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Negative Sun
02-17-2007, 07:53 AM
I recently had a 45-minute long discussion at my door with two of these men, and it was quite an interesting experience, they left this little book called "What does the Bible really teach?" and I have a few questions I hope some people can answer:

It explained that God's purpose with earth was to have a paradise where everyone could live forever as long as they obeyed him, but Adam and Eve ruined that for all of us, and now Satan rules the world because God wants to prove His point that only He is fit to rule this world...

Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?
If God values our free will so much, why does it matter to Him whether we believe in Him or not?
And even if he did, wouldn't it be easier if he proved He did exist so people wouldn't have to have blind faith into something that may or may not exist?
The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?
Isn't it a bit easy to say that God allows evil things to happen because Satan rules the world?
So God is responsible for everything Good, and Satan for everything Evil...Just as much as there can't be day without night etc...It doesn't explain anything IMO To me it sounds like about every other religion or moral belief in this world...
If God is so perfect, why does he need people to worship him? Is that not an incredible ego trip? Isn't God supposed to be AGAINST vanity?
My opinion is, IF he proves that he can indeed smite all Evil and turn this into an earthly paradise, everyone will worship him without a doubt, out of their own free will, so what's stopping Him?

I will probably come up with more questions, but that's all I can think of right now.

A few rules for this thread:
This is not an anti-God thread or religion vs atheism thread, please respond only if you sincerely want to answer these questions and discuss them in a friendly manner.
I myself am an atheist/agnostic and do not wish to be converted, I am just curious as to how Christian logic explains all of this, so I can have a better understanding of it.
I would appreciate it if a mod could keep an eye on off-topic stuff since these are serious questions I want answered and I don't want it to turn into another clash of ideals.

That's all, I'm very much looking forward to Jae and Jedimaster12's opinions on this since they have proven themselves to be coherent and understandable in our previous discussions, but anyone else feel free to join in!

Darth InSidious
02-17-2007, 10:08 AM
I recently had a 45-minute long discussion at my door with two of these men, and it was quite an interesting experience, they left this little book called "What does the Bible really teach?" and I have a few questions I hope some people can answer:
I can try and answer some, but I'm by no means a theologian...

It explained that God's purpose with earth was to have a paradise where everyone could live forever as long as they obeyed him, but Adam and Eve ruined that for all of us, and now Satan rules the world because God wants to prove His point that only He is fit to rule this world...

Hmm...And where does Christ fit into all this? I'm just curious, as I've never really had much of a discussion with them...Just curious, as they aren't very active near me (we get more scientologists...)? I mean, why, if it is still true, would the death and ressurection of Christ be necessary?

Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?

I don't know about J'sWs, but I believe he gave us free will - we had to have a choice of whether to do right or wrong...

If God values our free will so much, why does it matter to Him whether we believe in Him or not?

The simplest definition of God that I know of is that 'God is Love'; presumably it would be fitting, and you could even say necessary that we show some reciprocation...? Not really sure on this one; ask me again in thirty years...

And even if he did, wouldn't it be easier if he proved He did exist so people wouldn't have to have blind faith into something that may or may not exist?

Faith isn't completely blind...At least according to Catholic theology, we know of God's existence by reason (logic drawn from the world around us) and revelation (knowledge drawn from God -dreams could be a source of this, but it could simply be something someone says to you that catches your attention, as I understand it...)

The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?

Given the sheer numbers of people being cremated, I would imagine that some kind of bodily reconstitution will need to be involved. Come to think of it, I would imagine it would be necessary for those who were entombed as well...

Isn't it a bit easy to say that God allows evil things to happen because Satan rules the world?
I would say yes...My own argument would be that most evil is caused by humans, and that natural disasters which aren't our fault are either the work of Satan to cause us to doubt or for another aim, or are a trade-off of the way the world is designed...

So God is responsible for everything Good, and Satan for everything Evil...Just as much as there can't be day without night etc...It doesn't explain anything IMO To me it sounds like about every other religion or moral belief in this world...
Well, that's because its basically much like other Christian beliefs on good and evil...Perhaps it would be better to say that God is the *root* of all good, and Satan the *root* of all evil...?

If God is so perfect, why does he need people to worship him? Is that not an incredible ego trip? Isn't God supposed to be AGAINST vanity?
I honestly don't know.

My opinion is, IF he proves that he can indeed smite all Evil and turn this into an earthly paradise, everyone will worship him without a doubt, out of their own free will, so what's stopping Him?
They wouldn't believe though. They would *know*. Proof denies faith...And perhaps he's been revealing himself in quite blatant ways, and we've just been blind to it...?

A few rules for this thread:
This is not an anti-God thread or religion vs atheism thread, please respond only if you sincerely want to answer these questions and discuss them in a friendly manner.
I myself am an atheist/agnostic and do not wish to be converted, I am just curious as to how Christian logic explains all of this, so I can have a better understanding of it.
I would appreciate it if a mod could keep an eye on off-topic stuff since these are serious questions I want answered and I don't want it to turn into another clash of ideals.

That's all, I'm very much looking forward to Jae and Jedimaster12's opinions on this since they have proven themselves to be coherent and understandable in our previous discussions, but anyone else feel free to join in!
Thanks for laying down some rules, and I hope my answer helps, if only a little :)

Aurora Starfire
02-17-2007, 01:04 PM
Those are some very deep questions. Like Darth InSidious, I am no theologian, but I have spent the last few years in a rigorous religion curriculum, so I'll do my best to answer. (I'm also going to re-order your questions a bit, so that my answers flow a bit better)

It explained that God's purpose with earth was to have a paradise where everyone could live forever as long as they obeyed him, but Adam and Eve ruined that for all of us, and now Satan rules the world because God wants to prove His point that only He is fit to rule this world...
Isn't it a bit easy to say that God allows evil things to happen because Satan rules the world?
I don't think that this is the state of things at all. I think that Eden was not a paradise in which man would live forever. Rather, I believe that at the appointed time, God would take each man, body as well as soul, unto Himself. There would have been no "death" as we know it, only a taking up, of which the Assumption is one of the few examples. Another thing. Christ is King, and Satan is merely an invader, a troublemaker, a would-be usurper. No one, and nothing, has ever, or could ever take the throne from God Himself. Satan is currently raiding and pillaging our world because of his free will; he chose to reject God, and so was cast out of Heaven; God is neither "allowing" Satan to rule, nor is He tolerating his presence. There is a supernatural (and sometimes physical) battle going on all around us, the prize of which is the control of each of our souls. Evil is not merely Satan running around breaking stuff, either. Man has a free will, as well, and we do not always choose to do good. God respects the free will that He gave us, and so He does not force us to do good, but rather hopes and asks that we do good, rather than evil.

If God is so perfect, why does he need people to worship him? Is that not an incredible ego trip? Isn't God supposed to be AGAINST vanity?
He doesn't need people to worship him. He doesn't need anyone, or anything. He created the angels and men out of Love, because He wished to give us life, and love us, and He also wished for us to love Him back. That is what true worship is, to love someone so much that you would be willing to do anything for Him.

Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?
As I see it, God created the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and He told Adam and Eve not to eat of its fruit. He did this because He wished for us to obey Him out of trust and love, to trust that He knew what was best for us, and to love Him enough to obey him.

And even if he did, wouldn't it be easier if he proved He did exist so people wouldn't have to have blind faith into something that may or may not exist?
Darth InSidious answered this very well. Everything around us cries out to the existence of God, even, and especially, you yourself. So, through reasoning, we can conclude that God exists, as well as revelation, through the Bible, and visions and dreams, and occasionally through physical experiences.

The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?
Darth InSidious made a good point here, as well, but here's some more info:
The Catholic Church permits cremation provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body. The Church counsels that, if the body is to be cremated, that it be done after the funeral. This gives relatives and friends the chance to view the body, express their condolences, etc. It also counsels that the cremains then be buried in blessed ground. This provides a place to visit and pray. Many cemeteries allow cremains to be buried on top of another grave, or for two or more cremains to be buried in the same cemetery plot. Entombment in a mausoleum also provides a place and many opportunities to pray and remember. As time goes by, that place to visit and remember becomes very important.

So God is responsible for everything Good, and Satan for everything Evil...Just as much as there can't be day without night etc...It doesn't explain anything IMO To me it sounds like about every other religion or moral belief in this world...
Darth InSidious's analogy was correct. And not every other religion or moral belief is like this. I can think of several heresies that believed that everything in the physical world was evil. This obviously isn't the case, because God does not create anything which is not inherently good. Even Satan was not evil, in the beginning.

My opinion is, IF he proves that he can indeed smite all Evil and turn this into an earthly paradise, everyone will worship him without a doubt, out of their own free will, so what's stopping Him?
Not everyone would. Some people enjoy things that are, in fact, evil. If God destroyed those things, I'd imagine they'd be pretty unhappy. Aside from that, we should keep in mind that we were never intended to stay on earth forever, rather we were meant to be with Him in Heaven, which is the ultimate paradise. Also, as I said before, God is showing us perfect love by respecting the free will He gave us. He isn't going to force good upon us, but rather He wants us to choose to do His will, which is always good.

I hope I explained it clearly enough. If you have any questions about any of my explanations, please ask.

MTV2
02-17-2007, 01:51 PM
I think the real question here is:
Does God Really Exist?

This particular thread assumes the existence of God. Negative Sun specified that it's not an atheism/theism debate. --Jae

Achilles
02-17-2007, 03:40 PM
Hi there,

I believe that my post is in accordance with Negative Sun's 2nd groundrule, but might be in violation of the 1st. My purpose, like his, is to better understand the logic behind these arguments, however if you feel that responding to this (if you choose to do so) will violate the first rule, then feel free to do so via PM.

Ok...

There is a supernatural (and sometimes physical) battle going on all around us, the prize of which is the control of each of our souls. Ignoring a key component of this and assuming, for the sake of argument, that souls do exist, what evidence do we have of this battle? Anything you can do to clarify the supernatural aspects of it would be very useful, but I imagine that the physical parts are going to be a lot easier to point out (therefore, I'm very much interested in learning more about them).

God respects the free will that He gave us, and so He does not force us to do good, but rather hopes and asks that we do good, rather than evil. How does this explain the passages in the Bible where God commands us to do things that would generally be considered evil today? Examples include rape, murder, slavery, and child-abuse.

This might go toward the "Literal Word/Inspired Word" question that I ask later in this post.

Darth InSidious answered this very well. Everything around us cries out to the existence of God, even, and especially, you yourself. Isn't this relative though? I remember hearing a priest make a very similar argument during a radio interview. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, that the "magnificence of the world is obviously the work of God" (emphasis mine). But wouldn't that be a matter of opinion? I acknowledge that for him this matter is obvious, but what if someone else had a similarly "obvious" conclusion that was counter to this?

Wouldn't it be better to say that some evidence other than our perception would better support the argument that God created everything that we see?

So, through reasoning, we can conclude that God exists,Could you please provide an example of such reasoning?

as well as revelation, Can revelation be explained through some other means than God? Also, how do we determine which revelations are "really God" and which ones aren't? David Koresh and Jim Jones are both examples that most people would consider "revelation gone wrong".

through the Bible, Which begs the question: Is the Bible the literal word of God or the inspired word of God?

Inspired word of God would better explain the contradictions, however it seems that it would have to be the literal word of God in order to support the circular logic that the Bible is evidence of God's existence.*

* in all fairness, you have not made this claim so this isn't directed at you, rather those that do use it.

and visions and dreams, and occasionally through physical experiences. I think any response offered for my "revelation" question above would satisfy any questions I have regarding visions and dreams here.

However I would be interested in learning more about the physical experience (as proof of God's existence).

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for your response (either here or PM).

Mace MacLeod
02-17-2007, 05:27 PM
*Has flashbacks to 10 different threads in the Senate Chambers*

Surefire Way to Get Rid of Jehovah's Witnesses or Any Other Door-to-Door Jesus Salesmen

Obtain pagan books or simply memorize bits and pieces from online sources--The Golden Dawn, I-Ching, or anything by John Dee or Aleister Crowley should do nicely. Then when the guys show up with their one-bead-of-sweat-short-of-crystal-meth smiles, invite them in, let them go through their spiel for a minute or two, then start quoting from your pagan literature. If you bought one, whip out the book (pick it up second-hand so it's nice and dog-eared) in question, and show them the quoted passages. Within five minutes flat, they'll be ready to chew off their own limbs and then dive through plate glass windows to escape.

Alternative Method--after inviting them in, have friend walk in wearing long, black robes and severed goat's head mask and ask them if they're virgins. Bonus points if this friend then goes storming back upstairs screaming; "DAMN LYING SQUIRRELS!!!"

Not on topic, but too funny to delete.... --Jae

The Source
02-17-2007, 07:02 PM
Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?
Some Christians believe that the "tree of knowledge" is a medifore, which explains the moment when mankind became aware. Other words, mankind went through an evolutionary procces, and Adam and Eve were at the stage of awareness. Once Adam and Eve became aware of death, sin, pain, etc... they were removed from a nieve species. Thus, paradise is a state of being. Paradise existed when mankind was nieve. Because of the evolutionary proccess. mankind became totally aware to the world around them.

If God values our free will so much, why does it matter to Him whether we believe in Him or not?
Since mankind rejected him by choice, I believe it was wise of him to allow mankind to make the choice in returning. If god were to force mankind to follow him, people would not have their own will. What type of god would he be if he didn't give mankind a choice. (I think I could have approached this in a different manner, but I tried my best at the question.)

The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?
Through out the book of Revelation, there is more than one moment where resurrection occurs. One insodent includes the resurrection all those who were in graves. Another includes those who are old, etc... "The Great Resurrection" moment includes everyone who was left. When a person is cremated, they turn to ashes. God accepts the ashes and dust.

If God is so perfect, why does he need people to worship him? Is that not an incredible ego trip? Isn't God supposed to be AGAINST vanity?
According to the Bible, God created mankind. In that context, mankind belongs to God. Otherwords, the bible states that he is the father. If you had a son or daughter, how would you feel if they called someone else dad? Within the bible, God also mentions that he is a jellous god. Because of his role in the bible (as the father), you can see how he would be upset to see his children calling someone else dad.

I wish I can point out specific information, which would help you with these questions.

:: After Thought About The Bible ::
What people forget about the authors is something very primitive. I am not calling them primitive, but I am talking about something that people over see. All except for one disciple was a family man, and they were fathers themselves. If you think about the message they convey about god, one must also take into consideration that they added something about themselves. They most likely asked, "I am a father or brother, how would I feel if I was in his place." Remember, the bible was written by sinners who were inspired by god. Thus, god did not write the bible himself.

Negative Sun
02-17-2007, 07:58 PM
Hmm...And where does Christ fit into all this? I'm just curious, as I've never really had much of a discussion with them...Just curious, as they aren't very active near me (we get more scientologists...)? I mean, why, if it is still true, would the death and ressurection of Christ be necessary?
From what I gather it was necessary to prove God's power to grants us all eternal life, like Christ resurrected some other guy (forgot his name) to prove His power was granted by Jehovah Himself...My main concern is, why could he do it back then, but not now?

I don't know about J'sWs, but I believe he gave us free will - we had to have a choice of whether to do right or wrong...
That still doesn't explain why the tree was there though, if God gave them free will why would he assume they would keep away from the tree forever, humans are curious in nature, if you assume God made us that way, wouldn't He have known it would happen sooner or later?

The simplest definition of God that I know of is that 'God is Love'; presumably it would be fitting, and you could even say necessary that we show some reciprocation...? Not really sure on this one; ask me again in thirty years...
But isn't true, unconditional love just that: unconditional...Having to love someone back sounds like a condition to me.
Let me put it this way, does a child HAVE to love their parent just for being their parent? Sure the parent gave the child life, but what after that? What if the parent neglects the child or doesn't care about it? I believe that is why most people lose faith in God, because if He is the Almighty and our father and so caring, why do we suffer and feel alone and miserable and all that bad stuff? Because of Satan? Give me a break... If someone would hurt my child in that way I would stand up for it and comfort it, what comfort is there in believing in God? Believing in something good is far from something ACTUALLY being good IMO...

Faith isn't completely blind...At least according to Catholic theology, we know of God's existence by reason (logic drawn from the world around us) and revelation (knowledge drawn from God -dreams could be a source of this, but it could simply be something someone says to you that catches your attention, as I understand it...)
But is that faith not blind when the reason is being put into question, what proves that that reason alone is the right one besides belief alone? Again that goes down to faith, which is blind in the way that proof is not 100% satisfactory, or otherwise it just couldn't be questioned now would it?

Given the sheer numbers of people being cremated, I would imagine that some kind of bodily reconstitution will need to be involved. Come to think of it, I would imagine it would be necessary for those who were entombed as well...
That's a good point, I was just curious about that.

I would say yes...My own argument would be that most evil is caused by humans, and that natural disasters which aren't our fault are either the work of Satan to cause us to doubt or for another aim, or are a trade-off of the way the world is designed...
If it indeed is a trade-off, then this world is not so perfect as the Bible claims it should be now is it? Isn't this world supposed to descend from Eden? What kind of Eden allows random disasters to kill hundreds of innocents?
If it is indeed Satan's work, we are back at the Yin/Yang analogy aren't we, it takes faith alone to determine that everything Good is Jehovah's work and everything bad is Satan's...

Well, that's because its basically much like other Christian beliefs on good and evil...Perhaps it would be better to say that God is the *root* of all good, and Satan the *root* of all evil...?
You mean as in the original cause of everything good and evil? Again to me it comes down to faith here doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to contest the existence of God, I'm just trying to understand why people believe in Him without a shadow of a doubt and find comfort in that, because I sure can't...

I honestly don't know.
Fair enough ;)


They wouldn't believe though. They would *know*. Proof denies faith...And perhaps he's been revealing himself in quite blatant ways, and we've just been blind to it...?
Or perhaps there just are no revelations and it's all just fiction? Who's to say? Unless the day comes in which he actually does prove His existence beyond a shadow of a doubt (aka Judgement Day, Armageddon, etc...), His existence will always be challenged...

Thanks for laying down some rules, and I hope my answer helps, if only a little :)
Thanks for taking the time to answer them, I know they're not easy...


I don't think that this is the state of things at all. I think that Eden was not a paradise in which man would live forever. Rather, I believe that at the appointed time, God would take each man, body as well as soul, unto Himself. There would have been no "death" as we know it, only a taking up, of which the Assumption is one of the few examples. Another thing. Christ is King, and Satan is merely an invader, a troublemaker, a would-be usurper. No one, and nothing, has ever, or could ever take the throne from God Himself. Satan is currently raiding and pillaging our world because of his free will; he chose to reject God, and so was cast out of Heaven; God is neither "allowing" Satan to rule, nor is He tolerating his presence. There is a supernatural (and sometimes physical) battle going on all around us, the prize of which is the control of each of our souls. Evil is not merely Satan running around breaking stuff, either. Man has a free will, as well, and we do not always choose to do good. God respects the free will that He gave us, and so He does not force us to do good, but rather hopes and asks that we do good, rather than evil.
If God isn't allowing or tolerating Satan's presence, why is it there still? Isn't He supposed to be the Almighty? And why are there so many evil things happening then?
Could you be more specific about the supernatural battle going on around us please? I don't quite get what you mean there...

He doesn't need people to worship him. He doesn't need anyone, or anything. He created the angels and men out of Love, because He wished to give us life, and love us, and He also wished for us to love Him back. That is what true worship is, to love someone so much that you would be willing to do anything for Him.
Like I said before though, IMO love is unconditional, then why does He wish for us to love Him back?

As I see it, God created the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and He told Adam and Eve not to eat of its fruit. He did this because He wished for us to obey Him out of trust and love, to trust that He knew what was best for us, and to love Him enough to obey him.
But isn't obeying Him without questioning His motives a sign of blind faith? Did he not give us free will and the power to reason for that purpose: to use it? And to me it still didn't explain why the tree was put there in the first place if not to lead Adam and Eve into temptation?

Darth InSidious answered this very well. Everything around us cries out to the existence of God, even, and especially, you yourself. So, through reasoning, we can conclude that God exists, as well as revelation, through the Bible, and visions and dreams, and occasionally through physical experiences.
What kind of reasoning are we talking about here? Science? Philosophy? or something else maybe say...Faith? ;)

The Catholic Church permits cremation provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body. The Church counsels that, if the body is to be cremated, that it be done after the funeral. This gives relatives and friends the chance to view the body, express their condolences, etc. It also counsels that the cremains then be buried in blessed ground. This provides a place to visit and pray. Many cemeteries allow cremains to be buried on top of another grave, or for two or more cremains to be buried in the same cemetery plot. Entombment in a mausoleum also provides a place and many opportunities to pray and remember. As time goes by, that place to visit and remember becomes very important.
Thanks you for that information...
The Catholic church counsels that it should be buried in blessed ground, what defines blessed ground? If God indeed create this Earth and the Universe, is it not all blessed? Would it matter if the ashes were scattered somewhere?

Darth InSidious's analogy was correct. And not every other religion or moral belief is like this. I can think of several heresies that believed that everything in the physical world was evil. This obviously isn't the case, because God does not create anything which is not inherently good. Even Satan was not evil, in the beginning.
So earthquakes and Tsunami's and Hurricanes and Cancers are inherently good? Since they are a part of this world I would assume they are part of God's creation are they not?

Not everyone would. Some people enjoy things that are, in fact, evil. If God destroyed those things, I'd imagine they'd be pretty unhappy. Aside from that, we should keep in mind that we were never intended to stay on earth forever, rather we were meant to be with Him in Heaven, which is the ultimate paradise. Also, as I said before, God is showing us perfect love by respecting the free will He gave us. He isn't going to force good upon us, but rather He wants us to choose to do His will, which is always good.
I thought we were all supposed to live happily ever after in Eden, until A&E ruined that...

I hope I explained it clearly enough. If you have any questions about any of my explanations, please ask.
As you can see I still have a lot of unanswered questions, I agree that some are tough and maybe borderline fair, but I tried my best to sound reasonable...

Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?
Some Christians believe that the "tree of knowledge" is a medifore, which explains the moment when mankind became aware. Other words, mankind went through an evolutionary procces, and Adam and Eve were at the stage of awareness. Once Adam and Eve became aware of death, sin, pain, etc... they were removed from a nieve species. Thus, paradise is a state of being. Paradise existed when mankind was nieve. Because of the evolutionary proccess. mankind became totally aware to the world around them.
That is a very interesting way to see things, which does lead me to this question: Does this mean the Bible has more to do with symbolism than actual facts and events?

The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?
Through out the book of Revelation, there is more than one moment where resurrection occurs. One insodent includes the resurrection all those who were in graves. Another includes those who are old, etc... "The Great Resurrection" moment includes everyone who was left. When a person is cremated, they turn to ashes. God accepts the ashes and dust.
It's interesting to see different perspectives on this matter, thanks.

If God is so perfect, why does he need people to worship him? Is that not an incredible ego trip? Isn't God supposed to be AGAINST vanity?
According to the Bible, God created mankind. In that context, mankind belongs to God. Otherwords, the bible states that he is the father. If you had a son or daughter, how would you feel if they called someone else dad? Within the bible, God also mentions that he is a jellous god. Because of his role in the bible (as the father), you can see how he would be upset to see his children calling someone else dad.
He is a jealous God? Is that what you mean? Isn't jealousy one of the 7 sins?

:: After Thought About The Bible ::
What people forget about the authors is something very primitive. I am not calling them primitive, but I am talking about something that people over see. All except for one disciple was a family man, and they were fathers themselves. If you think about the message they convey about god, one must also take into consideration that they added something about themselves. They most likely asked, "I am a father or brother, how would I feel if I was in his place." Remember, the bible was written by sinners who were inspired by god. Thus, god did not write the bible himself.
In that case, how is the Bible actually the word of God? And not just a bunch of different people with the same idea? (which is IMO what a religion is all about)


lol @ Mace MacLeod, I'll keep it in mind...

Wow that's a long post: Enjoy!
I'm off to bed :waive1:

The Source
02-17-2007, 08:58 PM
That is a very interesting way to see things, which does lead me to this question: Does this mean the Bible has more to do with symbolism than actual facts and events?

Well, the fundamentalists believe in the word literally. Depending on the Christian, many of the details are symbolic for other things. The book of Revelation was writen by John, and he lived around 400 A.D. Anything that John had seen about the future needed a reference, so he interpreted the vision he had with everyday life. Otherwords, he could have seen a jetfighter, and then he called it a dragon. There could have been an interest in his time, which revolved around dragon themed stories.


In that case, how is the Bible actually the word of God? And not just a bunch of different people with the same idea? (which is IMO what a religion is all about)

It is believed that the Bible was inspired by the word of God, but through the hand of man. Not all of the disciples talk about the birth of Jesus. Even though they are not consistant on events, they talk about morality, salvation, origins, beginnings, and endings. The Bible is not all about laws, but about mankind's struggle with existance in general.

The Bible is not black and white. Even within the word of God, the statement was made that mankind will never know the whole story until 'revelation'.

Just so you know what diety I am from: I am a Chritian, and I am not a Jehovah's Witnesses. There is nothing wrong with being a Jehovah's Witnesses, but my interpretation of God's word is different. Thats all.


So earthquakes and Tsunami's and Hurricanes and Cancers are inherently good? Since they are a part of this world I would assume they are part of God's creation are they not?

One would have to go beyond philosophy to answer this one. God did create the Earth, but is the Earth a living being? If the Earth is a living being, we must assume that it needs to breath, eat, and grow. In actuallity, the Earth is doing all those thing, but we gave them different designations. We as humans have blood that keeps us alive. Could Earth's blood be oil, and we are killing it? Therefore, the Earth is trying to compansate for what we are doing. If you think about it, mankind is a form of bacteria on the surface of a living being. They do not teach that in Sunday school. The reality is too cold.

Jae Onasi
02-17-2007, 11:54 PM
I recently had a 45-minute long discussion at my door with two of these men, and it was quite an interesting experience, they left this little book called "What does the Bible really teach?" and I have a few questions I hope some people can answer:

It explained that God's purpose with earth was to have a paradise where everyone could live forever as long as they obeyed him, but Adam and Eve ruined that for all of us, and now Satan rules the world because God wants to prove His point that only He is fit to rule this world...
I think that's a little odd, but that's me. The JWs came about in the US from a man who read an English version of the Bible and made interpretations from that--I'm not sure what his educational background was, but I don't believe his background was theology before he started the JWs. Don't quote me on that--it's been something like 20 years since I heard that.

Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?
The honest answer? I don't really know. I'm guessing it was to give people the option of free will and choice.

If God values our free will so much, why does it matter to Him whether we believe in Him or not?
Because He wants a relationship with each one of us. As a parent, I can't compel my children to love me, but I want to show them my love and do what's best for them based on my knowledge and experience (which they may or may not have).

And even if he did, wouldn't it be easier if he proved He did exist so people wouldn't have to have blind faith into something that may or may not exist?
What's the level of proof required by each person? Some would be content to hear His voice. Others would be OK with seeing him. Still others would need to touch Him before being able to believe. A few more could have all the data staring them in the face and would still refuse to believe, saying it was all some elaborate ruse. There is a great deal of evidence for Christ's existence, a lot more than can be elaborated here in a short post at the moment.

The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?What specific verse are you (or the JWs) referring to? I've never heard that one, and while I don't have the Bible memorized, I have read the entire thing through, and have read the New Testament a number of times.

Isn't it a bit easy to say that God allows evil things to happen because Satan rules the world?
Individuals make the choices to do evil. Satan does like to draw people to him and away from God, but it's still the individual who has the responsibility for his/her own actions.

So God is responsible for everything Good, and Satan for everything Evil...Just as much as there can't be day without night etc...It doesn't explain anything IMO To me it sounds like about every other religion or moral belief in this world...
I can't speak a lot about other religions because I haven't studied them in any great deal. However, it's the individual who is responsible for doing right or wrong. God or Satan certainly can encourage someone one way or another, but each person makes the decision to act one way or another.

If God is so perfect, why does he need people to worship him? Is that not an incredible ego trip? Isn't God supposed to be AGAINST vanity?
He doesn't need any of us. However, He does want to share His love with us, and have us share ours in return.


My opinion is, IF he proves that he can indeed smite all Evil and turn this into an earthly paradise, everyone will worship him without a doubt, out of their own free will, so what's stopping Him?
How many children of the rich and famous have you seen who have everything in the world, are living in the perfect home, and are still ungrateful snots who expect the world to be handed to them on a platter? God could give us everything we ever wanted and make this world a paradise, but that wouldn't change our hearts. It's not perfection God is looking for, because we can't achieve that. It's a relationship that He wants with us.

There's a start. Probably raised more questions than it answered. :)

Achilles
02-18-2007, 01:27 AM
There is a great deal of evidence for Christ's existence, a lot more than can be elaborated here in a short post at the moment.
Hi Jae,

Could you (or someone else) please elaborate more on this? Also, does this evidence also speak to his divinity (specifically being the son of the Christian God and not some other) or simply his existence as a historical figure? I look forward to your reply.

SilentScope001
02-18-2007, 03:07 AM
I do not want this to be religion vs. christainy. Negative Sun, you're be better off asking a Jev. Witness than us in knowing what they believe...

Oh, and Jae, since I am not familar with Christian theology, could you mind explaining to me what is this Tree of Knoweldge, and where the Garden of Eden is located (I assumed it to be another name for Heaven, but a Chrisitan said it was a seperate place, which made me quite confused).

1. Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?

Since I am not familar with the Tree of Knowledge, and my religion only mentions that Adam ate an Apple and that why he fell from Heaven...well...why did God place that apple over there?

It's just an apple, really. Nothing special, or evil or anything terrible. If God said Adam could eat the Apple, then everything is fine. But God did not. Possibly, God decided to test Adam by giving Adam an aritfical limit, that is, "don't eat the apple". Adam decided to go against God and eat the apple, a silly sin when you realize that he could eat lots of other fruits other than that apple that got him kicked out of Heaven, and made him feel sad that he disobeyed God willingly.

It is a way of testing if humanity would really be loyal to God, or would it do its own thing. Adam obivously failed the test, but he asked God for forgiveness for eating the apple, and God accepted his apology. Adam was not allowed to go back to Heaven...but then again, it was already part of God's plan to have people on Earth anyway.

2. If God values our free will so much, why does it matter to Him whether we believe in Him or not?

It really does not matter to Him. God basically said that he does not need Humanity, and boasted that if all of his creation turned against him, it would not weaken him one iota...and if everyone worshipped him, it would not strengthen him one iota. God said we need him.

And even if he did, wouldn't it be easier if he proved He did exist so people wouldn't have to have blind faith into something that may or may not exist?

According to God, he did prove himself, several times, via miracles and holy books, but of course, nobody accepted that proof, so it was useless.

But, really, why bother? God does not want our worship, it's not up to him to pander to us humans. We have to be the ones who worship God...God does not worship us.

In fact, I'm thinking that the lack of proof concering God may be one way in which God is sorting off the "wheat" of humanity from the "chaff", so to say. Basically, those who believe in God without any proof whatsoever are much more humble than, say, someone who would ask for scientific evidence of everything.

The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?

Really? Then it's a "Get out of Hell Free" card! Awesome! I'll call for a cremantion when I die. :xp:

According to what I believe, there is the concept of souls or minds or such. Basically, it is the Soul that gets stripped from the Body and goes to its own seperate place, to wait until the day of judgement. The body is, you know, just a body. Better to bury it, traditonal reasons...but it's not as if cremation means you won't be resurrected.

Not to mention that if "intact bodies" are necessary to go to the Afterlife, there will be few people in both Heaven and Hell...the worms and ants will eat up the bodies. :)

Isn't it a bit easy to say that God allows evil things to happen because Satan rules the world?
Maybe. There are other religions out there that believe in the same thing, the God of Good battling against the God of Evil in Zorastraism.

But just because it's "easy" doesn't mean it's wrong. It could be seen as a copt-out...but it might be the right answer.

So God is responsible for everything Good, and Satan for everything Evil...Just as much as there can't be day without night etc...It doesn't explain anything IMO To me it sounds like about every other religion or moral belief in this world...
Well, it's Jevonah's Witness. A religious sect. Surely, you wouldn't expect something different?:)

To me, God contorls both Good and Evil. Doesn't sound right to limit God to be only Good...God may prefer Good, but without God to create Evil,, there cannot be Good.

If God is so perfect, why does he need people to worship him? Is that not an incredible ego trip? Isn't God supposed to be AGAINST vanity?
As Mohammed Ali said, "It's not bragging if it's true." :D

Basically, God says he's all-mighty. God knows he's all-mighty. God is ready to use his all-mighty fist to smash you if you do not believe in him. So, best to believe in him.

My opinion is, IF he proves that he can indeed smite all Evil and turn this into an earthly paradise, everyone will worship him without a doubt, out of their own free will, so what's stopping Him?

Frankly, because he doesn't need to pander to us, we need to pander to him. I don't see why people have to see God as having to tender to our very whim and desire. He's God, and he made us. Surely that's enough pleasure?

God also wants to test us, to see if we would indeed believe in him through the worst of times. Surely people would worship God if there was nothing preventing him...but the true believers would worship God no matter what. So, God gives humans great hardship and great prosperity presically to see if we would sccumb to pressure and stop worshipping God. If you still worship God despite all that God has done, then you deserve his bounty.

JohnOneOne
02-18-2007, 03:11 AM
I recently had a 45-minute long discussion at my door with two of these men, and it was quite an interesting experience, they left this little book called "What does the Bible really teach?" and I have a few questions I hope some people can answer:

It explained that God's purpose with earth was to have a paradise where everyone could live forever as long as they obeyed him, but Adam and Eve ruined that for all of us, and now Satan rules the world because God wants to prove His point that only He is fit to rule this world...

Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?
If God values our free will so much, why does it matter to Him whether we believe in Him or not?
And even if he did, wouldn't it be easier if he proved He did exist so people wouldn't have to have blind faith into something that may or may not exist?
The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?
Isn't it a bit easy to say that God allows evil things to happen because Satan rules the world?
So God is responsible for everything Good, and Satan for everything Evil...Just as much as there can't be day without night etc...It doesn't explain anything IMO To me it sounds like about every other religion or moral belief in this world...
If God is so perfect, why does he need people to worship him? Is that not an incredible ego trip? Isn't God supposed to be AGAINST vanity?
My opinion is, IF he proves that he can indeed smite all Evil and turn this into an earthly paradise, everyone will worship him without a doubt, out of their own free will, so what's stopping Him?

I will probably come up with more questions, but that's all I can think of right now.

A few rules for this thread:
This is not an anti-God thread or religion vs atheism thread, please respond only if you sincerely want to answer these questions and discuss them in a friendly manner.
I myself am an atheist/agnostic and do not wish to be converted, I am just curious as to how Christian logic explains all of this, so I can have a better understanding of it.
I would appreciate it if a mod could keep an eye on off-topic stuff since these are serious questions I want answered and I don't want it to turn into another clash of ideals.

That's all, I'm very much looking forward to Jae and Jedimaster12's opinions on this since they have proven themselves to be coherent and understandable in our previous discussions, but anyone else feel free to join in!

Regarding the purpose of the 'Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad,' the answer to your question is key to also understanding why the world is in the mess that it is, as well as why God has yet to do something about it.

Simply put, that "Tree" represented Jehovah's right, as Adam and Eve's Creator, Father and God, to determine for them what was in their best interests, that is, when it came to what was good/right and bad/wrong for them. And, the prohibition against eating from it was set in place as a way to afford them the opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation of the fact of God's right to provide guidance in these areas of living.

Interestingly, The Jerusalem Bible touched on this very issue:

"This knowledge is a privilege which God reserves to himself and which man, by sinning, is to lay hands on [Genesis], 3:5, 22. Hence it does not mean omniscience, which fallen man does not possess; nor is it moral discrimination, for unfallen man already had it and God could not refuse it to a rational being. It is the power of deciding for himself what is good and what is evil and of acting accordingly, a claim to complete moral independence by which man refuses to recognize his status as a created being. The first sin was an attack on God’s sovereignty, a sin of pride. This rebellion is described in concrete terms as the transgression of an express command of God for which the text used the image of a forbidden fruit."

Taken from: The Jerusalem Bible. Jones, Alexander (b.1906-d.?), General Editor. (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1966), in discussion on the meaning of eating from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” Genesis 2:17, footnote “h,” p. 17. BS195 .J4 1966 / 66-024278.

Thus, this act of "independence" on their part called into question the wisdom and rightfulness of God's way. By allowing Adam and Eve (and their off-spring), time to explore (mostly on their own) their own ideas of 'right/wrong,' 'good/bad', that is, in the way of self governance - exploring every conceivable type/form of government, religion, philosophy, moral standard, etc. - all precedents would be set, all in order to establish, beyond all doubt, that, after seeing the full results of what this produced, "mankind" was never meant to live and function without the benefit of direction that only their Creator, Father and God could provide.

Interestingly, this perspective fits quite well with Jesus' own stated purpose in coming, "I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth." (Luke 4:43). Along with other things Jesus taught, he knew full well that, in the outworking of Jehovah's purpose, things would certainly be allowed to get worse; so much so that, just prior to the intervention/end, "there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short." (Matthew 24:21-22)

Therefore, the reason why such information about the coming Kingdom of God would be 'good news' (Matthew 24:14) is that, when Jehovah does finally usher in that Kingdom ('on earth as it is in heaven'-Matt. 6:9, 10), putting an end to all of these man-made systems, it will mean a blessing to all of those who, throughout the centuries, have been victimized by man's efforts to govern himself. Yes, the Bible tells us: ". . .And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." (Daniel 2:44)

So, whereas a challenge to God's way of doing things has brought untold suffering upon the family of man, when God's Kingdom government is finally established on earth, never again will anyone ever be allowed to challenge God, mankind will finally live eternally in peace - just as God had intended, right from the very beginning.

Although there is more that must be explained (Where are the dead now? How will justice be meted out for the innocent? Etc., etc.), contrary to what others might suggest, the Bible does, indeed, have the answers,...and, in fulfillment of Jesus commission, Jehovah's people are doing their best to bring that "Good News" to all throughout the earth.

http://www.watchtower.org/

Agape.
[snip]
http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

Mod note: Please do not post email addresses on the forum, it draws the attention of address-harvesting spam bots. ~M

Aurora Starfire
02-18-2007, 03:44 AM
Ignoring a key component of this and assuming, for the sake of argument, that souls do exist, what evidence do we have of this battle? Anything you can do to clarify the supernatural aspects of it would be very useful, but I imagine that the physical parts are going to be a lot easier to point out (therefore, I'm very much interested in learning more about them).
Could you be more specific about the supernatural battle going on around us please? I don't quite get what you mean there...
The battle for souls is very difficult to describe, because very few are recorded, but I'll cite some saints who fought for souls.

St. Catherine of Siena cared for and visited the sick, the elderly, and the imprisoned. One of the people she visited was a young man who had been sentenced to death. He was a murderer, and had never repented of his sins. One day, Catherine asked him to go to confession, as he was soon going to be executed. The young man began to curse and swear, and said that he was going to Hell, as he had been so wicked his whole life that it was useless to ask God for forgiveness. Catherine reminded him that even if he had committed every sin in the world, God would still want him to be sorry and ask Him for forgiveness. Catherine continued for several days to talk to the young man, and offered many prayers and sacrifices for him. Then one day, he asked for a priest, and went to confession. He went to the gallows repentant, and so was saved from Hell. (story taken from Saint Catherine of Siena by Mary Fabyan Windeatt)
Eh, that was longer than I expected, so I'll limit it to that, but I can find more, if neccessary.

How does this explain the passages in the Bible where God commands us to do things that would generally be considered evil today? Examples include rape, murder, slavery, and child-abuse.
Er, as I mentioned before, I'm no theologian, and I haven't done a thorough study of the Bible. Could you cite some places where God commands us to do things like that?

Isn't this relative though? I remember hearing a priest make a very similar argument during a radio interview. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, that the "magnificence of the world is obviously the work of God" (emphasis mine). But wouldn't that be a matter of opinion? I acknowledge that for him this matter is obvious, but what if someone else had a similarly "obvious" conclusion that was counter to this?

Wouldn't it be better to say that some evidence other than our perception would better support the argument that God created everything that we see?
Could you please provide an example of such reasoning?
What kind of reasoning are we talking about here? Science? Philosophy? or something else maybe say...Faith?
Alright, then. I'll cite biology, believe it or not :xp: I'll use the human eye for my example.
The eye, is an intricately designed instrument. It is so complex! Despite this complexity and intricacy, the only explanation that nonbelievers (here meaning "people who do not believe that God created everything") can give is that the eye was built up through accumulation of chance changes, one at a time. But each of the aspects of the eye, (the lens, the pupil, etc.) which supposedly occurred as new additions, would be useless to man until the eye was complete enough for him to see clearly.

Can revelation be explained through some other means than God? Also, how do we determine which revelations are "really God" and which ones aren't? David Koresh and Jim Jones are both examples that most people would consider "revelation gone wrong".
Erm, well, I'm afraid that my answer to the second part isn't going to be very satisfactory for some of you, but here it is. The Catholic Church, after thorough study and prayer, determines the validity of such revelations.
As for the first part, well, there are visions and dreams from Satan, as well :xp: and occasionally people see/hear what they want to hear, which of course would not be a revelation, but merely a dream.

Or perhaps there just are no revelations and it's all just fiction? Who's to say? Unless the day comes in which he actually does prove His existence beyond a shadow of a doubt (aka Judgement Day, Armageddon, etc...), His existence will always be challenged...
Christ Himself foretold that it would be so; people did not even believe in Him during His own lifetime, even one of His own Apostles, so naturally there would be disbelievers after His Ascension.

Which begs the question: Is the Bible the literal word of God or the inspired word of God?

Inspired word of God would better explain the contradictions, however it seems that it would have to be the literal word of God in order to support the circular logic that the Bible is evidence of God's existence.*

* in all fairness, you have not made this claim so this isn't directed at you, rather those that do use it.
:: After Thought About The Bible ::
What people forget about the authors is something very primitive. I am not calling them primitive, but I am talking about something that people over see. All except for one disciple was a family man, and they were fathers themselves. If you think about the message they convey about god, one must also take into consideration that they added something about themselves. They most likely asked, "I am a father or brother, how would I feel if I was in his place." Remember, the bible was written by sinners who were inspired by god. Thus, god did not write the bible himself.
23 B. What do we mean when we say that the entire Bible is inspired?
When we say that the entire Bible is inspired we mean that its principal author is God, though it was written by men whom God enlightened and moved to write all those things, and only those things, that He wished to be written.



I think any response offered for my "revelation" question above would satisfy any questions I have regarding visions and dreams here.

However I would be interested in learning more about the physical experience (as proof of God's existence).

Ok, physical proof of God's existence. Well, here's a multifold miracle, proving Transubstantiation, God's existence, and Christ's existence all at once. The Miracle of Lanciano (http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/english_pdf/Lanciano1.pdf)

If God isn't allowing or tolerating Satan's presence, why is it there still? Isn't He supposed to be the Almighty? And why are there so many evil things happening then?
Eh, free will, remember? Mankind, and angels, including the fallen angel, Satan, have been given by God the ability to do whatever they choose. Sometimes (often, even) men choose to do evil things. They may or may not be influenced by Satan, but they are still the ones who make that choice.

But isn't true, unconditional love just that: unconditional...Having to love someone back sounds like a condition to me.
Let me put it this way, does a child HAVE to love their parent just for being their parent?
Like I said before though, IMO love is unconditional, then why does He wish for us to love Him back?
You are correct, to a certain extent. God does love each of us unconditionally. He does not force us to love Him, merely requests it. Why? He created us; we are His children. Wouldn't you want your child to love you back?

