The Atheist Challenge (and for other skeptics)

Skeptics love to bash the Bible, with little or no knowledge of it.  Maybe they once read a book by an Old Testament scholar claiming that parts of the Hebrew Bible have pagan origins.  Or maybe they’re repeating a claim to a contradiction or other oddity someone seems to have found in the Bible, or took a college class on comparative religion.  Then you have the drug babies (momma “drug” me to church as a kid.)  Too often, it is quite evident that either 1. They have never read the Bible themselves or 2. They have read it only superficially and lazily, looking for ammo against it without trying very hard to comprehend what they were reading.

But, if  you are an atheist, agnostic, non-religious, or otherwise skeptical of the Bible, is this intellectually honest?  The Bible claims to be God’s word for man.  If you’re going to go around calling that claim false, wouldn’t it be a good idea for you to know what you’re debunking?

I’m issuing a challenge to all skeptics of the Bible (atheist, agnostic, non-religious, non-Christian, etc.)

90U-2-3-1

1. Read the Bible once through, in its entirety, without notes or commentary.  When you do so, take an honest scientific approach to the literature, and try to understand its message on its own terms.  Be as unbiased and open-minded as possible.  After all, you don’t want your presuppositions to color the conclusion.  That would be very un-scientific.

2. Secondly, find a church that takes the Bible seriously.  I mean, very seriously.  One that doesn’t just give the Bible lip service, but makes a genuine attempt to proclaim it from the pulpit and live it among the membership.  (I’d be happy to select the church for you, if you tell me the area where you live.) Attend there once per week during the time that you are reading the Bible.  Go to a worship service where the Bible is preached.  You are not required to participate in the songs, prayers, offerings, etc.  This part of the challenge is important because the Bible is intended not only to be read privately, but to be preached amid an assembly.  That’s where its power lies.  If you have not tried this recently, you are not in a place to criticize it.

Once you have finished reading through the Bible one time while attending church weekly, you have completed the challenge.  Then come back and tell me your view.

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Categories: Apologetics, Bible | Tags: , , , , , | 54 Comments

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54 thoughts on “The Atheist Challenge (and for other skeptics)

  1. What do you do if reading the bible and studying the bible is what lead you to becoming an atheist. And you came from a church that did an expository teaching of the bible, where they went throught the whole bible in a year. What then after going through the bible, does a believer begin to question the authenticity of the bible of it being inspired. And concludes the bible was written, inspired, and dictated by men. And that all of christianity is based on a falsehood. What reason does a person have to believe in god then?

    • M. Rodriguez, the object of this post, as you will see above, was not conversion, but to encourage the readers to be informed about the Bible. The self-appointed Bible critic who has not even read the entire Bible once makes himself out to be an ill-informed imbecile. I wish people to stop being imbeciles. Know something about what you’re talking about, if you wish to critique the Bible.

      Now, you may be converted reading the Bible, and especially by hearing Bible-preaching. Millions have been converted by the message of the Bible. But not everyone is. This just proves what Jesus said, that “many are called, but few are chosen.”

      For the person you describe, I would attempt to engage that person in conversation, to find out what his problems and issues are, and why he’s an atheist. There may be several factors involved. The preaching he heard may have been deficient. Or maybe it was not being lived out by the members of the congregation. In most cases, there is self-deception involved, since the reader really didn’t want the Bible to be true in the first place, because it exposes the sin of man and places all of the world (including the reader) under judgment for sin.

      I would encourage that person to keep reading, and especially hearing the word preached. There is hope for him yet. And, since he’s genuinely making an effort to understand the Bible, it makes for a more thoughtful and intelligent conversation with him than if he had not read it.

      • hello highplainsparson,

        i mention my comment, because in your attempt to tell people to read the bible, and that will help lead them back to god and salvation. What you forget, it is the bible that has lead people to become non-believers.

        oh I am one of those, who has read the bible, and it was while preparing bible studies for my youth group, did I come to conclude that bible was full of contradictions, errors, and that only a man could have written something so flawed.

        I recommend the same thing, read your bible, but I’ll add some more. Read about the archaeology and the historicity of the bible. What was the first bible? What is the history of bible? Why are their textual variants at the bottom of my bible? Which is the most accurate translation?

