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Infinite punishment

A group was handing out these fake money tracts at the parade on Saturday in Billings, MO:

God's perfect justice demands an infinite punishment in hell for breaking just one commandment. WTF?

The highlighted line reads:

God's perfect justice demands an infinite punishment in hell for breaking just one commandment.

What an impossibly unfair system! This bit of bad news is crucial groundwork for any evangelist trying to win a soul, but why should the target accept such an idea? I now see this as the church inventing a disease so they can sell you the cure.

You do not deserve to be tortured.

You do not need to be saved.

280 comments

Why do you believe that you have the authority and ability to judge who does and does not deserve to be tortured?

Your comments continue to become more dogmatic. Yet you claim lack of belief. I am getting mixed signals here. Shouldn’t you say that you haven’t seen proof that people deserve to be tortured, or need to be saved?


Katie [Visitor]• 09/07/09 @ 19:34

Why is this impossibly unfair? What standard of fairness do you use to arrive at this conclusion?

I’d also add that this tract sucks. As do all tracts, in my experience.


Brandon [Visitor] • http://ebrandon.net09/07/09 @ 19:37
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/08/09 @ 05:22

Is what concerns me, is that you are now telling me that you are choosing the system based on your opinion of it.

You have said that the main reason for turning from Christianity was that you realized people had been lying to you. They were lying to you, and I’d be mad too. You grew up in a very dogmatic church. So the point is to become open minded. But I don’t find that from you. I find that you have become dogmatic about your beliefs. You lash out at people that believe differently than you. You also make a lot of absolute statements about things that you can’t prove, yet claim that is the reason that you don’t believe Christianity.

There is evidence of this unfair system (which I believe is fair), it is written in the Christian Bible. That is not good evidence to you, but it is evidence all the same. what evidence do you have that this system isn’t true. Saying that human behavior doesn’t work that way now doesn’t prove or even give evidence for anything in a possible afterlife. I am aware you don’t believe in an afterlife, but again, you have no evidence.


Katie [Visitor]• 09/08/09 @ 06:19

Danny,

I wasn’t trying to bust your chops. What bothers me about your response is the implication that you have thought this through and nobody else has. ("because it’s part of the religion you grew up with, you give it a pass").


Brandon [Visitor] • http://ebrandon.net09/08/09 @ 07:41

Hi Katie,

I’m afraid you can’t site the Bible as evidence of anything other than “this is what some people believe.” That many people believe in it, doesn’t make it true, or give any credence to the stories contained within its pages. It’s the same scenario as a holocaust denier writing a book about his beliefs and people pointing to that book as evidence that the holocaust didn’t happen. “You might not think it’s good evidence, but it’s evidence all the same.” Again, it’s only evidence to those who already believe it.

You ask for proof that there is no afterlife, but that just isn’t how things work. It is you that has to give evidence for an afterlife, not the other way around; otherwise, what’s to stop someone from believing in any old thing simply because no one can prove that their belief is false? If I were to say to you that I believe it is invisible fairies that hold me down onto the ground rather than gravity, how would you prove it wrong? Well, you couldn’t, but it would be a silly thing for me to believe unless there were evidence that indicated this were the case.

You ask that he be open minded and that he makes a lot of absolute statements that he can’t prove and you are just describing yourself.

The thing is, Katie, you are an atheist too, it’s just that I believe in one less god than you. When you understand why you reject the gods of other religions as false, you will understand why I reject yours.

Also, what is love when it is love under the threat of eternal punishment, anyway? “Love me, or burn in hell forever.” Not much of a choice.


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/08/09 @ 08:15
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/08/09 @ 08:28

fuck religion.


knuck [Visitor]• 09/08/09 @ 08:53

The argument doesn’t have enough “evidence” on either side. I look to the Bible for authority and you look to yourself. There is no point arguing about it because we are at an impasse. But I find your closed mindedness alarming. I’m not attacking you, I am just telling you that you don’t seem very open minded. I thought it might be something you want to consider.


Katie [Visitor]• 09/08/09 @ 09:12

Katie,

Did you read my comment? I ask because you seem to have ignored everything I wrote which is, of course, your prerogative.

I can’t speak for Dan, but allow me to address the points you just made:

The argument doesn’t have enough “evidence” on either side

The problem you have is that believing in something does require evidence. Not believing in it does not. Before you say that your evidence is the Bible, please see my earlier comment. You believe the Bible is evidence because you believe the Bible which is circular reasoning and doesn’t get us anywhere.

You say:

I’m not attacking you, I am just telling you that you don’t seem very open minded

after you have already admitted:

There is no point arguing about it because we are at an impasse

and you are making accusations of being closed-minded. I put it to you that you are the closed minded one, Katie, based on this comment alone. I thought this might be something you would want to consider.

What I’m really interested in, is why you consider all the other religions of the world to be wrong?


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/08/09 @ 09:45

Fleegman, I am sorry to have ignored you. I don’t actually know you, which doesn’t make you less worthy of my response, but makes it more difficult to understand you.

I understand that there is a certain amount of closed-mindedness that comes with every belief. That was actually my point. I believe I am closed-minded on some things because of my belief in the Bible. I have been posting here for quite a while, and you would be welcome to go back through my comments on why I believe the Bible. I don’t have time to go through it all again right now. I have also explained why I believe Christ to be the truth and all other religions to be wrong, because they are not based on Christ.

The Bible is evidence, it is just not believable to you. The Koran is evidence too, just like the Talmud, etc. They are evidence of something, determining what is the problem. They are all historical documents. The point is what part is true and what isn’t. All stories have some measure of truth in them. Fictional stories are coming from someone’s experience plus their imagination. There is always an element of truth. I have really got to go, but I hope that my response is adequate for the time I have.


Katie [Visitor]• 09/08/09 @ 10:40

The Bible is not a historical document. Historical works don’t make up blatantly false stories like the earth was flooded or that everything was created in 6 days.

Additionally, if you actually considered the Qu’ran to be evidence, then why aren’t you Muslim. Further, as evidenced by the “et cetera,” I’m going to assume that you’re referring to other religious texts. Are you vouching for the validity of Norse mythology? How about the Greeks and the Romans?

Why are they wrong, but you’re right? They can’t all be right. Therefore, you must have some reasoning to believe what you do, beyond being raised that way. If you do, we’re all ears, even though you seem to be oddly silent about it. If not, then that’s something to seriously consider.


Janus Grayden [Visitor]  http://www.extheist.net09/08/09 @ 14:59

Janus,

You too don’t know me, and you haven’t read any of the posts I have written earlier that would clear up your mistakes. I wasn’t raised Christian. I was raised to believe everyone’s god or lack of god led to the same place.

I made it clear that their is truth in all documents/stories…Mythology accounts are still considered historical, because you are learning about what the people believed…and yes the Christian Bible is considered a historical document. That doesn’t make it entirely historically accurate. It is a perspective. Even the driest textbook that tries to be unbiased has a perspective and has controversies. Roman Mythology was not entirely myth, many of those “gods and goddesses were real people. You can read about them from other sources.

I don’t think I have been oddly silent…I think that is possible that you missed the part of my earlier post that said to go back over my past posts if you want to read about my journey or reasons for believing in Christ. I can’t just write a bio of the last 10 years of my life here. It isn’t one thing that makes me believe in Christ, it is a continual thing, that involves lots of different experiences.


Katie [Visitor]• 09/08/09 @ 15:49

Thanks for the email, Danny… I’m a part of the group that was in Billings, although, I wasn’t there on Saturday. When a person breaks a civil law, there is a punishment or penalty that must be paid. Who determines what that penalty is? The ones who makes the laws. God is the one who created us and made laws for us to live by. We break His laws and therefore deserve the punishment that He requires. For those who die in their sins, God requires them to spend eternity in hell. God is a just God and will see that the penalty is paid. But He is also the one who justifies those who repent and trust in Him. In fact, He commands us to repent and be believing. Repent means to turn away from all sin and turn to God. Believing means trusting Christ to reconcile you to the God you’ve offended by sinning. Each time you break one of the 10 commandments, you’ve broken God’s moral law and deserve to be punished. If you are concerned about spending eternity in a place called “the lake of fire", there is hope for you. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteous of God in Him. That’s unfair to be sure, but it’s all unfair in favor of the person who repents and trusts in Christ!


Bruce Holcomb [Visitor] • http://bornofHim.org09/08/09 @ 17:30
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/08/09 @ 17:38

Danny, I didn’t invent anything here… I’m simply reading a book that has been around for a few thousand years and telling what it says. Also, I’m not selling anything… I’m asking people to consider the free gift of grace offered by Jesus. I know not everybody will believe (that’s in the Bible too). Please don’t ignore your conscience the next time it tells you that you’ve done something wrong… please consider what it says to you.


Bruce Holcomb [Visitor]  http://bornofHim.org09/08/09 @ 17:56

Dan,
What does Bruce have to gain from “inventing a disease so you can sell the cure."(as you put it)?


Tim [Visitor]  http://www.repentanceandfaith.net09/09/09 @ 06:00
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/09/09 @ 06:09

“Infinite Punishment” - reasonable?
I heard this illustration to help us finite humans to understand this concept. If I as a father lie to my 8-year old daughter, what happens? Nothing. If I lie to my wife, what happens? Maybe sleep on the couch, deal with a strained relationship for a while, etc. If I lie to my boss, what happens? Probably fired. If I lie to the President of the U.S. or Government, what happens? Probably thrown in jail.
The crime did not change in this scenario, but who it was committed against was the difference and determined what the punishment would be. If we commit an offense against an almighty, holy, infinite God, the just and right punishment is infinite. It is only by this perspective that we will understand the depths of our breaking the law of God. Please consider what Bruce said earlier about God punishing law-breakers, but also remember that He is so kind to provide a way of escape.


Tim [Visitor]  http://www.repentanceandfaith.net09/09/09 @ 07:19
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/09/09 @ 07:28

Katie:

“I don’t actually know you, which doesn’t make you less worthy of my response, but makes it more difficult to understand you.”

My girlfriend has known me for ages, but still has a hard time understanding me ;o)

“…you would be welcome to go back through my comments on why I believe the Bible.”

Thank you, I will do this when I have time.

“I have also explained why I believe Christ to be the truth and all other religions to be wrong, because they are not based on Christ.”

Does this mean that you accept all forms of Christianity to be equally valid?

“The Bible is evidence, it is just not believable to you. The Koran is evidence too, just like the Talmud, etc. They are evidence of something, determining what is the problem.”

The only thing this is evidence for is that someone wrote it down. It’s the same thing as saying that what someone believes is evidence of that belief, which is clearly a useless definition. Would my belief in an invisible gravity fairy be evidence of the existence of such a creature? Even if I wrote it down and it was discovered centuries later?

“The point is what part is true and what isn’t. All stories have some measure of truth in them. Fictional stories are coming from someones experience plus their imagination. There is always an element of truth.”

In everything? Is there an element of truth in astrology? Or homeopathy? Countless books have been written about these things, and yet there is no reason to believe they are based on truth. What a lot of people believe? Of course. Truth? Not so much.

As far as a source of evidence goes, it’s a lot easier to accept the truth of mundane statements (i.e. things that don’t contradict everything we know about the way the world works) than statements of the supernatural (i.e. things that do contradict everything we know about the way the world works). In the case of statements of the supernatural, being written down in a book falls quite short of what it would take to convince even the least skeptical person. What we need is corroborating evidence.

When I ask difficult questions of believers, all I hear is rationalisation. This is understandable, because there are no answers that make sense; at least, I haven’t heard any. “We won’t understand until we’re dead,” or the old “God works in mysterious ways” get out clause that steps in to save the day.

This is all fine, of course, but I suppose the only thing I have a problem with is when believers attempt to make the argument that their choice to believe is a rational one. Or that it’s based on the evidence etc. Once the conclusion is chosen (belief in God - of whatever creed), the evidence is moulded to fit that conclusion, not the other way around.

Even questions like “Is ‘Love me or burn in hell for eternity’ a reasonable choice?” are rationalised away. When the rules say that someone who’s never even heard of Jesus Christ will burn in hell for all eternity even if that person spends his life doing charitable work, it’s fairly clear that the rules are ridiculously unfair and make no sense, especially when you consider that original sin was all God’s fault anyway. Just talking about all the ways this doesn’t fit together turns my head around.

Ok, getting off topic here, I’ll move on to Bruce:

Bruce said :

“God is the one who created us and made laws for us to live by. We break His laws and therefore deserve the punishment that He requires.”

Hey Katie, here’s some of that rationalisation I was talking about.

“Believing means trusting Christ to reconcile you to the God you’ve offended by sinning. Each time you break one of the 10 commandments, you’ve broken God’s moral law and deserve to be punished.”

So is it belief in Jesus Christ that spares us from hell, or not breaking the 10 commandments?

In fact this is something I’m not clear on, because it doesn’t really make sense. Maybe you can clear it up:

If you accept Jesus Christ in your heart, you’re still a sinner, right? You know, original sin? So, you’re bound to break a few of the commandments in your life. You’re at least going to think about breaking one, which is as good as breaking one apparently. So, isn’t the only difference between a good Christian and someone else that the Christian will repent after the fact?

In which case, what happens if you break one of the commandments and then get hit by a bus before you’ve had time to repent about it?

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteous of God in Him.”

Except that He is Him, so it wasn’t really much of a sacrifice, was it? Knowing He wasn’t really going to be killed. How was this gracious in any way?

“I’m asking people to consider the free gift of grace offered by Jesus.”

Except it’s not really free. For one thing you have to stop asking difficult questions and just accept things on faith. And, not to get too heavy here, but if I’m a woman, I’m not free to leave my husband even if he’s beating me stupid.

“I know not everybody will believe (that’s in the Bible too).”

In the books of Scientology, it also says people will not believe its teachings and will try to destroy it. In what way does this validate anything that’s contained within its pages? Persecution is part of every major religion. It’s like they can’t exist without it.

“Please don’t ignore your conscience the next time it tells you that you’ve done something wrong… please consider what it says to you.”

Why would he ignore his conscience, and what does that have to do with God? The fact that he (and I) has a conscience should tell you something. It worries me slightly that Christians say their morals are based on the teachings of the Bible, when what they mean is that they don’t do bad things for threat of retribution from their God. In other words, your conscience is based on fear of personal reprisal, and his (and mine) is based on altruism.

I do hope you take the time to think about what I’ve written here, rather than post a knee-jerk “You’ll never understand until you let Jesus into your heart” response.

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/09/09 @ 08:52

Danny asked those of us who have thought through the doctrine of Hell to explain how we can reconcile ourselves to it. I’ll give my own reconciliation below, but I should also say that I have no idea why God does the things he does or even claim to know exactly how the whole afterlife thing will be sorted out. I’m trusting that Jesus will somehow rescue me from anything too permanently terribly after death, but I also have discovered my ignorance too often and too deeply to really claim to know much about the mind of God.

Anyway–about Hell.

In my experience little wrongdoings, little oversights, little acts of selfishness often have consequences that exfoliate out in scary ways. I am, let’s say, unkind to a friend, who then feels hurt and treats others badly during the day because he is in a bad mood and so the lives of many are touched by one unkind word. Our actions cause ripples as the inspirational posters like to tell us. This can be good or bad, of course, but the default state for most of us is negligence and selfishness I think. We may not be maliciously acting evil most of the time, but our actions, whether driving inefficient cars or gossiping about someone to feel included, often are evil. Milton said the Garden of Eden “tends to wildness.” I think that is true of the human soul as well. The town hall meetings of late are evidence.

Now, if we life continues beyond death, the danger is that this tendency towards wildness will increase. If life is eternal, we could become infinitely evil, making life Hell for those around us and also ourselves. Did you see the thing on Reddit the other day where someone asked if anyone else regularly thinks of something they did that they regret and physically convulse at the memory? Of course just about every commenter said they did. I think that’s sort of a taste of Hell. In retrospect we see the start of the consequences for our thoughtless actions (or maybe even just how embarassing they were) and they torment us long afterwards. I think we were built with a conscience that guides our actions away from evil, and that, in the short term, accuses us when we do wrong in part to keep us from doing it again and guide us towards better actions. But if this part of ourselves continued to collect accusations throughout eternity, I think I, at least, would be in torment most of the time.

I think Hell is mostly the natural result of the infinitely extended human condition. The Bible more or less supports this I think. When Adam and Eve eat the fruit, God’s first move is the cut off access to the tree of life, thus placing some limits on the extent to which human evil can grow in one life time. I think death as the permanent end was more or less the state of things before Jesus. Some stories that seem to imply the opposite in the Bible, I know, but I think mostly the idea is that you go down to the grave and that’s it. Solomon especially seemed to think so.

But…death sucks. The extinguishing of a soul seems to bother God at least as much as it does us. So he sends Jesus to somehow defeat death by dying (no idea…). We all get to live forever again, but the problem of continued existence as evil beings is there once more. But now we have an example and a helper in Jesus whose path/way sets out a line we can trace to avoid descending into our own Hell. Also, somehow his death provides a way to start to wipe our consciences clean. (again…no idea)

Of course, you still have to follow this path or the same problem is still there. So God put another limit on it–the Second Death which was created for the devil and his angels. I don’t know what happens there. Maybe its just the final end–the Grave of the old testament, an elimination of consciousness. Some Christians have thought so, but I also think Jesus’s parables seem to imply there is some consciousness in the Hell.

I wonder if Hell is something like a quarantine house for evil. I don’t think God is doing the tormenting there, although he may be burning some of it off in some way so it doesn’t get too bad. I kind of think people might be able to escape from it, even after death, through following Jesus’s path as well, although I also wonder if, at a certain point, you don’t sort of reach escape velocity from goodness and can’t return. Maybe at the end of all things Hell gives up its dead and they are redeemed or destroyed forever. Revelation implies something like this, I believe.

I fully acknowledge that all of this is heavily dependent on metaphors and my own belief in scripture, and is in no way meant to serve as an iron-clad argument for believing in God or any of what I am saying. I just am responding to the question of how I reconcile the apparent injustice of Hell.




Doug [Visitor]• 09/09/09 @ 17:08

WOW! Did you open a hornets nest. I will say something that might come across mean. I will apologize for that. But I see someone like this and I become very concerned for their soul. In other words I’m very passionate about the matter of someones salvation. Regardless if you reject the whole idea of salvation. I know it turns you off. However, I would like to add my 2 cents. And thats about all it’s worth. I ask you…you are wanting evidence of Gods existence? You must be 100% sure that he doesn’t exist. Because if you are not 100% sure you will be in for one big shocker on the day of your passing. But to help you understand where as a Christian we come from… Well lets start with His Justice. How many times have you turned on the T.V. and noticed a murder , rape or crime to despicable to repeat? I for one want justice to be served. If someone rapes and murders someone close to you, wouldn’t you want to see that justice was acted out to the fullest extent of the law? I would. What if this murder was never caught…or better yet what if the Murder did get caught. Came before a judge with all the evidence pointing at that murder. The judge looked at all the evidence against him. And allows the murder go scott-free! That is a bad judge. He wouldn’t be worthy of that robe-NO! He wouldn’t be worthy of that authority… Now you will argue this I understand. How does that prove there is a God? Your conscience was given to you by God. It informs you that you have done something wrong. That’s why you would be just beside yourself if a judge allowed a murder to go free. You have a knowledge of Good and Evil. But think about it.(that is if it’s not been hardened with sin)
So now your wondering how can there be a good God with all this tragedy in the world? Guess what! Your the reason. I’m the reason. The whole world is the reason. Not God. God gets blamed for everything. He will get those people who never face justice. We are the murders, thieves the lier’s the rapist and in the end we pass the blame. It’s so much easier to blame something or someone else. If it weren’t true why do we have police. How come we know that we shouldn’t lie or murder or steal? What gave us that moral equilibrium? I never stole anything in my life you might say. Well if God is real and he made this world you just stole his air. If God that I believe in is real. He made the law and the world you are in…First of all. Let me stop right there and add, GOD is THE LAW. He is the standard that we as his creation fall short of. That is what a Christian knows. So If you don’t know this to be true…I don’t know what else to add. It is just and right for God to though us to Hell. Sadly the reason for your point of view is that you think of yourself not as a lier or a thief.
So Why do we as Christians see that this is the only way? Easy. He tell us that there is only one way. “John 14. I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes unto the father except through me.” There are so many verses that point that out.
Why would we believe the scriptures? Well easy. There is no written historical document (and yes accurately written) known to man. You can look a any other wittings and the Bible holds up. You have more evidence of it’s accuracy than Homer. The Gospel of Mark is now believed to have been written less that 5 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Other authors of the 1st century wrote about the “way” and how they were followers of a man that Died on a cross and ROSE from the dead. They also where shocked to see them die from this man they called the one and true God. Remind you they where not being shot at a firing squad. Nope, they were being sawed in half, crucified, buried alive… WHY would they do this if they hadn’t seen Jesus with their own eyes? Over 500 documented eye witness of Jesus after his resurrection. Jesus said, “Blessed are they who didn’t see me yet believe.” He was a real man who walked the earth.
See, The Bible is your evidence. All of creation is there as your evidence. Romans 1 says “For what can we know about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them . For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Read the rest Chapters 1 & 2. A real eye opener. How can something so accurate be wrong?
My answer is there is no other God because he says there is no other God, the world was created by Him(in 6 /24 hr days) Because he says it was, He says that His punishment is Just and perfect. Hebrews 9:28 or Hebrews 10: 26,27. or the Revelation 20: 12-15 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

P.S. The proof of evidence isnt in my corner but yours. Prove me wrong.
I only hope and pray that God shows you his mercy. I will pray for you.


BIGRED [Visitor]• 09/09/09 @ 19:45

Fleegman asks some good questions:

“So is it belief in Jesus Christ that spares us from hell, or not breaking the 10 commandments?”

We are all natural-born sinners… we are not able to live our whole life without sinning. By our own works (our sins) we deserve hell. Believing some historical facts about Jesus does not save you. Understanding that you are a wretched sinner who can’t reconcile yourself to God, then submitting to His authority… trusting in the way He made for you to be saved… that is what saves you. Jesus doesn’t just want into your heart… He wants all of you. He want you to submit to Him and live your life for Him. Simply asking Him into your heart… the so-called sinners prayer is not what saves you from the wrath of God.

“So, isn’t the only difference between a good Christian and someone else that the Christian will repent after the fact?”

No… not repent after the fact. Repentance is an attitude of wanting to not sin, but instead wanting to submit to Christ Jesus. At some point in a Christians life, they have come to see their need for a savior. At the point, they repent. But they live a lifestyle of repentance everyday. Everyday you “take up your cross and follow Jesus". The cross was an instrument of death… you die to yourself daily and serve the one who created you.

“Except that He is Him, so it wasn’t really much of a sacrifice, was it? Knowing He wasn’t really going to be killed. How was this gracious in any way?”

There is one true God, but He is three distinct persons… the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Only the Son gave up His life to satisfy the wrath of God. The Father accepted the sacrifice and raised Jesus from the dead.

“Except it’s not really free. For one thing you have to stop asking difficult questions and just accept things on faith. And, not to get too heavy here, but if I’m a woman, I’m not free to leave my husband even if he’s beating me stupid.”

No… don’t stop asking difficult questions. Question why you’re here… what are you supposed to be doing, ask big questions now, once this life is over, it will be too late. There is no second chance… ask questions now. Regarding a wife getting beaten by her husband, I can’t speak for everybody, but I know I would counsel her to leave. True Christianity does not distinguish between the worth of a man or woman… we are all equal in God’s eyes. We have different roles, but one is as important as the other.

How do you think we got our conscience? Do you think it evolved? God put it within us to give is some guidance. I avoid doing many of the bad things I used to do because I love Jesus; I am so grateful for the sacrifice He made; I can’t imagine the Father killing His own Son in my place to pay for my sins. That love is incomprehensible. Romans 5:8 “But God shows His love for us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“I do hope you take the time to think about what I’ve written here, rather than post a knee-jerk “You’ll never understand until you let Jesus into your heart” response.”

Like I said before… Jesus doesn’t just want your heart… He want’s all of you. No where in the bible does Jesus say “ask me into your heart". He wants you to realize He is God, He made you, He gets to decide what happens to you… He is in charge.


Bruce Holcomb [Visitor] • http://bornofHim.org09/09/09 @ 20:09

Fleegman–to answer your questions:

“Does this mean that you accept all forms of Christianity to be equally valid?”

All forms of Christianity are not based on Christ…and some are very loosely based. I already made clear that I am not a fan of the church that Dan grew up in. I also would not consider the “church” I grew up in to really have much to do with Christ, at least when I was there. I didn’t hear anything but relativism until my senior year of high school. The churches that stick to the basics I consider valid. I can count on one hand the doctrines that I believe are essential to a Christian faith. But on the whole, I don’t think it can be judged on a church by church basis. Each person in each church believes something slightly different, and for different reasons. I think you would agree that you would not agree with everything that every atheist/agnostic chooses to believe (I don’t mean to classify you, please let me know if I have incorrectly used the label atheist). It would be impossible anyway, as those beliefs would contradict each other, just as they do with Christianity.

“Would my belief in an invisible gravity fairy be evidence of the existence of such a creature?”

Your belief and dreaming up of this creature would be evidence, but very bad evidence. The more people involved, normally the more valid the evidence is considered. If you, like Joseph Smith, could convince a few influential people that your creature truly existed, then it is possible it could take off. You might want to consider it. On the downside, people will start researching your character, and they might find out that you are just a really imaginative con-artist, who’s character doesn’t stand up to the test of a man of God, or in your case, a man of Science. One of the biggest things Jesus has going for him is his character, and the lack of evidence to slander it.

“Is there an element of truth in astrology? Or homeopathy? Countless books have been written about these things, and yet there is no reason to believe they are based on truth. What a lot of people believe? Of course. Truth? Not so much.”

The point I was making, is that they are based on some truth. People need a starting point. You come up with a gravity fairy. Well gravity is true…the fairy part probably not. Astrology…people used to rely on the stars for their calender, especially for farming…can we tell what is going to happen tomorrow by the stars…no, but you can make an educated guess based on past events and the alignment of the stars (in farming anyway). The point is that people don’t just pull things out of thin air entirely. There is always an element of truth. Someone did not just write the New Testament as a hoax. It is more improbable than man never really landing on the moon. There were less witnesses to man stepping foot on the moon, but I would guess that you believe in that account based on those witnesses. It could all be fabricated though. It would only take a handful of people to say they were actually there. Why do you believe man has really stepped on the moon.

I don’t have much to say for the rationalization comments. I don’t see it as rationalization because I believe in a God that is bigger than I am and that I could never hope to understand. That is part of the belief. I wasn’t bullied into believing it. I chose to believe it based on the character of Jesus and my relationship to that God (the experience). That is a short summary of the reasons for my belief…again read previous posts for more info.


Katie [Visitor]• 09/09/09 @ 21:47

Wow, lots to answer. I’ll take the posts one by one.

First up is Doug (you lucky thing):

When Adam and Eve eat the fruit, God’s first move is the cut off access to the tree of life, thus placing some limits on the extent to which human evil can grow in one life time.

Kind of makes you wonder why he didn’t do that in the first place.

But…death sucks. The extinguishing of a soul seems to bother God at least as much as it does us.So he sends Jesus to somehow defeat death by dying (no idea…). We all get to live forever again, but the problem of continued existence as evil beings is there once more. But now we have an example and a helper in Jesus whose path/way sets out a line we can trace to avoid descending into our own Hell.

This is an interesting point, and something about which I’ve never heard a decent explanation: Did hell begin at the same time as Heaven? You say that souls used to be “extinguished” and that God sent Jesus (which is himself, of course) so we can live forever. But now it’s an either Hell or Heaven arrangement. And if that’s true, was that when Satan took up the job of ruling over Hell? When did Satan arrive on the scene again? This is all very confusing. Personally, having my soul extinguished seems a lot nicer than eternity in Hell. So let me ask you this: Why does God make us choose between Heaven and Hell, when it would be more merciful (a word constantly associated with the almighty) to simply let the souls of the bad people (heh) end, and the souls of the good people (again, heh) go to Heaven to party?

Some Christians have thought so, but I also think Jesus’s parables seem to imply there is some consciousness in the Hell.

What would be the point of eternal suffering without consciousness?

I fully acknowledge that all of this is heavily dependent on metaphors and my own belief in scripture, and is in no way meant to serve as an iron-clad argument for believing in God or any of what I am saying. I just am responding to the question of how I reconcile the apparent injustice of Hell.

I appreciate your attempt to answer this, but this is just your opinion, isn’t it? That’s all well and good, but shouldn’t there be some kind of consensus on this? This is, after all, the foundation of your religion. I mean, this is one of the pillars on which you support your faith. Shouldn’t there be a bit of a clearer picture as to what’s going on here rather than, to put it mildly, so much hand waving?


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/10/09 @ 05:24

In response to Big Red:

But I see someone like this and I become very concerned for their soul. In other words I’m very passionate about the matter of someones salvation.

Thank you, but I assure you there is nothing to worry about.

I ask you…you are wanting evidence of Gods existence? You must be 100% sure that he doesn’t exist. Because if you are not 100% sure you will be in for one big shocker on the day of your passing.

I am not 100% sure he doesn’t exist. If he does exist, however, how can you be sure you have the right one? If you’ve got it wrong, you’ll be in for one big shock when Thor is standing over you, pounding you with that hammer of his.

Your conscience was given to you by God.

Evidence?

It informs you that you have done something wrong.

Largely determined by upbringing and social factors as well as traits we have evolved to be beneficial. Traits like “killing people you live amongst isn’t a good idea.” Can you not see how this would be a beneficial evolutionary trait?

You have a knowledge of Good and Evil.

Assuming this was given to you by God, why do you need the commandments? Couldn’t he have just said: “Don’t do bad things” instead? If he gave you this innate understanding of good and evil, why did he have to spell it out for you as well?

God gets blamed for everything.

That pesky tree. Oh, and the talking snake. If only he could have prevented all that sin. Oh wait! He totally could have, but he didn’t.

It’s so much easier to blame something or someone else.

The thing is, I take responsibility for my actions, both good and bad. I don’t give credit to God when I do something good, and I don’t blame the Devil when I do something not so good. This is contrary to the Christian view on the way the world works. You are talking about yourself here.

Well if God is real and he made this world you just stole his air.

Haha, thank you for my first big laugh of the day. If this God of yours does exist, he seems like a bit of a douche bag. (I couldn’t think of a nicer description in this case; please excuse me ;o))

That is what a Christian knows.

This is what a Christian has chosen to believe.

Sadly the reason for your point of view is that you think of yourself not as a liar or a thief.

If by this you mean I don’t think of myself as a worthless sinner, you are right. I wouldn’t say I was perfect though. I’m just not down with the “if you even think about lying, you will suffer eternal punishment” bit.

So Why do we as Christians see that this is the only way? Easy. He tell us that there is only one way. “John 14. I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes unto the father except through me.” There are so many verses that point that out.

So you believe in what a book says, and it’s true because it says it’s true. And it goes round and round and round.

Why would we believe the scriptures? Well easy. There is no written historical document (and yes accurately written) known to man. You can look a any other wittings and the Bible holds up. You have more evidence of it’s accuracy than Homer. The Gospel of Mark is now believed to have been written less that 5 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Other authors of the 1st century wrote about the “way” and how they were followers of a man that Died on a cross and ROSE from the dead. They also where shocked to see them die from this man they called the one and true God. Remind you they where not being shot at a firing squad. Nope, they were being sawed in half, crucified, buried alive… WHY would they do this if they hadn’t seen Jesus with their own eyes? Over 500 documented eye witness of Jesus after his resurrection.

Ok, this whole paragraph is an example of you trying to justify your belief in the Bible with evidence that the Bible is an accurate historical document. Have you lost your faith? Who believes the claims you mentioned? Biblical scholars? Believers? Again we have conclusion moulding evidence to fit the facts.

Blessed are they who didn’t see me yet believe.

Why should some have less evidence than others? Doubting Thomas asked for proof and he got it! Why don’t we get that proof now? Why has God made it so hard to believe this stuff? Jesus went around healing the sick by laying his hands on them. If I saw this, I’d probably believe in him, too. But there’s nothing. No miracles.

I need a lot of evidence to believe these claims of supernatural beings. The opposite is true for you. Any evidence is good enough because you already have your conclusion. It’s as simple as that.

All of creation is there as your evidence.

Yes, the evidence for evolution is overwhelming. And this brings me to another point. If there is a god, he apparently lied about the age of the Earth. In all scientific endeavour, it, and the Universe, appears to be billions of years old. Why would he make it appear that way if not to fool the curious among us? It seems like the curious people who enjoy science have a harder time believing because all the evidence suggests things at total odds with scripture. Aren’t we all created equal? Apparently not because the people who don’t accept things on face value are penalised in the way that it’s more difficult for them to believe.

Romans 1 says “For what can we know about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them . For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Read the rest Chapters 1 & 2. A real eye opener. How can something so accurate be wrong?

Again, quoting scripture doesn’t help your case. For what it’s worth, the Bible is wrong about a lot of things. These problems are rationalised away by believers, once again, because their premise is that it is the word of God.

My answer is there is no other God because he says there is no other God

A non-argument, if I ever saw one. This is equivalent to me saying that the invisible gravity fairy exists because, without it holding me down, I would fly off into space.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

You know, it doesn’t say anything about “the ones who accepted Jesus into their lives” it only mentioned their deeds. It plainly states (for once) that the deeds of an individual determine how they are judged. This clearly contradicts what it says at other times. How can contradictions such as these be reconciled with the idea that the Bible is inerrant? Easy. With rationalisation.

The proof of evidence isn’t in my corner but yours. Prove me wrong.

Once again with the burden of proof. You are the one making the claim, therefore you need to provide the proof. Not believing in your claim does not require evidence so I don’t need to prove anything.

I will pray for you.

And I will think for you.


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/10/09 @ 05:31

And to Bruce:

We are all natural-born sinners… we are not able to live our whole life without sinning. By our own works (our sins) we deserve hell.

From my perspective, it’s so sad that you believe this.

No… not repent after the fact. Repentance is an attitude of wanting to not sin, but instead wanting to submit to Christ Jesus. At some point in a Christians life, they have come to see their need for a savior. At the point, they repent. But they live a lifestyle of repentance everyday. Everyday you “take up your cross and follow Jesus". The cross was an instrument of death… you die to yourself daily and serve the one who created you.

But you still sin, right? So the difference is that you actually feel bad about sinning, then?

There is one true God, but He is three distinct persons… the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In other words, the same person in three different guises, which is what I was saying.

Only the Son gave up His life to satisfy the wrath of God. The Father accepted the sacrifice and raised Jesus from the dead.

So Jesus didn’t know he was God? How can God, in the guise of Jesus, not know he was God? And even if this were the case, God certainly knew Jesus could not really die. Again, we’re back to asking whether this really was a sacrifice.

Regarding a wife getting beaten by her husband, I can’t speak for everybody, but I know I would counsel her to leave.

But that isn’t what the Bible teaches. Honour and obey, Bruce. You can’t pick and choose the good bits and only follow them, can you?

True Christianity does not distinguish between the worth of a man or woman… we are all equal in God’s eyes.

Ahh, the old True Scotsman ploy. I’m afraid, once again, your words don’t agree with the teachings of the scripture.

How do you think we got our conscience? Do you think it evolved?

I answered this in my response above.

God put it within us to give is some guidance.

I say argumentum ad ignorantiam to that. Just because you can’t imagine how conscience came about through evolution, doesn’t mean it didn’t.

I avoid doing many of the bad things I used to do because I love Jesus

Have a little faith in yourself, Bruce. Is it possible that you realised it felt better being a nicer person? I see a common theme in believers which says that they would go around killing and generally being unsociable idiots if they didn’t have Jesus and the commandments to guide them. I find that quite worrying.

No where in the bible does Jesus say “ask me into your heart". He wants you to realize He is God

Ah ha! So he is God, after all!

Thanks for your responses, I really do appreciate them, even though I can come across as snarky at times ;o)


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/10/09 @ 05:59

Hi Katie,

Responses to your comments follow:

I think you would agree that you would not agree with everything that every atheist/agnostic chooses to believe (I don’t mean to classify you, please let me know if I have incorrectly used the label atheist).

No, that’s fine, you’re dead on. I accept the possiblity that they may be a God, but I see no evidence for it. I also have no reason to believe that, if there is a God, any of the man made religions of the world have it right. As far as I’m concerned, they were all made up by men to explain stuff they didn’t understand.

And, no, I don’t believe everything every atheist/agnostic believes, but you’re confusing non-belief and belief again, I think.

Your belief and dreaming up of this creature would be evidence, but very bad evidence. The more people involved, normally the more valid the evidence is considered.

Right, and this is a very important point! I believe you are committing he argumentum ad populum fallacy when it comes to evidence. That many people believe in something is not evidence for that belief, simply that many people believed it. The entire population of the Earth at some point in history thought the Sun revolved around the earth. Lots of believers; only evidence that they believed, not for the belief itself.

If you, like Joseph Smith, could convince a few influential people that your creature truly existed, then it is possible it could take off. You might want to consider it.

Forgive me, but do you mean as more and more people believe something it becomes more valid?

One of the biggest things Jesus has going for him is his character, and the lack of evidence to slander it.

The thing is, the credibility of evidence required to prove that someone is a nice guy, isn’t the same as the credibility of evidence required to prove that he is the son of God. Or God himself. This is because there are nice guys in the world, now. We meet them all the time. What we don’t see, are people who can cure the blind by laying their hands on them, walk on water, or turn water into wine. For this reason, we require greater evidence than the fact that it’s written in a book.

The point I was making, is that they are based on some truth. People need a starting point. You come up with a gravity fairy. Well gravity is true…the fairy part probably not. Astrology…people used to rely on the stars for their calender, especially for farming…can we tell what is going to happen tomorrow by the stars…no, but you can make an educated guess based on past events and the alignment of the stars (in farming anyway).

I apologise for sounding harsh, here, but I think your definition of truth is so loose as to be worthless. To say that these things have elements of truth because they have extraordinarily tenuous links to the real world seems a little, well, hollow. Yes, you can make an educated guess based on past events, but leave the stars out of it.

The point is that people don’t just pull things out of thin air entirely. There is always an element of truth.

Based on your definition of truth, I can hardly argue with that, but is it a worthwhile truth? When a psychic says “The victim is being held near a body of water” I submit that they are pulling it out of thin air. You can say “but there is a victim” so there’s an element of truth, but where would that get us? By all reasonable measures, there is no truth in it.

It is more improbable than man never really landing on the moon. There were less witnesses to man stepping foot on the moon

Excluding the millions of people watching on TV, of course.

but I would guess that you believe in that account based on those witnesses.

No, I believe in that account because of the vast amount of corroborating evidence having investigated all the popular moon hoax theories and determining that they were baseless. Oh, you can also factor in eye witness accounts of people who are still alive today that were on the moon.

It could all be fabricated though. It would only take a handful of people to say they were actually there. Why do you believe man has really stepped on the moon.

I suppose I could answer that simply by saying that it would be more difficult to believe it was fabricated than that they actually went to the moon. The enormous challenges they faced in order to get to the moon would pale in comparison with the difficulties of pulling it all off as a hoax. Please see other sources on the internet (Bad astronomer is a good one) that can do a much better job of explaining this than me.

I don’t have much to say for the rationalization comments. I don’t see it as rationalization because I believe in a God that is bigger than I am and that I could never hope to understand.

And yet you do claim to understand what he wants from you. Since this is so open to interpretation, it’s no wonder there are so many denominations all thinking they are the true believers.

That is part of the belief. I wasn’t bullied into believing it. I chose to believe it based on the character of Jesus and my relationship to that God (the experience). That is a short summary of the reasons for my belief…again read previous posts for more info.

I do find it interesting when someone chooses to believe in adult life, without the indoctrination part; as soon as I have time I will chase that up. Thanks for the discussion.


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/10/09 @ 06:07

Hi Fleegman,
Glad there’s finally an articulate atheist other than Danny commenting. It started to feel like the conversation was a little lopsided–like we were all ganging up on him (Course it is his blog, so he’s got the power to send us all to blog hell if he likes…)

Anyway, to quickly respond:

You say that souls used to be “extinguished” and that God sent Jesus (which is himself, of course) so we can live forever. But now it’s an either Hell or Heaven arrangement. And if that’s true, was that when Satan took up the job of ruling over Hell? When did Satan arrive on the scene again? This is all very confusing. Personally, having my soul extinguished seems a lot nicer than eternity in Hell. So let me ask you this: Why does God make us choose between Heaven and Hell, when it would be more merciful (a word constantly associated with the almighty) to simply let the souls of the bad people (heh) end, and the souls of the good people (again, heh) go to Heaven to party?

You’re describing a Christian mythology that has more to do with popular imagination (and some Catholic legend) than the Bible. I don’t really think Satan “rules” Hell per se. While there are times when Jesus talks about the “gates of Hell” not triumphing over his kingdom, I think he’s mostly talking about the world of evil. In most discussions of Hell, the place, it seems a location where the evil, whether human or demon, are tormented equally.

I was suggesting exactly that maybe the second death is just extinction rather than eternal torment. Some Christians have believed this in the past 2000 years, and I think it’s possible. My other speculation was that it’s just the natural result of human evil continuing for eternity in resurrected and unkillable bodies.

We’re talking theology here, though, and it’s all speculation informed by whatever texts and traditions we hold sacred. Again, this is just how I think about Hell and how I can reconcile the idea to a loving and merciful God.

Do you think, Fleegman and Danny, that if humans were raised from the dead in more or less the form they are in now, and allowed to continue making free choices for eternity, that the trend would be towards something more like Heaven or more like Hell?



Doug [Visitor]• 09/10/09 @ 16:11

Doug:

You’re describing a Christian mythology that has more to do with popular imagination (and some Catholic legend) than the Bible.

Yes, but it was in response to the description you gave of your version of how it all hangs together. Without being too flippant, I agree that imagination has a lot to do with it, and that is the core of some of the points I’ve been making. When you have different groups of people who all lay claim to the truth, but have, in fact, all just made up their own personal version, it weakens the veracity of the claim.

I don’t really think Satan “rules” Hell per se. While there are times when Jesus talks about the “gates of Hell” not triumphing over his kingdom, I think he’s mostly talking about the world of evil. In most discussions of Hell, the place, it seems a location where the evil, whether human or demon, are tormented equally.

As fun as that description sounds (and I did ask, so I appreciate the response), I suppose it’s more important to decide if it’s at all likely that a hell even exists, rather than imagining how it might be organised. You have decided, of course, but what I’d really like is to determine if it was a rational decision.

I was suggesting exactly that maybe the second death is just extinction rather than eternal torment. Some Christians have believed this in the past 2000 years, and I think it’s possible. My other speculation was that it’s just the natural result of human evil continuing for eternity in resurrected and unkillable bodies.

Can you see what an important point this is? It’s the difference between eternal torment and not eternal torment for sinners. The very idea that bathing in lakes of fire might not be on an eternal basis shakes the very foundation of what drives people to be good Christians, isn’t it?

I realise that some Christians reading this might comment, correctly, that a lot of (if not most) Christians follow Christ for other reasons which include the love of God and the joy of doing God’s work etc, but I would like to point out that a lot of children would not be going to Sunday school if it weren’t for the threat of Hell hanging over them. After all, without the threat of something really bad happening if they don’t toe the line, why would they bother?

It’s almost as though someone designed the religion that way to keep their congregation benches full, and the collection plate overflowing. Heh, sorry, I couldn’t help myself ;o)

Do you think, Fleegman and Danny, that if humans were raised from the dead in more or less the form they are in now, and allowed to continue making free choices for eternity, that the trend would be towards something more like Heaven or more like Hell?

Well, I’m a fan of Star Trek, and I’d like to think as a species we would grow into the enlightened society it portrays.

Let me finish with a couple of points and questions:

Thinking about it, the fundamental problem I have with religion is that the followers believe that this life is some kind of dry run. When we die? Well, that’s where the fun really begins! You see, this attitude devalues what I believe to be the only life we’ll have. You have followers referring to themselves as “worthless sinners.” We all know countless lives have been wasted and destroyed at the hands of religion, but I’m talking about people giving it away willingly and freely with a smile on their face, and a prayer on their lips.

I can’t help but feel that if we all knew for definite that this was the only life we have, we might just treat each other’s lives with the respect that such a precious thing deserves.

So, my question:

Do you think Heaven is just the same as this but there’s no death or suffering? Everything we ever wanted. Knowing everything, knowing God, great clothes, the whole deal? And crucially no one’s a sinner anymore?

Oh man, I have so many questions about all this, sorry to go on. See, if it’s anything like this what I really want to scream is “what’s the point of this life, then?” Because it certainly sounds like God is just putting all the things he created on trial to see if they are worthy. But that would mean he created them incorrectly, wouldn’t it? I can already hear the cries of “original sin, not God,” but he created sin didn’t he? He created everything, didn’t he? Or did Satan create sin, in order to rationalise that one away?

Excuse the rant, but if there’s no sin in Heaven, why not just cut out the middle man and stick us all there to begin with?

And here’s the real kicker: One of the biggest objections to atheistic thinking is “what would be the point of this life without God?” Ignoring the point that they are assuming there has to be a point (other than self improvement and being excellent to each other, of course), I ask you: What would be the point of all sitting around in Heaven?