Sure the parent gave the child life, but what after that? What if the parent neglects the child or doesn't care about it? I believe that is why most people lose faith in God, because if He is the Almighty and our father and so caring, why do we suffer and feel alone and miserable and all that bad stuff? Because of Satan? Give me a break... If someone would hurt my child in that way I would stand up for it and comfort it, what comfort is there in believing in God? Believing in something good is far from something ACTUALLY being good IMO...
Let me introduce you to the excellent poem, Footprints in the Sand (http://www.barefootsworld.net/footprints.html)

But is that faith not blind when the reason is being put into question, what proves that that reason alone is the right one besides belief alone? Again that goes down to faith, which is blind in the way that proof is not 100% satisfactory, or otherwise it just couldn't be questioned now would it?
You'd be surprised what some people question. I mean, there are people who say that the Holocaust never happened.

If it indeed is a trade-off, then this world is not so perfect as the Bible claims it should be now is it? Isn't this world supposed to descend from Eden? What kind of Eden allows random disasters to kill hundreds of innocents?
Well, nowhere in the Bible do I recall any claims that this world is perfect; perfection is reserved God alone, and Heaven, which is the true paradise. Eden was a garden, not the whole world. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost the right to live in the wonderful garden.
Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.



If it is indeed Satan's work, we are back at the Yin/Yang analogy aren't we, it takes faith alone to determine that everything Good is Jehovah's work and everything bad is Satan's...
So earthquakes and Tsunami's and Hurricanes and Cancers are inherently good? Since they are a part of this world I would assume they are part of God's creation are they not?As I've mentioned before, everything was good in the beginning, even Satan. But as for natural disasters, when Adam fell everything went wrong. He was cast out of the garden, which was safe and paradisiacal, and into the dangerous, difficult world.

The Catholic church counsels that it should be buried in blessed ground, what defines blessed ground? If God indeed create this Earth and the Universe, is it not all blessed? Would it matter if the ashes were scattered somewhere?
Blessed ground, I believe, has been given a special blessing by a priest.

I thought we were all supposed to live happily ever after in Eden, until A&E ruined that...
The Baltimore Catechism states that one of the gifts that was bestowed upon Adam and Eve by God was freedom from suffering and death. Here is the further explanation of it:
There would be no sickness, weakness, weariness, or bodily discomfort. They would not have to go to the dentist, take castor oil, or go to the hospital. When they finished their time on earth they would go to heaven without dying.


As you can see I still have a lot of unanswered questions, I agree that some are tough and maybe borderline fair, but I tried my best to sound reasonable...
My apologies. I don't have all the answers, and no one does, but I've tried to explain things to the best of my abilities. Perhaps these futher answers will help to clarify things; I hope they do. (I also didn't answer all questions. Some have been previously answered, others I just don't have time right now to get to; it's really late, and I've got to sleep sometime :xp: Again, my apologies if I missed something or failed to make my points clear.)

Achilles
02-18-2007, 05:36 AM
The battle for souls is very difficult to describe, because very few are recorded, but I'll cite some saints who fought for souls.I appreciate you taking the time to type all that out but there are a few problems with this:

Then one day, he asked for a priest, and went to confession. He went to the gallows repentant, and so was saved from Hell.Do we have any evidence of Hell? Do we have any evidence that he was saved? Assuming that there is a Hell and that he was saved (while still assuming that there is such a thing as a soul), do we have any evidence that repenting is what saved him? This last one is a bit of stretch, but still I hope you see my point.

Er, as I mentioned before, I'm no theologian, and I haven't done a thorough study of the Bible. Could you cite some places where God commands us to do things like that? Sure. In the interest of keeping it manageable, I'll only provide one example for each of the acts I referenced earlier. If you would like more, let me know. All examples are taken from English Standard Version.

Rape:
Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (Zechariah 14:1-2)

Murder:
Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed. (Jeremiah 48:10)

Slavery:
When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.(Exodus 21:20-21)

Child Abuse:
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.(Proverbs 13:24)

Alright, then. I'll cite biology, believe it or not :xp: I'll use the human eye for my example.
The eye, is an intricately designed instrument. It is so complex! Despite this complexity and intricacy, the only explanation that nonbelievers (here meaning "people who do not believe that God created everything") can give is that the eye was built up through accumulation of chance changes, one at a time. But each of the aspects of the eye, (the lens, the pupil, etc.) which supposedly occurred as new additions, would be useless to man until the eye was complete enough for him to see clearly. Can I summarize this as an argument for Intelligent Design without turning my response into a strawman? I think I can, but I'll leave it up to you. Assuming that it's safe to proceed, I'd like to direct you to post #4 in this thread (http://evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=10&t=158&m=1).

In all fairness, all this does is poke holes in the idea that the human eye is irreducibly complex and therefore not evidence of intelligent design. I'm still willing to look at any other examples that you have that would act as evidence for Creation. I would caution against arguing from intelligent design because it is not supported by science (despite what the Discovery Institute wants you to believe :D). Feel free to do whatever you want, however ;)


Erm, well, I'm afraid that my answer to the second part isn't going to be very satisfactory for some of you, but here it is. The Catholic Church, after thorough study and prayer, determines the validity of such revelations. Yep, you called that one ;)

The difficulty here is that the Catholic Church has not only a bias, but a vested interest in validating "revelations" that are consistent with their gospel. This would be similar to RJ Reynolds publishing a test case where cigarette smoking actually helped to improve someone's health.

Is this the only way to determine the validity of revelation?

As for the first part, well, there are visions and dreams from Satan, as well :xp: and occasionally people see/hear what they want to hear, which of course would not be a revelation, but merely a dream. Let's ignore the Satan part for a second, how could we distingush between revelation and dream in clearly measurable way? Acknowledging that clergy members are human and therefore fallable, how do we develop a non-bias way to identify revelations?

Ok, physical proof of God's existence. Well, here's a multifold miracle, proving Transubstantiation, God's existence, and Christ's existence all at once. The Miracle of Lanciano (http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/english_pdf/Lanciano1.pdf) Never heard of that one before.

Ok 1) The site from which that article came is a Catholic site. It is not a historical site, nor a medical site, nor a non-bias site. Therefore any information reference is (and should be) suspect. I would say the same thing if you were referencing scientific data that hadn't been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, so please don't think I'm harping on religion unfairly.

2) The findings of Dr. Edward Linoli appear to be unpublished. Also, the study isn't even properly cited in the article (so I can't look for it). In fact a quick Google search of his name reveals that he is only referenced in one place...the article that you linked to. Surely this could be a fluke, but it may also be that his name and station were invented for the article. Considering that the readership most likely only consists of devout Catholics, it's possible that the author(s) had little need to fear that anyone would actually fact-check their article.

3) I tried to confirm the WHO study via EBSCOHost, but didn't get any results. On a hunch, I tried the WHO site. Sure enough they have a reseach database with articles going back to 1948. Searchs for "Linoli", "Lanciano", and "Transubstantiation" did yeild results, however none of them had anything to do with Dr. Edward Linoli, The Miracle of Lanciano, or Transubstantiation. One would think that a world-wide health organization's research database would contain any articles published by Dr. Linoli, even if they weren't related to The Miracle of Lanciano.

Conclusion: The evidence has no evidence.

I'd still be interested in reading about any other evidence you can provide.

I think that's where you stopped replying to my stuff, so here is where I'll bow out. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Rabish Bini
02-18-2007, 06:27 AM
I'll just quickly point out some things:

The Tree of Knowledge I believe was placed there to test mankind's allegiance to God, Adam ate the apple and the apple made him aware to things around him, sin, hate, everything, he defied God.

The Bible is symbolic rather than straight to the point, where it says God created the world in 6 days and on the 7'th he rested, a teacher of Christianity said that this is symbolic, it may have taken him 7 years, meaning that most things in the Bible are symbolic most likely.

At one time Satan was the greatest Angel, but he thought he could be greater than God, God had no choice but to cast him out as Satan had grown rebellious.

There may not be such a thing as hell, some say that hell is just described as a place away from the love of God, without his warmth, you having to survive on your own rather than God looking after you.

The Garden of Eden is described as paradise, but it may just be symbolic. There's a Heaven, and some say that you can't have Heaven on Earth, I believe that you can to a lesser degree. If you can let go of all emotion, hate, anger, lust, greed, everything like that, and let God guide you, you shall recieve clarity and be forging to everyone and happy all the time with no evil desires.

I believe, and so does that Christian teacher I mentioned, that when you do evil things that is Satan working through you, but you have a choice, you can reject him and allow God to work through you, bringing happiness to your day, you have a decision, make the right one.

It probably doesn't exactly answer your questions Negative Sun, but I just wanted to point that out.

Emperor Devon
02-18-2007, 06:56 AM
Why did God put that Tree of knowledge there in the first place? Wouldn't we all have been better off if he hadn't?

Now that is a question that you could debate over for years. :)

Why God created the tree of knowledge, I can't truly guess. From what his reaction towards Adam and Eve eating from it was, it would appear akin to giving a toddler a firecracker. Perhaps it was a way for Him to measure how faithful His children were? It's much easier to find out how trustworthy a child is if you leave them with something they shouldn't touch. (Because they obviously will or won't)

But given His omnipotence, wouldn't he have known exactly what Adam and Eve would have done from the start? Perhaps He only wanted to judge them for their actions after they had committed them.

But would we have been better off if we stayed within the Garden of Eden?

In my opinion, no.

This should take a fair while to explain. For starters, there are these excerpts from the Bible:

Genesis 2:8-9 says ' Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden, and there he put the man he had formed. Yahweh God caused to sprout every tree that is pleasing to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.'

Genesis 3:6 ' The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for the knowledge it could give, and she took fruit from it.'

Genesis 3:17-19 'To the man he said, 'You have listened to your wife, eating from the tree about which I commanded you, "Do not eat from it." Therefore, cursed is the ground because of you. In anguish you shall till it all the days of your life. It will yield you thorns and thistles. By the sweat of your face will you win your bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. You are dust, and to dust you shall return.'

To connect this all together...

As you likely noticed, I highlighted some of the most significant parts. In essence, God planted a tree which bestowed knowledge upon those who ate from it. Adam and Eve both desired knowledge, and for their natural curiosity, they were punished (in the eyes of most people, that is).

No, we would not have been better staying in the garden at all. One of the prime reasons is ignorance: before Adam and Eve ate from the tree, that is what they were. They didn't even know they were naked, for crying out loud.

But more importantly, they had no distinction between good and evil.

Thus, before consuming the fruit, man was not a moral agent. Logically, a rock, a tornado, or a dog cannot be considered moral agents. Intelligence is not the prime factor for such a thing, (great geniuses and fools can make moral decisions) but the ability to realize the morality of one's own actions. If a tornado destroys a house, did it commit an immoral act? No. It isn't a moral agent. Likewise, if a man set the same house on fire, would that have been immoral? Obviously, as he possessed the knowledge to know if it was immoral or not.

Thus, before they ate from the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve could not be considered fully moral, fully human beings. If you can't tell what's evil and what's good, is it possible for you to condemn immoral acts? To a dog, Stalin's brutal tortures would be equal morally to punishing someone for rape.

Before Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, they were little different from a dog or a rock in terms of morals. The Bible itself says they only learned the distinction between good and evil upon consuming the fruit from it. As I explained earlier, being aware of the distinction between that is essential to being a moral person.

So what exactly was wrong with eating from the tree? Before they did, Adam and Eve were just as moral as a rock. After it, they were able to develop at least a basic set of ethics (which have obviously been expanded on).

But the main thing which gets to me about that is: why did God punish them for that? Adam and Eve sought to grow wiser, and ate from the tree. They become truly human upon doing so, and were cast out of paradise. The reason? They defied God.

Not to get into a lengthy discussion about God's morals and perfection, but doesn't the possibility always that a parent/mentor/creator/etc can be imperfect at times? Adam and Eve had every reason to eat from the tree. The only response I ever hear is "they defied God". But what if there was a reason to defy God in that instance? They weren't harming Him at all. To any parents out there, would you ever want your child to be totally subservient to your will and to never think for themselves? Of course not. Such an act wasn't worthy of punishment - I doubt anyone here will argue that Adam and Eve becoming moral and fully human beings was a bad thing. If God made a mistake, great, let Him admit it, and have everyone be improved as a result - man in becoming moral, and God in learning you have to let children think for themselves - in other words, grow up - some of the time.

I've addressed this partially now. The fact that man ate from the tree was what determined whether he would stay in the garden or not. But discounting that, would man have wanted to stay in the garden at all?

To that I still answer 'no'.

The garden, from all appearances, was akin to a sort of day-care for man. Everything was in abundance, he never went hungry, he could relax as often as he willed, he never had to do any work, and the scenery was lovely.

This sounds like a paradise at first glance, but that is only looking at the short term. In the long term, such a utopia might not be worthy of the title.

The precise factor being, he never had to work.

But to that I ask, is working a bad thing? No! What is it that erects skyscrapers? Work, determination. What took man to the moon? His genius, the effort he put into designing the first rocket and building it. How did Aristotle and Socrates think up philosophical theories that are still discussed, and considered credible? They thought of them.

This is the human spirit. Work, effort, determination, thought.

Without these things, there is no achievement. It is the urge to create, the urge to produce, in essence, actually doing something that gets it done. It is through these qualities, through upholding the human spirit, that man went from scattered tribes of primitives to the advanced society we are today. There no exceptions to this. It was through effort and work only that our current state was reached.

If you simplify everything, there are two types of men: those who produce, and those who use. The former does things, thinks of things, gets things done. In other words, this type of man upholds the human spirit. It is only through men like this that mankind as a whole truly advances.

The later are those who use. No productivity is required on their part - they have what they want, so they have no need to invent, to create, to build. They have what they want. There is no reason for them to try to achieve anything more. As I have said, it is only through the previous type of man that things actually get done. It is only through the first type that the second type can exist - and when that does, the first is canceled out. With that, so is any form of expansion. Only stagnation can follow.

To connect this back to leaving the garden, Adam and Eve were the second type of (wo)men. They did nothing. They lived off the support of God, without doing anything on their own. Are there any examples that they did anything other than mindlessly bask in the sun while being unaware they were even naked? It was only through work that they could grow. It was through eating the fruit of knowledge that they changed from the second type to the first.

So between the two, which is preferable? A place where all needs are met, and no further expansion is required - or one where mankind actually grows, and accomplishes something? Between the two, I'd take the second any day.

(Wow, I sure got carried away :p)

And even if he did, wouldn't it be easier if he proved He did exist so people wouldn't have to have blind faith into something that may or may not exist?

Completely.

In the event that God exists, his views on what to show his followers are quite awkward.

The prime reason for this is that God seems to more concerned about whether we know He exists than what we should do upon knowing of his existence. This is unreasonable for several reasons:

God is denying Himself devout followers by hiding His existence. The whole 'if they are pure they believe in me' idea is quite absurd. The simple fact is, man can't be expected to truly believe in something without evidence. Why do we think the planet is round? We discovered it. Is this logical justification to say it is round? Absolutely. If someone were to doubt that fact after it was proved true, would he be a bit odd? Yes.

Now go back several thousand years. There was no evidence at all towards the shape of the earth. Was it reasonable then to believe it wasn't round? There was no means at all of verifying that fact, so it was open to interpretation.

But what of the person who, in that instance, said "actually, the earth is round."

Factual accuracy is one thing, the means with which you reach it is another. We all know the ends of something are important, but the means with which they are reached is even more so. Paying off a debt someone has, for example, is normally considered a charitable act, but if it was done only for the sake of a potential repayment later with interest, and no concern for the payer's welfare? Again, ends are important, but so are the means with which they are reached.

To go back now to the person who spoke the truth and said the earth was round, there is no disputing that such a thing would have been the truth. But the means with which he reached it would be just as much. If he'd built a rocket (unlikely back then) and saw the shape of the planet from space, would that have been justification to say the earth is round? Absolutely. But what if he simply said "I know it is," with no proof at all? What if he never even understood his own reasons, and simply said it because he thought it was so, with absolutely nothing to prove his beliefs valid? It wouldn't matter as much if he was right or wrong at that point. He would have been every bit as blind as the person who said the earth was flat.

Isn't it a bit easy to say that God allows evil things to happen because Satan rules the world?

No.

Supposedly, God is creator of all things, and Satan was once one of his own angels. Though the fault may be Satan's for what he did, was it his creator's fault for making an imperfect archangel in the first place? But this goes back to whole 'teacher vs. student responsiblity' debate.

There's also plain apathy. God supposedly possesses unlimited power, yet makes no use of it. Although there is the 'parents should let their children grow up' issue (which I brought up and supported earlier), this is a different matter. It's quite one thing to allow a child to ruin his own life, but what of when he extends that ruin to others? There's no logical explanation for why God does nothing. Saying that even then people should make their own choices (when it negatively affects others) sounds like it encourages a 'survival of the fittest' philosophy. (But albiet lesser)

So God is responsible for everything Good, and Satan for everything Evil...Just as much as there can't be day without night etc...It doesn't explain anything IMO To me it sounds like about every other religion or moral belief in this world...

At the core, it is just like every belief. If you do good things in this life, you get a great one in the next. If you do bad things in this life, you'll go to an awful one in the next. Then there's some stories to explain creation, and a set of commandments that basically says 'this religion is right'. Quite similar to most other ones, if you ask me. :)

My opinion is, IF he proves that he can indeed smite all Evil and turn this into an earthly paradise, everyone will worship him without a doubt, out of their own free will, so what's stopping Him?

I can't exactly say... From what I mentioned earlier, the way to get the most legitimate followers is for them to know everything about you, not to guess wildy (there are some weird interpretations out there). In conjunction with all the factors I've listed earlier, the only reason I can conclude is that He does not exist. :)

Er, as I mentioned before, I'm no theologian, and I haven't done a thorough study of the Bible. Could you cite some places where God commands us to do things like that?

The Bible is not a very reliable source in religious arguments. If you've read enough of it, you'll find that it lends more credence towards anti-religious arguments than pro-religious ones. Examples:

Deuteronomy 13:6-8

'If your brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife tries to secretly entice you, telling you to go and worship other gods, gods of people living near you, or far from you, or anywhere on earth, do not listen to him.'

'You must kill them. Show them no pity. And your hand must strike the first blow.'

'Then the hands of all the people. You shall stone them to death.'

Deuteronomy 21:10

'When you go to war against your enemies...'

'...and you take prisoners...'

'...put the entire male population to death.'

'If among the prisoners you see a beautiful woman, and you are attracted to her...'

'...you may take her as a wife.'

Deuteronomy 22:28

'If a man happens to meet a virgin woman who is not engaged to be married...'

'...And he seizes her and rapes her...'

'...but is caught in the act...'

'...the rapist must pay the girl's father fifty silver shekels.'

'She must marry the rapist, because he has violated her. And so long as he lives, he may not divorce her.'

What's even more eyebrow-raising:

Deuteronomy 29:19

'If anyone should think to himself, "I will do well enough if I follow the dictates of my heart,"...'

'...Yahweh will not pardon him. His wrath shall burn against him.'

'And all the curses written in the book will come upon him.'

'Yahweh will single him out for misfortune and blot out his name from under heaven.'

There are many other quotes I can provide if you'd like, but they're all similarly ridiculous. I don't know what your opinion is, but I think stoning one's family to death if they worship another god, being required to put all POWs to death, to have all single women marry people who rape them, and to declare not following these tenants blasphemy is nothing short of barbaric, in my opinion. :)

Negative Sun
02-18-2007, 11:51 AM
Thanks a lot Devon, you've explained a lot there and your analogies are spot on IMO, thanks for the Bible references as well...I have to say you have totally convinced me of the suspicions I already had. And another good reason to be a stubborn atheist.

It takes me to another point as well, that only a select few are apt enough to interpret the Bible, or so I was told when I was growing up...Why is that? Is it not supposed to be the word of God himself? Why is it filled with stuff like what Devon just mentioned?

I will reply to the other comments as well when I have more time ;)

SilentScope001
02-18-2007, 01:34 PM
There are many other quotes I can provide if you'd like, but they're all similarly ridiculous. I don't know what your opinion is, but I think stoning one's family to death if they worship another god, being required to put all POWs to death, to have all single women marry people who rape them, and to declare not following these tenants blasphemy is nothing short of barbaric, in my opinion.

Can you interprt them to be the laws of society at that time, of how they would govern themselves?

After all, the future will laugh at our patheic death peantly, drug laws, tax codes, etc. but that doesn't dismiss what we have done. We did what we had to do because we felt it would help out our society, and it did. Therefore, it seem stupid to laugh at the past just because we feel we are 'better' than them. We just have different values and beliefs, but that doesn't mean one is more right or more wrong.

My two cents though.

Achilles
02-18-2007, 01:52 PM
Can you interprt them to be the laws of society at that time, of how they would govern themselves?

After all, the future will laugh at our patheic death peantly, drug laws, tax codes, etc. but that doesn't dismiss what we have done. We did what we had to do because we felt it would help out our society, and it did. Therefore, it seem stupid to laugh at the past just because we feel we are 'better' than them. We just have different values and beliefs, but that doesn't mean one is more right or more wrong.

My two cents though.Yes, you absolutely can. However the problem lies in the fact that these laws of society claim to be dictated to us from the Christian God. Therefore these are the laws that God wants to live by for all time. Creates quite the conundrum as we are no longer comparing apples to apples.

If the Code of Hammurabi made similar claims (which were vigorously supported by more than 2000 years of cult worship), I would imagine that it would be equally debated. However historians simply see it as an ancient set of laws, stand around looking duly impressed, and then move on. This is what future scholars will do with our laws. Because a preponderance of people see the Bible as source of moral and ethical truth, it should be alarming that this source advocates murder, rape, slavery, etc.