        My words of encouragement would be to read, question, and then investigate. Don’t be satisfied untill all your questions are answered.

      • Blessabless

        You’re the one appearing biased. We need to hear it preached? Really? Cause god’s words can’t stand on their own? A mere human needs to enhance then?
        And how do you know what skeptics know of the Bible? Seems presumptuous. You’re a fool to think it’s perfect, considering it contradicts itself countless times.

      • Hey, thanks for commenting. The word is meant to be preached because God has ordained it to be so. It’s that simple. It’s not just a written letter; it’s something that has contemporary bearing on our lives. If you really are going to examine the Bible’s claims, wouldn’t it make sense to take it in the way it is intended? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14

        What I know of skeptics lack of knowledge of the Bible is based on my own experience with their silly, lazy, and superficial arguments about the Bible. Reference Bill Nye’s amateurish forays into Bible discussion at the recent debate. It’s often painfully obvious that they have not even made a respectable attempt to understand it before opening their mouths.

    • Thank you, M. Rodriguez. I have asked those questions, I have studied those topics, and all the most important questions have been answered with great satisfaction.

  2. Matt C

    I read the Bible several times. I even went to Sunday School where we were taught about it. I attended Church too. Then when I got an education I realised a lot of what it says is complete nonsense. What you’re describing is a scenario similar to peer pressure and brainwashing to see the power of the Bible. Well if the Word of God needs all that help, it doesn’t really speak very well for its author. Yes, the Bible is intended to demonstrate its power that way, because it is a book written by man to control the lives of others, and has absolutely nothing to do with any real God. All your challenge shows is a complete lack of any knowledge of what most sceptics, atheists, agnostics etc. actually think and how they arrived at their conclusions. Perhaps you should take this challenge – put the Bible down and engage with some of the people you’re challenging – find out why they think the way they do – then you wont write such nonsense as the blog post above.

    • Matt, I assure you it has nothing to do with peer pressure or brainwashing. The word is meant to be preached in the assembly, not just read. Its power is the Spirit who gave it by the prophets, apostles, and evangelists and Who persuades and convinces sinners to believe it when they hear it. 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. Which part of what I have written above do you find to be nonsense?

  3. Bill

    I used to lead a bible study group and have read the bible several times. The more I read the bible, the more I realized how screwed up it is. There are some good lessons in there (love your neighbor). And there are some very bad lessons in there (kill or enslave your neighbor). And don’t even get me started on the science of the bible vs. what we can easily see. IMO, Christians have to cherry pick parts of the bible to not reject the it entirely.

    • I do not cherry pick the Bible, and neither does any Christian who takes it seriously. We accept the whole. If you have a particular passage in mind which is, according to your view, “screwed up”, please share.

      By the way, by what or by whose standard do you judge which lessons from the Bible are “bad lessons”?

  4. Will

    Haha, I love it when people write a blog and make claims like “Skeptics love to bash the Bible, with little or no knowledge of it.” You seriously discredited this whole article from the very first sentence. Agnostics/Atheists have shown in multiple studies that their knowledge of the bible, Qur’an, book of mormon, etc.. is superior to that of religious folks in most areas. The correlation between knowledge of a holy text and atheism is unarguably there.. Is that the reason people dismiss a a deity? Maybe, maybe not, but the evidence is there and the Bible is a gateway to realization of how ugly the text is. I challenge you to read the Book of Mormon and compare the outlandish stories to that of your Bible. Almost identical.

    • I don’t know who is contained in “religious folks”, and I don’t doubt that there are a lot of nominal Christians who are quite ignorant of the Bible. But that does not change the fact that there are a lot of people who badmouth the Bible, who make it painfully obvious they have no idea what they are talking about. I base this partially from anecdotal evidence, but it is true nonetheless. I’m not the only one who often runs into this. It just makes the critic look like an imbecile when they criticize what they do not know based on second hand knowledge or a superficial, agenda-driven reading.

      Which part of the text of Holy Scripture do you judge to be “ugly”, and by whose standard do you so judge it?

      And the Book of Mormon is a cheap and not-very-well-done imitation of the Bible. It is vastly inferior, even to the untrained eye.

