange? Not so much, when we consider taking “religion” out of the equation. A carnal viewpoint finds it difficult to make sense out of spirituality. For instance, world religions and pagan, athiestic belief systems offer destruction, violence or some kind of catastrophic event for the onset of reality or they try to bypass creation all together. The canonical account for the creation is the only one (correct me if I am wrong) that does the opposite in offering that God, alone, brought a logical, scientific and perpetual order to a chaotic situation (reference Genesis 1-3). Everyone God uses in Biblical text is no different from any human being living today. The thought that there are some that know better than we do would only pertain to those who exercise Faith by trusting in God’s Word and challenging the spirits attempting to give answers(voices in our heads). The only thing that made the Men and Women of the Bible different is Faith. We are simply God’s chosen representative for the Earth, man that is, transcendant of any kind of “religion”. I don’t wish to get off subject here, so let me just say that I am just offering a perspective to consider when discussing Faith and belief systems to go deeper into conscienceness and really pull for Truth.

    Reply
  54. Tim D. says:

    You can. Prayer.

    So there’s no need for anyone to ever read a Bible then. Good.

    And yes, I quoted the Bible. Strange? Not so much, when we consider taking “religion” out of the equation.

    That is a complete paradox. If you take away the religion, then you have no Bible. If you require external verification of miracles and religious texts, then you have a religion and it is no longer “personal” in any sense of the word.

    For instance, world religions and pagan, athiestic belief systems offer destruction, violence or some kind of catastrophic event for the onset of reality or they try to bypass creation all together.

    What little of this that does make sense is completely wrong (what kind of *anything* offers “violence” as a reason for the “onset of reality,” by which I can only assume you mean the beginning of the universe?).

    The thought that there are some that know better than we do would only pertain to those who exercise Faith by trusting in God’s Word and challenging the spirits attempting to give answers(voices in our heads).

    ….maybe this is just me, but I *definitely* don’t hear voices in my head 😮

    We are simply God’s chosen representative for the Earth, man that is, transcendant of any kind of “religion”.

    So you do agree that any book or bible is completely unnecessary?

    Reply
  55. Charles says:

    1. I wouldn’t say unnecessary. How have you learned all that you know? I’m sure that text had something to do with it.
    2. Don’t hear voices in your head? So, what language do you think in?
    3. Many “religions” have tried to give account of creation and when they attempted to do so depict God in man’s image whereas, as I said, the Canonical account is the only one that does the opposite in offering us God creating man in His image.
    4. What is your definition of religion? By taking away “religion” there is still a Bible. Religion is a man-made concept that seeks to change humanity from the outside inward through dogma and legalism which doesn’t work because it divides humanity instead of fusing humanity. Look, we are all made of the same material and True Christianity is not some exclusive “club” to join as with other belief systems which rely on having to do or be something in order to be included. This discussion ,however, is not about Christianity. Again, I am simply offering another perspective to ponder when discussing differences within “religious” doctrines and belief systems and bringing to the “proverbial table” a fact that all “religions” are divisive by nature both inclusive and exclusive. How many denominations of Christians do we have in this country? How many sects of Islam have you heard of? Are all Bhuddists and Hindus the same? Well, these are all different religions aren’t they? The Bible, however, is able to give humanity something other than religion and that is relationship between creator and creation. I do not mean to try an impose my belief, but I am merely trying to make the point that “religion” ,itself, may be why we may never see an agreeable answer to the original question in the posting.

    Reply
  56. John Ferrer says:

    Charles, oddly enough I think I might side more with Tim on this one. I don’t mean to gang up on you. But everything you are espousing about your own relationship with Christ is entirely consistent with the definition of religion that I’m operating under. Accordingly, everything you seem to be denoting under the term “religion” is only a limited segment of religion as I understand it. I suspect you might be ceding some important territory to the anti-religious sentiment swelling these days by allowing the group dismissal of all “religion,” thinking you have spared your own system of beliefs by locating it under a different term, “relationship.” I’m afraid what you are doing, in effect, is admitting that your belief system, despite attempted redefinition, is still a relational kind of religion and therefore is equally dismissed under your own Your distinction is arbitrary. And given the fact that you still adhere to a sacred Scripture, the Abrahamic God, the historic Christian faith (ie: sola gracia, sola fide, etc.), it is a pitiful recanvasing to say “I don’t have religion, I have a relationship.” You fail to understand the implications of your own beliefs, and you mischaracterize the profoundly complex religions in the world. As a teacher in world religions and a logic teacher, I think you might have committed a fallacy of a false dilemma. There is no definitive rule distinguishing “religion” from “relationship.” Several religions and religious subgroupings are imminently relational in their understanding of God (ie: Bhakti hinduism, Shin Buddhism; Christianity; several Christian Cults; etc.)

    But to prevent putting words in your mouth, would you please share what you mean when you say, “religion” and how dismissing said “religion” is overall helpful in turning the growing tide of animosity towards all belief in the supernatural (ie: “religion”)? I suspect you might be accidentally helping anti-religious sentiment in its indiscriminate opposition to of “relational” and “religious” forms of Christianity.

    Reply
  57. John Ferrer says:

    Charles, I read your definition of “religion” after having asked for it. I think I have a good understanding of where you are coming from. But I have to ask, where is your definition coming from?

    In my note set I use in class to introduce students to world religion studies, I have some 35+ definitions of religion represented in literature today, and what you just defined as “religion” is the first of that definition I’ve heard. Can you defend that definition? Perhaps give me a source, or something like that?

    Reply
  58. John Ferrer says:

    I don’t mean to be hard on you Charles, I hear your heart and we probably agree far more than we disagree. I just take issue with the common objection from well-meaning Christians who say, “I don’t have religion, I have a relationship.” I think this position does more harm than good, and it generally streams from a misunderstanding of religion.

    Reply
  59. Charles says:

    Short version: The difference between a disciple of Jesus Christ and “churchianity”. I simply believe that throughout history man has needed/relied on some form of organized religious law in order to maintain his character and be a productive and socially civil citizen of this world. In essence, to maintain some type of order. For centuries religion has been sufficient in general in that we (man) have not destroyed ourselves completely. Maybe I have maintained a misunderstanding of religion. I won’t dispute that my idea of “religion” may differ from many others. All I have been trying to convey is with so many different belief systems and so many different ways to believe them may keep us digging deeper down the “rabbit hole” away from absolute Truth, which I do believe exists. The relationship aspect is not one that is human-centered, but Christ-centered. In other words, its not about the relationship I have with Him, but the relationship He has with me. So many Christians witness by first asking folks if they know Christ. At this point who doesn’t? I happen to think a more important question would be does He know us?

    Reply
  60. Tim D. says:

    1. I wouldn’t say unnecessary. How have you learned all that you know? I’m sure that text had something to do with it.

    If it’s necessary, then Christianity is a religion.

    2. Don’t hear voices in your head? So, what language do you think in?

    I think in English. But I don’t hear voices in my head. There is no sound at all, see, just thought.

    3. Many “religions” have tried to give account of creation and when they attempted to do so depict God in man’s image whereas, as I said, the Canonical account is the only one that does the opposite in offering us God creating man in His image.

    Makes no difference to me.

    4. What is your definition of religion? By taking away “religion” there is still a Bible. Religion is a man-made concept that seeks to change humanity from the outside inward through dogma and legalism which doesn’t work because it divides humanity instead of fusing humanity.

    The Bible *is* dogma and legalism. Here, let me take you through the dictionary terms real quick:

    Dogma:

    1. a system of principles or tenets, as of a church.
    2. a specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church: the dogma of the Assumption.
    3. prescribed doctrine: political dogma.
    4. a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle.

    Does Christianity have a system of principles or tenets? Check.

    Does Christianity have a specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church? The dogma of creation would be a fine example (or the assumption, as provided helpfully by the dictionary).

    Does Christianity have a prescribed doctrine, such as a political dogma? According to every Christian I’ve ever spoken to, it’s required that you oppose abortion and homosexuality according to the Bible. So I’d say “check.”

    Is Christianity a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle? Based on the above definitions, it definitely seems so — “established” in that the moral law (as well as many other laws) is/are already “decided” and cannot be appealed.

    Look, we are all made of the same material and True Christianity is not some exclusive “club” to join as with other belief systems which rely on having to do or be something in order to be included.

    I do not care one small whit what you consider “True Christianity” since you cannot even admit that it is a religion.

    gain, I am simply offering another perspective to ponder when discussing differences within “religious” doctrines and belief systems and bringing to the “proverbial table” a fact that all “religions” are divisive by nature both inclusive and exclusive.

    Exactly. You, like so very many others before you (as this tactic is not new), are arbitrarily declaring Christianity not to be a “religion” so you can arbitrarily exclude it from criticism of religion in general.

    The Bible, however, is able to give humanity something other than religion and that is relationship between creator and creation

    A “relationship” which must, for whatever reason, be consistently facilitated by a third party human being with more “authority” than the person him/herself. Seems odd that someone who is supposedly omniscient would need a human to do his talking for him every single time.

    Reply
  61. Toby R. says:

    “The Bible *is* dogma and legalism.”

    This struck my eye and reminded me of something I heard recently. I thought I’d put it out there and get some thoughts on it. The bible, or any other religious text, is “personal revelation”. A god reveals itself to someone and that’s supposedly how we got these books. Consider that personal revelation is individual revelation. An all powerful deity could reveal itself to everyone, but for some reason apologists will argue that that would violate everyone’s free will. That aside my question is what makes personal revelation in the form of the bible credible? Personal revelation is first hand experience, second hand revelation is merely hearsay. By what reckoning should we trust anything written 1000, 2000, 3000 years ago by people that thought eclipses were signs from a god and a season of locusts were punishments?

    Reply
  62. Tim D. says:

    An all powerful deity could reveal itself to everyone, but for some reason apologists will argue that that would violate everyone’s free will. That aside my question is what makes personal revelation in the form of the bible credible?

    Well, if any “real” revelation is considered violating our free will, then based on that, how would it not be a violation of the biblical prophets’ free will for a god to descend on them with ‘personal revelations?’

    Wouldn’t revealing himself to a prophet violate that prophet’s free will, by that logic?

    Reply
  63. Charles says:

    Well, I just thought I’d offer another perspective to consider when discussing differences within religion. Everyone has opted to shoot down what I considered a relevant contribution. I concede to agree to disagree, graciously, with no disrespect intended. I am not trying to convert “non-believers” in this forum. If it happens; great, but my only goal was to voice a growing perspective that does not rely on a set of rituals and traditions to please an “angry god”. I probably sound a bit crazy to the “wise”, but I consider 1 Corinthians 2:7 – But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. – And I also consider 1Corinthians 2:14 – But the natural man recieveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. – Say what you will; I know that Faith is a “hard pill to swallow” so to speak., But faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17) and without faith it is impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6).
    Christ lived, was cruxified unto death and resurrected and so my perspective cannot change. I’ll continue to watch and pray; what you all decide to do is up to you. May the Power of God grant you all Peace, Love, Strength and Wisdom in Jesus Name. It is your free will to accept it or reject it.

    Reply
  64. Tim D. says:

    “Now I don’t know what stopped Jesus Christ
    from turning every hungry stone into bread
    And I don’t remember hearing how Moses reacted
    when the innocent firstborn sons lay dead
    I guess God was a lot more demonstrative
    back when he flamboyantly parted the sea
    Now everybody’s praying
    Don’t pray on me.

    –Bad Religion, Don’t Pray On Me

    Reply
  65. Charles says:

    wow. ok. well, I’ll just wish the best for you then. How’s that? Whether anyone cares or not; it really doesn’t matter. I choose to Love others despite myself. It doesn’t cost you or anyone else a thing; but costs me because I set myself aside with no benefit expressed or implied. No reward. No Glory…..I guess that is the meaning of what sacrificial Agape (true love) is all about. I am not getting anything out of praying for others. I just enjoy when others prosper in joy and happiness.
    So, John, so far what are your thoughts on the original post? Have we or has anyone gained any ground in terms of finding any harmony in the realm of religious beliefs? Is there a “happy medium” in the Islamic Faith? or any other organized religion? To this extent, there has been very little agreement; Some, but not much. I am truly interested. Frank, do you have any thoughts on this post?

    Reply
  66. Dan says:

    There probably will never be true harmony in religious beliefs charles, due to the fact that having truth in one religion means that other religions must be false,(due to conflicting dogma) and because everyone believes they are right, athiests included, there will always be something to argue about.

    Reply
  67. Charles says:

    An all powerful deity could reveal itself to everyone, but for some reason apologists will argue that that would violate everyone’s free will. That aside my question is what makes personal revelation in the form of the bible credible?

    Well, if any “real” revelation is considered violating our free will, then based on that, how would it not be a violation of the biblical prophets’ free will for a god to descend on them with ‘personal revelations?’

    Wouldn’t revealing himself to a prophet violate that prophet’s free will, by that logic?

    According to the Bible (Jeremiah 1 in particular), everyone born has been ordained for something, a purpose, which solidifies our Faith and gives strength to those with that Faith. Faith, in a sense, is our conduit that reconnects us with God. Our free will is not violated because God, before the foundation of the world, imparted the very nature of his revelation in us to be exercised. So it is not a violation of free will when it is our nature to recieve and live what He gives to do, say or whatever. With that said, we are able to do whatever we want. For instance, a man that comes from a family of mechanics. His Dad, his uncles, grandparents on either side, even cousins and aunts. He is more than likely geared to be and would be very good at being a mechanic. Well, God may have ordained this man with an ability and affinity for writing books. This man, now has choices. He can do what he pleases, but if He chooses to do what God imparted in him God is well pleased to work on behalf of this man with blessings of all kinds. If he chooses not to, well he certainly has potential to be very successful and live an enjoyable life, but without God in the hereafter. (Consider reading the book of Job). And the hearafter, my friend, is what people of Faith live for.

    Reply
  68. Tim D. says:

    According to the Bible (Jeremiah 1 in particular), everyone born has been ordained for something, a purpose, which solidifies our Faith and gives strength to those with that Faith. Faith, in a sense, is our conduit that reconnects us with God. Our free will is not violated because God, before the foundation of the world, imparted the very nature of his revelation in us to be exercised.

    So what you’re saying is that God doesn’t prove he exists because he already has, through some excruciatingly-subtle-to-the-point-of-being-indistinguishable-from-our-own-individual-identity-and-thoughts-and-feelings method at some point in the past?

    I don’t see divine intent in finding something to do with my life that interests me. Nor do I see divine intent in feeling love or caring for other people. There’s no need for a god to exist in order to validate any of that, unless one is so insecure that he/she needs someone else to tell him/her what to do in order to feel like it’s worth anything.

    Reply
  69. Toby R. says:

    “Our free will is not violated because God, before the foundation of the world, imparted the very nature of his revelation in us to be exercised.”

    It seems like you’re saying that we were around before the universe, or at least the planet, was . . . that’s funny. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember anything from before I was born. As a matter of fact I don’t remember anything until my brain was about 3 or 4 years old.

    “I don’t see divine intent in finding something to do with my life that interests me. Nor do I see divine intent in feeling love or caring for other people.”

    Well of course you don’t Tim D. You’re a heathen atheist. Can’t you see it? IT’S SO OBVIOUS!

    Yeah, sure.

    I’m beginning to formulate an idea or argument that you can’t describe the universe using philosophy. I loved reading in Stephen Hawking’s new book that philosophy is dead (on the first page!). Thinking (what is often elevated to REASONING by philo-theolo-religionists because it sounds smarter; and they think throwing around the word LOGIC helps) can only get you halfway there and it’s experimentation that gets you through the other half. If science showed us anything it’s that the universe doesn’t operate the way we “think” or “reason” that it does. Thinking alone could never have give us Einstein’s relativity. It took thinking, a lot of math, and experimentation. And what came along at the end is concepts seem to go against Reason and Logic–time dilation, gravitational lensing, length contraction, relativity of simultaneity, etc. What Frank and his god William Lane Craig do can offer nothing in the way of answers because they have no verification through experimentation.

    Reply
  70. Dan says:

    From reading some of Charles posts, I feel like he’s going through some similar issues that I have had. If you have read some of my posts on other topics, I grewe up in a chrisitan home and have been a “great” christian all of my life. But I, like charles(and many others) started to feel let down by organized religion, one reason being that after a while those “spiritual highs” that come from mission trips or seeing someone accept christ seem to wear off easier and easier as the years of singing the same song and hearing the same message from the same book seem to fall flat against the reality of the world. I went through a “I dont like religion I like Jesus” phase just like what you see above.
    The next step for me was stepping back from it all and asking myself why? Why am I a Christian. when I couldn’t answer with anything other than “because my parents and everyone I know is” I started trying to get answers( like dr. tureks book) and havn’t found anything yet besides “hey noone knows how the universe began must be god.”
    So I want to ask charles or johnferrer, or even turek if hes reading, not as a challenge but as a sincere question- How and why do YOU have a personal relationship with God?

    Reply
  71. Tim D. says:

    I noticed something while I was reading OT at work today. The OT God tends to “prove” that he exists to at least *somebody* on certain occasions, and even a lot of people on several occasions (although he doesn’t directly appear, the plagues over Egypt in Exodus are supposedly intended to show people that God is judging the Egyptians). And Jesus himself supposedly did some miracles. But interestingly, if we accept the OT/NT as truth and look at today….it would certainly seem to have been quite a long time since God or any of his prophets or incarnations had done anything visibly noteworthy. Why has he begun to retreat into the shadows and only act through phenomena that exist naturally own their own *anyway,* and therefore cannot be taken as proof of God’s existence?

    It occurred to me to answer this question. Notice how, in the OT, the “afterlife” is not mentioned very much? God doesn’t promise his followers “eternal life” or anything involving life after death or eternity, but rather he promises them earthly rewards for following him. And yet, the Christian god of today supposedly shuns earthly rewards and instead tempts people will gifts and wonders after death.

    This is interesting because, in a time when the afterlife hadn’t yet been conceived by humans as a concept, in order to convince them that a god existed, they had to believe that god did something in this world and in this lifetime. So then we have stories of a god doing flamboyant things like parting the sea and smiting countries and children and such. But then, these stories are obviously false (Exodus claims that the sorcerers of Egypt were able to do things like turn the river into blood, and transform staves into snakes, both of which are demonstrably impossible; they don’t have the excuse that god has in this book. God can only do magic because he can do ANYTHING, but we know for a fact that magic and sorcery is false and does not work, and never has). So inevitably, there comes a time when somebody points out, “You know, I wasn’t alive when the OT was written, so I’ll just assume that it’s true….but even so, it’s been quite some time since God performed a miracle, eh?”

    Well, as was made clear in the novel 1984, it’s very easy to fabricate a dead man. The same goes for events. So the OT never actually happened, and God never performed those miracles. So how can we prove to people that God does exist, then? It’s significantly more difficult to stage a current event, especially with the technology we had in the era that the NT was written. So what to do, then?

    Easy; change the goalposts! Along comes the NT; now, belief in God is not about this life, or following his laws, or doing what God wants for the people. No, it’s about the afterlife, which (conveniently) is impossible to examine or prove one way or the other! Now, we can make whatever wild assertions we want about God, and we have the convenient barrier of death to keep others from challenging our speculations. God no longer performs miracles on earth, instead he hides in the afterlife, working in the human world only through systems which actually *do* exist in that world.

    Basically, what it all boils down to is: First they said that God performs miracles, and used flamboyant examples from the past to “prove” this. When they were asked, “what happened to God’s miracles?”, they realized they couldn’t conjure contemporary miracles — only historical ones — and so they changed the very definition of “miracle” such that it could not be challenged! In effect, every time religions set a criteria for God’s existence, and that criteria is challenged and eventually falsified, the criteria changes, the religion evolves and changes, and the entire process beings anew.

    Interesting 😀

    Reply
  72. Toby R. says:

    I would like to point out though, that no one has a problem of censoring . . . uh, editing out all but Psalms and Proverbs when they hand out those tiny “bibles”. I would assume it’s because no one really likes that mean old nasty OT god.

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  73. Charles says:

    One thing that comes to mind when discussing miracles; does anyone find childbirth miraculous? How about sight? When we consider light causing images to appear through electrical impulses in our brain sight seems pretty miraculous. Another thing that comes to mind is Israel. Israel happens to be situated in the middle of most of the hostility in the world, amidst dry, hot desert lands yet has survived and has a surprisingly successful agricultural industry. Are these not miracles?

    Why do I choose Faith in Jesus Christ? The easy answer is because of what He chose to go through for those that hated Him. He certainly did not have to, but chose to. A man would have to be an absolute lunatic to do such a thing; or He was absolutely truthful. Science, reason, reality and self all fail when compared to Love as the purpose of Life. As far as Heaven, the way Jesus told us to pray in Matthew’s gospel focuses on the Kingdom of Heaven having a mirror image on Earth which is very possible if People would follow the true teachings of Christ rather than rebelling and refusing the benefits. That’s what I was talking about when I mentioned loving the Person of Christ. Christians are not the measure of Christianity. Christ is. And as far as reading the Bible; it can be read from cover to cover just as easily as any novel, but that is not correct for interpretation. Isaiah 28:10 illustrates how the Bible should be studied, read and interpreted; “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little [paraphrase]”; Thought trends that make sense Biblically, spiritually and naturally. God’s existence is proven through His Word. Proof that can be accepted or rejected which is our “free will”, I just happen to enjoy revelation through my will agreeing with His Will. His Will being much more powerful, relevant, and beneficial overall. Our will equals narcissism, greed, violence, immorality and tolerance thereof, death, the grave and nothing else. God’s will equals Love, Hope, Life and Life more abundant.

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  74. Toby R. says:

    “it can be read from cover to cover just as easily as any novel, but that is not correct for interpretation. Isaiah 28:10 illustrates how the Bible should be studied, read and interpreted; “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little [paraphrase]”; Thought trends that make sense Biblically, spiritually and naturally.”

    So . . . read it sporadically and out of order then it’s all open for everyone’s personal interpretation. Which leads us to sects and cults and fighting between them and all of the bull that we see now and through history.

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  75. Charles says:

    No one said anything about sporadic reading. I said thought trends that make sense Biblically, spiritually, and naturally. There is nothing sporadic about corroborated ideas that answer questions and solve problems. What would be sporadic would be cover to cover at face value because the Bible isn’t written in chronological order. So, of course, the average reader could easily get lost or confused so, again, this time paraphrasing, Romans 10:17 – faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God – to hear it it must be preached.

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  76. Charles says:

    And preached first in order to be received by the average person properly. By average I mean folks that do not avidly believe and study religiously. ( pun not intended )

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  77. Tim D. says:

    And preached first in order to be received by the average person properly. By average I mean folks that do not avidly believe and study religiously. ( pun not intended )

    Again, proof that there is no “personal relationship” with God. A personal relationship does not require third-party facilitation or formal education.

    One thing that comes to mind when discussing miracles; does anyone find childbirth miraculous? How about sight?

    You cheapen the definition of “miracle” by saying that. A miracle is something which cannot be explained scientifically. Childbirth and eyesight have biological explanations and therefore are not “miraculous.”

    If everything is a “miracle,” then nothing is.

    Another thing that comes to mind is Israel. Israel happens to be situated in the middle of most of the hostility in the world, amidst dry, hot desert lands yet has survived and has a surprisingly successful agricultural industry. Are these not miracles?

    I do not see the hard work and perseverance of any person (or group of people) to be “miraculous” because, again, that is not something that cannot be explained.

    Why do I choose Faith in Jesus Christ? The easy answer is because of what He chose to go through for those that hated Him. He certainly did not have to, but chose to.