Negative Sun
02-18-2007, 07:56 PM
Well, the fundamentalists believe in the word literally. Depending on the Christian, many of the details are symbolic for other things. The book of Revelation was writen by John, and he lived around 400 A.D. Anything that John had seen about the future needed a reference, so he interpreted the vision he had with everyday life. Otherwords, he could have seen a jetfighter, and then he called it a dragon. There could have been an interest in his time, which revolved around dragon themed stories.
And that is why, IMO, giving the Bible status of "word of God" is very dangerous, because there are so many different interpretations for it, and so much of it is irrational or outdated as Devon has pointed out so well...

It is believed that the Bible was inspired by the word of God, but through the hand of man. Not all of the disciples talk about the birth of Jesus. Even though they are not consistant on events, they talk about morality, salvation, origins, beginnings, and endings. The Bible is not all about laws, but about mankind's struggle with existance in general.
There I agree with you that the Bible is an interesting combination of several books written by different people, but that's all it is I think: a book, not the word of God, creator of the universe etc...

The Bible is not black and white. Even within the word of God, the statement was made that mankind will never know the whole story until 'revelation'.
Again, to me, that's what makes the Bible such a dangerous book...

Just so you know what diety I am from: I am a Chritian, and I am not a Jehovah's Witnesses. There is nothing wrong with being a Jehovah's Witnesses, but my interpretation of God's word is different. Thats all.
I think it's strange that one single book, which is supposed to be the word of God, can be interpreted in so many different ways, creating different religions even, but yet all of those claim their interpretation is the right one...

One would have to go beyond philosophy to answer this one. God did create the Earth, but is the Earth a living being? If the Earth is a living being, we must assume that it needs to breath, eat, and grow. In actuallity, the Earth is doing all those thing, but we gave them different designations. We as humans have blood that keeps us alive. Could Earth's blood be oil, and we are killing it? Therefore, the Earth is trying to compansate for what we are doing. If you think about it, mankind is a form of bacteria on the surface of a living being. They do not teach that in Sunday school. The reality is too cold.
That's a very interesting point of view.

Because He wants a relationship with each one of us. As a parent, I can't compel my children to love me, but I want to show them my love and do what's best for them based on my knowledge and experience (which they may or may not have).
Wouldn't that relationship manifest itself better if we knew He existed? How could your child love you Jae, if it wasn't sure you existed? Granted, the child might realize it has a mother, but is that enough for it to love that person?

What's the level of proof required by each person? Some would be content to hear His voice. Others would be OK with seeing him. Still others would need to touch Him before being able to believe. A few more could have all the data staring them in the face and would still refuse to believe, saying it was all some elaborate ruse. There is a great deal of evidence for Christ's existence, a lot more than can be elaborated here in a short post at the moment.
What would you consider evidence then Jae?

What specific verse are you (or the JWs) referring to? I've never heard that one, and while I don't have the Bible memorized, I have read the entire thing through, and have read the New Testament a number of times.
John 5:28, 29
"28Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."

Individuals make the choices to do evil. Satan does like to draw people to him and away from God, but it's still the individual who has the responsibility for his/her own actions.
But did God not make us imperfect in such way? What is the point in creating something and then punishing it because it acts the way it's maker has made it?

I can't speak a lot about other religions because I haven't studied them in any great deal. However, it's the individual who is responsible for doing right or wrong. God or Satan certainly can encourage someone one way or another, but each person makes the decision to act one way or another.
Fair enough, but that involves more of a moral code than actual faith, which is what our society stands at today...

He doesn't need any of us. However, He does want to share His love with us, and have us share ours in return.
Does that not make his love conditional though? He will love us ONLY if we love him in return, but is pure love not supposed to be UNconditional?

How many children of the rich and famous have you seen who have everything in the world, are living in the perfect home, and are still ungrateful snots who expect the world to be handed to them on a platter? God could give us everything we ever wanted and make this world a paradise, but that wouldn't change our hearts. It's not perfection God is looking for, because we can't achieve that. It's a relationship that He wants with us.
But yet again, how can one have a relationship with someone who doesn't show himself? How can you have a relationship with someone that may or may not exist? How, for example, would you describe your relationship to God?


There's a start. Probably raised more questions than it answered. :)
hehe you guessed it, enjoy them ;)
Thanks for the reply btw

I still have others to reply to, but will do that tomorrow, mesa sleepy nowsa :waive1:

SilentScope001
02-18-2007, 08:54 PM
Yes, you absolutely can. However the problem lies in the fact that these laws of society claim to be dictated to us from the Christian God. Therefore these are the laws that God wants to live by for all time. Creates quite the conundrum as we are no longer comparing apples to apples.

Yes you can. That God can quite easily be called an invention of the Hebrews' ideals and culture and belief. Surely, whatever the Hebrews saw as virtues and values that needed to be defended, that would be what that God would say, no? :)

And, let be fair, we can interpret from our Holy Books whatever we want (or at least, a close approx. of the truth). The laws over there could easily tell us how God wants the Hebrews to run their society in an era where...well...everyone is a "barbarain" (don't say you won't go and stone idolators when you realize that idolators could very well raise an army to smash your village), but not in this civilized era where the only 'stoning' you need to fear is the stoning of Marajunia. So, basically, these are good laws, to help protect ancient society...but now that society is not ancient, we should move onto better laws, while at the same time, respect them. I am not a Christisan, so my interpretion may be flawed, but it could be possible.

Regardless, it's best to get off this topic, as to not derail Neg. Sun's threads.

The Source
02-18-2007, 09:33 PM
And that is why, IMO, giving the Bible status of "word of God" is very dangerous, because there are so many different interpretations for it, and so much of it is irrational or outdated as Devon has pointed out so well...

Since I see truth in the Bible, I believe it is based upon the 'Word of God'.
(See below for an extension on this qeustion.)


There I agree with you that the Bible is an interesting combination of several books written by different people, but that's all it is I think: a book, not the word of God, creator of the universe etc...


Again, to me, that's what makes the Bible such a dangerous book...

Well, I believe any religious Bible is dangerous. Anyone can take advantage of a religion, and use it to go to war, gain wealth, or worse. I think the Bible is the innocent element in this matter, for mankind is the one manipulating the truth. It is all about the person doing the interpretation.


I think it's strange that one single book, which is supposed to be the word of God, can be interpreted in so many different ways, creating different religions even, but yet all of those claim their interpretation is the right one...

During the 14th and 15th century, the Catholic church fell under reformation. Since the church had anti-christian policies, at the time, several lay people broke away. Martan Luthor help create a split in the church. Some of the reasons why the church was split includes: 1. You could not obtain salvation unless you bought religious art. 2. There is only one interpretation of the BIble, and it cannot be translated in any other way. 3. Clergy men and women of power would appoint family members to office. Etc...As you have noticed, one of the reasons for the split was due to translation. Martan Luthor and others believed the Bible could be translated in multiple ways. SUddenly, there was an onslaught of new churches poping up everywhere, which claimed to be Christian in nature. Some of the churched are Christian, and others became something more complicated. To this very day people take advantage of the reformation, and they try to obtain power through money, worshipers, etc...

Somewhere within the Bible talks about manipulation of truths. I believe that Jesus and God had seen how mankind's hearts could be twisted. I personally believe that regardless about how much knowledge we gather, mankind will never truly know the whole context of the Bible. We will have various interpretations, but I do not believe that a single person alive can say they have it all. We keep learning more and more about the Bible, so it is only wise to look at its history and science. Even the greatest relisious leaders of the world only know what is on the surface.

:: EXAMPLE OF HISTORY ::
Before Noah's Arch was written, there was an older story allready established. If you were to read Noah's and Gilgamesh, you will find an interesting connection. They have the same exact story. Gilgamesh is the earliest written and recorded word that we have. The story was written several millenia before Noah.

Some people believe that Jesus's story came from Pantera, but was twisted to reflect a more Christian story.

Achilles
02-18-2007, 09:58 PM
Yes you can. That God can quite easily be called an invention of the Hebrews' ideals and culture and belief. SilentScope001 once again misses the point.

Regardless, it's best to get off this topic, as to not derail Neg. Sun's threads. Agreed.

Aurora Starfire
02-19-2007, 02:54 AM
My apologies, everyone. I'm afraid I'm going to have to bow out of the discussion, because I have to devote more time to school. I apologize for leaving some of the questions you asked unanswered, and I respect you all for raising such questions.
Again, my apologies, and may the Force be with you in your search for truth. ;)

Aash Li
02-19-2007, 10:03 AM
The Bible says only those in tombs will be resurrected on Judgement Day, does that mean God is against cremation?

Theres nothing in the bible about this... this is just something the JWs tacked on, and its only a part of their sect of christianity.

Thing about JWs is that they arent mainstream christianity, their beliefs are vastly different from 'traditional' christians. Mormons are more like typical christians than JWs are.

JWs are the fringe sect that doesnt believe in surgery, or blood transfusions, or immunizations that you used to hear about. They also dont believe that Jesus is the son of god.

So, just dont take their word for the word of god if you do let them natter at you.

Im not anti-christian, just anti-kook. ^_^

MTV2
02-19-2007, 01:13 PM
When the Jehovahs Witness people come to my door, my mom just opens it and says "I'm not interested, thank you" i find it a bit harsh, but hey, they're annoying as hell.

Q
02-19-2007, 02:59 PM
They also dont believe that Jesus is the son of god.
Which is precisely why they should not be identified as Christian, or as having anything to do with Christianity. They are not Christians.

Just thought that that fact was worth pointing out. Carry on.;)

Negative Sun
02-21-2007, 02:56 PM
It's just an apple, really. Nothing special, or evil or anything terrible. If God said Adam could eat the Apple, then everything is fine. But God did not. Possibly, God decided to test Adam by giving Adam an aritfical limit, that is, "don't eat the apple". Adam decided to go against God and eat the apple, a silly sin when you realize that he could eat lots of other fruits other than that apple that got him kicked out of Heaven, and made him feel sad that he disobeyed God willingly.
It is a way of testing if humanity would really be loyal to God, or would it do its own thing. Adam obivously failed the test, but he asked God for forgiveness for eating the apple, and God accepted his apology. Adam was not allowed to go back to Heaven...but then again, it was already part of God's plan to have people on Earth anyway.
So God tested Adam, who failed, then cast him out of heaven, then forgave him, but in the end decides to have a paradise on earth...I'm afraid this doesn't make much sense, not even in the biblical category.

It really does not matter to Him. God basically said that he does not need Humanity, and boasted that if all of his creation turned against him, it would not weaken him one iota...and if everyone worshipped him, it would not strengthen him one iota. God said we need him.
If He does not need us, why did He create us then? And if he indeed is God, why would He want us to be dependant on Him? Does a parent not have to let their child go in the end? Does that child not need to make its own decisions.

According to God, he did prove himself, several times, via miracles and holy books, but of course, nobody accepted that proof, so it was useless.

But, really, why bother? God does not want our worship, it's not up to him to pander to us humans. We have to be the ones who worship God...God does not worship us.
I'm afraid you totally lost me there, God does not want our worship but we are the ones who have to worship God?
And what if you're a really good person who just happens not to believe in God? Will God ban you from His paradise just for that? Doesn't sounds really swell to me...

In fact, I'm thinking that the lack of proof concering God may be one way in which God is sorting off the "wheat" of humanity from the "chaff", so to say. Basically, those who believe in God without any proof whatsoever are much more humble than, say, someone who would ask for scientific evidence of everything.
What does being humble have to do with anything?
So you're saying that someone who believes in something without tangible proof is smarter than someone who is rather more sceptical about issues like that? That must be a real good way to impress God, blind faith! That is how fundamentalists are made...


Really? Then it's a "Get out of Hell Free" card! Awesome! I'll call for a cremantion when I die. :xp:
What on earth are you talking about?

According to what I believe, there is the concept of souls or minds or such. Basically, it is the Soul that gets stripped from the Body and goes to its own seperate place, to wait until the day of judgement. The body is, you know, just a body. Better to bury it, traditonal reasons...but it's not as if cremation means you won't be resurrected.
Not to mention that if "intact bodies" are necessary to go to the Afterlife, there will be few people in both Heaven and Hell...the worms and ants will eat up the bodies. :)
That is according to your belief, I just wondered if that was a general Christian belief or not...

Maybe. There are other religions out there that believe in the same thing, the God of Good battling against the God of Evil in Zorastraism.

But just because it's "easy" doesn't mean it's wrong. It could be seen as a copt-out...but it might be the right answer.
That's right: it might be, but more than likely isn't IMO

Well, it's Jevonah's Witness. A religious sect. Surely, you wouldn't expect something different?:)

To me, God contorls both Good and Evil. Doesn't sound right to limit God to be only Good...God may prefer Good, but without God to create Evil,, there cannot be Good.
So in your opinion God created both Good and Evil? What's the point of that? I think what you mean to say is that God has awareness of Good and Evil, but if He really controlled Evil, would He be a Good God? I don't think so...

As Mohammed Ali said, "It's not bragging if it's true." :D

Basically, God says he's all-mighty. God knows he's all-mighty. God is ready to use his all-mighty fist to smash you if you do not believe in him. So, best to believe in him.
How about NO?
I don't respond well to threats, and if that's the kind of God you want to believe in, out of fear, be my guest...I'd rather live my life being able to look at myself in the mirror knowing I am not a coward. And I do not mean this as an offence to Christians or anything like that, I just think it's wrong to believe in a God out of fear, I thought we were supposed to live in a civilized world? That's the kind of things they did 3000 years ago.

Frankly, because he doesn't need to pander to us, we need to pander to him. I don't see why people have to see God as having to tender to our very whim and desire. He's God, and he made us. Surely that's enough pleasure?
That is by far the most sensible thing you've posted so far, no offence. We can just agree to disagree on His existence here...

God also wants to test us, to see if we would indeed believe in him through the worst of times. Surely people would worship God if there was nothing preventing him...but the true believers would worship God no matter what. So, God gives humans great hardship and great prosperity presically to see if we would sccumb to pressure and stop worshipping God. If you still worship God despite all that God has done, then you deserve his bounty.
So what's the point of living here on earth if we cannot use that free will that has been given to us? Would God merely want us to be all the same, when He says "Jump" we ask "How high?", a bunch of weak-willed sheep with no desire or curiosity of their own?
Like Devon pointed out so well earlier, I think I'll pass on that...




Regarding the purpose of the 'Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad,' the answer to your question is key to also understanding why the world is in the mess that it is, as well as why God has yet to do something about it.

Simply put, that "Tree" represented Jehovah's right, as Adam and Eve's Creator, Father and God, to determine for them what was in their best interests, that is, when it came to what was good/right and bad/wrong for them. And, the prohibition against eating from it was set in place as a way to afford them the opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation of the fact of God's right to provide guidance in these areas of living.
Provide guidance? Or have complete control over? I agree with Devon on this, maybe this "paradise" was the state of not knowing the real truth that Adam and Eve were in, and we are in fact better off because at least we can think for ourselves, if anything, God or Jehovah or whatever has given us free will, who would we be to not use that? If God made us that way, why punish us for defying Him? Every child at one point or another will defy their parent, but God's punishment in that matter seems a bit strange, unless that was His plan all along...
If there had been no way to defy God, there would have been no rebellion and Adam and Eve and the rest of mankind would have been naive slaves forever...I don't think that is the kind of world a God would be proud of, so He provided the way for them to rebel, giving them knowledge of Good and Evil, which has been inherited by every human since, and I agree with Devon, it is probably the best gift ever...Do I want an earthly paradise? Not on your life, I want to live my life without fear of retribution for what I believe in, I have moral standards that are just as valid as any other human being on this planet, civilization decides what is right or wrong, civilization is veering towards a way to save this planet from self-destruction, it might not be a perfect world, but it's a damn good one we live in!
*phew*

Interestingly, The Jerusalem Bible touched on this very issue:

"This knowledge is a privilege which God reserves to himself and which man, by sinning, is to lay hands on [Genesis], 3:5, 22. Hence it does not mean omniscience, which fallen man does not possess; nor is it moral discrimination, for unfallen man already had it and God could not refuse it to a rational being. It is the power of deciding for himself what is good and what is evil and of acting accordingly, a claim to complete moral independence by which man refuses to recognize his status as a created being. The first sin was an attack on God’s sovereignty, a sin of pride. This rebellion is described in concrete terms as the transgression of an express command of God for which the text used the image of a forbidden fruit."
Wow, nice passage, I totally agree with the rebellion there, I live my life the way I want, I refuse to recognize this status of "created being", and if the first sin is a sin of pride, then God is equally guilty, for He should be the father who protects His children after they make a mistake and defy Him, not hang them out to dry...It is pride that drives Him to show that He is right and everyone else is wrong, how else was mankind supposed to grow wise? And it still grows wiser every day IMO, just look at the technological advances that have been made in the last two decades alone...

Thus, this act of "independence" on their part called into question the wisdom and rightfulness of God's way. By allowing Adam and Eve (and their off-spring), time to explore (mostly on their own) their own ideas of 'right/wrong,' 'good/bad', that is, in the way of self governance - exploring every conceivable type/form of government, religion, philosophy, moral standard, etc. - all precedents would be set, all in order to establish, beyond all doubt, that, after seeing the full results of what this produced, "mankind" was never meant to live and function without the benefit of direction that only their Creator, Father and God could provide.
What proves that? That this world isn't full of chanting happy people hugging trees? Give me a break, that's what I love about this world, it is full of conflict, Yin and Yang etc... Everyone on this planet is so different, which is what makes it such a good place to live, how boring would it be if everyone agreed and every day was just the same until eternity? People would grow weak and spineless and become merely slaves who are being spoonfed by God, nah, I'd have it no other way thank you...

Interestingly, this perspective fits quite well with Jesus' own stated purpose in coming, "I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth." (Luke 4:43). Along with other things Jesus taught, he knew full well that, in the outworking of Jehovah's purpose, things would certainly be allowed to get worse; so much so that, just prior to the intervention/end, "there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short." (Matthew 24:21-22)
This is a prophecy that has been milked since day one...Ooh the end of the world is near, b*ll*cks, the end of the world is always near, but no matter what happend, mankind will survive, we are the toughest and most intelligent being that have been on the face of this planet, even if there was a meteor hit or a nuclear holocaust, I know some would survive and start all over again, and I am convinced we will find a way to live on other planets in the distant future, which will ensure the survival of mankind for millennia to come...

Therefore, the reason why such information about the coming Kingdom of God would be 'good news' (Matthew 24:14) is that, when Jehovah does finally usher in that Kingdom ('on earth as it is in heaven'-Matt. 6:9, 10), putting an end to all of these man-made systems, it will mean a blessing to all of those who, throughout the centuries, have been victimized by man's efforts to govern himself. Yes, the Bible tells us: ". . .And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." (Daniel 2:44)

So, whereas a challenge to God's way of doing things has brought untold suffering upon the family of man, when God's Kingdom government is finally established on earth, never again will anyone ever be allowed to challenge God, mankind will finally live eternally in peace - just as God had intended, right from the very beginning.
And what would we do in that Kingdom? Talk about sunshine and flowers until the end of time? Or maybe produce the longest yawn ever? What is the purpose of that Kingdom? If man cannot govern itself, does it not become anything else than a mindless slave to a dictatorship? It will reduce mankind to mere animals, why would any God want that?


Although there is more that must be explained (Where are the dead now? How will justice be meted out for the innocent? Etc., etc.), contrary to what others might suggest, the Bible does, indeed, have the answers,...and, in fulfillment of Jesus commission, Jehovah's people are doing their best to bring that "Good News" to all throughout the earth.

http://www.watchtower.org/

Agape.
[snip]
http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

Mod note: Please do not post email addresses on the forum, it draws the attention of address-harvesting spam bots. ~M
Sorry, it was a valiant attempt, but it still doesn't hold all the answers for me...
Btw JohnOneOne, did you sign up just to post this?

Wow what a long post again, enjoy ;)

Btw, if anything I said was offensive or inappropriate please PM me and I will edit or delete it if necessary, I want to discuss, not insult, but I know I can be a bit intense in getting my point across sometimes...

Q
02-22-2007, 05:40 AM
Btw JohnOneOne, did you sign up just to post this?
Heh, looks like it.:)

Did you notice the links?

Negative Sun
02-22-2007, 10:33 AM
Heh, looks like it.:)

Did you notice the links?
Yeah I did, I'm not quite sure whether it's appropriate here or not, but it didn't get snipped so I suppose it's allright, I just hope he replies, cause I spent a lot of time on that post...

SilentScope001
02-22-2007, 02:48 PM
One note. I thought this was merely a thread to learn why we believe in certain things, and not a thread where you can go and debate our beliefs. Beliefs are...beliefs. They share basic assumptions. My goal is not to sway you, but to clarify what I believe, and how I answer those questions.

So God tested Adam, who failed, then cast him out of heaven, then forgave him, but in the end decides to have a paradise on earth...I'm afraid this doesn't make much sense, not even in the biblical category.

It was merely a test to see if Adam would obey. Adam failed, and got kicked out of Heaven, but it was already predetermined that would happen anyway by God. Adam asked for forgiveness, God accepted it, and Adam became a Prophet and the First Man on Earth. It does sound a bit different from the Christian verison, true...but it is how I see it.

If He does not need us, why did He create us then? And if he indeed is God, why would He want us to be dependant on Him? Does a parent not have to let their child go in the end? Does that child not need to make its own decisions.

He made us to worship him. Not to go and preach religion, not to go and help out the poor, they are good deeds but they are not done just for the sake of doing it, they are done for the sake of worshipping God. And God want us to be dependeant on him...because, well...he wants us to. We are nothing without God. Without God, we would not even exist, and God knows that everything he made allows us to exist...

I'm afraid you totally lost me there, God does not want our worship but we are the ones who have to worship God?
I said, God does not NEED our worship. He wants our worship, which is why he made us. But he does not need it to live or anything.

And what if you're a really good person who just happens not to believe in God? Will God ban you from His paradise just for that? Doesn't sounds really swell to me...