  5. Angela Martin

    1 ” Read the Bible once through, in its entirety, without notes or commentary. ”

    Hi, highplainsparson. I’ve been a born-again, rapture believing Christian for 30 years. I’ve read the Bible, KJV from front to back twice.

    “2. Secondly, find a church that takes the Bible seriously. ”

    I’ve been to several churches all of them seemed to take the Bible serious, laying on of hands, speaking in tongues and so on.

    “Once you have finished reading through the Bible one time while attending church weekly, you have completed the challenge. Then come back and tell me your view.”

    I’ve also read Dr Barbara Thierings series of books on Jesus the man and Pesher, and it explains how the miracles of Christ are merely encoded activities of the cult Jesus was in, not miracles at all.

    I noted that the casual cruelty and brutality of god in the old testament, in drowning trillions of innocent animals in the Flood, and the inability of Jesus in the new testament to forbid slavery or institute womens and childrens rights. I also notice that the world is getting better due to technology and worse due to religion.

    Now I’m an atheist, Humanist and Transhumanist.

    I’d like to give you a similar challenge, to read the books by Barbara Thiering and see how the babes in Christ are deceived into believing in the “miracles” of Christ by the pesher code. Then when you’re done, please visit:
    http://www.clergyproject.org/

    See if you are man enough to see through the lies of Christianity and see the truth of reality.

    • Angela, you won’t find the “rapture” in the Bible as it is commonly taught, nor “speaking in tongues, etc.” as it is frequently “practiced” today, in the Bible. These things are extra-biblical traditions and misinterpretations. I sympathize with you because I grew up being taught this kind of stuff, but the Scriptures have corrected my thinking on them. If you tell me the general area where you live, I’d be happy to recommend a church for you, so that you can see what I mean by taking the Bible seriously.

      I will take a note and may take a look at those books, if I have time. But I would like to emphasize my absolute certainty that the Bible is true. Once you’ve seen a room with the lights on, when it was dark before, someone who is still in darkness is not going to be able to convince you that you are not seeing what you are seeing in the room, when in fact you’re standing there looking around it in the light. So it is with those who have received the light of God’s revelation in Scripture applied to the heart via the new birth. Then, the truth is plain, and nothing can convince you otherwise.

      • Angela Martin

        “Angela, you won’t find the “rapture” in the Bible as it is commonly taught, nor “speaking in tongues, etc.” ”

        Unfortunately for you, I was taught this in several churches, full of Christians, and from Christian movies again made by Christians. All Christian doctrine. No true Scotsman fallacy.

        Speaking in Tongues was claimed by the Christians and the Church I was in to be biblical. Need I point out that two entire Christian denominations are based on this?
        ” It is most prominently practised within Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity but it is also practised in non-Christian religions.”

        For you to use the no true Scotsman fallacy on two entire denominations only goes to show me that your god is fictional.

        “But I would like to emphasize my absolute certainty that the Bible is true.”

        Genesis 1:1 tells us that Heaven and Earth were created together, yet we know from sciences that the Big Bang happened over 13 billion years ago and the Earth only formed about 4 billion years ago. As you can see by the fact we’re using blog posts to chat, rather than divine prayer and intercession, science is more to be trusted than your Bible.

        “So it is with those who have received the light of God’s revelation in Scripture applied to the heart via the new birth. ”

        That happened with me, over 30 years ago….

        Now I’m an atheist after reading the Bible and comparing it to reality.

        “Then, the truth is plain, and nothing can convince you otherwise.”

        The truth of reality is around you, only your delusion convinces you otherwise. That reality supposedly made by your god, is shown by the science that gives us this blog post, shows that Genesis 1:1 is wrong and your god to be a fraud and delusion.

        I see no need to waste another 30 years of life with Christianity, Highplainsparson. I sure hope you wake up and see your delusion.

      • I am well aware of churches which teach these things. I was brought up in them. That there are Christians teaching jibberish as the gift of tongues and a secret rapture does not make the teachings biblical. Interesting that you should bring up a Scotsman because the secret rapture doctrine seems to have originated in Scotland based on someone’s alleged new revelation. Again, not scriptural.

        But, I can’t say that I’m surprised that you’ve become an atheist after your experience with pentecostalism. False religious experience tends to breed a cynical skepticism.