    Except for the entire issue of whether or not he actually existed, and if he did, whether he was an egotist with a messiah complex or in some way related to a deity (among other possibilities).

    Isaiah 28:10 illustrates how the Bible should be studied, read and interpreted; “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little [paraphrase]”; Thought trends that make sense Biblically, spiritually and naturally. God’s existence is proven through His Word.

    Anthropic principle, eh? I’ve never heard that applied to Biblical study — it’s full of contradictory, incestuous, murderous, sacrificial, vain, supernatural nonsense, and so therefore the only “correct” way to read it is to carefully sidestep around the parts which are blatantly, demonstrably false and do not make sense or provide positive moral values.

    So basically, what you’re saying is that we just need to apply nonreligious, humanistic value judgments to the Bible; accept that which does not contradict positive humanistic values, and reject that which is barbaric, incestuous, sacrificial, misogynistic, pro-slavery (either Jesus’ pro-slavery or the OT God’s pro-slavery, they both openly endorsed slavery on multiple occasions).

    Funny, because that is what atheists and nonreligious people do anyway. The difference is, we realize that to interpret a supposed “holy book” in the way that you are prescribing is to admit that it is not “inerrant” or “perfect,” rather that it is rife with inconsistency and horrible moral judgments (be they God’s or Jesus’ or one of his prophets’). If it was truly “inerrant,” then it should be plainly and obviously so. It should not require extensive study, generations of apologetics, or expert review in order for its supposed “universal truth” to be accessed by everybody. Christians always seem to tout how “universal” and “accessible” Christianity is, how it’s always “there for anyone who wants it” and it’s “not a religion,” but then in order to follow it, you have to first go to church and let someone with more “Biblical authority” tell you what it *really* means (because what it actually says is apparently not what it actually means), then accept the dogma of God’s blood sacrifice of himself in human form (who is somehow also his son) so that he may be a scapegoat for ignorant humans to pile all of their guilty feelings onto and send out into the desert to die. And somehow this is “not a religion.”

    Whenever I would ask a question of one of my Christian friends (all of whom proudly tout their own supposed Biblical adherence), they would decline to answer me with any degree of certainty or authority telling me that I should “read the Bible” to find the answers. I said, “I already did, I still have this question.” But I went ahead and started reading it again, to refresh my memory. And I have even more questions this time because I’m better educated than I was 8 years ago and I’ve noticed more things. So I came back with some more questions. This time, instead of “read the Bible to find the answers,” I was told, “reading the Bible alone won’t give you the answers, you need to go to church and ask a priest.”

    This is further demonstration of Christians’ propensity for “moving the goalposts.” If you’ll only read the Bible, it will all make sense, that’s all you need to do….until you do it, then we’ve got you hooked on the line. Now we’ll pull you in a bit further….all you have to do is go to church, and then it’ll make sense when someone better educated explains it to you….what’s next? “Well, now that you’ve gone to church and you still have these questions, you just have to live by the rules, even if they don’t make sense or seem barbaric or misogynistic. THEN it will make sense.” Then we’ll inevitably get to the point of, “Does it MATTER if it makes sense if it makes a bunch of religious people happy to live by it?” My answer — being nonreligious and having no desire to adhere to the principles of a bronze-age racist god who chose a certain race to represent him and have favor over all other races — is, “yes, it does matter.”

    Reply
  78. Ed says:

    This is all so silly. The Bible has been completely debunked by science and history tells us that no such person as Jesus Christ ever existed. People only try to believe because other people have frightened them out of their minds.

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  79. Dan says:

    thanks for your answer charles. I’ve asked that question a few times on this site and it has been completely ignored or skipped over every time.

    Tim D.—-“Again, proof that there is no “personal relationship” with God. A personal relationship does not require third-party facilitation or formal education.”

    This is what bothers me as a christian.

    Reply
  80. Tim D. says:

    This is all so silly. The Bible has been completely debunked by science and history tells us that no such person as Jesus Christ ever existed. People only try to believe because other people have frightened them out of their minds.

    I once heard a saying that Christians today do not believe in good or in happiness, but only in hell. That’s what it always boils down to in talks of conversion — you never hear people trying to convert you to Christianity for the giving or the working for social justice, just that you’ll go to a scary hopeless place for all eternity if you don’t. And they start you on this stuff young, before you’re able to properly criticize it. It’s always about what happens to “bad” people if they don’t convert, it’s never just something positive about what happens if you are religious.

    @Ed- Um…false.

    Not really. Any scientific claim that has ever been made about Christianity can and has been debunked in some way. The only reason there are still Christians is because people keep moving the goalposts — first it was god’s miracles, now that he doesn’t do those anymore, it’s god’s subtle hands at work, when that doesn’t float it’s “god is the source of morality and we’d all be rapists and killers without it.” It just goes on and on. It’s the most aggressive confirmation bias in the history of mankind.

    Reply
  81. Charles says:

    Tim, you are correct in one thing; a personal relationship doesn’t require third party facilitation or formal education. Some of Jesus disciples weren’t formally educated. In fact, Paul might have been the only one that was and he wasn’t a disciple, come to think of it, Paul was an Apostle. A Preacher facilitates strength to Saints that are on the battlefield of life. He is not, necessarily, a third party facilitator. The Church is not a “brick and mortar” building it is the body of Christ. There are many facets to a body, many different “jobs”, but salvation is the message of the Gospel. A Preacher’s only Job is to Preach. A Pastor does not have to be a Preacher, but more or less be the Custodian of a House of God. Most Pastors are Preachers, but there is nothing Biblical that says a Pastor has to Preach. Most Pastors Preach due to, maybe, not having a Preacher on the board and many Preachers have become Pastors because of growing congregations. As far as a third party facilitator, the NT tells us that Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 6:20) John 1 tells us that [paraphrasing] In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and the Word was made flesh. God is His Word meaning the Spirit of God is His Word in us governing our lives in Godly order and not in the chaos of narcissistic behavior.

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  82. Charles says:

    I also agree with you on the fact that too many Christians convert because they don’t want to go to hell. The reason for becoming a Christian is for the Love of God Himself. Love for God trumps going to hell because to be separated from God is the beginning of hell. Preaching fear is error because the Bible tells us that God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of Power and Love and Sound Mind. Fear of the Lord is better translated as reverence and fear only is that God is able, not only to destroy the body, but the soul as well. But reverence and Love for God are reasons enough to have Faith and trust enough to follow His Word.

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  83. Charles says:

    I thought this Blog was about ambiguity in Islam. If I may answer another of Tim’s observations; The Bible is absolutely flawless when Isaiah 28:10 is considered. Just keep in mind, Thought trends that line up Biblically, Spiritually and Naturally. The agreement must transcend all three and there is no other way to properly interpret what God is saying.

    1 Corinthians 1:18 – 23 – For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
    1Cr 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
    1Cr 1:20 Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
    1Cr 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
    1Cr 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
    1Cr 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

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  84. Charles says:

    Understand, there is a real difference between religion and Truth. There is a saying, and I admit I don’t know if its in the Bible or not; but For those who reject and persist in making a case against God the Bible will give all the ammunition you will need to destroy yourself. As far as ambiguity in Islam, I am afraid, it suffers from the same thing as all religion and that is ambiguity and no unity of scripture or believer.

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  85. Ed says:

    Matt your response is actually just as convincing and packed with useful information as any Christian apologetic argument I’ve ever heard or seen. Charles said that, “too many Christians convert because they don’t want to go to hell.” I agree that isn’t a very good reason to convert to Christianity. Charles said the reason to convert is for the love of God. I cannot understand how a person can love a God who they believe routinely sends people to hell for the supposed crime of adopting the wrong religion or no religion at all. Unless, that is, they love God for sending all their supposed enemies and all the people who disagree with them to hell. Christians never stop to consider that they’re in just as much danger of going to the Muslim hell as anyone else is in going to the Christian hell. Fear is not a good reason to believe anything. There’s no evidence that an afterlife is even possible, or that such places as heaven and hell exist at all. It’s all hearsay and it’s neither recent nor reliable hearsay at that.

    Charles, there are no sayings in the Bible about the Bible. That means of course that nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Bible, the Old and New Testaments are actually the Word of God. That the Bible is the Word of God is without a doubt a mere rumor spread by human beings. It’s adding to the Bible.

    The professor who wrote the article said he wasn’t an expert on Islam. So here’s some interesting information most people are unaware of. Like every other present day religion, Islam evolved from other older religions. No such person as Muhammad ever existed. Rather Islam actually evolved from ancient Arabic moon worshiping cults. Look at the symbol on top of mosques.

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  86. John Ferrer says:

    Oh Gosh, once the blogs started veering off topic I lost interest and I was going to let you guys hash it all out but that last comment baited me back into it.

    Ed, you wrote:
    “The professor who wrote the article said he wasn’t an expert on Islam. . . . Like every other present day religion, Islam evolved from other older religions. No such person as Muhammad ever existed. Rather Islam actually evolved from ancient Arabic moon worshiping cults. Look at the symbol on top of mosques.”

    While I’m no expert on Islam, I have studied world religions at the graduate and post-graduate level, and I teach world religions at the collegiate level. What you are describing is the typical, hackneyed and presumptuous theory of religious evolution which, while popular, lacks a great deal of support for its early stages. That is, the presumption is that religions, like everything else, evolved from natural and simpler stuff. In the case of religions that would be animism derived perhaps from someone’s dream of a dead ancestor who they now, because of seeing them in their dream, believe to still exist as a disembodied spirit. Such animism is thought to evolve into polytheism, then henotheism, then monotheism. And pantheism is thought to fit in there someone along the way either between poly- and heno- or just before mono- or just after mono-. This theory is textually and evidentially weak in the early stages because, frankly, the earliest stages of each of the world’s religions–it can be argued–show evidence of an “Original Monotheism,” often noted as a sky god or creator god. And the diversity of gods and demigods then are better explained as a devolution from original monotheism. The Hindu Vedas show this evidence as does zoroastrianism and Judaism (three of the oldest living religions).

    As for your “little known” suggestion that Muhammad never existed, I know why it’s little known. It’s not true. You might as well say Julius Ceasar never existed, or that history as a science is totally impossible since you will have to question every instrument of historical studies, and be skeptical of all history prior to your birth to be able to, with integrity, deny something as historically verified as Muhammad’s birth.

    The existence of Muhammad is known by: 1) enemy attestation, 2) multiple attestation, 3) embarassing witness, 4) ancient (ie: medieval) attestation, 5) manuscript evidence, 6) archeological evidence, 7) consequences of his life in later Islam (ie: muslims today mimic everything about his life, as Islam is a legalistic religion which thrives on perfectly replicating every action of the blessed prophet).

    this kind of Zeitgeist conspiracy theorizing is terrible scholarship and belies a distorting bias in those who buy into it. I’m not saying I have no bias or that we can neatly abandon our bias, but we can weigh the scholarship of our sources, and we can evaluate our own bias to some extent and say, “I’m being biased, I need to rethink this subject.” Zeitgeist, for example, has been effectively dismembered by numerous ATHEISTIC and theistic thinkers and it’s source, Acharya S, likewise has been destroyed for making baseless claims, mishandling his/her references, generalizing, and overall doing a textbook example of special pleading.

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  87. John Ferrer says:

    Ed, what is your basis for this statement?
    “there are no sayings in the Bible about the Bible. That means of course that nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Bible, the Old and New Testaments are actually the Word of God. That the Bible is the Word of God is without a doubt a mere rumor spread by human beings. It’s adding to the Bible.”

    And why did you not take your argument further and rebut the scripture references that typically come up in retort to your claim? You are more than entitled to your opinion, but since here you are making the claim, you carry your own respective burden of proof. Yet lacking any evidence that you have addressed and disarmed the relevant Scriptural objections, you seem to be making a baseless claim.

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  88. Toby R. says:

    Can we please stop using “embarassing witness/testimony” as some sort of evidence? Don’t people that use this stop and think that, maybe because they’ve been able to think up this simple concept, that someone a 1000 years ago could have as well and used it as a form of deceit? It’s a pitifully weak and desperate argument.

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  89. matt says:

    @Ed- what makes you think I NEED to give you anymore response than that? You said that Jesus Himself has been shown to have never existed. That ignorant a statement warranted no other response than the one I gave. I do not make comments based upon the standard by which Ed, nor anyone else would desire to see.

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  90. Ed says:

    John said: While I’m no expert on Islam, I have studied world religions at the graduate and post-graduate level, and I teach world religions at the collegiate level.

    So? I have a minor in Religion from Muhlenburg. Who cares?

    John said: What you are describing is the typical, hackneyed and presumptuous theory of religious evolution which…

    You might know something about religions but you have no clue how to tell the difference between an historical narrative and a fictional one. Historical narratives never contain word for word conversations of people talking to each other, talking to a god or a talking animal. The Bible is full of these conversations. You claim I have a hackneyed and presumptuous theory of religious evolution while you hold to the failed and totally baseless hypothesis that the Bible is literal history.
    Religion probably originated among our hunter-gatherer ancestors during solar eclipses. While most of the tribe panicked at the disappearance of the sun, at least one tribe member figured the eclipse was just temporary, pretended to call the sun back with a chant or song and then gained much respect and authority from the rest of the tribe because of their seemingly magical powers. Right from the start religion has been a big scam based on human ignorance a bunch of nonsense.

    John said: As for your “little known” suggestion that Muhammad never existed, I know why it’s little known. It’s not true. You might as well say Julius Ceasar never existed, or that history as a science is totally impossible since you will have to question every instrument of historical studies, and be skeptical of all history prior to your birth to be able to, with integrity, deny something as historically verified as Muhammad’s birth.

    Go ahead and historically verify Muhammad’s birth. Just saying this birth is historically verified simply will not do. How is it verified and by who, when and where? Let’s change up for a minute. Christians make the exact same comparison between Caesar and Jesus Christ. Let’s see you verify the existence of Jesus Christ. Will you trot out the big four, the same four historians Christians always claim wrote about Jesus, Suetonius, Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny? None of these historians were alive during the time Jesus supposedly lived so all of their accounts are hearsay and not even contemporary hearsay. Robert Taylor had a great response to your argument: “We might, say they, as well affect to deny the existence of such an individual as Alexander the Great, or of Napoleon Bonaparte, and so set at defiance the evidence of all facts but such as our senses have attested. It being quite forgotten that the existence of Alexander and Napoleon was not miraculous, and that there never was on earth one other real personage whose existence as a real personage was denied and disclaimed even as soon as ever it was asserted, as was the case with respect to the assumed personality of Christ.” Or Muhammad.

    As with the case of Jesus Christ we have no physical descriptions Muhammad, no histories of their lives, no words written by them, no artifacts that confirm their lives or deaths. Contrasting that we know what Caesar looked like and we have a complete history of his life. We have words written by Caesar and words written by both his friends and his enemies who were actually alive when he was. Artifacts such as coins confirm his life and death, as do his successors. Caesar also established a calendar that endured for centuries.

    John said: The existence of Muhammad is known by: 1) enemy attestation, 2) multiple attestation, 3) embarassing witness, 4) ancient (ie: medieval) attestation, 5) manuscript evidence, 6) archeological evidence, 7) consequences of his life in later Islam (ie: muslims today mimic everything about his life, as Islam is a legalistic religion which thrives on perfectly replicating every action of the blessed prophet).

    ‘According to Ibn Hisham, Ibn Ishaq wrote his biography of Muhammad about 130 years after Muhammad’s death. This is hardly a contemporary account. Produce claims 1 through 7. Just saying these things exist proves absolutely nothing and is terrible “scholarship.” This is the kind of typical empty argument we get from Christian apologists defending their own faith. These arguments fool those who already want very much to believe but anyone who looks into them can see they don’t hold up under scrutiny.

    John said: this kind of Zeitgeist conspiracy theorizing is terrible scholarship and belies a distorting bias in those who buy into it. I’m not saying I have no bias or that we can neatly abandon our bias, but we can weigh the scholarship of our sources, and we can evaluate our own bias to some extent and say, “I’m being biased, I need to rethink this subject.” Zeitgeist, for example, has been effectively dismembered by numerous ATHEISTIC and theistic thinkers and it’s source, Acharya S, likewise has been destroyed for making baseless claims, mishandling his/her references, generalizing, and overall doing a textbook example of special pleading.

    You have resorted to the common Christian apologetic ploy of claiming something has been “effectively dismembered… and it’s source, Acharya S, likewise has been destroyed…” without actually presenting one scrap of evidence to support your claim. Zeitgeist and Acharya S. are still standing and the theory that the gospels are really about the sun passing through the twelve signs of the zodiac can easily be demonstrated. Anyone can test this theory for them self and see quite clearly that it is correct. This is not some new “pop scholarship.” Scholars and historians have been well aware of this fact for centuries. Thomas Paine wrote in the Origin of Freemasonry: “The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun.”

    John said: And why did you not take your argument further and rebut the scripture references that typically come up in retort to your claim? You are more than entitled to your opinion, but since here you are making the claim, you carry your own respective burden of proof. Yet lacking any evidence that you have addressed and disarmed the relevant Scriptural objections, you seem to be making a baseless claim.

    That’s just rich Professor Ferrer. Your entire previous post is filled with nothing but baseless claims. You haven’t provided a shred of evidence to back up ANYTHING you said. Post whatever “scripture” references you want and I’ll shoot them down as if I were hunting dairy cows with a high-powered rifle and scope.

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  91. Ed says:

    Matt,
    Calling my statement ignorant will not make I so. You don’t NEED to defend your religious delusions or superstitions to me or anyone else. You are more than welcome to them. The fact remains however that you cannot defend them. I say you would if you could. I say there is no evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed. Go ahead and prove me wrong. Then tell us Matt, by what standard DO you make your comments?

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  92. Charles says:

    So Ed, you’re into rifles, eh? Since you and most of us in this discussion are convinced; may I ask, what do you think Life is about? With all of your knowledge you must have some sort of view as to why life exists in the first place. As I understand there are at least 100 constants that sustain Life. What about Love or virtue; these concepts are beneficial. What about sacrifice? I am just asking because your ideology treads toward complete degradation of Life without the possibility of Hope. I also understand skepticism and not wanting to be lied to. No one wants to be lied to, however, with no hope what does it matter? What does anything matter?

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  93. Ed says:

    Toby,
    Can you name one common Christian apologetic argument that is not a pitifully weak and desperate argument? They are all the same, just good enough to convince only those who desperately want to believe them anyway.

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  94. Ed says:

    Charles said: into rifles, eh?

    No and handguns should be illegal.

    Charles said: Since you and most of us in this discussion are convinced; may I ask, what do you think Life is about? With all of your knowledge you must have some sort of view as to why life exists in the first place.

    I do. Life is a very natural thing, which emerged simply to satisfy basic physical laws. Our “purpose,” so to speak, is to redistribute energy on Earth, which is in between a huge potential energy difference caused by the hot Sun and cold space. Organisms evolve via natural selection, but at the most basic level, natural selection is driven by the same thermodynamic principle: increasing entropy and decreasing energy differences. The natural processes from which life emerged are the same processes that keep life going – and they operate on all timescales.

    Charles said: As I understand there are at least 100 constants that sustain Life.

    Yes but if the universe had different constants there would be a different kind of life.

    Charles said: What about Love or virtue; these concepts are beneficial. What about sacrifice?

    These all have very plausible evolutionary explanations. Religious explanations for these things are bogus and ridiculous.

    Charles said: I am just asking because your ideology treads toward complete degradation of Life without the possibility of Hope. I also understand skepticism and not wanting to be lied to. No one wants to be lied to, however, with no hope what does it matter? What does anything matter?

    Without possibility of hope for what exactly? A pie in the sky superstition about living forever in a magical happy land? That’s hopelessness, not hope. I’m hoping for a good lunch today. What more is there to hope for may I ask?

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  95. Charles says:

    For those that don’t believe Jesus exists; why is Jesus found in the Torah, Bible and Qu’ran? (Isaiah 53/Matthew,New Testament/Surah 2:87) How is it that I, as well as countless others before me, can find descriptions of Jesus throughout Biblical text, OT and NT. Why would Josephus and other Jewish authors refer to Jesus when it would have been an embarrassment to their Faith to admit he died on the Cross? As I also understand, there were several individuals that claimed to be “Messiah” what happened to them? How does history survive on a lie? Since the First “Christians” emerged would any of you allow yourselves to be tortured and murdered for a lie? Contrary to popular belief, people from ancient times were not stupid. They weren’t as technologically advanced, but they certainly weren’t idiots because they laid the foundations that our technology is built on.

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  96. Charles says:

    Well, in Matthew 6:9 Jesus tells us what to pray for. I am sure we know the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father who art in Heaven….” Not many people ever really think about this prayer, but what we are praying [hoping] for is for Earth to mirror Heaven. Jesus never said anything about religion. The word religion is only used in the Bible after the Crucifixion and mostly referred to the Jews or Jewish law. I say that to say this, We almost agree. Jesus preached the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God and not the religion of. John did the same before Jesus came to him. To be quite blunt, I believe Catholicism is what corrupted the Church and brought religion and superstition into the Idea of the Kingdom of Heaven. I do not believe for one second that God is superstitious or magical. I simply believe in the Supernatural or metaphysical in that I believe God is not bound by time or space in which we are. I believe there is a realm that exists on the other side of space and time. I can say this because there are concepts here on earth that we use everyday that aren’t bound by time or space such as Light, Love, words or even music. Flesh on the other hand, is something that is bound to the earth just like any other matter. So what we, some inadvertently, hope for the Kingdom of God here on Earth; “…..as it is in Heaven”.

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  97. Ed says:

    Jesus Christ is not mentioned by name anywhere in the OT. Ask any rabbi. This is nothing more than Christian wish-thinking. The NT writers wrote their stories to make it seem like OT prophecies came to pass, pounding their mythical savior into the role of a coming messiah. The entries in the works of Josephus are forgeries made by Christian propagandist and admitted liar Eusebius. If Josephus really thought Jesus was the messiah why didn’t he convert? No Jewish or Roman historians who lived during the first half of the first century wrote one single word about Jesus Christ and you would know that if you had done your homework. Stories about Christian martyrdom and people dying for their faith are nothing but religious propaganda from the early church, the mother of all persecuters. People from ancient times were very backwards and this backwardness still exists today in the form of religion.

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  98. Charles says:

    No, He isn’t mentioned by name, but the corroboration of Christ’s nature and what he went through is certainly there. I only consider myself religious in terms of going to Church and allowing God’s Word to govern my life. It’s not that I think I’ll go to hell if I don’t. I just can’t refute what Faith has done for me to get me where I am today; choices that required Faith to execute and Faith to persist in unfavorable conditions, which I attribute to Christian values. I didn’t grow up going to Church; frankly, I didn’t know many real Christians; but my parents were raised “Christian” so the values stuck. I’m not gonna broadcast my life story here, but I’m just saying, changing my perspective from a humanistic secular worldview to a reality based scriptural worldview changed everything for the better.

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  99. Ed says:

    Charles said: No, He isn’t mentioned by name, but the corroboration of Christ’s nature and what he went through is certainly there.

    Did the Old Testament writers have some kind of magic glasses that allowed them to see into the distant future? Before making the extraordinary claim that something supernatural occurred, simple common sense tells us that we must rule out the ordinary, far more plausible account that the events described in the New Testament are fictional, written so as to conform to older biblical prophecies. Can you rule that out? I didn’t think so.

    Charles said: I only consider myself religious in terms of going to Church and allowing God’s Word to govern my life.

    No, you are allowing other people to convince you that the Bible is God’s Word. You ought to look into that for yourself.