It is in some way arrogant to not believe in God, which is why I state the "humble" issue here. How can you be a good person if you don't fufil the purpose that God wants you to do: which is, just to worship him? You think yourself indepedent, you can do whatever you want, and you choose to do good, not because you love God, but because you choosen Good.

What does being humble have to do with anything?
So you're saying that someone who believes in something without tangible proof is smarter than someone who is rather more sceptical about issues like that? That must be a real good way to impress God, blind faith! That is how fundamentalists are made...

Not smarter, the person who is more sceptical is the smarter one...altough God would prefer the one who has blind faith.

But you need to accept blind faith sooner or later in any sort of doctrine. Even the scientist has a blind faith that his observations are correct, but there is no proof that his observations are correct. Ask a follower of liberal democracy why freedom is so important, and he'll stammer. Basically, there are assumptions in all sort of beliefs, and people accept the assumptions and live on in life. Even the skeptic, the real skeptic who believes in nothing at all, believe that proofs are necessary to justify something, but he has no proof that a proof is necessary to justify something.

It is this sort of skepticism that drove me to religion. If everything is based on assumptions, everything can equally be valid, so why not every sort of religion? I merely accept that I made an assumption...but I fear that other people do not know that they too have to accept assumptions, and in the end, blind faith.

What on earth are you talking about?

You said that people who get cremated won't be resurrected. If you won't be resurrected, you can't go to Hell. I was making a joke, because I fear Hell.

That's right: it might be, but more than likely isn't IMO

I don't think there can be any way to judge if something is "more likely" or "less likely". It's possible, and something to keep in mind.

So in your opinion God created both Good and Evil? What's the point of that? I think what you mean to say is that God has awareness of Good and Evil, but if He really controlled Evil, would He be a Good God? I don't think so...

What is the point of creating Evil? Well, God wanted to. If God did not create evil, then there is no such thing as Good. Good and Evil are defined by each other, so God needed to make Evil.

And God is a Good God because he prefer the creation of Good to the creation of Evil, but he still made Good and Evil and controls it. Altough, I think you can make a better point in arguging that God is Amoral at this point.

How about NO?
I don't respond well to threats, and if that's the kind of God you want to believe in, out of fear, be my guest...I'd rather live my life being able to look at myself in the mirror knowing I am not a coward. And I do not mean this as an offence to Christians or anything like that, I just think it's wrong to believe in a God out of fear, I thought we were supposed to live in a civilized world? That's the kind of things they did 3000 years ago.

Is the world civilized?

The countless wars, the endless bickering, the violence. The mass induralization, the mass consumerisum, rise of egoism, the rise of different ideologies that hate each other and would be willing to murder each other in perptual warfare...Is that civilization?

Not to mention, that for all the civilization that we have, well, I will die. So, civilization won't help me after I'm dead. Civilization won't help me if I have homework due. Civilization won't help me if I am very depressed about the meaning, the purpose of life. Civilization can't help me where it really matters...helping me. God, or at least the belief in God, can offer the "opium of the masses" that can calm me and keep me alive. Civilization does not have said "opium", at least to me.

And I believe in God out of fear...because how else can you believe in something? Out of my own free will? That does not sound comforting, because each belief is equally valid, and so why should I obey one over another? I obey the government out of fear, I won't go and exceed the speed limit because of fear of a speeding ticket, despite my belief that speed limits are stupid and I should drive very, very fast so that I can go to work and help out the state by being effiecnt. If I don't obey the government, well, I'll get punished. Punishment and fear are an excellent deterrent, not beliefs in the ethics of speed limits, because beliefs can easily be argued for and against. Ideas are cheap, after all, and human beings has a marvalous talent of justifying whatever they want to do.

Take the "speed limit", replace it with the "Holy Book", and replace the Government with "God" and you know why I worship God out of fear, because I see no reason to subject to anything else. I may be a more 'immoral' person than someone who does, but I'm merely wondering of my own self-interest here.

So what's the point of living here on earth if we cannot use that free will that has been given to us? Would God merely want us to be all the same, when He says "Jump" we ask "How high?", a bunch of weak-willed sheep with no desire or curiosity of their own?
Like Devon pointed out so well earlier, I think I'll pass on that...

For the weak-willed sheep...God already has the angels for that. I don't think God really wants us all to think the same, he wants us to think differently. After all, God is the creator of Evil.

I think we can use that free will (assuming it exist, I myself doubt it) we have, to disobey God, or to call God evil. Those who are strong in their belief go to Heaven, despite all the evil in the world, and all the trials that occur. They may be seen as "weak-willed sheep", but when you realize that these "weak-willed sheep" has to deal with personal problems, economic difficulities, adherence to a Holy Book, discrimination from other "weak-willed sheep" who share differnet beliefs, and overall doubt in religion, the sheep that remain actually have a "strong will". They have a strong will to obey God.
===
This is merely to explain my viewpoint. I still do not want this argument to turn into atheism vs. religion, and I hope this would be done. If you believe that I have explained my viewpoint enough, then just post it.

Oh, and a note about Heaven: While I don't really know if Heaven is as good a place as everyone make it out to be, to me at least, I would rather be bored to death than to burnt to death.

Negative Sun
02-22-2007, 04:59 PM
One note. I thought this was merely a thread to learn why we believe in certain things, and not a thread where you can go and debate our beliefs. Beliefs are...beliefs. They share basic assumptions. My goal is not to sway you, but to clarify what I believe, and how I answer those questions.
Fair enough...

It was merely a test to see if Adam would obey. Adam failed, and got kicked out of Heaven, but it was already predetermined that would happen anyway by God. Adam asked for forgiveness, God accepted it, and Adam became a Prophet and the First Man on Earth. It does sound a bit different from the Christian verison, true...but it is how I see it.
If that is what you believe then I'll just leave it there, it still doesn't make sense to me, but that's just me...

He made us to worship him. Not to go and preach religion, not to go and help out the poor, they are good deeds but they are not done just for the sake of doing it, they are done for the sake of worshipping God. And God want us to be dependeant on him...because, well...he wants us to. We are nothing without God. Without God, we would not even exist, and God knows that everything he made allows us to exist...
We have indeed stepped into the boundaries of Atheism Vs Religion here, we can just agree to disagree on this, I still don't understand why God made us to worship Him, or why He wants us to worship Him, but if that's all you need then fair enough.

I said, God does not NEED our worship. He wants our worship, which is why he made us. But he does not need it to live or anything.
If that's all you need to know to believe, then good for you...

It is in some way arrogant to not believe in God, which is why I state the "humble" issue here. How can you be a good person if you don't fufil the purpose that God wants you to do: which is, just to worship him?
Like Devon pointed out earlier in this thread, God commands us to do strange things sometimes: murder, rape, etc... If that's what needed to be a good person, I think I'll pass.
So you're saying everyone who doesn't worship God cannot be a good person?

You think yourself indepedent, you can do whatever you want, and you choose to do good, not because you love God, but because you choosen Good.
Exactly, not because God said so, but because that's what I believe in.

Not smarter, the person who is more sceptical is the smarter one...altough God would prefer the one who has blind faith.
Really? I take it He would also prefer the one who kills all the infidels, even the ones in his/her own family...
I'd take scepticism over blind faith any day, like I said, that's what makes fundamentalists, whether it be the Crusaders 1000 years ago or the muslim fundamentalists nowadays, they all think they're doing God's work.

But you need to accept blind faith sooner or later in any sort of doctrine. Even the scientist has a blind faith that his observations are correct, but there is no proof that his observations are correct.
The scientist does not have blind faith that his observations are correct, that's why he/she spends days in a lab doing the same thing over and over again to make sure the first observation is not a coincidence...If paper burns the first time you light it with a match, or the hundredth time, you can assume paper is flammable after that...I agree that science does not explain everything, and some things are merely theories, not facts, to me it holds a lot more truth and wisdom than what religion has to offer...I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree again.

Ask a follower of liberal democracy why freedom is so important, and he'll stammer.
I won't, Freedom is important because not a single person on this planet wants to be a slave of any kind, freedom is important because no one on this planet should be afraid to be who they want to be, what they want to say etc...
We, as a civilization have come to draw guidelines to what is acceptable or not, and if you compare it to some of the stuff in the Bible, it is a lot more sensible that that. We debate these aspects because we want to reach a unity as a society, respecting everyone's freedom to a reasonable extent, we are nowhere near done, but compared to 100 years ago, when black people were still slaves and women couldn't vote, I think we're doing quite well.
If EVEN God cannot respect that freedom, which according to the Bible and most Christian factions he doesn't, then IMO, He is not God.

Basically, there are assumptions in all sort of beliefs, and people accept the assumptions and live on in life. Even the skeptic, the real skeptic who believes in nothing at all, believe that proofs are necessary to justify something, but he has no proof that a proof is necessary to justify something.
Fair enough, I see your point here. But I don't think someone needs proof that proof is necessary to justify something, just and explanation, something that holds its ground, like a solid scientific basic, for example, paper burns, or water freezes etc, those are facts, the only difference is that you believe God created all of this, while others believe something else created this, or it just evolved into what it is today.

It is this sort of skepticism that drove me to religion. If everything is based on assumptions, everything can equally be valid, so why not every sort of religion? I merely accept that I made an assumption...but I fear that other people do not know that they too have to accept assumptions, and in the end, blind faith.
I disagree on this though, not everyone puts blind faith into everything, if they do not know something, they accept it as it is, they do not try to give it some sort of twisted meaning...For example, I do not know how the Universe was created, but I do not put blind faith into the Big Bang theory or anything else, I just simply accept the fact that I do not know and might never know, there are endless mysteries in this world and beyond, I just refuse to believe in something that doesn't make sense, something that is just an assumption...and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

You said that people who get cremated won't be resurrected. If you won't be resurrected, you can't go to Hell. I was making a joke, because I fear Hell.
Fair enough.

I don't think there can be any way to judge if something is "more likely" or "less likely". It's possible, and something to keep in mind.
Fair enough, I'll keep in mind there MIGHT be a God, will you keep in mind there might not be one? Is that something you're willing to accept? That you devoted yourself to something that doesn't exist? If we could agree on that it would be good I think...

What is the point of creating Evil? Well, God wanted to. If God did not create evil, then there is no such thing as Good. Good and Evil are defined by each other, so God needed to make Evil.
I just think this is a metaphor for the human development of a moral code, before that, we were ignorant, no more than animals, but over time we have started to develop a morality in our society in order to be able to live together...Look at it this way, if there were no Evil things, there would be no God, hence, IMO, God in an invention of man, and ironically, is holding mankind back towards a higher moral standard.
But we are veering back into dangerous grounds here, I can explain this in more detail via PM if you want.

And God is a Good God because he prefer the creation of Good to the creation of Evil, but he still made Good and Evil and controls it. Altough, I think you can make a better point in arguging that God is Amoral at this point.
You could take this to the point that God is no person but more like an entity or Force if you want, because what makes us human is our moral standards.
But again, this is dangerous grounds and we'll leave it here.

Is the world civilized?
It is more civilized than it was a hundred years ago like I said earlier, and will be more civilized in a hundred years time, it's called evolution...

The countless wars, the endless bickering, the violence. The mass induralization, the mass consumerisum, rise of egoism, the rise of different ideologies that hate each other and would be willing to murder each other in perptual warfare...Is that civilization?
I agree there is a lot of sh** in this world, but it still is a civilized world we live in compared to what it was like a few hundred years ago.
What makes it so civilized? Our own free will! The fact that we can choose to do right or wrong, without that there would be no knowledge to build a society together and there would be ignorance and anarchy, a human jungle of survival of the fittest...Our civilization is going towards more good than wrong, you mentioned the mass consumerism and the rise of egoism, so what? I've read a lot worse things than that in the so called "Holy" Bible!

Not to mention, that for all the civilization that we have, well, I will die. So, civilization won't help me after I'm dead.
No, it will help you when you're alive, which is more important, because you are certain you are here, you don't know what happens after death, no one does...

Civilization won't help me if I have homework due.
Does it not? If you ask a tutor for help, what is he/she part of? Same for a friend or teacher for that matter, so in a way, it DOES help you.

Civilization won't help me if I am very depressed about the meaning, the purpose of life. Civilization can't help me where it really matters...helping me.
Does it not? Who will give you financial support should you be without a job and in need of money? Your parents? The government? Or are you going to pray for a bundle of cash?
Does having a conversation with someone, even a priest or something, not help you when you are depressed about theological or philosophical issues? Like it or not, that priest still is a part of the human society we live in.

God, or at least the belief in God, can offer the "opium of the masses" that can calm me and keep me alive. Civilization does not have said "opium", at least to me.
So you would reject civilization and still be happy knowing "God" is there for you? Good luck to you!

And I believe in God out of fear...because how else can you believe in something? Out of my own free will? That does not sound comforting, because each belief is equally valid, and so why should I obey one over another? I obey the government out of fear, I won't go and exceed the speed limit because of fear of a speeding ticket, despite my belief that speed limits are stupid and I should drive very, very fast so that I can go to work and help out the state by being effiecnt. If I don't obey the government, well, I'll get punished. Punishment and fear are an excellent deterrent, not beliefs in the ethics of speed limits, because beliefs can easily be argued for and against. Ideas are cheap, after all, and human beings has a marvalous talent of justifying whatever they want to do.
The only thing that doesn't fly in your analogy is that the government is an institution created by man to help govern this world, because if it didn't it would turn into anarchy, believing in God creates more problems than it solves IMO, will faith in God solve world hunger? I think not. I could go on but I think you get my point.
I hold that free will a lot higher than you do apparently, which is why there is so much intolerance in this world, don't get me wrong, it's not just Christianity or religion in general, it goes a lot further than that...

Take the "speed limit", replace it with the "Holy Book", and replace the Government with "God" and you know why I worship God out of fear, because I see no reason to subject to anything else. I may be a more 'immoral' person than someone who does, but I'm merely wondering of my own self-interest here.
There is no government for your life, God will not punish someone if they kill someone, society will, God MIGHT, after death, but you don't KNOW that, you believe it. That is the big difference.

For the weak-willed sheep...God already has the angels for that. I don't think God really wants us all to think the same, he wants us to think differently. After all, God is the creator of Evil.

I think we can use that free will (assuming it exist, I myself doubt it) we have, to disobey God, or to call God evil.
You're confusing me, you're saying God wants us to think differently (so he gave us free will), you believe in God, but you doubt free will exists?
Please elaborate.

Those who are strong in their belief go to Heaven, despite all the evil in the world, and all the trials that occur. They may be seen as "weak-willed sheep", but when you realize that these "weak-willed sheep" has to deal with personal problems, economic difficulities, adherence to a Holy Book, discrimination from other "weak-willed sheep" who share differnet beliefs, and overall doubt in religion, the sheep that remain actually have a "strong will". They have a strong will to obey God.
Ironic though, that a few hundred years ago the non-believers would have been in the minority, and they would have been punished greatly for that...I'm glad that the separation of church and state took place.
Both Christians and non-Christians can have strong wills, it is a matter of different belief systems, where there is no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of God, why do you think there are so many different factions of Christianity? The Christian belief system is based on fear, such as the JWs have proved, they're trying to scare people into believing and repenting etc...
It's basically like bullying someone out of their own free will!

This is merely to explain my viewpoint. I still do not want this argument to turn into atheism vs. religion, and I hope this would be done. If you believe that I have explained my viewpoint enough, then just post it.
You have explained your views quite clearly at points, and I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on most things, thanks for sharing your views on the matter though...
I tried to keep it on topic as much a I could, if you'd rather PM me to discuss some things in more detail, feel free to do so, I would still like to hear your views on the issues I've replied to here...

Oh, and a note about Heaven: While I don't really know if Heaven is as good a place as everyone make it out to be, to me at least, I would rather be bored to death than to burnt to death.
Too bad for you, because I'd rather live the way I want to, without fear.

Peace ;)

Jae Onasi
02-22-2007, 07:27 PM
Hi Jae,

Could you (or someone else) please elaborate more on this? Also, does this evidence also speak to his divinity (specifically being the son of the Christian God and not some other) or simply his existence as a historical figure? I look forward to your reply.

Eh, I'm at work so I don't have the book I really wanted to use since it's at home.
1. Eyewitness accounts of a. His existence and b. the miracles He did and c. His resurrection (why would people be willing to be martyrs if they knew He hadn't been resurrected?). The Bible has shown remarkable accuracy (about 95%, the 5% being very minor things, and no major doctrines are in dispute). There is independent archaeological corroboration of many of the sites named in the Bible

2. Accounts outside of the Bible mention the existance of Christ, e.g. Josephus and Tacitus. There are about 39 different sources (which for ancient documents is a huge number), including 17 non-Christian sources.


The book of Revelation was writen by John, and he lived around 400 A.D.
Clarification--Revelation was indeed written by John, but it was written approximately 69 AD (with some arguing for a later date of 95 AD). John was one of Christ's disciples, so 400 AD would be a bit tough for him to have managed. :)

Oh, and Jae, since I am not familar with Christian theology, could you mind explaining to me what is this Tree of Knoweldge, and where the Garden of Eden is located (I assumed it to be another name for Heaven, but a Chrisitan said it was a seperate place, which made me quite confused).
Genesis 2 addresses this. Garden of Eden is commonly regarded to have existed in what is now present day Iraq because of a reference to the Euphrates. It's not in existence today, and Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden not too long after eating the fruit. Notice that in Gen. 2 the type of fruit is not specified, other than it came from the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil'. Our saying it's an apple is a bit of an inaccuracy in that case.
God placed 2 trees in the middle of the garden of Eden--the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil pretty much was that--it gave us knowledge on what good is and what evil is and how to commit both.

Adam and Eve sought to grow wiser, and ate from the tree.

Yes, our situation was vastly improved by learning how to commit rape, incest, torture, and murder. [/Kreia-like sarcasm :)


They become truly human upon doing so, and were cast out of paradise. The reason? They defied God.
Yes, their actions were counter to what God wanted. Why do you think He put the rule there? Because He sat down one day and said, "Gee, I really want to test people to see if they're going to obey me just for the hell of it"?
No. He put that rule in place because knowledge of evil did absolutely nothing to benefit us, and everything to harm us. Learning to become moral involves learning to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil. Before we had that specific knowledge, there was no need to develop a specific moral code.

To any parents out there, would you ever want your child to be totally subservient to your will and to never think for themselves? Of course not.
It depends on the situation. There are certain situations where I expect absolute obedience out of my children, e.g. 'don't drink out of the bottle of antifreeze' or 'don't run in the street' or 'don't go anywhere with a stranger'. The rules we put into place for our children protect them from danger, even if _they_ don't realize there's danger.

The precise factor being, he never had to work.Actually, he did have to work: Gen 2:15--"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."
So, your entire argument about achievement and human spirit and drive to create breaks down.

The simple fact is, man can't be expected to truly believe in something without evidence.
What do you consider adequate proof, then? It would be different for each person, so even if God went on TV and said "Hey folks, I'm here in the flesh. Come on down and meet me" there would still be those who deny his existence ('oh, must be CGI animation!'). There are people who deny the Holocaust ever happened, in spite of the eyewitness accounts of people who lived through it (and are still living to answer questions) and the numerous pictures the US soldiers took.
There is an entire universe here that came out of nothing. We have DNA that with 4 little bases can encode instructions for over 20,000 different proteins. A person starts life as a single cell, and despite tremendous odds, gets born 9 months later as an 8 or so pound baby.

The simple fact is, man can't be expected to truly believe in something without evidence. Why do we think the planet is round? We discovered it. Is this logical justification to say it is round? Absolutely. If someone were to doubt that fact after it was proved true, would he be a bit odd? Yes.
Do you believe in quarks, electrons, and protons even if you can't see them? Most people accept them as true, even if they don't have any direct proof. Black holes are theoretical concepts, as are quarks. We only know about them indirectly by their effects on different things, not because we've been able to test those things specifically. Yet we believe they exist.


Now go back several thousand years. There was no evidence at all towards the shape of the earth. a. The Bible actually says the earth is round and b. the Greeks had determined the earth was round several thousand years ago. It gets pretty obvious when you view a lunar eclipse. :)

There's also plain apathy. God supposedly possesses unlimited power, yet makes no use of it.
Makes no use of it? Holding the universe together isn't exactly a picnic. :)

It's quite one thing to allow a child to ruin his own life, but what of when he extends that ruin to others?
We sinned, we screwed up our lives, and yes, unfortunately, it's going to have an impact on others, because nothing is done in a vacuum. God gives us free will to do good or evil, to choose to love Him or not, to follow his general rules or not. If we're prevented from doing evil and forced to obey or show love, is that the Real Deal? No, that's slavery. God chooses not to let us be slaves to him, but to have our choice in the matter, even if we choose to do something that's not best for us or the people around us. You can't step in and force someone not to hurt someone else without infringing on their right to decide to do right/wrong. However, God certainly can take bad things and do good with them, sometimes in a far greater way than one would expect. For instance, I have a family member who was so horribly abused as a young child that she had internal injuries that prevented her from ever getting pregnant. She was devastated to learn she'd never be able to have children, because it's what she wanted most in the world. However, she and her husband ended up becoming foster parents, and they've touched more children's lives in a positive way than they'd ever been able to had they been able to have their own children. She's helped care for about 15-20 different children over the past 15 years or so as a foster parent, and they have a couple kids who they've adopted. I have a history of horrible nearsightedness, and went through hell in junior high with the teasing about the glasses. Yet even that got used in a positive way--I'm far more sensitive to people's physical and emotional feelings about eyecare and eyewear as a result of what I experienced.

And to be honest, if you choose not to acknowledge that He even exists, of course you're never going to be able to see Him working within the universe.

From what I mentioned earlier, the way to get the most legitimate followers is for them to know everything about you, not to guess wildy
How do you reveal yourself to a culture that hasn't even encountered algebra, microbiology, or biochemistry? Do you tell them the mysteries of the universe when they don't even understand what an atom is? Or do you give them what they need at that point? If He told us _everything_ about Himself, first of all, we probably wouldn't be able to understand a lot of it (heck, we don't even understand how the brain processes the images on the retina yet), and second, we wouldn't need half of it to understand the importance of a relationship with Him and those around us.