        “Science” works under the constraints of theory and probability. Not so with God’s self-revelation, which gives absolute certainty. When it comes to the theory of evolution, Genesis 1:1 disproves it.

        If you don’t mind, what was it specifically that led you to doubt that there is a God?

    • Angela, by the way, I never said that you won’t be an atheist after taking the challenge. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” –Jesus But if you take the challenge, and remain an atheist, you will be more-informed than before.

      • Angela Martin

        “if you take the challenge, and remain an atheist, you will be more-informed than before.”

        LOL

        Did you forget, Highplainsparson? I’ve told you before that I’ve been a born again Christian for over 30 years? During church meetings, bible studies (where I studied just carefully selected passages) and Sunday worship the Bible was used all the congregations. Just like you use it. I was unable to distinguish your “false” churches from “good” churches, let alone find your “good” church.

        ” Interesting that you should bring up a Scotsman because the secret rapture doctrine seems to have originated in Scotland based on someone’s alleged new revelation.”

        LOL
        For more about the No True Scotsman fallacy which sailed right over your head, please educate yourself here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman
        Note, I only show you the water of knowledge, it’s up to you to drink.

        You show your ignorance of science:
        “Science” works under the constraints of theory and probability.”
        Please cure your ignorance here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science
        “Science (from Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. In an older and closely related meaning, “science” also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied.”

        Science shows that your god is imaginary. Remember this?

        “But I would like to emphasize my absolute certainty that the Bible is true.”

        Genesis 1:1 tells us that Heaven and Earth were created together, yet we know from sciences that the Big Bang happened over 13 billion years ago and the Earth only formed about 4 billion years ago.

        Genesis 1:1 is demonstrably wrong, yet you are certain that the Bible is true.

      • “Using the Bible” is not the same thing as taking it seriously. I will not say with certainty that the churches you once attended did not in some important ways preach the authentic message of the Bible. There is no perfect church. And you can hear the gospel in many pentecostal churches, despite some errors. I’m not judging their heart or motivation. But I would encourage you to continue to apply yourself to Scripture, and to attend a church where it is authentically preached and believed.

        I got your point about the No True Scotsman fallacy, but you had misapplied it. Just because Christians are teaching something doesn’t make it Bible-teaching.

        In the first definition of Science that you provided, only probabilities and working principles can be established. That’s what I was communicating to you in my last comment. In the second broader definition of “science” you provided, knowledge of God from the Bible is included. Theology has traditionally be called the “Mother of Sciences” and for good reason. It is in the light of the knowledge of God that we can begin to understand his creation.

        The Big Bang theory and theories about the age of the earth are problematic from an empirical standpoint. But they continue to be used as working principles because the empiricists do not have a better alternative. I do. It’s the doctrine of creation from Scripture. I have the only eyewitness account of creation, and that trumps the observations and probable conjectures of the empiricists.

        No, science has not disproven the Bible. The Bible is the foundation for true science.

  6. Arjun

    This blog itself says that it bases this assertion that its writers have met certain people who ‘badmouth’ the Bible (and in my view, they do nothing wrong) without knowing about it, PARTLY from ANECDOTAL experiences. That discredits everything you’re trying to say, sorry. Most atheists are actually pretty well versed with The Bible and The Qur’an or any book they choose to criticize, and mostly that criticism is not without reason.

    I find the passages wherein your God, in great anger, kills thousands of people repeatedly, obnoxious. I find the entire Noah’s Ark story both laughable and disgusting. I think that your God is both insecure and jealous when he commands everybody to worship him and him alone and flares up every time his great orders are not followed. What’s more is that most of the stories in the Bible are not supported by any evidence, and are clearly made up and ridiculous; the very idea of Christ’s ‘sacrifice’ is balderdash and the claims of his miracles are far fetched and are white lies. Apart from the nuts and bolts of the matter, the fact that because of the Bible and its annoying proselytizing nature, numerous people have been killed and this same nonsense has stood and repeatedly stands in the way of the world’s progress. It and its whole thought system of belief is like any other religion: a system of (outdated) thought that has propagated itself through ‘saving’ and ‘redeeming’ gullible (and often unwilling) people. It is the very nature of belief in your God and the entire system of worship and supposed ‘love’ of a great dictator in the sky who’s continuously watching you and leaves you with the option of either obeying him and doing as he says or suffering torture that makes me cringe. More than the specific passages in the Bible, it is the overall nature of this faith system that has you unconditionally surrender your reason for fear and then goes on to prod you into ‘spreading it’ that makes me think that the Bible and The Quran and the Torah and all the books supposedly sent down to (not even us, but only a bunch of select desert people) should be treated like the passe Bronze Age texts that they are (after determining which are the right ones and after ascertaining if your God even exists when the millions of ‘other’ deities don’t ) and not be taken seriously enough to challenge rational people who find no reason to see any merit in it to find faults in it.