    Charles said: It’s not that I think I’ll go to hell if I don’t. I just can’t refute what Faith has done for me to get me where I am today; choices that required Faith to execute and Faith to persist in unfavorable conditions, which I attribute to Christian values.

    People of all religions make the exact same claims about how their faith has changed their lives for the better. Why should I accept claims from you that you would not accept from members of other religions?

    Charles said: I didn’t grow up going to Church; frankly, I didn’t know many real Christians; but my parents were raised “Christian” so the values stuck. I’m not gonna broadcast my life story here, but I’m just saying, changing my perspective from a humanistic secular worldview to a reality based scriptural worldview changed everything for the better.

    I doubt you ever had a humanistic worldview, or your parents “values” would not have stuck.

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  100. Tim D. says:

    Without possibility of hope for what exactly? A pie in the sky superstition about living forever in a magical happy land? That’s hopelessness, not hope. I’m hoping for a good lunch today. What more is there to hope for may I ask?

    I know this question was not directed at me, but I couldn’t help offering my answers:

    1) Purpose is subjective, so you’re going to get a different answer no matter who you ask. Even Christians can’t agree on what exactly “god” means. So your question is moot as an argument.

    2) Why should anyone care what YOU feel the need to “hope” for, and why should they do your work for you in finding this “hope” and telling you what it should be? Hope for whatever you please. Everyone else is far too busy trying to make this world a better place for themselves and others to worry about what a bunch of self-absorbed existentialists think about what happens when you stop existing.

    As I also understand, there were several individuals that claimed to be “Messiah” what happened to them? How does history survive on a lie?

    There are plenty, many of which were around FAR FAR FAR before Christianity (Horus, Mithra, Attis, Krishna….etc.). Some of these religions died because they refused to evolve and adapt to humanist values. Others (like Christianity) simply stole from whatever values were popular at the time in order to survive, adapting to human culture like AIDS adapts to the human immune system.

    Contrary to popular belief, people from ancient times were not stupid. They weren’t as technologically advanced, but they certainly weren’t idiots because they laid the foundations that our technology is built on.

    Oh, please! According to the Old Testament, the earliest skilled craftsmen were magically imbued with a lifetime of skill and technique by God himself, just so they could construct bountiful monuments to his own apparently obnoxious hyper-ego. Forgive me if I’m not inclined to believe that.

    Jesus preached the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God and not the religion of.

    Christianity is still a religion. Unless you’re ready to renounce the Bible as necessary, after all?

    To be quite blunt, I believe Catholicism is what corrupted the Church and brought religion and superstition into the Idea of the Kingdom of Heaven.

    You protestants and catholics are always at each other’s throats….get over it already….

    No, He isn’t mentioned by name, but the corroboration of Christ’s nature and what he went through is certainly there.

    There’s actually a word for this, Fanon:

    Ultimately, Canon is much smaller than the people who throw the term around like to think it is. Canon is limited to that which has actually been described in the source material. Especially in groups of writers, it boils down to what the writers specifically need to worry about for the purposes of the ongoing plot.

    Fanon is the set of theories based on that material which, while they generally seem to be the “obvious” or “only” interpretation of canonical fact, are not actually part of the canon.

    I just can’t refute what Faith has done for me to get me where I am today; choices that required Faith to execute and Faith to persist in unfavorable conditions, which I attribute to Christian values.

    I can *personally* testify that faith in god is absolutely not required to persist in “unfavorable conditions.” A simple desire to live and do good will suffice.

    changing my perspective from a humanistic secular worldview to a reality based scriptural worldview changed everything for the better.

    “You create your own reality
    But leave mine to me
    Leave mine to me
    Leave mine to me
    Leave mine to me!”

    –Bad Religion

    Reply
  101. Toby R. says:

    “No and handguns should be illegal.”

    Ed, please! You may mock and blaspheme god and the bible, but leave their guns alone! Those things are sacred.

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  102. Charles says:

    I appreciate your answers sans the condescension, but I am thoroughly convinced, with no man’s prompting, that Christ is Lord. This is because Faith has worked for me, it is not unreasonable to believe in something higher than ourselves, Judeo-Christian principles are sound for a decent life and make the most sense in terms of perspective (scriptural). I continue with saying I believe in the Life, death and resurrection and the message of the Gospel. what I don’t believe is that we just happened and that chance allowed us to sustain. I also don’t believe in superstition or magic. So I think this is where we part as friends and agree to disagree. It just so happens at the end of the day that if I am wrong then, I’ve lived a decent life, laughed, cried, loved and learned. But if I am right…..?

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  103. Toby R. says:

    “I also don’t believe in superstition or magic.”

    So . . . if you don’t believe in miracles then why bother with christianity? That’s what magic is and superstition is the belief in magic/miracles and things that go bump in the night.

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  104. Tim D. says:

    Judeo-Christian principles are sound for a decent life and make the most sense in terms of perspective (scriptural).

    Yeah, I’ve always been fond of such biblical wisdom as:

    “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God…For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man.”

    ….from 1 Corinthians 11:3, 8-9. Or this fashionable nugget from 1 Timothy 2:11-14:

    “Let the woman learn in silence in all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

    You say you’re not into “superstition,” but if you believe the Judeo-Christian creation myth — or worse, in the New Testament and Jesus’ strange teachings — then that is exactly what you do believe. And it’s not that simple, either — if you believe that myth, then you believe that man came first, and that woman was created from man to fulfill him. It’s not a harmless belief.

    This is because Faith has worked for me, it is not unreasonable to believe in something higher than ourselves

    So let it work for you, then. It’s not necessary for me. Personally, I wouldn’t want to live forever, though. Living forever would be a kind of hell in itself. Humans aren’t made to exist forever in any form; it’s not natural in any sense of the word. Why do people think the idea of going on and on forever is a good thing? That idea is terrifying to me, the idea that you will never be able to rest in peace, the idea that even once you’ve grown tired of living and are ready to quit, that you won’t be able to, that you’ll just superficially die and then go somewhere else where you still live in basically the same way. So I don’t understand this Christian fascination with “eternal paradise.” At least the Jews get Sheol….yeesh.

    what I don’t believe is that we just happened and that chance allowed us to sustain.

    Gross oversimplification of a scientific naturalist perspective. I’m not really surprised at this point. Anything that can’t be explained in 3 words or less (with at least one of those words being 3 letters and starting with a “G”) apparently “doesn’t count” if you want to believe in an afterlife badly enough.

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  105. Charles says:

    Gross oversimplification of a scientific naturalist perspective.

    You said a powerful word just then, Perspective. What makes science truth? Is it because theories are tested and a conclusion from our own understanding is made? Are all theories that have been tested absolutely 100% conclusive or have there ever been any in the 99.98% 99.99% range and just concluded because it was beyond a reasonable doubt? Have any of the theories that have been landmark conclusions ever been overturned? I still wonder about sight. Isn’t there something to be said about perspective when it comes to our vision. We need light to see. That light transmits through these ocular organs of ours and… “Walla!!!” We see images comprised of matter, comprised of elements, on down to cells that are comprised of protons, neutrons and electrons. How is it that we see this way; pretty amazing stuff. I find it harder to believe this is just an anomaly than to believe that they weren’t created for the purpose of helping us keep from bumping into one another or walking off of cliffs. Are we just natural beings on a natural planet hung out in space with the perfect conditions for just us to live, die and —–

    Ed, you were saying – “I do. Life is a very natural thing, which emerged simply to satisfy basic physical laws. Our “purpose,” so to speak, is to redistribute energy on Earth, which is in between a huge potential energy difference caused by the hot Sun and cold space. Organisms evolve via natural selection, but at the most basic level, natural selection is driven by the same thermodynamic principle: increasing entropy and decreasing energy differences. The natural processes from which life emerged are the same processes that keep life going – and they operate on all timescales.”

    It sounds like it had to be designed that way if we are able to redistribute energy on the Earth. A hot sun and cold space producing life giving conditions…. I assume over Billions of years as well? It just makes us sound so insignificant. I mean, evolving via natural selection…. I know that if we are speaking then we were the obvious winners in the race to the egg, but man, I am glad I didn’t back down from a good fight in school. (being short and skinny and all) I am surprised I made it out alive. I’m being a little facetious here, but my point is this: According to you, we are here to procreate and keep the cycle of life going in order to redistribute energy to the earth. So why do a lot of atheists condone homosexuality or immoral sexuality? It isn’t as productive as heterosexuality. Immoral sexuality has tended to perpetuate diseases and extreme perversions of our bodies and our attitudes toward them. Again, what does it all matter anyway with no hope of a harmonious natural life. We have all these “religions” and none of us can seem to get along with one another. We have so many similarities, yet not many people ever focus on the fact that we are made of the same material, have the same symmetry. According to you, someone should have grown an extra something somewhere and be eradicating us right now. Where’s the Hope in that? I am no longer one for violence, but the average weak mind would be ready to off himself after that kind of conclusion.

    As far as an afterlife, I am also a kind of here and now kind of thinker because of the Gospel message. Life forever would be hell without Joy.

    Reply
  106. Ed says:

    Charles said: You said a powerful word just then, Perspective. What makes science truth?

    “Truth” is really nothing more than a philosophical and theological plaything and has nothing at all to do with the study of nature.

    Is it because theories are tested and a conclusion from our own understanding is made? Are all theories that have been tested absolutely 100% conclusive or have there ever been any in the 99.98% 99.99% range and just concluded because it was beyond a reasonable doubt?

    In science theories don’t have to 100% conclusive they have to 100% useful. For example there has never been a more useful theory than the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Because if our knowledge of evolution the average lifespan has doubled in the last 120 years.

    Charles said: Ed, you were saying – “I do. Life is a very natural thing…” It sounds like it had to be designed that way if we are able to redistribute energy on the Earth.

    Yes, but life is designed from the bottom up. All the life we see today is the result of 4 billion years of evolution by natural selection.

    Charles said: A hot sun and cold space producing life giving conditions…. I assume over Billions of years as well? It just makes us sound so insignificant. I mean, evolving via natural selection….

    Well in relation to the great spans of the universe and time we humans are insignificant. To each other however we are very important and often even very special. And that’s what really counts after all isn’t it?

    Charles said: According to you, we are here to procreate and keep the cycle of life going in order to redistribute energy to the earth. So why do a lot of atheists condone homosexuality or immoral sexuality?

    Why does the Catholic Church condone those things as well as pedophilia privately and condemn them publicly?

    Charles said: It isn’t as productive as heterosexuality. Immoral sexuality has tended to perpetuate diseases and extreme perversions of our bodies and our attitudes toward them.

    First of all the pervasiveness of homosexuality throughout nature shows that homosexuality is natural. The acceptance of homosexuality has nothing to do with atheism. It comes from the recognition homosexuals deserve real love and the same rights that everyone else has. Atheists along with many other people are not constrained by religious bigotry toward homosexuals. People who condemn homosexuality should really examine the morality of their own judgments.

    Charles said: Again, what does it all matter anyway with no hope of a harmonious natural life. We have all these “religions” and none of us can seem to get along with one another.

    Yes religion is usually the reason when people can’t get along. The Christians and Muslims seem bent on killing all of us fighting over whose fairy tales we all must believe. They’re constantly arguing among themselves too accusing each other of not being true Muslims, Christians, Hindus or whatever. It’s obvious if religion disappeared from the planet tomorrow we would all then live in peace and harmony. There’s your hope for you.

    Charles said: We have so many similarities, yet not many people ever focus on the fact that we are made of the same material, have the same symmetry. According to you, someone should have grown an extra something somewhere and be eradicating us right now. Where’s the Hope in that?

    Huh? Exactly WHAT did I say that would make you come up with that bizarre statement?

    Charles said: I am no longer one for violence, but the average weak mind would be ready to off himself after that kind of conclusion.

    You’re NO LONGER one for violence? What does that mean I wonder? I’m trying to figure out how you could possibly come to your conclusion based on anything I’ve said and I’m not even sure what your conclusion is.

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  107. Tim D. says:

    Have any of the theories that have been landmark conclusions ever been overturned?

    Yeah. Read a history book. Off the top of my head, flat earth and geocentric solar system. Of course you may not remember, as the Christian church vigorously opposed and imprisoned people who tried to demonstrate that the earth was not the center of the universe.

    I still wonder about sight.

    Sight is not a miracle, it is an evolutionary adaptation. If everything is a miracle then nothing is and miracles are therefore meaningless.

    That light transmits through these ocular organs of ours and… “Walla!!!” We see images comprised of matter, comprised of elements, on down to cells that are comprised of protons, neutrons and electrons. How is it that we see this way; pretty amazing stuff.

    You’re right, science and biology are amazing! That’s why I love reading about them so much. I like understanding how the universe works.

    Although you make it sound as though the universe is custom-tailored for us….when in fact, we are custom-tailored for the universe. Over billions of years we have adapted in order to function in best accordance with our natural surroundings. Like how our brains treat the green of fresh grass as a peaceful color because they have come to associate it with nature, successful agriculture and tranquility — it’s not that green has some magical effect on us that makes us feel that way, but rather our brain has come (from experience) to interpret it as such, and this information lives on through our descent.

    I find it harder to believe this is just an anomaly than to believe that they weren’t created for the purpose of helping us keep from bumping into one another or walking off of cliffs.

    It’s not an “anomaly,” it was orchestrated to help us get around — through evolution. By natural processes.

    Are we just natural beings on a natural planet hung out in space with the perfect conditions for just us to live, die and —–

    That would seem to be the case. I don’t see why that is such a problem for you. Do you not see life as worth living unless the creator of the universe thinks you’re special? I don’t understand that.

    As far as an afterlife, I am also a kind of here and now kind of thinker because of the Gospel message. Life forever would be hell without Joy.

    “Joy?” It doesn’t matter what you give me, if you give me eternity to live with it, I will get tired of it. That’s why life is good, because we have trouble and suffering as well as happiness and reward; we simply get tired of being content and having nothing to work for all the time. Suffering (and the desire to escape it) drives us and makes us want to live.

    It’s like playing a video game; I like video games, I enjoy them. But if all I ever did was play video games, I would tire of them very quickly. The best time to play a video game, for me, would be at the end of a long, hard day of work and exercise, when I’m physically tired but still mentally active. It’s a much more rewarding experience when it comes hand in hand with something less “fun.” So yes, an eternity of “joy” would indeed be a terrible thing, for according to the Christian religion, there is no suffering in heaven. The Christian heaven itself goes against the natural principles that drive human operation.

    A hot sun and cold space producing life giving conditions…. I assume over Billions of years as well? It just makes us sound so insignificant. I mean, evolving via natural selection….

    I find it interesting how you say “that makes us sound so insignificant” as though that made it any less true or likely, as though that were any reason to think it was not so.

    Why does it matter to Christians so much what the universe thinks of us?

    According to you, we are here to procreate and keep the cycle of life going in order to redistribute energy to the earth. So why do a lot of atheists condone homosexuality or immoral sexuality?

    According to that logic, why would *anyone* do *anything aside from having straight sex with the intent to reproduce? Humans are not ants. We have interests and lives outside of sex and reproduction, and any realistic worldview must consider that.

    It’s the same fallacy behind Christians’ condemnation of homosexuality — “they’re not making babies, therefore it’s a sin.” So is it also a sin to be on the internet right now? I mean, I could be out having sex and making babies. So am I hampering the development of humans by not dedicating every waking moment of my life to producing more offspring? I know that’s how they acted in the Old Testament, but come on, this is modern reality.

    Again, what does it all matter anyway with no hope of a harmonious natural life. We have all these “religions” and none of us can seem to get along with one another.

    Yeah, even the different Christian religions can’t get along, what with Catholics participating in and endorsing genocides in Africa, or Protestants and Catholics fighting each other in places like Ireland.

    not many people ever focus on the fact that we are made of the same material, have the same symmetry. According to you, someone should have grown an extra something somewhere and be eradicating us right now. Where’s the Hope in that?

    Why do you Christians refuse to understand how evolution works? Of course we have similar structures; we’re created from the genes of other humans who are shaped like we are and who determine our shape. It’s the drift and maladaptation of these genes that cause gradual evolutionary change across long periods of time. That doesn’t mean people get superpowers or grow extra limbs instantaneously. That is just silly. And yet you Christians love to repeatedly say things like that as if it makes evolution look silly, when in fact it makes you look silly for not understanding one single fact about evolution.

    I mean, seriously….do you actually believe that that is what comprises evolution? Do you actually think that the world’s most educated and professionally experienced scientists would actually adhere to a system that made the kinds of implications that you are making? That is not how evolution works at all….you should read up on it before you start throwing around half-hearted soundbyte criticisms. You’re just perpetuating stereotypes about ignorant, unread Christians.

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  108. Toby R. says:

    “A hot sun and cold space producing life giving conditions…. I assume over Billions of years as well? It just makes us sound so insignificant. I mean, evolving via natural selection….”

    Here’s the big difference in perspective mention earlier. You hear that statement and feel empty. I hear that statement and feel incredibly fortunate and glad to be here. And it wasn’t one hot sun that made up our planet and solar system, it was likely many. As Lawrence Krauss said, “Forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.”

    Now you could say, “well, doesn’t that seem designed?” No. Not when you consider how vast the universe is. The proper conditions for life (at least life as we know it) happen, probably relatively frequently, when you consider how many stars have burned and exploded and how many stars we can observe even without a telescope.

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  109. Nathan Barley says:

    There’s a recent debate I’d recommend to all readers here, especially Charles, between apologist Cliffe Knechtle and counter-apologist Jeremy Beahan. Google ‘Is Christianity rational’ with either of their names to find it.

    Anyway, in it Cliffe tries to argue that if life isn’t eternal then it’s worthless. Jeremy replies “Can you think of anything that becomes LESS valuable when it gets scarcer?”

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  110. matt says:

    @Ed-

    You said: I say you would if you could. I say there is no evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed. Go ahead and prove me wrong. Then tell us Matt, by what standard DO you make your comments?

    1. You say I would if I could- I say, I enjoy reading some of the comments on this blog, but spend rarely actually want to respond to the banter that ensues. I’ve never seen anyone be converted to any belief but their own on this forum, so why would I always have to feel compelled to waste my time trying to do so when you’ve already shown an ignorant stance?

    I’ve got a real life to live away from a computer, and I would hope that you do as well….(especially since you believe there is nothing more to look forward to after this life is over).

    2. Why is it important to you that I have a standard by which I make my comments? Are you so insecure that someone on an internet forum has to have a reason that you approve of by which to say something? My loyalties and obligations are to God, family, and friends, in that order. I have love for everyone, including the lost, but am in no way obligated to appease them with chatter that will clearly be disregarded anyway. As Luke 9:5 tells Christians, it’s ok to “shake the dust off our feet” for those that have hardened their hearts to the Gospel.

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  111. Charles says:

    Tim and Ed, I will say that you give some pretty compelling arguments for your point of view. I will say that. I can understand where you are coming from and your position is plausible even though it is only secular. I still consider and subscribe to the metaphysical. Like I said, my perspective cannot change so I don’t mind the dialogue, I actually appreciate it. Everything that you have offered in the way of refuting the spiritual perspective has culminated in my Faith being strengthened and this is why:

    Who ever decided to create “jesus” was a genius, an absolute genius. they have managed to fool countless millions of people over the course of….well, several millenia. Not only that, the “jesus” you say never existed has managed to capture the hearts and minds of people all over the world. The Gospel message has been the most talked about, revered, studied even; dare I say, corrupted literature in history. The only exception has been the “scientifically enlightened”.

    Please explain why you think the Bible was written in the first place. How is it that one “ficticious man” who “supposedly” came into the world not very attractive, undesireable (Isaiah 53) and overlooked by “his” own people would gradually become Loved by nations. This “ficticious man” would embarrass himself in front of the religious and educated elite and claim “he” was the son of God. On top of that let himself be maimed, spit on, cursed, beaten, and ultimately murdered in front of his own people. An entire “religion” bears “his” name. This is genious; what group of people conjures up lies and stories upon lies and stories that carry the caliber of wisdom that no man could ever contain on his own. It has taken thousands of years to come up with some of the wisdom and revelation that comes from Scripture. How is it that thought trends can line up perfectly between OT and NT and seemlessly put together reasoning that has encouraged and helped countless people…..Globally. How much mission work has been done by any other group of people comes close to what real Christians have done for impoverished people at the same time, literally, risking their lives to help them. This concept of Love coming from the most hideous of murders morphing into the most beautiful act of sacrifice paints a picture that secularists will only understand when they are able to identify with it. Unfortunately, in order to identify with True Love one must undergo horrific circumstances, such as Jews, who are probably the most hated people in history. There is very sound evidence that contradicts everything non believers come up with. There is even scientific evidence for creation and forensic evidence that suggests the plausibilty for Christ. There is much we don’t know, but that is no reason to “debunk” the possibility. Evolution has never been proven; it is still just a theory. Like I said before; for people that refuse to believe and make a case against God the Bible will give all the ammunition they need. But, for those that choose to have Faith can experience Life with the kind of wisdom that flows freely and with an abundance that secularists will never understand. The Kingdom of God is here, it is within, it is true and very real. The Spirit of God lives in the Scripture and just as described by our beloved Jesus Christ; it is a well of life that never ends.

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  112. Tim D. says:

    Who ever decided to create “jesus” was a genius, an absolute genius. they have managed to fool countless millions of people over the course of….well, several millenia. Not only that, the “jesus” you say never existed has managed to capture the hearts and minds of people all over the world. The Gospel message has been the most talked about, revered, studied even; dare I say, corrupted literature in history.

    Green Day has sold millions upon millions of albums worldwide, probably more than any punkpop/punk rock band has ever sold. They make enough money to do pretty much whatever they want. I guess that means they are “the one true band!”

    Conclusion: Argumentum ad populum is never, ever, ever a good persuasive argument.

    The only exception has been the “scientifically enlightened”.

    You say that as if “the scientifically enlightened” were somehow a minority! Even most Christians accept the basic ideas behind science (and therefore also accept evolution, a necessary component of the very modern biology that gives us our medical knowledge).

    I love how people are constantly trying to “scientifically prove” that Jesus is real, and yet they’re also deriding “scientists” and the “scientifically enlightened.” Which is it? Does science prove god exists, or are the “scientifically enlightened” a bunch of ignorami? Or are they only “scientifically enlightened” if they believe exactly what you do? Even the scientific community would frown on such uniform homogeneology.

    Please explain why you think the Bible was written in the first place.

    There is no need for me to do that. Although I will if you can first, in great detail, explain the following:

    -Please explain why the Koran was written in the first place.
    -Please explain why Osiris and Horus were revered as gods in egypts.
    -Please explain why Hindus believe the way they do about how the world began.
    -Please explain why any other major religion has ever survived for as long as it has.

    We are both skeptical of the existence of gods; I just go one god further than you.

    ow is it that one “ficticious man” who “supposedly” came into the world not very attractive, undesireable (Isaiah 53) and overlooked by “his” own people would gradually become Loved by nations.

    Nobody loves Jesus, they love the story of Jesus. Jesus is not real, and even if he was, he is dead, and nobody alive to day has ever met him, nor met anyone who even several steps removed did meet him. There is no proof that this man existed except that a bunch of people think he existed. If I made that same claim about evolution — that everyone believes it, therefore it’s unreasonable for you not to — then you would think I was being dishonest or arrogant. That is exactly what you are doing here.

    . This “ficticious man” would embarrass himself in front of the religious and educated elite and claim “he” was the son of God. On top of that let himself be maimed, spit on, cursed, beaten, and ultimately murdered in front of his own people.