Seriously. You’ve all done it, you’ve all made it to Heaven, and you’re all patting yourselves on the back for being so awesome and someone says “what do we do now?” You see, this perfect vision of Heaven you’ve created doesn’t actually give you anything to strive for. You don’t read books because you know everything. You don’t discuss things because you have all the answers, you don’t go to the cinema (assuming they have a multiplex or two) because “nothing compares to how amazing it is just to be in this place.” Is sex still off limits without marriage? So what is the point? Has anyone thought this through?

Altogether: “We can’t understand God’s plan, but we will when we’re dead.”

Wow, I really went off on one, there. Hope you’re still awake out there!

P.S. Doesn’t anyone think it’s totally unfair that Adam was blamed for eating the fruit when he didn’t know the difference between right and wrong before he actually took a bite?


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/11/09 @ 10:04

Fleegman,
You make some statements in your response to me that I am not following scripture, or that I am picking an choosing. Not at all… but I think the best thing for you to do would be to get into the Bible and find out for yourself. But it sounds to me like you aren’t worried about heaven and hell, so I’d just like to ask that you make sure you’re right. This is very important… don’t leave this planet without knowing that answer 100% for sure. But I don’t think you are 100% certain… otherwise, why are you engaged in this discussion? Could it be because you’d like to know the truth? Anyway, if you do want to know the truth… His name is Jesus and you can learn about Him in the Bible. He created us and He’s the only eternal hope we have. Start with the gospel of John. I don’t even know you, but I’m praying that you begin to study. (And that goes for anybody reading this.)


Bruce Holcomb [Visitor]  http://bornofHim.org09/11/09 @ 14:37
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/11/09 @ 15:34
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/11/09 @ 15:41

A few responses:

The very idea that bathing in lakes of fire might not be on an eternal basis shakes the very foundation of what drives people to be good Christians, isn’t it?

I know you later correct yourself, but this is pretty crucial–in my experience most people who become Christians simply out of fear do not stay Christians (or at least really faithful Christians) for very long. The author of 1 John says “There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out all fear.” I’m trying to figure this one out in light of all the teaching on the fear of the Lord and my awareness that my own response to God is usually, at least in part, based on fear, but I really do think the Christians I’ve really respected aren’t particularly motivated by fear.

I really want to scream is “what’s the point of this life, then?” Because it certainly sounds like God is just putting all the things he created on trial to see if they are worthy. But that would mean he created them incorrectly, wouldn’t it? I can already hear the cries of “original sin, not God,” but he created sin didn’t he? He created everything, didn’t he? Or did Satan create sin, in order to rationalise that one away?

Fleegman, I think you might find some theological history texts interesting (even if you don’t really buy what they describe). I get the sense you’re responding to the teachings that are popular especially in 20th/21st century American Catholic churches, but also in a lot of fundamentalist/evangelical churches, but which are not really in the Bible and not even part of the greater Christian tradition.

Where evil comes from has long been a problem for Christians. Most have concluded it’s not really an active force but rather the absence or perversion of good. Kind of a null variable rather than a negative boolean (forgive me if that made no sense, geek analogy). It’s not that evil isn’t real, it’s just that it’s not its own thing. Evil depends on Good for definition, whereas Good stands on its own.

You see, this perfect vision of Heaven you’ve created doesn’t actually give you anything to strive for.

I have no idea what Heaven will be like. The only pictures we in scripture are pretty static (which makes sense if time is gone–both Christians and physicists agree time is, well, temporary). I don’t know how to imagine life in an eternal moment. Still, I think Jesus’s resurrected form (as pictured in the Gospels) is maybe a glimpse of it. While he could kind of come and go at will through walls and locked doors, it seems like he could also choose to continue living in more or less the way he did before he died (making breakfast, eating fish, walking along a road, etc.). In Tony Kushner’s play ANGELS IN AMERICA, the protagonist observes that one translation for Jacob’s request as he wrestles the angel in Genesis is for “more life.” This echoes Jesus’s promise of abundant life. Maybe that’s what Heaven is. More of the same, only gradually improving and with tears wiped away. Maybe Heaven is more like C.S. Lewis’s picture in the GREAT DIVORCE…a journey upwards into that which is more and more real. I don’t know…the Bible doesn’t really say. But it sure doesn’t picture clouds and harps anywhere.

I do think, though, that the seeds we begin to sow in life in our own character grow and come to maturity in eternity. That’s why I do think that how we live in this life is really important: it’s the path we start on and get to continue after we die.

As fun as that description sounds (and I did ask, so I appreciate the response), I suppose it’s more important to decide if it’s at all likely that a hell even exists, rather than imagining how it might be organised. You have decided, of course, but what I’d really like is to determine if it was a rational decision.

I’ve said it before here, but I don’t accept (and neither no many contemporary secular philosophers) that the “rational” approach is the only, or even best, way of knowing the Universe. I get the feeling you and I live in this mode a lot of the time, but isn’t rationality in some sense a social construct? We have this concept of, say, numerics, of the number 4 let’s say, but isn’t that because we were taught to think of numbers greater than 4 in distinct ways (this construct is useful in some cases, but its still a construct–some cultures, I’m told, think only in terms of 1, 2, and many) [citation needed, but I believe reliable].

I build my rationality, in part, on Christian teaching as recorded in the Bible and in the 2000 years of Christian thought that followed. I can reason from this to describe why I think Hell or Heaven might be a certain way, but of course I don’t know any better than you do what happens after death. I believe pretty strongly in some general outlines like “all people, regardless of the morality of their lives, will be resurrected at some point and some, but probably not all, will join the first resurrected man, Jesus, on a trip to somewhere really nice.” But anything else is a guess that I’ve tried to reason from Christian teaching. I freely admit, though, that my axioms are not, themselves, based on rationality. Axioms, by definition, never are.


Doug [Visitor]• 09/11/09 @ 20:59

Fleegman,

I can’t see how you have any time left for anything after you have responded to all of us, but I will continue to take more of your time.

“And, no, I don’t believe everything every atheist/agnostic believes, but you’re confusing non-belief and belief again, I think.”

I think non-belief is a belief…that was the original point I made to Dan in this post. He was telling us there was no hell. That isn’t non-belief, that is belief. I’ll let you decide. I don’t want to tell you what you do or don’t believe.

“Lots of believers; only evidence that they believed, not for the belief itself.”

There was evidence for the geocentric model (I can see it each day), but the evidence wasn’t complete. When the evidence became more complete, people saw that a shift in thinking was necessary. Probably most people of the time believed in the geocentric model without claiming the lack of evidence led them to lack of belief. When the other evidence appeared they changed their belief (some people quicker than others), but have you ever seen the earth going round the sun…you think the evidence is sufficient, but there could always become more complete evidence to show us that we were still off on our model of the galaxy or the universe. Do you claim lack of belief because there could become more evidence later?

“Forgive me, but do you mean as more and more people believe something it becomes more valid?”

No. I don’t mean that at all. I don’t think that it is a good measure at all. I was just poking fun at Joseph Smith (maybe not very nice), and making a case for character being the most important thing.

“The thing is, the credibility of evidence required to prove that someone is a nice guy, isn’t the same as the credibility of evidence required to prove that he is the son of God. Or God himself. This is because there are nice guys in the world, now. We meet them all the time. What we don’t see, are people who can cure the blind by laying their hands on them, walk on water, or turn water into wine. For this reason, we require greater evidence than the fact that it’s written in a book.”

“I apologise for sounding harsh, here, but I think your definition of truth is so loose as to be worthless.”

I am going to respond to the last two together. My definition of truth is the same as yours, I believe, but I am saying that some parts of every account are based from true personal experience. A psychic could not predict that a man’s body was by a body of water if that psychic had never seen or heard what a body of water is. People use things they know to construct lies. This is a very important fact in analyzing the story of the Bible.

Many of the stories in the Bible correspond to other stories in their respective time periods. Some people think that makes the stories more factual. I would argue that isn’t the important point in determining truth. The differences in all the stories is what gets me. Take the creation story. Other Ancient Near Eastern creation stories…this god murders this god then the blood is used to make man, then tormented man most of the time because man didn’t do what he wanted…etc. There are more, and they are quite fascinating, but nothing like the Hebrew story. God made everything and thought it was good. He isn’t petty. He is never petty. He doesn’t use manipulation (people that believe in Him do a lot), but if you read the actual account of God himself, He doesn’t. He also doesn’t fit in the box that lots of Christians wish He would fit in. In the Old Testament especially, he shows mercy sometimes, and then sometimes wipes out entire races with no mercy (as far as we can see). There seems to be no consistency, but as a whole their is an amazing consistency in His desire people to be holy. Something that could not be accomplished by a bunch of independent con artists in my opinion. The kicker is Jesus. He comes in and the first enemies He makes are the Pharisees. The Pharisees are the guys who just managed to grab some of the power (in the form of the High Priest position) back from the murdering, greedy Roman government and it’s goons that will do anything for power. Many of these guys (the Pharisees) lost their lives to defend honesty and truth. Then Jesus continually ridicules them for leading people astray. For holding the laws in too high a position…that is, forgetting the Giver of the Law. That sounds familiar. So Jesus throws us for a loop again. He is not just a nice guy…in fact He really doesn’t come off as a nice guy at all. A truthful guy maybe. Harsh a lot of the time. But then He says stuff that throws everyone for a loop. No more eye for eye, just turn the other cheek. I don’t want a tenth of your stuff, I want all of you. And what this entire thread is based on…I go to prepare a place for you. Then He dies for the people that cause him so much grief and comes back to life (an event that takes faith to believe in for sure). He changes the message. But it is funny, because when you go back and study the Old Testament, then you can see the strands of the message coming. It is subtly perfect the way it is all set up. It is just too complex, too against the way people think, too completely different from any other god or religion. I know you can pick apart each event here, but I hope that you will look at the big picture of what I am trying to say.

This is a small portion of my reason for belief, but I love sharing it, and I so glad I found the time.



Katie [Visitor]• 09/11/09 @ 21:20

I’m going to have to keep this all short. There’s far too much to properly respond to, so I’ll just make a few points.

First up is Bruce,

You make some statements in your response to me that I am not following scripture, or that I am picking an choosing. Not at all.

Well, you said this:

True Christianity does not distinguish between the worth of a man or woman

And the Bible clearly states:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord"– Ephesians 5:22

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands."–Colossians 3:18

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."–Timothy 2:11-12

“Teach the young women to be … obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."–Titus 2:4

“Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands."–Peter 3:1

How lovely and “equal” that sounds.

.. but I think the best thing for you to do would be to get into the Bible and find out for yourself.

I have read the Bible and, when you look at it objectively, it doesn’t hang together.

But it sounds to me like you aren’t worried about heaven and hell, so I’d just like to ask that you make sure you’re right. This is very important… don’t leave this planet without knowing that answer 100% for sure. But I don’t think you are 100% certain… otherwise, why are you engaged in this discussion? Could it be because you’d like to know the truth?

If you are 100% certain, Bruce, where is your faith? If you are 100% certain, Bruce, you are delusional. You didn’t answer my question above. How can you be 100% certain that you have the right god out of all the gods from which to choose?

Anyway, if you do want to know the truth… His name is Jesus and you can learn about Him in the Bible. He created us and He’s the only eternal hope we have. Start with the gospel of John. I don’t even know you, but I’m praying that you begin to study. (And that goes for anybody reading this.)

Don’t be offended, but will you please not pray for me? I find it quite insulting and I don’t want your prayers. Really. If it makes you feel better, go right ahead, but at the very least, please stop telling me that you’re praying for me. If I had time, I would go off on a bit rant about the point (or lack of a point) in prayer, but this isn’t the topic of conversation, so I’ll save that for another time.

Seriously, though. Stop it.

Sorry for being a bit short with you, but I’m tired and the Chinese I just ate too much of isn’t sitting too well with me ;o)


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/12/09 @ 14:43

Oh, Bruce, I forgot to address this:

But I don’t think you are 100% certain… otherwise, why are you engaged in this discussion? Could it be because you’d like to know the truth?

I hear this kind of thing a lot from people who are certain about what they believe. In answer to your question, I am engaged in this discussion for several reasons, including:

- I find it rather intellectually stimulating. I enjoy discussing this topic with people who have given a lot of thought to their respective faiths.

- Although I realise you are too far gone to even question your faith, I do harbour the hope that someone reading this discussion might begin to ask the difficult questions about their faith. If I can sow the smallest seed of doubt in a believers mind, I would consider that a worthwhile use of my time. As much as you love your faith, I see it (faith in general, that is) as something that, essentially, holds society back and is generally middle-age thinking in a modern society (rights of homosexual couples, anyone?).

I am in no way, however, trying to find God. As far as I’m concerned in that regard, if there is a God, I’m sure he’s much more awesome and compassionate than I am (and I’m extremely awesome and compassionate), so I have no doubt that we’d get along just fine.

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/12/09 @ 15:03

Hi Katie,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. Just a few quickies, here.

I think non-belief is a belief…that was the original point I made to Dan in this post. He was telling us there was no hell. That isn’t non-belief, that is belief.

Again, I can’t speak for Dan, and I don’t want to get to caught up on semantics, here, but non-belief is not a belief. In the same way that not stamp collecting is not a hobby. I would never say “there is no Hell,” because I can’t know this for sure. I don’t believe there is a Hell, however, because I haven’t seen any evidence for its existence. In other words, it is not my belief that there is a Hell. To say “I believe there is no Hell,” makes no sense to me because I have not seen any evidence that there is not a Hell, so why would I hold that belief? I know this is a fairly subtle point, and I’m probably not doing a very good job at describing it, but I hope that made a modicum of sense.

There was evidence for the geocentric model (I can see it each day), but the evidence wasn’t complete. When the evidence became more complete, people saw that a shift in thinking was necessary.

Katie, you have just hit the nail on the head, here. Right there is the fundamental difference between religious thinking, and scientific thinking (yes, I’m totally generalising, of course). Theists look at the ability to change as the great weakness in science. The ability to change when new evidence is brought to light, however, lies at the heart of why science is such a powerful tool. On the other hand, the teachings of scripture are unchanging. And this is seen as a strength! “We have all the answers; they’re all written down in this book.” And it’s this kind of thinking that keeps us back as a species.

Probably most people of the time believed in the geocentric model without claiming the lack of evidence led them to lack of belief.

I don’t really know what you mean, here. They did believe, so why would they claim lack of belief? The evidence they had at hand (sun apparently going around them), indicated the sun was going around the Earth. They wrote this down in the Bible, because that was the common belief.

When the other evidence appeared they changed their belief (some people quicker than others), but have you ever seen the earth going round the sun…you think the evidence is sufficient, but there could always become more complete evidence to show us that we were still off on our model of the galaxy or the universe. Do you claim lack of belief because there could become more evidence later?”

No, I claim lack of belief because there isn’t any evidence now, regardless of what evidence might become available in the future.

No. I don’t mean that at all. I don’t think that it is a good measure at all. I was just poking fun at Joseph Smith (maybe not very nice), and making a case for character being the most important thing.

Frankly, this did raise an eyebrow when I read it. From my perspective, this reads “My made up stuff is better than their made up stuff. I mean, receiving the word of God written on golden plates from an angel? That’s just silly. Any self-respecting God writes his commandments on slabs of stone.”

You poke fun at Joseph Smith, but where is you evidence that he wasn’t chosen by God to be saved from his sinful life and be the spokesperson for God’s new commandments? ;o)

Thank you for you summary of what you like about the Bible; I found it very interesting. I really wish I had time to comment on all that you wrote but I just don’t, I’m afraid; bed is calling. I do see a lot of confirmation bias in what you wrote, though. Also, the God described in the Bible most certainly is petty, in my opinion. But there it is again, no? The whole problem with interpretation. Where you see perfection, I see inconsistency and contradiction. It is obvious that you’ve studied the Bible, though, and I respect that, since so many who claim to know Christ have not.

Ok, time for bed.

Sorry I didn’t get to your post Doug, but I just don’t have time. I found your post intriguing and I’d certainly like to discuss the problem of evil with you; perhaps in response to another blog post sometime.

In the meantime, though, all the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/12/09 @ 17:20

Fleegman,

Thanks for your witty and clear responses. You are a welcome addition to the Blog Cabin (not that I am the gatekeeper). You may stay here eternally, if you so choose.

Danny,

Another challenging post. I am glad that you have continued to post, even though you have gotten quite a bit of judgment. Sometimes you seem to turn a bit bitter, and other times not. As has been intimated above, those who listen least also seem to be the least convinced. Makes me wonder how many keyboards some of these commentators go through, as I imagine them pounding harder and harder on the keys to drown out the voices inside. No matter; you seem to like bothering them back, I suppose. But I am thankful, personally, that you still want to have something to do with me/us.

Katie,

Mom of four, where do you find the time? I have enjoyed getting to know you again through your comments. Thanks.

Doug,

I always scroll to the bottom of comments to see if you have written again. I like the creativity that you bring, as it always gets me going. In the best, most intellectual way possible, that is.

Now that I am finished writing recommendations/fortune cookie messages, a couple thoughts:

1. I too am alarmed at the way fear is used to motivate. That seems to be one of the reasons the health care debate has broken down on so many occasions. I was thinking about that the other day and remembered this verse tucked away in Hebrews: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (2.14-15). Also, especially in Mark’s Gospel, faith is not so much the opposite of doubt as it is antithesis of fear.

2. Non-belief or doubt: I get the idea about “we just go one god further in our atheism,” and I even appreciate that it’s a nice turn of phrase. But most doubt is generated by positive belief in another direction. Perhaps this is not what is happening in your case, but from a Christian perspective, it is entirely reasonable that other faith options would be ruled out a priori. This, I take it, is why Freegman does not believe in gravity fairies–not because he has examined the evidence, but because he has epistemic commitments elsewhere that preclude his belief in them (though, one would hope, not his consideration of them). The commitments I make necessarily rule out other commitments. I don’t see this as intellectually dishonest, and I don’t see it as a problem that I have not thoroughly considered everything I choose not to believe.

3. The concept of hell is unnerving. It would do some good to remember that for many the idea has been hopeful. Now, obviously not for those on the way there. But for the oppressed. And rather than a Nietzschean power play (Danny’s original argument), Jesus uses the doctrine to urge patience and non-violence in the face of evil. If I can be assured that a Judge will set things right, then I know my suffering is not meaningless, and I can bear injury without having to retaliate.

4. Whatever the source of evil and injustice, both the Christian and the atheist/agnostic perspective can plainly see there are problems. I raise a question here that I have raised in the Blog Cabin before: What remedy? The Christian option does not suit you. Is Star Trek all we have left? And what evidence do we have that would suggest things are progressing along toward heaven on earth? (I recognize this is a restatement of Doug’s question, above.)


peter [Visitor]• 09/14/09 @ 21:55

I am a devout Christian. I agree with a two word comment that someone made above:

F*** Religion!

Religion and Christians have intentionally and unintentionally done a lot to hurt Christ.

I really like this quote:
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Mohandas Gandhi

Although I like that quote, it hurts because it is so true. The cool thing is that God continues to put up with us Christians (and non-believers, too).

Logically, I do not believe it is possible to be an atheist. An agnostic, yes, but not an atheist.

Can someone claim that they know everything?

What about half of everything?

The answer to both of those rhetorical questions is, “No.”

Just for fun, let’s say that someone does know half of everything… Could God exist in the half that he/she does not know?

Again, a rhetorical question.

I believe that is why Scripture says, “Only a fool says in his heart, there is no god.” Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1.

Maybe more Christians, like me, should stop trying to defend God and live like He taught us to through the example of His Son- Jesus.

As a Christian, I would like to publicly apologize for all of the bad pictures I have painted of God with some of my life decisions and words toward those who do not believe as I do.

I think it is very serious and heavy that God trusts and loves us enough to allow us to make decisions about our eternal destiny.

Look up for your salvation is drawing near.

Noel George


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org09/15/09 @ 07:11

Hi Peter,

Thank you for your kind words. Onwards:

What remedy?

I don’t have the answers, I’m afraid. I do, however, have the strength to say “I don’t know,” as opposed to filling that unknown with God.

The Christian option does not suit you.

Nor Islam, Mormonism, Judaism, Hinduism, nor any of the myriad other religions of the Earth.

Is Star Trek all we have left?

Why would that be so bad? It’s awesome ;o)

And what evidence do we have that would suggest things are progressing along toward heaven on earth?

Call me an optimist, but I’d like to think that, once we realise we’re all in this together, and that this life we have is worth valuing (as opposed to waiting until death to really enjoy ourselves), as a race we will begin to get along a lot better.


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/16/09 @ 03:14

Hi Noel,

Love the sky diving vids!

I am a devout Christian. I agree with a two word comment that someone made above:

F*** Religion!

Religion and Christians have intentionally and unintentionally done a lot to hurt Christ.

Replace “Christ” with “humanity,” and I think we’d be on the same page. I’ve got a suspicion that you’re going to go on to say that you have the one true understanding of what God wants from us all.

I really like this quote:
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Mohandas Gandhi

Although I like that quote, it hurts because it is so true. The cool thing is that God continues to put up with us Christians (and non-believers, too).

I like that quote too; Gandhi was a cool dude.

In what way does God put up with us? How do you know he puts up with us?

Here’s a question for you: Would anything in the world be different today if there were no god (of course, I don’t believe in a god, but I want you to look at it from your perspective), but people still believed that there were a god?

To put it another way, imagine the Bible were made up but people believed it anyway. How would things be different?

Logically, I do not believe it is possible to be an atheist. An agnostic, yes, but not an atheist.

Then you would be wrong.

Can someone claim that they know everything?

Someone can claim to know everything, but that’s just be being snarky, heh. Seriously, though, what you’re doing here is restating the god of the gaps theory.

It goes like this: we don’t know something, therefore God. This is how people have been justifying their belief in the supernatural for millenia.

We don’t know why that hot orangy yellow glowing thing rises and sets each day, therefore God.

The problem with that theory is that this god of the gaps is getting smaller and smaller all the time. How is it anyway sensible to make the leap from “we don’t know something” to “the only explanation is a supernatural being who is omnipitent, omniscient, created everything, loves us equally but will send us to hell if we don’t love him back etc.”

Can you see how ridiculous that sounds?

“We don’t know” is a powerful statement, and it is the statement which drives us forward in our understanding of the universe. Unfortunately, this in complete opposition to religious thinking which is “we know.”

I believe that is why Scripture says, “Only a fool says in his heart, there is no god.” Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1.

But you’re quoting from a source that believes that God is real. What do you expect it to say about non-believers?

Maybe more Christians, like me, should stop trying to defend God and live like He taught us to through the example of His Son- Jesus.

In other words, be nice to each other. I don’t know why God has to factor into this. Believe it or not, it is actually possible to be nice to each other without him.

I think it is very serious and heavy that God trusts and loves us enough to allow us to make decisions about our eternal destiny.

And yet he doesn’t love us enough to save us from Hell if we don’t believe in him, regardless of all the evidence he put about the place to suggest that what it says in the Bible (about the creation of the world, for example) isn’t real, and regardless of how nice we are despite the original sin inside us all making us all, by default, bad. I can’t begin to tell you all the ways in which the whole story of original sin doesn’t hang together. But I digress.

And what kind of a decision is “eternal punishment in lakes of fire, or eternal bliss?” And you think that’s generous?

Look up for your salvation is drawing near.

Will do! ;o)


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/16/09 @ 03:35

I do not know if you have heard of Lee Strobel, a former atheist and Chicago Tribune journalist/lawyer. He wanted to go to the source of Christianity and once for all shut Christians up. In his two year study he came to a crazy conclusion:
It would take more faith to not believe the gospel than it would to believe the gospel.

I found that conclusion very intriguing.

I wonder, have you truly and honestly studied the Scriptures, ancient texts/manuscripts seeking truth without any bias?

What would it profit a man if he gained the whole world but lost his soul?

I keep hearing from you a fixation on the wrath of God, the anger of God, the God Who sends people to hell if they do not fall down and worship Him…

Have you not read, “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” ?

That includes you.

God doesn’t want you to be out of relationship with Him. He wants an intimate, close, personal relationship with you. Why fight against your Maker?

Jesus doesn’t want to fight you. He has only love for you.

I am sure that you have read from C.S. Lewis (an atheist at one time). He said that Jesus is either a Liar (for He claimed to be God) or a Lunatic (like an insane person going around saying that he was god) or He is Lord. He has to be one of those three. We cannot NOT choose. God does not give us that option. Logically there is no other option. What is your choice?

The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands. And all this just happened? Look at the lilies of the field, the birds of the air.

I don’t want to fight you, either. Like I said in my previous post, “I am sorry for my actions as a Christian that have disillusioned the lost.

I do not know you at all, but I am concerned for your soul. Why? Because I used to be in your shoes. Somebody cared enough for me to look past my hurts and issues to see the sanctity of my human life. I want you to know that even if you laugh this off, I do care.

Noel George


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org09/17/09 @ 06:54
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/17/09 @ 10:01
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/17/09 @ 10:02

Noel,

I must say that I think it’s a little unscrupulous of you to ask me questions after I carefully addressed the points you made and you have thoroughly ignored mine, preferring instead to proselytise at me, with a certain arrogance I might add, all the while declaring that you have all the answers.

I do find it odd that people of such faith seem to have certainty on their side. Isn’t uncertainty inherent in faith?

I will acquiesce in this case, however, and respond to your latest post.

I do not know if you have heard of Lee Strobel, a former atheist and Chicago Tribune journalist/lawyer. He wanted to go to the source of Christianity and once for all shut Christians up. In his two year study he came to a crazy conclusion:
It would take more faith to not believe the gospel than it would to believe the gospel.

I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve by bringing Stobel into this. I’m well aware of this man, and the fact that you’re quoting him in your opening gambit is a bit of a bad sign. Even if I thought (and I don’t) that Strobel were the very pinnacle of intellectual honesty and investigative know how, this would still mean nothing. There are many examples of intelligent people believing in the Bible but as I said further up the thread, this is just evidence that people believe it, and lends no hand in the veracity of that belief.

I found that conclusion very intriguing.

Why? The easiest person to fool is ourselves, after all.

I wonder, have you truly and honestly studied the Scriptures, ancient texts/manuscripts seeking truth without any bias?

Studied the scriptures? No. Read most of them? Yes. I don’t know how to read something without bias. I am biased, for example, towards science and logic. I like stories to hang together and be consistent. When I read a story about God asking Noah to build and ark that could house all the animals in the world, and Noah does this, and, well, you know the rest. When I read a story like that, I just think “That’s ridiculous.”

What would it profit a man if he gained the whole world but lost his soul?

Since I don’t believe in an afterlife, quite a lot. If this life is all we have, what’s wrong with making the most of it? You can still be nice to people while being wealthy. And if it’s harder for a rich man to get in to Heaven than it is for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle, I ask you: how much is too much money? Enough to live on and no more? How about a television? Too much luxury? Is it really all about throwing out all the things we enjoy and braying to God?

I keep hearing from you a fixation on the wrath of God, the anger of God, the God Who sends people to hell if they do not fall down and worship Him…

Have you not read, “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” ?

The fixation you’re hearing is an attempt to get across the idea that the God described in the Bible is not all loving and forgiving. And your quote just proves it. The unwritten part of your quote is “… and if they don’t, eternal suffering lies in store.”

Are you actually saying that God doesn’t have the power to stop people going to hell if they don’t come to him in repentance? You say that he’s not willing that any should perish. What you mean, at best, is that he’d rather none should perish. If they won’t believe, though, his hands are tied. Eternal suffering. Well, it’s only fair, eh?

God doesn’t want you to be out of relationship with Him. He wants an intimate, close, personal relationship with you. Why fight against your Maker?

First of all, I’m not fighting anything. Secondly, if he wants an intimate, close, personal relationship with me, he knows where to find me. He also knows what it would take for me to believe in him. So what’s stopping him? If he loves us equally, as you believe, then why wouldn’t he “open my eyes” to him?

I contest that it’s because he doesn’t exist. I’m not asking to be saved, by the way. I live a happy life, and I don’t wallow in misery wondering why God doesn’t pick up the phone. I ask these questions because they are important questions for believers to think about. Really think about, rather than rationalise away.

Jesus doesn’t want to fight you. He has only love for you.

Again, I’m not fighting. Assuming he exists, if he has only love for me, I have nothing to worry about.

I am sure that you have read from C.S. Lewis (an atheist at one time). He said that Jesus is either a Liar (for He claimed to be God) or a Lunatic (like an insane person going around saying that he was god) or He is Lord. He has to be one of those three. We cannot NOT choose. God does not give us that option. Logically there is no other option. What is your choice?

Actually, there is a fourth (although, out of the three, lunatic is probably the closest - why do you think that’s unreasonable?) - the fourth is that he was a nice guy who went around teaching people to be nice to each other and, decades later, it all kind of got blown out of proportion.

Oh, and the fifth one is that he never existed. I’d go for the fourth option, personally.

The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands. And all this just happened? Look at the lilies of the field, the birds of the air.

And the tape worms, and the parasites that can only live in the eye, therefore blinding people, and AIDS, and the Black Death, yes the Lord God made them all. Not to mention the natural disasters that kill hundreds of thousands.

You’re speaking from a position of incredulity. Also, if God made the heavens, he also created the illusion that the stars are more than 6000 light years away. Since the Bible teaches that the world is only about that old, this must be a deception on his part.

Even without the belief in a god, I still look at the universe with wonder. I think it’s beautiful and awe inspiring. We just look at it with different eyes.

I don’t want to fight you, either.

Really. Not fighting. What’s with all the fighting talk? I am just discussing my point of view.

Like I said in my previous post, “I am sorry for my actions as a Christian that have disillusioned the lost.

Please try not to be so condescending. I am not “lost” as you say. You think I am lost. This is because you hold the unwarranted opinion that you know God and you know what he wants. Oh, and that everyone else (who are just as devout as you) is wrong.

I do not know you at all, but I am concerned for your soul. Why? Because I used to be in your shoes. Somebody cared enough for me to look past my hurts and issues to see the sanctity of my human life. I want you to know that even if you laugh this off, I do care.

I thank you for you concern, I really do. You sound like a nice person and I’m sure you mean it well.

By the way, did you know that the “art” of reiki only works if you believe in it? I think of religion in the same way. You make a decision to believe, and it all makes sense. That’s just not good enough for me. Give me some evidence that doesn’t require belief for it to be meaningful, and I’ll consider it. Really. Until then, I shall continue down my “lost” path ;o)

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/17/09 @ 10:05

Cheers Dan,

I don’t check that account often; I’ll check it out tonight.

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/17/09 @ 10:06
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/17/09 @ 11:51

I’m a Christian due to the evidence presented to me.

Our planet is in such a position to provide life - spins the right speed for some reason and then gravity to keep us from floating off. Any closer to the sun and we would burn, but any farther we would freeze to death. There are trees, bushes, grass, etc that produce what we need to breath (oxygen)and we exhale the stuff they need to survive (carbon dioxide).

We humans (both male and female - why are there only those two choices?)- details of the human body that goes beyond any imagination - stuff like what our eyes can do with light and colors and focusing, our stomachs can digest food, but it does not digest itself, our food and oxygen makes blood that goes through our bodies keeping it at the same temperature no matter which human you talk about. Our heart pumping and our lungs breathing without us having to do something to make it do that. And in us is the capability to reproduce our own kind.

animals (both male and female of each kind) - we don’t have to sort through our litter of puppies or kittens to make sure there are no rhinoceroses or rattle snakes (or black widow spiders). And they have the capability to reproduce there own kind.

There was a huge flood that scientists say wiped out the world with plenty of evidence that it happened and stuff about it was wrote down.

There was a guy that lived two thousand years ago that ticked off the Jews so they killed him and hung him on a cross. That really happened and our calander was changed by his coming (that’s why it is 2009 - 2009 years since what?) and was wrote down by a bunch a folks - some of them claimed they saw him alive after he was dead and buried. That was wrote down by lots of folks - some who followed him and some who didn’t.

As time went on, the writings of 40 different people over a period of 1600 years were gathered up and put into ONE document. They examined the different documents that went into that one book and only put in there what they could determine was the same subject with a seemingly single thread - a Messiah (savior) was coming -and He came. The book shows two servants of God - a suffering servant and a reigning, conquering King. We’ve seen and heard about the suffering servant and we keep getting told there is a coming reigning King. That book says stuff is going to happen before he comes and man, how weird it is that the stuff keeps coming true like the book says.

As man got smarter and smarter and could do stuff on his own and figure stuff out on his own he decided that he didn’t want to be accountable to a “Creator” and that none of what was written down was true and that we are all here by accident — so, here we are.


marty davis [Visitor]• 09/17/09 @ 14:07

Fleegman:

Thanks for all your time in responding in this blog.

I guess that without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

God sets up the game rules. I mean, He’s God, and I’m not.

If He asks for faith, which is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, and I could empirically prove everything- it wouldn’t be faith.

I suppose you can select the option of lunatic. That is what some have written Him off as, but I believe, trust and have experienced Him to be so much more.

You said:
“Secondly, if he wants an intimate, close, personal relationship with me, he knows where to find me. He also knows what it would take for me to believe in him. So what’s stopping him? If he loves us equally, as you believe, then why wouldn’t he “open my eyes” to him?”
Answer: Maybe He is reaching out to you through these meager attempts.

People seem to want to believe only after seeing. Maybe you must believe so that you can see. I am sure you have heard about Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus. What about the ending to that story?

Luke 16:27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29″Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30″ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31″He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

It is not the “fact-full” people that will please the Lord, but the “faith-full.”

Could it be possible that you refuse to believe, even if someone from the dead would rise and tell you of something different?

I believe that Jesus wants Christians to be evangelistic; to spread His message. I wonder where the great commission came from for Atheists to “go and make disciples, too” It seems that some Atheists are more vocal and “preachy” than Christians; trying to win others to their point of view.

Interesting.

Again, thanks for your time. I do not mean that you are fighting, but when two opposite ideas collide the discussion does seem to take on a different tone than two people talking about the weather.

I do feel like I am in the middle of a fight between the cosmic battle of good and evil. It takes faith to believe in both sides. Or even faith to believe in yourself, for that matter.


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org09/17/09 @ 14:07

Hi Marty,

Thanks for joining the discussion; you are most welcome.

I’m a Christian due to the evidence presented to me.

That’s good because I love evidence. Now please stand back because I’m about to actually answer your questions. Although I never seem to get answers to the questions I ask Christians, I don’t see this as a reason to deprive you of the courtesy. I’m assuming you are asking the questions honestly, and not just spouting the rhetoric you’ve heard people ask as a way of supposedly shutting up “those evil atheists” with questions they supposedly can’t answer. So, here we go.

Our planet is in such a position to provide life - spins the right speed for some reason and then gravity to keep us from floating off. Any closer to the sun and we would burn, but any farther we would freeze to death. There are trees, bushes, grass, etc that produce what we need to breath (oxygen) and we exhale the stuff they need to survive (carbon dioxide).

These are all excellent observations about the world around us. The principle you are describing is sometimes referred to as the “Goldilocks” principle. Not too hot, not too cold, get it? But I ask you: given that we are here, what would you expect things to be like? A hole in the ground filled with rain water was hardly designed for the water, but from the puddle’s point of view, it’s absolutely perfect.

(oh, and the plants would get on just fine without us providing them with carbon dioxide; there’s plenty of that about. It’s not a symbiotic relationship AFAIK.)

(both male and female - why are there only those two choices?)

Wait, I know this: Because the Bible says so?

Seriously, though, if that’s what you’re getting at, isn’t it rather likely that the writers of the Bible looked around, saw only males and females, and based the story of creation on that? It would have been a bit silly to tell a story involving five different sexes when they knew there were only two. To then say “the Bible says there are two sexes, and there are two sexes,” isn’t what one would call good evidence for the truth of the Bible and the miraculous stories contained therein.

Oh, and they couldn’t even do that without a misogynistic twist (Eve created for and from Adam; Eve is deceived and convinces Adam to taste the fruit - all her fault etc). As a result women are on the back foot right from the very start.

details of the human body that goes beyond any imagination

The amazing things you’re talking about are not beyond imagination. In fact, how these things developed has been researched by scientists for decades. Hard as it is to believe, we do have answers to all the questions you pose (the development of the eye, digestive system, cardiopulmonary system etc). I suggest you visit TalkOrigins. It goes into the smallest detail explaining far more than I could ever talk about in a comment.

If you are serious about these questions, we do have the answers. And they are answers based on the evidence we have around us, experiment, research, and plenty of thought.

animals (both male and female of each kind) - we don’t have to sort through our litter of puppies or kittens to make sure there are no rhinoceroses or rattle snakes (or black widow spiders). And they have the capability to reproduce there own kind.

It’s statements like this which tell me that, through no fault of your own, your understanding of evolution is completely at odds with the actual theory of evolution. If I thought about evolution in the same way that you do, I wouldn’t believe it either.

Fortunately, the theory of evolution doesn’t expect dogs or cats to give birth to rhinoceroses or rattle snakes. It expects puppies and kittens.

Your understanding of evolution is one of the reasons I speak out in opposition to religious teaching. It’s because it teaches an outdated view of reality. In fact it diametrically opposes what we know about the way the world works.

I have no problem with people believing what they want to believe, but when this spills over into classrooms and children are being taught that science is wrong because it says so in the Bible, it grinds my gears, and I am compelled to speak out.

What I’m trying to say is that you are essentially making a case against a theory of evolution with is not the actual theory of evolution. This is an extremely important point for you to understand.

There was a huge flood that scientists say wiped out the world with plenty of evidence that it happened and stuff about it was wrote down.

Except that scientists don’t say this. Where are the scientists who say this? Take a look at “Project Steve.” As you will see there are more scientists with the name Steve that believe in evolution (and reject creationism) than the total number of scientists that don’t.

There was a guy that lived two thousand years ago that ticked off the Jews so they killed him and hung him on a cross. That really happened and our calendar was changed by his coming (that’s why it is 2009 - 2009 years since what?) and was wrote down by a bunch a folks - some of them claimed they saw him alive after he was dead and buried. That was wrote down by lots of folks - some who followed him and some who didn’t.

The fact that our calendar is based on the supposed birth of Christ (bit of leeway on the specific date, there), is only proof that the people in charge of standardising the calendars believed in Christ.

Also, the same could be said for many religious figures in history. Some people believed in them and some didn’t, and those that believed wrote stuff down about them. What makes this any different?

As time went on, the writings of 40 different people over a period of 1600 years were gathered up and put into ONE document. They examined the different documents that went into that one book and only put in there what they could determine was the same subject with a seemingly single thread

And they threw away the stuff that didn’t fit with their pre-determined story. You realise this weakens the “The Bible is consistent” argument, don’t you? If they left out all the bits that didn’t fit, it’s not surprising the Bible contains the same theme throughout. I contend that it doesn’t of course, but that’s another story.

That book says stuff is going to happen before he comes and man, how weird it is that the stuff keeps coming true like the book says.

What stuff has come true like the book says? What you’re talking about is interpretation of events after the fact? What actual predictions has the book made that have come true, on the date that people were expecting them to come to pass before it happened?

As man got smarter and smarter and could do stuff on his own and figure stuff out on his own he decided that he didn’t want to be accountable to a “Creator” and that none of what was written down was true and that we are all here by accident — so, here we are.

Close. What actually happened is that Man began to think more objectively about the world around us and, by thinking about it, and experimentation, and drawing conclusions, realised that things made more sense by not attributing everything to a creator. It has nothing to do with not wanting to be accountable to a creator. It’s about losing the shackles of religious dogma, and freeing our minds.

If you want to argue scientifically about the truth of religion, you can’t win. The science just doesn’t agree with you. You are free to have all the faith you want in religion, of course, but in that case, you don’t need science to justify your beliefs. Attempting to use science to justify your beliefs only results in twisting the facts to suit a conclusion you already hold, and that’s just not how science works.

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/18/09 @ 09:21

Hi Noel,

First of all, thank you for addressing some of the points I made in my comment. I will try to address yours.

Thanks for all your time in responding in this blog.

You’re welcome.

God sets up the game rules. I mean, He’s God, and I’m not.

And yet those game rules are so open to interpretation, how can you be so certain that you have it right?

If He asks for faith, which is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, and I could empirically prove everything- it wouldn’t be faith.

So what you’re saying is that he won’t reveal himself to us because then we would be certain, so there wouldn’t be any faith. Couple of things with this:

1) You say he has revealed himself to you, so therefore you are certain about it.
2) Doubting Thomas (as I said a few comments above) asked for proof, and he got it. Why should I demand any less?

I suppose you can select the option of lunatic. That is what some have written Him off as, but I believe, trust and have experienced Him to be so much more.

Except that I didn’t select that option. I gave a fourth option: that he was just a nice guy who went around being excellent to people, and the stories got blown out of proportion.

[Fleegman] asks: “Secondly, if he wants an intimate, close, personal relationship with me, he knows where to find me. He also knows what it would take for me to believe in him. So what’s stopping him? If he loves us equally, as you believe, then why wouldn’t he “open my eyes” to him?”
Answer: Maybe He is reaching out to you through these meager attempts.

Well, I know for a fact that he isn’t reaching out to me through the comments of the Christians on this blog, because as I said “he also knows what it would take for me to believe in him.” And, so far, I’m not convinced. QED.

People seem to want to believe only after seeing.

Once again: Doubting Thomas, anyone?

30″ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31″He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

It’s all very well to say “they wouldn’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead,” but that’s just a get out. If someone told you they could fly, you would expect them to prove it. If they said “you wouldn’t believe it if you saw it, so I won’t bother,” I think you could be forgiven for thinking they were talking rubbish.

Like I said before, God knows what it would take for me to believe, and yet…

It’s like the religious look on a questioning mind as a bad thing. What makes people who accept things on face value better, or more righteous, than those who ask for evidence? If we all believed in taking things on face value, we’d still believe the Sun going round a flat Earth. Questioning things is the foundation of progress. And when it comes to your own life, I think it’s important to be even more discerning about what you believe, not less, as you would have it.

It is not the “fact-full” people that will please the Lord, but the “faith-full.”

Yes, this is where the description “flock” comes into the mix: “Don’t worry about silly old facts, they just get in the way. What we want is unquestioning belief.”

Could it be possible that you refuse to believe, even if someone from the dead would rise and tell you of something different?

If I knew they had risen from the dead, I would have to reconsider my position. Of course I would. I would, however, need proof that they had actually been dead for a while. And here we have another important point. If someone came up to you and said they’d risen from the dead, would you believe them? I submit (or at least hope) that you wouldn’t immediately believe them and would demand some sort of proof. Once again, God knows what it would take for me to believe, yet he remains silent.

And here is another important point: You word your questions as though I have a closed mind, and that I’m just ignoring all the evidence that you take for granted. As I have explained before, my mind is open to all ideas, as long as they are back by evidence. This is the fundamental axiom of skepticism.

I believe that Jesus wants Christians to be evangelistic; to spread His message. I wonder where the great commission came from for Atheists to “go and make disciples, too” It seems that some Atheists are more vocal and “preachy” than Christians; trying to win others to their point of view.

Interesting.

I absolutely love this. In other words, you don’t want a level playing field. I’m glad you brought this up, because this is one of the fundamental reasons I bother speaking out at all. It’s exactly because you think it is your duty to spread his message, that people like me have to speak out for logic and reason. What I want more than anything is for people to think about the world they live in. What you want is for people to not think and just accept things on faith.

If you just believed what you believed, and didn’t try to push those beliefs on others, I wouldn’t have an issue with that. That is your right. But when you spread the word of Christ, you are keeping thought back in the middle ages. This is not a good thing for human progress.

When it comes to bigger issues, like human rights, then it becomes even more important to provide an opposing point of view. You may ask how you’re infringing on the rights of others, but the answer is obvious when you consider, as I mentioned above, the rights of homosexual couples, for example. Your vote counts just as much as another person’s, so when you (big assumption, but I’m sure you get the point), vote against equal rights for homosexual couples, you are infringing on their rights.

It’s this kind of middle-aged backwards thinking that I am “preaching” against.

What’s “interesting” is that the whole homosexual issue, and how bad it’s considered to be by Christians, is only one of the teachings embraced by readers of the Bible, and yet other teachings - like the one that teaches the stoning to death of children for being disrespectful to their parents - are ignored. What makes one teaching more valid than another?

Again, thanks for your time. I do not mean that you are fighting, but when two opposite ideas collide the discussion does seem to take on a different tone than two people talking about the weather.

But that’s the spice of life, isn’t it? If everyone had the same opinions, what would we talk about?

I do feel like I am in the middle of a fight between the cosmic battle of good and evil. It takes faith to believe in both sides. Or even faith to believe in yourself, for that matter.

So which side are you on? ;o)

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/18/09 @ 09:31

You have been given a very bright mind, Fleegman. I appreciate the intellectually stimulating conversation.

You are right, I do not have all or any of the answers to your questions. I am pretty sure that you do not have all the answers to your own questions. So, I commend you for searching and grappling with the issues. I do not want in any way to stifle your endeavor for truth. Keep it up. Continue to search.