    If you give a thought to it instead, if you put away that book and try to think objectively, you will realize that there is no objective basis for believing anything that this book has to say, and nor is it necessary to base one’s moral strictures on an antiquated, unreliable text and least of all, to put one’s ‘faith’ in it.
    Last of all, your final claims that one needs to be in an assembly to ‘know’the Bible because its ‘power lies in being preached’ is true only for you as a believing theist. For the rest of us with a truly ‘unbiased’ outlook, analyzing it on our own, without being influenced by others will do just fine. The same dismissal you apply to the Book of Mormon or Quran, I apply to your book.
    however, I will be sharing this with other skeptics and atheists and ‘the lost souls’ and the damned (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

    • Well then, Arjun, if in fact skeptics and atheists tend to know the Bible well, then I simply have not been talking to the right ones! I hope that you will provide counter anecdotal evidence, and show yourself to be one who really knows the Bible in a meaningful way. But based on your comments, that is not the impression that I’m getting at all, to be honest.

      You comment on some general themes and narratives from the Bible with the words, “I find”, “I find”, etc. Is this all based on your opinion? By what standard do you judge the Bible? What is your standard?

      “I find the passages wherein your God, in great anger, kills thousands of people repeatedly, obnoxious.”

      Well, I don’t. God has a right to do with his own creatures as He wills, doesn’t he? Furthermore, God has given the human race far, far less punishment than we deserve, given our state of rebellion against him. He is extremely merciful, shown by the fact that we are still here.

      “I find the entire Noah’s Ark story both laughable and disgusting.”

      I don’t. I find it true, instructive, and relevant to life today. There is a judgment coming upon the world far worse than the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. But God is gracious for giving all of mankind an opportunity to repent and believe the good news right now.

      “I think that your God is both insecure and jealous when he commands everybody to worship him and him alone and flares up every time his great orders are not followed.”

      Among other things, you’re making the mistake of judging him by human standards. When the Creator, God, and Judge of all the universe requires all people to worship him, and brings judgment upon those who disobey, he is acting jealously, and he has a right to be. If I were to command you to worship me, it would be insanely arrogant, and probably insecure. But when God commands us to worship him, it is fitting, since he is in fact worthy of all worship, and we owe it to him as his created beings. And it is for our good, and the order of the universe that he created.

      “What’s more is that most of the stories in the Bible are not supported by any evidence, and are clearly made up and ridiculous;”

      The Bible is credible evidence for the events that it records. If you have any proof beyond calling the Bible dirty names, I’d be happy to discuss. However, what you are doing now is just proving the point of my post. You are displaying a lack of knowledge and evidence, yet you continue to make assertions against the Bible. This just takes away all credibility from your opinions. Please, if you are going to talk about the Bible, at least have the respect to read it and hear it authentically preached before you make any more claims. This would be intelectually honest.

      “the very idea of Christ’s ‘sacrifice’ is balderdash and the claims of his miracles are far fetched and are white lies.”

      You are making more opinionated assertions without evidence. Please stop. It looks quite foolish. I can just as easily say that Christ’s sacrifice is true, and his miracles really happened, and that they are confirmation of what he said about who he is. But I do thank you for illustrating in your comments the point of my post.

      “Apart from the nuts and bolts of the matter, the fact that because of the Bible and its annoying proselytizing nature, numerous people have been killed and this same nonsense has stood and repeatedly stands in the way of the world’s progress.”