    None of this even matters, of course, because the very fact that you consider this “evidence” already assumes the truth of the argument you are trying to prove.” I, of course, do not believe any of that ever actually happened.

    This is genious; what group of people conjures up lies and stories upon lies and stories that carry the caliber of wisdom that no man could ever contain on his own.

    Yes, such GLORIOUS Biblical wisdom as:

    -How to take care of (and properly beat) your slaves!
    -How to condition your women to a lifetime of servitude to men!

    Among other BRILLIANT, GENIOUS chunks of wisdom!

    Even barring the atrocious actions of a God who clearly sees non-Israelites as completely unworthy of even being alive in the first place, the Bible is chock full of horrifying events and practices that are condoned or even ordered by God or one of his prophets (such as the wonderful ritual of genital mutiliation, or as our fine friends the Jews call it, “circumcision”).

    How is it that thought trends can line up perfectly between OT and NT and seemlessly put together reasoning that has encouraged and helped countless people…..Globally.

    So it’s a popularity contest now? That’s religion for ya 😀

    How much mission work has been done by any other group of people comes close to what real Christians have done for impoverished people at the same time, literally, risking their lives to help them.

    Are you an alternate account of Neil Mammen? This is the same drivel he launched into when he ran out of scientific arguments, as well.

    In case you aren’t….how inspired or happy it makes you (or anyone else, myself included) feel does NOT have ANY effect on how TRUE it is. This is not an argument, it’s an appeal to emotion, an appeal to the desire for god to exist and the Bible to be true.

    Evolution has never been proven; it is still just a theory.

    Just like gravity!

    Oh, wait, you guys probably think Angels hold up bumblebees, right?

    Reply
  113. Ed says:

    Matt: You say I would if I could- I say, I enjoy reading some of the comments on this blog, but spend rarely actually want to respond to the banter that ensues.

    You responded to something I posted. So you do want to respond to things you read, you just don’t want to have to defend any of your comments.

    Matt: I’ve never seen anyone be converted to any belief but their own on this forum, so why would I always have to feel compelled to waste my time trying to do so when you’ve already shown an ignorant stance?

    Yes most of you religious fundamentalists are only on these blogs to preach. If you get rejected you just move on to the next potential convert. I knew right away that’s what you are about. That isn’t serious conversation.

    Matt: I’ve got a real life to live away from a computer, and I would hope that you do as well….(especially since you believe there is nothing more to look forward to after this life is over).

    I would ask you why you do believe there is something to look forward to after this life is over but those kinds of questions obviously make you very uncomfortable.

    Matt: Why is it important to you that I have a standard by which I make my comments?

    It isn’t important to me and it isn’t important to you either is it?

    Matt: Are you so insecure that someone on an internet forum has to have a reason that you approve of by which to say something?

    No, I already told you that you don’t need to defend your comments to me or anyone else.

    Matt: My loyalties and obligations are to God, family, and friends, in that order.

    So if God told you to prove your faith by killing a family member or a friend would you do it?

    Matt: I have love for everyone, including the lost, but am in no way obligated to appease them with chatter that will clearly be disregarded anyway. As Luke 9:5 tells Christians, it’s ok to “shake the dust off our feet” for those that have hardened their hearts to the Gospel.

    Luke 12:33 tells Christians to sell everything they own and give the money to the poor. Have you done that yet? Or do you just go through the Bible and decide which commands you’ll follow and which ones you won’t like every other Christian in the world does?

    Reply
  114. Tim D. says:

    As Luke 9:5 tells Christians, it’s ok to “shake the dust off our feet” for those that have hardened their hearts to the Gospel.

    Interestingly, that reminds me of the Pharaoh (again, from Exodus), whose heart was deliberately “hardened” by God just to prove a point, to show what would happen when people oppose him and to give him an excuse to demonstrate to the Israelites that he was really their god.

    I know that’s Old Testament so nobody cares anymore (except for the 10 Commandments, taken from that same book, but…um, anyway!)….but it’s still interesting.

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  115. Charles says:

    Tim, that was after Pharaoh rejected Jehovah to prove that point. I am not trying to preach here, but it seems as though our beloved Scripture keeps being misinterpreted, thus misconstrued and twisted in an attempt to slander Christians. Ya know, I’ll be honest. I am particularly guilty of being arrogant with the Gospel. I boast in Christ and Him alone, but I humbly apologize for being facetious and sarcastic at times. Like I said before, I find Atheist comments interesting. They are very insightful and I understand the point of view. What I also find interesting is that Atheist sentiment seems to dismiss believers as misguided fools. I can smell the condescension from a mile away, so to speak. Now I’m not speaking just as Christian here, but as a believer in something other than what I see, something bigger than me or anything else. Faith is the point. Faith is what makes sense out of Biblical Scripture, not a set of rules and rituals. God, what little I do understand about Him, was never really interested in rituals or tradition. These things were initiated to show man his sinful nature. I am not an inherently good person. Every person has the potential to think and do the gravest evil. The religious law was set up to show us that, but it was never God’s intention to keep it that way. Religion has always and always will breed arrogant snobs just like the Sanhedrin Council. They did exist and they were religious, but Jesus called them a brood of vipers. The point being as I mentioned earlier, the Kingdom of God is within, but we have a sinful nature. If you could take a one year old kid and give him/her a 6′ 200 lb muscular body, give this kid a big plate of food and let him/her eat 1/3 of it and take the rest and hide it. That kid would break Mommy and/or Daddy’s neck and wouldn’t think twice about it to get the rest of the food. That is human nature. I do not know if it was actually “fruit” that Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden, but when a human being self-realizes, as they did, their natural eyes were opened, so to speak, and their spirituality died. They separated themselves from God willfully. God brought order to a chaotic situation, Adam and Eve resurrected chaos. In other words, human nature resurrected chaos. It is the Spirit of God that convicts us if He is allowed to govern us individually. Harmony is very possible with humans. It is what we exude when there is order; talk about redistributing energy to the Earth. How about an abundance of positive energy reciprocated by the very ground we walk on.

    Reply
  116. Toby R. says:

    “I boast in Christ and Him alone. . .”

    While this may be true for you, I find that in general the christian theist is very far from humble. In listening to William Lane Craig debate I find his and other theist’s arguments very arrogant and, well, “needy”.

    For example: “If there’s no god then what makes life worth living?”

    This implies several things: 1) that there needs to be a god somewhere beyond the stars in order for us to find that life has any meaning at all, 2) those that make this argument think the default position should be suicide, 3) those that make this argument have been taught and learned the overwhelming desire to be “special”, that the universe, the world, and the “lower creatures” were all made for them. This last is extraordinarily arrogant. “I have to be put up a throne in my god’s creation in order that my life have meaning and I am special!”

    You don’t need a god beyond the stars to tell you that you’re special. If you really need that high you can look at the vastness of the universe and the relative paucity of life and get all of the good feeling you need. As Nathan quoted above: “Can you think of anything that becomes LESS valuable when it gets scarcer?”

    Reply
  117. Tim D. says:

    I am not trying to preach here, but it seems as though our beloved Scripture keeps being misinterpreted, thus misconstrued and twisted in an attempt to slander Christians.

    I don’t slander Christians. I do, however, vigorously oppose bigoted beliefs. And I did promise my dear friend that I would read the Bible with an open mind; I will not simply excuse any inconsistencies I find (or any attempts to convince me that the Bible does not mean what it actually says), but I am more than willing to listen to any attempts at justification on the parts of Christians. I will give credit where credit is due.

    What I also find interesting is that Atheist sentiment seems to dismiss believers as misguided fools.

    A common misconception. I do adopt a forceful position against theism, however, for purposes of social justice I do believe it is possible for theists and nontheists to coexist. They just need to focus on what they have in common instead of what drives them apart. As long as they are willing to set aside their differences (and not use them as excuses to arbitrarily oppose each other), then I see nothing “foolish” about any sort of belief. The only time it becomes “foolish” or “misguided,” in my personal view, is when the belief in god is elevated to the point that it outweighs the service of people who need help in this life.

    Like the 0800 Food Bank in Christchurch, New Zealand, who reported having problems finding enough volunteers to deliver parcels. They turned down offers from nontheists who had offered to help, and posted this in an interview:

    [Food bank manager Kerry] Bensemann, a former truck driver, said that while the warehouse had adequate staff, the charity’s policy was that parcels could be delivered only by members of a church.

    He said many church groups were unwilling to help when asked if they could deliver food in their area. One group had told him it was too busy.

    He said he had turned down help from non-religious people.

    “I know it sounds really, really stupid, but you’ve got to understand how we’re set up.”

    He said the aim was to increase church involvement, and having the food delivered by non-religious volunteers would defeat the purpose.

    THAT is the kind of thing I consider “misguided” and “foolish” — I support acts of charity no matter which religion (or nonreligion) they come from, but if you do it for the purposes of “increasing church involvement” or for “glorifying god,” and you allow that condition to hamper your efforts, then you are placing a condition on that effort. And I believe acts like that should be unconditional and without exemption; if we place restrictions on who is allowed to help out and “be good,” then are we not defeating the purported purpose of Christianity anyway?

    Faith is the point. Faith is what makes sense out of Biblical Scripture, not a set of rules and rituals.

    Faith in what, exactly? I’m trying to sift through all of this metaphor and get to the point of what you’re talking about.

    I have this friend at work (not THE one, but one of the ones who kind of pressured me to read the Bible again at first), who said to me that she has faith in the inerrancy of the Bible. If this does not mean that the Bible’s words are inerrant, then I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean. So when I ask about a verse that is clearly not inerrant, or at the very least not enforceable in today’s world (such as laws about slavery, or misogyny), and it is casually explained away with “faith,” my answer is this….for one, that means you are going against what the Bible says. “I have faith that, even though the Bible says that slavery is okay, and women are property and second-class citizens, it is true and right.” So are you saying that these are true statements, that slavery is okay and women are inferior, and that is what you have faith in? Or are you saying that they are wrong, and that is what you have faith in? I can never get a clear answer on this.

    God, what little I do understand about Him, was never really interested in rituals or tradition.

    I know OT and NT God are quite different, but OT God always crossed me as simply fascinated by rituals. Almost the entire second half of Exodus (which I finished again not too long ago) is God giving very specific directions on how to build the tabernacle-thing….but also, he’s always placing weird restrictions that don’t seem to have any other purpose than a purely religious one; why specifically unleavened bread, for example? What’s wrong with leavened bread that called him to designate that? And why were people who worked on the Sabbath supposed to be put to death? Was that really that important of a law that people had to be killed for violating it? Those seem to be purely religious in nature.

    I am not an inherently good person. Every person has the potential to think and do the gravest evil.

    I don’t believe in “inherently good” or “inherently bad” people. If that were possible, then that would imply that we have somehow “completed” ourselves and are finished, when the fact is that we are always acting and giving ourselves opportunities to change who we are and how people see us; as a wise person once said, “You don’t find yourself, you make yourself.”

    That kid would break Mommy and/or Daddy’s neck and wouldn’t think twice about it to get the rest of the food.

    …dunno if I believe that. Depends. I’ve known some pretty unruly kids, but speaking personally, I’ve always had a vague, undefinable attachment to my parents, such that even when I had “good reason” (by a child’s logic, anyway) to hate them or be mad at them, I always felt bad if I did anything too overboard or unruly. Possibly because my mom was really good at telegraphing her emotions to me, intentionally or not. My mom worked hard to raise our family so I always felt like I had to do something to help lighten the load, and going around killing people would definitely not have helped.

    I don’t think it’s a universal statement that every child would “break mommy and daddy’s necks” under those conditions. In fact, since children are naturally inclined towards veneration for their parents, I’d consider the scenario you described there to be an anomaly of sorts, not the default occurrence. Most children would probably use their monstrous strength to try to protect mommy and daddy, even if for no other reason than to garner approval at first.

    I do not know if it was actually “fruit” that Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden, but when a human being self-realizes, as they did, their natural eyes were opened, so to speak, and their spirituality died.

    See, that’s one of my biggest beefs with Christianity, the death of the self. Why does our “self” exist if we are never to realize it, and if realizing it is a sin? It’s like the MB unit in Metroid: Other M, an artificial life form that was created in order to control a batch of creatures they were breeding; the artificial intelligence was so complex that it began to self-analyze and learn, and eventually develop emotions. Even though it did not act against its creators, it was deemed “insane” and ordered to be destroyed, simply for developing intelligence beyond what was originally designed for it, and so it (of course) rebelled.

    Christianity seems aimed towards absolutely obliterating people’s self-image, completely decimating their self-esteem until they view themselves and their lives as utterly, inherently worthless garbage. I think that is a terrible way to sell oneself short, and I do not support that.

    Fat Mike of NOFX once sat in on a Bible study class, and one of the other people there said to him that everyone had the desire for evil in their hearts, so they needed the redemption of God and Christ. Mike asked him, “Do you think you’re a bad person?” The guy said, “Well, yeah. I have all these horrible desires in my heart that no truly good person would have.” Mike says, “I have temptation all the time, does that make me a bad person? I mean, I’ve been married to my wife for [x amount of] years, and even now I sometimes see a woman and I’m like, ‘yeah, I’d hit that!’ But I’d never DO that. Temptation is a natural thing. Am I ‘bad’ just for having that temptation?” And the guy seemed hesitant to answer, like he thought Mike was baiting him into a trap.

    Reply
  118. Charles says:

    The problem with self realization is this: I believe I mentioned this earlier, so if so, I’ll reiterate. God is perfect. for all intents and purposes we can agree that that is the general consensus of all believers. Perfection cannot tolerate anything less than itself. In other words, perfection demands perfection. As illustrated in the Garden of Eden God had worked until He accomplished His goal of creation and He concluded that everything He created was good. Now, the name Adam as I recall means “one who remembers”. Here comes temptation at the hands of the one who commited the first sin or act of imperfection who tempts Eve. Let me digress for a moment, Lucifer’s downfall was pride in himself, remember he was the “annointed cherub”. This pride was the sin of self realization. OK, Lucifer or the serpent, as it were, tempts Eve and through deceit causes her to disobey God. Adam was with her as there is no account of him being anywhere else. Why didn’t he say anything? Why did He watch his wife sin and sin with her? Remember Adam’s name meant “one who remembers” so the point is this. The serpent or sinful one established pride in one’s self as the primary motivator instead of God’s spirit which is perfection. It is a very different thing to allow flesh to be the motivation and not the Spirit of the Creator. This is because God’s full intention was for man (Adam & Eve) to be His Ambassador in the Earth or His Temporal Representative, but now man’s motivation is himself or rather the satisfaction of himself. I’ll give you some interesting insight if you don’t mind me doing so. I think it will answer some of the negativity you see in the oppression of women as well.

    Genesis 3 gives the account of God’s judgement or punishment for disobedience. After Adam blamed Eve for enticing him to sin with her, God told Eve that He would cause childbirth to be painful but He also told Eve that because of her sin that her desire would be “to” her husband. Note that the Bible does not say “for” her husband. Adam and Eve’s new found pride is what seperates men and women in terms of our equal roles to act on behalf of one another. Instead, we normally act for ourselves. God’s perfect order would have it so that women would learn to respect men as Paternal leaders because of the purpose in which He created us. Women naturally want to lead and this is simply because men are NOT superior, but we are equal. We are equal but different and I’ll explain. Women bear children and are equipped for nurturing flesh. Women are emotional creatures and are more carnally instinctive than men or women are more cognitive of temporal instincts than men. Just think of how women are shaped. Women are generally shorter with their center of gravity in their hips. This is natural for childbirth, but also gears them to be more intuned with the Earth. They are usually more grounded, so to speak. Men on the other hand, were told would “work by the sweat of our face”. We need to work in order to provide. Before this everything was already provided. Now think of a man’s anatomy, men are generally taller and broader in the shoulders than women. It is our role to carry the weight of the family. This means the Character, Reputation, and Integrity of the family. But notice, working the ground makes us exert ourselves physically and we naturally become fatigued. Fatigue helps us stay grounded or rather intuned with the Earth, thus helping us respect women for being Maternal leaders. We men seem to walk around with our heads in the clouds sometimes, so to speak. Have you, in your reading of Scripture, ever wondered why God would choose a rib to create Eve? Why not an arm bone or tail bone or even part of the skull, why a rib. Spiritual/Natural/Biblical reason; the ribcage protects the heart and many of the vital organs of the body. As said before, women are emotional and instinctive. Go with me to Solomon’s Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon. The Shulamite woman addresses the Daughters of Israel Three times, herself, not to awake (arouse) her Love. I could vastly elaborate, but in short she was protecting Solomon’s heart. Jump to the Book of Mark chapter 10 verse 4 and you will clearly see that Jesus was telling the “religious elite” that in fact women were not property and that we were made equal. Can you see what “religion” does as apposed to what God originally intended? The meaning of the Law under Moses was for humanity to understand his imperfection and separation from Divine Order and not because he was so angry to condone oppression.

    As for the Charity thing, I think it is a travesty that they did not use non believers for their mission. That was just wrong. We Christians do stain ourselves at times, but again, the measure of Christianity is not the Christian, but Christ Himself.

    Reply
  119. Charles says:

    Tim also asked, “he’s always placing weird restrictions that don’t seem to have any other purpose than a purely religious one; why specifically unleavened bread, for example? What’s wrong with leavened bread that called him to designate that?

    Leavened bread needs yeast to rise. Yeast is symbolic of all of the junk we fill our lives with that takes away our focus on God. 1 Corinthians 5:6 confirms this Spiritual implication in saying “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Or in other words, Don’t you understand that it only takes a small amount of junk to perpetuate further separation from God? The simple answer is the fact that enough will never be enough for the flesh.

    Reply
  120. TobyR. says:

    “Perfection cannot tolerate anything less than itself. In other words, perfection demands perfection.”

    This is completely ridiculous. If a god is perfect, that’s one thing, but it’s often said that this god is omnipresent, omniscient, and all knowing. So this perfect being that demands perfection and cannot tolerate anything less, creates a people who he knows, being omniscient and all, that they’ll not be perfect. It sounds more like your perfect god wanted a fat girl to stand beside so that he can judge how perfect he is.

    Reply
  121. Charles says:

    It is not ridiculous. Yes, God is well aware of how He created us; Psalms 8:5, Hebrews 2:7 even Hebrews 2:9 tells us that God made humans (flesh) “lower than the angels”. Understand, His system, His design, His Ideology is what is perfect. An angel had fallen into the trap of pride. That angel desired to be a god and its pride is what destroyed its ambition because there can only be one God. It is not said that angels were given free will. God created humans in His Image, but not in His Perfection. Psalms 139:14 says that we were “Fearfully and Wonderfully made”, but not made perfect. Here’s what I think you may not understand: What is Love? The Christian perspective says Love is God’s decision to will the best for His creation regardless of what happens or what He gets out the deal. This does not mean that everyone will be receptive or accept Him. Rather, it means that He desires that we choose Him as He chose us. That is why He gives us free will. Love has to be chosen otherwise it is meaningless subjugation.

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  122. Charles says:

    And also, That kid would, indeed, break Mommy and/or Daddy’s neck and wouldn’t think twice about it to get the rest of the food. I was speaking of a one year old and not a toddler. I have a 10 month old now who I am positive would beat me into oblivion over a cheerio if he was big enough and strong enough. A three to five year old, yeah, I can see a level of restraint; but not a one year old.

    Reply
  123. matt says:

    Ed said:You responded to something I posted. So you do want to respond to things you read, you just don’t want to have to defend any of your comments.

    Yes, at times people say things that are so dumbfounding that I choose to respond. I have no problem defending my comments (I do it on a DAILY basis, but not on an internet forum). Frankly, I often lack the time, and moreoften lack the desire to have a keyboard battle. Tell you what- I live in Sacramento, CA. If you live anywhere near here, I’m glad to come talk to you face to face over coffee and talk about anything you want.

    Ed said:Yes most of you religious fundamentalists are only on these blogs to preach. If you get rejected you just move on to the next potential convert. I knew right away that’s what you are about. That isn’t serious conversation.

    You contradict your own statement here. I’m obviously not here to preach, as I’ve explained to you that I have no desire to do so in an internet forum. You know nothing of “what I’m about”, nor do I know what you are “about”. If you NEED this serious conversation, I suggest getting together with some family and friends from time to time.

    Ed said:I would ask you why you do believe there is something to look forward to after this life is over but those kinds of questions obviously make you very uncomfortable.

    Uncomfortable? Negative. Disinterested. Again, if you are anywhere near Sacramento, I’m glad to buy you some coffee and have a chat.

    Ed said: It (defending comments) isn’t important to me and it isn’t important to you either is it?

    With all due respect, it isn’t important to me to defend my comments…..to you.

    Ed said: No, I already told you that you don’t need to defend your comments to me or anyone else.

    Thank you, I agree.

    Ed said: So if God told you to prove your faith by killing a family member or a friend would you do it?

    Yes. Although (hopefully) I shouldn’t have to go into an explanation for Ed as to why this would not be commanded.

    Ed said: Luke 12:33 tells Christians to sell everything they own and give the money to the poor. Have you done that yet? Or do you just go through the Bible and decide which commands you’ll follow and which ones you won’t like every other Christian in the world does?

    First of all, can I see your research that shows “every other Christian in the world” doing exactly as you said? As you once wrote to me; saying something does not make it so.

    As for selling everything I own- no sir, I have not done that. Of course you will want an explanation as to why not, and I will simply tell you that the context of what Jesus teaches here is greater than that sentence. Of course, if someone picks sentences at random without context, it changes the meaning of the sentence.

    But do I do enough as a Christian to show I am a follower of Christ? No, I don’t think I do. Am I progressing in my pursuit of being like Christ? I believe so, but I’m not the one who needs to make that judgement. (Sorry Ed, neither are you).

    Ed, this is about the extent of which I desire to talk to you over an internet forum. If you are by some chance local to Sacramento, let’ talk face to face. Call me old fashioned. As Hank Williams Jr. said, “We say grace and we say ma’am; if you ain’t into that, we don’t give a damn.” Have a good night.

    Reply
  124. TobyR. says:

    From Martha Farah, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and a prominent neuroethicist. She was speaking of findings in which, “Test subjects chose whether to push a button with their right or left hand; seven seconds before they experienced making the choice, their brain activity already predicted their final decisions.”

    She says:
    “I don’t think “free will” is a very sensible concept, and you don’t need neuroscience to reject it — any mechanistic view of the world is good enough, and indeed you could even argue on purely conceptual grounds that the opposite of determinism is randomness, not free will! Most thoughtful neuroscientists I know have replaced the concept of free will with the concept of rationality — that we select our actions based on a kind of practical reasoning. And there is no conflict between rationality and the mind as a physical system — After all, computers are rational physical systems!”

    and

    “Going back to the Nature Neuroscience findings, the parts of the brain whose activity are correlated with the decision and precede the person’s conscious awareness of having decided — as well as potentially other parts — are the analogs of the computer described above… And this happens well before the conscious experience of “free will” making the decision.”

    and

    “One advantage of focusing on rationality rather than free will is that it enables us to retain the concept of moral and legal responsibility.
    If someone is rational and is not under coercion (eg someone holds a gun to your head and says you’ll be shot if you don’t do X) then it is reasonable to hold him or her responsible…”

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  125. Charles says:

    I’m Sorry TobyR, I am finding it a little difficult understanding the comparability between rationality and free will. I do believe we have the freedom to make rational decisions; if that is what you are talking about. In other words, If I say I will do X because I believe it is more rational than Y; that was my decision. I am willing it freely, am I not?