In conjunction with all the factors I've listed earlier, the only reason I can conclude is that He does not exist.

Well, I think there's quite a bit of good reasoning for Him to do what He does, but I will point out this: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

There are many other quotes I can provide if you'd like, but they're all similarly ridiculous. I don't know what your opinion is, but I think stoning one's family to death if they worship another god, being required to put all POWs to death, to have all single women marry people who rape them, and to declare not following these tenants blasphemy is nothing short of barbaric, in my opinion.
Those rules were written to address those specific needs of that culture at that time, and barbaric as they seem to us, they were far better than all of the cultures around them. For instance, women who were raped or who were captured in a battle were often just killed outright. In the cultures around Israel, pregnant women captured in battle were eviscerated and the fetuses were destroyed; Jewish culture disallowed this and the killing of children, among other brutal wartime practices. You're judging it from a 21st century perspective, where we have things like prisons available to us to house wrong-doers and the Geneva conventions which (theoretically) prevent such brutalities. To be honest, I doubt the 'girl gets raped and now must marry the guy' thing got invoked very often--most girls were kept pretty well protected by the family. I think a lot of these rules were more deterrents than anything else. In addition there were

In any case, with Christ's atonement, His sacrifice supersedes observance of OT rules and renders them obsolete (Gal 2:15-16):
15"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

See also Hebrews 10, which is a little too long for me to quote here.

It takes me to another point as well, that only a select few are apt enough to interpret the Bible,
I don't think so. Sure, theologians can do better on some things because they can understand, say, Greek and Hebrew and have some education on ancient/Biblical history that makes it easier, but it's certainly not inaccessible to the average person. I don't have a theology degree and don't read Greek or Hebrew, and I can understand quite a bit of it. The parts I don't understand I either consult my pastor or experts in the field on that particular book.

I think it's strange that one single book, which is supposed to be the word of God, can be interpreted in so many different ways, creating different religions even, but yet all of those claim their interpretation is the right one...
That usually happens when a group takes a specific passage out of context and starts to create a theology that is not compatible with the rest of the teachings.

Wouldn't that relationship manifest itself better if we knew He existed?Just because I don't see Him physically doesn't mean He's not near spiritually. You can, also, have a 'long-distance' relationship--Jimbo and I had that when he was away on active duty. We had to make some changes, like we called and talked to each other every day and emailed each other (equivalent to, say, prayer or reading the Bible for the relationship with God, in that case).

John 5:28, 29
"28Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."
I didn't get a chance to look this up in the Greek keyword Bible and grave/tomb may still be specified this way. I don't think, however, that _only_ those who are buried/entombed will be raised. Jewish law was very specific on how the dead were handled, and they were always buried, so it would make sense for John to say that 'all who are in their graves', i.e., all those who are dead, would rise.
Another reason I think it does not specify only those who are in graves is this verse:
1 Thessalonians 4:16--For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Paul was always very precise with his language (if verbose :) ), and if this were only to refer to those who were lying in graves and not to those who were, say, buried at sea or cremated, I think he would have specified so. Since he says 'the dead in Christ will rise' with no qualifications, I believe that means _all_ the dead in Christ, not those who were buried in a specific manner.


But did God not make us imperfect in such way? What is the point in creating something and then punishing it because it acts the way it's maker has made it?
Sin/sin nature makes us imperfect. I don't view it as punishment in a judgmental way, I view the rules as a. designed to protect both society and us from harm (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) and b. when we do step outside of the rules, we have to expect consequences, just like if I step out into the street without looking for cars, I'm likely to get hit by one.


Does that not make his love conditional though? He will love us ONLY if we love him in return, but is pure love not supposed to be UNconditional?I didn't have my children because I wanted them to love me--I had my children because I wanted to share my love with a family. It's sort of the same principle--He doesn't require us to love him, just like I can't 'require' my kids to love me, either. However, He enjoys the relationships.

It's time for me to go home from work. :)

Achilles
02-22-2007, 10:09 PM
Eh, I'm at work so I don't have the book I really wanted to use since it's at home.
1. Eyewitness accounts of a. His existence and b. the miracles He did and c. His resurrection I want to point out that there is still an active debate about these veracity of these "eyewitness accounts". Some arguments claim that all four gospels are eyewitness accounts. Others claim that none of them are, rather they are all based on the stories of Paul.

The point is the jury is still out, so the veracity of this "evidence" is undetermined.

(why would people be willing to be martyrs if they knew He hadn't been resurrected?). Why would Muslim fundamentalists be willing to martyr themselves in accordance with their religious doctrines? Belief is a powerful thing and the fact that people are willing to die for their beliefs is a poor test for the legitimacy of their cause.

The Bible has shown remarkable accuracy (about 95%, the 5% being very minor things, and no major doctrines are in dispute). I'd like to know where you get this figure. The Bible is chocked full of contradictions. Here are some examples taken from just the Gospels:

And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. (Matthew 11:14)
They asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not " "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." (John 1:12)

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. (Matthew 1:16)
When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, (Luke 3:23)

Sidenote: The Messiah was prophesied to be from the line of David, however Jesus' relation to David is via Joseph...who is not Jesus' biological father. Hmmm.

Speaking to the earlier point, regarding eyewitness accounts, Mark says that Jesus told his disciples to gather their staffs, their sandals, and two tunics for their journey. Matthew says that Jesus told specifically not to gather staves, sandals, or tunics. (Mark 6:8-9 and Matthew 10:9-10)

According to Mark (1:14), John was in prison when Jesus came to Galilee. According to John, (3:22-24) he was not yet imprisoned.

There are more examples available if you would like for me to share them. I don't think that this constitutes "remarkable accuracy" and considering that these are eyewitness accounts, I don't consider their inconsistencies to be "very minor things". Lastly, could you please tell me what you mean by "no major doctrines are in dispute"?

There is independent archaeological corroboration of many of the sites named in the Bible There are independent archaeological corroborations for many of this sites named in the Qu'ran. Is this evidence of its supremacy as a spiritual manual or a historical document? Same thing for Iliad/Odyssey. Would undisputed evidence of Troy prove that we should all be worshiping the Greek pantheon?

Historical figures and actual locations are used all the time in modern storytelling. Should it be any surprise that ancient storytellers used the same tools to make their stories more interesting?


2. Accounts outside of the Bible mention the existance of Christ, e.g. Josephus and Tacitus.
Josephus a) wasn't born until after Jesus allegedly died, so he was not a contemporary of Jesus and b) his references to Jesus are disputed.

Tacitus a) wasn't born until almost 20 years after Jesus allegedly died, so he also was not a contemporary of Jesus, b) his single reference to Jesus was written about 90 years after Jesus allegedly died, therefore all this shows is that Tacitus would have been familiar with the early Christian Cult, and c) the single reference to Jesus made by Tacitus is (albeit, weakly) disputed.

To the best of my knowledge (which is admittedly limited) there are no known contemporary historians for Jesus who's works are undisputed.

There are about 39 different sources (which for ancient documents is a huge number), including 17 non-Christian sources. I would be interested in learning more about these. Are you counting papyrus fragments here also, or only whole documents that have been put through the wringer?

If I may, I'd also like to comment on a couple of your other points as well:

Yes, our situation was vastly improved by learning how to commit rape, incest, torture, and murder. [/Kreia-like sarcasm :) I understand your point. What is your view on the parts of the Bible that promote such behavior?

What do you consider adequate proof, then? It would be different for each person, so even if God went on TV and said "Hey folks, I'm here in the flesh. Come on down and meet me" there would still be those who deny his existence ('oh, must be CGI animation!'). I can walk to downtown Phoenix right now and probably meet several people that would tell me that they are God. I'm pretty sure that any omniscient/omnipotent being would be able to overcome any healthy sense of skepticism.

There are people who deny the Holocaust ever happened Red herring.

There is an entire universe here that came out of nothing. We have DNA that with 4 little bases can encode instructions for over 20,000 different proteins. A person starts life as a single cell, and despite tremendous odds, gets born 9 months later as an 8 or so pound baby.Argument from incredulity. Surely someone with your biology background is aware of how the natural process of reproductive selection works. The fact that the process is amazing is not evidence that it is miraculous.

Do you believe in quarks, electrons, and protons even if you can't see them? Most people accept them as true, even if they don't have any direct proof. Black holes are theoretical concepts, as are quarks. We only know about them indirectly by their effects on different things, not because we've been able to test those things specifically. Yet we believe they exist. Straw man. Quarks are hypothetical. Electrons are scientific theory. Do you believe in gravity? How about plate tectonics? Those are both scientific theories too. Most people accept them as true because they have significant scientific evidence.

On the other hand, religion is a matter of faith (which means that belief is given with little, no, or contradictory evidence). Apples and oranges.

a. The Bible actually says the earth is round Really? Hmmm...
Isaiah 11:12
Revelation 7:1
Job 38:13
Jeremiah 16:19
Daniel 4:11
Matthew 4:8

If the bible says that the Earth is round, then why did so many Christians believe that it was flat for so many hundreds (thousands?) of years?

and b. the Greeks had determined the earth was round several thousand years ago. It gets pretty obvious when you view a lunar eclipse. :) Scientific observation beats religious dogma once again! :)

And to be honest, if you choose not to acknowledge that He even exists, of course you're never going to be able to see Him working within the universe. If we have explanations for the workings of the universe that do not require a supernatural crutch, then why would we seek one out?

Well, I think there's quite a bit of good reasoning for Him to do what He does, but I will point out this: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I can't wait to get this saying on one of those trendy wristbands. And just when I was getting used to "WWJD?".:D

In all seriousness, this is correct. However it is not a strong case for the existence of a supernatural God. The scientific community has been, is now, and will probably always be plagued by questions that we did not have sufficient answers for. But by not leaving well enough alone, mankind has progressed to find answers to many of those questions. This tells me that things that are beyond our understanding now (your earlier example of the optic nerve-to-brain relationship) will one day be known to us and the answer will come from science.

Those rules were written to address those specific needs of that culture at that time, and barbaric as they seem to us, they were far better than all of the cultures around them. But the Bible has not changed. Those commandments are still in there. What evidence do we have that God wanted us to change those behaviors? Why would a perfect God have need to change his mind?

You're judging it from a 21st century perspective, where we have things like prisons available to us to house wrong-doers and the Geneva conventions which (theoretically) prevent such brutalities. But God did not give us a commandment to build prisons, nor did fashion the Geneva conventions on tablets of stone. According to the word of God, we aren't doing what he told us to. If you're saying that he changed his mind, then I'll ask again: Why would a perfect God have need to change his mind?

To be honest, I doubt the 'girl gets raped and now must marry the guy' thing got invoked very often--most girls were kept pretty well protected by the family. I think a lot of these rules were more deterrents than anything else. So this is your opinion and not actually based on what can be found in the Bible?

In any case, with Christ's atonement, His sacrifice supersedes observance of OT rules and renders them obsolete (Gal 2:15-16):
15"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
So when one religious text has something we don't like anymore, we can just create a new one that overwrites the old one? If Jesus was part of God's plan, then why would he have need to change his mind?

All the laws referenced in this passage; where did they come from?

That usually happens when a group takes a specific passage out of context and starts to create a theology that is not compatible with the rest of the teachings. So which theology is the correct one? What evidence do we have to support it?

Just because I don't see Him physically doesn't mean He's not near spiritually. You can, also, have a 'long-distance' relationship--Jimbo and I had that when he was away on active duty. We had to make some changes, like we called and talked to each other every day and emailed each other (equivalent to, say, prayer or reading the Bible for the relationship with God, in that case). Consider this: What if our species evolved to be spiritual creatures? Early ancestors would have a competitive advantage because this new area of the brain allowed them to have a sense of meaning, self-awareness, community, etc. Over time we developed socially, creating complex myths to explain our surroundings (animal spirits, sun worship, etc). Cave paintings becomes totem worship which evolves into <fast forward> polytheistism which evolves into monotheism which evolves into <fast forward> modern Christianity.

I don't think anyone can say that we aren't spiritual creatures. I do think it's a bit of a stretch to believe in today's day and age that our spirituality was imbued upon us by a supernatural being rather than the result of natural selection.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to your response.

reven0123
02-23-2007, 08:47 AM
I cant stand them beause they dont believe in free will which is both our greatest gift and worst curse.

Cygnus Q'ol
02-23-2007, 02:05 PM
Which is precisely why they should not be identified as Christian, or as having anything to do with Christianity. They are not Christians.

Just thought that that fact was worth pointing out. Carry on.;)

Actually, from their point of view, they are the only Christians.
Which is why they are detested so venomously.

I find them intriguing to talk to. I still have trouble with some of the ideals, but, it all falls on one's interpretation of the bible.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect version of this book to base any deviations on. Man wrote this book and man is imperfect. Therefore, the bible is imperfect. No questions on that logic.
Over the centuries, I'm quite sure variations were created and beefed up to suit the clergy of the time.

It still all comes down to what you believe.
Violence, repugnance and offensive treatment of your fellow man is just a showcase for your own personality.

It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.
If you slam doors in their face, swear or spit at them, it is just a reflection of your own personality or lack thereof.

Jae Onasi
02-23-2007, 04:19 PM
I want to point out that there is still an active debate about these veracity of these "eyewitness accounts". Some arguments claim that all four gospels are eyewitness accounts. Others claim that none of them are, rather they are all based on the stories of Paul.
The point is the jury is still out, so the veracity of this "evidence" is undetermined. There is general agreement among the scholars that the books were written by the stated authors. Paul's writing style is very different from the writers of the Gospel both in style and content (compare the language and grammar in Romans vs that in Luke or John--Paul is very wordy), and only the most 'fringy' scholars would ever claim that Paul wrote the entire thing, in fact, I have not even heard of such a strange claim.

Why would Muslim fundamentalists be willing to martyr themselves in accordance with their religious doctrines? Belief is a powerful thing and the fact that people are willing to die for their beliefs is a poor test for the legitimacy of their cause.
Dying for beliefs that you believe are true is one thing. Dying for something you _know_ to be a lie is something else entirely. I'm not going to give up my life for something I _know_ is false. Muslim fundamentalists believe that if they martyr themselves, they will go to Paradise. That's a truth to them, not a lie, so they are dying for what they believe is a truth. They are not dying for something they know specifically is a lie.

I'd like to know where you get this figure. The Bible is chocked full of contradictions. Here are some examples taken from just the Gospels:

Taking isolated verses out of context and comparing them in order to twist them into something they are not in order to 'prove a contradiction' is always going to end up being a fruitless endeavor. That's like condemning an encyclopedia because in one section it might say 'the sky is blue' while in another passage it might say 'the sky is gray'. I can find all sorts of contradictions that way. If you don't know that in one passage of that encyclopedia they're talking about why the sky appears blue, but in the the other passage they're discussing how the sky looks when it's about to rain, of course it's going to look like a contradiction.

And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. (Matthew 11:14)
They asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not " "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." (John 1:12)

Let's take these one by one. A little background/history--the Jews at that time erroneously felt that when the Messiah came back, Elijah would come back to prepare the way. In the passage in Matthew, Jesus is comparing John to Elijah in a metaphor--the Jews would have understood this to mean that John was preparing the way. It's like saying "wow, he's a great basketball player--he's another Michael Jordan."

In the passage in John, John the Baptist is being asked specifically if he _is_ Elijah, and John answers no, because he was not literally Elijah. In Matthew, Jesus is using the name metaphorically, in John, John the Baptist is answering literally.
These 2 passages are therefore being compared without understanding the context.

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. (Matthew 1:16)
When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, (Luke 3:23)
Sidenote: The Messiah was prophesied to be from the line of David, however Jesus' relation to David is via Joseph...who is not Jesus' biological father. Hmmm.
At that time, if you adopted a child, that child was now considered a blood relative for purposes of genealogy, legal inheritence, and legal ties to any royalty/nobility. For instance, say a father has an 8 year old son by blood. That child would be the firstborn and entitled to the inheritence rights of a firstborn. However, if the father then adopted a 15 year old boy, the adopted son would now be the firstborn legally, even if he wasn't a blood relative.
The genealogies are different because Luke describes the biological descent down to Mary as the wife of Joseph, while Matthew is describing the _legal_ descent through Joseph, including women who were in that line (which was extraordinary for a culture that was so male oriented). Since Joseph claimed Jesus legally as his son, making Jesus a part of his blood-line also, Joseph's genealogy becomes important as well as the actual strictly biological line through Mary. The two different genealogies serve to show that Jesus was related to David both legally through Joseph and by blood through Mary.



Speaking to the earlier point, regarding eyewitness accounts, Mark says that Jesus told his disciples to gather their staffs, their sandals, and two tunics for their journey. Matthew says that Jesus told specifically not to gather staves, sandals, or tunics. (Mark 6:8-9 and Matthew 10:9-10)
Do you know for absolute certain that Jesus was talking about the same exact trip? The disciples took a lot of trips--we don't even know if Jesus is talking about the same specific trip in these two different passages. He could have given them one set of instructions for one trip, and another set of instructions for another trip. Nevertheless, I looked up both passages (I use the NIV version because it's acknowledged by most scholars to be the most accurate translation).

Mark 6:8-9
8These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.

Matthew 10:9-10
9Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

I see nothing in the Mark passage that says the disciples are to take 2 tunics--in fact, it looks to me like he's telling them not to take an extra tunic. The passage in Matthew says not to take extras of tunics, sandals, or staffs/staves. It does not say 'don't bring _any_ sandals or staffs'.
In Young's literal translation, the Mark passage says specifically _not_ to take 2 coats (i.e. tunics), so I'm not entirely sure how you came to the idea that Mark said to bring 2 tunics. I'm just not seeing it there.


According to Mark (1:14), John was in prison when Jesus came to Galilee. According to John, (3:22-24) he was not yet imprisoned.

Jesus lived in Nazareth, which is actually in the hills of lower Galilee. Since He grew up in Galilee and spent a lot of time there, I can imagine that references to Galilee would show up often. I believe these passages are speaking about 2 separate incidents because the activities surrounding that are going on around them are different. Further, it is entirely possible that John was imprisoned more than once. Keep in mind he was proclaiming that the next King of the Jews was on hand. This would not have made Herod at all pleased since he was king at that time. John was basically saying to the world that Herod's claim to the throne was illegitimate, which would have been considered treason.


There are more examples available if you would like for me to share them.
By all means. It will be instructive for both of us. :)

Lastly, could you please tell me what you mean by "no major doctrines are in dispute"?
Major doctrines like the idea that Christ is the son of God, the resurrection, the crucifixion, Christ's death serving as atonement, etc.

There are independent archaeological corroborations for many of this sites named in the Qu'ran. Is this evidence of its supremacy as a spiritual manual or a historical document? Same thing for Iliad/Odyssey. Would undisputed evidence of Troy prove that we should all be worshiping the Greek pantheon?
Not necessarily, but it does corroborate what's said in the Bible about sites and some activities.

Josephus...Tacitus....To the best of my knowledge (which is admittedly limited) there are no known contemporary historians for Jesus who's works are undisputed.
Matthew, Mark, and John weren't contemporaries? Anyone can dispute anything from history, and it's much harder to handle ancient history because of the lack of documents.
Further, for an example of the later histories, let me use this example--Martin Luther King, Jr. died before I was born. Nonetheless, I did a history paper on him based on his writings, eyewitness accounts, audio tapes, videotapes, and communications between King and President Johnson. I was able to put together a history of King's relationship with Johnson with no difficulty, and if I submitted it to a history journal, it would be accepted as fact because of the documents I used, even though I was not able to speak to King himself.
Josephus and Tacitus had access to information that has been lost to us--scrolls, the ability to talk to some of the still-living eyewitnesses or second-generation Christians.

I would be interested in learning more about these. Are you counting papyrus fragments here also, or only whole documents that have been put through the wringer?How many extant whole documents on _anything_ are there from the ancient civilizations? Nonetheless, there are a lot of documents, and loathe as I am to quote a wiki link, New Testament Textual Criticism (http://www.theopedia.com/New_Testament_Textual_Criticism) is a good jumping off point for further research.
Bruce M. Metzger, who wrote, among other things, The Text of the New Testament, has done a tremendous amount of research on the documents themselves, and he would be the person to turn to first--his credentials and scholarship are excellent.
Craig Blomberg has written on the historical reliability of the New Testament:
Making Sense of the New Testament (Baker, 2004)
The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel: Issues and Commentary (IVP, 2002)
Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey (Broadman, 1997)
Historical Reliability of the Gospels (IVP, 1987)


If I may, I'd also like to comment on a couple of your other points as well:
I understand your point. What is your view on the parts of the Bible that promote such behavior?
The Deuteronomy passages, which I'm assuming you refer to in particular, do not _promote_ such behaviors--they delineate the consequences for those behaviors. Slavery, warfare, and rape certainly are not _God's_ ideal, however, man had introduced those things into society, so God set up rules to deal with man's follies. Fortunately, we aren't in the same sociological/historical situation and those laws don't apply to our situation--since we have no slavery, we don't need to follow the slavery laws, for instance. We have ways to secure prisoners of war so that they can't continue to fight, so the rules on killing the fighting-age men are not applicable.

I can walk to downtown Phoenix right now and probably meet several people that would tell me that they are God.
Those are schizophrenics who clearly are mentally ill--that's irrelevent to the discussion of God proving that He's who He says He is.
The point is, what you consider adequate proof is going to be different from what others consider adequate proof.
(referring to Holocaust deniers)
Red herring.It's not meant that way--the point is, if someone can deny that the Holocaust happened when there's overwhelming proof that it did happen, the same would happen with God. God could set up a cloud of fire in the middle of Jerusalem, and someone would say "Oh, that's just special effects" or whatever the reason-du-jour was for not wanting to believe.