It is easier to turn a ship in motion than a ship sitting still in the ocean. At least you are in motion! I truly mean that. If that at all sounds condescending, I apologize. I genuinely believe you are in motion trying to learn and grow in knowledge. And for that I commend you. (and I know that you do not need my commendation, but I am serious in giving that to you).

You are right in bringing up “Doubting Thomas.” He demanded proof and got it. Jesus said to him, “Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas put his hand in Jesus’ side and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:27-29.

Again, I do not condemn or look down upon your serious study. I want to applaud you for that. Many people have not truly questioned their own faith and sadly do believe rather blindly.

I believe that after you have studied everything you need to on matters of faith & God and you happen to come down on the side of unbelief- that’s your prerogative. On the same side of that coin, wouldn’t it be okay if someone studied all of the evidence and came down on the side of faith and belief in a Supreme God?

Thanks for your open and frank dialogue. You have challenged my mind and my faith has been strengthened by our conversation.

I agree that it does add spice to life to discuss matters. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another- goes the ol’ proverb.

I know that I have not answered all or any of your questions, but maybe that is not why we are blogging together.

Fleegman, thanks again for the time.

Noel George


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org09/18/09 @ 11:18
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/18/09 @ 11:25

Hi Noel,

Thank you for all your kind words. For what it’s worth, I have enjoyed the conversation, too. It’s refreshing to find a devout Chrisian who is strong enough in their faith to not get offended when their faith is questioned or put under the microscope. And that goes for the other Christians I’ve been blogging with on this site, too.

It’s the best way to understand each other’s opinions better!

In closing, of course your post raised more questions (heh), but I will mention just one of them and call it a day (this thread is HUGE, now)

On the same side of that coin, wouldn’t it be okay if someone studied all of the evidence and came down on the side of faith and belief in a Supreme God?

Of course I think that’s ok. Absolutely. I have no problem with that, in the least. I may not agree with their decision, but who am I to tell someone what to believe? But then, who are you to tell them what to believe? I know that sounds harsh, but I don’t know how to phrase it any differently. You say you don’t have the answers, but you’re telling people that you do have the answers.

The issue I have is the indoctrination of children before they are even at the questioning phase of their lives. People certainly should be allowed to study all the evidence and come down on whatever side they like (or whatever different faith), but it has to be a personal decision, not one pushed on them by their parents, or community. But as you said above, you believe it is your mission to, essentially, convert people to Christianity, and that is the very opposite of the hands-off approach you describe.

So I’m going to leave it there as far as this thread is concerned. I will reply if want to answer, of course, but I’m off to have an awesome weekend, now ;o)

Thanks again for the discussion; perhaps I’ll see you in another thread.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/19/09 @ 03:07

Fleegman:

Thanks for your kind words as well.

I proselytize for two reasons.

1. Jesus the Christ has commissioned all His followers to do this. And I am a follower of Jesus.

2. I don’t hate atheists and want the best for them, too. I guess this reason really came into play by watching the Youtube video of the magician and atheist: Penn.

If you haven’t seen the 5:11 video, you should take the time. Here is the address:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JHS8adO3hM

Sincerely,

Noel George


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org09/21/09 @ 07:25

I’m sorry, I did not give the whole name for the above youtube video
Penn Jillette
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JHS8adO3hM


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org09/23/09 @ 15:01

Danny,

1. “Christianity asserts…” is a strange phrase to use, and “your body dies but the essential part of you survives your death and lives on” is not the consensus opinion, either now or historically. A materialist asking for [presumably material] evidence of an immaterial soul makes me wonder if you’re maybe making a joke. As it is, taking on the question of the morality of hell means that you are presupposing the Christian worldview, which means that you can’t be upset if your preferred assumptions don’t work within that framework. If you presuppose that the universe is material only, no evidence that fits in your worldview as evidence will possibly disconfirm this. That’s to say nothing of the assumptions of your worldview that are not evidence-based.

2. Do I believe in unicorns? Well, depends on what you mean by ‘believe.’ I have a positive belief about what unicorns are (i.e., fictional) that is based on evidence (e.g., they fit within a fantasy genre, they have a historical development, the people who have written about them or created images of them do not seem to believe in them but understand that they are dealing in fictions, etc.).

3. A belief in hell can—and does—give people an excuse for not creating social change. But this is not a necessary conclusion, so I see it only as a complaint about the misuse of a doctrine. The misuse can be corrected—I too am an optimist!

4. You say that we have to face reality, and I believe that as well. That’s why all philosophical systems and worldviews begin by describing reality. Why is materialism the preferred, obvious choice for the reality I should face? Because evidence supports it? And what interpretive framework predetermined what kind of evidence is legitimate? This is the same “because the Bible says the Bible is true” circular reasoning, just with different ingredients.

At any rate, I disagree that your belief in progress is evidence-based. There are more slaves today than at the height of the transatlantic slave trade. More people died in war in the 20th century than ever before. Who exactly is “expanding the circle of people we empathize with”? American political discourse seems to be going in the opposite direction.

The question of a remedy to injustice has at least two critical components: the power to change and the righting of wrongs. That’s setting aside the question of what standard of justice you would use, as we have gone down that road before.


peter [Visitor]• 09/23/09 @ 21:08

Fleegman:

Do you have an email address where we could dialogue?

You can reach me through the website listed below

Noel


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org09/28/09 @ 07:07

Fleegman:

Do you have an email address where we could dialogue?

You can reach me through the website listed below


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org09/28/09 @ 07:09

Hi Noel,

Apologies for not responding to your comment above. I can’t access YouTube at work and, by the time I got round to it, the video had been taken down. Do you have an updated link at all?

Regarding your question regarding continuing this dialogue, I’m afraid I must politely decline. The reason I discuss these issues in an open forum like this is to try to reach the fence-sitters in the hope that they will actually listen to the questions I’m asking (and the questions I’m answering), and begin to question the idiosyncrasies of their faith. Having this discussion in private would serve no purpose in that regard; I know I’m not going to convince you and, as I explained above, I’m really not looking to be “saved.”

If you have a blog on your website, I would happily contribute, though ;o)

I do have just one small question, though: As you know, there are many devout Jews in this world. They are all just as certain as you are that they are right in their beliefs. There are three options. They are right, and you are wrong. You are right, and they are wrong. And, lastly, none of you is right. So, my question is, why is your certainty better than his certainty?

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/29/09 @ 01:54

Sorry about you not being able to pull up the you tube video. I tried it just a minute ago and it worked. Maybe you could try it, again.

I wanted to dialogue through email due to the lack of eyes reading it, and for more informal/personal conversation.

If you are cool with this venue, then so am I.

To give a feeble attempt in answering your most recent question:
I guess that my “certainty” does not come from myself. I do not have faith in my faith. That would be VERY weak. I have faith in God.
For instance, if I were asked to walk on a small 1 x 2 plank of wood laid between two folding chairs three feet apart AND told to have the faith to believe that it would happen- I would of course come crashing down upon my first step. That would be faith in faith. Crazy. That seems to be what some people hold to in their Christianity or Judaism or whatever.

But if the same scenario were presented to me with the same chairs separated by the same distance but the wood plank was a solid 4 x 12, I wouldn’t have to have any faith in faith or myself, but only in the plank of wood. It is faith in an object, not faith in my faith.

My faith, which is being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I cannot see, is not a blind faith. The Unmoved Mover has given us enough evidence to be certain that He exists, but then asks us to walk in faith.

My Jewish friends were given testimony first by Jehovah God through Torah, the Prophets, etc. Then, we Gentiles were allowed into “the game” through Christ, St. Paul, St. Peter, etc. The Jews are just like me, they must accept God’s testimony of Christ through faith alone.

Have you ever had any “experiences” with God in your childhood?

I would love to share a very shortened story with you about a man from Haiti that was studying for the ministry with me in Olathe, KS. This Haitian kept having terrible experiences of prejudice even within this particular church. I mean awful racist comments, etc. One day, after months of all of this “torture,” the Haitian turned his back on God and very calmly, logically and rationally became an atheist. This was the Haitian’s experience with “God.” Again, it wasn’t a knee jerk response, but the accumulation of awful events in the name of God over time that led this individual to this decision.

Fleegman- I wonder, have you ever talked with or tried to communicate with a Supreme Being? I am not asking you this to “get in your business,” but just wondering about your “religious” experiences. Would this be taboo for an atheist, or just plain craziness? I ask that very genuinely.

Are there ever moments when you just sit real still and honestly wonder if there is something or someone out there?

Again, I only ask because I do not know what you are thinking.

Because I truly believe what the Bible teaches about God, love and compassion, I care.

In fact, how much would I have to hate someone to believe what I do and not share or care?

To use someone else’s analogy: If a semi-truck were barreling down on you without your knowledge…how much would I have to hate you to just sit there and let it happen? Even if you didn’t believe that the truck was coming, I would still try to get you out of harm’s way.


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org09/29/09 @ 07:32

Hi Noel,

I’ll try the link again tonight.

If you are cool with this venue, then so am I.

I don’t mind if Dan doesn’t mind.

My faith, which is being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I cannot see, is not a blind faith. The Unmoved Mover has given us enough evidence to be certain that He exists, but then asks us to walk in faith.

The thing is, this is just evidence for a god, if you like. Of course, I interpret the evidence differently, but at best what you’re saying here is that the evidence points to there being a god. But why your specific god?

My Jewish friends were given testimony first by Jehovah God through Torah, the Prophets, etc. Then, we Gentiles were allowed into “the game” through Christ, St. Paul, St. Peter, etc. The Jews are just like me, they must accept God’s testimony of Christ through faith alone.

In other words, if I may, they’re all going to hell. They are wrong, even though they are certain they are right. You didn’t answer why your certainty is better than theirs. We can of course extend this to any devout adherent to any religion. They all think they are right and they are all certain about it; some through what they would consider “divine revelation” and some through indoctrination. What makes you right?

Have you ever had any “experiences” with God in your childhood?

I was brought up a Christian. Not a devout Christian, to be sure, but I went regularly to church. I’ve never had a bad experience with religion that I can remember; it was all very pleasant. Sunday school was a bit of a bore, though.

So up until the age of 17 or so, I didn’t question it, I just accepted it on faith. It was then that I remember reading somewhere that Douglas Adams (a writer with whom I had a lot of respect) was an atheist. You know what my initial reaction was? Pity. Yes, I actually pitied him that he didn’t have what I had; he didn’t have the comfort that I had in my religion to explain everything. I thought this was a very sad thing. Imagine that, eh? Actually, I was pretty convinced that all good people went to Heaven (regardless of their beliefs), so I thought he’d be ok anyway, even though he didn’t have religion to comfort him in this life.

And then I started questioning stuff. Well, all of it, actually. Little by little (since the whole concept of questioning faith was frowned upon), all the while feeling guilty about doing it. And you know what? Everything started to make a lot more sense to me.

So, no bad experiences, just the courage to start asking questions that was given to me by my respect for a writer who happened to be an atheist.

Fleegman- I wonder, have you ever talked with or tried to communicate with a Supreme Being?

Actually, yes. I remember one night asking God to make a girl at school notice me. A selfish prayer, I’ll grant you. She never noticed me. But of course, sometimes the answer is “no” eh? In other words, prayer is totally unfalsifiable. If you get the desired result, it’s God. If you don’t, it’s God saying “no.” This is an example of confirmation bias. You have your conclusion (God exists), so all evidence must be interpreted within this frame. The difference between you and me is that I have another option available to me.

See, what if God doesn’t exist? Or, at the very least, doesn’t answer prayers. It would certainly explain the suffering we have in the world without having to resort to “He works in mysterious ways.” Are people not praying for the starving in Africa? Yet there are still starving people in Africa. You have to admit that the world would pretty much be the same as it is if prayer didn’t work.

Would this be taboo for an atheist, or just plain craziness? I ask that very genuinely.

I would feel a bit silly doing that these days. It’s extremely easy to fool yourself; easier than fooling anyone else, that’s for sure. If you sincerely ask God for assistance in something, and you really believe in him, then you will interpret happenings in your life as confirmation of what you believe. That’s why horoscopes are still so popular even though they are clearly nonsense.

Are there ever moments when you just sit real still and honestly wonder if there is something or someone out there?

Doesn’t everyone at some point? When I stub my toe, I occasionally look at the sky and ask “well, if you are up there, what was the point of that, then?” In all seriousness, though, I do question what it’s all about. I don’t think it’s possible to know if there is a god or not, since I’m an agnostic atheist. There’s another difference between the religious and me. I’m humble enough to admit I don’t have the answers, and I don’t know if there is a god. They don’t have the answers either, but they think they do.

Because I truly believe what the Bible teaches about God, love and compassion, I care.

Not a big fan of the Old Testament, Noel? Admittedly, the god of the New Testament is all fluffy and feel good, but that’s in stark contrast to the petty and jealous god found in the OT.

I don’t really have time to get into this here but, in brief, I wonder how literally you take the Bible. I ask because if you don’t take it absolutely literally, then you have to make judgement calls on what you will and won’t take from it. Stoning a child to death because they disrespect their parents? Bad. Love your neighbour? Good. Do you keep the good stuff and throw away the bad? Where do you draw the line, and what makes your interpretation the right one out of the thousands of different interpretations?

To use someone else’s analogy: If a semi-truck were barreling down on you without your knowledge…how much would I have to hate you to just sit there and let it happen? Even if you didn’t believe that the truck was coming, I would still try to get you out of harm’s way.

Since the truck you’re talking about is totally invisible, doesn’t make a sound, and is completely undetectable to me, I would think you had been drinking the cool aid. Especially since on the other side of me I’ve got a Muslim pulling me in the other direction out of the way of an invisible truck coming the other way ;o)

I hope this answers some of your questions about me, and apologies for rambling on,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 09/29/09 @ 09:55
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/29/09 @ 10:08

Why my specific God, you ask?
Because of all the world religions, Christianity is so different. It seems that in every other world religion it is Do this, Do that, Do some more…Actually trying to get to God on our own merit or strength. Trying to get to God with my own moral sweat or “righteous” blood leaves me always wondering if I have done enough.

Christianity, on the other hand, is DONE. Christ made my salvation possible. Some of His last words on the cross were, “It is finished.” What was finished? The agony? The pain? No. Our salvation was finished. That means that I do not have to do anything more to complete my salvation. I receive what He did for me on the cross. He paid my debt for my offensive sin against Him. The cool thing is that He didn’t have to do this. I am sure you have heard, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That is a lot of grace that I am not sure I will ever understand. With Christianity, I do not have to wonder if I must do more, do this, do that. It is DONE. God paid a debt He didn’t owe and for which I could not even come close to touching. I am now in relationship with this God.

The whole unanswered prayer thing is tough. I sometimes feel like my kids who ask something of me that is not in there best interest in the long run. I say, “No.” They get mad and wonder if I really love them! Since God sent His Son to die in my place, why would I ever question His love for me? But honestly, I still struggle with that at times when my prayers do not get answered the way I think they should. But just as my kids come around to see my love through other actions, so I come around to see my God’s love for me.

I agree horoscopes are senseless to a point. I believe that some of those things can come true, too, but maybe from a different power source. I believe that there are two powers at work, two voices, two kingdoms. God’s power, voice and kingdom; and Satan’s power, voice and kingdom. They are working in complete opposition to one another all the time! Could Satan control some of the happenings in horoscopes? Maybe.

Just a funny side note: I once heard an atheist humbly admdit, “It does seem that when Christians pray, there are a lot more ‘coincidences.’”

Not a big fan of the Old Testament, you ask?
Tongue in cheek, The terrible acts performed in the OT all happened before God became a Christian!
Just kidding.

This could open up another can of worms, but I believe that God reveals Himself in different dispensations. God primarily revealed one side of Himself in the OT: holiness. It seems that God primarily revealed another side of Himself in the NT: love.

You cannot explain God with just holiness by itself. You cannot explain God with just love either. God is both and a whole lot more.

I feel like I am telling you things that you already know, because of your Christian upbringing. Sorry to be redundant if you have already heard this.

I cannot explain the suffering in the world. The greatest minds in all the world have wrestled with that one.

Trying to understand the complexity of this God is probably like me trying to explain calculus to my dog! He would twist his head back and forth as I explained it, but would not understand. My dog does not have the capacity to understand such complexity.

Interesting in the book of Job that after all of the suffering he is allowed to go through, questioning, etc. God comes and does reveal Himself to Job, but never once answers the question of why suffering is in the world. Why? I believe it is because our minds cannot understand infinity. We would just sit and twist our heads back and forth like my dog!

As far as the OT stuff, I believe that we interpret the law through the Son of God. He said, “You have heard it said…But I say unto you…”

The OT is like a kerosene lantern in a barn before electricity on a dark morning. The kerosene lamp is very useful until the sun comes up in the eastern horizon. Once the sun comes up, you don’t even notice the kerosene lantern because of the complete illumination of the sun. The OT was useful and still is. But the NT or new covenant has been issued to us to bring us into greater light.

Within Christianity there is a lot of room for different interpretations. Orthodox Christianity gives a lot of room for interpretation. My opinion within Christianity on certain things could definitely be incorrect. But one thing that Christians hold to no matter what are the words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6.

You say, “Narrow!” I agree. Jesus said that the road to eternal life was narrow and few shall find it, but wide is the road that leads to hell, and many shall find it.

My motivation for Christianity at first was based on fear of hell. But how immature was that? My motivation for Christianity now is based on love for a God who sent His Son to die in my place that I might have relationship with Him. Crazy, I know. But now a present reality in my life.

If I am experiencing this joy, why wouldn’t I try to express it to others?

Fleegman, I reiterate, because God cares for people and I am a follower of Jesus; I care, too.

As far as Muslims pulling on you the other way, I would say, examine both sides and choose wisely. Both cannot be right. 2 + 2 = 4

If Jesus says, “I am the way…” Then can there logically be another way?

It is a humbling way. Everyone must enter the same way, “only through surrender to His way.”

I didn’t feel in any way that you were rambling. I truly enjoy the interchange. Thanks for your kindness.


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/01/09 @ 06:29

Hi Noel,

Thanks for the post. I’m going to keep this fairly brief, if I can. Hectic schedule etc.

Oh, I realise now that I couldn’t view the youtube clip because of copyright restrictions in viewing it from the UK. Is there an alternative link?

(Update: Ok, it wasn’t that brief, after all. Also, reading it through, I realise my writing style isn’t that sensitive at times, just to give you a little forewarning - I don’t mean to offend ;o) - oh, and filtering meant I had to use d*bt, rather than, well, the one with the “e” instead of “*")

Ok, here goes:

Because of all the world religions, Christianity is so different.

<snip>

Christianity, on the other hand, is DONE. Christ made my salvation possible. Some of His last words on the cross were, “It is finished.” What was finished? The agony? The pain? No. Our salvation was finished. That means that I do not have to do anything more to complete my salvation.

You seem to be saying, here, that Christianity is certainly the one true religion because it’s different from the others and you like how easy it is; it makes sense to you. I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to know that devout adherents to the world’s other religions think theirs makes sense, too.

Quick question: Are you still capable of sin having accepted Christ? If so (which I assume is true), do you seek repentance for your sins, or is it all OK because you’ve accepted the truth about Jesus and are, therefore, automatically given a free pass when you sin?

Must you accept Jesus Christ and follow the commandments? And that then goes back to the sinning question. If so, then it’s not “done” as you say, but is an ongoing process.

I receive what He did for me on the cross. He paid my d*bt for my offensive sin against Him. The cool thing is that He didn’t have to do this. I am sure you have heard, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That is a lot of grace that I am not sure I will ever understand. With Christianity, I do not have to wonder if I must do more, do this, do that. It is DONE.

I have so many problems with what you say here that I hardly know where to begin, so please bear with me.

In the beginning, so to speak, according to scripture we had Adam and Eve. God put the tree of knowledge in the garden and told them not to eat from it. Remember there was no sin at this time, so the two of them didn’t know right from wrong, and they, presumably, didn’t know what lying or deceit were.

The following aren’t questions I expect answers to, just question I have which will hopefully make clear why the whole thing seem ridiculous to me.

  • How could they know it was wrong to eat from the tree? To put it another way, how could they know it was wrong to disobey God?
  • What was the snake with the ability to talk (was it or wasn’t it Satan?) doing there?
  • Did God not know about the snake? If not, why not?
  • The snake told them the truth and God lied to them (he said they would die “that very day” and they didn’t)
  • Did the snake pull a fast one on an all knowing God? How?
  • If A&E were capable of sinning, doesn’t that mean sin existed before the “fall?” This also means God’s creations were imperfect, and were already vessels of sin.
  • God must have known they would eat from the tree, being God.
  • Would a fence not have been in order? You don’t just command your children not to touch a gun, for example, you also put it out of reach since it’s so dangerous to them, no?
  • Why did God put the tree there? I mean, seriously, this is so ridiculous. I mean, what was the tree of knowledge? God, presumably, created the tree. Why? What was the point of the tree of knowledge, if the only thing it did was tempt A&E to eat from it? Was the tree of knowledge a necessary part of the universe and he just had to find a place to put it, and the only place he could find to put it in was the garden of Eden, right under their noses?

In my opinion, God was setting up A&E to fail. He knew they would eat from the tree, and what did he do when they ate from it? His punishment was inflicted on all of their descendents until the end of time. Wow. Considering this was all his fault, I think that’s a bit of an overreaction.

None of this holds together as even the least bit plausible.

One can read the story in Genesis, and it’s so matter of fact about it; at first glance, it seems innocuous enough (sort of). When you start to think about it, though, the whole thing doesn’t stand up to even the smallest scrutiny. You can rationalise away these problems, but that only works when you’ve accepted that it’s all true.

I realise I haven’t addressed what you actually said, and I will do so now. I wanted to talk about A&E to give some foundation to my problem with the next bit.

You keep talking about this d*bt that you owe. How is something your great-great-great…great-grandfather did approximate to anything like your d*bt? If anything, the d*bt rests on God’s shoulders; he set the whole thing up, after all. What did you have to do with it? You say that God loves us, but he was the one who supposedly inflicted this eternal sin upon us! Were his hands tied? No. He made all the rules.

God paid a d*bt He didn’t owe and for which I could not even come close to touching. I am now in relationship with this God.

But he did owe the d*bt.

And what’s God’s answer to this problem of sin that he invented? He sets up and accepts a sacrifice of himself to himself. I’m not trying to be snarky when I say that, I’m just paraphrasing scripture. Jesus was God in human form right? God knew Jesus couldn’t really die (since he was God) so where was the great sacrifice you’re talking about?

What makes God’s sacrifice of his son (who was also God) - whom he knew couldn’t really die for a problem that he inflicted upon us in the first place - an act of such grace that you don’t think you’ll ever understand it?

Since God sent His Son to die in my place, why would I ever question His love for me?

See above.

But honestly, I still struggle with that at times when my prayers do not get answered the way I think they should. But just as my kids come around to see my love through other actions, so I come around to see my God’s love for me.

So what prayers do you think he does answer they way you want? And in what way do you see his love for you?

I agree horoscopes are senseless to a point. I believe that some of those things can come true, too, but maybe from a different power source.

Do you have any evidence to support this view?

I believe that there are two powers at work, two voices, two kingdoms. God’s power, voice and kingdom; and Satan’s power, voice and kingdom.

Why do you believe this? How would the world be different if this weren’t true?

They are working in complete opposition to one another all the time!

Can you point out an example?

Just a funny side note: I once heard an atheist humbly admit, “It does seem that when Christians pray, there are a lot more ‘coincidences.’”

I can’t comment on the veracity of an anecdote like that, but they’re right when they talk about coincidence, since that’s what we’re really talking about, here. I don’t know of any atheist who would admit (humbly or otherwise) something like that, because the evidence doesn’t support such a position.

Not a big fan of the Old Testament, you ask?
Tongue in cheek, The terrible acts performed in the OT all happened before God became a Christian!
Just kidding.

Heh, well, it’s interesting that you bring that up, because unless I’m mistaken, the idea of eternal hellfire for non-believers didn’t arise until Christ came onto the scene. Up to that point, it was just non-existence that awaited us upon death, wasn’t it?

You talk about what a selfless act that was but try to see it from my perspective:

Someone I don’t know (Jesus) supposedly died for my sins (that weren’t mine in the first place) without my permission or desire for him to do so. And because of that act, I now how to choose between believing in him or eternal damnation. In other words, the default destination, thanks to Jesus, is unending torment and hellfire. Oh, and he also supplied no evidence whatever that God exists to help me make my decision. And I’m supposed to be grateful for this?

This could open up another can of worms, but I believe that God reveals Himself in different dispensations. God primarily revealed one side of Himself in the OT: holiness. It seems that God primarily revealed another side of Himself in the NT: love.

So holiness, by your definition, means jealous, petty, quick to anger, narcissistic, misogynistic, and cruel?

I feel like I am telling you things that you already know, because of your Christian upbringing. Sorry to be redundant if you have already heard this.

That’s ok. It’s interesting to know where you stand on all this.

I cannot explain the suffering in the world. The greatest minds in all the world have wrestled with that one.

But you accept that it’s part of God’s plan because you accept without question that he is real. I look at the suffering of the world and it makes sense to me, or at least I can make sense of it. I don’t need to make rationalisations about how it’s actually for our own good, or part of some plan that I can’t understand.

The OT was useful and still is. But the NT or new covenant has been issued to us to bring us into greater light.

How do you decide which parts of the OT are useful?

Jesus said that the road to eternal life was narrow and few shall find it, but wide is the road that leads to hell, and many shall find it.

Well, that’s just awesome. He knew that the vast majority of humans would be going to hell (no matter how nice they were to each other) and still thought that the plan was a good one. And yet it is written that he loves us all equally. This is very confusing.

If I am experiencing this joy, why wouldn’t I try to express it to others?

I’m glad you are joyful, but you’re not really happy until everyone believes what you believe, and that’s what I have a problem with. As a pastor (is that the correct term?) part of your job description is to indoctrinate children into your belief system before they have the maturity to think for themselves. A few posts back you asked if it would be ok for people to see all the evidence and work out the answer for themselves, which would, of course, be great. But that’s not what you do. You are not just expressing your joy to people, you’re telling people that what you believe is The Truth, and that if they don’t believe it too they will suffer eternal torment.

On that point, let me ask you an important question that I’d like you to give some serious thought to: If you had been born and brought up in Afghanistan, and had lived your life there up to this point, would you be a Muslim right now?

If not, why not?

As far as Muslims pulling on you the other way, I would say, examine both sides and choose wisely. Both cannot be right. 2 + 2 = 4

No, both cannot be right. Or neither are right. Don’t worry, I have chosen wisely.

If Jesus says, “I am the way…” Then can there logically be another way?

Can you see how circular that is?

Thank you for going into more depth about your beliefs. I hope I haven’t been too abrasive in my comments.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/05/09 @ 09:33

Fleegman:

Is debt a bad word? I wasn’t sure why you could not spell it…

You asked:
Quick question: Are you still capable of sin having accepted Christ? If so (which I assume is true), do you seek repentance for your sins, or is it all OK because you’ve accepted the truth about Jesus and are, therefore, automatically given a free pass when you sin?

Salvation is free but not cheap. It cost Jesus His very life. I have not been given a free pass. If I say something to hurt my wife, that doesn’t mean divorce. But to have a great relationship, it makes sense to apologize for my offense toward her. Same way with my relationship with God. After becoming a Christian my sin does not cause me to go to hell, but my unconfessed sin does interrupt and hinder my relationship with God.

You asked:
Must you accept Jesus Christ and follow the commandments? And that then goes back to the sinning question. If so, then it’s not “done” as you say, but is an ongoing process.

My salvation was complete upon Christ’s death upon the cross. Whether or not I accept His death for me is still “up in the air” until I make my choice. I was saved 2,000 years ago when Christ died on the cross for me, I am being saved now, and I will be saved at the Final Judgment.

God created choice. If I said to my little kid, “Come over here and give me a hug or else I’ll spank you…” Guess what? My kid would do it. But how different when my kid comes over and chooses to show affection to me. God is sovereign, but yet He allows us to make a decision for Him. Choice allows me to by free will begin a relationship with Him.

You asked:
You keep talking about this d*bt that you owe. How is something your great-great-great…great-grandfather did approximate to anything like your d*bt?

I am not held accountable for my sin nature until I act upon it. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We have all sinned. We are not culpable for this sin until we in our own self-sovereignty choose to act upon it.

You asked:
If anything, the d*bt rests on God’s shoulders; he set the whole thing up, after all. What did you have to do with it? You say that God loves us, but he was the one who supposedly inflicted this eternal sin upon us! Were his hands tied? No. He made all the rules.

The Bible says that Christ was slain before the creation of the world. God, in His foreknowledge, knew that we would choose self-sovereignty over God sovereignty and in love gave us a way out through Jesus.

This is hard to understand since we are finite. God being infinite, does things differently than we would. Our ways are not His ways, and our thoughts are not His thoughts.

My brother had some deep questions about the faith and why would God make us, ask us to obey Him, or else?
He was very angry that God would do this. He was wondering how he could love a God like this. While visiting Taiwan, my brother had an unusual, supernatural experience with God. My brother immediately saw God as loving and kind, not “out to get us.” God created everything good. Lucifer, Satan, etc. was given the same choice we are offered. Lucifer chose self-sovereignty and invited humans into the same bondage. We “bit.” God’s plan is not for us to follow the way of the devil. God’s plan is to bless.

I am going to have to respond to the rest tomorrow. I am hoping that my interaction is not making you mad or angry. That is not what I am intending to do at all. Thanks for your understanding!


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/05/09 @ 14:24

To continue:

You asked:
And what’s God’s answer to this problem of sin that he invented?

God cannot tempt nor can He be tempted. God only creates good. Choice is good. He created choice. Lucifer chose away from God (again, self-sovereignty) and therefore entered into sin. God’s answer to this problem of sin is that He chose to sacrifice His Son for us.

You have some great questions, Fleegman. I am sensing that even in my answering or attempting to answer your questions, it is not really accomplishing what you want or need.

You brought up a term that I have never heard of in one of your earlier posts:
“I don’t think it’s possible to know if there is a god or not, since I’m an agnostic atheist.”
I have heard of an atheist and an agnostic, but never together. Would you mind to explain that term?

You had said in at least three of your earlier posts something like this:

“Once again, God knows what it would take for me to believe, yet he remains silent.”

What is it that you want God to do to help you believe? Is it just one thing, or is it many?


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/06/09 @ 06:21

We cannot know GOD accurately or savingly apart from His Word: the Bible. GOD has revealed himself in history (Time/Space). GOD had eyewitnesses record His revelation in scripture. If we are to know GOD, it is to the Bible we must go for thru it He speaks (2 Tim 3:15-16) & without it we walk in spiritual darkness, not knowing the truth. “Every word of GOD proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him (Prov 30:5).” After the creation, GOD made a covenant with man (Adam) to give him life if he perfectly obeyed; God told him not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or he would die(curse). God required perfect and perpetual obedience to his revealed will in order for him to continue in fellowship & the favor of GOD which is life. Interesting, it was thru the acceptance of a lie (contradicting GOD’s Word), doubting GOD, and Rejecting/Rebelling against Him that sin(i.e. Disobeying & not conforming to God’s Law), corrupted human nature, misery, death and judgment entered this world(Gen 3). Man lost his original righteousness (became “naked”) and has no hope of standing before an Infinite, Eternal, Holy God (Judge) who hates sin(lawlessness). Man is not only guilty before GOD but corrupted and incapable of getting himself out of the mess he’s in(Rom 3:9-20) But that’s where the good news(Gospel) of GOD begins! GOD does for us what we could never do for ourselves! He provides/imputes a righteousness (the Righteousness of Christ) to us which satisfies His justice. He does it in such a way that the “Judge of all the earth” is not only Just but the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus(Romans 3:26 ). The Gospel is the glorious truth that God justifies(makes righteous) guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone (we utterly don’t deserve it) thru faith in Jesus Christ alone. This grace is made possible by Christ’s life and death on the cross(Rom 3:21-26). This salvation was bought at an immeasurable price and is too great to neglect. The Gospel of God’s Son was promised beforehand thru God’s prophets in the Old Testament (Rom 1:2) The historical unfolding of it begins in Genesis.


Aaron [Visitor]  10/06/09 @ 22:01

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for joining the discussion.

We cannot know GOD accurately or savingly apart from His Word: the Bible.

Why? Because the Bible says so? If The Lord Of The Rings had a section which said “this book describes real events” would it make it true?

GOD has revealed himself in history (Time/Space). GOD had eyewitnesses record His revelation in scripture.

It’s a shame these “eye witnesses” didn’t get together and get their story straight. They might have avoided the numerous inconsistencies which lend so much credence to the theory that the Bible isn’t, in fact, inerrant.

[lots of quoting of the Bible follows…]

I don’t mean to be rude, but quoting from scripture, as I have said before in this thread (might be worth a read), is not a way of convincing me, or anyone else who doesn’t believe that the Bible is the word of God, that if there is a god, it is the Christian god.

God told him not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or he would die(curse).

Was that “curse” bit in the Bible? No. God said Adam would die that very day (but Adam actually lived over 900 years. Not bad). You call it the curse because you have to rationalise away why he didn’t actually die from eating the fruit. Since you believe this stuff it must be that God actually meant “curse” when he said “die.” So why didn’t he just say that?

[lots of stuff about how sinful we are, and how awesome God is for helping us out of this mess he got us into in the first place]

Well, I don’t believe I am a worthless sinner. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have an inherently sinful nature because Adam ate a piece of fruit. Please.

we utterly don’t deserve it

You have such a low opinion of yourself. This is another of my problems with Christianity. In order to function properly, it requires you to think of yourself as worthless. Well, I don’t think your worthless. So take that.

This salvation was bought at an immeasurable price

Not really. As I’ve said before, he “sacrificed” himself to himself. Can you explain to me how this even is a sacrifice?

I’d be interested to hear your rebuttals of these points. I wonder if you will be back, or if this was just a drive-by proselytisation ;o)

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/08/09 @ 01:30

Hi Noel,

Hope you are well. Onwards!

Is debt a bad word? I wasn’t sure why you could not spell it…

I think the spam filter thought I was selling loans or something ;o)

If I say something to hurt my wife, that doesn’t mean divorce. But to have a great relationship, it makes sense to apologize for my offense toward her. Same way with my relationship with God. After becoming a Christian my sin does not cause me to go to hell, but my unconfessed sin does interrupt and hinder my relationship with God.

With a partner, of course the relationship can be damaged without apologies, and a wife, for example, can sulk about the place and make you feel really bad. How does your relationship with God change when you have unconfessed sins? Is it just that you feel guilty about it?

God created choice. If I said to my little kid, “Come over here and give me a hug or else I’ll spank you…” Guess what? My kid would do it. But how different when my kid comes over and chooses to show affection to me. God is sovereign, but yet He allows us to make a decision for Him. Choice allows me to by free will begin a relationship with Him.

But this is the exact opposite from what God does. “Love me and accept Christ or go to hell” is the same as asking your kid to hug you or get spanked, isn’t it?

I am not held accountable for my sin nature until I act upon it.

Remember that thinking about acting on it is the same as acting on it, according to the Bible.

The Bible says that Christ was slain before the creation of the world. God, in His foreknowledge, knew that we would choose self-sovereignty over God sovereignty and in love gave us a way out through Jesus.

Although I haven’t heard this interpretation before, can you see the problem it raises? The problem is that it means that God knew that Adam would eat the fruit and plunge us all into the state we are supposedly in now. So, I ask again, how was this not his fault? And why did he wait ~4000 years before saving us with Jesus?

That’s an interesting story about your brother. It does mean, however, that some people put things they can’t explain down to a god, and some people look for a more Earth bound explanations. Since your brother was actually angry at God, it seems he already believed in him. It was only that in Taiwan he realised that the god he already believed in was actually good and loving.

I am going to have to respond to the rest tomorrow. I am hoping that my interaction is not making you mad or angry.

Not in the least; I am enjoying the dialog.

God cannot tempt nor can He be tempted.

You don’t think putting the tree of knowledge under their noses was tempting them to eat from it?

God only creates good.

Then who created sin? Did we create sin? And if God created the Earth, in what way can the problems associated with living on a cooling chunk of rock like this (like Tsunamis that wipe out hundreds of thousands) be described as good? One of the most common arguments for the existence of God is how perfect Earth is for us, but it is anything but perfect. And most of the surface (including all the bits covered by water, of course) is totally uninhabitable by humans.

Choice is good. He created choice.

Except that if we choose not to believe in him, we’re going to hell. Thanks for the choice, God.

God’s answer to this problem of sin is that He chose to sacrifice His Son for us.

And we’re back to the question of “why is it a sacrifice to sacrifice yourself to yourself when you know you cannot die?” Also, putting that bit aside for a moment, the very idea that God even wanted or needed a sacrifice of blood is ridiculous. What was he thinking? Was he thinking: “Well, this sin is terrible, so in order for me to give them a way out I’m really going to have to make the biggest sacrifice to me that I can think of. The blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices! Only then will I decide to save them.” Why did he need a sacrifice at all?

If I understand this, he couldn’t save us without a sacrifice. And the only sacrifice that was big enough was himself in human form. Do you understand why I have a hard time believing this?

I have heard of an atheist and an agnostic, but never together. Would you mind to explain that term?

Certainly. As you know, an agnostic (concerning epistemology as opposed to belief) is someone who doesn’t believe it’s possible to know for certain if there is or is not a god, and an atheist doesn’t believe in God. So as an agnostic atheist, although I don’t believe in God, I also don’t think we can know for certain either way. I have also heard it described as “weak atheism.”

Even though I think it would be nice if there were a god watching over us (and perhaps part of me hopes that there is - just not the god of the OT, thanks), I don’t think the evidence supports such a position.

What is it that you want God to do to help you believe? Is it just one thing, or is it many?

I honestly don’t know. If there is a god, however, surely he knows, and yet he remains silent.

Besides, in your reading from Luke 16:27-31 earlier, you pointed out that no amount of evidence would be sufficient for a non-believer (unless you’re called Thomas, of course), so perhaps I’m just destined not to believe ;o)

Interesting story (well, maybe): I was doing a lot of hiking recently, and as I went to sleep that night (very tired), I saw flashes of light when I closed my eyes. As I experienced these hallucinations, I thought to myself how a believer might interpret these flashes of light as some kind of message from God. While thinking that, I even saw a couple of flashes which had the look of an angel to them and I thought to myself: it’s funny how the mind works. Here I am, thinking about what a believer might think of this, and then I begin interpreting the flashes in a way that relates to my current train of thought.

What was the explanation for the hallucinations? I don’t know, but having done so much exercise that day I’m sure it was related to that. Or perhaps a brain aneurysm. But whatever it was, it wasn’t God trying to reveal himself to me. You know how I know that? Because God would have done a much better job at communicating.

The thing is, once you accept the belief in God, anything out of the ordinary can (and probably will) be interpreted as a sign from God.

Many thanks for the continuing discussion.

Cheers for now,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/08/09 @ 01:43

Fleegman: The following aren’t questions I expect answers to……I believe that!


Aaron [Visitor]• 10/08/09 @ 21:05

Aaron: “We cannot know GOD…”

See? I can do it too! Quote-mining is fun but, ultimately, unproductive and dishonest, and just gets in the way of the actual discussion.

I’d be happy to hear your answers, though, if you have any.


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/09/09 @ 06:53

Fleegman:

Sorry for the delay in correspondence, been out of town a bit.

If I may ask these questions…Just to get to know your background a bit better. If you prefer not to answer these, then I can change the subject.

In what denomination did your parents raise you?

Are your parents still alive and practicing faith?

If so, are they deeply concerned for you or is it a non issue to keep relationship with you?

Did you actually ever have an experience with God when you were younger?

Did you actually have an alive and growing faith?

A lot of so called Christians have never really experienced a relationship with Christ. To them it is dry, formal, cerebral only and boring. Many children have walked away from the true faith because they only saw acting parents (not real in the home), some may even call this hypocritical living on the part of so called Christians.

Do you have Christian siblings?

Have you ever met “real Christians"?

I mean ones that actually practice daily the faith? Truly live it out kind of folks. I’m not talking about perfect Christians, but humble, well-meaning Christians.

Do you have children?

One last thing: I never look at God’s idea of choice as a bad thing. I see it as a very creative aspect of God’s creation.

Just because God knows something does not mean that He causes it. So to say that God knew that He would be sacrificing His Son before the creation of the world, never meant that He was causing sin. Sin comes about when free moral beings deliberately choose self-sovereignty over God’s sovereignty.

Thanks for the time.


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/13/09 @ 13:19
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/13/09 @ 13:59

Dan:

God has given to every person a conscience. Con and Science having to do with knowledge/truth.

Because God has given to us a conscience, when we are not in line with the will of God it creates dissonance and a great disparity in the heart.

If you have had contact and relationship with the Father, and then broken away, you will experience restlessness like a wave in the sea.

Deep in the heart, our very DNA, speaks to us of an unmoved mover, a Creator.

Your conscience is a gift, Dan. Accept that gift and let that gift bring you to God and peace.

I don’t know what kind of Christianity you practiced, but I wonder of the sincerity and wholeness and integrity of that faith, if it serves no purpose and gives not rest now.

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord” - St. Augustine.”

The 10 commandments should be studied, not for salvation, but to show us our need for God. The 10 commandments, when studied honestly and openly, reveal a deep problem within our hearts.

“What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed (Jesus) to whom the promise referred had come. Galatians 3:19.

“Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be give to those who believe….So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” Galatians 3:21-25.

Therein lies the problem, the ten commandments show us that we have broken relationship with a holy and sinless God. The unrest that you are experiencing is in the heart of every person born into this world. The “rest” only comes when we find our rest in God through Jesus Christ.

I am not trying to start an argument, win an argument or even end argument. I am just one beggar trying to show another beggar where the food is.

Wouldn’t it be rather selfish and mean spirited of me if I did know where bread was and didn’t tell another beggar?


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/14/09 @ 14:05

The part you’re missing Noel is that Danny isn’t a beggar. And I find it insulting that you question the Christianity he practiced, as if it is impossible for a “true” Christian to leave the faith.


brendoman [Visitor] • http://brendoman.com10/14/09 @ 14:27
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/14/09 @ 14:28
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/14/09 @ 14:32

Danny,

What if life is really a test, a series of choices, in which only one choice really matters? What if we ignore the inner warning light which pulses when we lie, steal and lust? What if even our hatred is counted as murder? What if there is a Heaven? What if there is a Hell? What if there is a just Judge who knows even our thoughts? What if He holds us accountable for every thought, word and deed? What if our idea of justice is only a shadow of something coming - where the prison times are eternal and no bond can be posted once the sentence is passed? What if you are wrong? Are you prepared to spend an eternity in Hell?


Greg Marlin [Visitor] • http://www.bornofhim.org10/14/09 @ 21:14
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/15/09 @ 05:16

Greg,

Are we really playing the “What if?” game, now? I mean, really? Is that what we’ve descended to? The “What if?” game is the kind of apologetics I would expect from the likes of Ray Comfort, and by that I mean that I have heard more convincing arguments for belief in God from my dog.

Yes, that was a fairly hefty ad hominem, but there’s nothing to say you can’t throw in the odd ad hominem to season the steak as long as that’s not the backbone of what you’re arguing; and it’s not.

So in response to your “What if?” challenge:

- What if you picked the wrong god?
- What if God wants us to think for ourselves and actually hates all the constant praying?

Can you take the risk, Greg? Can you?

Oh, and what Dan said (beat me to it).

P.S. Reply on its way, Noel. Busy at the mo.


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/15/09 @ 06:53

Danny,

What is the real point behind all of this? Why take our Gospel tract and post it on your blog with a rant about infinite punishment? If you really believe what you say then why let the issue of infinite punishment get to you? The truth is you really know that there is a God but you are trying to suppressing that truth. Why? Because your deeds are evil and you love the darkness rather than light. You hate God and the thought of having to submit to Him is detestable to you. Do you realize that the only reason you are not in Hell right now is because God is showing mercy to you. He wants you to repent. If you continue on this path your appointed time will come and God will be glorified as the axe of divine justice falls. The fire is made ready, the pit is prepared, and the flames do now rage and glow. Please turn and repent before God removes His sustaining hand in your life.


Greg Marlin [Visitor] • http://www.bornofhim.org10/15/09 @ 08:32
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/15/09 @ 08:48

Dan:

I am not angry that you left the faith, but troubled.

You said:
“You’re not the first person to tell me that I was never really a True Christian and you probably won’t be the last. But you’re wrong. I know that I believed.”

You believe you believed. Maybe a bad relationship. I don’t know.

When I talked about the ministerial student turned atheist in a previous post, he said the same thing: “I did have a relationship with God, but now I deny His existence.”

I guess I am slow, but how can you have a relationship with someone who does not exist. It is a relationship because of two people.

I am in love with my wife and have a relationship with her. Tomorrow after a misunderstanding or fight or divorce, I would not say, “She does not exist.”

I really would like to understand what you mean by - you had a relationship with the God you now deny.

God has given you a bright mind, Dan.


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/15/09 @ 09:14
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/15/09 @ 09:20

Boy, you said it Dan.

Greg, the very idea that God (if such a being exists) would be more inclined to let a person as annoying and hate-filled as yourself into Heaven (as reward for the lofty achievement of unquestioning faith in an irrational belief), and would condemn someone such as myself to the pits of Hell (for the crime of thinking too much) is all the evidence I need to conclude that your superstitions are just that.