    Another thing is; I am certainly no neuroethicist and I do not doubt Dr. Farah’s intellect or expertise, but I really don’t know who she studied or how many subjects she used to determine her idea or what/who she used for control in her studies. I also do not doubt that she was very thorough, but kind of evidence doesn’t hold weight because her conclusion began with “I think” If she was definitive and concise with her findings she would say, with authority, that free will does not exist. “I think” means it is her opinion based on what she found. I could give my opinion on a study I run with whatever subjects I wanted to use and I am certain someone with equal credentials could come up with something different. It is reasonable to hold anyone accountable for decisions they make no matter what they decide to do.

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  126. Tim D. says:

    Leavened bread needs yeast to rise. Yeast is symbolic of all of the junk we fill our lives with that takes away our focus on God. 1 Corinthians 5:6 confirms this Spiritual implication in saying “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Or in other words, Don’t you understand that it only takes a small amount of junk to perpetuate further separation from God? The simple answer is the fact that enough will never be enough for the flesh.

    So it’s symbolic, then. In other words, religious. Ritualistic.

    God is perfect.

    I don’t believe that a perfect being can exist.

    Perfection cannot tolerate anything less than itself.

    Then God should have destroyed us all by now.

    The serpent or sinful one established pride in one’s self as the primary motivator instead of God’s spirit which is perfection.

    Even if we took the Biblical accounts of Genesis literally and assumed that any of this were true, I still don’t see why Christians see individuality and self as completely diametrically opposed to worshipping their god, as though it’s somehow impossible to both believe in something higher than oneself and have a sense of pride or self-esteem. You seem to view a sense of self as like an appendix — created, apparently, but for no reason other than to cause trouble to us.

    I do not see myself as inherently worthless or without purpose; therefore, I absolutely can not accept Christianity’s view of me (or of anyone else).

    After Adam blamed Eve for enticing him to sin with her, God told Eve that He would cause childbirth to be painful but He also told Eve that because of her sin that her desire would be “to” her husband.

    So why does God only punish her and not him? This is an interesting question because, later on in the OT, God says that if a man rapes a woman and she does not cry out, that she is equally as guilty as him and they should both be put to death.

    Why, then, is a woman who has been raped “just as much of a criminal” as the man who raped her (thereby minimizing the fact that the man committed rape, which I would argue is a MUCH worse crime than “not crying out”), when a man who sat and watched his wife commit a crime against God, saying nothing, is given a less severe punishment than she is? Why does God not punish them both equally?

    By the logic of later OT laws, Adam and Eve should have been punished equally — and yet Adam gets off with only being kicked out of Eden, whereas Eve is cursed with painful childbirth and “desire to her husband” (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

    God’s perfect order would have it so that women would learn to respect men as Paternal leaders because of the purpose in which He created us.

    I do not agree with that judgment.

    On a side note, there have been articles published which even suggest that, statistically, men mature emotionally at a rate that is inferior to women.

    Just think of how women are shaped. Women are generally shorter with their center of gravity in their hips. This is natural for childbirth, but also gears them to be more intuned with the Earth. They are usually more grounded, so to speak.

    …”intuned with the Earth?” “More grounded?” Is that supposed to be literal or metaphorical?

    Now think of a man’s anatomy, men are generally taller and broader in the shoulders than women. It is our role to carry the weight of the family.

    I don’t think that’s meant literally….I couldn’t carry my entire family’s weight if I spent twice as much time working out 😮

    But notice, working the ground makes us exert ourselves physically and we naturally become fatigued. Fatigue helps us stay grounded or rather intuned with the Earth, thus helping us respect women for being Maternal leaders.

    I don’t think men or women should be required by society to adopt such harshly distinct gender roles, though. We aren’t like ants, where our social roles are determined from birth and can never be challenged. For that reason I don’t believe in traditionally-enforced gender roles (i.e. women stay at home barefoot and pregnant while men provide and assert authority). If someone wants to live that way then of course that’s their choice, but I see little sense in acting as if this is some sort of divine ordinance.

    We men seem to walk around with our heads in the clouds sometimes, so to speak.

    I cannot accept that statement. Men and women are equal in intelligence as well as foolishness; you are relying on a degree of sexism to try and make your point here.

    As said before, women are emotional and instinctive.

    To quote an article I read earlier today:

    (If the [Bible’s authors] think that there is more to the experience of being a woman than being an emotionally-driven womb with legs, [they don’t] really seem to acknowledge it.)

    Jump to the Book of Mark chapter 10 verse 4 and you will clearly see that Jesus was telling the “religious elite” that in fact women were not property and that we were made equal

    The way you define “equal” is decidedly superficial in this context; “we’re equal, but different such that men should do all the physical work (’cause we’re no good at all that thinking stuff), and women should take care of the emotional-feely-thinky stuff.” Saying that defeats the entire purpose of asserting that God thinks women and men are “equal.”

    Can you see what “religion” does as apposed to what God originally intended? The meaning of the Law under Moses was for humanity to understand his imperfection and separation from Divine Order and not because he was so angry to condone oppression.

    It was necessary to treat women as property, and to promote slavery and oppresion, to “show people their imperfection?” That is ridiculous. If it was ever “okay” for God to enforce slavery and misogyny, then any kind of justification for this is completely post-hoc and man-made. God himself didn’t care about any of that other stuff when he was telling the Israelites how to take care of their slaves, and how to kill each other for violating his laws.

    The way I see it, pretty much every major doctrine preached by Jesus was made as a specific response to some kind of criticism of the OT; the “humans are sinners that need redemption” comes as a response to the fact that God clearly does not value or respect human life at all in the OT. Humans, it is decided, must have been inherently worthless and terrible without Jesus around to redeem, thus God is somehow justified in killing and torturing them at his whim.

    Also the way I see it, either oppression is wrong or it is not. If it is wrong, then a God who would not just allow it but openly enforce and regulate it (for ANY reason) is “wrong.” Based on that I would say that the god described in the Christian Bible is not a reliable source of morality.

    As for the Charity thing, I think it is a travesty that they did not use non believers for their mission. That was just wrong. We Christians do stain ourselves at times, but again, the measure of Christianity is not the Christian, but Christ Himself.

    Yes, yes, cut off the finger to save the hand. I wonder if you would so readily denounce other Christians as representatives of Christianity if they had acted favorably, instead of despicably.

    That is another thing I enjoy about being an atheist; I do not speak for other atheists and they do not speak for me. I do not claim that atheism in itself always leads to perfect happiness for everyone, and so I also have no need to explain away something that another atheist does which contradicts my beliefs. Christians have this problem; claiming that we can only be good people if we are Christian (for goodness comes only from the Christian god), and yet being constantly pressed to explain away why so many Christians seem to be so incapable of being such good and decent people as their religion supposedly makes them. If being Christian is not synonymous with being good, then what is the point of it at all?

    What is Love? The Christian perspective says Love is God’s decision to will the best for His creation regardless of what happens or what He gets out the deal.

    Christian love is very conditional. This is why I do not adhere to the Christian definition of love; it does not describe anything that actually exists in the world or that can be applied. According to Christianity, love is not based in good actions (because good works cannot comprise love in themselves), or in respect for another (because, they say, you can respect someone and yet still not “love” them), but rather in bringing people to god. That’s all it means. And it’s possible to try and bring someone closer to god through horrible, aggressive and unloving means. Therefore I cannot accept the Christian definition of “love” as accurate.

    And also, That kid would, indeed, break Mommy and/or Daddy’s neck and wouldn’t think twice about it to get the rest of the food. I was speaking of a one year old and not a toddler. I have a 10 month old now who I am positive would beat me into oblivion over a cheerio if he was big enough and strong enough. A three to five year old, yeah, I can see a level of restraint; but not a one year old.

    I don’t believe for one second that that is a universally accurate depiction of humans.

    On a semi-related note — did you by any chance get wind of that recent study they did which suggests that babies have a primitive sense of morality? It was an interesting read, if nothing else. It also suggests that your point here is wrong.

    Reply
  127. Charles says:

    Tim, my friend I feel as though you have made haste to refute my answers to you so much that you have twisted what I said into nonsense. Just as others have been doing in this dicussion. I am afraid that you are failing to give very much thought to anything I said. I never said anything about women staying home barefoot and pregnant. In fact, the Bible says (in the OT) that women were merchants. As far as equality, men and women only differ in genitalia designed for different tasks to accomplish a common goal – childbirth. So are we ants, no, but neither are we androgenous. All I ask is instead of looking at a sentence and picking it apart mechanically, try to think outside of yourself and understand the whole of what was said. If you had read carefully you would have noticed that I was actually in agreement with you, but from a Biblical and Spiritual perspective. I thought this was a discussion not an argument.

    Reply
  128. Craig says:

    On the John Ankertberg Show two Brothers Drs. Emire & Ergun Caner were interviewed. They were former Suni Mulims that immigrated to the U.S. when they were young and converted to Christanity when they were teens. They describe what Islam is really like and help us in this Country to understand Islam. I have learned a lot from them and these shows are available on CD, DVD, and podcasts. There are a lot of resources available on the John Ankerberg Shows website on Islam.
    Also read the Qu’ran especially Sura 8 & 9. It’s available online and in print in the English language.

    Reply
  129. Nathan barley says:

    “Now think of a man’s anatomy, men are generally taller and broader in the shoulders than women. It is our role to carry the weight of the family.”

    For a start, beware the is/ought fallacy. For a second, what has this to do with God or religion? We’ve got good biological explanations for the development of our anatomy. Yes, wider-hipper woman were historically more likely to survive childbirth. No spooky explanations needed there. And by your reckoning are tall women less attuned to the earth than, say short men?

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  130. Charles says:

    Frankly Nathan, you have also missed the point. I believe I stated that I was speaking in general and “generally” women are not sized the same as men; as in Height or shape. I am feeling as if secular humanists are leaning toward an androgenous society where there is no more distinction between men and women. I absolutely did not say anywhere that men are better than women or women are better than men. In fact, I expressed (at least I thought) equality and then backed it up Biblically. If anyone really cared about understanding the Christian view instead of hastely trying to “debunk” it they would have noticed. I, specifically, addressed both men and women as leaders; men – paternal/women – maternal. And by the way, this doesn’t bear the chauvanistic sentiment that churchianity has promoted in the past. The OT depicts women as buyers and sellers. Women are great with negotiators, so are men. That was not the issue. The issue is that I am trying to help non believers understand the similarities of thought from a Biblical/Spiritual/Natural point that is backed up by Scripture. I believe God knew full well what was going to happen because He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He had to have known the outcome before he even started. A good illustration would be to think of the artist and their masterpiece. Some will no doubt try to discredit this but I’ll say it anyway because I know some artists personally. When an Artist creates a masterpiece He/She usually already sees the result of their work before they even start creating it. They get a vision in their mind and in the vision they have already completed the art. This is what drives them to get started and helps them stay motivated to finish. without a vision there is no masterpiece. I admit, though I study Scripture often I am no scholar, but I do understand that constant meditaion and study of the Bible has led me to fascinating revelation and insights that have increased my Faith and driven me more toward the Heart of God. Meditation of God’s Word is like getting to know someone that fascinates you and with each revelation you grow stronger and stronger in mind, body and soul. It also helps us to bless others through their issues and gives comfort and stability to us who believe. I told you all before that my perspective cannot change; so I actually enjoy learning from a non believer’s standpoint whether atheist or agnostic, polytheistic or whatever a person’s belief. As a matter of fact, your questions and your insights push me to ponder the Bible text for better understanding.

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  131. Nathan Barley says:

    “I absolutely did not say anywhere that men are better than women or women are better than men.”

    And I didn’t say that you DID say that!

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  132. Nathan Barley says:

    “I am feeling as if secular humanists are leaning toward an androgenous society where there is no more distinction between men and women. ”

    I think you’re paranoid.

    Also, any chance you could stick a few paragraph breaks in your posts?

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  133. Tim D. says:

    Just as others have been doing in this dicussion. I am afraid that you are failing to give very much thought to anything I said.

    On the contrary. Do you really believe that you’re the *first person ever* to try and defend the Bible in the way that you have? I am confronted with arguments like this very frequently, so oftentimes I can already tell what I’m going to say as I’m reading your post. Because it’s not the first time I’ve heard it.

    As far as equality, men and women only differ in genitalia designed for different tasks to accomplish a common goal – childbirth.

    So you recant all of those other differences you described?

    Frankly Nathan, you have also missed the point. I believe I stated that I was speaking in general and “generally” women are not sized the same as men; as in Height or shape.

    Well, if the difference is not universal, then why use it as a point of divine ordinance? If God made women the way he did for the specific purpose that you say he did, then why are all women not built that way? Why are there slight differences that make women slightly less ideal for that purpose? Same question for men — if men are supposed to be broad-shouldered and strong leaders, then why are some men born without those qualities? If it’s a divine purpose that was intended for us, then it certainly seems that it should be universal.

    I am feeling as if secular humanists are leaning toward an androgenous society where there is no more distinction between men and women.

    People have been trotting this one out ever since women started asking for voting rights. Just because people believe that women and men should have the same rights and opportunities as men does not mean that they do not acknowledge biological differences between them. It just means that these biological differences are not acceptable reasons for discrimination between them.

    Besides, the biological differences are not as great as people seem to think they are. There are some differences with physical and emotional development, but from a social perspective their roles are practically identical.

    I absolutely did not say anywhere that men are better than women or women are better than men. In fact, I expressed (at least I thought) equality and then backed it up Biblically.

    Yet you used the word “equality” fallaciously, as I explained to you. Just as (I also explained) many Christians tend to misuse the word “love.”

    The OT depicts women as buyers and sellers.

    Oh, really? Well I guess that cancels out all the slavery and misogyny and stuff that also happened, so nevermind.

    >:/

    None of this explains or answers my original question: Why does the Bible (both OT and NT) say that women are to serve in a lower position to men? Here are a couple of shorter quotes, for context, before you assert again that the NT or OT says no such thing:

    “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God…For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man. –1 Corinthians 11:3, 8-9

    Let the woman learn in silence in all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” –1 Timothy 2:11-14

    You may notice that in both cases, the events of Genesis (Adam and Eve) are used as a basis on which to declare that men are, in fact, superior to women, such that women cannot serve over them or have any authority over them. In light of this, the notion that “women were traders” does not seem to matter much. For that does not contradict what is said about women being inferior to men in a social and legal sense.

    In fact, nothing you have said so far explains away this problem in a way such that the above verses could not still be applied to it. If women were traders, they could still be required to have the authority of a man over them, and could still be second-tier to a man in a social and legal context.

    And you also seem to be ignoring my other question: why was slavery necessary to “show us our sinful nature?” Ever?

    Reply
  134. Charles says:

    No I do not recant what I said about the differences between genders. I believe genetic make up and body composition has a hand in why there are slight differences. Let me ask you this, is it possible for testosterone and estrogen to be produced in both males and females as a result of the dominance in one or the other’s natural disposition? If so, then naturally the lines between genders can become somewhat obscured in that some women may be born more broad shouldered than their brothers. No big deal, they still are equipped to bear children. Now, the hermaphrodite on the other hand is someone, I admit, I haven’t studied at length. They do exist and they are intelligent people with goals dreams and desires and I love them the same, but I don’t understand the condition Biblically, yet.

    Concerning the discrimination of women in Church, 1 Timothy 2:11-14 in the correct context of the era, men were Spiritual leaders and thus preached and taught, but at times during services some women in the congregation would stand and ask their husbands about the sermon or teaching. God placed the order He wanted not to punish women, but to keep His order. You alluded to not understanding what God meant by saying Eve’s desire was “to” her husband. “To” simply meant that Eve would desire authority over Adam, which God did not want. The Biblical account tells us that God created man first. Then he created a helpmate for Adam because He knew that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. God created Eve from Adam, using Adam’s own flesh. The word woman is actually a fusion of wombed man, thus the term woman and like I said before, men and women were created to work on behalf of one another and not just to please themselves. When a marriage is comsumated after Holy Matrimony God no longer refers to the couple individually, they are “flesh of one flesh”.

    How did I misuse the word Love? Love is not a feeling that would be affection. Love is not an act, that would be copulation . So please enlighten me.

    God’s intent was never for men to enslave men and as for mysogeny, that was something the religious folks assumed because of their own misunderstanding of Mosaic Law.

    I am sure you read about the Holy Spirit. Do you understand the concept of the Spirit of God and why He is given? The Holy Spirit or Spirit of God is His Word (John 1:1) alive in us. Just as Jesus was saying so many times, “the Kingdom of God is nigh unto you”. The Holy Spirit governs our lives and not another human being. Slavery wasn’t necessary so much as it was a product of sin. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (paraphrasing). What we need to understand is that sin works from the inside out. It kills us in Spirit first because there is a loss of conviction if it is allowed to persist. Second, as it persists sin begins to take over our conciousness, thus we become enslaved to it. Thirdly, once enslaved to sin there are concequences in the physical world that lead to physical death.

    Reply
  135. Nathan barley says:

    “God’s intent was never for men to enslave men and as for mysogeny, that was something the religious folks assumed because of their own misunderstanding of Mosaic Law.”

    How do you know? There are passages in the bible that unambiguously condone slavery, even as far as saying that it’s fine to beat them to death as long as they take longer than two days to die. And the ‘it was indentured servitude’ argument dies not work, as slaves could become slaves simply by being the children or wives of slaves.

    Reply
  136. Nathan Barley says:

    Charles, I’m shocked – I thought you knew your bible!

    “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.” (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

    BTW, did you see that poll recently that discovered atheists tend to know the bible better than Christians?

    Reply
  137. TobyR. says:

    “BTW, did you see that poll recently that discovered atheists tend to know the bible better than Christians?”

    Probably because we read it analytically and believers read it (if they do read it) in what I like to call, “piecemeal-in-context”. . . skipping here and there to link together the pieces they like or are told to like and told that they go together to find the “contextual” meant by the almighty.

    Reply
  138. Charles says:

    No Sir, I wasn’t aware of that poll, but it doesn’t surprise me. We Christians,especially American Christians are sometimes grossly, guilty of not following Colossians 4:6. I will humbly admit it.

    As for Exodus 21: 20-21, I can see how this passage is troubling. What must be understood is this; the slaves were not to be given death blows, but in the event that he should die that was believed to be punishment enough because of the loss in production. however, if the slave survives his master, for lack of a better term, was not to be punished because it was proof to the judges that it wasn’t his intent to kill him.

    Reply
  139. Charles says:

    Probably because we read it analytically and believers read it (if they do read it) in what I like to call, “piecemeal-in-context”. . . skipping here and there to link together the pieces they like or are told to like and told that they go together to find the “contextual” meant by the almighty.

    say what you will my friend, but the wisdom and revelation received is what is important. making analytical sense is seen by us as “nit picking” – 1 corinthians 3:18-4:10

    Reply
  140. TobyR. says:

    1 corinthians 3:18 – 4:10

    Gee, that’s funny. Frank always says that christians don’t get brownie points for being stupid, but this clearly shows that they do.

    Great, so the bible tells people to revel in their ignorance. They’re certainly living up to it with ID and young earth creationism and belief in healing televangelists.

    Reply
  141. Nathan barley says:

    “. however, if the slave survives his master, for lack of a better term, was not to be punished because it was proof to the judges that it wasn’t his intent to kill him.”

    You’re missing the point. It’s clearly saying there’s nothing wrong with beating him so badly that he dies three days later, because he is your property. How do you get from that to ‘Go doesn’t want you to have slaves?

    Reply
  142. Tim D. says:

    No I do not recant what I said about the differences between genders. I believe genetic make up and body composition has a hand in why there are slight differences.

    Well then perhaps you would please explain this statement:

    “As far as equality, men and women only differ in genitalia designed for different tasks to accomplish a common goal – childbirth.”

    Do they only differ in that respect, or do they differ in many respects?

    Concerning the discrimination of women in Church, 1 Timothy 2:11-14 in the correct context of the era, men were Spiritual leaders and thus preached and taught, but at times during services some women in the congregation would stand and ask their husbands about the sermon or teaching.

    Women questioning their husbands *still* does not explain why women are forbidden to teach.

    God placed the order He wanted not to punish women, but to keep His order.

    Yes, by making women subservient to their husbands. As you say, “men were the spiritual leaders.” So why were women not allowed to, as the Bible says, “teach or usurp authority” over men in the church, as the men were allowed to do over the women? What reason do men have for being more qualified “spiritual leaders?”

    How did I misuse the word Love? Love is not a feeling that would be affection. Love is not an act, that would be copulation . So please enlighten me.

    To Christians, “love” simply means “bring closer to god.” Since god and love and goodness and all that are circularly-defined from within a Christian worldview, they are all essentially meaningless as they have no external concept by which to define any of them.

    It’s then possible, by Christian definitions, to “love” someone and yet treat them like absolute rubbish, as long as it breaks them down and ruins them enough to force them to turn to God out of despair. I would consider a definition that is subject to such a fatal flaw to be flawed in itself.

    God’s intent was never for men to enslave men and as for mysogeny, that was something the religious folks assumed because of their own misunderstanding of Mosaic Law.

    I bet they would say the same about you.

    I am sure you read about the Holy Spirit. Do you understand the concept of the Spirit of God and why He is given? The Holy Spirit or Spirit of God is His Word (John 1:1) alive in us. Just as Jesus was saying so many times, “the Kingdom of God is nigh unto you”.

    This jarbled mass of metaphorical mess makes absolutely no literal sense whatsoever.

    Slavery wasn’t necessary so much as it was a product of sin. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (paraphrasing).

    No, because if God had a problem with it (like he apparently did with the ill-defined “murder” and theft), he would have forbidden it.

    I find it very dubious that God would feel the need to make subtle, disconnected and not-readily-apparent laws (such as the consumption of unleavened bread, at the penalty of being cut off from your family forever should you not abide) in order to show humans via some strange, unnecessarily-subtle mechanism that “a little of a bad thing spoils good things” or whatever your explanation was….and yet refuse to take a stand against acts and practices which were blatantly repulsive and reprehensible, such as slavery and misogyny. You can’t argue for subtlety as a reason because God is very blatant on many issues (such as murder, theft, adultery, and idol worship). He blatantly states these things with no need for subtlety to “teach us” some underlying concept that would somehow naturally lead to us not killing each other. He spares the excess drivel and cuts straight to the point. So why is forbidding slavery less important than eating unleavened bread?

    The 10 commandments make it very clear that if God wants you to do (or not do) something, he will make this known to you blatantly and straightforwardly. He had a perfect opportunity there to denounce slavery and the poor treatment of women as property, and yet he did not. Why is that? He denounced killing and adultery. So why not slavery? Would’ve been pathetically easy for commandment #11 to be, “thou shalt not take ownership of a slave.”

    What must be understood is this; the slaves were not to be given death blows, but in the event that he should die that was believed to be punishment enough because of the loss in production.

    …what?

    Are you saying that the slave’s life is so unimportant that his death should carry no penalty against his owner/murderer, and that the reason for this is because the loss of free work from the slave that he murdered is “punishment enough?”

    And you wonder why I find it so very difficult to accept your “contextual” explanations. If that’s the “correct context,” then I will tell you, it’s not helping. In fact, I dare say it’s making things worse.

    say what you will my friend, but the wisdom and revelation received is what is important. making analytical sense is seen by us as “nit picking” – 1 corinthians 3:18-4:10

    So you admit that the Bible is not internally consistent in a logical or scientific sense?

    Interesting because if its events are nonsensical in any way — be that analytical, or physical, or logical — then that demonstrates that it could not have happened. I’m sorry, maybe you feel that you’ve learned a lot from this story, but if it can’t have happened, then it didn’t happen — it doesn’t get a free pass for not making sense just because you think it contains wisdom. It’s very easy to obtain wisdom from a fictional story, after all.