Argument from incredulity. Surely someone with your biology background is aware of how the natural process of reproductive selection works. The fact that the process is amazing is not evidence that it is miraculous.
I'd be interested in hearing an atheist describe how s/he can honestly believe that the universe just appeared out of nowhere and how they can believe in abiogenesis with the odds of that being around 1 in 10^40,000. That's equivalent to taking all the atoms in the universe, putting them into a container the size of the universe, and picking out just the right one. It's a statistical impossibility.

Straw man. Quarks are hypothetical. Electrons are scientific theory. Do you believe in gravity? How about plate tectonics? Those are both scientific theories too. Most people accept them as true because they have significant scientific evidence.
Nevertheless, people believe in a lot of things that have indirect evidence, including science principles which are touted (generally rightly so) as being correct or true.


Really? Hmmm...
Isaiah 11:12
Revelation 7:1
Job 38:13
Jeremiah 16:19
Daniel 4:11
Matthew 4:8

Well, let's go over these now. Isa. 40:22 describes the 'circle of the earth' and before anyone splits hairs over the difference between circles and spheres, I'd like to point out that spheres do have a circular shape....

Isa 11:12, Rev. 7:1 speak about the '4 corners of the earth'. If you believe in North, South, East, and West, does that mean you believe the world has 4 corners, too? Furthermore, a number of these are in sections that are songs or poetry, and thus were literary devices to describe the vast distances or idiomatic expressions, not to be used as commentary on the actual shape of this planet. We use such devices and idioms all the time. If you 'knock the stuffing out of someone', do you really believe they have stuffing in them?
Job 38:13--God is speaking to Job in that passage, asking Job if he has the same abilities and perspective as God. Again it's written in a poetic form and likely it's a literary device, but one could argue that 'surface' and 'outer edge' of any sphere are the same thing. And it's driving me crazy that I can't find my keyword Bible, because it might shed some light on this if we knew the exact Hebrew word there, and how it was working with the rest of the poetry in that text.
Jer 16:19, Dan 4:11 speaks of 'the ends of the earth'. We use the very same expression ourselves, usually in literature--does that mean we believe that the world is flat, too?

If the bible says that the Earth is round, then why did so many Christians believe that it was flat for so many hundreds (thousands?) of years?The church leaders at the time mistakenly belived the Aristotelian-Ptolemeic cosmology of the earth being at the center of the universe, not because of anything in the Bible.

Scientific observation beats religious dogma once again! :)[/url]
Scientific observation can be as fallible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piltdown_Man) as the people who do the research.
[QUOTE=Achilles]
If we have explanations for the workings of the universe that do not require a supernatural crutch, then why would we seek one out?Science cannot explain consciousness or meaning in life and can't explain how the universe came into being or how a bunch of chemicals suddenly turned into living cells.

I can't wait to get this saying on one of those trendy wristbands. And just when I was getting used to "WWJD?".:D
Glad you liked that one. I can't claim credit for it. It's still true, though. :)

In all seriousness, this is correct. However it is not a strong case for the existence of a supernatural God. The scientific community has been, is now, and will probably always be plagued by questions that we did not have sufficient answers for. But by not leaving well enough alone, mankind has progressed to find answers to many of those questions. I don't think the Bible has ever said not to investigate the world around us.

But the Bible has not changed. Those commandments are still in there. What evidence do we have that God wanted us to change those behaviors? Why would a perfect God have need to change his mind?
Eh, God didn't change, but we apparently did. Since we don't allow slavery, the rules for slavery, even if they're in the Bible, don't need to be applied. There are plenty of examples of laws that are on the books in many places that apply to situations that no longer exist or have changed enough that those particular laws no longer need to be enforced.

But God did not give us a commandment to build prisons, nor did fashion the Geneva conventions on tablets of stone. According to the word of God, we aren't doing what he told us to. If you're saying that he changed his mind, then I'll ask again: Why would a perfect God have need to change his mind?The New Testament 'contract' between God and man takes the place of Old Testament law. The rules in the Old Testament were in place to tell people what sin was and what they had to do about it (sacrifices). Christ's sacrifice meant that the demands of the law were now fulfilled--the requirements of the Old Testament 'contract' were fulfilled with Christ's sacrifice, so the contract is no longer binding. Doesn't mean that it should be ignored, however--some of the dietary laws describe healthier eating habits, Proverbs has some good solid practical advice in it (sparing the rod notwithstanding, but that's another topic), and I've found some of the sanitation rules to make good sense for anyone who's gone tent camping for any length of time (we have for up to 10 days at a time with limited access to running water--it's a challenge).

So this is your opinion and not actually based on what can be found in the Bible?That's why I specified 'I think' there. :) I'm not an expert in Old Testament by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, I don't even claim to be a Bible scholar--I just happen to be someone who's read it a lot.


So when one religious text has something we don't like anymore, we can just create a new one that overwrites the old one? If Jesus was part of God's plan, then why would he have need to change his mind?
God changed it, not us, and changed it because _we_ apparently needed the change, not Him.

All the laws referenced in this passage; where did they come from?
"The Law", or what's called the Torah, are the first 5 books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and everyone's favorite Deuteronomy). This was something that was common knowledge in that region at that time, so Paul, who was a Jew, would not have specified the books in his letters to fellow Jews.

So which theology is the correct one? What evidence do we have to support it?Good question, definitely needs its own thread because answering that one is way more than this subject. :) With respect to JWs, some of the verses were taken out of the original context to create doctrine that doesn't appear to square with some other parts of the Bible. Doctrine that claims to be Christian but is incompatible with the New Testament cannot be correct.

Consider this: What if our species evolved to be spiritual creatures? Early ancestors would have a competitive advantage because this new area of the brain allowed them to have a sense of meaning, self-awareness, community, etc. What biological advantage does sense of meaning give to someone trying to outrun a lion in order to survive?

I don't think anyone can say that we aren't spiritual creatures. I do think it's a bit of a stretch to believe in today's day and age that our spirituality was imbued upon us by a supernatural being rather than the result of natural selection.
Why do we need spirituality if we are just random products of biology? Wouldn't that be a waste of brain space that could be used for other things that contribute more to our physical development?

Thanks for reading. I look forward to your response.
And likewise--I'm not exactly concise on religious matters.... :)

Over the centuries, I'm quite sure variations were created and beefed up to suit the clergy of the time.
See discussion on Dr. Metzger above--there is a concerted effort among scholars to keep the Bible as close to the original as possible, and the earliest documents that we found in the Dead Sea scrolls showed that we'd managed to keep the Bible remarkably accurate over the course of the centuries. Various doctrines based on different verses have sprung up, but the Bible itself has not changed dramatically over the centuries.

Darth InSidious
02-23-2007, 06:00 PM
One quick point of interest in Mark (and to a certain extent in the other Synoptics): Jesus frequently, unlike other Messianic figures of the time, frequently tries to get people not to talk about his divinity - indeed in (IIRC) the first miracle performed by Jesus in that gospel, Jesus tells the demon calling him the Son of the Most High to 'be silent and come out of him!' - he did not want his power to be known. Indeed, the only time he claims to be the Messiah in the three Synoptics (IIRC) is at his trial - which would seem a suicidal thing to do, given the circumstances.

Also, the gospels read very, very differently from any other ancient texts. Jesus' manner, and the nature of his power, in particular, are quite unlike any other in ancient literature that I know of.

Samuel Dravis
02-23-2007, 06:32 PM
I just had a couple of questions, Jae, if you don't mind....

I'd be interested in hearing an atheist describe how s/he can honestly believe that the universe just appeared out of nowhere and how they can believe in abiogenesis with the odds of that being around 1 in 10^40,000. That's equivalent to taking all the atoms in the universe, putting them into a container the size of the universe, and picking out just the right one. It's a statistical impossibility.But, as I'm sure you'll admit, even with that kind of number (and I don't believe it to be quite so large as you make out), there is a possibility. I'm curious: what do you consider the statistical probability of a creator God is (and, of course, how do you determine it is more likely than x theory)? I'm not sure how you really can compare the two without at least some degree of similarity, and I'm just not seeing it.

Scientific observation can be as fallible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piltdown_Man) as the people who do the research.
Science cannot explain consciousness or meaning in life and can't explain how the universe came into being or how a bunch of chemicals suddenly turned into living cells.I'd definitely be interested in hearing how exactly you seperate our fallibility from anything we do.

Also, I'd be first to point out that science has not created a model for "x effect" yet. Whether it will eventually I don't know, but to say that since it hasn't yet explained it and therefore, by implication, cannot is rediculous. In addition, science does not create "meaning" for life. It's simply a collection of models that mimic things we see in the physical world. To take its lack of explanation in that regard as something wrong with science itself seems pretty silly IMO.

relaxcheeze44
02-23-2007, 08:59 PM
i believe that there is a god. However, i also believe that god has had very limited involvement in human life in the past couple thousands of years up to this point. Perhaps god does not have a one "chosen" religon as many people believe. Maybe god dosent even care what religon we are as long as we belive in him/her. I am a jew, but i do not believe there are any chosen people. I know that god cares about all of mankind because of the story of Moses. To be specific, the part where God drowned all of the egyptians so the Jews could escape. Although i do not have a torah in front of me,(correct me if im wrong) God said that although he/she waas happy that the Jews escaped, but was also sad because he had to kill the egyptians. God considered the egyptians his/her children even though they did not believe in a single allmighty God. Also, my view on creation is that maybe God created the first cell, and then just let it go from there. So, in a way bot evolution and creationism is involved.

SilentScope001
02-24-2007, 01:50 AM
I'd be interested in hearing an atheist describe how s/he can honestly believe that the universe just appeared out of nowhere and how they can believe in abiogenesis with the odds of that being around 1 in 10^40,000. That's equivalent to taking all the atoms in the universe, putting them into a container the size of the universe, and picking out just the right one. It's a statistical impossibility.

*weakly raises hand*

One of the things in Science that is a bit alamaring to a religious person (like me) is the fact that you don't NEED God to exist in order to explain the world (any addition of God to the world would be superfluous, God would be holding the regins of power, instead of the powers acting indepedently). As you said, it is a statistical impossiblity that such a thing can occur. And yet, if there is no such thing as God, it did occur, otherwise why would we be typing here today? We're one lucky little species. :)

You can argue for the existence of God via the "Prime Mover" argument, which states that if I move, something must move me, and then that something must move that something that moves me, ad nadstum, which causes an infinite cycle, but thanks to Stephen Hawkings and lots of sci-fi movies, I can wrap myself around the idea of an infinite cycle of events, contininug forever. Not to mention we got the Big Bang and "strings", two potential Prime Movers that I believe are not exactly what we would call God.

I could theoritcally see the possiblity of the univerese just popping out of nowhere, for no reason. It's possible, but, well...so is anything. Remember, abscene of evidence that abiogenesis had occured does not mean evidence of abscene of abiogenesis.

Achilles
02-24-2007, 03:38 AM
There is general agreement among the scholars that the books were written by the stated authors. Which scholars are you referencing? None of the Gospels are signed. All of the Gospels are titled "The Gospel According to..." (Not "The Gospel of..." or "...'s Gospel") which adds further suspicion to exact authorship. Irenaeus of Lyons was the first to assign authorship of the Gospels in the late 2nd century.

Dying for beliefs that you believe are true is one thing. Dying for something you _know_ to be a lie is something else entirely. I'm not sure I follow your argument. Why would anyone die for something they know is a lie? I think I said people are willing to die for what they believe to be true, but that doesn't make it true.

I'm not going to give up my life for something I _know_ is false. Muslim fundamentalists believe that if they martyr themselves, they will go to Paradise. That's a truth to them, not a lie, so they are dying for what they believe is a truth. They are not dying for something they know specifically is a lie. I understand that. With that said why do you feel that early Christian martyrdom is evidence for the existence of Jesus? Do you feel that modern Muslim martyrdom is evidence for the veracity of the Qu'ran?

Taking isolated verses out of context and comparing them in order to twist them into something they are not in order to 'prove a contradiction' is always going to end up being a fruitless endeavor. That's like condemning an encyclopedia because in one section it might say 'the sky is blue' while in another passage it might say 'the sky is gray'. I can find all sorts of contradictions that way. If you don't know that in one passage of that encyclopedia they're talking about why the sky appears blue, but in the the other passage they're discussing how the sky looks when it's about to rain, of course it's going to look like a contradiction. At what point is a contradiction a contradiction then? If the Bible is the word of God, then I don't see how such contradiction would be possible, nor do I understand why it would be subject to interpretation, revision, etc.

Let's take these one by one. A little background/history--the Jews at that time erroneously felt that when the Messiah came back, Elijah would come back to prepare the way. In the passage in Matthew, Jesus is comparing John to Elijah in a metaphor--the Jews would have understood this to mean that John was preparing the way. It's like saying "wow, he's a great basketball player--he's another Michael Jordan." Was this because it prophesised by the OT (<= rhetorical)? Your theory is an interesting one, but it may also be that a Bronze age fictional historical text with many authors has some inconsistencies.

In the passage in John, John the Baptist is being asked specifically if he _is_ Elijah, and John answers no, because he was not literally Elijah. In Matthew, Jesus is using the name metaphorically, in John, John the Baptist is answering literally.
These 2 passages are therefore being compared without understanding the context. If the assumed metaphor is not what the authors intended, are the comparison still being made out of context?

At that time, if you adopted a child, that child was now considered a blood relative for purposes of genealogy, legal inheritence, and legal ties to any royalty/nobility. For instance, say a father has an 8 year old son by blood. That child would be the firstborn and entitled to the inheritence rights of a firstborn. However, if the father then adopted a 15 year old boy, the adopted son would now be the firstborn legally, even if he wasn't a blood relative. So the prophecy is relative (no pun intended) to the laws of the age? Good thing the prophet knew that the Messiah would be born before the laws changed.

Do you know for absolute certain that Jesus was talking about the same exact trip? The disciples took a lot of trips--we don't even know if Jesus is talking about the same specific trip in these two different passages. He could have given them one set of instructions for one trip, and another set of instructions for another trip. You're begging the question (fallacy). Do you know for absolutely certain that Jesus was talking about different trips? No, I do not know for absolutely certain that he was talking about the same trip anymore than you know for certain that he was not. The fact remains that there is an apparent contradiction in the Bible.

Nevertheless, I looked up both passages (I use the NIV version because it's acknowledged by most scholars to be the most accurate translation).

Mark 6:8-9
8These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.

Matthew 10:9-10
9Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

I see nothing in the Mark passage that says the disciples are to take 2 tunics--in fact, it looks to me like he's telling them not to take an extra tunic. The passage in Matthew says not to take extras of tunics, sandals, or staffs/staves. It does not say 'don't bring _any_ sandals or staffs'.
In Young's literal translation, the Mark passage says specifically _not_ to take 2 coats (i.e. tunics), so I'm not entirely sure how you came to the idea that Mark said to bring 2 tunics. I'm just not seeing it there. Yep, you're right. I remembered the part about the extra tunic wrong. Everything else is the same though (staffs and sandals). Still a contradiction (Mark: take a staff, sandals, and a tunic. Matt: Take a tunic but no staff or sandals).

Jesus lived in Nazareth, which is actually in the hills of lower Galilee. Since He grew up in Galilee and spent a lot of time there, I can imagine that references to Galilee would show up often. I believe these passages are speaking about 2 separate incidents because the activities surrounding that are going on around them are different. Further, it is entirely possible that John was imprisoned more than once. Keep in mind he was proclaiming that the next King of the Jews was on hand. This would not have made Herod at all pleased since he was king at that time. John was basically saying to the world that Herod's claim to the throne was illegitimate, which would have been considered treason. *shrugs* John 3:24 sure makes it seem as though John had only been imprisoned once.

Perhaps John 1:35-43 is more clear on this:

35The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.
36When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"
37When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
38Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"
39"Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
40Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.
41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter[j]).Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."

Now Matthew 1:14-20

14After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.
15"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
17"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
18At once they left their nets and followed him.
19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Summary:
G.John = John not in prison, Jesus takes Simon and Andrew as Apostles, Jesus leaves for Galilee with Apostles.
G.Matt = John in prison, Jesus goes to Galilee, Jesus takes Simon and Andrew as Apostles.


By all means. It will be instructive for both of us. :)
Genesis 1:31 vs. Genesis 6:6
1 Timothy 6:16 vs. 1 Kings 8:12, Psalm 18:11, Psalm 97:2
Exodus 31:17 vs. Isaiah 40:28
Jeremiah 32:27 & Matthew 19:26 vs. Judges 1:19
Deuteronomy 25:5 vs. Leviticus 20:21

More???

Major doctrines like the idea that Christ is the son of God, the resurrection, the crucifixion, Christ's death serving as atonement, etc. In the interest of saving myself a lot of typing, I will quote from other sources.

Christ is the son of God:
Human or part-human offspring of deities are very common in other religions and mythologies. A great many pantheons also included genealogies in which various gods were descended from other gods, and so the term "son of a god" may be applied to many actual deities as well.

Ancient mythology contains many characters with both a human parent and god parent. This includes Hercules whose father was Zeus and Virgil's Aeneas whose mother is Venus.

In the Greek and Roman cultures in which early Christianity arose, the concepts of a son or a daughter of god, halfgods as Perseus was, where commonly known and accepted. Also was the idea of Jesus as a fully God and fully human-son of God-as described by the Apostle Paul.

In the Rastafari movement it is Haile Selassie who is considered to be God the Son, as a part of the Holy Trinity. He himself never accepted the idea officially.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest recorded legends of humanity, Gilgamesh claimed to be of both human and divine descent.

In Hindu mythology, gods often took human form; most often, it was the god Vishnu who incarnated as a great ruler or teacher such as Krishna. For example in the Ramayana, Rama is said to be half god. His next younger brother is one-fourth god, the next is one-eighth, and so on. (In this way, all of the brothers together could never be one hundred per cent God no matter how many brothers there were.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_God

The Resurrection:
In the literal sense of the word, resurrection refers to the event of a dead person returning to physical life. Thus it is not to be confused with things like Hellenistic immortality in which the soul continues to live after death, "free" of the body.

"Centuries before the time of Christ the nations annually celebrated the death and resurrection of Osiris, Tammuz, Attis, Mithra, and other gods". A cyclic dying-and-rising god motif was prevalent throughout ancient Mesopotamian and classical literature and practice (eg in Syrian and Greek worship of Adonis; Egyptian worship of Osiris; the Babylonian story of Tammuz; rural religious belief in the Corn King).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection

The Crucifixion:
Crucifixion is an undisputed form of punishment used by ancient Romans. The fact that it is referenced in the Bible means that the authors made a admirable job of including practices contemporary to the time frame of their story.

Christ's Death Serving as Atonement:
Another common myth found throughout the world's belief systems. Death and rebirth are common themes in ancient religions. The fact that the story appears in Christian mythology should not be surprising to anyone.

PS: Yes, I know that wiki sites are teh suk. If you really, really want me to dig though the Internet to find other sources that say the same thing, just let me know.

Not necessarily, but it does corroborate what's said in the Bible about sites and some activities. Please answer the question :)
If historical corroboration is good enough for the Bible and Christianity, then why shouldn't the same standard hold for other religions and their texts?

Will humans that live thousands of years from now believe that the events depicted in the movie Independence Day really took place because there is historical evidence of U.S. Presidents, fighter jets, and an American holiday celebrated on July 4th?

Matthew, Mark, and John weren't contemporaries? Straw man. We were discussing non-biblical sources.

But for the sake of argument, you show me one non-biblical text attributed to any of those authors as proof of their actual existence and I'll admit that they were contemporaries.

Further, for an example of the later histories, let me use this example--Martin Luther King, Jr. died before I was born. Nonetheless, I did a history paper on him based on his writings, eyewitness accounts, audio tapes, videotapes, and communications between King and President Johnson. I was able to put together a history of King's relationship with Johnson with no difficulty, and if I submitted it to a history journal, it would be accepted as fact because of the documents I used, even though I was not able to speak to King himself.
Josephus and Tacitus had access to information that has been lost to us--scrolls, the ability to talk to some of the still-living eyewitnesses or second-generation Christians.
I repeat: Josephus' works are widely disputed. Tacitus made a single reference to Jesus and it has question marks too (not as many).

Bruce M. Metzger <snip>, Craig Blomberg <snip> I know I sound like a stick in the mud, but I can't help but think that these men are biased. I acknowledge that it's a catch-22 but that doesn't make me anymore sympathetic to their plight.

The Deuteronomy passages, which I'm assuming you refer to in particular, do not _promote_ such behaviors--they delineate the consequences for those behaviors. Slavery, warfare, and rape certainly are not _God's_ ideal, however, man had introduced those things into society, so God set up rules to deal with man's follies. Fortunately, we aren't in the same sociological/historical situation and those laws don't apply to our situation--since we have no slavery, we don't need to follow the slavery laws, for instance. We have ways to secure prisoners of war so that they can't continue to fight, so the rules on killing the fighting-age men are not applicable. Yes, certainly there is quite a bit of it in Deuteronomy but it can be found in other books as well (Exodus, Judges, Numbers, Zechariah, Leviticus, and more).

First, these passages are not a list of consequense for our follies. Most of them are instructions on how to treat others. If they aren't condoned by God, then why are they in his book?

Second, if our society has outgrown the need for parts of the Bible, then it why is it so outlandish to believe that society has outgrown the need for the entire thing? It seems as though there is quite a bit of cherry-picking going on here.

Those are schizophrenics who clearly are mentally ill--that's irrelevent to the discussion of God proving that He's who He says He is. No, it isn't irrelevant. If I have two men telling me that they are God, why should I assume that one really is and one really isn't. Why is it hubris not to believe one, while practical not to believe the other? If faith is to be my guide, then why should I bother to try to differentiate at all?