If God is so keen to spend time with you in Heaven, why hasn’t he already whisked you away? You know, there are so many things I want to point out about how your story about God letting us live here so we can repent before we die doesn’t hold water. I’m not going to, though, because you wouldn’t read it. It’s clear that you didn’t actually read what Dan or I wrote before, so what’s the point of debating anything with you?

I hope you pull your head out of the sand someday,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/15/09 @ 09:41

Didn’t know if you might give this site a read and let me know your thoughts:

http://www.doesgodexist.org/AboutClayton/PastLife.html

In Christ


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/15/09 @ 11:21

Brendoman:

You said:
“And I find it insulting that you question the Christianity he practiced, as if it is impossible for a “true” Christian to leave the faith.”

My point is not to insult you with that question. I truly am trying to understand what could make a person so disillusioned or hurt or stymied that they would make them leave that authentic relationship with someone.

Sorry to offend, Brendoman. Again, not my intention.

If one thought that he was in a relationship with God, then got out and thought that there was not a god; there is vacillation. Is it not possible to think that there could be a God, again?


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/15/09 @ 11:38
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/15/09 @ 23:20

Danny & Fleegman,

I would like to apologize for my threats of hell. My motivation is not based in hatred but love. Love tells people the TRUTH even if it may be upsetting. My statements above were only based on Biblical truth. However, I understand from your posts that both of you are open to logical reasoned factual evidence.

With this in mind, I would like to recommend a book that is based on factual evidence titled, “One Heartbeat Away” by Mark Cahill. Please would you both consider reading this?

If you go to the below web address and provide your mailing address, Mark Cahill will send you a free copy of the book.

http://www.oneheartbeataway.org/


Greg Marlin [Visitor] • http://www.bornofhim.org10/16/09 @ 12:05
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/16/09 @ 13:20

Something I’ve been thinking about lately and figured bringing it up in this venue would at least bring some legitimate criticism (sorry, Danny, I’m living through other people’s blogs these days):

Should “God of the gaps” be an argument that immediately refutes arguments for theism based on wonder at the unknown? Essentially isn’t this saying that we should trust (without proof) that there is a (correct) rational explanation for everything–that some unknown scientist of the future will explain things like morality, our strangely acute sense of transcendent purpose, the origin of the universe, etc. a belief in a science of the gaps?

While I recognize that these questions don’t (at all) prove theism, doesn’t it put everyone on the same plane of guessing and choosing what seems reasonable (I’m using “reasonable” here sort of vaguely to mean that which seems intuitively “right” to the human mind). Doesn’t all science really boil down to a sense of unproven reasonableness like this as well (I mean at the lowest axiomic level)? If someone believes theism provides the best answer to the the above questions, can the materialist really refute them based purely on logic?


Doug [Visitor]• 10/17/09 @ 13:14
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/17/09 @ 15:37

Dan:

Thanks for your insightful comments. I appreciate the intense thought that you are putting into this whole thing. I guess that you are truly seeking truth, knowledge and evidence.

I wonder have you read from Scriptures recently with the idea that they may be true?

I have listened to atheist authors and bloggers with as open of a mind as I can, trying to understand their position. I even try to imagine what it may be like to not know if there really is a God. I truly have.

I guess that in my experience (which is admittedly, limited), I have found that reading the word of God builds and excites my faith. In fact “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

I only question your experience with God from your past because God has done so much to satisfy my longings.

I do not say this to offend, Dan.

If I love and am loved, and truly know love- it deeply impacts me. I see others that have experienced love in this same way, and it has deeply impacted them, too. It just seems so difficult to refute this idea of love; Loving and being loved by Him.

If God doesn’t exist, and you read largely from the Bible- there may be no change in your mind or behavior.

But if God exists, and you read deeply and largely from His inspired word, you may begin to experience love in new dimensions. Would that be a bad thing?

Again, I do not think that you never knew of the God of the Bible from your past, but could it be that this greater, deeper dimension of His love was never allowed to penetrate your heart?

Faith has to do with the heart first. The head has to catch up with the heart. For some reason, God set up the game rules this way (and I don’t know why He did).

I do not believe we think our way into a relationship with Christ. We faith our way into a relationship with Christ.

Much like I began a relationship with my wife because my heart drew me. My heart was experiencing so many things, and my intellect had to “catch up,” so to speak.

It is not blind faith in God, but a reasonable faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

For example, electricity. I do not fully understand electricity, but that does not keep me from believing and using electricity. It is not blind faith in electricity, for I know that minds greater than mine have worked it out. I do not comprehend God, but I do apprehend Him.

Please know that I blog with you because I truly believe God and His word; therefore I care.

Fleegman:

I have not heard a response to the questions I asked you earlier. If that is off limits, no problem. We can just continue in this vein.


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/19/09 @ 07:12

Hi Noel,

Apologies for the tardy response. Looks like you’ve all been having fun.

If I may ask these questions…Just to get to know your background a bit better. If you prefer not to answer these, then I can change the subject.

I’d rather not answer your questions as I don’t think they are relevant to the discussion. As Dan mentioned above, I feel like you’re angling for a No True Christian argument. As Dan has already addressed, the strength of one’s beliefs does not give any indication of their validity. You show me one dedicated Christian, and I’ll show you a Muslim or Jew who is just as dedicated.

I will, however, bite on a couple:

Are your parents still alive and practicing faith?

If so, are they deeply concerned for you or is it a non issue to keep relationship with you?

They are very much alive, thankfully, and I have a very good and close relationship with them. I often discuss this very topic with them, in fact. They might not be what you call “True Christians,” of course. I am grateful for this, since True Christians would have a hard time keeping a relationship going with a son who has “lost his faith". This is the source of yet another problem I have with religion. It actively encourages that kind of divide between family members if they lose faith. Can’t have people leaving the flock, oh no no no. In this way, all religions are alike. There are many ways that fear is used as a coercive tool in religion, and this is just one of them. Fear of losing contact with family keeps helps to keep people in line. People don’t want to ask probing questions for fear of being segregated.

Of course, in order for religion to survive, these kind of influences must be segregated. You can’t have their influence spreading, can you?

A lot of so called Christians have never really experienced a relationship with Christ. To them it is dry, formal, cerebral only and boring. Many children have walked away from he true faith because they only saw acting parents (not real in the home), some may even call this hypocritical living on the part of so called Christians.

Ahhh, good old Christian elitism :o) The smugness with which fundamentalists (not just Christians, mind you) look down on those of the same faith who may not be as devout is a constant source of amusement for me. From my perspective, this is like wearing a delusion as one would wear a badge of honour. “Yes, they might pretend to follow the path of the deluded, but they are not truly deluded, as I am. Shame on them. What hypocrites.”

Have you ever met “real Christians"?

I mean ones that actually practice daily the faith? Truly live it out kind of folks. I’m not talking about perfect Christians, but humble, well-meaning Christians.

Noel, a few posts back you said that one thing you like about Christianity is that is is “done.” As in, you don’t have to do anything else; it’s done. You’ve accepted Christ, you have a relationship with God (still not sure what you mean by that), and you’re sorted. So what do you mean by “practise daily the faith,” and “truly live it out?”

One last thing: I never look at God’s idea of choice as a bad thing. I see it as a very creative aspect of God’s creation.

Noel, as I have said many times now, according to Christians, the choice is “Believe in me, or you go to Hell.” Please explain how this is different from the example you gave where you said how telling your son to hug you or get spanked is bad?

Just because God knows something does not mean that He causes it.

Ok. So God knew that Adam would eat the fruit. He knew that would happen. And he did nothing to stop it. Why, for the love of Willian Shatner’s trousers did he put the tree in the garden when he knew they would eat from it?

So to say that God knew that He would be sacrificing His Son before the creation of the world, never meant that He was causing sin. Sin comes about when free moral beings deliberately choose self-sovereignty over God’s sovereignty.

Not to get too heavy or anything, but if God knew what Adam would do, in what way did he have free will? If God knew what “choice” Adam would make, how could he have made another choice? I know you can answer that God just knew what “free” choice Adam would make, but then it must have been possible for Adam to make the other choice. And if he had made the other choice, then God would have been wrong about the future. In other words, Adam only had the illusion of free will.

And, to sum this up, if God knew we would all turn out so rubbish, why did he bother in the first place?

Now I have a few questions that I have asked several times on this thread, and each time they has been completely ignored or side-stepped. I would really like some answers to these questions, if you have them.

1) If Jesus is God, in what way is it a sacrifice when God knew he couldn’t really die because it was him.

2) Why did God wait 4,000 years to send himself as Jesus so we could be saved (why didn’t he do this the first time he thought we’d messed up to badly, instead of the supposed flood?)?

3) If you had been born and raised in Afghanistan, would you be a Muslim right now? If not, why not?

4) If God loves us equally, why has he made it more difficult for scientists to believe (or just people who are inquisitive, and like evidence before believing in something), given that all the evidence available to us contradicts what is said in scripture? Is he punishing “the intellectuals,” as the Bible would put it. Why is the persuit of knowledge so frowned upon?

5) If Adam and Eve didn’t know right from wrong, how could they possibly know it was wrong to disobey God and eat the fruit?

Ahhh, so many more questions than these, but these will do for now. Please do not ignore them :o)

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/20/09 @ 03:42

I guess I was blessed with a very understanding family. When my brothers “did their own thing” for quite a while, my parents continued to love and support both of them. I guess they were able to openly express their “other” views with my parents, but my parents always got to express theirs as well. So, I am a proponent of open and honest dialogue, too.

Practicing daily my faith comes from this Scripture:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
The idea behind this truth is that at salvation, God placed Christ in us with all of His fullness. My salvation is complete, but I must “mine” these truths out to walk in them. Much like a coal miner doesn’t create the stuff deep within the earth, he just works it out…

My salvation is complete, but God wants me to “work it out” or to use a better expression, “enjoy my God through pulling these things out that are deep within me.”

On free choice, I do not command that my son give me a hug or else a spanking. Free choice says, “If you would like to enjoy relationship, then come freely to me. Drink deeply from life and find freedom. God knows how much happier, content, fulfilled and satisfied we will be in relationship with Him. We were created for relationship with Him. The Creator and the creature in harmonious life together.

I ask my children to do this or that, knowing that they will enjoy life a lot more if they do those things, but I do not force them to do them. The consequences of their own choice means that they don’t live as free and fulfilled. God is not down on fun, but He is down on pain and unfulfilled lives. (That last sentence was spoken to me by a close friend and it made a lot of sense).

To try to understand the Trinity- you will lose your mind, but to deny the Trinity- you lose your soul.

I cannot fully explain God, because I am creature. God is beyond our comprehension. He has allowed Himself to be known through His Son Jesus Christ. But there is way more that I don’t understand about God than what I do understand.

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in one. God the Father sent His Son to die for us; in our place. Therefore, it was a sacrifice.

Why did God wait 4,000 years? God sent Christ in the fullness of time, according to Galatians.

Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?

God doesn’t have to think things out like you and I have to reason. His knowledge is perfect. How can you improve upon perfect? By it’s very dynamic nature, it is whole, complete, unchanging and mysterious.

I have given a lot of thought to your question about Afghanistan even before you posed the question. I believe that I would have been raised Muslim, but just as I have done in Christianity, I would have studied all religions and come to the truth of Jesus Christ. If He really did live on this earth and die on the cross AND resurrect from the grave, and that can be analyzed and understood and accepted, then I believe I would be in the same place I am now. I know that I am blessed to have been born in this country and to have Christian parents to save that middle step.

Knowledge and its pursuit is not frowned upon in my book. I do agree with you that many do not like it, but who cares. Search on, Fleegman!

Our sin is not so much in all of the minor details of life, but in our rejection of God. In the end every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is God, according to Scripture, but what separates us from God is not all of the sin (that is just a by-produce of rejecting Jesus), but in our absolute refusal to enter into relationship with Him.

Great questions you pose, Fleegman.


noel george [Visitor] • http://monettnazarene.org10/20/09 @ 07:28

Ok, it’s foolishness for me to think I’m going to be able to give anything like a satisfactory answer to any of these questions (that have been debated for 2000 years) in a blog comment, but I’m feeling silly so I’ll give it a shot. Let me preface with two caveats though.

1) Since the questions more or less work within the Christian “mythology” ("mythology” in the meta-narrative, world-view sense), I’m going answer from within it as well. I don’t believe any of these answers prove Christianity, but they do, I hope, explain why I feel my faith can be consistent.

2) These are guesses. I don’t know if they are right. Lots of room in orthodox Christianity to answer these differently…

Ok…

1) If Jesus is God, in what way is it a sacrifice when God knew he couldn’t really die because it was him.

Couple of possibilities–first, if Jesus is God, and time is a created thing that God in some way lives all at once forever, then every moment for God is somehow eternal. The suffering of Jesus (which was seemingly at least as spiritual as it was physical) then may have been taken on by the divine being forever and ever.

Anoher possibility, sometimes more convincing to me–Jesus’s death was more about defeating death than about sacrifice for its own sake. By passing through death himself God somehow provided a path for humans to follow to resurrection. Maybe, by traveling through death himself, Jesus somehow left a path for us to follow much like he did in his life.

2) Why did God wait 4,000 years to send himself as Jesus so we could be saved (why didn’t he do this the first time he thought we’d messed up to badly, instead of the supposed flood?)?

Yeah, I don’t have any idea. Point is, I think the benefits are pretty retroactive. If I were to guess, I’d say the Roman empire provided the infrastructure for the message to spread etc. If the resurrection is a once for all time sort of thing, locating at a point in history after we’d more or less figured out writing and some basic historical documentary methods seems like a good a idea. Also, the Roman empire seems like it provides a familiar backdrop for the next couple of millenia. The Old Testament seems very foreign to me…the descriptions of Roman civilization seems, by contrast, if not familiar at least not completely alien.

3) If you had been born and raised in Afghanistan, would you be a Muslim right now? If not, why not?

I probably would be executed for blasphemy or else would have been too timid to ever truly express my thoughts. Christianity hasn’t always been all that good at allowing for critical thinking and self-reflective evaluation, but, at least the sort I’ve known does better than what I understand of Islam in Afghanistan at present. Sure in Christianity you get the times when the institution goes crazy (like during the crusades), but even there you have folks beginning to question the institution and laying the foundation for the reformations without rejecting the faith altogether.

4) If God loves us equally, why has he made it more difficult for scientists to believe (or just people who are inquisitive, and like evidence before believing in something), given that all the evidence available to us contradicts what is said in scripture? Is he punishing “the intellectuals,” as the Bible would put it. Why is the persuit of knowledge so frowned upon?

I think God doesn’t like pride all that much (which I believe is the point of the verses in Romans you are paraphrasing about God making the wisdom of the wise foolish). I’m not so sure he’s anti-science, though. Until the late 19th century most of the best scientists in the Western world were Christians and Christians were pretty good about founding colleges, etc.

5) If Adam and Eve didn’t know right from wrong, how could they possibly know it was wrong to disobey God and eat the fruit?

I think the “knowledge of good and evil” means they knew what it was to be evil in the way they previous knew what it was to be good. They hadn’t experienced the difference until they tasted the fruit. You can have the concept of say, a broken heart, before your heart is broken. Now why God put it there, I don’t know exactly. There are all sorts of only partially satisfactory answers. I think its maybe wrapped up in the idea of God wanting to make humankind in His own image, and to do that, humans had to be placed in a context that made them able to do wrong and able to resist.

Why did God create us anyway, knowing it would all go wrong? This actually was a question that occurred to me just before a became a Christian in 8th grade. An answer came to me on its heels that really moved my junior self–"love.”


Doug [Visitor]• 10/20/09 @ 20:09

A thought about Question 1: As with many paradoxes, this one points not necessarily to a contradiction in reality, but a limitation in reasoning. In this case, it points to the limits of one particular atonement theory. There are many different pictures of what happened on the cross, and each metaphor is powerful in what it intends to show, but limited and even downright wrong in its unintended (or even intended…) over-extensions. Early on in church history when the Ransom theory of atonement was popular, theologians began to point out the danger of pushing the metaphor too far. For example, if Jesus was the ransom paid to free us, then God the Father sold him to the devil, and the idea that Christ should be under the authority of the devil seemed inconsistent with other parts of scripture.

Within Christian fundamentalism there is a lot of unhealthy attachment to one or another particular theory, and in that case–when the metaphor is claimed to contain the whole truth–a lot of unnecessary harmonizing, proof texting, and (eventually) shouting has to take place.

I am content to say that the sacrifice model is useful for uniquely showing one or two elements of salvation, and that it doesn’t intend to illuminate trinitarian theology. That’s related to its purpose, but really its intended use.

It’s like if I were a cook and I worked my ass off to be a really good cook but then someone came along and said, “Yeah, but can you farm?”

On Question 2: Your version is a terrible story.

On Question 3: As white as I am, I’d probably be in the circus. So I guess I would be some kind of Gypsy. Are they Muslim?

On Question(s) 4(+): This is like one of those “Why did you beat your wife yesterday?” string of questions. Everyone looks at you horrified and it doesn’t do much good to explain how you didn’t actually do it, and even if you had done it, she deserved it.

On Question 5: Doug’s answer gets at the connotations of biblical knowledge, though I expect that your real point is about God being unjust, so the Genesis trappings are disposable anyway. So then your question is actually a quiet admission that even inquisitive people sometimes put belief before evidence.


peter [Visitor]• 10/21/09 @ 21:29

Last line of paragraph 3 should read, “That’s related to its purpose, but not really its intended use.”

Let’s see, anything else? …Only that I should proofread before submitting comments.


peter [Visitor]• 10/21/09 @ 21:35

Such a response!

Far too much to address each individual response properly, so I’ll just touch on a few points:

Noel:

On free choice, I do not command that my son give me a hug or else a spanking. Free choice says, “If you would like to enjoy relationship, then come freely to me…

Yes. You said (way above) that saying “hug me or get spanked” would be rubbish. And I’m saying that this is exactly what God says: “love me or go to Hell.” It’s the same thing. It’s not free choice. Free choice would be the freedom to choose without consequence.

God knows how much happier, content, fulfilled and satisfied we will be in relationship with Him. We were created for relationship with Him.

Or we go to hell.

God is not down on fun, but He is down on pain and unfulfilled lives. (That last sentence was spoken to me by a close friend and it made a lot of sense).

But God obviously is not down on lives that are full of suffering and pain. Many many people are born into suffering and misery, and it’s all they know.

To try to understand the Trinity- you will lose your mind, but to deny the Trinity- you lose your soul.

That’s a nice sound-bite, but it only sounds good if you believe in the trinity in the first place.

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in one. God the Father sent His Son to die for us; in our place. Therefore, it was a sacrifice.

But the three are one. And God knew that Jesus would rise again, so to speak, so I maintain that there was no sacrifice.

Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?

God doesn’t have to think things out like you and I have to reason. His knowledge is perfect. How can you improve upon perfect? By it’s very dynamic nature, it is whole, complete, unchanging and mysterious.

I have to admit that I’m not really sure what you’re getting at, but it kind of looks like a dressed up “God works in mysterious ways” axiom ;o)

I have given a lot of thought to your question about Afghanistan even before you posed the question. I believe that I would have been raised Muslim, but just as I have done in Christianity, I would have studied all religions and come to the truth of Jesus Christ.

If this is true, or even possible, then why are 99% of the population of Afghanistan Muslim? Are they all actually Christians but too afraid to speak out about it?

If He really did live on this earth and die on the cross AND resurrect from the grave, and that can be analyzed and understood and accepted, then I believe I would be in the same place I am now.

And what if those materials you’re talking about (a Bible, for one), are not available? If the Bible is, in fact, the truth (talking hypothetically, here), and it is not made available to children (as it wouldn’t be), would they not end up devout Muslims?

Knowledge and its pursuit is not frowned upon in my book. I do agree with you that many do not like it, but who cares. Search on, Fleegman!

Heh, I will! Thanks for the continuing discussion.

Cheers for now,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/22/09 @ 05:40

Hi Doug, thanks for answering my questions:

Maybe, by traveling through death himself, Jesus somehow left a path for us to follow much like he did in his life.

I like this answer! I haven’t come across it before, and it has an engaging almost visceral feel to it, so I can understand the allure of an explanation like that.

Of course, as with your other suggestion, this one goes nowhere near answering the actual question which was “how was it a sacrifice if God was Jesus?” ;o)

If the resurrection is a once for all time sort of thing, locating at a point in history after we’d more or less figured out writing and some basic historical documentary methods seems like a good a idea.

If it was God’s intention to do it at a time where it would be more convincing (i.e. that was his goal), why didn’t he, I don’t know, give them an understanding of germ theory, or something? Rather than walking on water, perhaps telling people that washing their hands before eating would prevent the spread of disease would have been a good idea. I’m just saying that sending a convincing message didn’t appear to be the first thing on his mind.

I probably would be executed for blasphemy or else would have been too timid to ever truly express my thoughts.

Then, as I asked Noel, why are there not more Christians spontaneously apostatizing in Afghanistan right now? Or is Afghanistan actually a Christian nation, but none of them is brave enough to speak out? “You’re a Christian too? Wow, so am I! And I was worried you’d stone me to death! Me too!” - forgive me, I couldn’t resist that last bit ;o)

I’m not so sure he’s anti-science, though. Until the late 19th century most of the best scientists in the Western world were Christians and Christians were pretty good about founding colleges, etc.

If I remember my history correctly, though, they weren’t too pleased with ideas that contradicted scripture.

Besides, you dodged the question, you naughty thing. My question was “why has God made it harder for scientists to believe in him, given the overwhelming evidence that contradicts scripture?”

I think the “knowledge of good and evil” means they knew what it was to be evil in the way they previous knew what it was to be good. They hadn’t experienced the difference until they tasted the fruit. You can have the concept of say, a broken heart, before your heart is broken. Now why God put it there, I don’t know exactly. There are all sorts of only partially satisfactory answers. I think its maybe wrapped up in the idea of God wanting to make humankind in His own image, and to do that, humans had to be placed in a context that made them able to do wrong and able to resist.

You know, a more parsimonious explanation, if I may, is that this isn’t actually how the world began. See how my answer doesn’t involve all the rationalisation you’re doing here?

Thanks for your thoughtful answers, Doug. I hope you can at least understand why I think the things that I do, even though you may not agree.

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/22/09 @ 05:48

Hi Peter,

For example, if Jesus was the ransom paid to free us, then God the Father sold him to the devil, and the idea that Christ should be under the authority of the devil seemed inconsistent with other parts of scripture.

Agreed. I’m not sure how the ransom flavour of atonement ever gained momentum.

I am content to say that the sacrifice model is useful for uniquely showing one or two elements of salvation, and that it doesn’t intend to illuminate trinitarian theology. That’s related to its purpose, but really its intended use.

This seems like a lot of hand waving for an event is the foundation of Christian belief. You’re basically saying “no one understands it, but that’s OK.” Given that my underlying point of these questions is that they don’t make any sense, I think we are in agreement. So why do people believe in something that doesn’t make any sense?

On Question 2: Your version is a terrible story.

Don’t blame me, I didn’t write it.

On Question 3: As white as I am, I’d probably be in the circus. So I guess I would be some kind of Gypsy. Are they Muslim?

*slow hand clap*

On Question(s) 4(+): This is like one of those “Why did you beat your wife yesterday?” string of questions. Everyone looks at you horrified and it doesn’t do much good to explain how you didn’t actually do it, and even if you had done it, she deserved it.

Are you saying that you don’t believe the evidence contradicts scripture? I think can see where you’re coming from, if that’s your view. In that case, please explain how the evidence does, in fact, point to a 6000 year old Earth.

On Question 5: Doug’s answer gets at the connotations of biblical knowledge, though I expect that your real point is about God being unjust, so the Genesis trappings are disposable anyway. So then your question is actually a quiet admission that even inquisitive people sometimes put belief before evidence.

Except that it’s not. My question was to highlight a huge inconsistency in the Adam and Eve account. I am saying that, as well as having no evidence for these stories, they also make no sense. Yes, I do believe the God of the Bible is unjust (as well as other things), but this is a question about the consistency of stories that people believe without question.

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/22/09 @ 05:51
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/22/09 @ 07:56

I wanted to inject something personal here, if Danny doesn’t mind (and please feel free to delete this comment if you do mind, Danny). I knew Danny and was friends with him when he was a minister. I heard him sermonize and I heard him counsel kids.
I am still friends with him since he has become an a-theist.

Danny and I differ in our worldviews but I have not seen any kind of moral difference in the behavior of “Churchy Danny” versus “Post-Church Danny.”

He’s the same honest, decent, family-oriented, intelligent person he’s always been.


Heath [Visitor]• 10/22/09 @ 12:40

Wow, my lame joke on Question 3 has generated some angst. I figured the question was directed at Noel, since he was talking about growing up Christian. Just thought I would let that thread continue on its own, even if I didn’t ask to be excused.

Not exactly sure what hand waving is, although I get the impression it’s not a favorable evaluation. Knowing that something is true is different from knowing how it came to be true or how it works. The disciples seem genuinely surprised by the resurrection, and they are told by Jesus that it means, in short, that salvation has been accomplished. So they believe in salvation without knowing how to express what exactly happened.

The various atonement theories are helpful for communicating the power of what happened. I disagree that they bring more confusion into it, or that don’t make any sense. I see them as metaphors that, limited as they are, communicate powerfully within certain contexts. I take your challenge to more properly belong the trinitarian problem, so I see it as something the sacrifice theory doesn’t intend to illuminate. That doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. You could also have said, “The sacrifice theory doesn’t make sense because God doesn’t exist.” And that would be true–but the theory presupposes the existence of God and therefore offers no comment.

The ransom theory would probably speak powerfully within the context of slavery, which would have fit with the first few centuries of the church. The sacrifice model would have been a better bridge with Judaism, where the notion of shed blood taking care of sin would already be familiar. They are all strategies of relating salvation to what is already known, since that’s really the only way learning takes place.

On the Genesis account, within the context of the Babylonian creation narrative, the intent seems to be making comment on human nature and destiny, not necessarily disagreeing with (nonexistent) scientific theories. I don’t know how old the earth is–I am suspicious of the way the 6,000 year figure is calculated because of what I believe about the nature of scripture. You have to ignore what Genesis is saying in order make it argue with evolution.


peter [Visitor]• 10/22/09 @ 15:09

A quote from G.K. Chesterton’s book entitled; “Orthodoxy.”

“The new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy [a prude] because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

What is truth?

Who is Truth?

St. Paul said:
“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.

You may be thinking, “What does that have to do with truth?”
Read on:

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” 15:12-19.

What a pitiful existence if Christianity produces no resurrected Christ. What a terrible teaching without meaning or hope!

But Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us there without hope:

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” 15:20-27.

This resurrection will be some kind of cataclysmic event, won’t it?

Paul says that the the first Adam became a living being” the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The first man was of the dust of the earth the second man from heaven…
Later he says, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

It will happen in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

What is truth?

Maybe the better question would be: “Who is Truth?”

God is Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ.

To reiterate with Chesterton’s previous quote:

“By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

Because Truth matters.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org10/26/09 @ 11:36
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/26/09 @ 12:01
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/26/09 @ 18:57
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/26/09 @ 19:40

Busy times…sorry to be slow.

About the infamous and allegedly “avoided” question #3.

“You’re a Christian too? Wow, so am I! And I was worried you’d stone me to death! Me too!”

I laughed out loud (lawled?….no just can’t do it) at this, but I think I wasn’t actually clear. I’m not saying the same thing as Noel who said he would probably eventually be a Christian by seeking truth wherever he was born (not saying he wouldn’t, just that I’m not sure I could say the same about me). I think I would have been a Muslim, but a very unhappy one given my generally contrary nature and general dislike of fundamentalism.

But isn’t your question sort of like asking what you, Fleegman, would have believed about the cause of disease if you’d lived in the 16th century. Maybe you would have been clever enough to guess that it wasn’t bad vapors or imbalanced humors, but I suspect I would have bought the prevailing explanation. Of course we tend to become (by default) like our culture. This doesn’t seem like proof of anything to me.

My point though is that historical Christianity (as a whole) seems to me to have more room in it for dissent and reform than something like Islam which seems, as a whole, fairly locked into the dictation view of their sacred writings (the prophet is the pen of God, etc.) Christianity on the other hand has generally used the “inspired by God” approach to interpret its sacred text and the strict American fundamentalist view is only one (fairly localized at present) voice in orthodox Christianity.

Hope you’re as stimulated by this discussion as I am Mr. Flee G. Man. ;o)

Mr. Dou G. Las


Doug [Visitor]• 10/26/09 @ 19:46

Hey Doug:

Busy times…sorry to be slow.

I know the feeling!

About the infamous and allegedly “avoided” question #3.

I think I would have been a Muslim, but a very unhappy one given my generally contrary nature and general dislike of fundamentalism.

But isn’t your question sort of like asking what you, Fleegman, would have believed about the cause of disease if you’d lived in the 16th century…

Of course I would have bought into contemporary belief, and this is exactly my point!

I think you would have been a Muslim, too, but not necessarily an unhappy one. If you’d been brought up in an environment of fundamental indoctrination, perhaps you would have revelled in the knowledge that you knew the “absolute truth.”

This doesn’t seem like proof of anything to me.

What I’m trying to point out, here, is that Muslims believe that they have it right, every bit as much as devout Christians believe that they have it right. When it comes to religion, what people believe is largely down to what they are told to believe when they are young. It depends on how good the indoctrination (brainwashing, if you like) is.

What this, hopefully, goes some way to proving, is not whether or not there is a god, but how no organised religion can be the correct one, if believing in it is dependent on where you were born. Yes, there are people Muslims who apostatise (on pain of death) to Christianity, and Christians who apostatise to Islam. The vast majority, however, believe what their parents believe.

The best explanation I can come up with for that is that the children were brainwashed into believing before they had a chance to think for themselves. Do you have an alternative explanation?

Based on this, how can anyone say that Christianity, or any organised (or not so organised) religion, is the one true religion?

Hope you’re as stimulated by this discussion as I am Mr. Flee G. Man. ;o)

Definitely, Dou G. Las ;o)


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/27/09 @ 10:24

Thanks for posting that comment, Dan.

Dear Yee Chung Chei,

Please call me Guy. “Flee G. Man” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

I guess you are very brainy, therefore I will not debate with you since I am less brainy than you.

If what you were saying had evidence to back it up, you wouldn’t need to be brainy to argue the position. I have evidence on my side, so I’m arguing from an easier position than you. This doesn’t make me brainy. It does, however, mean I don’t have to rely on faith to make my arguments; I can deal in fact. I can say, for example, that the Earth’s age is measured in billions of years, and here are the numerous lines of evidence that lead me to that conclusion (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html). You, in refutation, can say “no, it’s about 6000 years old, because it says so in my book.” Does this make me brainy? No. It just means I don’t believe in what a book says because the book itself happens to say it’s the word of God. I look at the evidence and, from that, derive an informed opinion.

I’ve been talking to a very, very close friend of mine about you. At some point I might reveal the name of this friend. My friend tells me I am wasting my time blogging with you because God’s Word said that you are a fool

Lovely. That sounds like a totally awesome person; maybe we should all go out and party sometime for shits and giggles. Back on planet Earth, what difference does it make how close you two are, and why would I care what they were called when they have just implied that I am a fool?

It’s a common Christian (or any religious) tactic to not argue with non-believers (pearls before swine.. Heh). There’s a reason for this, and it’s because sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming “La la la I can’t hear you,” is easier than trying to refute their arguments. It’s easier because what you believe is irrational, makes no sense and is, therefore, difficult to defend. It’s also dangerous because it might put questioning thoughts into your head, and the last thing organised religion wants is for their believers to question their beliefs. Quite a clever ploy, really.

“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” and in Proverbs 26:4

So if I could find one atheist who has done some good, would that prove your book wrong? Doesn’t sound like much of a challenge.

And the person who says “there is no god” is a fool? Ok, let’s look at two different starting premises:

1) “I don’t know if there is a god. Let’s look at the evidence and make a determination”

2) “God exists and created everything, including me, and he knows everything that will be and that has been; he’s invisible and everywhere at the same time, knows my thoughts, and I can communicate with him by praying, and he will answer my prayers or not, but in either case I will believe that prayer works, and he’s a loving god even though there is terrible suffering in the world, and evolution is rubbish regardless of the mountains of evidence that supports that view because my book says he created us in our current form, and he sent his only son, who was God as well, and he died for our sins (which we have because a talking snake told Eve to eat some fruit that God put there in the first place even though he knew they would eat from it) but didn’t really die, and it was a huge sacrifice even though his son was God and, therefore, it wasn’t really a sacrifice at all, and now we have to choose whether to believe or not because Heaven or Hell awaits us depending on what decision we make even though he loves us all, and homosexuals are going to hell (and don’t deserve as many rights as me) as well as all the other religious people who don’t believe exactly what I do, or atheists who don’t believe in anything (and therefore they obviously don’t understand that killing other people is bad), and I shouldn’t kill people for no other reason than because my book says it’s wrong, but I shouldn’t stone my children to death when they disrespect me, even though my book says I should, because I don’t particularly like that rule, and no one can understand God because he works in mysterious ways but, on the other hand, I know exactly what he wants from me, and anyone who doesn’t believe what I believe is a fool regardless of any evidence they might show me.”

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which of these positions is the more foolish.

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.") Since I am not your judge, I will blog with you with limits.

Well, if the limits you’re talking about include not disagreeing with you, I guess that’s the end of our little chat. Am I supposed to be humbled by your willingness to enter into a dialogue with me by calling me a fool and comparing me to Hitler?

First of all I would like to tell you I know several former atheists, therefore God can change your mind. By the way, I am delighted to be praying for you Mr. Flee G. Man.

Some former atheists now believe in God, therefore he exists? Can you understand what an extraordinarily weak line of reasoning this is?

As I have asked before on this thread, please don’t pray for me. Instead, use the time to do something, I don’t know, useful, and perhaps research the evidence for evolution so you can actually understand what you might be arguing against. There’s lots of it, so you shouldn’t have too hard a time. Maybe try the link I provided above for starters.

It is very hard for me to find you in the company of atheists like: Charles Darwin

On the contrary, please feel free to lump me in with the likes of Darwin.

You have managed to highlight one of the problems faced by atheists when discussing this kind of topic with the believer. The problem you have highlighted is one of confusing quality of a belief with the quality of the person who believes it.

In order to illustrate what I’m talking about, let’s put aside the question of whether Hitler was an atheist or not. Dan touched upon this, but the kicker is that it is irrelevant to this discussion, and here’s why:

Hitler believed a great many things. He believed, for one, in the theory of gravity. It’s “just a theory", mind you, and yet he believed that what goes up must come down (supposing escape velocity hasn’t been achieved, of course). His scientists also believed in the theory of gravity, and used this theory to develop the V-2, which would use a ballistic trajectory to rain down death and destruction upon various allied cities during the course of 1944 - 1945.

I think we can both agree that raining down explosives on civilians is a pretty horrifying thing to do. Yes? Good.

And here’s where we get to the bit that’s relevant to your post: Does the fact that the Germans who build the V-2 believed in the theory of gravity, and in fact used it to make their calculations, have anything at all to do with whether the theory of gravity is correct or not?

I’m seriously hoping you have the wherewithal to answer “no” to that question. You see, the theory of gravity stands on its own merits regardless of any terrible acts committed by the people who believe in it.

It’s the same thing when people say Darwin was a racist. They fail to understand that the veracity of the theory of evolution has nothing at all to do with Darwin the man. Yes, he was the great thinker that first introduced the theory, but the theory of evolution stands on its own merits regardless of his views on race or, for that matter, how he took his tea.

Do you understand the distinction? I hope so, because your entire argument appears to rely on the fact that bad people believed some of the same things that I do, therefore those beliefs are wrong. In addition, belief in those things makes me a bad person, and you can’t believe I’m a bad person. I’m not, by the way, so we agree on one thing ;o)

As Dan correctly points out, there have been a lot of bad Christians in history. What does this prove about the existence of God? Nothing. So please stop it with this line of reasoning; it’s tiresome, and there are many more interesting lines of reasoning to address.

Apologies about the semi-harsh tone of this post. Although well meaning, I found your post rather insulting, and when people are rude to me I find it hard to “turn the other cheek,” heh. So please don’t be offended. Instead, try responding in a respectful manner; something I think we all deserve.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/27/09 @ 10:35

Dan:

I have no idea where G.K. Chesterton is spending his eternity. The Bible says, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son, does not have life.”

You said, “Truth does matter.”

What is truth?

One other quick quote from Chesterton:

“The tragedy of disbelieving in God is not that a person ends up believing in nothing. Alas it is much worse, that person may end up believing in anything.”

Can reason alone lead us to truth?

“Knowledge is a deadly friend
When no one sets the rules.
The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools.

Lyrics from King Crimson:
“Confusion will be my epitaph.
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back
And laugh.
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying,
Yes I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying.”

What is truth?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org10/28/09 @ 06:17
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/28/09 @ 06:31

Dan:

Thanks for your reply.

I wonder how you might describe or prove “love” using the definition from Webster’s dictionary?

Can love be proved? If not, then is it real?

Yes, I have listened to Ravi Zacharias a lot, too. I love his idea that “to be Christian you don’t have to amputate your brain.”

What makes Chesterton’s quote wrong? It seems that your grid for truth is within yourself or only how you interpret empirically proven facts. How do you know for sure that you are not wrong?

Thanks for your responses, Dan.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org10/28/09 @ 07:35
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/28/09 @ 07:46

Hey Dan - Apparently You have not ever heard the other side of the eternal coin?

Quote “In considering the issue of the eternal punishment of the lost, many people can only visualize this punishment as vindictive. In other words, sinners are afflicted by God because of God’s intolerable disposition towards them in their sin. And this is the impression one certainly receives from Calvinistic descriptions such as the following: “The damned shall be packed like brick into a kiln, and be so bound that they cannot move a limb, nor even an eyelid; and while thus fixed, the Almighty shall blow the fires of bell through them for ever.” G. H. Lang, commenting on Rev. 14:10-11 in The Last Assize, states basically the same thought, though perhaps in less barbaric language: “Mingled unmixed; every ingredient compounded that shall make the punishment fit the crime; but no element of mercy or alleviation shall be mixed with this dread draught of the wine of the wrath of God. If the Lamb can look on their torments, shall His saints be unable to do so. And on this same passage yet another further shockingly comments: “Should this eternal punishment and this fire be extinguished, it would in a great measure obscure the light of heaven, and put an end to a great part of the happiness and glory of the blessed!

Of all the blasphemous absurdities of the harlot Church systems, this is probably the worst, a lie intended to scare poor souls into her clutches in order to rob them of their dollars, a lie which makes our God of love to be a hideous monster, an insane and sadistic monstrosity who takes delight in tormenting and torturing His creatures made in His own image, a lie which makes our Saviour to be nothing but a lunatic, a deceiver, and a rascal of the first magnitude. It makes Calvary to be the most awful burlesque ever enacted on earth.

Here is a fact. The Word says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Wherever one goes he finds someone quoting that plain declaration of fact. But the remarkable thing is, that no one believes it, not even the ones who continually preach it. The hell-fire-and-brimstone enthusiast loudly proclaims that verse of Scripture to be true, and then abruptly and shamefully contradicts himself by maintaining that the wages of sin is ETERNAL TORMENT! But IF ETERNAL TORMENT WERE THE PENALTY FOR SIN, THEN JESUS NEVER ATONED FOR SIN. HE DID NOT SUFFER ETERNAL TORMENT. AND IF THAT IS THE PRICE THAT GOD DEMANDS AS PUNISHMENT FOR SIN, THEN JESUS PAID NOTHING AT ALL. If my punishment were eternal torment, and Jesus took my place, receiving the full judgment for my sin, then it should be clear to any thinking person that He would have had to suffer eternally in hell. That is the only way the debt could be paid!

But He merely became a man, lived as a man, was tempted as a man, suffered as a man, died on a cross, was buried, descended into Hades, and the third day arose, and is now seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high. And if eternal torment is the punishment for sin, then every son of Adam, whether saved or lost, still has to pay the full penalty himself. Then God’s righteous wrath can never be appeased until every sinner, who ever committed even one sin, has paid that debt in full. If eternal torment is the punishment for sin, then Calvary was nothing but a farce, a burlesque, a travesty, and a sham. Then Jesus died a failure and in vain, and never redeemed anyone from anything. If eternal torment were the penalty for sin, then Jesus is not the Saviour of men, for He failed to take our place, and pay our debt, by being eternally tormented. And if He is not the Saviour of men, then He is not even a good man, but a liar, and therefore a rogue and a deceiving rascal. And therefore, if eternal torment is the penalty for sin, then salvation is a mere myth, and the Bible the world’s most abominable maze of evil imaginings; for it then merely leads men to trust for deliverance to a concept which will lead to everlasting sorrow.

If the wages of sin is eternal torment, then we must re-write the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We must make the Bible say that, if that is what God meant. We must make the Bible say, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely SUFFER ETERNAL TORMENT IN HELL” (Gen. 2:16-17). We must correct the Word of God so that it says, “The soul that sins, it shall be eternally tormented in hell” (Eze. 18:4). Jn. 3:16 must be made to correctly read, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not be eternally tormented, but spend eternity in heaven.” If the wages of sin is eternal torment then Rom. 5:12 must be made to say, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and eternal torment by sin; and so eternal torment passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” You will have to tear the Bible all to pieces and re-write literally hundreds and thousands of passages if you say that the wages of sin is eternal torment!

Oh, that men might begin to read, and to heed what is written! “The wages of sin is death, ” says the Lord. And it is true, even though the majority of men still think that the wages of sin is eternal torment, one of the most abominable and notorious lies ever told, a product of popish fraud and deception and greed. The wages of sin is actually death. And Jesus died! He met the full demands of law. He paid the debt of sin in full, blessed be His wonderful name!”


Adam [Visitor]• 10/28/09 @ 09:32

Dan:

You said:
“Love is a feeling and you can’t ever prove what someone else feels. But actions can be interpreted as evidence of love.”

I agree with you.

Just because some feeling cannot be proved scientifically does not mean that it does not exist. Science has it’s place, and it is a good place. But even to science there is an end.

Jesus said, “A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love each other. By this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.”

How can this God-love be proved? I guess that it cannot be proved scientifically. But to further your point already mentioned:
“Action can be interpreted as evidence of love.”

I love because God first loved me.

If I do not love you, that sends a strong anti-Christian message to you. I cannot prove God’s love to you. All I can do is let my “action be interpreted as evidence of (His) love” to you.

I hope that my actions align with God’s word. Sometimes they don’t, and for that, I’m sorry. But I am in training to let me life align with His Word.

Maybe instead of me trying to “prove” God’s existence, I should just love others like He taught us to love…then the world will know that we are His disciples.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org10/28/09 @ 12:56

Christ was against religion as well. My I suggest a good read? Hope so. It is a book called, God’s Big Idea, and is written by Myles Munroe. Dan, I am not sure where you are spiritually. We just have to make a decision on who Jesus Christ was. His existance on this earth has never been debated, but who He was always has. Who was He? Enjoy the book.


Herb Bishop [Visitor]• 10/29/09 @ 16:37

Not who He WAS - but who He IS!!!

He is not a historical fact… but a truth to be found inside you!


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 10/29/09 @ 20:52

Hey Danny, I have a book you should read…


brendoman [Visitor] • http://brendoman.com10/29/09 @ 22:12

Wow Adam, we were totally not aware of that. Thank you for sharing.


brendoman [Visitor] • http://brendoman.com10/29/09 @ 22:13

Seriously, I have this book…


brendoman [Visitor] • http://brendoman.com10/29/09 @ 22:15
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/30/09 @ 08:49

Dear Herb,

His existance [sic] on this earth has never been debated, but who He was always has.

It’s this kind of fatuous comment that makes me think that perhaps I won’t read your book. It’s no doubt filled with more of the same.

I don’t know for sure either way if Jesus was a real person (and neither do you). Personally, I think it’s more likely that he did exist. But to make the ridiculous comment that his existence has “never been debated,” is nothing short of absurd.

La Cuidad:

Not who He WAS - but who He IS!!!

He is not a historical fact… but a truth to be found inside you!

Wash, rinse, repeat. If you say it enough times, it means it’s true. Hang on a minute. Jesus is not a historical fact?

Where is your faith, Cuidad? Certainty like this has no place in faith. In fact, certainty, in this context, is synonymous with delusion.

Still, I hope you’re happy in your delusion. Would you mind not pushing it on me, please? Thanks.

Cheers for now,

Fleegman



Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/30/09 @ 09:51

Hi Noel,

Although I haven’t directly responded to your comments recently, I have been reading them with interest and I do like the way you think. For what it’s worth (if it means anything coming from an atheist), you do come across as a good advertisement for Christianity. In comparison with the likes of Pastor Tom Estes, Douglas Wilson, anyone from Answers in Genesis, or, Heaven forbid, Bill Donohue, you are a breath of fresh air, and I’m glad you dropped in on this comment thread to share your thoughts.

You probably think there’s a “but” coming your way, and you’re right. Sort of.