    Reply
  143. Charles says:

    -Great, so the bible tells people to revel in their ignorance. They’re certainly living up to it with ID and young earth creationism and belief in healing televangelists.

    What you are not seeing is what you perceive is ignorance we see as wisdom because we are intelligent yet have the audacity to believe despite what another human being says they think. Where we are today with regards to Science, technology and many other important disciplines are the result of a multitude of Christian and Theists input.

    -You’re missing the point. It’s clearly saying there’s nothing wrong with beating him so badly that he dies three days later, because he is your property. How do you get from that to ‘Go doesn’t want you to have slaves?

    No, what you are missing is this: First of all, the slaves were not Israelites so these were people of pagan nations that already rejected God. Second, think about what you are saying, a slave was a source of income so what sense would killing them make? Lastly, the slave master was subject to Judges so for the slave to live after correction then it was obvious to the Judges that it was only disciplinary action.

    -To Christians, “love” simply means “bring closer to god.” Since god and love and goodness and all that are circularly-defined from within a Christian worldview, they are all essentially meaningless as they have no external concept by which to define any of them.

    I don’t know where you get this from, but I certainly didn’t define Love this way. To the Christian, Love is actually one of three concepts, Agape – God’s encompassing decision to sacrifice Himself for His creation, Phileo – brotherly Love or Love for your neighbor or Eros – erotic Love between two people or sexual affection.

    -I bet they would say the same about you.

    Why, I don’t hate women.

    -So you admit that the Bible is not internally consistent in a logical or scientific sense?

    It doesn’t need to be and was done that way to confound those that make a case against the creator. What does make sense is, like I said, when the thought trend lines up Biblically or Scripturally, Spiritually and Naturally. Sometimes what doesn’t make sense now may solve a problem later.

    -This jarbled mass of metaphorical mess makes absolutely no literal sense whatsoever.

    Because you refuse to see the forest for the trees. The point is to get as much of God’s Word in us so that we begin to refer to it instead of man’s law.

    -it doesn’t get a free pass for not making sense just because you think it contains wisdom. It’s very easy to obtain wisdom from a fictional story, after all.

    No dispute here, Jesus Himself used parables to illustrate concepts and principles to people receptive of His teaching. This doesn’t mean that the Bible is fiction.

    Reply
  144. Nathan barley says:

    “First of all, the slaves were not Israelites so these were people of pagan nations that already rejected God”

    So that makes enslaving them and beating them to death ok? Crikey Charles, that argument is not far off Hitler’s justification for murdering the Jews, if you’ll forgive the Godwin violation. I am genuinely shocked that you think that’s a good argument.

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  145. Charles says:

    -So that makes enslaving them and beating them to death ok? Crikey Charles, that argument is not far off Hitler’s justification for murdering the Jews, if you’ll forgive the Godwin violation. I am genuinely shocked that you think that’s a good argument.

    Hitler was a human being, the confederate states were comprised of human beings. You can’t equate a human beings reasoning with that of our Creator. At any rate, I don’t believe God thought it was Ok. Afterall, the Hebrews were enslaved themselves for over 400 years in Egypt. God certainly didn’t approve of that or He wouldn’t have led Moses to campaign for their release. Slavery is a manmade concept that happened in many cultures, not that it was right, but I believe God simply used the practice for His purposes. Joseph was sold by his own brothers and God allowed him to be enslaved and put in prison after He gained his freedom. So what God seems to condone at times oftentimes in the future bears witness to inner strength or bears some relevance for learning or wisdom. In joseph’s case He became the highest official under Pharoah. Being Hebrew at the time this was comparable to being an African American in in the 18th century becoming Vice President of the United States.

    The point being that with Faith there is always strength in adversity.

    I’ll tell you something, being a Christianity is the easiest of all beliefs to accept and become part of because there are no stipulations and nothing that needs to be done except to believe. On the other hand, being a Christian is the most difficult belief system to live because of the constant adversity and hostility from others.

    Reply
  146. Dan says:

    It’s funny you say that because I’ve been a Christian all my life and it’s only since i started to question my faith have I been met with hostility from family and coworkers. People think something is wrong with you.

    ” So there must be another event that leads you to abandon the God conclusion. What was that? A stupid or evil priest? A bad experience? Expecting this “god” to provide something which he didn’t? A loved one dying?” -Neil Mammen

    This isn’t what I would call “hostile” but it just illustrates that most people think something traumatic or bad has happend to you to be so “evil.”

    Reply
  147. Tim D. says:

    No, what you are missing is this: First of all, the slaves were not Israelites so these were people of pagan nations that already rejected God.

    So, according to god, slavery is permitted as long as it’s against a people that have rejected him?

    Second, think about what you are saying, a slave was a source of income so what sense would killing them make?

    It still irks me that this is the only argument against killing a slave. Is the slave’s life not just as valuable as the owner’s life? If not, why? On what basis was an Israelite’s life worth more than a “pagan’s” life, in God’s eyes?

    Lastly, the slave master was subject to Judges so for the slave to live after correction then it was obvious to the Judges that it was only disciplinary action.

    Saying that it’s “only disciplinary action” completely minimizes the fact that God says it’s okay to beat your slaves as punishment. This naturally presumes two things:

    1) That slavery is justified and okay;
    2) That it’s justified and okay to physically beat human beings into submission.

    Why was that okay back then, but not today? Or are you of the believe that this sort of thing is still okay today?

    I don’t know where you get this from, but I certainly didn’t define Love this way. To the Christian, Love is actually one of three concepts, Agape – God’s encompassing decision to sacrifice Himself for His creation, Phileo – brotherly Love or Love for your neighbor or Eros – erotic Love between two people or sexual affection.

    You’ll need to talk to Mr. Turek about that one; according to him and Mr. Neil Mammen, god is himself “goodness” and “love,” and any attempt to define love outside of god is meaningless (such that “brotherly love” or “erotic love” can mean nothing to an atheist, because “love” means “god”).

    Why, I don’t hate women.

    You just believe it was okay for them to serve as second-class citizens with men holding absolute final over them. Saying you don’t “hate” them when this is what you believe does not really help your case.

    It’s like saying, “The Israelites didn’t hate their slaves, they just felt they were justified in, you know, enslaving them for life, and then physically beating them if they disobeyed.” Sure, they may not “hate” them by your odd definition, but the end result is not much different than if they did.

    It doesn’t need to be and was done that way to confound those that make a case against the creator. What does make sense is, like I said, when the thought trend lines up Biblically or Scripturally, Spiritually and Naturally. Sometimes what doesn’t make sense now may solve a problem later.

    1) I have no interest in whatever confirmation bias you have to explain why the Bible makes no sense and is therefore historically impossible.

    2) So you do admit that the Bible makes no rational or chronological sense and is therefore historically impossible. Good, we’re clear on that.

    Because you refuse to see the forest for the trees. The point is to get as much of God’s Word in us so that we begin to refer to it instead of man’s law.

    Perhaps you should refrain from presuming my motives. It’s rather that I cannot understand when you delve into metaphors that have no literal basis, such as “receiving god” (where do you receive that? What is it? Where does it go when you receive it? where does it come from? What does that refer to?), or “getting god’s word in us” (where in us? Where is that ‘word’ stored in our mind or body? Where do you acquire that?).

    No dispute here, Jesus Himself used parables to illustrate concepts and principles to people receptive of His teaching. This doesn’t mean that the Bible is fiction.

    I don’t know how you can say that, so soon after typing this:

    It doesn’t need to be and was done that way to confound those that make a case against the creator.

    If that had been the case (which I don’t believe for one second), God was simply stupid! What better way to help people make a case against the creator than to make it logically, chronologically inconsistent and nonsensical? That argument is laughable. If god had had any hand in the writing of the Bible, and had any interest in “confounding those who make a case against the creator,” he would’ve made it make sense. That’s all I was asking for the first time I read the Bible, something that made sense to me, that I could relate to and understand. It was in part due to the fact that the Bible IS complete nonsense and impossibility that I was so much more alienated from Christianity in the first place, back when I first read it through. It would have “confounded” my atheism much more if the Bible had made sense and spoke to my heart. But instead it made my atheism stronger, because it makes no sense!

    (side note…I still remember the first time I read it, I was actually a little interested in reading this book everyone talks so much about….by the time I was finished with it, I actually had a period where I stood there looking at this book, laughing a little to myself, thinking, “THIS is the big deal? THIS is “god’s one true book?” It’s nothing! It’s just a book, like any other book. There’s nothing to fear from it, nothing to learn from it that couldn’t be learned elsewhere.” I think reading the Bible was one of the three things that finally made me comfortable with adopting the moniker, “atheist.”)

    People always try to explain away bits and pieces, but what good is a work that cannot be analyzed in full? It’s the opposite of a movie whose scenes make no sense individually but suddenly become clear when viewed as a whole; as you yourself have admitted, the only way a Christian can derive meaning from the Bible is by cherry-picking and quote-mining. When leveled against any other work in history, religious or no, this same argument would imply that the work is inherently flawed, because it does not make sense.

    Only a religious fanatic can make the argument that “it makes no sense, therefore it is true.” That is the nature of faith, plain and simple.

    Reply
  148. Nathan Barley says:

    “Hitler was a human being, the confederate states were comprised of human beings. You can’t equate a human beings reasoning with that of our Creator. ”

    You don’t get off that easily Charles. You are saying that a man is justified in enslaving a man and beating that slave to death, because that man belongs to a different religion to him and you. This is the same – your justification is the same – as someone saying ‘The Jews have rejected Christ, therefore we can enslave them and gas them’.

    Reply
  149. Tim D. says:

    Hitler was a human being, the confederate states were comprised of human beings. You can’t equate a human beings reasoning with that of our Creator.

    No, but you can point out that both beings came to the same conclusion.

    Now what was that nonsense about evolution leading up to a new Holocaust….?

    At any rate, I don’t believe God thought it was Ok. Afterall, the Hebrews were enslaved themselves for over 400 years in Egypt. God certainly didn’t approve of that or He wouldn’t have led Moses to campaign for their release.

    God favored the Israelites, so of course he opposed their enslavement. That’s not the issue here; the issue here is how he treats people who are not of his preferred race. He performs miracles to free the Israelites; he gives commandments on how to beat non-Israelites. Big difference there.

    So what God seems to condone at times oftentimes in the future bears witness to inner strength or bears some relevance for learning or wisdom.

    God never gave the Egyptians laws on how to beat their Israelite slaves.

    The point being that with Faith there is always strength in adversity.

    Also with determination and willpower there is strength in adversity. In compassion and responsibility there is strength in adversity.

    I’ll tell you something, being a Christianity is the easiest of all beliefs to accept and become part of because there are no stipulations and nothing that needs to be done except to believe.

    That makes it the hardest for me; for I cannot believe what is plainly and clearly wrong to me.

    “All we want to do is change your mind
    All you need to do is close your eyes
    Come join us

    Don’t you see the trouble that most people are in
    And that they just want you for their own advantage
    But I swear to you we’re different from all of them
    Come and join us

    I can tell you are lookin’ for a way to live
    Where truth is determined by consensus
    Full of codified arbitrary directives
    Come and join us

    All we want to have is your small mind
    Turn it into one of our own kind

    You can go through life adrift and alone
    Desperate, desolate, on your own
    But we’re lookin’ for a few more stalwart clones
    So come and join us

    We’ve got spite and dedication as a vehement brew
    The world hates us, well we hate them too
    But you’re exempted of course if you
    Come and join us
    Independent, self-contented, revolutionary
    Intellectual, brave, strong and scholarly
    If you’re not one of them, you’re us already so
    Come join us.”

    –Bad Religion

    Reply
  150. Tim D. says:

    You don’t get off that easily Charles. You are saying that a man is justified in enslaving a man and beating that slave to death, because that man belongs to a different religion to him and you. This is the same – your justification is the same – as someone saying ‘The Jews have rejected Christ, therefore we can enslave them and gas them’.

    Oh, but Mr. Nathan, the Israelites only beat their slaves, not gassed them. So it’s okay.

    >:/

    Reply
  151. Nathan Barley says:

    “I’ll tell you something, being a Christianity is the easiest of all beliefs to accept and become part of because there are no stipulations and nothing that needs to be done except to believe. ”

    If part of the things I have to believe is “beating other humans to death is OK if they don’t share your faith” then that doesn’t sound easy to me. If a friend of yours beat a Hindu into a coma, simply for ‘rejecting Christ’, would you reckon that was acceptable or justifiable?

    I don’t believe you would. Do you feel no cognitive dissonance here at all?

    Reply
  152. Charles says:

    I do, at times, feel conflict with what the Bible says about certain things; I am human. What I do absolutely trust in though is Romans 8:28 in that “…all things work together for good…..” I take comfort in this because it causes me to search for deeper meaning within the Scriptures. I count this life as a precursor to something far greater than I can physically understand. To me my Life is not my own. I am a Christian and I am what I am. I live under the Covenant of the New Testament Church, the Body of Christ. All things that are written prior to the death of Jesus are written for those to whom the end of the age has come; meaning, all things in the OT have become Spiritual in retrospect as I live naturally in Christ. I don’t expect anyone to understand, but I have personally experienced things that have boggled my own mind and have found reasonable revelation, encouragement and practical answers within God’s Word. I am thinking as I read all the questions that through analytical study alone there leaves nothing for the chance of what lies beyond our limited reasoning and resources. I, too, have many questions, but I also have the courage to believe in something I don’t understand. Faith is reasonable. If you don’t have it, that’s on you. The Gospel means Good News; you have it at your fingertips, its widely available; you either accept it and strive for perfection or you don’t and live the life you want to live. Jesus never mandated anyone to follow Him, He simply gives us the choice.

    Reply
  153. Nathan barley says:

    “Jesus never mandated anyone to follow Him, He simply gives us the choice.”

    But hell awaits those who don’t choose? Not much of a choice really.

    Reply
  154. John Ferrer says:

    Ed, you wrote a while ago that Muhammad and Jesus never existed and these religions evolved from mystery religions. I thought you might like to hear what Atheist Bible scholar and historian Bart Ehrman of UNC chapel hill says about that:

    “What about those writers like Acharya S (The Christ Conspiracy) and Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries), who say that Jesus never existed, and that Christianity was an invented religion, the Jewish equivalent of the Greek mystery religions? This is an old argument, even though it shows up every 10 years or so. This current craze that Christianity was a mystery religion like these other mystery religions-the people who are saying this are almost always people who know nothing about the mystery religions; they’ve read a few popular books, but they’re not scholars of mystery religions. The reality is, we know very little about mystery religions-the whole point of mystery religions is that they’re secret! So I think it’s crazy to build on ignorance in order to make a claim like this. I think the evidence is just so overwhelming that Jesus existed, that it’s silly to talk about him not existing. I don’t know anyone who is a responsible historian, who is actually trained in the historical method, or anybody who is a biblical scholar who does this for a living, who gives any credence at all to any of this.”

    Bart Ehrman, interview with David V. Barrett, “The Gospel According to Bart”, Fortean Times (221), 2007

    Reply
  155. Tim D. says:

    What I do absolutely trust in though is Romans 8:28 in that “…all things work together for good…..” I take comfort in this because it causes me to search for deeper meaning within the Scriptures.

    Reminds me of the early days on the Silent Hill forums. We all picked that game apart, trying to figure out what the mystery was. No matter how you looked at that game, there were bits and pieces of the story that made sense alone, but suddenly didn’t make sense anymore when you put them together with the big picture. Some people on the boards had the idea that, if it didn’t seem to make sense, we must not be looking at it right, so they sought deeper meaning in an attempt to find the “one true interpretation” that would tie it all together without incorporating fanon (and they continue to do so to this day). The rest of us realized, “hey, it’s a video game designed by a team of different creative (human) minds with slightly varying ideas of what was going on in the story, so it’s probably impossible to tie it together completely. There are parts of it that just do not make sense.” And we left it at that.

    I am thinking as I read all the questions that through analytical study alone there leaves nothing for the chance of what lies beyond our limited reasoning and resources.

    Exactly. To me, that shows that this system of yours is flawed; to you, it somehow shows further evidence that it’s perfect. To each his own, but I refuse to believe you cannot see why other people would not believe it. You admit it’s inconsistent and illogical, yet you accuse people of “misinterpretation” if they don’t see it as inerrant and flawless.

    I, too, have many questions, but I also have the courage to believe in something I don’t understand.

    That is not courageous.

    If someone told me to murder my best friend, and I said I didn’t want to, and they told me to “trust them,” that it would all work out, I would not do that. Because sometimes, “trusting in something that you don’t understand” is quite simply a bad idea. I resent the idea that blind faith should always be recognized, in itself, as a virtue.

    Faith is reasonable. If you don’t have it, that’s on you.

    To quote Tim Minchin:

    “Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.”

    Faith (specifically blind faith) is the exact opposite of “reasonable.”

    The Gospel means Good News; you have it at your fingertips, its widely available; you either accept it and strive for perfection or you don’t and live the life you want to live. Jesus never mandated anyone to follow Him, He simply gives us the choice.

    Your reasoning here is masochistic nonsense.

    I have a feeling that you would see things differently if, say, a street thug took a gun to your head and told you to give him your wallet, and then told you that you had a choice to not give him the money of your own free will, and he would respect your choice. But you know, if you get shot as a result of making the “wrong” choice, well, he can’t be blamed for that — that’s just the natural result of using your free will.

    I mean, you make the choices you want to make, you get the result, am I right? So the criminal can’t be blamed for shooting you, he gave you a choice fair and square. You’re the only one to blame for actually using your free will.

    The entire OT and NT are dedicated to stories about how free will is a horrible, horrible thing that should never be exercised unless it’s to “choose” god. I simply cannot accept that; a god who would give such a choice? Perhaps; that god would be immoral and tyrannical, but that in itself doesn’t mean he couldn’t exist. A god who is just but does not force such a one-sided decision? Again, possible. But a god who is both just and offers such a one-sided illusion of “choice?” Impossible. My sense of morality will not allow me to accept that. If such a god existed, he would not be a just god.

    Do you mean to say that I must denounce myself in order to decide that god is just in this situation, that I am somehow “selfish” for allowing my innate sense of morality to dictate whether or not I feel your god would be just if he existed? I could easily use that same reasoning to support any other religion or cause — you see the Nazi movement as unjust? Well, if you’d set aside yourself and accept the judgment of Nazis, then you would see that they are right by their own definition. Therefore you are “selfish” for not being a Nazi.

    [/Godwin’s law]

    Reply
  156. Ed says:

    John,
    I asked YOU to produce some real evidence to support your counter-claim that Muhammad and Jesus Christ actually existed. I didn’t expect you to because there isn’t any and as we both really know Jesus and Muhammad are articles of faith. What you did was commit a common logical fallacy known as an “Appeal to Authority.” That would be bad enough but your “authority” did the same thing. He claimed he didn’t know any responsible historians who give any credence to “any of this.” No responsible historian would touch the story of Jesus. Historians need reliable evidence in order to write their accounts. Tell me John what real historical extra biblical evidence could a history writer put his hands in order to recap the story of Jesus? What history writer who lived during the first half of the first century wrote anything about Jesus, any of his disciples, miracles, healings, speeches or his supposed trial, crucifixion, resurrection or anything else? As I said before hearsay accounts from people who weren’t alive when Jesus supposedly was will not do. Without those you’ve got …?

    FYI Ehrman is an agnostic not an atheist. He also has a vested interest propagating the Jesus story as historical because some of his books are based on Jesus being historical such as Misquoting Jesus for example.

    Reply
  157. Charles says:

    -Exactly. To me, that shows that this system of yours is flawed; to you, it somehow shows further evidence that it’s perfect. To each his own, but I refuse to believe you cannot see why other people would not believe it. You admit it’s inconsistent and illogical, yet you accuse people of “misinterpretation” if they don’t see it as inerrant and flawless.

    It’s not MY system and I do see how others would not believe it. Also, People misinterpret the Bible when they take Scriptures out of context, add to or take from God’s Word. If you see it as errored and flawed, the only thing I can do is help with understanding the Christian worldview. I mean, at the same time I can’t believe that you cannot see how some would believe it afterall, people have been believing it for thousands of years.

    Maybe this can help:

    Think of being the Father of, say, ten children. Now you spend your Fatherhood giving your children everything they need and everything they wanted that you saw that was good for them. When they reach about 13 years old; nine of them decide they no longer want to follow your rules at home and run off to do whatever they please. They end up getting into all kinds of trouble and hate the one that stayed. The one that stays listens and heeds your wishes for them and blesses you with kind words and “worships the ground you walk on” Now, say, six or seven of your children start seeing what’s going on in the one child’s life and decide to torment him. The other two or three stay gone. These six or seven begin to influence the one with their so called freedom, but Dad correct’s the one and continues to bless him.
    Can you see where I am going with this? Long story short, the nine return upon the age of 21 and devise a plan to kill you and the one that stayed and they initiate their plan, well, what would you do?

    -But hell awaits those who don’t choose? Not much of a choice really.

    Well, if you don’t believe there is a hell then what’s your gripe? I’ll be honest, here and go out on a limb. The Bible says that one day EVERY knee shall bow. Mark 3:28 expresses that all sins are forgivable except blaspheming the Holy Spirit which is absolute denial of God. So, in essence, what I, personally, tend to lean to is that the folks that will be condemned will be the folks that just outright hate God and only want to do evil unto others, everyone, especially those that accept the mark of the beast will be tormented by some politico-religious leader and the ones that refuse to believe will go, so I’m leaning toward not very many when compared to the overall world population will be subject to eternal torment. I say this because God didn’t create hell for people, but He created hell for the devil and his angels, the third that left when he was cast out. To me, like I said, Jesus can forgive all sins accept for believing that He doesn’t exist and many that don’t believe He exists will still have a chance for redemption because, again, one day EVERY knee shall bow, maybe an effort for one last chance upon seeing His Glory, I don’t know. The thing is hell is no place for man to WANT to go, but hey, the choice is yours.

    Reply
  158. Nathan barley says:

    Can you see where I am going with this? Long story short, the nine return upon the age of 21 and devise a plan to kill you and the one that stayed and they initiate their plan, well, what would you do?”

    Analogy fail. How is not believing a God exists like trying to kill your parents?

    Reply
  159. Nathan barley says:

    “Well, if you don’t believe there is a hell then what’s your gripe?”

    I’m taking YOUR stated belief at face value, and what it’s implications are. You claim there’s a choice, but if what you believe is true, there’s not much of a choice.

    Reply
  160. Charles says:

    We that believe understand that God is The Father of everyone. Some leave the Faith some never had Faith and a few will never have Faith, but He’s our Father just the same. If you, reject Him, then make a case against Him and try expelling Him from society; you might as well be trying to kill Him. Why can’t you answer the question? Maybe you can’t fathom your children despising you that much? I’m just asking.

    Reply
  161. Nathan barley says:

    I give my kids plenty of evidence that I exist! Not inductive evidence but hard and fast “here I am, let’s have a two-way conversation” evidence. But if I was such an absent dad that they didn’t even realise I existed, then they couldn’t be accused of trying to kill a man they didn’t know existed.

    Anyway, a Muslim could say your are as bad for trying to keep Allah out of public life. Unless you want Muslim prayer in schools. Does that mean you are trying to kill Allah?

    Reply
  162. Tim D. says:

    It’s not MY system and I do see how others would not believe it.

    Forgive me for not mincing words — the system that you have adopted.