The point is, what you consider adequate proof is going to be different from what others consider adequate proof. There's a magician that works a local restaurant on Monday nights. Every week I take my kids and they get to spend several minutes is awe of this guy's magic. Now I know that it's slight of hand, that he got these from a book, video, or website, and that he probably practices for hours everyday with the tools of his trade to master his craft. But in the mean time, I can't spot the give-away. I don't know how he does it. Because I can't explain it myself, does that mean that I too should believe that it's really magic?

Now suppose instead of telling my kids that he knows magic, he's telling me that he's the Messiah. Should I be any less skeptical when he tries to prove it with his magic?

Now I'm willing to bet that if he were truly omnipotent, he would be able to find some way to truly convince me.

It's not meant that way--the point is, if someone can deny that the Holocaust happened when there's overwhelming proof that it did happen, the same would happen with God. God could set up a cloud of fire in the middle of Jerusalem, and someone would say "Oh, that's just special effects" or whatever the reason-du-jour was for not wanting to believe. I understand it wasn't your intent, however that doesn't stop it from being a red herring. The difference between the two arguments is that there is not overwhelming proof for God. If there were, your argument would make sense and this wouldn't be a red herring.

Yes, anyone can choose to stick their fingers in their ears and sing "NANANANA!!!" at the top of their lungs. Doesn't make the evidence any less valid. In this example, one thing has evidence while the other does not.

I'd be interested in hearing an atheist describe how s/he can honestly believe that the universe just appeared out of nowhere and how they can believe in abiogenesis with the odds of that being around 1 in 10^40,000. That's equivalent to taking all the atoms in the universe, putting them into a container the size of the universe, and picking out just the right one. It's a statistical impossibility. If it were me, I'd probably want to hear from a scientist more than I would an atheist. However if one were both then I suppose it wouldn't matter.

How I can believe that the Big Bang happened is that there is a mountain of evidence compliments of the Doppler Effect and spectroscopy. Thanks to these two things, people much smarter and more educated than myself (not to mention better at math) can observe changes in our galaxy, work out complex theories using the scientific method, and argue a strong case for the big bang theory. Scientists can't explain all the quirky things that they encounter, but it's seems very probable that someday they will be able to. In the mean time, Creationists just want us to throw up our hands and exclaim, "must be God! Don't bother looking".

PS: Calling it a statistical impossibility doesn't make it so.

Nevertheless, people believe in a lot of things that have indirect evidence, including science principles which are touted (generally rightly so) as being correct or true. Yes, indirect evidence. Not the same thing as "no evidence" or "contradictory evidence". Scientists that are true to their craft don't make the mistake of assuming that their theories or their hypotheses are indisputably correct or true.

Well, let's go over these now. Isa. 40:22 describes the 'circle of the earth' and before anyone splits hairs over the difference between circles and spheres, I'd like to point out that spheres do have a circular shape....

Isa 11:12, Rev. 7:1 speak about the '4 corners of the earth'. If you believe in North, South, East, and West, does that mean you believe the world has 4 corners, too? Straw man. No, I don't.

Furthermore, a number of these are in sections that are songs or poetry, and thus were literary devices to describe the vast distances or idiomatic expressions, not to be used as commentary on the actual shape of this planet. We use such devices and idioms all the time. If you 'knock the stuffing out of someone', do you really believe they have stuffing in them?

Job 38:13--God is speaking to Job in that passage, asking Job if he has the same abilities and perspective as God. Again it's written in a poetic form and likely it's a literary device, but one could argue that 'surface' and 'outer edge' of any sphere are the same thing. Your argument seems to support the idea that we should not be taking the Bible seriously. You can't have it both ways.

Jer 16:19, Dan 4:11 speaks of 'the ends of the earth'. We use the very same expression ourselves, usually in literature--does that mean we believe that the world is flat, too? Which do you think came first: the expression 'the ends of the earth' or our modern use of it? If it was in the Bible first and people use it all the time, does it stand to reason that maybe the expression came from the Bible?

The church leaders at the time mistakenly belived the Aristotelian-Ptolemeic cosmology of the earth being at the center of the universe, not because of anything in the Bible. Please help me understand how a scientific theory concerning the movement of the sun and it's planets has anything to with Christians thinking the Earth was flat when the Bible said it was round. To the best of my knowledge, these early Greeks also though the Earth was round.


Scientific observation can be as fallible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piltdown_Man) as the people who do the research.
Taken from your source:
In 1953, the exposure of the Piltdown forgery by workers at the British Museum and other institutions was greeted in many academic quarters with relief. Piltdown man had for some time become regarded as an aberration that was entirely inconsistent with the mainstream thrust of human evolution as demonstrated by fossil hominids found elsewhere. Piltdown Man was shown to be a composite forgery, part-ape and part-man. It consisted of a human skull of medieval age, the 500-year-old lower jaw of a Sarawak orangutan and chimpanzee fossil teeth. The appearance of age had been created by staining the bones with an iron solution and chromic acid.

For the forger, the area where the jaw joined the skull posed problems that were overcome by the simple expedient of breaking off the terminals of the jaw. The teeth in the jaw had been filed to make them fit and it was this filing that led to doubts about the authenticity of the whole specimen, when, by chance, it was noticed that the top of one of the molars sloped at a very different angle from the other teeth. Microscopic examination revealed file-marks on the teeth and it was deduced from this that filing had taken place to change the shape of the teeth, as ape teeth are different in shape from human teeth.

Yes, observation is fallable...especially when someone "works" the system in an attempt to deceive others.


Science cannot explain consciousness or meaning in life and can't explain how the universe came into being or how a bunch of chemicals suddenly turned into living cells. "Can't right now" does not equal "Won't be able to someday". In the mean time, why is it that God is the default answer? "Science can't prove it. It hasto be God"! Why?

I don't think the Bible has ever said not to investigate the world around us. If we know the answer to the question, and the answer is God, why would we continue to look? Science gives us progress because it's never satisfied; it constantly asks "why?". Religion doesn't do this.

Eh, God didn't change, but we apparently did. Since we don't allow slavery, the rules for slavery, even if they're in the Bible, don't need to be applied. There are plenty of examples of laws that are on the books in many places that apply to situations that no longer exist or have changed enough that those particular laws no longer need to be enforced. If God condones slavery then who are we to question/abolish it? If God is the source of our ethicality and the Bible is our compass, then why would it be permitted in the first place? Your logic does not hold up to scrutiny.

"The Law", or what's called the Torah, are the first 5 books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and everyone's favorite Deuteronomy). This was something that was common knowledge in that region at that time, so Paul, who was a Jew, would not have specified the books in his letters to fellow Jews. Ok and since the bible is the word of God, let's try those passages again but with "the word of God" instead of "the law".

15"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16know that a man is not justified by observing the word of God, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the word of God, because by observing the word of God no one will be justified.

God made the laws. God made Jesus. Jesus supercedes the laws, therefore God changed his mind.

Good question, definitely needs its own thread because answering that one is way more than this subject. :) Sweet. Let's fire it up!


What biological advantage does sense of meaning give to someone trying to outrun a lion in order to survive? Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Briefly, prisoners that had no sense of meaning or no reason to go on succumbed much quickly and/or were which much more likely to die than those those that had something to live for.

More sustinctly "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how." (Friedrich Nietzsche, famous Atheist)

I'm willing to bet that females that love their offspring are more likely to fight off potential threats than those that don't. Those offspring therefore have a higher chance for survival and since they carry the genetic mutation that made that love possible, they would then be able to pass that biological advantage on to their offspring.

Why do we need spirituality if we are just random products of biology? I believe you might be missing the point. What if being genetic mutation allowed us to become spiritual? Going back to my earlier examples, there is a case for beneficial selection. It's the whole chicken-or-egg debate with a workable hypothesis that shows the egg came first. It's late and I'm tired so I'm probably not doing this justice.

Wouldn't that be a waste of brain space that could be used for other things that contribute more to our physical development? You're assuming that it's a waste of brain space. If caring for a mate resulted in prolonged pairing which gave competitive advantage to newborn offspring and caring for offspring provided a similar competitive advantage for the propegation of the species, then I would say that it wasn't a waste of brain space at all.

FWIW, this "protection" behavior is observed in almost every mammalian species. This means the common ancestor most likely occurred way, WAY back in the evolutionary time-line.

Time for bed...

Achilles
02-24-2007, 03:46 AM
i believe that there is a god. However, i also believe that god has had very limited involvement in human life in the past couple thousands of years up to this point. Perhaps god does not have a one "chosen" religon as many people believe. Maybe god dosent even care what religon we are as long as we belive in him/her. I am a jew, but i do not believe there are any chosen people. I know that god cares about all of mankind because of the story of Moses. To be specific, the part where God drowned all of the egyptians so the Jews could escape. Although i do not have a torah in front of me,(correct me if im wrong) God said that although he/she waas happy that the Jews escaped, but was also sad because he had to kill the egyptians. God considered the egyptians his/her children even though they did not believe in a single allmighty God. Also, my view on creation is that maybe God created the first cell, and then just let it go from there. So, in a way bot evolution and creationism is involved. Sounds as though you might be leaning toward Deism.


The word "Deism" is derived from the Latin word for God: "Deus." Deism involves the belief in the existence of God, on purely rational grounds, without any reliance on revealed religion or religious authority.

Deists:
Do not accept the belief of most religions that God revealed himself to humanity through the writings of the Bible, the Qur'an or other religious texts.
Disagree with strong Atheists who assert that there is no evidence of the existence of God.

They regard their faith as a natural religion, as contrasted with one that is revealed by a God or which is artificially created by humans. They reason that since everything that exists has had a creator, then the universe itself must have been created by God. Thomas Paine concluded a speech shortly after the French Revolution with: "God is the power of first cause, nature is the law, and matter is the subject acted upon."
http://www.religioustolerance.org/deism.htm

Darth InSidious
02-24-2007, 07:27 AM
Quick point on contradictions in the gospels - even if you took down four accounts from four different eye-witnesses right after the event, you would find some contradictions...

Negative Sun
02-24-2007, 12:19 PM
Actually, from their point of view, they are the only Christians.
Which is why they are detested so venomously.

I find them intriguing to talk to. I still have trouble with some of the ideals, but, it all falls on one's interpretation of the bible.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect version of this book to base any deviations on. Man wrote this book and man is imperfect. Therefore, the bible is imperfect. No questions on that logic.
Over the centuries, I'm quite sure variations were created and beefed up to suit the clergy of the time.

It still all comes down to what you believe.
Violence, repugnance and offensive treatment of your fellow man is just a showcase for your own personality.

It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.
If you slam doors in their face, swear or spit at them, it is just a reflection of your own personality or lack thereof.
Couldn't agree more...


Quick point on contradictions in the gospels - even if you took down four accounts from four different eye-witnesses right after the event, you would find some contradictions...
Even though I agree with most of Achilles' points, this is a very good one too...

relaxcheeze44
02-24-2007, 12:40 PM
what i ment by "in the past couple thousand years", i ment that god has not revealed him/herself in the 2-3 thousand years. i do still believe that god has had interaction with mankind and even has verbally spoken to select indiviguals on what should be happaning, and what they can do to change it. From all of the stories in every monotheistic religous text, the ONLY time god has ever changed the entire world was the flood. Then, god made a covenant that he/ she will never do anything like that again.

Achilles
02-24-2007, 01:09 PM
Quick point on contradictions in the gospels - even if you took down four accounts from four different eye-witnesses right after the event, you would find some contradictions... Indeed you would, however I think this further shows that the veracity of the Bible is questionable. If this is acceptance that contradictions in the Bible exist, then why is this point so fervently opposed when raised?

Off-topic: Darth InSidious, were you still interested in continuing our dialog in the Ethics and Religion thread?

Darth InSidious
02-24-2007, 04:34 PM
re: The Bible - to my mind, it adds veracity. In the four gospels, there are a variety of reasons that timelines contradict that I can see - simple muddling of recollection, or, in very rare and specific situations, such as the order of events leading up to the crucifixion, to take but a few.

It should also always be taken into account when dealing with Biblical passages, or indeed any historical source, is the context, both within the larger passage, and the wider cultural context. What you have done with the Old Testament passages is to pick out different soundbites, from different times and different books. You take them with modern eyes, and don't look at what is being said in the context of the time.

The Bible is the Word of God for Christians, yes, but that Word has been written down by human hands, and human minds are coloured by their times and places. You didn't take this into account as far as I could see, and I would imagine, 'though I cannot speak for any others here, that that would be the reason for this. :)

OT: Yes, I've just been too lazy to respond :)

Emperor Devon
02-24-2007, 04:44 PM
Yes, our situation was vastly improved by learning how to commit rape, incest, torture, and murder. [/Kreia-like sarcasm :)

I'd say our situation was vastly improved by knowing how awful those things are. The thought of mankind not considering them bad is abominable.

Yes, their actions were counter to what God wanted. Why do you think He put the rule there? Because He sat down one day and said, "Gee, I really want to test people to see if they're going to obey me just for the hell of it"?

That's really only speculating, and who really cares? :) Either way something good came out of the ecounter.

Learning to become moral involves learning to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil. Before we had that specific knowledge, there was no need to develop a specific moral code.

Not particularly. Disasters can happen, whether humans are good or evil. Earthquakes or hurricanes, for instance. Such things can thousands of people homeless, and quite a few dead. I'd say there was quite a need to develop a moral code - the idea of showing nothing but apathy in such instances sounds terrible.

It depends on the situation. There are certain situations where I expect absolute obedience out of my children...

"Don't read any of War and Peace, kids! Wouldn't want you to gain any new insights!" :p

Actually, he did have to work: Gen 2:15--"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."
So, your entire argument about achievement and human spirit and drive to create breaks down.

You're joking, aren't you? :)

Tending a garden is hardly task I'd consider glorious or worthwhile. That's menial work, and hardly anything that demonstrates the human spirit. It was only after leaving the garden that worthwhile things happened - the pyramids, systems of writing, Babel, etc. Watering plants in the nude is a far cry from achievements like that.

The garden was far from a paradise. A think a prison is a better term - a prison which kept the human spirit dormant.

What do you consider adequate proof, then?

Practically anything would be better than what we have now. We currently have no way to measure, see, touch, hear or even prove the existence of this God - other than faith.

Evidence that appeals to the brain rather than the heart would be nice.

There is an entire universe here that came out of nothing....

Responding to a lack of proof with another lack of proof is hardly a way to show something exists. :)

Do you believe in quarks, electrons, and protons even if you can't see them?

I don't see you. How do I know you exist? :xp:

We can't see them, but we can still prove they exist. Ask a qualified physicist, and he could probably show you the math and the logic with which they can be proven. Ask him how to logically prove the existence of God, and you'll have stumped him.

a. The Bible actually says the earth is round and b. the Greeks had determined the earth was round several thousand years ago. It gets pretty obvious when you view a lunar eclipse. :)

Scientific observation beats religious dogma once again! :)

Word!! :)

Considering how well-revered the Bible was, you'd think people wouldn't have been claiming otherwise for centuries.

Of course, it says otherwise in the parts Achilles listed...

Makes no use of it? Holding the universe together isn't exactly a picnic. :)

Now we're getting into nothing but theorizing. We're rather incapable of knowing He's doing. :)

We sinned,

We did something truly great. But I already typed up an essay on that...

{snip} However, God certainly can take bad things and do good with them, sometimes in a far greater way than one would expect. {snip}

There hardly seemed to be evidence of divine intervention in your examples...

And to be honest, if you choose not to acknowledge that He even exists, of course you're never going to be able to see Him working within the universe.

How do you reveal yourself to a culture that hasn't even encountered algebra, microbiology, or biochemistry?

By teaching them basic arithmetic, human anatomy, etc. Eventually you'll be able to move to those.

But where we would start to learn about God, on the other hand...?

Those rules were written to address those specific needs of that culture at that time,

Exactly.

In any case, with Christ's atonement, His sacrifice supersedes observance of OT rules and renders them obsolete (Gal 2:15-16):
15"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

So when one religious text has something we don't like anymore, we can just create a new one that overwrites the old one? If Jesus was part of God's plan, then why would he have need to change his mind?

All the laws referenced in this passage; where did they come from?

Q
02-24-2007, 07:22 PM
Actually, from their point of view, they are the only Christians.
A Christian that denies Christ's deity is a contradiction in terms. Plain and simple. That's why I fail to understand why they identify themselves as such.
Which is why they are detested so venomously.
Not by me. I've repeatedly been able to argue every single one that I've talked to into the ground on the very point that I mentioned above, easily and politely. Needless to say: they avoid my house like the plague.:)
I find them intriguing to talk to. I still have trouble with some of the ideals, but, it all falls on one's interpretation of the bible.
Same here.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect version of this book to base any deviations on. Man wrote this book and man is imperfect. Therefore, the bible is imperfect. No questions on that logic.
Over the centuries, I'm quite sure variations were created and beefed up to suit the clergy of the time.
I'm beginning to accept the likelyhood of this more and more. It was difficult for me at first considering my up-bringing, but the evidence is definitely there.
It still all comes down to what you believe.
Actually, it comes down to the truth. As to what that truth is, I sincerely doubt that anyone in history was 100% certain, and I don't believe that anyone is now.
Violence, repugnance and offensive treatment of your fellow man is just a showcase for your own personality.
I couln't agree with you more.
It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.
Actually, I believe that it's a little bit of both.;)
If you slam doors in their face, swear or spit at them, it is just a reflection of your own personality or lack thereof.
I would never practice or advocate behavior like that. Aside from being just plain wrong, it's counter-productive.:)

Achilles
02-24-2007, 09:01 PM
re: The Bible - to my mind, it adds veracity. In the four gospels, there are a variety of reasons that timelines contradict that I can see - simple muddling of recollection, or, in very rare and specific situations, such as the order of events leading up to the crucifixion, to take but a few. That is your take and that is fine. What about those that believe that the Bible is the unerring word of God?

To my mind, it puts the Bible exactly where it belongs: Amongst all the fictional religious texts that came before it.

It should also always be taken into account when dealing with Biblical passages, or indeed any historical source, is the context, both within the larger passage, and the wider cultural context. Please don't mistake me. Personally, I absolutely agree. I also think it's evidence that no one should take it seriously.

What you have done with the Old Testament passages is to pick out different soundbites, from different times and different books. You take them with modern eyes, and don't look at what is being said in the context of the time. What I have done is show that there are contradictions in the Bible. If the Bible is the unerring word of the perfect God, then there shouldn't be any contradictions. If the Bible is a fictional text written by various storytellers over several centuries, then contradictions make sense and should be expected...just like they are in every other tome of its ilk that have been summarily dismissed as "mythology" by scholars.

The Bible is the Word of God for Christians, yes, but that Word has been written down by human hands, and human minds are coloured by their times and places. You didn't take this into account as far as I could see, and I would imagine, 'though I cannot speak for any others here, that that would be the reason for this. :) I've made every attempt to address my audience (devout Christians). I think you've cherry-picked my arguments in an attempt to make it look as though I'm ignorant to history. It seems to be your argument would be best directed at those that still take their guidance from a book that was written 1800+ years ago.

OT: Yes, I've just been too lazy to respond :) Take your time. Surely you'll bring your A-game once you're rested.

JasraLantill
02-26-2007, 12:27 PM
I’ve really been enjoying reading the debate going on between all of the different parties involved in this thread. Don’t really want to get too involved in it (mostly because I'd feel so out of my league due to my lack of familiarity of the Bible), but please carry on! I’m learning a lot from all sides. :)

Science gives us progress because it's never satisfied; it constantly asks "why?". Religion doesn't do this.Actually, Achilles, there is one world religion actually encourages people to ask ‘why’ all the time. Haven’t really seen it mentioned in this thread, but thought you might find the folllowing quote of interest. I have it hanging in the hallway by my front door.

"Do not believe something just because it has been passed along and retold for many generations. [Simpler: Do not be led by what you are told.]

"Do not believe something merely because it has become a traditional practice. [Do not be led by whatever has been handed down from past generations.]

"Do not believe something simply because it is well-known everywhere. [Do not be led by hearsay or common opinion.]

"Do not believe something just because it is cited in a text. [Do not be led by something just because it is written in a religious book.]

"Do not believe something merely because it accords with your philosophy. [Do not be led by mere deduction or inference.]

"Do not believe something because it appeals to "common sense". [Do not be led by considering only outward appearance.]

"Do not believe something just because you like the idea. [Do not be led by preconceived notions (and the theory reflected as an approval.)]

"Do not believe something because the speaker seems trustworthy. [Do not be led by what seems acceptable by what some believable person says.]

"Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. [Do not be led by what your teacher tells you is so.]

"But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

--Gautama Buddha, taken from the Kesaputti Sutta, 5th sutta (sutra) in the Book of Threes (Mahavagga) in the Gradual Sayings (Tika Nipata).

Needless to say, the JW's don't pay many visits to my house. :)

Achilles
02-26-2007, 12:45 PM
Actually, Achilles, there is one world religion actually encourages people to ask ‘why’ all the time. Haven’t really seen it mentioned in this thread, but thought you might find the folllowing quote of interest.
Gah! Clearly, I'm not being as careful with my use of language as I thought I had been. You win. :D

In my defense, I do not consider Buddhism (or any other non-theistic, non-dogmatic belief systems) to be "religion", but I wasn't very clear on that, now was I? I will try to be more careful from now on.

Thanks!

JasraLantill
02-26-2007, 12:49 PM
Aw, no problem, Achilles. You're forgiven. ;)

Negative Sun
02-26-2007, 07:27 PM
I’ve really been enjoying reading the debate going on between all of the different parties involved in this thread. Don’t really want to get too involved in it (mostly because I'd feel so out of my league due to my lack of familiarity of the Bible), but please carry on! I’m learning a lot from all sides. :)

Actually, Achilles, there is one world religion actually encourages people to ask ‘why’ all the time. ~snipped for brevity~

--Gautama Buddha, taken from the Kesaputti Sutta, 5th sutta (sutra) in the Book of Threes (Mahavagga) in the Gradual Sayings (Tika Nipata).

Buddha rules, it's sad that some Eastern cultures aren't that well known around here...