You see, the reason I find myself liking a lot of what you write is because, at its core, you’re talking about fundamental principles that make life better for all of us. In other words, your particular interpretation of Christianity appears to be a relatively watered down one. Although you might find that insulting, I don’t mean that as an insult; far from it.

Now, I don’t know your opinions on homosexuality (or the rights thereof), since you’ve never addressed my points on that in the comments above, so I can’t comment on where you stand. By this, I mean that I don’t know if we’re just seeing the accommodating side of you because, at its core, Christianity is fairly clear on this issue. So, for this reason, among others, the further a Christian gets from the fundamental side of the religion, the better, in my opinion.

And this is the case for any of the world’s religions. The closer a follower gets to the core beliefs of his or her religion, the more danger they pose to a harmonious and enjoyable society. We call them fundamentalists, and there’s a good reason why that word carries with it such disturbing undertones.

So, we have fundamentalists, who would insists that they were following the true teachings of whatever flavour of religion they believe (were indoctrinated into). Below (above?) them, we have a range of believers all the way from “pretty fundamentalist” to “occasionally go to church,” all of whom will still insist that they belong to whatever religion they practise. It’s a very short step from the lower end of that scale to atheism.

And it is the lower end of that scale that I believe takes the “good stuff” from the religion, and leaves the “bad stuff” behind. An example of good stuff might be to love thy neighbour. Bad stuff might include not letting women rule over men, or circumcising infants because sex shouldn’t be enjoyable (I really hate that kind of, well, let’s call it what it is, state sanctioned child abuse).

Anyway, can you see where I’m going with this? The lower a believer appears on the “scale of fundamentalism,” the closer they become to just being a nice person, without all the baggage associated with their respective religions.

A good reason for that is that when you meet people who belong to a religion, but are not particularly religious, they are not (as far as you know, anyway) judging you. Or behaving in such a way that you’re a second class person and headed for eternal damnation unless they can save you; a condescending view if I ever heard one.

I’m reminded of a radio interview I heard once with Christopher Hitchens. The host was challenging him over his assertion that religion is bad etc, and said “what about this couple I know who run a hostel for the needy and are really nice, non-judgmental people, who don’t push their religion on their guests and are just, genuinely being nice. Are they bad people?” Hitchens responded “so what you’re saying is: these people are so nice, they’re hardly religious at all.”

For me, this really sums up what it is I like about religious people. It certainly isn’t down to any aspect of their respective religions; it’s just whether or not they’re nice people. But this is what I like about anyone, yes, even atheists. So what part does religion play?

And now I’m actually going to get on with what I’m trying to say because I’m rambling a bit, and I apologise for that.

To say that Christianity is just accepting Christ and loving one another, is not what a lot of people would agree that Christianity actually is, even though I for one wish that were the case. You’re sending the message “accept Christ, and love one another.” While I wouldn’t necessarily agree that the first bit is a prerequisite for the second bit, if the outcome is the same, what difference does it make? In other words, I think that’s great.

What I don’t understand is, why do you need God/Christ to tell you to love your neighbour? While I think it’s totally awesome that you do, it almost comes across as though you’re doing it because you were told to.


As an aside, it has the same dissonance that I feel when Christians say they are the authority on moral behaviour. They’re proud of the fact that they have these commandments to tell them how to behave. I honestly don’t see how anyone can claim the moral high ground when they have to be told that killing is wrong.

Not only that, but it’s love with a side of pity, because, although you may love your atheist neighbour, you also pity them since they’re destined for a pretty horrible place, according to your beliefs.

Given all of that, I suppose the question becomes, “Does one need religion to be nice to each other?” I manage it just fine without religion. I give strangers the benefit of the doubt; I treat them the way I’d like to be treated; I enjoy meeting new people, and live the philosophy of “if I’m having fun, everyone’s having fun.” Why? Because life’s a lot better that way, and it makes me happy. And I don’t pity people for not believing something I believe because it’s what I was brought up to believe. Religion is a non-issue to me, until the religious make it an issue.

Can you see how, in this sense, religion builds boundaries between groups of people that atheism does not?

I realise this comment hasn’t been very cohesive. I’ve got so much I want to say on this, so it’s difficult to focus all my thoughts into one condensed stream.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 10/30/09 @ 10:36

The book, it was written by this guy WHO CHANGED HIS MIND about this thing. So it must make you change your mind too.

I prefer Bren Do Man, actually.


brendoman [Visitor] • http://brendoman.com10/30/09 @ 16:10

Now, I don’t know your opinions on homosexuality (or the rights thereof), since you’ve never addressed my points on that in the comments above, so I can’t comment on where you stand. By this, I mean that I don’t know if we’re just seeing the accommodating side of you because, at its core, Christianity is fairly clear on this issue.

Maybe less clear than you think. Especially since you say “Christianity” rather than the Bible. If by Christianity you mean the world-view and practices of those who believe Jesus was resurrected, is Divine and Lord of their lives, then clearly the recent splits in the Episcopalian , Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches (among others) should be evidence enough that Christianity is anything but “clear” on the issue.

But I will give you that the Bible seems pretty clearly opposed to homosexuality. It’s also opposed to all sorts of heterosexual sex. But it’s also, in the New testament at least, pretty laisez faire about the sexual activities of those outside the church (and, I would also say, pretty encouraging of mercy and forgiveness towards those in it). Paul specifically offers a caveat to the Corinthians (1 cor 5:10) that all of his warnings against associating with unrepentant “sinners” only apply to those within the church. Commands to “love thy neighbor” and even “love thy enemy” apply regardless of the spiritual state of these. So, I’d say the Bible is actually pretty clear that we should afford the LGBT community all civil rights without discrimination. The degree to which practicing homosexuals (or adulterers, or fornicators, or the greedy, or non-believers) should be permitted full participation in the church is another matter, and, as I said one of active debate in Christian circles. It has nothing to do, though, with how we should treat these folks as people any more than deciding not to hire a job candidate for a position gives one the right to also have them thrown into prison.

[edit: had to change g.ys and l..bians to “LBT community” in order to post. Apparently g. and l. are naughty words to the blog software, maybe Christians aren’t so homophobic as b2evolution!]

We Christians as a group tend to like to blame the large, undifferentiated “media” for society’s ills, and I think this is often a cop-out. But I also think that it’s true that the stance of some Christians against homosexuality is disproportionately covered by the media, which, in turn, makes it a bigger issue than it needs to be for Christians at large.

I honestly don’t see how anyone can claim the moral high ground when they have to be told that killing is wrong.

I don’t want to rehash all of the morality arguments at this point (the interested should go back in the Blog Cabins archives looking for these debates), but I feel like an open issue at the end of these discussions was the source of the definition of good and evil. For the Christian it resides in the nature and character of God, and there is therefore such a thing as “good” that transcends cultures or eras. While I clearly believe an atheist can also be good (and often are more “good") than many Christians, I also sincerely don’t know where an atheist can find transcendent, non-culturally defined, goodness. Some don’t even claim this exists, but I feel their arguments start to feel a bit inconsistent after a while.

As to whether its more noble to be good and loving because we were told or because we just wanted to do what was right–I think most Christians would also agree that “perfect love drives out all fear” and that love for its own sake is better. But we all need motivators, and I really do think that if you look at those who sacrifice their selves to serve the poor, you’ll find more religious folks than atheist activists. You’ll find more atheist activists at peace rallies and climate change protests and co-op groceries (and I say this to the shame of Christians like me), but among those few who actually give up everything and go and live in the poorest areas to live among and serve the needy? I think you’ll find the religious (admittedly not just Christians) who have an eternal rather than internal motivator (just made that little rhyme up on the spot, maybe I can sell it as a sermon catch phrase….Interested, Noel? :o) )This is purely anecdotal based on my limited experience, of course, and would love to hear counter-examples as they would be encouraging stories of goodness if nothing else.

<transition type="non-sequitor"/>

The more I think about it, the more I really don’t agree with the implication that the religious are religious simply because of their upbringing. Yes, I was raised in a Christian household, but it was a far more fundamentalist one than my current theology. Danny was raised a Christian but is now an atheist. Muslims convert to Christianity and Christians to Islam all the time. Yes, background sets a sort of default position, but I think temperament (defined by a combination of genetics, experience, and rational thought) really defines where one sits on the theological spectrum.


Doug [Visitor]• 10/31/09 @ 07:46
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/10/31/09 @ 08:49

I keep hearing about this transcendent, absolute morality that applies to all times and places, but I’ve never heard an answer to this question: What is it? Can you articulate this absolute morality for us and describe how you came to this knowledge?

I believe absolute morality is conforming to Love, which is God. As just about everyone participating on this discussion knows, Jesus said that almost everything else in Love’s law fits into the command, “love your neighbor as yourself".

Now, the expression, the incarnation, of loving your neighbor as yourself can change from culture to culture and age to age, and an expression in one era may contradict that of another (I don’t think you would appreciate a live goat sent to your house on Christmas in the same way a man in Nigeria might). But the basic “doing unto others” idea is timeless and borderless.

I don’t claim to know how to do it completely. Just as you have posted of your atheistic morality (not intended to be a pejorative phrase), I believe morality is discovered, at least in part, through rational debate. I also give a lot of weight to the Bible (the New Testament in particular) because (among other reasons) a lot of the people I most respect for living good lives have valued and obeyed what it says. But even it often addresses the particularities of its contemporary audience, and the principles in it need to be abstracted and reinterpreted for each era (I think even most conservative pastors would agree with this to some extent).

I also think we intuitively recognize things as feeling “right” and “wrong.” This is that non-rational way of knowing I’m always going on about. For instance, from the last posts, I think we all agree it feels like its more good/noble to do right for its own sake than because I’m afraid of punishment or desirous of eternal praise, but the rational view is that if both lead to the same ends who really cares.

Although it’s clear to me that loving others can be self-serving, I still am honestly confused why a rational materialist would see any real value in self-sacrifice that does not benefit himself. Even if you recognize something is better for the species, it doesn’t help you live longer, or happier, or pass on your genes any better, so on what basis is it then “good?” For me, Good (aka Love aka God) is a transcendent concept/Being that fills all of time and space in ways I only can sort of fit into my head enough to know that I completely don’t understand.

One thing I should note. For me (and I believe for you, Fleegman, and Noel along with a few others), your comments database is serving as a space for me to semi-publicly but also semi-anonymously think out ideas and refine and test them against a (mostly) civil but critical audience. Others, I think, come to convince and cite other voices that represent for them, well spoken expressions of settled issues. There is plenty of the latter on the net. I appreciate your allowing us the bandwidth and space to do the former.


Doug [Visitor]• 10/31/09 @ 10:28

We are living in a dream… not as in a metaphore. but as in everything is nothing.

everyone is ” Forming ” opinions based on evidence… from this dream world.

Atheist are using science,
Christians are using the Bible…

Science has changed many times.
The Bible is ink on paper.

The voice of God speaks from Reality into this dream world. ” AWAKE! “



La Cuidad [Visitor]• 10/31/09 @ 21:14

Fleegman:

I appreciate your kind words. My goal is not to make enemies, but to share Christ’s love through words AND actions. So thanks for taking note.

As I read Scripture, it seems like the Pharisees (religious leaders) thought that Jesus was giving a “watered-down” interpretation to the Torah/Law. Jesus was tortured by the religious, not the outsiders or non-religious.

I am religious in the technical sense in that I am devoutly committed to a way of life (or better yet, a Person), but I do NOT consider myself a “religious fundamental.” I believe that you should be able to express your views just as you are allowing me to express mine. (Thanks, Dan!)

My belief in the Judeo-Christian God is lacking in many areas maybe, but I do want to have a coherent world view. Because I follow Jesus of Nazareth, whom I hold is the Messiah, shouldn’t I completely follow Him?
I know you would agree with this. I think you mentioned something like that in your previous post.

I guess I like the idea of God giving me my morals because I know what I am like on the inside. I know that my best intentions have many flaws. I am generally focused more on myself than I am your best interest. I find myself continually leaning toward selfishness and pigheadedness. I want my way and will politely fight for it, all the while trying to hide that from you… I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true.

I may try my hardest to be nice and to put others interests first, but I always seem to fall short of loving the way that the God of the Bible compels me to love.

It was in all my trying/failing/trying/failing that I wore myself out with attempting to be “good enough” to gain my own morality. I kept measuring my life against the gospel of the New Testament and seeing that I fell helplessly and hopelessly short. Even as a young Christian, I did this. And with a great amount of embarrassment, I occasionally fall prey to this now.

BUT, when I find myself in that neurotic condition and viscous cycle, I stop. I find a quiet moment and just ask God to help me to accept love and give love the way that Jesus did and does.

You can call it magical or fairy tale or whatever, but He begins to work in my life in miraculous and powerful ways to help me to love like He loves (without condition or merit).

Fleegman, to be totally and completely honest with you, I have been asking God to help me to love you like He loves you. I don’t want to win an argument with you or attempt to show you how right I am.

I just want to prefer you.

I want to show you dignity and kindness. I want to truly love you like Christ loves you. I want Christ’s love to be personified through me.

If just by chance, you get to see a Christian like me- love like Jesus loves, then I have done what He asks me to do.

I don’t feel like I am loving because I am told to love, although I may have done that in my earlier years. I love because He first loved me.

In a terrible analogy;
My wife seems to love me when I love her. The more love I show her, the more reciprocation happens naturally. I don’t think my wife loves me because she feels like I think she should love me. My wife loves as I love. I love because she loves.

God loves me, and I love Him back. To show my love for Him, I love others (whether or not they love me back).

In no way am I saying that you, Fleegman, are hard to love. It just comes down to how much of “Stinker Noel” is getting in the way. The more I remove my own biases and prejudices from the picture and allow Christ’s love to fill me, the better I love and the better this world becomes.

Jesus was called,"Friend of sinners.” So I guess that I am a friend of His!

So, Fleegman, I have laid all of my cards on the table. Christians never win in winning an argument. But they win, in God’s eyes, when they love the way He has shown His love for them, unconditionally.

Religiosity seems to kill.
Christ’s love seems to heal.

(I didn’t mean to make that rhyme, maybe I should use that in a sermon sometime, though, Doug. Ha).

Hopefully through the rest of this thread, you will see more and more Christians living and talking like Christ wants us to live and talk.

Maybe you have heard this before, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”



noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/02/09 @ 14:47

That was put very honestly Noel…

Winning a spat, being the victor in an argument, thumping heads so that they may notice or catch sight of something we identify to be of importance, all this is crap. Words spoken out from haste to plod the others conviction. Why?

They teach it from childhood. In effect - we have been trained to assess our own conclusion, on whatever topic, at very high value. Defended unto death. Not only that, but hidden deep within is the sentiment that the other person is of lesser quality.

So - we go on trying to get the upper hand. Trying to convert. Really, trying to Americanize.
As though Jesus said “ Seek ye first to be a good apologist.”

This is what the church does. Everyone does. I hate it. Blah.
I hate it, but like you, I have two people inside me. One hates it - the other lusts after it.
One wants to speak pure undefiled words INTO someone, the other wants to better his argument to gain the spoils. One wants to Free someone into the Kingdom, the other wants to bind them into my kingdom.

One Loves, the other loathes.
One releases, the other confines.

WAR!!!

Where is the light that shown from the face of Moses, so that they knew that he was in the presence of the Lord?


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/02/09 @ 21:45

“You gave your love to me softly
I heard your heart Beating true .”

Thats for Bren do Man. Angus rules!!!


Adam [Visitor]• 11/03/09 @ 20:24

Fleegman, you still there?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/05/09 @ 06:58

Hey Noel,

Yes, still here ;o)

I’ve read your thoughtful comments, but have been too busy to reply properly. You deserve one, and I’ll try to put fingers to keyboard over the weekend.

All the best for now,

Fleegman

P.S. La Cuidad: you remind me of talking to someone at a party where the music is too loud to understand most of the words. At the end, I just smile, nod, pat you on the back, and say “Yeah, totally, I’m off to the bar!”


Fleegman [Visitor]• 11/05/09 @ 08:42

well,

“If the music is too loud,
Turn it down.”

I once had a weezer shirt that said that.

Totally!


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/05/09 @ 21:15

Can a man find true meaning in this life?

The following is from an old Jewish philosopher:
12 “Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
than what has already been done?

13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.

14 The wise man has eyes in his head,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.

15 Then I thought in my heart,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said in my heart,
“This too is meaningless.”

16 For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
in days to come both will be forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
Toil Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.

24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

- Solomon; Ecclesiastes 2

So can a man find true meaning in this life?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/10/09 @ 06:17
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/10/09 @ 06:36

Thanks for your reply, Dan.

With sincerity, what is it that gives you true meaning?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/10/09 @ 06:42
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/10/09 @ 06:48

Every knee shall bow ( in worship ) and every tongue will confess allegiance…

God is not a damning God, and His wrath is a wrath of Love…

He is going to Love the Hell out of you.


Adam [Visitor]• 11/10/09 @ 10:50

Fleegman:

Still waiting on your response. You okay?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/11/09 @ 07:00

Is it a 100% fact that there is not a GOD.
Is there any wiggle room whatsoever?

Is there anything that exists outside of our own world we each have made for ourselves…

is there something besides something?



Dr, Jekyll [Visitor]• 11/14/09 @ 18:28
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/14/09 @ 19:44

what i was asking is: if you admit that you dont KNOW everything - would it be possible to admit that you dont know enough to “totally” dismiss a god.

but as far as God being shy and not providing any evidence..

Isa 45:15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself…

the god that you are waiting for to reveal Himself… up there somewhere over the rainbow, that god is not.

but the next time you find love, true love, for your children - it is there that you have found the evidence you needed, because God is Love.

and this God will have all men to be saved!


Dr. Jekll [Visitor]• 11/14/09 @ 20:42

Dan:

Do you know how to get in touch with Fleegman?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/16/09 @ 07:12

Hi Noel,

I’m still here. I’ve been so busy over the last few days, I haven’t had a chance to contribute.

I’m writing a response to you, Noel. It takes time, because I don’t want to be harsh with my words, and I have some harsh-ish things to say. A difficult combination! ;o)

Oh, and Dr. Jekll. Please think about what you’re saying. You are arguing that, rather than believing in stuff because of evidence, we should believe in stuff because we can’t be 100% sure it doesn’t exist.

Please bear in mind that this doesn’t just apply to your god, but to anything that fits that description; you are only limited by your imagination. For example, I can’t prove to you 100% that the world wasn’t created by an invisible tea-pot orbiting the Earth. By your logic, I should be believing in that right now.

I hope this puts into perspective how silly that argument is. I hope this saves you from further embarrassment on other blogs in the future.

All the best,

Fleegman



Fleegman [Visitor]• 11/17/09 @ 02:04

It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/17/09 @ 06:06

hey, back up the skepticism train…

how did you know I belong to the Church of the Invisible Tea-Pot Orbiting the Earth… and if you dont - you must be dropped in the hot kettle.

I wasnt telling you to believe in anything, I was actually asking a personal question that i wondered about concerning atheism…

after all Dan did say there was some wiggle room.

So subsequently - after this, I will try to take into account that the most intellectual blogger in the world is checking if I am dotting my I’s and crossing my T’s.


Dr. Jekll [Visitor]• 11/17/09 @ 08:32

Hey Noel - my little boy just looked at your pic and said that it was Clark Kent.


Dr. Jekll [Visitor]• 11/17/09 @ 08:35

Fleegman:

Hi Noel. Sorry for the late reply on this. I had a lot to say about it ;o)

I guess I like the idea of God giving me my morals because I know what I am like on the inside. I know that my best intentions have many flaws. I am generally focused more on myself than I am your best interest. I find myself continually leaning toward selfishness and pigheadedness. I want my way and will politely fight for it, all the while trying to hide that from you… I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true.

That’s ok, Noel, that just means you’re human. Of course, acting in a normal human way is frowned upon in religion, since not acting on our human impulses is the one thing it can absolutely guarantee that we will fail at. It’s all part of the control structure - see below.

I may try my hardest to be nice and to put others interests first, but I always seem to fall short of loving the way that the God of the Bible compels me to love.

But that is because Christianity makes it impossible to live up to the standards it sets out for its followers. One is always, therefore, “not worthy.” This is why excellent people are made to feel as though they are not good enough, and cannot be good enough without Christ. Any organised religion knows it can’t have its followers thinking themselves worthy; those religions don’t survive the test of time.

I can see you suffered from these feelings in the following passage:

It was in all my trying/failing/trying/failing that I wore myself out with attempting to be “good enough” to gain my own morality. I kept measuring my life against the gospel of the New Testament and seeing that I fell helplessly and hopelessly short. Even as a young Christian, I did this. And with a great amount of embarrassment, I occasionally fall prey to this now.

BUT, when I find myself in that neurotic condition and viscous cycle, I stop. I find a quiet moment and just ask God to help me to accept love and give love the way that Jesus did and does.

And its in this way that organised religion keeps you in its grasp. Followers are convinced that they are not good enough and, therefore, need the religion itself to help them attain the unreachable goals set for them by that very religion.

Can you imagine how many young men and women are at this very moment suffering from the exact same cycle of trying and failing that you went through? The difference is that a lot of them don’t get out the other side and, in extreme cases, fall into depression. I remember reading an account of a teenager who committed suicide because he couldn’t control his perfectly natural sexual thoughts.

Can someone explain to me how this young man’s upbringing was anything other than child abuse? And religion is to blame. At the time in life when children are supposed to be enjoying themselves, they are made to feel as though their natural impulses are the work of the devil.

You can call it magical or fairy tale or whatever, but He begins to work in my life in miraculous and powerful ways to help me to love like He loves (without condition or merit).

And followers of other religions around the world would testify to the same thing. An absolutely real feeling for them must be, according to your beliefs, totally in their heads, yet they are totally and utterly convinced that they believe in the one true god, and that they have an undeniable connection to him.

How can you dismiss their beliefs as delusional, when they would view your earnest beliefs as exactly the same thing?

Fleegman, to be totally and completely honest with you, I have been asking God to help me to love you like He loves you. I don’t want to win an argument with you or attempt to show you how right I am.

I don’t need to ask anything’s help to like you, Noel. I don’t believe what you believe, but you seem like a nice guy who’s doing the best he can in his life. But I’m not constrained by unreasonable demands to love my neighbour as I love myself. As I said, I will give people the benefit of the doubt, but respect is earned.

Do you think that a love that is demanded is worth a love that is earned?

Once again we come back to “do this or else.” The action itself is devalued because it is demanded by your religion.

I don’t feel like I am loving because I am told to love, although I may have done that in my earlier years. I love because He first loved me.

And yet you have still not told me why you think he is a loving god. He is responsible for this entire mess, no matter how you slice it. Following this logic, if I were to stab someone and then give them the option “Love me, and I’ll call you an ambulance. Reject me, and you’re on your own,” that would make me a loving, compassionate person who deserved that love.

God loves me, and I love Him back.

In what way does he love you? How do you know? Do you attribute nice things to him because you assume he exists? Do you attribute bad things to him also? Do you think when hundreds of thousands are killed in a tsunami, that this is God showing his love and kindness for his creations?

In no way am I saying that you, Fleegman, are hard to love.

My girlfriend might disagree sometimes.

So, Fleegman, I have laid all of my cards on the table. Christians never win in winning an argument. But they win, in God’s eyes, when they love the way He has shown His love for them, unconditionally.

Religiosity seems to kill.
Christ’s love seems to heal.

But Christ’s love without the religion bit is just being nice to each other.

Maybe you have heard this before, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

Which is the option furthest from religion, so I think we are in agreement.

The problem with a discussion like this, is that your beliefs blind you absolutely to the possibility that you might be wrong. You absolutely believe you are right and, within that context, it is impossible for you to look objectively at the evidence or arguments, since all consideration begins with “Well, I know that God exists and that he loves me, so how can I interpret the evidence within that frame of reference.”

I’m not trying to single you out, Noel. I’ve enjoyed our exchanges, but we’re arguing from two sides of different coins.

I suppose I could sum up my feelings on this by saying that it’s not enough to simply say you believe because you know it’s true, and therefore it is true. It’s not enough for this simple reason: If absolute belief in something were all that was required for that something to be true, then all the gods of all the worlds religions would be real. All these gods have followers who are absolute believers, with no objective evidence to speak of. How then can absolute belief be enough?

(And even as I write that, I am frustrated because I know people are reading it and saying to themselves “Ahh yes, but my god is the real god.” Oh, the irony)

Usually, the only thing that matters which god a believer is convinced is the real one, is which one they have been told to believe in. Tell someone to believe in something enough times (especially under the threat of punishment) and they will begin to believe it is real. Tell a child to believe in something enough times, and do it over extended periods, and do it repetitively, and the child will grow to fanatically believe it. Christmas comes only once a year, and yet millions of children absolutely believe without a doubt that Santa exists (I know I did!). They write him letters. They say hello to him at the mall. They believe that he knows if they’ve been naughty or nice. “How can Santa be in so many places at once, mummy?” “He just can, darling.” Sound familiar?

“How can Jesus walk on water?”
“Because he’s God.”
“I thought you said he was human.”
“He’s both.”
“If he’s God as well, why is it a sacrifice since he knew he couldn’t really die?”
“It just is. Anyway, who are you to question God?”
“Sorry. I’ll stop thinking now.”

Going back up a fair way, now, to something you once said, Noel. You asked if it would be ok for someone to look at the evidence and decide for themselves. I want to know why you asked that question, since I’m assuming that is not what you do. Let me ask you a question in return: Why don’t you let kids decide for themselves once they get to an age where they can think for themselves and won’t necessarily blindly believe what their parents tell them? I humbly think it’s because you don’t want to give them a chance to make the “wrong” choice.

I realise I sound like a big old meany, but these are important questions that I think really get to the nub of why I get into these discussions in the first place.

Hope you are well, and all the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 11/17/09 @ 09:34

Christian,.. Atheist,… both were born as a baby with a blank slate, an empty mind, and then through personal experience and their environment the blank slate was added to and added to until opinions were formed. I know the atheist thinks this cant be. That He was born in america and if anything he was brainwashed towards Christianity and that he finally discovered the truth that did set him free, to atheism. I would be careful because that sounds a lot like a christian conversion.

The Christians say “ yeah , but my experience was real and with a personal God.”
And the atheist rebuts “ Your loco, prove it. I want the facts maam”
The Atheists say “ yeah, but my experience is one of science and logic and facts.”
And the christian rebuts “ how many times has science, logic and facts, once taken as gospel, been added to or completely disregarded - besides faith is the key?” After all, to totally disregard that there are brilliant scientists that are of the Christians faith is to be oblivious to the facts you claim to love as an athiest.

And to be honest, I don’t see atheist on this site dismissing a God, as much as I see them dismissing a God they don’t agree with. Rightly so I might add. I mean, here God is, banning people forever into a eternity of roasting wieners and marshmellows, just because they didn’t see Him??? I mean, why did God create Satan anyway? What about the trees? Strange. A father that knowingly creates someone that He knows will end up in hell forever… well, that’s sad. We would not do the same and yet we attribute this to the God of Love with patience that endures forever… talk about your oxymoron.
The truth is - WE would do the same ( remember Hitler ) but God will not!
And then Christians say that all you have to do is say this little formula to save you from all this. 1.) confess you’re a sinner 2.) Repent and ask for forgiveness 3.) believe that Jesus died so you can have forgiveness.

To me - this sounds like the christian trying to be an atheist. It is as if they are saying - there is a scientific formula to this so complete this check list of “facts” and then be ye saved.

POOP! Men is not God and he doesn’t save himself by his own salvation formula.
Man is by and large good, right? There are some guys out there that are evil, that is plain. I mean that shooter guy in texas must have been smoking something. I probably would never do anything like that, and neither would anyone reading this I would guess.

Most Christians would say “ but compared to God you are a scum bucket!”
And the atheist says “ Compared to Hitler, I am an angel from heaven!”


Thomas [Visitor]• 11/17/09 @ 12:41

Just wondering - what is the exact proof that an atheist would want in order to prove a God… and then from there, if proof was offered and was sufficient - what would be required from Him in order for you to worship Him?

In short - How is God to be proven and why would you worship this God?

Fleegman, just so you know these are honest questions. Not every christian is out to evangelize. I really would like to know.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/17/09 @ 18:16

why is it a sacrifice since he knew he couldn’t really die?

Thats a easy one.


Adam [Visitor]• 11/17/09 @ 20:03

This is to clear up some confusion… Atheist rejecting God based on the assumption He is a big mean ogre is no longer valid. Because He aint.

Jesus Christ came to pay the full penalty for our sin and for the sin of the whole world. This did not mean that Jesus would have to burn in the pit of hell. Not even for a moment—much less for eternity! He paid the full penalty for sin by dying on the cross, not by burning for eternity. If never-ending torture in hell were really the penalty for sin, then Jesus would still be there! Yet we find that Jesus was only required to be dead for three days.

There are no tortured screams coming from an imagined pit of hell. God really is able to save all mankind—and He intends to do it.


Adam [Visitor]• 11/17/09 @ 20:34

Adam said:

why is it a sacrifice since he knew he couldn’t really die?

Thats a easy one.

By all means, enlighten me.


Fleegman [Visitor]• 11/18/09 @ 05:12

“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.”


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/18/09 @ 06:34
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/18/09 @ 08:12

La Cuidad:

Just wondering - what is the exact proof that an atheist would want in order to prove a God… and then from there, if proof was offered and was sufficient - what would be required from Him in order for you to worship Him?

As I have said before several times on this thread, God (if he exists and is all-knowing) would know what it takes for me to believe. That he remains silent to me on this means one of two things. Either he doesn’t care if I believe in him or not, or he doesn’t exist. I’m rejecting “he wants me to believe, but
I must choose him willingly” as an option, because that suggests he doesn’t love us equally since I require more evidence than, say, surviving a car crash in which all my friends died. Some people would think that evidence enough. In other words, they find it easier to believe. How could he love us equally when he supposedly created me in a way that made it more difficult for me to get on the guest list for Heaven?

If you want specifics, I’ll tell you what would go a long way. It would be if someone could explain how the story of original sin and God sacrificing Jesus makes any sense whatsoever. It’s funny because the more I hear about it, and the more in-depth my knowledge of the story becomes, the less sense it makes. Think about that for a minute:

The more I learn about it, the less I sense it makes.

Now, let me head you off at the pass, there, Tiger, and stop you from preaching that message from the hilltops. I realise that this is what someone might say if they were comparing us to a god in terms of what we can understand. Unfortunately for you, I am specifically talking about the story itself, which simply makes no sense and, in fact, can only be believed if it is assumed to be true in the first place; certainly not on the merits of the story itself.

In any kind of story, fictional or not, the less so called plot holes you can find, the more believable the story. Coherent fictional stories contain small enough plot holes that one can suspend disbelief while enjoying it, and immerse themselves in that fantasy world.

When it comes to factual stories, the presence of plot holes suggests some kind of inaccuracy has played a part in the recounting of it. If it is a story of something that really happened, it should contain very few, if any, plot holes.

I put it to you, that the story of original sin has so many gaping plot holes that, if it weren’t the basis of the Christian religion, it wouldn’t make it past the editor’s desk for publication even in a book of pure fiction. And this is supposed to be a factual story!

I shall now list an abridged version of the story pointing out some of the questionable plot choices as I go. I’ve spoken about several in the course of this thread, so I’ll keep it relatively short. You can try to answer some of these if you like, but I’m just showing how extensive the plot holes at three single significant part of the story:

- God creates the Universe, Earth, and Man in six days, and then rested for a day.

Ok, let’s stop right there. Why did he do this? Was he lonely? Did he create us so he could feel loved? He knew everything would go wrong, so why bother in the first place? Certainly not because he loved us, because we didn’t exist then. And why would God need to rest? Was it tiring for him? And why just a day of rest? Why for that matter did he take 6 days? Why not just clap his hands or, if he doesn’t have hands, just create it instantly by thinking about it? And don’t say “because it was the basis of our week,” because that holds about as much water as the idea that Noah’s family could deal with even the waste handling requirements of thousands upon thousands of animals on a daily basis for a year, far less the feeding responsibilities (I won’t be going into that story because I simply don’t have the time or space to list the number of problems that particular story raises).

- Garden of Eden, tree of knowledge, snake, Adam and Eve in the doghouse, SIN.

Why did he put the tree there when he knew what would happen? Why couldn’t he (being God) initially find Adam and Eve when he went looking for them? Why is knowledge bad? Why was a talking snake allowed in the garden. Could all snakes talk? If it was the devil, why didn’t God know what he was doing? How could they know it was wrong to eat the fruit, when they didn’t know right from wrong before they did the eating? Why is punishing all Adam’s descendants considered a reasonable thing to do? He punishes just about everyone but the one being that deserves it; himself. If God hates sin so much, why did he make it absolutely innate in all the forthcoming generations? It seems like God set up this whole situation. Why are we blamed?

- God gave his only son as a sacrifice for our sin so we could all go to Heaven.

So, not our sin, but Adam’s, for a start. Once again, if God is Jesus, where is the sacrifice? Supposedly, the blood of Jesus is so special as to be the only blood that could save us, but why was blood needed in the first place? Why was a sacrifice needed at all? What is it about sacrificing stuff that makes it any kind of solution to anything? And how in the world does sacrificing himself to himself make even the least bit of sense (maybe he was punishing himself for causing this after all. You can use that if you like ;o))? God doesn’t allow sin into heaven, but he made the rules! Why, rather than “sacrificing” himself, didn’t he just abolish sin? Because we still have to earn our place in Heaven? Why? Why would he create billions of individuals when he absolutely knew for certain that the vast majority of them would end up roasting in Hell?

While reading through that, I’m sure there were some Christians thinking up answers in their heads and using a fair amount of rationalisation to do it. The reason they need to rationalise these questions away is because they come from the position of “I know it’s true, so there must be an answer that means it’s still true.”

But that just lets the author off the hook for such shoddy storytelling.

All the answers I’ve heard that attempt to answer these kind of questions sound just like a mother telling her child “he just can” when asked how Santa can get down the chimney.

So you asked me what it would take for me to believe, and my answer, for starters, is a believable story.

In response to Adam:

This is to clear up some confusion… Atheist rejecting God based on the assumption He is a big mean ogre is no longer valid. Because He aint.

And now let me clear up some confusion. Atheists don’t reject your god. We don’t believe in your god. The reason we go on and on about how the god of the Bible is a big old meany is because we are trying to point out the inconsistencies in what you think you believe in. “God is love,” and yet the majority of us will burn in hell. “God just wants us to love him, and we can freely choose to do so because God loves us so much that he gave us the power to choose.” But if we choose wrongly we go to Hell, which is actually no choice at all. “God gave us free will,” and yet knows what we will choose so we only have the illusion of free will. “Prayer works,” but there is no evidence for this. Is prayer an attempt to change God’s mind? He can’t do that because he knows the future. He can’t change his mind without changing what he knew was going to happen, so the idea of him changing his mind makes no sense. It’s these and many other inconsistencies that the atheist points out in an attempt to explain why we find even the idea of your god difficult to swallow.

Apologies for the short nature of this post. In a bit of a rush so it might not be as toned down as I would have liked.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 11/18/09 @ 09:27
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/18/09 @ 09:36

Para Fleegman -

Wow - how do I answer these questions… I mean I am a little biased - like you.

Instead of trying to contest what I say, just listen to my individual perspective. We all have one. I assure you I see yours just as eccentric as you see mine.
———————————-

Such a little God most Christians serve and Atheist can see it a mile away.

God Himself, time and time again in the bible, takes full responsibility for all of the Fall. The fall didnt catch God off guard… He planned it. Satan isnt running a muck thwarting God’s plans. Satan is a tool in the hands of God and can only do what God allows. Adams was suppose to eat that fruit - and when God came asking where adam was, he asked for adams sake not His own. After all - adam is humanity as a whole - not just an individual.( Gen 5:2 Male and female He created them, and called THEIR name Adam ) Sin didnt originate out of thin air, God put the possibility there. It has a purpose. Everything has a purpose. It was not a mistake that the serpent was in the garden. It was placed there. Evil is not a by product of choice. God creates it ( Isa 45:7 ) Everything comes out of God and goes through God and then Goes back into God.

Again - God states over and over that a sacrifice of blood is not what He wants.

Heb 10:8 - You had no desire for offerings, for burned offerings or offerings for sin (which are made by the law) and you had no pleasure in them,

and when Jesus hung on the cross He DID abolish sin. and anyone born of the blood ( which is only a allegory for the LIFE ) of Jesus has never sinned. Jesus took all of Adam ( Humanity ) too the cross, and killed us there. He became us.

And that was us 3 days later.

1 Co 15:47 The first Humanity (Adam) is of the earth, Adam: the second Humanity (Adam) is the Lord from heaven.



La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/18/09 @ 22:49

La Cuidad:

Instead of trying to contest what I say, just listen to my individual perspective

Not sure what you’re getting at, here, but how about I listen and then contest what you say? If you post your opinions here, you must expect them to be critically evaluated and, potentially, rebutted. Otherwise, what’s the point? Should religious opinions not be open to criticism in the same way that any other trains of thought are? Some think not. I am not of that opinion, however. The idea that religious beliefs (which, by definition, cannot be knowable) should be respected more than opinions based on evidence doesn’t sit well with me.

Your interpretation of the Bible is an interesting one. I like that God accepts the blame for everything, in your version. It all happened just as god planned, but then he went around punishing everyone for it. It makes me wonder if you’ve actually read Genesis. When God is questioning Adam and Eve about what happened, it doesn’t sound like he knew about it all. They tell him what happens, and he goes mental!

Your version of events only raises more questions. Here’s a good one: if it was/is all planned, where is the free will you covet so much?

Again - God states over and over that a sacrifice of blood is not what He wants.

Heb 10:8 - You had no desire for offerings, for burned offerings or offerings for sin (which are made by the law) and you had no pleasure in them,

I can quote the Bible, too:

Genesis 8:20-21
And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour.

So we have yet another example of how inconsistent the Bible really is.

Cheers for now,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 11/19/09 @ 02:12
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/19/09 @ 05:40

Couple things before my wife gets mad at me and wants me to get off the computer…

1.) When i asked for you to not contest what i said… I really kinda meant dont get to excited about it, as in dont look down on me as much as the message.

2.) I dont covet free will… there are so many things in the bible that contradict it it is not funny. Like when GOD himself made Pharaoh’s heart hard so he wouldnt let the Israelites go. or the below verse…

Eph 1:11 …being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:

3.) and then the punishment thingy…
God takes ultimate blame for everything, because He in effect owns everything He created, and therefore responsible for it… it is common knowledge that a father is responsible for his children.

Pr 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

So it wouldnt be quit fair if He pulled a small percentage to go with Him into heaven and the rest down into Hell. When He was the one that made that person He knew would end up forever in Hell.

The solution comes in the form of a greek word aion. this word is a highly mistranslated word and it only takes a few minutes in the concordance to find it out.

It is mostly translated “forever,” and sometimes translated “world” and then also “an age.” The english words forever and age have completely different meanings.

How could the same word be translated Forever in some verses and then in different verses be translated a age.

The only word that makes sense in every verse is if you always translate it an age. And an age has an ending.

God’s punishment is corrective, not vandictive…


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/19/09 @ 08:44

How many things do we totally accept without evidence or facts? I would guess that there are many things in all of our lives that we just blindly accept without the smallest shred of evidence.

It is funny that we question the reliability of the New Testament, but never question Abraham Lincoln’s writings. Were you there? Did you actually hear or see Abraham Lincoln?

If we doubt the historicity of Jesus and the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts, then we cannot actually prove anything that we have not seen or heard in the time before we were born.

How do you know that you grandparents were actually your grandparents? Pictures? Stories? Writings? Newspaper clippings?

If the resurrection of Jesus did not happen, then how futile this whole Christian life. We are to be pitied more than all men! (Paul).

But, if it can be proved in the same way that Abraham Lincoln was shot in the head and died, then we might just have something.

Eye witnesses, testimonies, and written manuscripts have always been accepted even in a court of law to be able to put something in prison or to death. Where is the proof? I want to see it before I will believe it!

It seems ludicrous to me to think that you have to prove something scientifically before you can believe it.

Yes, there are many things that Christians cannot explain. There are many things that scientists cannot explain either- that doesn’t mean that the baby is thrown out with the bath water.

Evidence. Proof. Empirical data. Forensic Science…

They all have their place.

BUT, if God gives us enough clues to prove the historicity of Jesus Christ and the eye witness accounts all add up, and there are over 5,000 (early) New Testament manuscripts, etc., then asks us to have faith- we scream “Unfair!”

We actually have more historical documents proving the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth than we do for any other ancient writings. Scholars of ancient texts are baffled by the amount of evidence presented with magnitude of manuscripts that are verifiable for Christianity (New Testament).

I am thinking that all this talk of proof and evidence are smoke and mirrors for a deeper heart issue:
Unbelief and pride.

I know that sounds harsh, but I feel like I have built a bit of a relationship with you guys to say that.

You do believe in a god- yourself.

To humble yourself and believe in God would mean that you are not god anymore.

“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.”

Could it be that we choose not to understand?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/19/09 @ 08:52
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/19/09 @ 08:55

I forgot to put ” I just got done talking to the easter bunny this morning ,” at the beginning of my text but forgot.

not as funny now, but anyway… I tried.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/19/09 @ 08:57

Your right Dan - we suck.

Have you ever met a Christian that has left a good impression on you?


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/19/09 @ 12:04
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/19/09 @ 12:08

And here is the main problem I have. Many times when a Christian claims they want to have an open discussion about faith, which I believe La Ciudad wanted, they take everything personally and get upset the moment you start criticizing anything. It’s pointless.


brendoman [Visitor] • http://brendoman.com11/19/09 @ 13:17
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/19/09 @ 15:03

I’ve never seen faith move a mountain, but I’ve seen what it can do to skyscrapers.

Oh shiiiiiiiiiiii…….


brendoman [Visitor] • http://brendoman.com11/19/09 @ 16:54

Dude - You are imposing a tone on my posts I didnt intend… maybe because my writing is horrible.

Dan - i really do think that we suck as a whole, because we are human, - and in asking whether you have met a christian that left an impression, i had forgot that you are a sleeping christian. This site has 100’s of blogs and i cant keep up with them all.

Brendoman - I believe that I have nothing what so ever to do with revealing God to you, so i take almost nothing in this genre personal. So in my case, me trying to convert you WOULD be pointless. You will find no 30 minutes of piano music and altar calls here.

I seem to take the short direct route in my posts and it probably seems as though i am hacked. Dang!!!


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/19/09 @ 21:49

I have been reading the past posts on this topic - i havent had time since i first posted when i kinda just jumped in - now i get why fleegman thinks i am an idiot, you guys have already covered alot of stuff… to no avail on both sides i might add, if your purpose is conversion - mine isnt, just good ol fashioned conversation.
Without the talking… and its online… and you gotta wait forever to read the response. but other then that.

Muy Interesting.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/19/09 @ 22:22
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/20/09 @ 05:22

Hey Dan

The suck level of humans definitely does not match unrelenting charred eyebrows or burned nose hairs… ( see my post above about aion )

You wont find any verse in the bible proclaiming God torturing anyone forever.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/20/09 @ 08:55

I found somewhere at the top of this page where Fleegman had the question concerning why adam didnt die the day he ate the fuit

Ge 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

But Adam lived another 900 and something years. well, A more literal translation of this verse might be as Mr. Young puts it

Ge 2:17 and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it — dying you will die.’

technically speaking - our operating system inside us has a virus that well eventually wipe out the hard drive.
and the ” eating ” of the fruit was the installment of that virus into our genetic code. this is death. its all around us. its kinda like the matrix movie… but it has a complimentary purpose.

you see - good and evil are comparative terms. you cant know good unless you know evil and vice versa…

without evil you could guess that something was good, but until you lived it you wouldnt LIVE IT. until both became reality and both became an experience You wouldnt have experential knowledge of it, which is the true knowledge.

Thats why the tree was placed there…
God set it up. We were set up.

If a christian says that Adam fail - and then God had to go to work on plan B - dont believe Him ( I am sure you have no problem with that )

Why would a all powerful all knowing God have to do a plan B?

anywho



La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/20/09 @ 10:52

Dan:

Thanks for your honest replies.

Author Date
Written Earliest Copy Approximate Time Span between original & copy Number of Copies Accuracy of Copies
Lucretius died 55 or 53 B.C. 1100 yrs 2 —-
Pliny 61-113 A.D. 850 A.D. 750 yrs 7 —-
Plato 427-347 B.C. 900 A.D. 1200 yrs 7 —-
Demosthenes 4th Cent. B.C. 1100 A.D. 800 yrs 8 —-
Herodotus 480-425 B.C. 900 A.D. 1300 yrs 8 —-
Suetonius 75-160 A.D. 950 A.D. 800 yrs 8 —-
Thucydides 460-400 B.C. 900 A.D. 1300 yrs 8 —-
Euripides 480-406 B.C. 1100 A.D. 1300 yrs 9 —-
Aristophanes 450-385 B.C. 900 A.D. 1200 10 —-
Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 1000 10 —-
Livy 59 BC-AD 17 —- ??? 20 —-
Tacitus circa 100 A.D. 1100 A.D. 1000 yrs 20 —-
Aristotle 384-322 B.C. 1100 A.D. 1400 49 —-
Sophocles 496-406 B.C. 1000 A.D. 1400 yrs 193 —-
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643 95%
New
Testament 1st Cent. A.D. (50-100 A.D. 2nd Cent. A.D.
(c. 130 A.D. f.) less than 100 years 5600 99.5%

(Taken from carm.org)

Yes, the gospel writers made some huge statements about Jesus of Nazareth.