    Also, People misinterpret the Bible when they take Scriptures out of context, add to or take from God’s Word.

    I’m not talking about out of context, I’m talking about in context. I’ve given you several verses and given you a chance to “put them in context,” but your “context” only makes things worse! It’s okay to have slaves as long as they’re “already sinning” by being the wrong religion? Women shouldn’t be allowed to teach because speaking up in church is disruptive? These are horrible and morally-deficient answers by pretty much any standard except one which makes the presumption that god is arbitrarily correct by default (which renders the entire definition of morality meaningless).

    When they reach about 13 years old; nine of them decide they no longer want to follow your rules at home and run off to do whatever they please. They end up getting into all kinds of trouble and hate the one that stayed.

    What if the one that stayed took the other nine as slaves, justifying it on the grounds that “they chose this path when they left?”

    That would be a much better analogy than what you said here:

    The one that stays listens and heeds your wishes for them and blesses you with kind words and “worships the ground you walk on” Now, say, six or seven of your children start seeing what’s going on in the one child’s life and decide to torment him. The other two or three stay gone. These six or seven begin to influence the one with their so called freedom, but Dad correct’s the one and continues to bless him.
    Can you see where I am going with this? Long story short, the nine return upon the age of 21 and devise a plan to kill you and the one that stayed and they initiate their plan, well, what would you do?

    That all makes no sense as an analogy here. Who’s talking about killing anyone? I assume “the father” here is supposed to be an analogy for god; are you implying that the slaves the Israelites took had tried to kill god? What does that even mean? And even if it were true, how does that justify taking them as slaves?

    Well, if you don’t believe there is a hell then what’s your gripe?

    That’s just a weasel question. I don’t believe in hell so I don’t believe there’s a choice, either. I’m criticizing the consistency of your beliefs, not my own. Have you never made a statement that began, “IF that is true, THEN…”?

    So, in essence, what I, personally, tend to lean to is that the folks that will be condemned will be the folks that just outright hate God and only want to do evil unto others

    That’s paranoid fanatical drivel. I don’t believe anybody anywhere deliberately wants to “do evil unto others” for the sake of it. Even in the worst-case scenario, people rationalize their beliefs such that they at least believe they are doing good, or at the very least irrelevant or acceptable. I don’t believe that anyone knowingly commits what they believe to be “evil.”

    Secondly, if someone doesn’t believe that god is real, they can’t hate it. Plain and simple. Do you love the easter bunny? Do you hate santa claus? Do you think the tooth fairy is a jerk? Or do you not have any feelings about those entities because you don’t believe they exist? (Apologies in advance if you DO believe they exist…).

    To me, like I said, Jesus can forgive all sins accept for believing that He doesn’t exist and many that don’t believe He exists will still have a chance for redemption because, again, one day EVERY knee shall bow, maybe an effort for one last chance upon seeing His Glory, I don’t know.

    Then Jesus is useless. That this is considered a “sin” is one of the main pillars of my unbelief that your god exists and is just — a god which both exists and is just, that truly desires good for his creations, would have no reason to care if people believed he was good; he would simply deploy the same trickery he used in the OT to get people to learn what is “good” through experience, and people would make the choice to be good without even realizing it. That would be a much more effective measure than going halfway with it, then backing out completely and saying, “alright, now either do what I say or suffer unrelentingly forever.”

    The very concept of Hell just reeks of some Christian authority figure, desperate because his conversion attempts have failed and his power is waning, trying to drudge up some illusion of power over people in some way that cannot be falsified, just to scare unsuspecting people with undeveloped or simplistic morals into adopting this particular religious belief. A true, just god would not need hell to scare people into believing in him. A true, just god would have no reason to even mention hell if it did exist. For no person can be called “moral” just for doing what will avoid punishment. That is not morality, that is pragmatism.

    The thing is hell is no place for man to WANT to go, but hey, the choice is yours.

    I’m not worried, see above.

    We that believe understand that God is The Father of everyone. Some leave the Faith some never had Faith and a few will never have Faith, but He’s our Father just the same. If you, reject Him, then make a case against Him and try expelling Him from society; you might as well be trying to kill Him. Why can’t you answer the question? Maybe you can’t fathom your children despising you that much? I’m just asking.

    If simply disbelieving in god is the same as trying to kill him, then he’s no god to begin with, for a god pretty much by definition should not be able to die (didn’t he create death?). Why would I want to believe in a god like that, anyway, one that can die so easily? What a joke!

    Reply
  163. Charles says:

    Well I guess I have done a horrific job of explaining a mere point of view. Please accept my apologies. As far as trying to kill a deity in my weak analogy I was referring to our Lord Jesus who was crucified by those He loved. And as for being paranoid, I am far from it. I have peace because Jesus defeated death and overcame the world. I am in it, but not of it.

    Reply
  164. Charles says:

    -If simply disbelieving in god is the same as trying to kill him, then he’s no god to begin with, for a god pretty much by definition should not be able to die (didn’t he create death?). Why would I want to believe in a god like that, anyway, one that can die so easily? What a joke!

    Yes, denying the existence of someone might as well be considering them dead. What’s sad is that the denial doesn’t mean He is “actually” dead, just dead to you who deny Him. He is very much alive to me and as the God of ALL creation He CANNOT die.

    Obviously nothing can persuade any of you to understand Spirituality from the Christian point of view. I am not trying to convert anyone. I came into this thing realizing that you all that don’t believe weren’t going to start just because of my comments. But you have hardly tried to understand it. You mostly mock and pick apart the reasoning without stepping one foot outside of yourselves to gain perspective. So far my disposition has been judged as paranoid, ridiculous, masochistic and nonsense among others. This kind of attitude toward someone’s belief is perfectly indicative of what it means NOT to “die to ones self” (Luke 9:23) I have considered your “arguments” and I fully understand; especially having been somewhat of a skeptic myself in the past.

    I have not mentioned it, but from the start I knew that the only thing that could convert anyone would be a personal experience with God Himself. That is why I never tried convincing anyone to become a Christian as much as I was trying to help you understand. Whether you convert or not is not up to me and I will be the first one to tell anyone that I haven’t even scratched the surface as far as understanding my Faith. I have a long,long journey ahead of me on a quest to “know as I have been known”. So, say and think what you will; my prayer is for the Enlightenment, Peace and Joy of each and every one of you…in Jesus Name!

    ps. and if my prayers offend you please accept my well wishes

    Reply
  165. Tim D. says:

    But you have hardly tried to understand it. You mostly mock and pick apart the reasoning without stepping one foot outside of yourselves to gain perspective.

    Can you blame me? You can’t seem to decide whether the Bible is inerrant or perfect. In fact you’ve gone as far as to say that “god made it not make sense so that it would confuse people who tried to make a case against it.” Do you not realize how self-defeating that very premise is? Why would you make something NOT make sense, if you wanted to make trouble for people who are saying that it DOESN’T make sense? That *itself* makes no sense.

    I’m pick apart the reasoning because it doesn’t make sense. The One True Book should make perfect sense, it should force me by power of reason to acknowledge at least something about it. My brain will simply not allow me to see whatever it is you say you are seeing. I cannot bend the will of my mind like that.

    The argument that I must “die myself” (which I take to mean abandon my own sense of self, judgment and sense) in order to receive someone else’s judgment in my place? Well, I wouldn’t be myself if that happened. I wouldn’t be able to say, “I’ve changed my mind,” I would say, “I no longer think for myself, I let someone else do it for me, and I don’t understand why.” I cannot accept that. That kind of reasoning can make you succumb to any sort of ideal, no matter how insane or terrible it might be — there is nothing exclusive to Christianity about that way of thinking. Malicious people have used that very same reasoning for centuries to control people, start cults, and commit genocides. In fact, you could say that this line of thinking is one of the core reasons I will probably never be a Christian (or Muslim, or Jew).

    Yes, denying the existence of someone might as well be considering them dead. What’s sad is that the denial doesn’t mean He is “actually” dead, just dead to you who deny Him. He is very much alive to me and as the God of ALL creation He CANNOT die.

    This is so ridiculous I can barely see straight after reading it….you keep talking about God like he’s a person in the room that I can look at!

    I resent your implication that I am somehow aware of god’s presence and yet simply choose to ignore it. If you take me so lightly then why waste your time on me in the first place? You may not like what I have to say, but I am being as intellectually honest as I can possibly be with myself. Which leads me to say, you can’t deny that which you can’t even find.

    Reply
  166. Charles says:

    Just as I mentioned, I never expected anyone to convert. You can resent my implication and I will still hope and wish the best for you and its not that I don’t like what your saying; I actually understand it. With all due respect, it is just like Dr. William Lane Craig was asserting when he spoke about a personal experience with God. To go beyond our own universe, to step outside of self (if just for a moment). Sounds creepy, I know, I’m just saying it was that way for me and just about every other critical thinking person that became a Christian. I’ll tell you the truth, it’s not until creepy things began to happen when the Bible started making sense to me.

    Reply
  167. Nathan Barley says:

    “Yes, denying the existence of someone might as well be considering them dead.”

    If someone appears who you didn’t know existed, are you saying that you not realising they existed is the same as you actively trying to murder them? I’ve got one brother. If you ask me how brothers I have, I’ll say “I’ve got one brother.”

    If it turns out that I’ve got another brother I never knew about, does that mean that every time I said “One brother”, it was equivalent to attempting to strangle this unknown brother in his bed? This seems an odd concept to me.

    “So far my disposition has been judged as paranoid, ridiculous, masochistic and nonsense”

    Charles, try to step out of YOUR perspective, just like you ask us to step outside of yours. Imagine someone explains their worldview to you, and it involves justifying enslaving and beating someone to death, simply because they belong to a different religion to you. Honestly consider how you would feel if, say, a Muslim used that argument on you to justify enslaving and beating to death a Christian.

    Reply
  168. Charles says:

    -If someone appears who you didn’t know existed, are you saying that you not realising they existed is the same as you actively trying to murder them? I’ve got one brother. If you ask me how brothers I have, I’ll say “I’ve got one brother.”

    -If it turns out that I’ve got another brother I never knew about, does that mean that every time I said “One brother”, it was equivalent to attempting to strangle this unknown brother in his bed? This seems an odd concept to me.

    Somewhere along the lines you seem to forget that we all have heard the Gospel and have heard of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. So you know that He exists even if, to you, its only in the hearts and minds of Christians. By denying someone Life would you not consider death the equivalent?

    -Charles, try to step out of YOUR perspective, just like you ask us to step outside of yours. Imagine someone explains their worldview to you, and it involves justifying enslaving and beating someone to death, simply because they belong to a different religion to you. Honestly consider how you would feel if, say, a Muslim used that argument on you to justify enslaving and beating to death a Christian.

    I have stepped out and I attested to that before in saying I understand where YOU are coming from. Listen, its like I said. If you cannot understand the sin problem or the magnitude of its consequenses or the existance of a Perfect and Holy God I certainly cannot do anything about that. All I can do is give a perspective for you to try to understand. As some of you have said, you have heard this all before and you still can’t seem to understand it, not to mention accept it; so we simply agree to disagree.

    Reply
  169. Nathan barley says:

    “Somewhere along the lines you seem to forget that we all have heard the Gospel and have heard of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. So you know that He exists even if, to you, its only in the hearts and minds of Christians. By denying someone Life would you not consider death the equivalent?”

    Replace Jesus with Allah and read that back, see if it still makes sense.

    Reply
  170. Charles says:

    No, but not for reasons you think. You see, it is because of a borrowed tomb that was empty that Jesus is the only one that will ever make sense to me.

    Reply
  171. Nathan Barley says:

    “You see, it is because of a borrowed tomb that was empty that Jesus is the only one that will ever make sense to me.”

    And Muslims believe they are justified too. They fact that you disagree with them, and they disagree with you, doesn’t mean either of you are trying to ‘murder’ each other’s deities. You just disagree with each other.

    “So you know that He exists even if, to you, its only in the hearts and minds of Christians. ”

    Knowing that other’s believe in him doesn’t mean that I ‘know that He exists’. It just means that I’m aware that other people hold a belief that I don’t share. I can respectfully disagree with them without attempting to commit deicide.

    “By denying someone Life would you not consider death the equivalent?”

    Not even close to being equivalent. Not believing someone is alive is not ‘denying them life’. If they’re actually alive then they’re alive, regardless of my mistake. I might love my hyperthetical lost brother once I find out about him. Doesn’t mean I was ‘denying him life’ before. I just wasn’t convinced he existed before. If Jesus turns out to exist, then good on him. I’m not wishing him dead now, and I’m certainly not trying to kill him. Any more than you are trying to kill Vishnu, Thor, Allah or Kali.

    Reply
  172. Tim D. says:

    Somewhere along the lines you seem to forget that we all have heard the Gospel and have heard of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. So you know that He exists even if, to you, its only in the hearts and minds of Christians. By denying someone Life would you not consider death the equivalent?

    Knowing about a story and believing that story is true are two completely different things. This is equivocation beyond acceptability….so what? I’ve heard of the story of Jesus. According to you, I’m at fault for not taking that story at face value. Using that judgment as a basis for further moral judgment seems questionable at best, and malicious and ignorant at worst (going back to the argument that “it was okay to take slaves because the slaves had rejected god”).

    As some of you have said, you have heard this all before and you still can’t seem to understand it, not to mention accept it; so we simply agree to disagree.

    I understand it completely; I simply think it’s absurd. If we used the same thought process that you use to decide that Christianity is true to determine any other aspect of reality, then it would not work and it would not make sense. I see no reason for this blind faith to work in matters of religion and “spirituality.”

    If you’re content living with self-proclaimed nonsense, then by all means feel free, I’ll criticize that choice no further, as I’ve said all there is to say about it. But don’t be surprised if I speak harshly of the reasoning that goes into that decision.

    Reply
  173. Tim D. says:

    P.S.

    Somewhere along the lines you seem to forget that we all have heard the Gospel and have heard of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. So you know that He exists even if, to you, its only in the hearts and minds of Christians. By denying someone Life would you not consider death the equivalent?

    The problem with this equivocation is that you’re using the phrase “deny that Jesus exists” as having the same meaning as the phrase, “Jesus should die.” The former is a statement that I don’t believe he does exist (and thus I could not have any feelings one way or the other about whether or not he should stop, if he does). The latter, firstly, presumes that he does exist (which is the opposite of what I am saying — that he doesn’t), and secondly, it presumes that I want him to stop. Again, this is not the same thing as “killing” him at all. I find it difficult to believe that you honestly cannot see this distinction, and so I must conclude that you are being obtuse.

    Reply
  174. Charles says:

    -If you’re content living with self-proclaimed nonsense, then by all means feel free, I’ll criticize that choice no further, as I’ve said all there is to say about it. But don’t be surprised if I speak harshly of the reasoning that goes into that decision.

    And it is absolutely no surprise as that is what Christians are taught to expect. You can speak as harshly as you like and I will not reciprocate or so much as bat an eye. As a matter of fact, if you want to know who God is why don’t you ask Him yourself? Seriously, you look into the Bible and try with your “analytical might” and your own logic to discredit something you say yourself that you do not understand. Why not look for Him and ask Him, sincerely, to understand out of the purity of your curiosity and not with some skeptical, analytical demeanor in an effort to mock Him and the people that believe in Him? Oh, I know, it sounds too silly or What would I look like talking to myself or since I don’t believe then I shouldn’t have to, or something to that effect; am I right? If you cannot bring yourself to do such a thing then maybe you really just don’t want to understand. And that’s cool; I ain’t mad at you.

    Reply
  175. Tim D. says:

    Foreword: I’m currently reading the beginning of Leviticus again….on lunch break today, I just happened to get to the lovely chapter about how to offer a young pigeon as a sin sacrifice…..I’ll give you a hint, you first have to kill it by twisting off its head and sprinkling blood on the altar.

    Hm, good old-fashioned Biblical morality 😀 To think, that without Jesus’ little “revisions,” Christians might still be doing things like this today!

    And it is absolutely no surprise as that is what Christians are taught to expect.

    Yes, I know. You are taught to expect that people will react as I have because that’s how a person can be reasonably expected to react to someone who says that they believe something which they admit can be easily be shown to be nonsense.. That does not change my opinion in the least.

    I mean, I could easily say that I’m going to start a new trend today of going out into my neighborhood and torrentially urinating on other people’s pets and children. With this new trend I will include the caveat that “people will say you are crazy if you do this,” and when someone criticizes me, I’ll say, “Aha! I knew you would call me crazy for doing that!” And I will insist that this proves that I am right in acting this way.

    You can speak as harshly as you like and I will not reciprocate or so much as bat an eye.

    Fine, but I wasn’t acting to elicit a reciprocation. Or an eye bat. Or whatever else you may have in mind.

    As a matter of fact, if you want to know who God is why don’t you ask Him yourself?

    Alright. Let’s try it right here, and see if we get an answer:

    Hey, God, wassup? Can you maybe come down here for a second and help me out with this problem real quick? We’re trying to decide if you exist. Just a quick, demonstrable supernatural phenomena should be more than enough.

    I’ll check back tomorrow and see if there’s a response. I hope a lurker decides to be witty and post something as “God” just to make my day 😀 I’ll let you know if something happens on my end.

    Seriously, you look into the Bible and try with your “analytical might” and your own logic to discredit something you say yourself that you do not understand.

    I’ve made no deliberate attempts to “discredit” anything. That’s your paranoia speaking. I’m simply giving you my first impressions of (A) the things I’ve read, and (B) the hand-wave justifications you give me for those impressions. I started by asking a few simple questions, which I figured for certain that you had some kind of weasel-argument around like most Christians (misogyny and slavery), and yet on both counts you actually enforced the idea that such behavior was, even if just at one time, acceptable. So you are right, I do not understand that.

    P.S. What is “analytical might?” Why do you evangelist types insist on vilifying scientific inquiry so much? It’s why, as the line goes, “the modern world rejects your hand.” Science is just analysis of the rules of the universe — you know, the rules that your god supposedly created? You’d think that a book of his creation would at least abide by the basic principles of elementary school reasoning.

    Oh, I know, it sounds too silly or What would I look like talking to myself or since I don’t believe then I shouldn’t have to, or something to that effect; am I right? If you cannot bring yourself to do such a thing then maybe you really just don’t want to understand. And that’s cool; I ain’t mad at you.

    I had a response planned for this but once I read that last little bit, I realized you were just condescending me….so I decided to just point out that for all the talk of “not reciprocating” and “turning the other cheek” (which nobody does anyway), folks like you sure do get off on being smart alecks a lot. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of not overtly insulting someone? Or is this one of those “letter of the law” type things where it only *technically* matters?

    Reply
  176. Charles says:

    -I had a response planned for this but once I read that last little bit, I realized you were just condescending me….so I decided to just point out that for all the talk of “not reciprocating” and “turning the other cheek” (which nobody does anyway), folks like you sure do get off on being smart alecks a lot. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of not overtly insulting someone? Or is this one of those “letter of the law” type things where it only *technically* matters?

    I was actually being serious. I was not intending to insult you. I’m really not mad at you or anyone else that doesn’t understand. I just wanted to point out that your “harshness” will never cause me to reciprocate harshness towards what you say.

    You say you’re reading Leviticus? You describe the intense gore God often uses during the ritual sacrifices that He required for worship at the time. Do you understand the severity of sin? Sin is considered an incurable disease and can only be “covered”, if you will, by innocent blood. That is why bulls, goats and turtledoves were used. There is a significance with each animal that also must be taken into consideration. Ask yourself why such an animal would be used and you may find that a bull is an animal that works very hard, is domesticated so it can be seen as disciplined which is what meekness really means. Goats were symbolic of the substitution Jesus would make for man and doves represented the Spirit of God. Look them up in the Bible and see for yourself. Now, take into consideration that through sin (disobedience) the covenant between man and God was severed, so God required man to sacrifice the innocent and with the blood of these animals with respect to what they represented to cover his sins. Why blood you may ask? Blood is not only Life, but it is directly indicative of purity. Man’s blood wouldn’t do because of the deceitfulness of his heart.

    Only innocent blood can cover sin so through the lineage of the only man that found favor with God before the flood, Noah, a child was born. From Noah and Shem, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, to Judah through David until Jesus, who’s innocent blood covers the sin of man once and for all. These animal’s sacrifice was a recompense to man to show just how much God hates sin.

    Incidentally, were you aware that Shem was the father of all middle eastern people, Muslim and Jew? Esau was Isaac’s first son who sold his birthright to Jacob. It is believed that Esau was the beginning of the Muslim people through the Edomites that led to the birth of Mohammad. Thus, there is reasoning for this Muslim/Jewish feud.

    Also, were you aware that Jesus is in the Qu’ran? Muslims refer to Him as Isa or God’s healing Prophet. Does any of this strike you as. at least, interesting?

    Reply
  177. Charles says:

    -P.S. What is “analytical might?” Why do you evangelist types insist on vilifying scientific inquiry so much? It’s why, as the line goes, “the modern world rejects your hand.” Science is just analysis of the rules of the universe — you know, the rules that your god supposedly created? You’d think that a book of his creation would at least abide by the basic principles of elementary school reasoning.

    I don’t reject science, I just don’t think science digs deep enough. I feel as though where science ends Spirituality begins. We are at polar ends of the spectrum that relates Science to Christianity, the tangible to the unseen, the Natural to the Spiritual. I may be wrong, but it has been my contention that scientists often stop at the tangible conclusions and rarely delve into the metaphysical. There has been talk of the problem of measurement in quantum mechanics that has peaked my interests lately. It deals with the metaphysical, have you heard of it? I don’t know much about it but it could hold some answers to some difficult questions.

    Reply
  178. Tim D. says:

    I was actually being serious. I was not intending to insult you. I’m really not mad at you or anyone else that doesn’t understand. I just wanted to point out that your “harshness” will never cause me to reciprocate harshness towards what you say.

    Nor am I “mad” at anyone else. I was simply pointing out that I have no interest in causing such reciprocation in the first place.

    You say you’re reading Leviticus? You describe the intense gore God often uses during the ritual sacrifices that He required for worship at the time. Do you understand the severity of sin? Sin is considered an incurable disease and can only be “covered”, if you will, by innocent blood.

    I do not believe this. I do not believe that “innocent blood” has to be shed to pay for the crimes of the guilty. That makes no sense. There is no connection between the two unless we accept that God has decided that it is so. Which I do not. In this scenario, God even decides who is guilty in the first place (and rather arbitrarily at times, it seems). So I see no reason to accept such disgusting practices as “necessary” to “redeem” anything or anyone.

    Goats were symbolic of the substitution Jesus would make for man and doves represented the Spirit of God.

    In the interest of giving Jews the benefit of the doubt, I cannot accept as fact the idea that anything in the OT necessarily implies that Jesus was coming or that he was the son of God. Possible? Surely. But is it true? I don’t believe so.

    Now, take into consideration that through sin (disobedience) the covenant between man and God was severed, so God required man to sacrifice the innocent and with the blood of these animals with respect to what they represented to cover his sins.

    This is another reason why I cannot accept this god as a just moral authority — why should the innocent have to die so that the guilty can live freely? That is twisted logic.

    Why blood you may ask? Blood is not only Life, but it is directly indicative of purity. Man’s blood wouldn’t do because of the deceitfulness of his heart.

    Yes, God explains that blood is life and life is the price of sin, and that is why we’re not supposed to eat the blood of any animal. But I have no reason to believe that this is so, except that this God arbitrarily decrees it to be so.

    Only innocent blood can cover sin so through the lineage of the only man that found favor with God before the flood, Noah, a child was born.