Isn’t it strange that you never hear of a scholar of ancient texts question the authenticity of Homer (Iliad)? But when it comes to all of the manuscripts that the new testament offers, we balk and squeal. Why? Because the things in the new testament manuscripts declare authority over our lives. We, especially Americans don’t want anyone or anything telling us what to do. So, we retain our own status of godhood.

In a court of law- a testimony, circumstantial evidence, a historical document or forensic science can put someone to death… Why don’t we cry, “Unfair!”

Trials can be re-opened and evidence dug up from decades ago and someone can go to the electric chair to die. Even when there are no eye witnesses!

Pretty serious.

I am trying to be equitable with looking at all ancient historical documents.

When you search all of the evidence it seems to me that it would take more faith NOT to believe than it would to believe.

You are asking me why God demands faith. Well, you are exhibiting a lot more faith than I am. So maybe I should ask you how come you have so much faith?

Another item to discuss:
If Satan cannot change the truth, he will distort our perceptions. Remember, two voices- God and satan.

Why do so many religiously zealous groups look alike? Because Satan always distorts/perverts what God has created as good. Satan does not have the power to create, but just to twist and confuse. His powers are limited.

So yes, I do find it crazy that people would fly planes into buildings…But you are missing the point.

It seems you are forming your opinion of God by ONLY looking at people. God has given us many other things to show Himself.

Look at nature- complex.
Look at science- the gaps are getting bigger!!! The more scientists and doctors know- the more they say they don’t know! The universe is not getting smaller. It is getting bigger.

Look at the human body- amazingly complex! We are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

Danny, it seems that you are suppressing more and more truth.

Religion is not Christianity. Religion is do this and do that! Christianity is done! Now, love God and love people! Jesus said that all of the Law and the Prophets could be summarized on that statement!

You are lumping me in with Religion.

You are mistaken. I am not telling you to DO something. I am asking you to BE someone: Christian.

Read the New Testament gospels once again with fresh eyes, Danny. Listen to what Christ is saying, doing, being… It is very refreshing.

Yes, there are many documents of the book of Morman. That does not make it true. But that is a big stretch, Danny. Again, satan tries to twist and pervert.

The inconsistencies in the book of Morman are many. The character of the author is under great question, too.

When you look at the lives of the people that wrote the Scriptures; they were sinners, too, but what they were writing about was not for vain glory or self-aggrandizement.

Danny, I love your mind, but question if you really believe the stuff that you are saying that you believe.

Absolute truth seems to be a cuss word to people these days. Absolute truth means that God sets the rules. We love and obey.

Because there are two voices, I will do my best to talk to my children about the differences between the kingdoms. What loving parent wouldn’t?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/20/09 @ 11:49
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/20/09 @ 13:27

Sorry I didn’t get in on this on the tenth of November but I would like to go back to the statement Danny made about his life having meaning, and his list.
Danny writes: “Can a man find true meaning in this life?” Yes, my life has true meaning.”

My questions are:

1)Why do people think life needs to have meaning?
2) Does it make any difference if life has meaning or not?
3) Aren’t all meanings humans can make just bullshit abstractions and unnecessary additions that get in the way of fully experiencing the fabric of existence?


heath [Visitor]• 11/20/09 @ 20:20

I know The Simpsons have been on along time, but I dont think Homer wrote no poems.

By the way - even an atheist has to feel sorry for poor o’ Ned Flanders, the way they treat him.

okilly-dokilly.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/20/09 @ 22:35

Just a quick thought about the rhetoric of these sorts of discussions–

I am as guilty as anyone of violating this, but I think it’s usually more useful if folks try to refrain from quoting other people’s arguments or soundbites verbatim. For instance, I think most of the frequent commenters here have seen the various charts about the number of classical manuscripts (not sure carm.org is the most reliable source to cite, by the way–check out Bruce Metzger’s “The Text of the New Testament” for a better discussion of this by a respected scholar)). Likewise, the quip about faith bringing down towers is getting about as old as the chestnut about God making Adam and Eve rather than Steve. I had been thinking that its remarkable how in these discussion Christians tend to rehearse old arguments in a kind of oral traditional sort of way, but it occurs to me than the Dawkins and Sam Harris and company have given atheists the same sort of stock language.

Are theology discussions going to eventually wind up like computerized telemarketers talking to voice mail, each responding according to the algorithm but with no real creativity or thought generating the output? I really appreciate the forum Danny has given us to discuss these matters more or less civilly. Stock talk seems (to me) unhelpful.


Doug [Visitor]• 11/21/09 @ 07:04

Here is an interesting note about the word brimstone in the bible…

Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

The word here for brimstone is ( now known as sulfur ) in the greek the word theion, and that is the part I want to concentrate on.

Dan, being a sleeping christian, you might remember in your past studies the greek word theos - which means God, and is where we get our word theology.

Theion ( brimstone ) is closely related to this word and actually means ” Divine Incence ” because sulfur was considered to having purifying powers and they used it to ward of disease. In fact they used it to burn in the temple and actually most pagan temples used it also.

So, what I am trying to say is that an early greek would instantly recognize that the above verse was implying a time of divine purification, not physical torture.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/21/09 @ 08:35

Dan:

I am glad you have this post, too. It is a whole lot more entertaining to talk to people that seem to be “in motion” than those who are lethargic or dead in their beliefs.

I have grown tremendously by reading from this site.

So, for what it’s worth…Thanks.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/21/09 @ 16:00

Fleegman:

I think you have a hang up with religion because so many people have not lived and loved the way Christ lives and loves.

Maybe your hardness toward God comes from watching unloving Christians.

I tend to agree with you that this is “false advertisement.” But I do not think that God’s kids always act like their father!

Try reading the Scriptures with as open a mind as you can. I would recommend the book of Mark.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/25/09 @ 10:01

Ok, my turn (yay!):

Fleegman:

I think you have a hang up with religion because so many people have not lived and loved the way Christ lives and loves.

Actually, my problems with religion are numerous. The fact that practising Christians don’t follow the teachings of Christianity is just a source of hypocrisy; I don’t, therefore, blame Christianity for the behaviour of its so called followers.

However…

We have been over this time and time again on this comment thread. Christianity is not “love everyone and be good. The end.”

It includes:

- Believe in beings for which there is no evidence
- Believe that people who aren’t true Christians are going to hell (the majority of the population)
- Believe that Christians are, therefore, God’s chosen people (setting up an us and them mentality)
- Tell everyone about it, and attempt to convince them to believe the same stuff you do
- Believe that homosexuals are sinners and are on the fast track to hell - included in this is that they should have less rights than heterosexual couples
- Believe that normal sexual impulses are actually the work of the devil and should be suppressed, rather than teaching children about the implications of their actions, and family planning.

Things it should include, but doesn’t (not surprisingly) - just a couple of examples. The list is rather long, so I’ll limit it to three. Who decides what gets included and what gets excluded?

- Women should not speak in church
- Disobedient children should be stoned to death
- Rapists have to either marry their victim, or pay the father

Isn’t it strange that you never hear of a scholar of ancient texts question the authenticity of Homer (Iliad)?

As Dan points out, its authenticity is questioned. You’re missing the point. The point is that there isn’t a religion based on the miraculous things that happened in the Iliad. None that I know of, anyway.

But when it comes to all of the manuscripts that the new testament offers, we balk and squeal. Why? Because the things in the new testament manuscripts declare authority over our lives. We, especially Americans don’t want anyone or anything telling us what to do. So, we retain our own status of godhood.

Apologies, Noel, but are you serious? Do you really believe that an atheist like myself doesn’t believe in God because that would mean I would have to be a good boy? I am a good boy. I don’t need a God to tell me that murder is wrong, for example. The reason we balk and squeal is because the source is inconsistent, contradictory, and it talks about miraculous things that don’t fit with the way the universe works. Given that this is supposed to be an inerrant text - and it’s not - why should we blindly accept the miraculous events it describes?

I am currently reading the Bible, and I’m not surprised you shy away from the old testament when you talk about the manuscripts I should read. I am finding the experience to be very enlightening: sacrifice; murder; genocide; misogyny; pillaging; rape; inc*st (that word is banned by the comment spam filter, for some reason); all by God’s command. A god, by the way, who suffers from multiple personality disorder and can’t decide if he loves us, hates us, just loves some of us some of the time, or some of us all of the time, wants us to have free will, but at the same time hardens hearts and, among other things, can’t remember things he said a few chapters before. It’s the first time I’ve read the Bible in detail, and chapter after chapter is full of the same thing. And I’m talking about the same book you are talking about. The same book that you are at a loss to explain why people have a hard time believing the miraculous events described therein.

Maybe you could explain why anyone would believe it if they didn’t already believe it were true.

In a court of law- a testimony, circumstantial evidence, a historical document or forensic science can put someone to death… Why don’t we cry, “Unfair!”

Well, occasionally we do, and the evidence is wrong, and the wrong people get incarcerated, or executed. The reason this is not a particularly good analogy is that people actually do commit crimes, but people don’t rise from the dead. I would say that rising from the dead is a good candidate for something requiring better than circumstantial evidence or hearsay.

Trials can be re-opened and evidence dug up from decades ago and someone can go to the electric chair to die. Even when there are no eye witnesses!

Eye witnesses are considered the lowest form of reliable evidence. And the NT wasn’t even written by eye witnesses, so I’m not sure why this is relevant.

When you search all of the evidence it seems to me that it would take more faith NOT to believe than it would to believe.

This statement really pushes my buttons, Noel. I’ve heard it so many times, and it just doesn’t make sense. I look at all the evidence (all I can, anyway), and I draw conclusions. The overwhelming evidence that evolution actually happened (and is happening), for example. If we don’t understand something in the universe, what use is the answer: “God did it?”

What you are saying is that, rather than saying “we don’t know yet” for some process that we don’t have the answer for (like how life actually began), it is more reasonable to say that all the physical laws that we experience as being unchanging were suspended by an invisible supernatural entity, and not only that but your specific invisible supernatural entity, and we were popped into existence in the way described in Genesis.

Are you seriously saying that it takes more faith to say we don’t know?

You are asking me why God demands faith. Well, you are exhibiting a lot more faith than I am. So maybe I should ask you how come you have so much faith?

Again, where is this faith you’re talking about?

If Satan cannot change the truth, he will distort our perceptions. Remember, two voices- God and satan.

Have we established this? We haven’t decided God exists, and now you’re bringing Satan into the mix? Satan is a tool used by the religious to explain why bad things happen when God is supposed to be all good. Satan is a fallen angel, perhaps? But what is an angel? A lesser God created by God? But there are no other Gods, so I can only assume God is all his angels, too. So God is Satan? Or are angels like Santa’s helpers? What is the extent of their power? This is never explained in the Bible, of course, so any opinions one might hold on this are opinions that are made up.

Why do so many religiously zealous groups look alike? Because Satan always distorts/perverts what God has created as good. Satan does not have the power to create, but just to twist and confuse. His powers are limited.

Why does he have any powers at all? Because God allows it, presumably. So, in other words, God is to blame, since he could prevent this so called confusion.

It seems you are forming your opinion of God by ONLY looking at people. God has given us many other things to show Himself.

Look at nature- complex.

Argument from incredulity. Short rebuttal: HIV is complex. It’s also very nasty. Did God create this virus?

Look at science- the gaps are getting bigger!!! The more scientists and doctors know- the more they say they don’t know! The universe is not getting smaller. It is getting bigger.

Argument that science doesn’t know everything, therefore God. Short rebuttal: If the universe is getting bigger, what does that say about the arrogant stance that God creating everything specifically for us?

Look at the human body- amazingly complex! We are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

Argument from incredulity, again. Short rebuttal: Why do men have nipples? Evolution has an answer, do you?

Religion is not Christianity. Religion is do this and do that! Christianity is done! Now, love God and love people! Jesus said that all of the Law and the Prophets could be summarized on that statement!

You are lumping me in with Religion.

I’ll let Google answer this for me:

Dear Google, what is Religion?

“a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny”

or

“an institution to express belief in a divine power”

or

“A collection of practices, based on beliefs and teachings that are highly valued or sacred”

I think it’s fair to say that Christianity is, in fact, a religion.

Read the New Testament gospels once again with fresh eyes, Danny. Listen to what Christ is saying, doing, being… It is very refreshing.

Do you have something against the OT? You never seem to mention it as anything we should concern ourselves with. Why is it swept under the carpet so often?

Yes, there are many documents of the book of Morman. That does not make it true.

I think that is the point Danny was making, Noel.

The inconsistencies in the book of Morman are many.

The inconsistencies in the Bible are many.

When you look at the lives of the people that wrote the Scriptures; they were sinners, too, but what they were writing about was not for vain glory or self-aggrandizement.

How do you know what their motives were?

So that’s me just keeping my oar in the discussion.

All the best people,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 11/30/09 @ 09:30

Fleegman:

I appreciate your responses.

The reason I do not bring up the Old Testament much is because it is not in the witness seat. More about that later.

God/Jesus seem to be what is the discussion here.

I believe that the Scriptures are sufficient to lead us to salvation-Jesus. I do not hold that the Scriptures are inerrant. (That is for another discussion).

When Jesus talked to people that were just being obstinate, argumentative and well versed in the Law (from the Old Testament Scriptures), He used the stiff law to make explanations. But when someone was a legitimate inquirer about God, He seemed to speak to them with grace mixed with mercy.

I don’t feel like you are a legalistic person, misquoting the biblical text, as some of Jesus’ accusers were.

Therefore, I do not quote much from the Old Testament much to you. I want to extend to you the grace and mercy that was extended to me when I was turned around in my confused, self-centered view of life.

Sure, fire and brimstone sermons were preached to me, but they didn’t have any long lasting effect. Ultimately, it was the goodness or kindness of God that drew me to repentance.

So, Fleegman, I do not bring up all of those other things in the Bible because they are not the main things. Jesus said that all of the Old Testament could be summed up with this powerful statement:
Love the LORD your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

Mark Twain said, “It’s not the things in the Bible that I don’t understand that trouble me, it’s the things in the Bible that I DO understand that bother me the most!”

The main thing is the plain thing.

You have raised many questions in your post that I, too, have wrestled with in my own faith journey. I do not have all of the answers to your questions (but please know that I am cool with all of your questions). That makes this faith thing so alive and real. Doubts in my Christian mind do not mean that I stop believing in God.

Just like a scientist has many doubts and does not stop learning and studying scientific things…

I guess that my doubts about Christianity just show me that my faith is alive and not static and stunted and plastic.

An unquestioned faith is probably no real faith at all.

And yes, there is implicitly and explicitly woven into the biblical narrative this whole idea of FAITH/BELIEF.

Because God asks us for faith, that is what I give to Him. It is not unreasonable faith or blind faith.

The following definition is from Hebrews 11:1 in the Amplified Bible:

“Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”

By all means, read from the Old Testament. I have just found that knowing Christ is the key to understanding in a fuller way the message of the whole Bible (both testaments/covenants).

The focus of this whole thread (and boy is it getting long), has been the existence of God. I am of the persuasion that to get to know God, you must first know Him through the Person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father….The Father and I are one….Before Abraham was, I am”

If you really want to know God, try getting to know Jesus the Christ from Nazareth. I am just saying that Jesus can best be known/understood by reading from the gospel narratives. I am not against the Old Testament at all.

Yes Fleegman, there are definitely traces of religion in Christianity, but the emphases are 180 degrees from one another.
Religion in my mind is our feeble attempt to make ourselves right in God’s sight.

Christianity is accepting what God did for us in Jesus Christ on the cross 2,000 years ago.

Becoming a Christian is NOT through giving mental assent to a set of beliefs (although there is definitely a set of beliefs in Christianity). Becoming a Christian is only through a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Again, a mistake that many observers make about Christianity. People are making an assumption that to get right with God you must believe the whole Bible, go to church, give alms, be nice, don’t steal, etc…

I am sure that you remember the passage of Scripture where Jesus is hanging on the cross to make atonement/reconciliation for us. As Christ is dying, one of the criminals on one of the crosses beside Christ says,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
Luke 23:42-43.

Tell me, what did that thief on the cross have to DO to become a Christian or to get into Heaven?

Did he have to go to church? Recite the Apostles’ Creed? Memorize John 3:16? Give all he had to the poor? Preach the gospel to every nation?
Be able to explain scientifically the origin of the earth? Explain every apparent inconsistency in the Old Testament? NO, no, no; a thousand times- NO!

It was faith in the person of Jesus Christ; a conviction of a present reality.

Fleegman- what if you had all your questions answered satisfactorily? Would you put your full trust in Christ?

There were people that actually saw with their own eyes the resurrection of Jesus after they had actually seen him dead with their own eyes. And guess what? Some of them didn’t believe. What more evidence did they need?

These stubborn words come ringing again:
“Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

A man can struggle with whether or not he is really in love with a young woman. I mean truly wrestle- do I love her, do I not? He may say, “I want to have evidence that I really love her…” At some point, even without certainty or proper evidence, he says, “I love you.”

And there are feelings and emotions, and true changed that are experienced in that exchange that could have never been experienced before he said those words.

Do you know the REAL Jesus, Fleegman?

Not what others tell you that you must do before God will accept you. But the real Jesus revealed to us in the gospels?

Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John 17:3.

Do I have all the answers? Of course not.

Does that hamper or block my faith? Of course not.

I will always have questions, Fleegman. I am alive!

But I do want to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) Him, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ more and more.

Fleegman- please know that my concern for you is legitimate. Why would I not want to pass on this same relationship that has revolutionized my very existence?




noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/30/09 @ 13:12
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/30/09 @ 13:39

Dan:

You make a good point. I was not aware that anyone ever questioned the authenticity of Homer’s Iliad (why on God’s green earth would they anyway?).

And yes, another great point about questioning the authenticity of the New Testament because of the great claims that are made therein!

I was talking with a young man from India the other day. He came here to study bio-medical engineering at Cornell and just completed his graduate work there. He was talking with me about the power of oral traditions within India. These oral stories/traditions carry as much “weight” as written stories. We went on to discuss the authorship of the Scriptures and saw many parallels between the Indian and Middle Eastern cultures concerning oral traditions.

Don’t discount all oral tradition, you may be throwing more out than you intend to.

If all your questions could be answered sufficiently and satisfactorily, Dan, would you have faith?

You seem to know the Bible somewhat. If the resurrection were proven true beyond the shadow of a doubt, would you believe?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org11/30/09 @ 14:12
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/11/30/09 @ 15:23

WooHOO!!! This is getting good!

I am sorry - I find this topic especially attractive… so much so I cant help but comment.

I find the atheists in this debate saying, very specifically, things that the normal Christian would never even think of because of many years of indoctrination. It wouldn’t even pop into our minds, and even after reading these comments most Christians probably don’t even think they are valid enough to even refute, and so they probably let them go in one ear and out the other.

Let me tell ya - if Christians took the time to search out some of the things brought up in this debate they would find that Dan, Fleegman and Brendoman might be closer to the heart of God than they think. Either that or they are kinda like balaams’s ass?

For instance “for ever” in Hell:

Here are two verses in Jonah chapter 2 speaking of what he went through in the belly of the fish.

5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me FOR EVER: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

In verse 6 it states that the earth was about him for ever, and yet later we are told he was in the belly for 3 days. Which is it?

The simple explanation for this is that the Hebrew word ‘olam translated for ever here in verse 6 doesn’t mean for ever, it literally means for an uncertain amount of time or - an age.

Its funny ( to me ) how an atheist can see right away that there is something not quite right about spending for ever in hell by the ordinance of an all loving God, yet a Christian that claims to posses some of the very nature of this God says it is of necessity to fulfill His righteousness. The Christian’s cant see that they are acting like Jonah himself. “ you mean God is gonna save those fish slappers. “

An all loving God could never spend forever separated from His creation that He knew was being tormented endlessly. He would go to all lengths , endlessly to save them. Forever!

I have not found this verse yet.

John 12:32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will make 23.45% of men come to me.

Or this one

Romans 5:19 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall 15.23% be made righteous.

But anyway - hope I have given the atheist a little bit of “ evidence “ that the bible doesn’t teach that only a minority of persons will be saved from the last day BBQ.

Psalms 86:9 9 All heathens whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 11/30/09 @ 22:33

Dan:

I am glad that you question the reliability of the Scriptures.

Remember the Bereans? They were considered more noble by Paul because they tested everything that was spoken by the prophets to see if it aligned with Scripture.

Please don’t give up due to lack of evidence. I know you haven’t, but just to encourage you to keep seeking/searching.

You have been given a very bright mind and I truly believe that in your search for truth you will be rewarded.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org12/01/09 @ 06:18
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/12/01/09 @ 11:24

Dan:

I think you once knew the truth, or it appeared that you did at least.

I am not sure if I am making it worse for you in the end by discussing these things with you.

“To give truth to him who loves it not is only to give him more multiplied reasons for misinterpretation.”
-George McDonald

I definitely don’t want to hurt you.

How do you interpret Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-27?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org12/03/09 @ 09:07

Dan:

I think you once knew the truth, or it appeared that you did at least.

I realise this is addressed to Dan, Noel, but I couldn’t help but stick my oar in, here. Do you have any idea how condescending you’re sounding right now?

Have you not listened to anything I’ve been saying on this thread? I’ll repeat it for convenience:

Many believers in many religions are sure that they are right about what they believe. This has no bearing on whether or not their specific religion is correct or not.

Did you see the pictures of the Taliban children with AK-47s in their hands? Nothing could make the point I have made repeatedly on this thread more clearly than these pictures. When you get children young enough, you can make them believe anything. Do you think the Taliban elders are certain about their beliefs? Do you think they can tell compelling stories about their god? And yet you believe they are wrong. They are just as convinced as you are (maybe more so, since they’re dying for their religious beliefs), and yet you hold your position that they have it wrong. And why do you think they are wrong? You think they are wrong because you believe in different supernatural stuff than they do. Stuff that you could not possibly know for certain.

You believe you know the truth. You teach young children your version of the truth as just that, the truth. I’ll say it again, this does not mean that what you are teaching them is the truth! It only means that you believe it’s the truth, and that many of the children you teach will grow up believing it to be the truth as well.

I will repeat something else I’ve said before on this thread. When you understand why you reject all the other religions of the world, you will understand why we, as atheists, reject yours.

You know that cult known as Scientology? You know John Travolta? He’s been a member for many years. You know why he believes it? Brainwashing. I think you’d agree with me on this point.

So I have a question for you: How do you know you aren’t just brainwashed? I mean, how would you really know this for sure? We know that the victims of brainwashing (well, we’re all brainwashed to some degree. Advertising being a good example), feel certain things, and experience emotions about certain topics that are beyond their conscious control. So where is the objective evidence that what you have experienced and felt in your life aren’t just a symptom of brainwashing?

Hope that’s not too offensive a question, Noel. I’m asking it sincerely. You’re questioning Dan’s beliefs, and I think it’s only appropriate that you take a look at yourself as well.

(as an aside, I use brainwashing and indoctrination pretty much interchangeably, but for me indoctrination is more applicable to young children)

This next part is interesting, because you say:

I definitely don’t want to hurt you.

And then you say:

How do you interpret Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-27?

Passive-aggressive, much, Noel?

The passages you refer to can be interpreted in a couple of ways (big surprise), and both interpretations are insulting. Actually, 10:26-27 is pretty blatant.

You’re saying that either Dan wasn’t a “true Christian” or that his salvation is impossible. Lovely. Please not that the “no true Scotsman” argument is a fallacy and won’t hold any weight here.

As far as the other interpretation, I must remind you that you are quoting from a book that we don’t actually believe is the word of God. If someone quoted something scary from Dianetics, would it have any impact on you? No. So I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.

Anyway, I hope you don’t mind me taking this one on, Dan. Couldn’t help myself.

Cheers for now,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 12/04/09 @ 06:18

Fleegman

You are correct on every level.

We all need to be de-brainwashed, and we all need to take a big honest look at what we consider factual, and just because we think our beliefs are right certainly does not mean they are. All these things have nothing to do with truth.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 12/04/09 @ 08:13

Fleegman:

The post that I wrote to Dan, I would have never written to you; because you are at a different place.

I wish I could sit down with you for a cup of coffee. It is difficult to keep from misunderstanding when talking via a blog. There is so much to tone and body language. Only a small percentage of communication is actual content.

The Christian worldview is not condescending; any more than one friend getting in his best friends grill to keep him safe is condescending.

Fleegman; you know that a big part of communication is knowing your audience. I feel as if both you and Dan are atheists, but coming from two totally different places. So, when talking to Dan it sounds so foreign to your ears; and vice versa.

Fleegman; re-read what I said to you in the prior post (11/30).


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org12/04/09 @ 11:27
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/12/04/09 @ 17:27

Honest questions for whomever atheist. ( they are honest dang it ! ) Honestly would like to know opinions.

Matter. Was there a time before the big bang when there wasnt a material world as we know it? Has matter always been? I am sure you have heard Christians say that if matter has always and for ever existed ( eternal ) that we should of evolved countless ages ago.

Life. Did life have a starting point or has it always existed in some form. Did the inanimate animate?

Time & Dimension. Did time, width, length and height originate out from the big bang. Was there space before there was space? Was the big bang a god of sorts that set all ( 4 dimensions ) in motion.

Thoughts? ( again not trying to trick or anything like that )

I am hearing all the argument against religion from the atheist, but I would really like to hear opinions on all the basic questions of life… this is the stuff I really like. the why’s and the how’s.

I realize this stuff doesnt really define atheism, but…

I dont know - you probably have already covered it - sorry Fleegman



La Cuidad [Visitor]• 12/04/09 @ 22:25
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/12/05/09 @ 14:10
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/12/05/09 @ 14:12

Don’t you know Danny? Fleegman knows your heart, just by reading words on a screen!


brendoman [Visitor] • http://brendoman.com12/05/09 @ 20:49

Shheeeesh…. I was beginning to think that I was imaginary myself and no one saw my posts. It is good to know I exist.

In the most simplistic terms - I would like to further my definition of Hell.

If you take all the ” Hells ” in the old testament, the hebrew word SHEOL, completely out, and replace them with the word “Grave” then you will have a more realistic view of what hell is. It is literly the grave.

Psalms 49:15 But God will save my soul from the power of the Grave ( hell - sheol from strongs # 07585 ) : for he shall receive me.

It is funny to me that they translated sheol in the above verse - grave, instead of hell… hmmm wonder why?

Most of the other verses in the OT translate sheol hell, but in this case they had to keep it grave to keep inline with there doctrine. When they do use the word Hell, they are using a word from Greek mythology that fits with their teaching of eternal Hell.

They couldnt do that with the above verse because that would beg the question - would God redeem a soul from the power of hell… yes He would.

Ps 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest HELL!

So - Hell is really the grave. Or plainly stated - Death, but not physical death but spiritual. There is no physical BBQ roasting pit.

Everything you see with your eyes is Hell - Death. Everything in this realm we are living. You are in Hell. Thats why most of the verses that talk about Sheol, talk about it in the past or present tense.

Ps 30:3 O Jehovah, thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol ( Hell ); Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Ps 86:13 For great is thy lovingkindness toward me; And thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest Sheol ( Hell ).

Ps 116:3 The cords of death compassed me, And the pains of Sheol ( Hell ) gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

So - Hell is the starting place of our Journey.

But God is creator of Death and Life. He is in both places with you.

Ps 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in HELL, behold, thou art there.



La Cuidad [Visitor]• 12/05/09 @ 21:33

Dan-

If I were sitting down with you for coffee, I would speak differently because of your different background, upbringing, experiences, type of thought, nuances that you place on Christianity, your experience in the ministry, music and youth, etc. Just as you write one way to me and I presume another to your wife, so I do the same.

Fleegman-
I thought of this blog when I read this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“(As an atheist) My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too- for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist- in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless- I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality -namely my idea of justice- was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has not meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

Thinking about thinking is enlightening.

Along another line:
There is a saying in education, “More is caught than taught.” I believe that even when an atheist is trying not to teach a certain way of life or thought, he is teaching a way of life and thought.

Indoctrination or just a way of life is being learned and has been learned already by each person on this blog.

You may not want to teach your children Christianity or atheism, but your life is teaching all the time. Try to jump away from your shadow. It is impossible.

I am sure you have heard parents say to their children, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

So the whole indoctrination by Christians of their children is happening; just as indoctrination by atheists is happening, too.

Can a man dip his hand in a pool of water without causing ripples?

Fleegman- any new thoughts about my first post to you on 11/30?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org12/07/09 @ 13:29

Fleegman:

Any new thoughts?


Noel George [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org12/15/09 @ 06:18

Hey La Cuidad,

Apologies for not getting back to you earlier. Work has been mad, recently.

—Questions about life, the universe, and everything—

I am hearing all the argument against religion from the atheist, but I would really like to hear opinions on all the basic questions of life… this is the stuff I really like. the why’s and the how’s.

Ok, I’m glad you brought this up, because it allows me to illustrate a point. First of all, I don’t know the answers to your questions. There, that was easy. The point I want to illustrate, here, is neither does anyone else

Christians say “God created everything.” So, one might look at a Christian and say “Look, he has an answer, what have you got?” The suggestion, here, is that simply making something up is better than saying “I don’t know.”

I’m sorry, LC, but “God did it” is not an answer in any reasonable sense. I am content that I don’t know these things, and may never know them. If I said the invisible pink unicorn did everything, what, exactly, would that give me? What answers does that provide? How is that in any way useful? It’s simply covering over the cracks with magic paint.

Since we didn’t know the answers to certain questions a century ago, and science has provided the answers, is it not reasonable to assume (based on experience) that science will continue to fill in the gaps in our knowledge? And in our ongoing quest for knowledge, it is expected that there will be unknowns; this is why we bother to do research. It is the unknown that drives us forward as a species. To sit back and fill the gaps with God, is to stagnate as a race. Why move forward if we have the “answered” the questions?

I don’t see the lack of knowledge as an obstacle; I see it as an inspiration. We are only beginning to explore the wonder that this universe has to offer, and I’m happy to be alive in a time where that knowledge is expanding faster than ever. Where’s the excitement in “God did it?” Where’s the wonder? Where is the satisfaction? Who knows, on our travels we might find out one day that a god did indeed do it. At least, in that case, we would have some evidence for it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves ;o)

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 12/17/09 @ 03:35

Hi Noel,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Brace yourself, because I don’t pull many punches in this one ;o)

The reason I do not bring up the Old Testament much is because it is not in the witness seat. More about that later.

God/Jesus seem to be what is the discussion here.

Then will you please stop quoting the Bible at me? Since you, and others, have continually brought up how loving God is, and quoted scripture to back it up (which I find amusing, to say the least), I think it’s only fair that we take examples of God being what you might call “not exactly loving” from the same book.

I believe that the Scriptures are sufficient to lead us to salvation-Jesus. I do not hold that the Scriptures are inerrant. (That is for another discussion).

This is a treacherous path you’re walking, Noel. Bit of a throwaway comment for something so significant. If the Bible contains errors, how do we know which parts we should trust? Oh wait, I know this. You take what you consider the good stuff, and leave the rest. Easy.

I don’t feel like you are a legalistic person, misquoting the biblical text, as some of Jesus’ accusers were.

I don’t need to misquote the Bible. The “original” speaks for itself.

So, Fleegman, I do not bring up all of those other things in the Bible because they are not the main things. Jesus said that all of the Old Testament could be summed up with this powerful statement:
Love the LORD your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

Well, it’s a good thing he cleared that up, because that’s not actually what the OT says. Just ask the Philistines, if you can find any.

Mark Twain said, “It’s not the things in the Bible that I don’t understand that trouble me, it’s the things in the Bible that I DO understand that bother me the most!”

Hehe… What?

The main thing is the plain thing.

So what you’re saying here, is keep it simple, yeah? As in “don’t invent supernatural explanations where none is required?”

That makes this faith thing so alive and real. Doubts in my Christian mind do not mean that I stop believing in God.

Noel, you wear your ignorance like a badge of honour. Another of my bugbears with religious thought (yes, Christians qualify) is how the lack of knowledge is considered a virtue. Doubt is the foundation of faith, I think you’ll agree. It follows, therefore, that the more doubt you have, the stronger your faith. The more faith you have in spite of the questions you have, the better Christian you are. So, in a way, the unknown fuels your faith.

And like Vulcans find humour a difficult concept, I find this difficult to understand. As Kirk said to Saavik, “We learn by doing…” Oh how true this is in the case of a Christian. The more you ignore questions of faith, the easier they become to ignore. It’s a cycle of reaffirmation that I’m happy not to be a part of.

Just like a scientist has many doubts and does not stop learning and studying scientific things…

Please don’t use science as being analogous to religious thinking. They are polar opposites.

I guess that my doubts about Christianity just show me that my faith is alive and not static and stunted and plastic.

Strengthened by ignorance.

An unquestioned faith is probably no real faith at all

And again. I realise the necessity of this, but how does that make faith attractive? “Stop thinking and believe.” No thanks.

And yes, there is implicitly and explicitly woven into the biblical narrative this whole idea of FAITH/BELIEF.

Unless your name is Thomas and you ask for proof, of course.

Because God asks us for faith, that is what I give to Him. It is not unreasonable faith or blind faith.

In fact, it is. Please explain how it is reasonable.

The following definition is from Hebrews 11:1 in the Amplified Bible:

“Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”

Which is another way of saying “Wishful thinking.” “Faith perceiving as real what is [not real].”

Here’s another definition for you:

Delusion

1) a false belief or opinion

2) a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact

The common word there is “false.” The only difference between delusion and faith is that we can’t prove your beliefs are wrong. It’s interesting that religion gets special consideration for this, actually.

So maybe I should tighten up the distinction. The difference between delusion and faith is that someone is delusional if we can be certain, within reason, that what they’re saying is wrong, and their belief isn’t part of their religion. Otherwise, we call it faith.

So, if someone insists that invisible unicorns are walking among us and they are the only one that can see them, and they talk that person, offering advice, that person would be considered delusional. If, however, someone insists that they converse with God on a regular basis, that is a faith issue.

If the president of the US communicated with a super-natural being through his hairdryer every night, he would be considered delusional. If, on the other hand, he spoke to God by clasping his hands together in the “traditional” way? Well, that’s faith.

Yes Fleegman, there are definitely traces of religion in Christianity

Thank you for a good laugh, Noel. You are hilarious!

Religion in my mind is our feeble attempt to make ourselves right in God’s sight.

As long as you’re not wrong!

Again, a mistake that many observers make about Christianity. People are making an assumption that to get right with God you must believe the whole Bible, go to church, give alms, be nice, don’t steal, etc…

And some branches of the many branches of Christianity do believe that. I suppose they’re wrong and you, Noel, understand what God wants. They’re all doing it wrong.

Tell me, what did that thief on the cross have to DO to become a Christian or to get into Heaven?

I would say if Jesus were on a cross next to you being sacrificed, it would be a bit easier to believe in him, wouldn’t you say? And if this story were true, what did this guy have to lose?

Fleegman- what if you had all your questions answered satisfactorily? Would you put your full trust in Christ?

What is it with these meaningless questions? Sorry, Noel, but I don’t see the point. What if you could go back in time and see that Jesus was just a nice bloke and all the stories about him were actually made up or exaggerated by his followers? Would you renounce Christ as your saviour?

There were people that actually saw with their own eyes the resurrection of Jesus after they had actually seen him dead with their own eyes.

So the Bible says (in inconsistent ways, depending on which book your reading of course)

And guess what? Some of them didn’t believe. What more evidence did they need?

How about getting to stick their hands inside his wounds? Thomas got to do that. Then he believed. I kind of like the sound of that Thomas bloke; he sounds like a critical thinker.

These stubborn words come ringing again:
“Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Yes they do. As I explained above, religion reveres ignorance. Faith is the currency of the church. Questioning minds will destroy the foundations on which the church is built. It is in religion’s best interests to keep people ignorant. Count me out.

Do you know the REAL Jesus, Fleegman?

Another meaningless question. You might just as well have asked me if I like the shape of angels’ wings.

Do I have all the answers? Of course not.

Does that hamper or block my faith? Of course not.

No, the unknown strengthens your faith.

I will always have questions, Fleegman. I am alive!

But your basic pre-supposition blinds you to actually learning anything useful from your questions, Noel.

But I do want to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) Him, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ more and more.

There’s that pre-supposition I mentioned.

Fleegman- please know that my concern for you is legitimate. Why would I not want to pass on this same relationship that has revolutionized my very existence?

I have no doubt that you are sincere in your concerns, Noel. As I have mentioned many times, now, on this thread, sincerity in belief says nothing about the veracity of that belief. You have never answered the question: Other people of other religions are just as, if not more, convinced that they are right about their beliefs. How do you know they are wrong?

You also didn’t answer my question (your prerogative, of course) which asked: how you would know that you are not brainwashed?

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 12/17/09 @ 03:43

I have a thought experiment for the Christians reading this thread:

Imagine, if you will, a universe in which there is no god. No supernatural entity watching over us, answering our prayers, deciding who’s being good etc.

Imagine that, in that world, things happen pretty much at random. Some good people suffer, some bad people live prosperous lives. Millions of decent people suffer every single day from malnutrition and disease.

Imagine also, that the planet is still cooling as a result of billions of years of geological unrest. This occasionally results in tsunamis which wipe out hundreds of thousands of people, and causes suffering and misery for countless others.

Now compare that world with the one in which we live.

They’re the same. No need for super-natural beings. No need for rationalising away the obvious inconsistencies of that belief when at odds with the real world. When bad things happen, they happen exactly in accordance with the way you would expect things to happen if there were no god.

So why invent one?

Please feel free to explain how our world is different from the one I described, if you think you can. I have an open mind, you see. I hope you do, too.

Cheers for now,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 12/17/09 @ 04:59

Fleegman:

You have a wonderful way with words.

You have probably heard this before, but it bears repeating.
Can I prove God? Not in a science tube, but I can look at a house and know that it has a designer. I see a piece of art and know that there is an artist. I see straight parking stripes and know that there was a painter.

Why can I infer that and no one objects? But if I see seasons, sunrises, constellations, DNA under a microscope and declare Designer, I am labeled naive or brainwashed.

Good question you pose concerning going back in time and seeing that Jesus was just a nice bloke…
Of course, I would renounce my faith! In fact, Paul said that if there were no resurrection of Jesus from the dead, then we as Christians are to be most pitied.

That is the test- can you say for certain that the resurrection of Christ did not happen?

The reason that I keep bringing up the question of do you know the REAL Jesus, is because I am sensing that you have been given a bunch of goobly-goo religion that is not founded in holy Scripture.

You said to me that I think that I am right and all other religions are wrong. Because the resurrection happened, I listen to the One who raised Him from the dead. Gives extreme credibility to the rest of His words.

So, to be right is not to be obnoxious. You have met several of them. And I suppose you think I am one of those obnoxious ones, too. When discussing these ideas it seems to get obnoxious on both sides. I am sorry. I do not want to be that way.

You had stated quite a bit earlier, that it would be nice if loving God and loving others were all that it was, but that isn’t what Christianity really is.
You are mistaken, Fleegman. That is what Jesus talked about most.

Faith without works is dead. I can say that I love, but if my actions don’t show it, my faith is like a screen door on a submarine; useless.

You may call faith ignorance, I choose to say that my reason, body, heart and soul have converged on a holy God and believed. Reasonable in that design calls for a Designer, nearly 6,000 ancient Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and the Dead Sea Scrolls support one another, many witnesses (500) saw the risen Christ, and His voice to my heart all align and deep peace is given to me.

You say that my presuppositions are blinding me. Could your unbelieving presuppositions be blinding you to Truth?

That was, in fact, one of Satan’s first temptations on Eve, “Did God really say?…”

“Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Fleegman; to your last post, you see so many injustices in the world.

How does a man know a crooked line unless he has seen a straight line?

From where is your sense of justice coming?

You seem to speak like the author of Ecclesiastes.


Noel George [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org12/18/09 @ 08:09

They’re the same. No need for super-natural beings. No need for rationalising away the obvious inconsistencies of that belief when at odds with the real world. When bad things happen, they happen exactly in accordance with the way you would expect things to happen if there were no god.

Well, maybe not exactly. If there were no God and bad things happened I think I would expect humans would see these events as painful, but ultimately meaningless. Yet that doesn’t seem to be the usual reaction. What is weird to me is how most people at most periods in time find the apparent senselessness of tragedy disturbing. We as a species try, over and over again, to come up with explanations because we seem to WANT there to be justice in the universe. The relatively few people in the history who have just accepted that life and tragedies are finally meaningless (the post-war modernists, for instance) have usually come to that conclusion through thoughtful struggle. Even in our enlightened age it’s a very rare person that seems able to truly believe in meaninglessness in all sincerity (I feel like I hear about things happening “for a reason” as often from those with no particular religious belief as I do from sincere Christians).

Of course I can’t say for sure that a world in which God didn’t exist would result in a different attitude towards suffering. I suppose it could be adapted out of some very subtle and inexplicable evolutionary forces, but I can’t help but think its weird that we find injustice both on a social and cosmic level so offensive.


Doug [Visitor]• 12/18/09 @ 19:33
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/12/19/09 @ 12:44

Here I’m not talking about morality exactly, so much as the idea that humans generally seek to find meaning in (and are really troubled by) events like tsunamis and hurricanes. Religious believers develop theodicies (reconciliations of tragic events to their notions of a just god), but the very problem that necessitates a theodicy only exists if we believe the world SHOULD be just. Basically I’m just rehashing the old arguments used by (among others) George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis that the human psyche seems to expect that the world SHOULD be just and that suffering SHOULD have some sort of explanation (retribution for evil actions, a necessary piece of a larger journey, etc.) which would seem weird if we just made up the idea of another world. I still find this argument pretty powerful. It doesn’t prove God (I’ve said it before, but I don’t think it’s possible to either prove or disprove his existence) but I do think its strange that we have evolved this very powerful tendency to look and hope for justice in the universe…something that, in a purely naturalistic world should just be a learned human construct. It seems though, that it is instead a notion that we have to UNLEARN.


Doug [Visitor]• 12/19/09 @ 19:10

Mr. Fleegman,

You asked “how useful it would be if you said the unicorn did it?”

Not Very.

well - I dont know about a pink unicorn, but if I knew the answer to - Is there a God who comforts? Or, Is there a God who can assuage the pain of life? or If there a God that encompass the minutest detail of all of creation? Or is there a God that can ” smooth the wrinkled brow ” …

Dont get me wrong - you pick up on the imaginary god syndrome fairly easy because most peoples gods are the gods in their own mind, and I pray that my imaginary god of my mind gets replaced by the Truth. but with that said - even an imaginary god that a person uses to get them through the night is all right, is all right.

because:

What ever helps you make it through the night, is all right , is all right…


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 12/19/09 @ 23:02
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/12/20/09 @ 12:03

The atheist has no need for a theodicy. We just recognize that a desire to find some greater justice or meaning in the universe is the result of applying perfectly useful human ideas at a larger scale where they don’t actually work.

Right. I get that. My point is though, that that what you call the atheist interpretation of tragedy is very unusual among humans. I think many atheists, even in spite of themselves, talk about tragic events as if there should be meaning in them (just as Christians who have dispensed with health and wealth theologies still often talk as if they believed them). There’s something very human about expecting justice in the world.

But what are the “useful human ideas” we are applying? That we should be held accountable for our actions? That good should be rewarded and evil punished? My sense is that the expectation that the *universe* should be just is a deeper than that. My sense is that most feel they are applying the larger principle of justice in particular scenarios (like a lawsuit) rather than reasoning from particulars to the general. This might be delusional, I suppose, but I think for most people its a pretty powerful delusion.

I have no idea why God should want to, as you put it, hide. We could quibble about this a bit as I’m not exactly sure God is hiding, but I admit it seems like he has left it possible for a very sincere person to doubt His existence. But then, part of being a Christian is affirming that you are in a relationship with a mystery, so yeah, this is just one of a bunch of parts of the faith where I admit ignorance (exercising the same prerogative that you employ when asked about the source of morality).

What makes you decide that one undetectable god is probably real and the rest are fictional?

This argument works better against the strains of fundamentalism which cannot allow for truth in any other religions. I believe that all religious thought and practice are approximations towards finding, knowing, and relating to/with the Divine. Some are better at this than others, but in my experience of the world and sense of the divine orthodox Christianity seems a better approximation in most ways than others (although I do think the Buddhists and Muslims may have certain glimpses of the divine Christians have historically missed).

I understand that it’s “convenient” that this is the faith in which I was raised, but I might observe that most of the world’s religious believers follow a God who is some approximation of the God of Abraham so it’s not exactly unusual that I should have been raised in such a culture.

It makes no sense to bring up (as the new atheists so like to do) the Greek and Norse gods…they were almost entirely discarded by their own followers (usually in favor of the Christian God). Admittedly these conversions occurred under duress in some (but by no means all) cases, but if the story of religious history with all its holy wars and martyrdoms tells us anything we should at least acknowledge that devoutly religious believers don’t tend to just give up their faith when faced with oppressive force. If believers really believe, they tend to find a way to keep the faith alive in spite of oppression.


Doug [Visitor]• 12/20/09 @ 20:34

Isa 45:15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 12/20/09 @ 21:45

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org12/21/09 @ 07:09
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/12/23/09 @ 05:39

Hi Noel,

I can look at a house and know that it has a designer. I see a piece of art and know that there is an artist. I see straight parking stripes and know that there was a painter.

Noel. We know painters exist, but carry on…

Why can I infer that and no one objects?

No one? I object, for starters. Sorry for interrupting, please continue…

But if I see seasons, sunrises, constellations, DNA under a microscope and declare Designer, I am labeled naive or brainwashed.

Well, that’s because I think you are brainwashed. You have still managed to avoid answering the question “How do you know you are not brainwashed?” by the way.

Calling the universe “creation” doesn’t automatically make it true that it was created by a creator. It’s called begging the question; that question being “How do you know there is a creator?”

When you look at a snowflake, do you think that was created by God’s hands? Or do you accept that the crystallization process of ice randomly produces beautiful and unique structures?

You infer a creator because you have a big stonking presupposition that it was all created by God.

Have you seen a duck billed platypus? Designed? What about that worm that lives in the eye I mentioned ages ago. You know, the one that blinds people. Designed to do that?

Here’s another one for you: Have you heard of the laryngeal nerve? It’s the one that controls the voice box. It originates from the spinal cord in the neck, deviates down the neck, loops around the heart (well, the aorta), and goes back up the neck to the voice box. Is it designed that way? Seems like a waste of material, to me.

Oh, and the giraffe has the same thing, which amounts to about 15 feet of wasted nerve. It’s also the same in other mammals which strongly suggests a line of common descent.

Evolution explains the wandering route of this nerve beautifully. Can you, Noel?

Now, I would imagine the tactic when dealing with these kind of problems is to resort to “How can you judge what is and is not good design? We can’t know why God designed things that way.” And there were have that pesky begging the question fallacy again.

At some point, Noel, you have to take a step back, put the rationalisation aside for a minute, and really think about why all the evidence so strongly points to a world without God.

Good question you pose concerning going back in time and seeing that Jesus was just a nice bloke… Of course, I would renounce my faith! In fact, Paul said that if there were no resurrection of Jesus from the dead, then we as Christians are to be most pitied.

At least there’s hope ;o)

That is the test- can you say for certain that the resurrection of Christ did not happen?

We’ve been over this several times. Please listen to me when I tell you that just because you can’t prove something isn’t true, does not lend any credence to the point of view that it is true. What you need is evidence. Evidence that is sorely lacking.

If I asked you if you can say for certain that the invisible pink unicorn didn’t create the universe, would it make any kind of case for me? Or the flying spaghetti monster? Or me, for that matter? You can’t prove for absolute certain these things aren’t true. You can’t prove for certain that the Devil didn’t write the Bible to sucker people into believing the wrong thing, can you?

Once again, things that are unfalsifiable by definition can’t use that unfalsifiability as a reason to believe in them.

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” - Well, no, but it’s a pretty good indication folks. It would be folly to ignore this point. Otherwise, what’s to stop us believing in any old thing someone comes up with just because we can’t prove for certain it’s wrong?

The reason that I keep bringing up the question of do you know the REAL Jesus, is because I am sensing that you have been given a bunch of goobly-goo religion that is not founded in holy Scripture.

Being founded in a book written by men is not a reason to believe in something.

You said to me that I think that I am right and all other religions are wrong. Because the resurrection happened, I listen to the One who raised Him from the dead. Gives extreme credibility to the rest of His words.

I’m just going to rephrase this as a question and answer to clarify what just happened:

Q) How do you know that you are right and all other religions are wrong?

A) Because I am right.

I was hoping for something more substantial.

So, to be right is not to be obnoxious. You have met several of them. And I suppose you think I am one of those obnoxious ones, too.

I do. But you seem friendly and well meaning, so I cut you some slack ;o)

You may call faith ignorance, I choose to say that my reason, body, heart and soul have converged on a holy God and believed. Reasonable in that design calls for a Designer, nearly 6,000 ancient Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and the Dead Sea Scrolls support one another, many witnesses (500) saw the risen Christ, and His voice to my heart all align and deep peace is given to me.

This is a good one, because it makes me wonder why so much was left out. Could it be that the bits that didn’t agree too well were “brushed aside,” so to speak? And from how many of these eye witnesses do we have manuscripts detailing their experiences?

You say that my presuppositions are blinding me. Could your unbelieving presuppositions be blinding you to Truth?

No no no no, a thousand times no. As I have explained before, I make judgments based on evidence. You know, real stuff that you can reproduce, study, and learn. I make no presupposition that God doesn’t exist. My presupposition is “I don’t know if there is a god. Let’s look at the evidence.”

After looking at the evidence, although I can never be certain that there is no god, the evidence does not suggest that there is one.

The huge difference in our positions, therefore, is that I come to a conclusion based on the evidence, and you start with a conclusion and make the evidence fit.

Fleegman; to your last post, you see so many injustices in the world.

That isn’t what that post was about. I wasn’t talking about injustice. The point I was making is that random events appear to happen in exactly the way you would expect if there were no god.

How does a man know a crooked line unless he has seen a straight line?

A straight line is mathematically defined as having no corners. So even with never having seen a straight line (none of us has, by the way, a perfectly straight line with no width only exists in our minds), we can easily recognise a crooked line.

From where is your sense of justice coming?

Like I said, I wasn’t talking about injustice. I would say, however, that if God is in control, and did create us all, by the sense of justice he installed in my little brain it just seems wrong to wipe out hundreds of thousands of his creations in a tsunami. And if God created my brain and my sense of justice, he knows that that’s what I would make of it. So he’s actively making it harder to believe in him?

Interesting… And you say God isn’t deceitful? Hmmmm…

Of course, the more prosaic explanation is that it’s all just random and there’s no god that we have to invent in order to rationalise his behaviour away.

All the best,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 12/23/09 @ 06:40

Hello again, everyone,

All ready for the Pagan celebration of the winter solstice? ;o)

Something occurred to me the other day, and it goes like this:

Christians talk a lot about the importance of free will. Now, I’ve mentioned before that if God knows everything, including the future, then we can only have, at best, the illusion of free will.

But I realised that it goes further than that:

If God knows the future, how can he possibly have free will of his own? If he knows what he’s going to do, how can he do anything different? His hands are tied by his own omniscience!

How cool is that?

Cheers,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 12/23/09 @ 06:45

No doubt about it - Christmas is a Pagan, and not a Christian festival!

—-

The preachers claim that when God made man in the first place, He endowed him with freedom of will, the ability to accept God’s love or reject it, to keep God’s laws or break them, and that the decision here and now is a final choice. But our Lord says, “No man can come unto Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him” (Jn. 6:44).

Let us think a moment of just how free man is, how far his freedom reaches. A little observation and study will show that man’s freedom has very narrow limits. One is able to wish or desire or purpose as he pleases, but when he comes to carry out his wish or desire or purpose, he finds that he faces a problem. One is not free in the physical realm. Just let him try to jump off the Earth and land on Mars, for example. One is not free in the social realm. Not every man can marry the woman he wishes. One is not free in the economic realm. Not every person who dreams of being a millionaire can become one, no matter how hard he tries. One is not free in the moral and spiritual realm. He may desire with all his being to rid the world of drunkenness and vice, of greed and hate and war, but who has yet accomplished that? Many are not able to free even themselves from a little weed called tobacco!

It was God who placed man in the Garden of Eden. It was God who planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the Garden. It was God who gave the law that man should neither touch this tree nor eat of it. And it was God who made the serpent and put him in the Garden and sent him along one beautiful day to tempt the man. It was GOD!

Even if Adam was a free moral agent, God is responsible for what happened in the Garden, for whatever a free moral agent may do, He is responsible for it who made him a free moral agent. If God made man a free moral agent, then God created within man the propensities for either good or evil which determined his choices. If God made man a free moral agent, He knew beforehand what the result would be, and hence is just as responsible for the consequences of the acts of that free moral agent as He would be for the act of an irresponsible machine that He had made. Man’s free moral agency, even if it were true, would by no means clear God from the responsibility of his acts since God is his Creator and has made him in the first place just what he is, well knowing what the result would be. If God’s will is ever thwarted, then He is not almighty. If His will is thwarted, then His plans must be changed, and hence He is not all-wise and immutable. If His will is never thwarted, then all things are in accordance with His will and He is the architect of all things as they exist. If He is all-wise and all-good, then all things, existing according to His will, must be working toward some wise and wonderful end!

Strange as it may seem there are many today who insist that they believe in salvation by grace, yet they insist that man has the power to “make a decision for Christ.” They argue that “God loves everyone, equally and alike,” yet they are sure that He is going to send some people to hell for ever. They affirm that the Bible teaches that the Creator of all things is surely omnipotent, but they are also quite confident that finite man is fully capable of obstructing the will of God.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 12/23/09 @ 09:16

Fleegman:

You say that you do not know if God exists, but want to look at the evidence.

I thought you were an atheist. Are you an agnostic, then?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org01/04/10 @ 12:30

I wouldn’t stop doubting, even in favor of substantiation.
You shan’t feel contented until God discloses Himself - not evidence.

Cynic and advocate alike.

( Wow - I used the word shan’t, thats awesome! )


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 01/04/10 @ 22:38

Noel,

You say that you do not know if God exists, but want to look at the evidence.

I thought you were an atheist. Are you an agnostic, then?

I sometimes wonder if I’ve been talking to myself ;o)

From a previous comment of mine (way up there somewhere, in response to your question):

I have heard of an atheist and an agnostic, but never together. Would you mind to explain that term?

Certainly. As you know, an agnostic (concerning epistemology as opposed to belief) is someone who doesn’t believe it’s possible to know for certain if there is or is not a god, and an atheist doesn’t believe in God. So as an agnostic atheist, although I don’t believe in God, I also don’t think we can know for certain either way. I have also heard it described as “weak atheism.”

So, when I say I am open to the possibility that there is a god, it means I am being intellectually honest with you. It means that I accept that it’s possible that there is a god. Unfortunately for your position, the evidence does not support this hypothesis, so I hold the opinion that I don’t believe there is a god.

I also don’t believe in Santa Claus, psychics, ghosts, and myriad other things. The thing that connects all these things is this: there is no good evidence to support them.

So why would you expect me to believe in anything that doesn’t have good evidence supporting it? It’s one thing to have an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out (hat tip: Skeptico http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/10/the_appeal_to_b.html - sorry Dan, it won’t accept anchor tags).

I know I’ve talked about it before on this thread, but it bears repeating: The atheist is often accused by the believer of having a closed mind. I find it amazing that the believer can say this with a straight face when it is clear that they have the situation backwards.

Take someone who believes in ghosts, for example. Say they experienced a drop in temperature. You tell them (as a non believer) that it might have been a draft. Their reaction is usually to find a less mundane explanation, rejecting the more down to Earth answer, in search of an answer that supports their unsubstantiated pre-suppositions: that ghosts exist. You rarely, if ever, find that they honestly question their beliefs. And this is what we call a closed mind. The same is true of religious belief, of course, only the degree of closed-mindedness is usually much stronger.

And when an atheist, yes even famous ones, “admit” (I hate it when believers quote atheists as “admitting” something, since they’re just being honest) that they consider the possibility that there might be a god, the believer uses that as some kind of evidence for there being a god, as though this makes the least bit of sense. So you hear: “Even Richard Dawkins admits it’s possible there is a god.” Wow, that really grinds my gears. A lot.

So, apologies for the rant; just had to get that off my chest.

Also, La Cuidad, I admire your use of “shant.” Don’t think I’ve ever used it myself ;o)

Cheers,


Fleegman [Visitor]• 01/05/10 @ 06:09

Fleegman:

I do appreciate your honesty. I, too, admitted that I sometimes doubt. There is maybe more similarity between us than I at first had thought.

Again, doubt is not looked down on by Jesus. You have used the Doubting Thomas line of thought several times. A story that I identify with at times.
Jesus’ half-brother, Judas or Jude, says, “Be merciful to those who doubt.” I love that line.

That is for me and for you, Fleegman.

I see your logic in equating Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and God with one another- all of them unseen. There seem to be some colossal differences between them.
Naming only a couple:
1.) We can see that Santa and the tooth fairy are not real because the story is perpetuated for the glee of children, not for any moral reasoning at all.
2.) The historicity and veracity of the Person Jesus of Nazareth is overwhelming. Even Saint Nicholas never claimed to go to every house and deliver gifts if they were “good enough.” Whereas, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one can come to the Father except by Me.” He also said, “The Son of Man will be crucified but on the third day, He will rise from the dead.”

You and others rightfully cry for “evidence.”

You probably know that “no witnesses watched Timothy McVeigh load two tons of fertilizer-based explosives into a Ryder rental truck. Nobody saw him drive the vehicle to the front of the federal building in Oklahoma City and detonate the bomb, killing 168 people. No video camera captured an image of him fleeing the scene. Yet a jury was able to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that McVeigh was guilty of the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. Why? Because fact by fact, exhibit by exhibit, witness by witness, prosecutors used circumstantial evidence to build an airtight case against him. Eyewitness testimony is called direct evidence because people describe under oath how they personally saw the defendant commit the crime. While this is often compelling, it can sometimes be subject to faded memories, prejudices, and even outright fabrication. In contrast, circumstantial evidence is made up of indirect facts from which inferences can be rationally drawn. Its cumulative effect can be every bit as strong- and in many instances even more potent- than eyewitness accounts. Ask Timothy McVeigh. He may have thought he committed the perfect crime by avoiding eyewitnesses, but he nevertheless landed on death row due to the circumstantial facts that pointed toward him as devastatingly as any firsthand witness could have.”

Look at the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. People claim to be eyewitnesses, but there are many things beyond that and can even be taken as stronger “evidence” than an eyewitness.

Even nonbelievers from the first century corroborate with the “specifically gospel narrative.” What would be nonbelievers’ motive in lending credibility to the gospel account? The missing body of Christ is never accounted for, which would quickly solve the “cover up” theory that was quickly spread by unbelievers. Believers, in love, dying for their Savior. Some even being martyrs for their Lord. Why?

Again, to kill someone because you feel “led to do it” is crazy. But to voluntarily lay down your life for someone else is other-worldly. It is not seizing by force, but laying down a life for the sake of others, prompted by love. Jesus never tells His followers to kill the infidel, but the exact opposite, to love others even to the point of allowing them to take your life.

Jesus the Nazarene was not only spouting these words, but He actually lived by them. He voluntarily laid down His life for the Fleegman’s and the Noel’s of this earth. Why? Because He loves us so much. Jesus even has the audacity to ask us to do the same!

Wow! That is easy to say, but much harder to live out. Again, not in my own strength, but in my deeper surrender to His love am I able to rest in this preferential, other worldly love.

Because God cares, I do, too.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org01/05/10 @ 15:02

sweet. i want one.
great evangelism tool!
obviously works great.


Jesse Colburn [Visitor]• 01/17/10 @ 15:47

Here are some humbling words/ideas:

The message about the cross doesn’t make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power at work. As God says in the Scriptures,

“I will destroy the wisdom of all who claim to be wise. I will confuse those who think they know so much.”

What happened to those wise people? What happened to those experts in the Scriptures? What happened to the ones who think they have all the answers? Didn’t God show that the wisdom of this world is foolish? God was wise and decided not to let the people of this world use their wisdom to learn about him.

Instead, God chose to save only those who believe the foolish message we preach. Jews ask for miracles, and Greeks want something that sounds wise. But we preach that Christ was nailed to a cross. Most Jews have problems with this, and most Gentiles think it is foolish. Our message is God’s power and wisdom for the Jews and the Greeks that he has chosen. Even when God is foolish, he is wiser than everyone else, and even when God is weak, he is stronger than everyone else.

My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn’t think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families. But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame.

What the world thinks is worthless, useless, and nothing at all is what God has used to destroy what the world considers important. God did all this to keep anyone from bragging to him. You are God’s children. He sent Christ Jesus to save us and to make us wise, acceptable, and holy. So if you want to brag, do what the Scriptures say and brag about the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org01/20/10 @ 13:49
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/01/20/10 @ 14:21

Little bit of a side note but not much…

The only time you will find the word torture in the bible is Heb 11:35 ( tumpanizo in the greek )

and it is in context of people being tortured for their belief.

God is not going to torture anyone!

Although - He is going to violently Love in order to correct - so be prepared for your orgy with Him.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 01/21/10 @ 10:58

These passages (like the one quoted above about wisdom) always make us scratch our heads because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not His thoughts.

Our way is self-aggrandizement
His way is selflessness

Our way is Me, myself and I
His way is others first

Our way is lights and stages
His way is washing feet and serving

Our way is domineering and pride
His way is submission and humility

It is the way of the “upside down” Kingdom.

God cares and shows us a more excellent way: love and selfless service!


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org01/25/10 @ 12:29
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/01/25/10 @ 12:34

A God that insists on anything at all is no God at all.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 01/25/10 @ 21:06

You and others rightfully cry for “evidence.”

You probably know that “no witnesses watched Timothy McVeigh load two tons of fertilizer-based explosives into a Ryder rental truck. Nobody saw him drive the vehicle to the front of the federal building in Oklahoma City and detonate the bomb, killing 168 people. No video camera captured an image of him fleeing the scene. Yet a jury was able to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that McVeigh was guilty of the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. Why? Because fact by fact, exhibit by exhibit, witness by witness, prosecutors used circumstantial evidence to build an airtight case against him. Eyewitness testimony is called direct evidence because people describe under oath how they personally saw the defendant commit the crime. While this is often compelling, it can sometimes be subject to faded memories, prejudices, and even outright fabrication. In contrast, circumstantial evidence is made up of indirect facts from which inferences can be rationally drawn. Its cumulative effect can be every bit as strong- and in many instances even more potent- than eyewitness accounts. Ask Timothy McVeigh. He may have thought he committed the perfect crime by avoiding eyewitnesses, but he nevertheless landed on death row due to the circumstantial facts that pointed toward him as devastatingly as any firsthand witness could have.”

Look at the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. People claim to be eyewitnesses, but there are many things beyond that and can even be taken as stronger “evidence” than an eyewitness.

Yes we have evidence but without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Because He is God and we aren’t, we don’t get to set up the game rules. Faith.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org01/26/10 @ 12:00
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/01/26/10 @ 14:21

The biggest evidence that you are suppose to have concerning the resurrection of Jesus is the church -

we are suppose to be his evidences.
yeah, sorry bout that.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 01/26/10 @ 22:09

Dan:

If you look at the beginning of the paragraph (from the paste) you will notice the other quotation mark. As much as you have read from Strobel, I presumed that you would get it. That is why I wrote, “You have probably heard,” …

I am sorry. In the future I will cite Strobel, if I use him. Just didn’t want his name to instantly turn off other hearers.

The reason I pasted from earlier was because you asked a question that I felt I had already addressed and thought that you had missed.

Evidence.

Evidence being an empty tomb, believers that were transformed by the empty tomb, non-believers citing the resurrection, no body of Christ produced by any of the antagonists, people voluntarily laying down their lives for what they believed (not killing the infidels, which is a marked difference from the radical Muslims), and the gospel narratives being preserved by devout Christians for two millennium.

Christianity seems to be completely different from the other world religions because our God did for us what we could never do: save ourselves. Dan, I am sure that in your intellectually honest Christian days you saw this marked difference, too.

Reason can take us so far. Tradition can take us only so far. Experience can take us only so far. Scripture and faith combined with reason, tradition and experience make a cord that is not easily broken.

Christianity is not unreasonable, but the way of God requires faith. I would love it, too, if Jesus would come to me in physical form and “prove” Himself. But He leaves enough circumstantial evidence that it would require more faith on my part to disbelieve in Him, than it would to believe in Him.

A few biblical ideas:
We walk by faith, not by sight.

The just shall live by faith.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Dan; you are using faith everyday. Getting in your car driving to the bank, or talking with your wife, whom you by faith, believe that she loves you, or teaching your children things that you hold to with major presuppositions, or sitting in chairs that by faith you believe will hold you, or working and by faith believing that the bank will pay you at the appropriate time. These are just small examples, but they do tell us that all of us do a lot of things with certain unexamined presuppositions or acts by faith.

So faith is not the major issue. Trusting your life to your Creator and allowing Him to be God is the prime issue.

God has left enough finger prints to let us know of His existence.

The Bible never tries to prove the existence of God. It is presumed because God has woven His existence into all of creation, including you.

You believe faith is ignorance + certainty. The Bible defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

To use Strobel’s line- circumstantial evidence is stronger than eye witness accounts.

Look at the fingerprints.

Is not Theism or Intelligent Design a more plausible reason for our existence than any other ideas you have come across, Dan?

Honestly, do you believe that evolution or a big bang has more merit than Intelligent Design? All of them require a certain amount of faith. Which one is most plausible as you look at it with intellectual honesty?

Again, reason is not bad. In fact, God says, “Come let us reason together.”


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org01/28/10 @ 07:19

Paul said, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

This resurrection of Jesus is a mystery to us because He was the first to be resurrected. We have not been resurrected as of yet, but will be by faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible says that “we will be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. I am thankful for the preparation time with which He has gifted us.

While we wait for His return or our death, we know that “our labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Eyes on Christ- not punishment.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org02/08/10 @ 08:54

Noel,

Apologies for my absence. Here goes:

This resurrection of Jesus is a mystery to us because He was the first to be resurrected.

What about when Saul gets a witch to bring Samuel back from the dead so God could speak through him?

And what about when Elisha brings a boy back to life?

Sounds like resurrection to me.

Dan; you are using faith everyday. Getting in your car driving to the bank, or talking with your wife, whom you by faith, believe that she loves you, or teaching your children things that you hold to with major presuppositions, or sitting in chairs that by faith you believe will hold you, or working and by faith believing that the bank will pay you at the appropriate time.

Noel, this is simply wrong. Either that, or you are equivocating the word faith with trust.

What you are describing are examples of things we all trust in. In other words, we have good reason to believe in them. I’m sure Dan has sat in a chair countless times before, so he trusts in the fact that it will hold him the next time he sits in it. He doesn’t have faith in it, and the very idea of someone sitting on a chair and having faith that it will hold him up is ridiculous. Faith is believing in something with no good reason. For all the examples you list, there is very good reason to believe in them.

I don’t have faith that the sun will come up in the morning. I mean, seriously. Do you have faith in this? Do you think the sun will rise “because you just feel it in your heart that it will?”

These are just small examples, but they do tell us that all of us do a lot of things with certain unexamined presuppositions or acts by faith.

The presupposition, here, is that “things that have happened many times before will continue to happen.” As presuppositions go, you must concede that this is somewhat reasonable. This has nothing whatever to do with faith.

So faith is not the major issue. Trusting your life to your Creator and allowing Him to be God is the prime issue.

Oh boy, where to start with this one…

Yes, faith is the major issue, and it is intertwined with the prime issue, as you call it, of the existence of God. You believe in God because you look at all the evidence and conclude there is a god. The reason you conclude there is a god from the world around us, is because you presuppose God exists. It’s rather beautiful in it’s circularity. You can’t make any other conclusion because the very idea that God might not exist is completely shut out of your reasoning process.

God has left enough finger prints to let us know of His existence.

No. Once again, you think everything is evidence of God because you presuppose he exists.

The Bible never tries to prove the existence of God. It is presumed because God has woven His existence into all of creation, including you.

No, it is presumed because the authors of the Bible presupposed that God existed. A war was won? God is with us! A war was lost? Let’s sacrifice a few thousand goats to appease the god that we know exists.

You believe faith is ignorance + certainty. The Bible defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Which is pretty much summed up by “ignorance + certainty.”

Is not Theism or Intelligent Design a more plausible reason for our existence than any other ideas you have come across, Dan?

Can you please explain how “a magical being did everything” is an explanation of anything? You’re just substituting one unknown for another. Can you really not understand this?

Honestly, do you believe that evolution or a big bang has more merit than Intelligent Design?

Given that there are mountains of evidence for evolution, I would honestly say that this gives it more merit than something people made up because it makes them feel good.

All of them require a certain amount of faith. Which one is most plausible as you look at it with intellectual honesty?

I sometimes feel like everything I’ve said on this subject has been ignored by you, Noel. You talk about intellectual honesty as though you are the very embodiment of such an idea; the irony is suffocating.

Put simply:

Science is the process of forming conclusions from reasonable evaluation of evidence from and observation of the world around us.

Religious belief involves the interpretation of evidence and observation in order to fit the conclusions that are already held.

These two concepts are polar opposites of each other, and you ask about intellectual honesty? Do you honestly not see the difference?

Since you have dodged this question each time I’ve asked it, I will ask again, because I think it’s an important one.

How do you know you are not brainwashed, Noel? Why won’t you answer this question? I have a feeling it’s because you can’t answer it honestly because you would have to admit that it is, at the very least, possible. I mean, don’t you think it’s convenient that, in your mind, not only does the evidence point to a God, but to your god in particular?

I realise the tone in this comment is a bit harsh, but I’m a little frustrated by the continued use of the same arguments that have been refuted over and over on this very comment thread.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 02/10/10 @ 03:41

You’re being ignored by the vast herd of humanity that also ignore the bloody obvious and continue to lambast the rest of humanity ( including those who [are obviously wrong] believe in a different god[s] ), and you’re surprised?

As an aside : I have actually sat in a chair where it took faith it’d hold me up …. but you should have seen the state of the chair! … it collapsed :-S

Religion and brainwashing is a marriage made in heaven ;)

¥


¥åßßå [Visitor] • http://innervisions.org.uk02/10/10 @ 07:40

Fleegman:

Thanks for responding.

I have thought about the question: What if I am brainwashed.

Let’s play that out:
I am brainwashed into believing in Christ. Therefore, I am ethical, try to serve others and put their needs first, give to the causes of others, spread the message of Jesus Christ, ask for forgiveness when I have offended someone and seek to reconcile, I meditate on Scriptures, and allow the Bible to be my guide in everything from parenting to marriage to loving my enemies to sharing the gospel message with atheists.

If I am brainwashed and continue to do these things until I die and there is no God, then what harm have I been to society?

(I mean, if there is no God, then what does it matter how I live my life? If there is no absolute good, then all of a sudden, inalienable rights sound very hollow and meaningless because of there subjectivity).

Now, why don’t you answer the same question you have given to me?

What if YOU are brainwashed?

What if there is a loving God that wants intimate relationship with you? What if He is trying to use people like me to reach out to you?

I am not a gambler, but if I were, I like my odds better.

Because God cares, I do, too.

Fleegman- thanks for affording me this conversation.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org02/13/10 @ 10:09

“Seek not to understand so that thou mayest believe, but believe so that thou mayest understand.”
-Augustine of Hippo


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org02/19/10 @ 07:25

Hello again, Noel,

I have thought about the question: What if I am brainwashed.

Let’s play that out

Hint: we are playing it out, whether you realise it or not ;o)

I am brainwashed into believing in Christ. Therefore, I am ethical

Can you explain how believing in Christ makes you ethical? And can you explain how not believing in Christ makes me unethical, the clear implication?

…try to serve others and put their needs first

I don’t see that serving others and putting other peoples needs first is necessarily a good thing, and I also don’t believe that most Christians actually do this, or if it’s even possible. Being considerate to others, treating people with respect and how you would wish to be treated is a far more worthwhile and achievable goal, in my opinion. Having said that, though, if that’s how you want to live, I don’t see the harm in it.

…give to the causes of others

Yes, as long as it is within your means. I agree in giving what you can, be it money, or time, but how much is enough, and how much is too much, in order to be “moral"?

…spread the message of Jesus Christ

And here we have the first real problem. Spreading the message of something that, as we are “playing it out,” would be a false message. And this message includes spreading the kind of ignorance that asks if Intelligent Design is a “more reasonable” explanation than evolution with a straight face, and that kind of thinking is bad for us moving forward as a race; it keeps us back in the middle ages.

…ask for forgiveness when I have offended someone and seek to reconcile

This is more good stuff, and yet I fail to see why, as the implication states, that I am unable or unwilling to do this? Of course I seek to reconcile if I have offended someone, or done something wrong. There are people who don’t follow that particular set of ethics, but it has nothing to do with whether or not they believe in God.

I meditate on Scriptures, and allow the Bible to be my guide in everything from parenting to marriage to loving my enemies to sharing the gospel message with atheists.

As I have said before many times, you are picking and choosing the things you take from the Bible, and the things you leave well alone. I’m not surprised you have to meditate on the scriptures, since you have to make sense of a story which doesn’t actually make any sense.

I would imagine that your wife is allowed to speak in church, for example, and that you don’t stone your children to death when they disrespect you.

If I am brainwashed and continue to do these things until I die and there is no God, then what harm have I been to society?

Well, for a start, you would actively oppose same sex marriage, would you not? And by doing so, you impinge on the rights of others based on your belief systems. And you teach your kids to think the same way.

(I mean, if there is no God, then what does it matter how I live my life? If there is no absolute good, then all of a sudden, inalienable rights sound very hollow and meaningless because of there subjectivity).

I am so tired of this argument. I hear it all the time, and it’s a ridiculously weak line of reasoning.

I’ll bite, however:

Let’s put the cards on the table, here. Are you honestly saying, I mean, do you really believe that without God it is impossible to have moral standards? Is that seriously what you’re saying? You think that without God telling everyone what is and is not right, we simply wouldn’t know? Like I would have no idea that killing someone, for example, is wrong? In fact, since I don’t believe in God, you’re actually saying that right now I don’t understand that killing someone is wrong.

… I’m just going to let that sink in for a bit…

The remarkable thing about what you’re saying, is that you are actually admitting that you do have to be told that killing is wrong, because if you’re not told that it’s wrong by God, then you can’t understand that it’s bad.

Ok, here’s a simpler (read: based in reality) explanation for why people don’t generally go around killing people: It’s because we live in a society. If we had the psychological traits that made us want to kill each other (the other people we depend on in society to actually survive), then society wouldn’t survive. You know, in some distant past society that might even have been the case. But they died out. They died out (if they existed at all) because they didn’t posses the correct survival instincts, one of which is: “don’t kill the other people.”

Whenever you have a stable society, it is necessarily because that society has developed the traits that allow the society as a whole to prosper.

This is not a difficult concept, so can we please dispense with the “no morals without God” canard?

Oh, and if I had more time I might delve into what the morals of your god actually are, and I can tell you for free that I am more moral. I mean, killing Job’s family and making him suffer in order to prove a point to the devil? (By the way, Job totally went against God, so the devil was right, but that’s another story)

Now, why don’t you answer the same question you have given to me?

What if YOU are brainwashed?

Sure.

First, I think it’s important to understand what you are asking me that I am brainwashed into believing. I think the options are:

1) Not believing in God.
2) Thinking that evidence and reason are important when deciding what you believe in.

But since I would say that the first belief is encompassed by the second belief, let’s leave it at this:

- I believe that having a world view that is as consistent with reality as possible is best, and that science is the best tool we have to determining what is real and what is not real.

The thing about brainwashing (as far as I know) is that it’s about believing something with no good reason, other than that you have been coerced into believing such a thing. How is it possible to be brainwashed into believing that which is demonstrably real is, in fact, real, when that has to be the default position, doesn’t it? Seeing is believing, as they say.

So I would say that I don’t think it’s possible to be brainwashed into believing something that is demonstrably and verifiably true. I really have thought hard about your question, and I’m not trying to be glib about it. I honestly don’t know how it is possible for me to be brainwashed when the basis for my belief system is the combination of evidence and reasoned logic.

Tell me how it’s possible and I will reconsider the question.

What if there is a loving God that wants intimate relationship with you? What if He is trying to use people like me to reach out to you?

Delusions of grandeur much? ;o) And he might be “trying” to? You’re saying God might be trying (and, implicitly, failing) to reach out to me? Doesn’t sound like God, to me.

I’m not interested in what if’s, Noel. Again, as I’ve said before on this thread, if there is a God and he wants a relationship with me, he knows what it would take for me to believe. And as I’ve also said before, since I don’t believe on the basis of what you’re saying, then I think we can agree that he’s not using you to reach out to me.

I am not a gambler, but if I were, I like my odds better.

Good for you, and if Pascal’s wager weren’t fallacious in every respect I might think you had a point. I, however, think that believing in an afterlife because it makes you feel good (or because you think you’re hedging your bets) actually cheapens this one.

Fleegman- thanks for affording me this conversation.

You’re welcome. I look forward to your reply.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 02/23/10 @ 09:15

Here goes;

You asked:
Can you explain how believing in Christ makes you ethical?

Because I know me, Fleegman. I know that I am not ethical. My inner desires want to do everything opposed to Scripture. I have never had to teach my children to do wrong, but the exact opposite.
Who would I think I was to tell you that I, myself, knew how to be good, when my sinful nature cries out, “Me, Me, Me!"?

You asked:
And can you explain how not believing in Christ makes me unethical, the clear implication?

I suppose that we would have to come to some agreement on what was ethical and what was not ethical.
If you think it is wrong to murder and I think that it is okay under certain circumstances- who is right?

Or something a little bit more realistic, you think it is wrong to steal. I think that it is okay to steal as long as it doesn’t really hurt anyone. Who is right?

What is your standard for ethics? Christianity declares that Jesus is the standard for ethics.

You said:
And here we have the first real problem. Spreading the message of something that, as we are “playing it out,” would be a false message. And this message includes spreading the kind of ignorance that asks if Intelligent Design is a “more reasonable” explanation than evolution with a straight face, and that kind of thinking is bad for us moving forward as a race; it keeps us back in the middle ages.

Actually, I couldn’t disagree more. I believe that if everyone did what Jesus did, it would put us further and further toward a Utopia. It would not set us back.
How would Jesus’ ideas of “Loving God and Loving your neighbor as yourself” ever set us back?
Again, I am not against science, but it can only lead us so far. It can only verify so much. There is an end to science. It cannot answer all of the questions of life.
For instance, love relationships. Try putting those under a microscope and see what happens. Science cannot fix broken relationships and aching hearts.

An Intelligent Designer claims that He can. What harm is there in that?

You said,
This is more good stuff, and yet I fail to see why, as the implication states, that I am unable or unwilling to do this? Of course I seek to reconcile if I have offended someone, or done something wrong. There are people who don’t follow that particular set of ethics, but it has nothing to do with whether or not they believe in God.

What if someone shot you in the leg with a rifle repeatedly and then left you for dead. You are later rescued and brought back to health. You find out that the man was bi-polar and acted out of a crazy rage.
The Jesus of the Bible says, “Forgive him.”
And you say, “Are you crazy, Jesus? I will not forgive him. He deserves …”

What if that same man sexually abused someone you love, say your mother. Jesus of the Bible persistently says the same thing, “Love him.” I don’t know exactly what you think should happen to this individual, but your first reaction, if it is anything like mine, is not to “love him.”

This moral ethic speaks to all of life. It has nothing to do with whether you think you will be ethical or not. The Law of God shows us our unethical nature.
How about- Don’t lust after a woman with your eyes. It is the same as committing adultery with her in your heart - Jesus.

All of a sudden, if that kind of stuff is going on in my mind/heart, I realize that my ethical base is not what Jesus’ is.
Try reading Matthew 5, 6 and 7 just for fun before replying to this blog and see if you fall short of Jesus’ ethical standard. (Maybe a little science experiment for you).

You said,
Well, for a start, you would actively oppose same sex marriage, would you not? And by doing so, you impinge on the rights of others based on your belief systems. And you teach your kids to think the same way.

It has nothing to do with what I think. I don’t think agnostics get this point. It is not what I think that is best, but what God says through the holy Scriptures; that is best.

Impinging on others rights…hmmm. Who says that any of us has rights, and who gets to determine what is right? You? Are you god? Is Science god?
Where do you get your ideas of justice, Fleegman?
I am not claiming to know best or give MY ethical ideas. I am asking you to consider God’s ethics through the Person of Jesus Christ.
Yes, I am teaching my kids what God says in His word.
But what are you doing? You are teaching others something, too.

We are teaching one of two things:
1.) God’s ways or
2.) Our ways

You asked:
Let’s put the cards on the table, here. Are you honestly saying, I mean, do you really believe that without God it is impossible to have moral standards?

That’s what I am saying.

You asked:
Is that seriously what you’re saying? You think that without God telling everyone what is and is not right, we simply wouldn’t know?

Yes, that’s what I am saying. God has put eternity into the hearts of man. God has written His law on our hearts. We, by our own choice, have pushed God away or stuffed Him down or to use a biblical idea: we have suppressed the truth by our own wickedness.
We can see the handy work of God all around us, which is clearly known, but yet darken our own hearts because we love the darkness.

You said:
Like I would have no idea that killing someone, for example, is wrong? In fact, since I don’t believe in God, you’re actually saying that right now I don’t understand that killing someone is wrong.

No, I am saying that you know a lot more than you are maybe admitting, but because of sin’s deceitfulness you refuse the truth. You know that murder is wrong because God has placed it in your heart.

Why do children hide when they know they have done something wrong and an adult is coming into the room?

Why do children lie? Why do people deceive? Why do cases of infidelity happen everyday? Because we choose self-sovereignty over God sovereignty.

You know that it is wrong to murder, but still have hatred in your heart toward someone. According to God, hatred is the same as murder to Him.

People know that they have sin in their hearts, but repeatedly reject the Person of Jesus. People struggle and fall into all kinds of sin because they do not love Jesus. In fact, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” It’s not so much an obedience issue as it is a love problem.

You said:
Oh, and if I had more time I might delve into what the morals of your god actually are, and I can tell you for free that I am more moral. I mean, killing Job’s family and making him suffer in order to prove a point to the devil? (By the way, Job totally went against God, so the devil was right, but that’s another story)

I wonder why you are trying to go on to spiritual calculus when you have not mastered spiritual addition and subtraction.
If you cannot understand that God loves you and wants a personal relationship with you, why do you bother with questions like these?

You said:
I believe that having a world view that is as consistent with reality as possible is best, and that science is the best tool we have to determining what is real and what is not real.

What if science is not the best tool?

You said:
How is it possible to be brainwashed into believing that which is demonstrably real is, in fact, real, when that has to be the default position, doesn’t it? Seeing is believing, as they say.

Magicians make you think that what you are seeing is real, too. For those enamored in the crowd watching the magician, they ooh and aahhh, because for them seeing is believing.

What if believing is truly seeing?

You said:
I honestly don’t know how it is possible for me to be brainwashed when the basis for my belief system is the combination of evidence and reasoned logic.

What if there is more to it than that? Are there things that cannot be touched by evidence and reason combined?
How do you use those elements to create peace in someone’s heart? How do you use evidence and reason and science to teach forgiveness to the physically, emotionally or sexually abused?

You said:
And he might be “trying” to? You’re saying God might be trying (and, implicitly, failing) to reach out to me? Doesn’t sound like God, to me.

You have failed to see that God has given to you, Fleegman, a free will. Isn’t that kind of Him? He allows you to shake your fist in His face and then allow you to live.
Love does not coerce or rape. God is into choice. He loves enough to allow His creation to love or reject Him.

God making us love Him, doesn’t sound much like God to me, either.
Again- choice! What’s yours?

You said:
I, however, think that believing in an afterlife because it makes you feel good (or because you think you’re hedging your bets) actually cheapens this one.

That would be nice if this whole life were just a big joke, but God has set the rules to the game. Please don’t be upset at me for caring (even if it doesn’t come across like it).

What if there is an after life, Fleegman? Wouldn’t it be better to settle things with God on this side of eternity?

You have a way with words, Fleegman. I have enjoyed our conversation. But I must confess, I would love our conversation to turn toward you beginning to understand and love Jesus.

This type of relationship begins very simply by faith.
Just like the dying criminal on the cross next to Jesus who said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus gently replied, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Because God cares, I do, too.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org02/23/10 @ 13:20

I do not follow a code of morality because it makes God smile on me instead of frown.

God did not set up rules to a game so that if we follow the rules we make Him happy and we will win the game and if we do not follow the rules He gets really mad and thumps us over the head after He throws a couple lightning bolts from heaven. That is greek mythology.

The laws in the bible are not there to help or to hinder us in becoming a good person… they are not there to please God.

They are there so that we may view His character.

In the code of moral laws as laid out in the ole testes, - God was describing Himself. It is a way we can see Him. A low level way I might add.

Yes - even in the casting of stones.

Sometimes Christians make it seems as though God had an idea for a game, set up the rules, and then made us to play that game while He sets back and watches. He cant interfere too much and when it is all over it was really your will that had the power in determining the outcome of the game.

Then, out of their next breathe they speak of the “ALL” powerful God that can do anything and whom works all things after the council of His own will.

If it is a game - God controls both sides or He isn’s ALL mighty.



La Cuidad [Visitor]• 02/27/10 @ 22:17

Fleegman?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org03/17/10 @ 07:07

Hey Noel,

Thanks for your thoughts on what I wrote. Free time is getting harder to come by at the moment, so apologies to not replying sooner. I wasn’t ignoring you, I just needed some time to sort out my thoughts on what you said. And here they are, so brace yourself:

My inner desires want to do everything opposed to Scripture. I have never had to teach my children to do wrong, but the exact opposite.

See the assumption, here? You blatantly assume that what’s in scripture is moral and what you want to do that contradicts scripture is immoral, but what is your basis for this belief? Because that’s what you were told? Because your religion demands it?

Or is it something else? Is it that you look at scripture and you just know it’s moral?

Regardless of how you came to think its guidelines are moral, how can you possibly judge this unless you already have a sense of right and wrong?

Besides, not everything you want to do goes against scripture, Noel. Not everything. Do your inner desires, for example, make you want to go and kill someone? I doubt it. And I don’t mean a flash of anger when you think you might want to kill someone. That is not, I repeat, not the same as doing it. I know how much your religion desperately wants to equate the two, therefore making you dependent on it, but that’s just your religion exerting its control over you, and is a perfectly normal part of the indoctrination process. Please try to see beyond the blinkers that are preventing you seeing the truth.

When you talk about morality, what you are actually talking about is religious dogma which is designed to go against human nature. Although many teachings match common morality in a superficial sense, when you look under the covers, they are all about control.

Who would I think I was to tell you that I, myself, knew how to be good, when my sinful nature cries out, “Me, Me, Me!"?

It’s called human nature, Noel. It’s OK to be human; being human is not something to be ashamed of.

I suppose that we would have to come to some agreement on what was ethical and what was not ethical.
If you think it is wrong to murder and I think that it is okay under certain circumstances- who is right?

This is why we have a legal system. It is OK to kill someone under certain circumstances. And apparently God agrees with me since he killed millions, personally, or by proxy, as he led his chosen people to the promised land. Oh, and when a child disrespects his parents. Oh, sorry, that’s all OT stuff and totally doesn’t count because it’s not the nice and fluffy NT. My bad.

Or something a little bit more realistic, you think it is wrong to steal. I think that it is okay to steal as long as it doesn’t really hurt anyone. Who is right?

What is your standard for ethics? Christianity declares that Jesus is the standard for ethics.

Again. Legal system. All these things your saying have the underlying assumption that the Bible tells us what is right and wrong. Do I have to remind you that I don’t believe in that?

How would Jesus’ ideas of “Loving God and Loving your neighbor as yourself” ever set us back?

Jesus did not come up with the golden rule as a matter of fact. That principle is a lot older; it was a hit in ancient Greece, for example. And the “love God” bit? Kind of a waste of time if you don’t believe in God.

Again, I am not against science, but it can only lead us so far. It can only verify so much.

You mean it can only verify things that effect our lives in a measurable (therefore testable) way? I’m having difficulty with the “only” bit. What else could there be that can’t be measured and yet does effect our lives?

There is an end to science. It cannot answer all of the questions of life.

Two things: 1) How do you know it can’t (eventually) answer all the questions of life, and 2) neither can you. God is not an answer. It is the placeholder for the sum of all human ignorance.

Note, I’m not saying science can answer all the questions of life, but you are saying it cannot.

For instance, love relationships. Try putting those under a microscope and see what happens. Science cannot fix broken relationships and aching hearts.

Yet another argument from ignorance. Just because we don’t know something, doesn’t mean God exists. That’s just not the way arguments work.

An Intelligent Designer claims that He can. What harm is there in that?

It’s not the belief that harms, it’s the dogma that goes with that belief, and you give a nice example of this further down.

What if someone shot you in the leg with a rifle repeatedly and then left you for dead. You are later rescued and brought back to health. You find out that the man was bi-polar and acted out of a crazy rage.
The Jesus of the Bible says, “Forgive him.”
And you say, “Are you crazy, Jesus? I will not forgive him. He deserves …”

I don’t see the problem here, sorry. Since I don’t believe forgiveness is part of an objective moral foundation, I will take it on a case by case basis. Please stop it with the “you don’t behave as Jesus wants you to, therefore you are immoral.” I don’t know how to say this in a way that you might understand so I’ll just repeat it: I don’t believe that what is written in scripture is the guideline to ethics and moral behaviour. What you’re essentially saying is “if you don’t live up to Jesus’s standards, you’re not moral” and I’m saying I don’t care what Jesus supposedly said. That does not define morality.

Now, back to what you said. You say this man was crazy? Then why would I have a problem with making sure he was locked up in a mental hospital, away from the public, and getting help for his condition?