    I understand that Christians think that everyone can be “saved.” I also understand that this desire to “save everyone” was probably born from the realization that, by OT laws, the guilty were punished harshly or put to death while the innocent were allowed to live in peace (mostly). It seems that Christianity was not born from the hearts of the innocent, who obeyed the laws they believed were right (and for whom society was more or less acceptable and sustainable), but from the guilty, who were unwilling to accept their own faults and actions and instead desired a scapegoat onto which to project these transgressions (in fact, the ritual of Azazel/scapegoat is described in detail in Leviticus 16:20-22). This is a common psychological trait of people who are unwilling or unable to cope with their own “cognitive dissonance,” actions which are inconsistent with their own moral beliefs. It is, by and large, considered very unhealthy to seek external validation for an internal conflict of judgment — this sort of behavior can lead to codependency and obsession, whether with God or with another person.

    If this system of sacrifice were to, in some way, allow both the innocent and the guilty to overcome their transgressions, then it would at *least* be consistent. But rather, what it does is sacrifice the innocent to “cancel out” the sins of the guilty. This is no more than the particularly violent coping mechanism of a people which had not learned to deal with their own imperfections as human beings, created by God or not, and so they codependently and violently projected this dissonance onto an external recipient.

    Also, were you aware that Jesus is in the Qu’ran? Muslims refer to Him as Isa or God’s healing Prophet. Does any of this strike you as. at least, interesting?

    I’ll take your word for it as I haven’t read the Koran/Qu’ran (yet…currently in the process of obtaining one), although I will say I have my doubts.

    I don’t reject science, I just don’t think science digs deep enough. I feel as though where science ends Spirituality begins.

    If that were all, then this would be an open and shut case. Problem is, what you say — that where science ends, spirituality begins — is not what you are practicing. What you are practicing (or at least, what you are displaying to me) is more along the lines of, “where science and spirituality contradict, spirituality wins by default.” That is a dangerous train of thought because it eliminates the means of inquiry and skepticism by which we verify what can rightly be called “spiritual,” as opposed to what is simply empirical manipulation masquerading as supernatural or “spiritual.”

    If one adopts the position that vaguely-defined “spirituality” inherently overcomes scientific inquiry, then one removes the methods by which one discerns, for example, the differences between different religions — the very methods which Christian apologists such as Mr. Turek and William Lane Craig claim to be able to utilize to prove that their religion is the One True Religion among many other fake ones.

    As I’ve said, I don’t believe that science and “spirituality” are mutually exclusive (I don’t believe they are inherently inclusive either, but that’s another conversation); but I do not believe that spirituality can hold seniority over science with regard to scientific matters, just as I’d say that science cannot hold seniority over spirituality with regard to spiritual matters.

    I may be wrong, but it has been my contention that scientists often stop at the tangible conclusions and rarely delve into the metaphysical.

    From my point of view, every career that I can take in this world that is *absolutely essential* to the continuation of a stable society in fact depends on the idea that there is no supernatural (or that, if there is, it has negligible, if any, effect on the natural world). A doctor’s duty is to assume that there is no supernatural cause for his patient’s illness, and to find the natural cause instead. A police officer is expected to assume that the crime was committed not by demons, but by humans or human influence, and to find the natural (not supernatural) explanation for it. A judge and jury are expected to assume that the laws of physics were not violated and to discern a natural scenario of what happened and who is guilty or not guilty as a result.

    Perhaps factors such as these contribute to the notion that “science does not delve into the metaphysical.”

    In any case, “science” in the sense of “natural explanations for things” and “science” in the sense of “scientific inquiry” are different components of the same idea; while supernaturality cannot (of course) be explained naturally, it can be explored by scientific inquiry; as long as there are consistent laws or factors at play, scientific inquiry is valid and can be argued to hold seniority — we can test and infer things based on what we can determine to be consistent or true, whether the law is “God can violate any law” or “the laws of physics are absolute and cannot be broken.” So in that sense, science can delve into the metaphysical, it would simply have to forego naturalism.

    The problem is, people argue that supernaturality would, somehow “by definition,” defy scientific inquiry. This is where we enter the realm of nonsense; scientific inquiry’s one grand “assumption” — i.e. the one thing which serves as its essential foundation and which cannot be removed without undermining the definition of inquiry — is the idea that, somewhere, something is consistent. The only way that supernatural “laws” or “powers” could defy scientific inquiry is if they were inconsistent or nonsensical, in which case it would be unlikely that we could derive meaning from it in the first place, thus making it a waste of our time and resources to study for any purpose other than personal amusement.

    Reply
  179. Charles says:

    -But rather, what it does is sacrifice the innocent to “cancel out” the sins of the guilty

    I understand what your saying, however, a truly spiritual point of view actually conveys the Faith of Life after physical death. So flesh and blood are temporal by design and the soul of the living was meant to have the ability to transcend nature.

    -If that were all, then this would be an open and shut case. Problem is, what you say — that where science ends, spirituality begins — is not what you are practicing. What you are practicing (or at least, what you are displaying to me) is more along the lines of, “where science and spirituality contradict, spirituality wins by default.” That is a dangerous train of thought because it eliminates the means of inquiry and skepticism by which we verify what can rightly be called “spiritual,” as opposed to what is simply empirical manipulation masquerading as supernatural or “spiritual.”

    Forgive me as the idea I was trying to imply was more along the lines of science being bound by the same time/space restrictions as the scientist in terms of physical being. Science is very important with regards to discovery, but I believe we need to think about the word discovery here. To discover something means a thing or concept is un “covered”, implying that it was already there. Well, if it was already there then how did it get “there” in the first place? Answers to these questions sometimes are not answered by science, but a genuinely plausible answer can be found through Faith in spirituality or simply thinking beyond the temporal world.

    Reply
  180. Nathan Barley says:

    “Why should the innocent have to die so that the guilty can live freely? That is twisted logic”

    I wouldn’t call it logic at all – twisted or otherwise. It’s completely ILLogical.

    Tim, Muslims see Jesus as a prophet, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in their holy book. However, they view the Christian veneration of Jesus to be blasphemous.

    Reply
  181. Charles says:

    -I wouldn’t call it logic at all – twisted or otherwise. It’s completely ILLogical.

    I agree, it is absolutely illogical; from a physical or temporal aspect. Spiritually speaking; it is logical and practical to see the nature as symbolic.

    -Tim, Muslims see Jesus as a prophet, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in their holy book. However, they view the Christian veneration of Jesus to be blasphemous.

    Right again because, to the Muslim, the Holy Trinity is misunderstood. Muslims are under the impression that Christians are polytheists and do not accept the concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the oneness of the God head. Islam accepts Jesus as Allah’s healing prophet and believe He ascended into Heaven prior to actually dying on the Cross.

    Consider this; Jesus is described throughout OT Scripture which contains the Torah or the Jewish Bible; He is the central figure of the NT Scripture and spoken of by name in the Qu’ran.
    Along with that there is history written of concerning Jacob and Esau in Genesis; Jacob being Israel and Esau, Isaac’s first born son who is believed to be the beginning of Muhammed’s lineage. There is Logical evidence of the relation all three major belief systems have through Jesus. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

    It would take a genius of monumental proportion to devise a myth this wise and strong and with this kind of longevity that tie all three major belief systems together. A genius or even a group of genii had to be awfully diabolical and just as cunning to fool the world for this long.

    Reply
  182. Nathan Barley says:

    Charles, you could say the same about the ‘inventors’ of Hinduism, or any other numbers of religions. The interpretations of the Christianity has changed so much over the centuries that I would not put its survival down to any particular brilliance of the people who originated it. It’s basically a ‘survival of the fittest’ when it comes to religions and ideas, and the illusion to evolution is deliberate. It’s by taking on the wiser ideas and dropping the less wise ones (eg slavery) that the religion has survived. Encouraging its adherents to have lots of kids doesn’t hurt either!

    Reply
  183. Charles says:

    -“It’s basically a ’survival of the fittest’ when it comes to religions and ideas…”

    I can see this; and I say that only because they are the strongest of all belief systems to date. The point I am trying to make is that the Jewish, Judeo-Christian and Muslim belief systems are too closely related to just dismiss the validity of Jesus Spiritually, Historically or Scientifically. The diabolical genius part would come in the way of all this being based on imagination, folklore or mythology.

    Reply
  184. Nathan Barley says:

    “I say that only because they are the strongest of all belief systems to date”

    Sure – religions like Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, they are ideas that are good at surviving and perpetuating themselves. Nothing diabolical is required to create an idea that lasts. Genius isn’t necessarily required either, but it probably helps. Ron L Hubbard possibly fits both terms.

    Reply
  185. Tim D. says:

    I understand what your saying, however, a truly spiritual point of view actually conveys the Faith of Life after physical death. So flesh and blood are temporal by design and the soul of the living was meant to have the ability to transcend nature.

    Unfortunately, that does not answer the dilemma — even if there is an afterlife and life is merely “temporal” or “temporary,” how can one justify taking innocent blood in order to spare the guilty? How can a god who is just make that move?

    Is life somehow less important or less valuable because of the afterlife? I thought Christians’ claim to fame was how “pro-life” they were? If life ultimately doesn’t matter, then why make such a fuss over it in the first place?

    To discover something means a thing or concept is un “covered”, implying that it was already there.

    That can be literal or metaphorical, however. If you “discover,” say, a natural law, then one can’t really say that this natural law “exists” as a thing that can be discovered; rather, it’s a metaphor for a distinct pattern of behavior shared by all things with certain qualities. There is no magical “law” standing guard somewhere which ensures that this pattern of behavior will be enforced; it is simply a tendency that, for any of a number of reasons, occurs in nature.

    On the other hand, if you “discover” something buried in the dirt, then yes, that object was there waiting to be discovered.

    When discussing matters of science and ‘discovery’ it is important not to equivocate between those two terms.

    Well, if it was already there then how did it get “there” in the first place? Answers to these questions sometimes are not answered by science, but a genuinely plausible answer can be found through Faith in spirituality or simply thinking beyond the temporal world.

    Even if we cut to the chase and say “God did it,” that ultimately answers nothing. The scientist would say, “We don’t know where that came from.” The theist would say, “it came from god.” But the theist still ultimately doesn’t know where god came from, so he still doesn’t know how what put it there got there.

    Saying “God was always there” doesn’t solve anything either — we’ve only “passed the buck.” We still don’t know what god is, where he came from, how he got there, what his purpose is, etc. etc. (the list goes on). If not knowing the answers to certain things were what bothered me, then even positing an all-knowing god would not solve that problem, because we still wouldn’t ultimately know.

    I agree, it is absolutely illogical; from a physical or temporal aspect. Spiritually speaking; it is logical and practical to see the nature as symbolic.

    The problem is, “symbols” and metaphors are meant to convey a literal truth. If the metaphor itself is steeped in physical reality, such that the implementation of the metaphorical practice actually *contradicts* (or renders nonsensical) the ultimate significance of the metaphor itself, then it’s less of a metaphor and more of what we’d call a “broken analogy.”

    The events of the Bible would make more sense if they were fictional, meant to convey a metaphorical truth. But that is not what most Evangelical Christians believe; most of them would have me believe that the Bible is literally 100% true. If that is the case, then the analogy is broken and illogical.

    Consider this; Jesus is described throughout OT Scripture which contains the Torah or the Jewish Bible;

    See, the fact that you keep saying this is what makes me skeptical of your other claims; I don’t see any confirmable reference to Jesus in the Old Testament. You could make a fanbase theory about it, but it ultimately doesn’t carry over into enforceable canon.

    There is Logical evidence of the relation all three major belief systems have through Jesus. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

    1) Logical *if* all three accounts are proven to be accurate and truthful;

    2) I don’t think it’s a coincidence either, given that both of the other religions evolved out of Judaism.

    It would take a genius of monumental proportion to devise a myth this wise and strong and with this kind of longevity that tie all three major belief systems together. A genius or even a group of genii had to be awfully diabolical and just as cunning to fool the world for this long.

    There you go with that irritable false dichotomy again…as I’ve said before, it does not necessarily have to be “100% true and good” or “100% false and evil.” Do you adopt this level of extremism with regard to rationality in your daily life? If you send someone to the store to get a specific item for dinner, and they return home and say, “the store was out of that item,” and you go to the store yourself and they are not out of that item….could the only two possibilities really be, “they were telling the 100% truth, they WERE out but now they aren’t,” or “this person told me a malicious lie”? Or could there be another possibility, such that the person you asked was simply mistaken? Or perhaps he/she asked a third party (say, an employee of the store) if the product was in stock, and the third party told them that it was not.

    My point being, there are MANY MANY more possibilites than, “The Bible is 100% true and real,” and “the Bible is a bald-faced lie told with malicious intent.” I don’t think either explanation is really honest or realistic.

    The point I am trying to make is that the Jewish, Judeo-Christian and Muslim belief systems are too closely related to just dismiss the validity of Jesus Spiritually, Historically or Scientifically.

    First off, a few things to consider:

    -Seeing how closely these three religions are related, they’re basically parallel evolutions of the same religion; in a sense, Judeo-Christianity is itself one giant religion.

    -Therefore, if one of these religions is popular (especially worldwide), then it follows that the other two will probably have somewhat of a following as well, considering that they are founded on similar “ethical” systems.

    -Even if Jesus only really features in two out of three of the major books, the fact is that these religions are all connected at the core; so I would not be surprised to find that they may contain references to one another in some way.

    I don’t think this proves anything about the validity or spirituality of any one of those beliefs. I think it proves that Judeo-Christianity is very adaptable, which is both good and bad….and I think it proves that it’s also very popular, perhaps because of its adaptability (it’s very easy to take Christian doctrine, for example, given all of its vagueness and contradiction, and apply one’s own humanistic values to it, and end up with a drastically different vision of god than any other Christian out there).

    I don’t think you’ll find many people — atheist or otherwise — who will deny the adaptability and popularity about Judeo-Christianity. What I tend to take issue with is the argument that it somehow naturally follows from this that they are right. If I may beg Godwin’s Law one more time, that is the same rationale that Mr. Turek himself has used on this very blog to attack “atheists” for having what he perceives to be a system of morality determined by popular consensus alone. I do not believe that, that “might makes right,” whether it’s Christians or atheists, or anyone else for that matter.

    Reply
  186. Charles says:

    -Unfortunately, that does not answer the dilemma — even if there is an afterlife and life is merely “temporal” or “temporary,” how can one justify taking innocent blood in order to spare the guilty? How can a god who is just make that move?

    As Evangelical Christians we cannot look at death from the same perspective as a naturalist. Taking innocent blood served two purposes; 1. Innocent blood is pure and undefiled so it was used as a sacrifice or substitution so that God could tolerate us because our blood is defiled and impure. We were God’s ambassadors in the Earth and we disobeyed Him which brought sin into His Creation. 2. Murder of any living thing is not an easy thing to live with so it was a constant reminder of the effect that our disobedience has on God. He didn’t want anything to die, but because the “blood was on our hands” it reminds us of our own treachery or potential thereof. This was done until the Final Sacrifice was made; which was Himself; hence a New Testament.

    -Saying “God was always there” doesn’t solve anything either — we’ve only “passed the buck.” We still don’t know what god is, where he came from, how he got there, what his purpose is, etc. etc. (the list goes on).

    That’s the Hope we carry; to, one day, know as we have been known.

    -See, the fact that you keep saying this is what makes me skeptical of your other claims; I don’t see any confirmable reference to Jesus in the Old Testament. You could make a fanbase theory about it, but it ultimately doesn’t carry over into enforceable canon

    NT:
    “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself….. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:25-27; 44-48).

    OT: 1. The Seed of the Woman victorious over Satan (Genesis 3:15 – fulfilled in Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 2:11; 1 John 3: 8). War is proclaimed between Satan and the Seed of the woman, where Satan shall bruise His heel, but the Seed shall bruise Satan’s head. Jesus suffered trememdously at the hands of men, crucifixion being an antagonizing and slow death. But Jesus gained the ultimately victory. “The devil sinneth from the beginning,” said John, “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

    2. All families blessed through Christ, the Seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3 – fulfilled in Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8). God promises to make of Abraham a great nation, and that ALL families of the earth will be blessed. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”

    3. The priesthood of Jesus like Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18; Psalms 110:4 – fulfilled in Hebrews 7:1-28). We don’t know much about Melchizedek other than he was considered very great. He was the King of Salem (later to be Jerusalem) and priest of the most high God. Salem means “peace,” making him the King of peace as translated, and the writer of Hebrews referring also to him as the King of righteousness. The patriarch Abraham paid his tithes to Melchizedek, and Melchizedek blessed Abraham, bringing out bread and wine. It is fitting that he brough forth bread and wine, the elements Jesus used at His last supper. The beginning or ending of Melchizedek’s life nor his lineage is not recorded, making him “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” (Hebrews 7:3).

    4. Messiah will come from Judah. (Genesis 49:10 – fulfilled in Luke 1:32-33). In Genesis, it is prophecied that the sceptre, or staff of a king or ruler, will not depart from Judah. King David was from the lineage of Judah, and to Mary, the angel spoke concerning Jesus, “the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.”

    5. Jesus is the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:1-14:46; fulfilled in John 19:31-36; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19). To protect themselves from the death angel, each family was to take a spotless male lamb, kill it, and then take the blood and place it upon the top and sides of the doorframe. When the angel saw the blood, he would pass over the house. Peter said that we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot. Paul said of Christ that He was our Passover which was sacrificed for us.

    6. The Messiah’s blood would be shed for our sins (Exodus 24:8 – fulfilled in Hebrews 9:11-28). Moses took the blood and sprinkled it upon the people and the tabernacle and its furnishings. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins,” Hebrews 9:22 says. Neither by the blood of goats or calves, but by His own blood Christ entered once in the Holy Place to obtain eternal redemption for us.

    7. Jesus is the true bread from Heaven (Exodus 16:4 – fulfilled in John 6:31-35). God rained down manna from heaven which the people of Israel collected to make bread. Jesus, as He taught, reminded the people of this story, and said, “My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven….. I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

    8. Jesus the smitten Rock (Exodus 17:6 – fulfilled in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). The people of Israel complained against Moses and God for they were thirsty. God then told Moses, “I will stand before thee upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.” Paul said that they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. Jesus said that those who drink of the water He gives will never thirst.

    9. Jesus to be lifted up on a cross (Numbers 21:8-9 – fulfilled in John 3:14-17). God sent a plague of snakes among the people of Israel as punishment for their continued complaining. God commanded Moses to place an image of a serpent on a pole. If someone was bitten, they would look upon the pole and be saved. The word “look” in this verse means to look intently, to respect, to pay attention to, or to regard. It was a look of faith and not just a simple glance. Jesus said that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosover believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    10. Messiah will come out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17 – fulfilled in Luke 1:32-33; Revelation 22:16). “A Star shall rise out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel,” so proclaimed Balaam. The star would represent Jesus’ glory, and the sceptre His authority and power. The angel told the virgin Mary, “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Jesus said of Himself in John’s great vision, “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”

    11. God will send the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-18 – fulfilled in John 6:14, 12:49-50; Acts 3:18-26). God promised He would raise up a Prophet from among Israel that will speak what He commands Him. When the people saw the miracle Jesus performed in feeding the multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fish, they said of Him, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” Jesus said that He spoke the words which the Father gave to Him. Peter referenced Moses’ prophecy of a coming Prophet in his sermon about Jesus delivered in the temple.

    12. Messiah cursed by hanging on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:22-23 – fulfilled in Galatians 3:13). God said than anyone who is hanged on a tree (a reference to crucifixion) is accursed of God. Paul told the Galatians, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”

    13. The Word is near us (Deuteronomy 30:11-14 – fulfilled in John 1:1,14; Romans 10:6-11). God told the people that His word was not in the heavens or in the sea that someone had to go and bring it back to them. God said it was near them, in their mouths and in their hearts that they may do it. John said that Jesus was the Word, which was with God, and was made flesh and dwelled among us. Paul repeated Moses word’s to the Romans, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

    14. The Messiah will be God’s Son (2 Samuel 7:12-14 – fulfilled Luke 1:35; Hebrews 1:5). God told the prophet Samuel to tell David that He would set up a seed after him, and that He would establish his kingdom. “He shall build a house for my name….. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” The angel told Mary that the Holy Ghost would come upon her and her child would be called the Son of God. Paul said to the Hebrews that Jesus was made much better than the angels. To which angel did God say, “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”

    15. God will declare “Thou art my Son” (Psalms 2:7 – fulfilled in Matthew 3:17, 17:5; Mark 1:11, 9:7; Luke 3:22, 9:25; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5). “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,” Luke wrote in Acts 13:32, “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this dya have I begotten thee.”

    16. The Messiah will rule the nations with power (Psalms 2:9 – fulfilled in Revelation 2:27). David wrote in the Psalms, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Jesus quoted this psalm in His message to the church at Thyatira.

    17. Children will praise the Messiah (Psalms 8:2 – fufilled Matthew 21:16). “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name is all the earth!” the Psalmist declared, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength.” The chief priests and scribes were displeased when they heard the children crying the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Jesus responded, “Have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?”

    18. All things in subjection to Jesus (Psalms 8:3-6 – fulfilled in Hebrews 2:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Ephesians 1:22). David said, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?” God has crowned Him with glory and honor and has put all things in subjection under His feet.

    19. Son of David raised from the dead (Psalms 16:8-11 – fulfilled in Acts 2:25-32; 13:35-37). When Jesus died, He went down into Hell and led away the captives (Matthew 27:50-53) and returned with the keys to Hell and to death. David said, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Peter quoted this passage in his Pentecost sermon and said that David spoke “of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption.” Paul also quoted this same passage in his message in the synagogue at Antioch.

    20. Why hast thou forsaken me? (Psalms 22:1 – fulfilled in Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). David opened the twenty-second psalm with these words, “My God, my God, what hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus uttered these words in His final moments on the cross.
    *from faithworksministries website*

    And lastly, 1 Corinthians 10 explains the purpose of the OT in regards to the NT so we can clearly understand.

    I don’t mean to be irritating, I just desire a mutual understanding…

    Reply
  187. Tim D. says:

    As Evangelical Christians we cannot look at death from the same perspective as a naturalist. Taking innocent blood served two purposes; 1. Innocent blood is pure and undefiled so it was used as a sacrifice or substitution so that God could tolerate us because our blood is defiled and impure. We were God’s ambassadors in the Earth and we disobeyed Him which brought sin into His Creation. 2. Murder of any living thing is not an easy thing to live with so it was a constant reminder of the effect that our disobedience has on God. He didn’t want anything to die, but because the “blood was on our hands” it reminds us of our own treachery or potential thereof. This was done until the Final Sacrifice was made; which was Himself; hence a New Testament.

    That is completely circular — we have to kill to appease God’s lust for pure blood, which then brings sin down upon us, which causes us to be “impure,” which requires us to kill more sacrifices.

    That’s the Hope we carry; to, one day, know as we have been known.

    Not good enough for me. Hope is great and all, but at the cost of bloodlust and the glorification of death, not so much.

    I don’t mean to be irritating, I just desire a mutual understanding…

    I will sift through your mountain of quotes and comment on them later.

    Reply
  188. precise says:

    PRECEPTOR (n.) – From early 15c., tutor, instructor” (earliest reference is likely to be to
    professional in the artwork of writing), from Latin praeceptor trainer, teacher,” agent noun from praecipere (see principle).
    Medical training sense attested from 1803.

    Reply
  189. Dave says:

    When people try to throw Christians under the bus. They always quote Old Testament. As a Christian I follow the New Testament. So please quote from the New Testament please.

    Reply

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