I was mugged a few years ago. He broke my node, smashed up one side of my face etc. The police caught the person who did it and with my help he was put into prison. You seem to think that the natural reaction is to want to beat him up too, or something, but that’s not in my nature. I want to see justice done, but the idea of smashing him repeatedly in the face with my fists is sickening to me.

Guess I wouldn’t pass the test of “eye for an eye,” eh?

What if that same man sexually abused someone you love, say your mother. Jesus of the Bible persistently says the same thing, “Love him.” I don’t know exactly what you think should happen to this individual, but your first reaction, if it is anything like mine, is not to “love him.”

Oh don’t get me started on the “love your enemy” stuff. One of the sillier teachings of the Bible. And once again: I don’t care what Jesus says about morality. You keep on about the lofty goals of morality that Jesus laid out, at the same time telling me that you yourself can’t achieve them in an attempt, presumably, to make me understand that I need to find Jesus in order to be saved. I don’t know how to make it any clearer: I don’t believe in any of this stuff, so I don’t have any desire to reach the impossibly lofty “moral” goals laid out by your religion. I would want to see justice done, and the abuser locked up, end of story.

The Law of God shows us our unethical nature.

Yes, by demonstrating it with his actions, for the most part.

How about- Don’t lust after a woman with your eyes. It is the same as committing adultery with her in our heart - Jesus.

And this is where Jesus brings up the idea of thought crimes. How lovely. And the final nail in the coffin of the idea that the Bible teaches what morality is. As I said above, it’s all about control. You see, moral guidelines that are actually achievable don’t need Christianity. We can all do that. “Don’t have sex with a woman out of wedlock.” OK, I might not agree with it as a moral standard, but it’s achievable, at least in principle. “Oh, and thinking about it counts too.” Well, now we have something that is pretty impossible. “But wait! We have the answer! You can still be saved if you believe what we want you to believe.” It’s about selling a cure for a disease you made up and has nothing to do with absolute morality.

Try reading Matthew 5, 6 and 7 just for fun before replying to this blog and see if you fall short of Jesus’ ethical standard. (Maybe a little science experiment for you).

I wondered when you were going to bring up the sermon. I wish I had time to go into all the things I don’t like about this sermon which is held so dearly by Christians. Keep your deeds private, but at the same time make sure you tell everyone about it? I wish I had time to give a blow by blow rebuttal of the sermon, but I only have so much time on my hands. The contradictions are rife, and this is supposed to be the good stuff. Sorry Noel, I don’t buy it. I think the message it sends is terrible: “Give away all your stuff; be poor; don’t worry about providing for yourself, God will do it; the miserable and pitiful and blessed because glory awaits them.” All of this is awful, death worshiping stuff. Since I believe this is the only life we have, can you understand how badly I view telling people that this is just the dry run, and the good stuff only happens when you die?


You said,
Well, for a start, you would actively oppose same sex marriage, would you not? And by doing so, you impinge on the rights of others based on your belief systems. And you teach your kids to think the same way.


It has nothing to do with what I think. I don’t think agnostics get this point. It is not what I think that is best, but what God says through the holy Scriptures; that is best.

And here we have the ultimate cop out. “It’s not what I believe, it’s what God believes.” And you, Noel, are complicit in perpetuating those beliefs. Are you saying you don’t hold those beliefs? Of course you do. And you hold those beliefs because your Bible tells you to.

Noel, it has everything to do with what you think! You are the one making the decisions that effect the lives of others, are you not? It’s not God filling out the slip in the voting booth, is it?

And you talk to me about morality? Don’t make me laugh.

Impinging on others rights…hmmm. Who says that any of us has rights, and who gets to determine what is right? You? Are you god? Is Science god?

I don’t believe in God so no, I don’t think I am God. There doesn’t need to be a god. Here lies the problem with getting your set of morals from a book that was written in superstitious, misogynistic times.

Where do you get your ideas of justice, Fleegman?

From what is good for society as a whole.

I am not claiming to know best or give MY ethical ideas.

Actually, that is exactly what you’re claiming, since your ethical ideas are defined in scripture. Yes, they are your ethical ideas since you subscribe to them.

I am asking you to consider God’s ethics through the Person of Jesus Christ.

And I have considered them. They fail on many levels.

We are teaching one of two things:
1.) God’s ways or
2.) Our ways

Or, to put it another way:

1) Stuff people made up and attributed to a god
2) Real stuff

You asked:
Is that seriously what you’re saying? You think that without God telling everyone what is and is not right, we simply wouldn’t know?


Yes, that’s what I am saying. God has put eternity into the hearts of man. God has written His law on our hearts.

OK, stop right there. God has written his law on our hearts? Then why do we need scripture to tell us about it all?

We, by our own choice, have pushed God away or stuffed Him down or to use a biblical idea: we have suppressed the truth by our own wickedness. We can see the handy work of God all around us, which is clearly known, but yet darken our own hearts because we love the darkness.

I think this is the most depressing thing you’ve written to date. I am glad that I don’t believe in something that requires me to think of myself like that. I don’t know what else to say about it.

I am saying that you know a lot more than you are maybe admitting, but because of sin’s deceitfulness you refuse the truth. You know that murder is wrong because God has placed it in your heart.

Really? Can you prove that? Do you have any evidence whatsoever that what you just said is true? If so, please present it. I was about to come up with an argument refuting what you just said, but I realised that I don’t have to because you clearly just made it up. Come up with a reason for me to believe what you just wrote, and I’ll consider it.

Why do children hide when they know they have done something wrong and an adult is coming into the room? Why do children lie? Why do people deceive? Why do cases of infidelity happen everyday?

Because, according to you, God made us that way. If it’s in our nature to be bad, then you only have God to blame. I would seriously like you to tell me how God didn’t make a mistake in our construction. You’ll probably talk about free will, but why would we choose to be bad over being good, if God didn’t make a mistake?

You know that it is wrong to murder, but still have hatred in your heart toward someone. According to God, hatred is the same as murder to Him.

Yeah, that’s just silly.

People know that they have sin in their hearts, but repeatedly reject the Person of Jesus.

With good reason. It’s the lack of evidence, you see.

People struggle and fall into all kinds of sin because they do not love Jesus.

Now you’re contradicting yourself. You said that people fall into all kinds of sin because they are wicked and full of sin, not because they don’t love Jesus. When you are inconsistent like this, it makes me wonder if you are making it up as you go along ;o)

You said:
Oh, and if I had more time I might delve into what the morals of your god actually are, and I can tell you for free that I am more moral. I mean, killing Job’s family and making him suffer in order to prove a point to the devil? (By the way, Job totally went against God, so the devil was right, but that’s another story)

I wonder why you are trying to go on to spiritual calculus when you have not mastered spiritual addition and subtraction. If you cannot understand that God loves you and wants a personal relationship with you, why do you bother with questions like these?

Translation: “I can’t explain that, so I’ll pretend that there is an answer, but I’m not going to tell you because you won’t be able to understand it.”

Apparently, you don’t have a problem directing me to the sermon on the mount (the implication being that I will understand it), but when it comes to things in the Bible that contradict the message you are trying to send, you tell me I’m not equipped to understand it. The story is pretty clear (as far as Bible stories go). I suppose you’re saying that if it doesn’t paint God in a good light, it must have a deeper meaning that does make God look all moral and loving (as opposed to insecure and childish).

Please enlighten me.

What if science is not the best tool?

Do you have another tool for determining what is real and what is not real?

Magicians make you think that what you are seeing is real, too. For those enamored in the crowd watching the magician, they ooh and aahhh, because for them seeing is believing.

Actually, no, they don’t, Noel, don’t be silly. No one sitting in the audience really thinks the magician actually sawed the woman in half. They are wondering how he made it look like he sawed the woman in half; that’s what they’re oohing and aahhhhing about.

What if believing is truly seeing?

You’re quite adept at turning a question into another question the other way around and making it sound like asking something sensible. What does that even mean? Ironically, the only way we could know if what we are seeing is real is by conducting scientific experiments. Yay for science.

What if there is more to it than that? Are there things that cannot be touched by evidence and reason combined?

I don’t know, and we can’t know because, if it can’t be detected, then it doesn’t have a measurable effect on our lives and for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t exist.

You have failed to see that God has given to you, Fleegman, a free will. Isn’t that kind of Him? He allows you to shake your fist in His face and then allow you to live.
Love does not coerce or rape. God is into choice. He loves enough to allow His creation to love or reject Him.

I was hoping you would bring up the issue of free will because we didn’t get to the bottom of it last time, and I don’t think I explained it very well, so I’m going to try again:

God is not into choice. Or more specifically, he is not into “free” choice. Oh, you can choose to reject him, certainly, but it’s not a free choice. A free choice would be a decision where one choice does not have terrible consequences.

How can you not see this? This is one of the more obvious points in the discussion we’ve been having, and yet you continue to assert that we have free will.

According to you, God is saying “You can choose to love me, or not. But if you don’t love me, you’re going to burn in hell.”

Once again, Noel, this is not a free choice. This is the equivalent “choice” that enemy soldiers get when they’re told to read a statement to the cameras admitting how guilty they are, or they will get their heads chopped off. Oh sure, they can choose not to read it, but would you really classify that as free will?

“Oh look, those Al Qaeda fanatics are giving that soldier a choice, isn’t that kind of them?”

Have I missed something, because the situation looks pretty clear cut to me.

God making us love Him, doesn’t sound much like God to me, either.

Yes it does, please see above.

…God has set the rules to the game. Please don’t be upset at me for caring (even if it doesn’t come across like it).

Evidence that God has set the rules? Thank you for caring, however unnecessary it might be.

What if there is an after life, Fleegman?

You love your what ifs don’t you? :o) Like I said, I’m not interested in what ifs. As I have asked you before, what if you’ve got the wrong God? What if the real God values reason and logic over credulous sycophants telling him how awesome he is all the time? ;o)

Wouldn’t it be better to settle things with God on this side of eternity?

Why? Didn’t you just say that we have free wi…. Oh, wait a minute, no we don’t; not as far as loving God goes. No, that’s a “love me or else.” Have I hammered this point enough yet?

You have a way with words, Fleegman. I have enjoyed our conversation. But I must confess, I would love our conversation to turn toward you beginning to understand and love Jesus.

I have enjoyed our conversation, too, Noel. In fact, it’s funny that you should say that last bit, because I have had a realisation, recently. I have realised that, since this discussion began, my personal view on the existence of a god has changed. Earlier on in the thread, I described myself as an agnostic atheist (or weak atheist). In other words, I described myself as someone who lacked a belief in God, but couldn’t be certain that there was no god.

Well, things change. I would now say, restricted only by the bounds within which we can be certain about anything, that I am certain there is no god.

I don’t make that statement lightly, but after countless hours of free time spent in the pursuit of some kind of answer. As a relatively rational person who makes decisions about what I believe based on reason and evidence, I’m surprised that I didn’t make this realisation earlier, to be honest. I suppose the delay would have something to do with my moderately religious upbringing creating some kind of special case for God when it comes to the requirement of supporting evidence.

Ultimately, though, a belief requires evidence, and and in the case of God, this evidence is lacking. And by that, I mean that there is none. The only evidence I can find points to the lack of a god, in fact.

You might ask how I can be certain about it, and the answer is simple. I am certain that there is no god, in the same way that I am certain that there is no Santa Claus. No Zeus, no unicorns, no psychics, no homeopathic remedies that do anything, no point in praying (other than making yourself feel better if you believe you’re actually doing something positive), and the list of beliefs for which there is no evidence goes on and on and on.

If you have some evidence for the existence of God, please provide it. Really, I am willing to look at the evidence. The thing is, after all this discussion, I would have thought that, by now, you would have provided me with what you think constitutes evidence, and I believe you have. Unfortunately, all your arguments are variations of arguments from an authority I don’t recognise as an authority (quoting the Bible), arguments from popularity (loads of people believe it), arguments from ignorance (we don’t know something, therefore God - this has been very popular), arguments that you can’t be moral without God (which is patently absurd) arguments in the form of “what have you got to lose?” (which is seriously the worst argument for believing in something I have ever heard), and even arguments of the form “you can only really know if God exists once you believe in God” (which is, to put it bluntly, insane).

No. What I need is evidence to believe in something, and it is this much needed evidence that you do not have.

I have so much more to say on all this, but this comment is long enough as it is so I’ll leave it there.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 03/22/10 @ 11:11

Prove all things!

I guess some people just have different criteria for the proof they ” think ” they need.

In my case, the first couple times I started noticing love, joy, peace, gentleness, and meekness in my own heart during situations that once would of warranted the opposite, that is when I started noticing some of the proof that I thought I required.

but that is all only fuzzy wuzzy spiritualized mumbo jumbo… huh?

If your looking for God with your five senses - well, good luck with that.

No one, not even one time has seen God with their natural eyes.



La Cuidad [Visitor]• 03/22/10 @ 22:29

Fleegman:

Very thought-provoking comments you have made. It sounds like you have come to some very solid, but dark conclusions through our discussions.

Apparently in your mind science and faith can never mix. I guess that is what makes a scientist a scientist and what makes a theologian a theologian.

Maybe one difference is that I believe that a theologian will consider science, but a scientist will not consider theology.

A good scientist would follow the evidence wherever it leads. Even Albert Einstein after studying physics and origins said, “I now see the necessity of a beginning.”

For materialists, matter is god. So matter has always existed, and then afterward a God was created by the minds of those formed by matter.

But when one looks even at our DNA with an open mind, one can’t help but wonder if their is intelligent design involved.

“A commonsense interpretation of the data suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology” -Sir Fred Hoyle, Cosmologist.

There is so much design in our DNA that Richard Dawkins says, “The machine code of genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.”

Bill Gates chimes in, “Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any we’ve ever created.”

Maybe that which appears so designed is really designed! “There is no naturalistic explanation for the origin of the information that you need to build the first life. When we find information in a DNA molecule, encoded in digital form, the most logical conclusion is that the information had an intelligent source.” -Stephen Meyer.

Science can take us so far. Reason can take us so far. Experience can take us so far. But I don’t want to go just “so far.” I want to find meaning and purpose for the existence of life. Science, reason and experience come up short again and again. That is where stubborn old faith comes in, again.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” Romans 1:16.

That word “believes” in this verse is very important. It means “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.” (Blue Letter Bible) It is not merely head knowledge, or giving mental assent to something but it is experiential belief, a heart knowledge.
So salvation is for “everyone who believes.”

To ignore this faith facet of creatures is to miss a lot. To have a bias against anything involving God limits a scientist’s ability to seek out the another possible origin of life. It may seem reckless to a “pure” scientist to follow the evidence wherever it leads, especially if it involves an intelligent Designer.

The narrow view of science prevents the scientist from being open minded about areas limited only to what can be seen under a microscope.

If all the information found within the DNA code itself scream INTELLIGENCE, then where does this intelligence come from? Chance? Natural selection? Even the scientists that hold to these views see that there are “holes” in them.

So why not go where the evidence is taking us? The most plausible answer within the universe is an intelligent Designer, pointing us to God Himself.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands” Psalm 19:1.

The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes!

Magna opera domini exqisita in omnes voluntates ejus.” (Great are the works of the Lord, sought out by all who take pleasure therein” Psalm 111:2)

I am glad that I do not have to be God’s defense attorney to prove His existence. God seems to have left his finger prints all over you and me, Fleegman. Maybe looking deep, deep within will help us to look up.

Because God cares, I do, too.



noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org03/30/10 @ 07:34

You are right. That is unfair. Modern Christianity is a blending of Hebrew and Greco-Roman beliefs. It is fine and good to question some of these beliefs.

The thing to look out for is when concepts foreign to Hebrew culture enter into the belief. Eternal souls are not Hebrew and to interpret the scripture this way you have to start with the belief that your soul cannot die and then find evidence in the Bible. This leads to brimstone statements like this one.

Christianity is a way of life that embraces the core values of Jesus. Love God with your full strength of body and mind (including skepticism). Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

By doing these two things Jesus said that we would create a culture beyond imagination. He called it the kingdom of God.

If you re-read the gospels you will find that he rewarded honest skepticism and rejected religious blowhards. You actually seem to be closer to the truth than you think and closer to being a true follower of Christ than many that claim it.


Al Anderson [Visitor]  04/16/10 @ 08:52

Hi Noel,

Once again, you ignore the content of what I write, and attack the conclusion as though I have no good reason for reaching it. I feel like I’m talking to myself, sometimes. You speak as though you cannot understand my position, when I’ve been spelling it out to you in what I think has been a clear, easy to follow fashion. You have addressed nothing that I wrote, and you have just continued preaching where you left off in your last comment. Are you so buried in your faith that you cannot see the logic of my arguments? What you have done is say: “you make some great points,” and then go on to totally ignore them. If the points I’m making are thought provoking, then give me your thoughts on them. Don’t just paint over them with the brush of faith.

I find it somewhat annoying that you can call my conclusions “dark” and, by implication, your conclusions “light". I find this especially irritating since I am defending my position with evidence, logic, and reason, and the best you can say about your position is “but look at the lovely clouds.” And because I like to use my head for something more than a hat stand, I find it difficult to believe in something that has no evidence, since I need a good reason for belief.

The thing is, what I think you re getting at is that you can’t argue against my rational arguments because you don’t have rational arguments to make. That s fine, of course, but please don’t pretend that your position is one of reason.

Having said all that, and please excuse me for going on, I will now deconstruct your comments and expose the many logical fallacies on which you rely. It’s the least I can do, because I’m just so darn thoughtful.  

Apparently in your mind science and faith can never mix. I guess that is what makes a scientist a scientist and what makes a theologian a theologian.

If something affects the physical world, then we can test those effects. In other words, if it is claimed that some supernatural entity is causing things to happen in the physical world, then we have a claim that can be tested. If prayer works, that can be tested. If claims about the supernatural cannot be tested, then those claims are baseless. What is the difference between a god that exists and yet has no measurable effect on the real world, and a god that doesn’t exist? As far as the effect it has on our lives goes, there is no difference.

Maybe one difference is that I believe that a theologian will consider science, but a scientist will not consider theology.

Oh, a theologian will definitely consider science if the science involved doesn’t invalidate their beliefs. Otherwise, they will actively argue against the evidence, or claim that the scientists are misinterpreting the evidence, just to hold on to the beliefs for which they have no evidence. Theological claims, as I said before, if they describe things that have measurable effects, can be tested, and no scientist would ignore such claims. The problem is that there is nothing to measure. Give a scientist something to measure, or stop it with the “scientists ignore theologians” talk.

For example: “People who accept Christ go to heaven” is not something a scientist would be interested in because it has nothing to do with the real world, and nothing that can be tested. You are free to assert that, but without any evidence to back it up, why would anyone who is interested in evidence and reality give it a second thought?

A good scientist would follow the evidence wherever it leads. Even Albert Einstein after studying physics and origins said, “I now see the necessity of a beginning.”

First of all, it doesn’t matter what anyone says about this. I honestly couldn’t care less what Einstein said regarding the supernatural. Even if he said “I categorically state that I believe there is no god,” I would ignore it because it has absolutely no bearing on the truth of the matter. How could it?

What I mean by this is that Einstein is not a credible witness when it comes to God. When he’s talking about theories of light and gravity, I listen because he is an authority on the subject. He is not an authority on God. There are no authorities on God. Oh, you can have someone, perhaps yourself, who would consider themselves an authority on the Bible. But that’s just being an authority on what people believe is the word of God. You have to prove that this assertion is true before you or anyone else can state they are an authority on God. And as far as I’m aware, this has not been done.

Also, yes, a good scientist would follow the evidence wherever it leads. Give me some evidence, and I will follow it. Until you give me some evidence to follow, you can’t accuse me of not following it. So please stop doing it.

But when one looks even at our DNA with an open mind, one can’t help but wonder if their is intelligent design involved.

Apparent design is not evidence for a designer. Look, in order to consider that something looks designed, you are by necessity implying that there are things in our universe that are not designed, or we would have nothing with which to compare it. You know the whole “If I found a watch in a desert, I would know it was designed and therefore know there was a designer?” The reason this argument falls so flat, is that the watch is described as being found among necessarily undesigned things. In other words, the desert around the watch is undesigned, or we would recognise it as being designed.

If your assertion is that the Earth was designed, then you have to explain why it was so badly designed. Why are tsunamis killing hundreds of thousands of people? If God designed the Earth, why didn’t he do a better job? Arguments by design are so easily refuted I’m always surprised that people keep bringing them up as though they hold any argumentative weight. I’m sure this won’t be the last time, however. Oh well, moving on.

“A commonsense interpretation of the data suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology” -Sir Fred Hoyle, Cosmologist.

Common sense also tells us that the world is flat. Common sense tells us that the sun goes round the Earth. How useful is common sense in determining reality again?

Also, I don’t care what Fred Hoyle or anyone else says about God until they provide me with some evidence.

There is so much design in our DNA that Richard Dawkins says, “The machine code of genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.”

Are you saying Dawkins is implying there is a god at work? If so, you would be wrong. Also, once again, the appearance of design does not mean there was a designer. Billions of years of evolution results in extremely clever “designs.”

Bill Gates chimes in, “Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any we’ve ever created.”

Evolution has had billions of years. More argument from design…

Maybe that which appears so designed is really designed!

Have you considered the possibility that it isn’t?

“There is no naturalistic explanation for the origin of the information that you need to build the first life. When we find information in a DNA molecule, encoded in digital form, the most logical conclusion is that the information had an intelligent source.” -Stephen Meyer.

More argument from design. And you’re quoting me Stephen Meyer? Isn’t that the bloke who lost the Dover trial because he couldn’t convince the jury that Intelligent Design was science? Hint: yes it is.

Science can take us so far. Reason can take us so far. Experience can take us so far. But I don’t want to go just “so far.” I want to find meaning and purpose for the existence of life.

Noel, you use “so far” like it’s an insult. What you actually mean by “so far” in this context is “everything that can effect us in the real world as opposed to the imaginary one.” I think I’m quite happy with only going “so far” in this case. I’m all for finding the truth, but if you don’t have evidence to follow, you’re just making stuff up.

Just for the record (again): the Bible is not evidence because you have not succeeded in proving that this is anything but the stuff that people wrote down about what they believed. Prove it is the word of God and I’ll listen. Otherwise, keep the Bible out of this, please.

Science, reason and experience come up short again and again. That is where stubborn old faith comes in, again.

WHERE DOES SCIENCE “COME UP SHORT AGAIN AND AGAIN"? I’m sorry to shout, but that’s utterly absurd! Please give me one example where science has come up short and where faith has provided an answer? And I don’t mean an answer that some religious people just made up and claimed some authority on something they don’t have an authority on, but something that actually helped humanity in a real way where science fell short. For example, when science says it doesn’t know for certain how life started, and you come along and say “Well, I know how it happened. It was God,” that is not an example of science falling short. It’s an example of science being honest, and you making a completely untestable assertion that provides no answers, and is ultimately useless.

I assume you’re ignoring vaccinations that science provided when you wrote the above. Was this an example of science falling short while preventing the deaths of millions of people and all but wiping out certain diseases? What good did having faith do in all this? I would confidently state that it was zero.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” Romans 1:16.

Bible quotes are not evidence.

To ignore this faith facet of creatures is to miss a lot. To have a bias against anything involving God limits a scientist’s ability to seek out the another possible origin of life.

Saying “God did it” gives us nothing. It gives us precisely zero evidence to follow. You’re talking about asserting a cause for an effect and attempting to investigate that cause. That is not how science works. If I said my friend the invisible pink unicorn created the life we see around us, would I be justified in saying “I can’t believe scientists ignore my assertion that the invisible pink unicorn create life! They are totally limiting their ability to seek out another possible origin of life!"? No, I wouldn’t be justified in saying that, because I’m not offering anything useful to the discussion.

You might think that example ridiculous, and yet that is precisely equivalent to what you’re doing when you say that God did it. No, really, it is.

It may seem reckless to a “pure” scientist to follow the evidence wherever it leads, especially if it involves an intelligent Designer.

Are you seeing a pattern yet?

Evidence, Noel. We need evidence to follow. And scientists are following the evidence. They don’t ignore evidence because of where it might lead. I might set up a macro for this response; it would save me a lot of typing.

The narrow view of science prevents the scientist from being open minded about areas limited only to what can be seen under a microscope.

So you think it’s a bad thing that science is only concerned with stuff it can actually measure and test? What’s the alternative? Should the scientists be sticking their fingers in the air and making unsubstantiated guesses about how stuff works?

Evidence. That’s how science works. If there’s no evidence, it’s not science.

If all the information found within the DNA code itself scream INTELLIGENCE, then where does this intelligence come from? Chance? Natural selection? Even the scientists that hold to these views see that there are “holes” in them.

Argument from design.. Again… When that tsunami killed all those people, did you think that was good design, bad design, or not designed?

So why not go where the evidence is taking us? The most plausible answer within the universe is an intelligent Designer, pointing us to God Himself.

Saying “God did it” gets us nowhere unless you can show that God exists. It really is as simple as that. Not only that, but then you have to not only prove God exists, but that he’s your particular brand of god, and wrote your particular holy book. Let me know when you can do any of that and I’ll pay attention.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands” Psalm 19:1.

More Bible stuff that I can ignore because it’s not relevant.

Magna opera domini exqisita in omnes voluntates ejus.” (Great are the works of the Lord, sought out by all who take pleasure therein” Psalm 111:2)

I’ve decided to quote back verses from the same books you quote from, since it seems you pick and choose your verses with great care.

Here’s one:

“If you make God angry, he’ll burn you and your children to death.” Psalm 21:9-10

Lovely. Does this happen often?

I am glad that I do not have to be God’s defense attorney to prove His existence.

That’s a good thing, because you have thoroughly failed to do so.

I do appreciate this ongoing discussion, Noel. I know I’ve been particularly harsh in this comment, but sometimes I let my frustration come across in my words. I may be an atheist, but I’m still an emotional human being ;o)

Because God cares, I do, too.

I care just because it feels nice.

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 04/16/10 @ 09:11

I would just like to say that God is very nonfactual and untestable, but very real.

p.s. I cant prove it to you.

p.s.s. One thing to remember ( Fleegman ) in reference to the verse you quoted in Psalms is that fire was a Jewish idiom for the jealousy of God… and never meant to portray actually physical torture in the last day BBQ.

Hebrews 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.


La Cuidad [Visitor]• 04/16/10 @ 19:33

It is great for you to express emotions. God does. And we are made in His image.

A story with some emotion:

About three years ago, a lady named Bobbi began attending our church’s “Celebrate Recovery” (a Christ centered program to help those struggling with hurts, habits and hang-ups by showing them the loving power of Jesus Christ through a recovery process).
Bobbi was severely addicted to methamphetamine. She had repeatedly tried and failed in giving up meth. She came to the session with reluctance ("been there- done that” attitude). At the end of the brutally honest and raw sharing session, one of the leaders asked if the group of 15 people might move into our church sanctuary to listen to a song. I was in the back of the sanctuary in our sound booth playing the CD. After just a few moments, Bobbi got up and walked forward to kneel at our old wooden altar and began to weep uncontrollably. As she prayed many different groans and moans came out of her, as if she was desperately fighting something. I immediately sensed huge spiritual warfare going on in her being. As I sat in the back of the sanctuary, I began to weep and intensely pray for this lady, Bobbi. After several minutes of agonizing prayer, I heard Bobbi begin to laugh and hold both of her hands up in the air in sweet surrender to God. My mind kept repeating, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
I saw Bobbi get up from that altar and say loudly, “I’m free!” Tears of joy ran down most the cheeks of everyone present.

After a while, I went forward to encourage Bobbi in her new found faith and freedom in Christ.

Three days later I got a phone call from Bobbi. She said, “Noel, today is my first day off of work since Jesus found me. Would you want to go with me to visit some of my friends?” I told her I would love to go. Bobbi took me to all of her old druggie friends’ homes to let them know what had happened to her. We entered the first home and I had no idea what to expect. A very skinny lady with red spots on her face and teeth that were chipped and brittle from the meth allowed us into her home. Bobbi said, “You know me, don’t you?” The lady replied, “Yeah, you do meth with me.” Bobbi said, “Not any more. I’ve been set free. Jesus took away my desire by His death on the cross. I wanted to be free and He set me free. Jesus can set you free, too. Do you want to be free?”
The skinny lady said, “Yeah! I want to be free!” Then Bobbi would turn to me and say, “Noel, pray!” With great nervousness, I bowed my head as we stood in a circle of prayer and called down God’s forgiveness, power and freedom on this lady. She, too, was set free!

Then we went to six or seven different drug homes to do the very same thing. I believe that five of them began a personal relationship with the Lord that day.

Bobbi, three + years later, is still free from meth and free in Christ. The power of Christ set her free. Everywhere she goes, she is not bashful in sharing that story. Many people have come to know the Lord through her transformed life.

There was definitely emotion in this personal life story, but it is also grounded in volition. God says, “Come now, let us reason together…”

The sin and addiction that Bobbi so desperately tried to rid herself from so many times, was laid to rest by the power of the risen Christ.

The rest of the a fore mentioned Bible quote is: “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” Isaiah 1:18.

“Come now, Noel and Fleegman, let us reason together, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Because God cares, I do, too.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org04/21/10 @ 11:43
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/04/21/10 @ 13:34

Reading through this enormous and very interesting post I feel compelled to give my two cents….

I have been trying my very best to look at both sides of the god-faith/rational thinking argument in an unbiased way. I’ve listened to some lectures by Dawkins and other prominent atheists and must say that I’m pretty impressed with how well they articulate their world-view. I’ve also listened to Myers, apologists like Hank Hanegraaf, ID theorists etc.

Coming from a science/engineering background myself, I must agree that our modern scientific method to probing the new and unknown is quite robust and contrary to what people say, encourages new ideas that can be empirically proven with a sound experimental basis. If God-proponents, ID theorists etc can provide a sound experimental-proof based basis for their ideas, it might very well make its way into the mainstream.

I was watching the movie Expelled and can kind of see why the ID theorists are at a loss to push their case. A lot of their ideas are logical and philosophical constructs which attempt to make a case through circumstantial evidence, loopholes in the status quo, the unexplained etc - not original experimental proof.

Having said that, I must include that science - however objective and proof-oriented people make it out to seem, has deep philosophical underpinnings to it. To one, examining the inner workings of a cell might draw them closer to an appreciation of ‘God’s’ handiwork, to another it simply is a greater understanding of our complex universe that organized itself this way through millions of years. The science is purely neutral - it does not make a case for a creator in itself or against him. I would argue that whether you believe in God or no - is more of a preconceived bias - the same science seems to strengthen either worldview as more is studied and gathered. And the God-proponents are not necessarily all un-educated dodos.

One might argue the fossil record, RC-dating (linear decay of C-14) being able to calculate the age of the earth etc, proves the Judeo-Christian world-view wrong - but if you look carefully the case is not closed on these in the scientific community - there is still much speculation on these points and much is open to debate. I can quote a ton of journal articles by prominent, well respected scientists - who are probably innocently looking to improve their science. So, I believe the evidence / the science as is, in its own right is purely neutral.

Another point I see that is heavily overlooked is what exactly we define God to be. From what I’ve heard and even read in this blog, the atheists predominant view of God (or what the believers say God is) - lets take the case of the Christian God - is this make-believe force that cannot be seen, is supposedly holier than thou, ready to condemn people to an eternal skewer, has not shown up in any form for the last 2000 years or so they say, is attributed to this character called Jesus and is contrary to all logical reason in this day and age. I believe this opinion is largely shaped by what the church (an albeit incongruent collection of sub-doctrines and beliefs) has put across over the years in terms of contradicting ideas between denominations, the bigotry towards scientific enlightenment up until recently, various evils, corruption and impotency to help or solve people’s problems, sickness, disease, wars etc.

The God of the bible to the best of my knowledge is far from the above - the atheists have probably heard this preached at them millions of times - anyway please bear with me - is a God of compassion and love - who however abstract the concept of Jesus dying for our sins might seem - is reaching out to us. He is not ignorant of all the pain and turmoil in this world, he chooses to use his church as an extension of his hands - which doesn’t behave the way its supposed to a lot of times. What most atheists and agnostics seem to have the biggest problem with is - is the concept of ‘blind’ faith or believing without any basis as against having reasonable proof before believing.

I already aired my uncalled-for opinion (lol!) that the science is inherently neutral right now. So just for a second imagine (bear with me!) that God did exist - being a God of love, if he were still holy and supreme - ruler of everything in the universe - would it be appropriate for us to say - Hey, you up there - prove that you exist and then I will acknowledge you? The Christian faith calls for us to be ‘humble’, come to God like beggars in need, stripped of our egos - and then he will make himself known to us. That might be impossible to accept for the atheists/agnostics but that’s exactly what the Christian faith calls for. The God of the bible claims that he will not be mocked and will not make himself ‘known’ or in our lingo - provable to us when we are arrogant (Show me, do some tricks for me and then I will believe). Too much!? - maybe it is - for some.

So really, the science is a moot point - and I can state that with confidence, so far from all I’ve studied and even talked with professors about. Whether you believe in ‘God’ or not, goes deeper into the far reaches of our philosophical world-views. Also, another interesting point that I’ve noticed is that the atheists/agnostics are all about rational explanation/logical reasoning/skepticism while the ‘God’-proponents are more concerned with finding ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ in life. Does rationalism lead to an insipid, calculating and cold life? Does searching for ‘meaning’ and ’significance’ lead you to divorce your intellect? Does looking for meaning and searching in your ‘heart’ lead you to God? - that would make a whole different discussion.

I’ve said too much. Thank you!


Cornell Grad [Visitor]• 04/26/10 @ 11:46

He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason that you do not hear, is that you do not belong to God. -Jesus


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org05/05/10 @ 06:18

There’s just no convincing an ardent believer or ardent atheist of otherwise. Agnostics - depends which side they lean more toward.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existence_of_God for a list of some of the arguments and counter arguments for the existence of God.

I think the solution is to just ask the creator himself - to ask him to reveal what we need to know and to help us believe if he really does exist. If he really is what he says he is - then we must ask him with some measure of openness of mind and humility……

How many atheists are willing to do that sincerely? Also, I challenge believers to take a step back and really think about what they believe - devil’s advocate it - if it really is true - then the faith will hold water.


Cornell Grad [Visitor]• 05/05/10 @ 13:18

I agree, both sides come at it with biases. Truth does matter, and it seems that truth is a stubborn thing.

If God exists, then there is accountability and judgment.

If He does not exist, then grab all you can get, for we turn into dust at death.

Either He exists or He does not. What is the truth? I reiterate, truth does matter.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org05/07/10 @ 06:28

Dan:

You are correct in your last post when you said, “Every religion boasts this type of experience. Mormons, Scientologists, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and various people (even atheists) who practice self-help, meditation or spirituality, people from all of these groups have experiences like the one you described. And they all make contradictory supernatural claims. Those claims can’t all be true”

I agree. They cannot all be true. But that does not mean that none of them can be true.

Satan always counterfeits what God is doing.

Two voices, two kingdoms, one choice.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org05/14/10 @ 06:43
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/05/14/10 @ 20:29

That is a great point, Dan.

I trust that you already know my answer, but here goes:
1.) The landfall of evidence with supporting, authentic, ancient manuscripts

2.) Archaeological finds from digs that give corroborating weight and credence to the biblical text

3.) Extra-biblical/historical writings that lend credence to the biblical text.

A thought:
We have more proof that Jesus Christ lived on this earth than we do that our great grandfathers lived on this earth.

Because of the overwhelming evidence that Jesus Christ lived on this earth, then what we are squabbling over is whether He indeed, rose from the dead.

If He did then: Argument Over.

None of the other “supernatural claims” can be backed up by any of the other world religions. That is why I give less credence to them.

I have not heard of anyone with PROOF that Jesus did not rise from the dead.

Have you?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org05/17/10 @ 13:16

Again- the skeptic is continually undermining his own mines. Chesterton.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org05/17/10 @ 13:18
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/05/17/10 @ 14:15

Fleegman & Dan:

It would be very interesting to see what would happen if either of you had a supernatural experience with God. If a moment in time, either of you were radically touched by the Holy Spirit, convicted and came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. No doubt, you would share that experience of faith with those with whom you cared.

Then other atheists would begin to shred your arguments and say things like, “You are delusional, too. You did not really talk to God, because there is no God. You have just become another mindless fool, following Someone that you cannot place under a microscope. You have amputated your brain like the rest of the flock!”

It would be interesting to hear how you would defend yourselves then.

How does one defend an experience? How can I describe and defend my love for my God? My wife? My family?

If you ever have an experience with the risen Christ Jesus, which I desire to see, I pray that you will have the strength to stand under the barrage of doubt from well meaning, but misguided folks.

Again, because God cares, I do, too.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org05/25/10 @ 08:24
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/05/25/10 @ 08:38

But if you have never had an true experience with the living Lord, then none of this will ever make sense to you.

Satan cannot create, but only pervert. Satan cannot give clarity only confusion. So if he cannot do these things that God can, then he resorts to cluttering the land with all types of duplicity and counterfeit.

If you did have an experience with Him, how would you defend the authenticity of your relationship with Him?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org05/25/10 @ 14:55

Two very simple principles in life regarding religion are great unless someone’s beliefs are leading them away from God.

If you were heading toward sure and sudden destruction, what kind of a human being would I be to just allow you to go that way without at least warning you?

Belief is important because it leads to action. Wrong belief leads to wrong action.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org06/02/10 @ 09:27

Hi Noel, 

In just a few comments you have made so many wrong statements that are just so filled fit to burst with wrongness that it’s very difficult to know where to begin. The problem with discussing this kind of thing with you (and people who also think like you) is that in the space of a very few sentences, you can say SO MANY things that are wrong and need to be addressed and it takes SO LONG to deal with each throwaway remark that we have to be very selective with the things we actually correct you on, not because the other wrong things you say are irrefutable - far from it - but in the interest of having enough time to EVER respond to you and keep the discussion going. 

Stacked on top of that is your annoying habit (I hesitate to say “tactic") of COMPLETELY IGNORING most of what we say when we’ve given reasonable answers to your questions and rebuttals to your wayward logic and then continue to make the SAME arguments that have already been dealt with. If you would occasionally address what we say something with more substance than “you’ll never understand until you think like me” it would make the going a little less frustrating, to say the least. 

I have repeatedly asked you, for example, what is different about what God says about Loving him and Hellfire than someone saying “love me or else.” All you’ve ever said about it is “it’s not the same just because” and I want a better answer than that, if you have it. Really.  

Also, Dan addressed all your points about the historicity of Jesus and you totally ignored them. Essentially, paraphrasing, you said “I think Jesus is the truth because of X” and Dan said “X isn’t true” to which you respond “I just know Jesus is the truth!” - this is no way to have a discussion. Please please address what we say.

Ok, rant over - for now ;-)

Let me ask you something. Do you think people from other religions have had similar experiences to you but about their god and their religion? Do you think they were as convinced as you are that this experience was real? And yet you would say they were mistaken, since YOU had the REAL experience, wouldn’t you? Well, now you know what it sounds like when you tell us about your REAL experiences. Please have a good think about the implications of this because it is absolutely key to the discussion.

Besides, you never hear someone recounting their personal revelation about their own brand of religion stemming from someone TELLING them a story about personal revelation ("oh, this guy I met told me how he’d had an experience from God and from that point on I knew the truth.” So it seems a bit of a waste of time trying to convince us that way. What we need is a REASON to believe something. 

Also, if God hasn’t given us a sign yet, what’s he waiting for? I could go under a bus any minute!

Lastly, if the Devil is the ultimate deceiver, how do you know he’s not deceiving you right now? How do you know he wasn’t behind the bible? How do you know he’s not pretending to be the “good guy?” You might want to give that last one some thought before answering ;-)

All the best,

Fleegman


Fleegman [Visitor]• 06/02/10 @ 13:09

Fleegman:

Sorry to frustrate/anger you so much. That is definitely not my intention. I know that many Christians have said and are saying things to make you angry.

You have definitely been given a lot of intelligence. I have been sharpened by you.

Yes, I do know that other people in other world religions have had “experiences,” too. I know that they believe them to be “true” as well.

And yes, I can see how my “experiences” seem so hallow to you. I have been told that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. So that is not a new comment that you have given to me.

I wonder if you had an experience with the Lord, how would you share that experience with someone who wanted REASON to back it up. You have posed a good question. What is the REASON behind belief? I cannot give you a science answer to this theological question. Just as those who hold to evolution do not want ID answers to science questions. Every time an ID advocate tries to give an answer to an evolutionist with a theological answer, it is rejected. Evolutionists would say that I was comparing apples with oranges. I get that.

So how do I answer a faith question with only reason? I do not know.

The physical evidence that I have provided (biblical manuscripts, eye witness accounts, etc) are never quite enough for you.

I wonder what it would be like for you if you had a supernatural experience and shared it with me. If I would deny it and call you delusional. I could ask you, “How do you know that it was real?” Prove to me by REASON and science that it was true. What would you say?

I am claiming not only to have had an experience, but it is backed up by over 10,000 ancient Greek and Latin manuscripts.

I don’t know what it would take for you to seriously consider the gospel narratives. Jesus did say, “The world will know that you are My disciples by your love for one another.”

Again, I want to show my love for you in a better way. I don’t know how much evidence it would take to convince you. Maybe I have been going about this all wrong (I have never claimed infallibility :-). Maybe I should have focused on something else like love and the resurrection only.

You ask, “what is God waiting for?” He has already answered that one:
“The just shall live by FAITH.”

What is you are asking God for something that He is not willing to give you? What if He is giving you something but you continue to reject it?

If I am claiming the authority of the ancient biblical manuscripts then I take my “P’s and Q’s” from it on my beliefs on satan as well.

How do I know that satan is the deceiver? The Scriptures teach us that. I believe in the veracity of the Scriptures. Just like you believe your car manual and implicitly trust it, I trust what is said in Scriptures.

According to Scripture, there are only 2 voices. One leads to death, one leads to life.

There is way that seems right, but leads to destruction. Satan is always deceiving, destroying, killing, undermining the ways of God. In fact, his name actually means “adversary.” He works in complete and total opposition to everything of God, including your soul and mine.

Because I have faith in God and in His Scriptures, I believe satan to be the archenemy. I know that this answer is not satisfactory to you, but that is all I have on that. We are coming from two totally different views on this, I am aware of this.

God has created your fertile and intelligent mind. That is not to be lost in discussion, but it must be surrendered to Him to be of the best use to His world.

Love God and love your neighbor. On this hangs all of the Scriptures- Jesus.

Thanks, again, for helping me to think.

Were you one of those students that never had to study in school, everything just coming naturally to you?

I say that with a smile and kindness in my heart. Seriously, I do enjoy your questions.

Because God cares, I do, too.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org06/02/10 @ 14:57
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/06/02/10 @ 15:42

How could God, who is suppose to be Love itself, expect us to conjure up out nothingness a little bit of Him ( Love ) to love Him with?

I am breaking into a Lennon song right now.

O Yeah, and this -

With out love - where would we be right now now now now?



La Cuidad [Visitor]• 06/02/10 @ 23:11

The historical veracity of the biblical text is crazy strong.

The strength of the eye witnesses to be willing to die for this truth of Jesus’ resurrection is phenomenal.

This martyrdom faith is not to be confused with other world views where the idea seems to be “Kill the infidel.”

Rather, Jesus tells us to lay down our lives for those who oppose Him. A marked difference, wouldn’t you say?

The skeptic cannot even trust his own experiences, much less the experiences of others. What a dismal life.

Lots of old copies that match can be trusted in a court of law. In a legal historical way, yes, they can be trusted. It is faith God requires, but not blind faith.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” He also said, “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”

This life is offered even to us!

Because God cares, I do, too.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org06/03/10 @ 08:40
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/06/03/10 @ 18:16

I have talked to a few women that have come out of bad relationships and therefore come to the sad conclusion that all men are evil.

Kind of sounds like some soured Christians due to bad experiences in the faith that fall away from the Lord. Then the usual assumption and soon following error that Satan tempts people with is “there is no truth and all is bad.”

You have not given any convincing reasons that you love your wife, either.

How do I know that George Washington lived? What convincing proofs do I have that he was our first president. I can be just as foolishly skeptical about his existence as you are being about the Messiah.

False prophets will always be around. In fact, Jesus talked about this with His over zealous followers who wondered about stamping out the false teachers. Jesus emphatically said, “No.” Jesus said, Let them grow together, for if the bad weeds are pulled up, the good may be affected as well. He wanted to let God sort all of that out at the Judgment.

God’s unconditional love is still reaching out to you (and me), and for that I am thankful. May God richly bless you (and me) with His continued favor.


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org06/04/10 @ 06:17

Dan? Fleegman?


noel george [Visitor] • http://www.monettnazarene.org06/26/10 @ 08:35
dan [Member] • http://www.brendoman.com/09/02/10 @ 09:07

george washington didn’t claim to be god.

sheesh.


gringo [Visitor]• 09/02/10 @ 15:28

Did you know that eternal punishment in hell is a false pagan belief? Write to me because if you believe it is true then God was dishonest with Eve telling her that sin’s penalty would be only death… and one day… 1 Cor 15:26. Blessings, Google Robert Wheeler Todd


Robert Wheeler Todd [Visitor]  02/01/14 @ 09:31

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