      OK, now this is getting silly. Anyone who has read the Bible knows that the means of propagating its message is not through violence, but by preaching with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. I now question whether you’ve actually read it. It’s obvious that you don’t know what its even about. I think you are the perfect candidate for this challenge. Why don’t you take it up? What do you have to lose?

      “It and its whole thought system of belief is like any other religion: a system of (outdated) thought that has propagated itself through ‘saving’ and ‘redeeming’ gullible (and often unwilling) people. It is the very nature of belief in your God and the entire system of worship and supposed ‘love’ of a great dictator in the sky who’s continuously watching you and leaves you with the option of either obeying him and doing as he says or suffering torture that makes me cringe.”

      It should make you cringe in terror, because of the state that you and every other person is in by nature: under God’s wrath.

      “More than the specific passages in the Bible, it is the overall nature of this faith system that has you unconditionally surrender your reason for fear and then goes on to prod you into ‘spreading it’ that makes me think that the Bible and The Quran and the Torah and all the books supposedly sent down to (not even us, but only a bunch of select desert people) should be treated like the passe Bronze Age texts that they are (after determining which are the right ones and after ascertaining if your God even exists when the millions of ‘other’ deities don’t ) and not be taken seriously enough to challenge rational people who find no reason to see any merit in it to find faults in it.”

      There are plenty of rational people who believe the Bible. The Bible does not, as you claim, tell us to lay aside reason. It invites us to follow God’s reasoning, which is quite reasonable. “Let us reason together”, God says. There is a God who created the universe. He has revealed himself to man. This revelation is recorded in a book. It’s the Bible. I can show you a copy of it. Can you show me any irrationality in these statements?

      “If you give a thought to it instead, if you put away that book and try to think objectively, you will realize that there is no objective basis for believing anything that this book has to say,”

      In fact, there is, because it is objectively true, whether I believe it or not.

      “and nor is it necessary to base one’s moral strictures on an antiquated, unreliable text and least of all, to put one’s ‘faith’ in it.”

      More claims without any rational or evidential support. Not convincing. The reliability of the text of Scripture as it has been handed down through history is really quite impressive, even to non-believing scholars. That it is old does not make it untrue.

      Faith embraces the truth that God will, in the future, perform what he has promised. It’s made believable by the experience of what he has done in the past. The evidence of who God is and what he has done makes it possible to believe that he will yet do what he has said he will do. That is faith.

      “Last of all, your final claims that one needs to be in an assembly to ‘know’the Bible because its ‘power lies in being preached’ is true only for you as a believing theist. For the rest of us with a truly ‘unbiased’ outlook, analyzing it on our own, without being influenced by others will do just fine.”

      Do you really think that you have an “unbiased” outlook when it comes to the Bible? Your statements suggest otherwise. The power of the word of God in the assembly really has nothing to do with the influence of other people. It has to do with the presence of God. It is God who gave the Bible in the first place, and it is he who provides the subjective evidence to the soul that it is indeed true, in addition to the objective evidence in the text that anyone can see.

      “The same dismissal you apply to the Book of Mormon or Quran, I apply to your book.”

      I have studied both books. They are not well-done. They both have many kinds of defects that the Bible does not. How thoroughly have you studied the Bible?

      “however, I will be sharing this with other skeptics and atheists and ‘the lost souls’ and the damned (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)”

      Good! I’m glad you will. And I hope that many of them will take up the challenge.

      • why do I get the feeling that if you were to recommend a church, it would be a reformed Presbyterian church? With a five point message..

      • 🙂 So are you willing to take up the challenge??

      • no thank u, been to a prysby church, got lots of pryby friends.

        found the doctrine flawed, and too legalistic(when it came to aspects of salvation).

      • What is your basis for evaluation? What is your standard. By the way, I am a Congregationalist minister. Not Presbyterian, but close. This means the Bible is my only final authority for faith and practice.

      • oh me and my calvinist friends disagreed on almost everything,(except the rapture we both thought it was foolish)

        we disagreed, on Salvation(they were borderline hypercals), disagreed on free will,predestination, The love of God, essentials vs. non-essentials. Apostles, gifts of the spirit, apologetics….etc, etc, etc

        side note:oh and that book bondage of men by Martin luther is horrible.

        There came a point when all we do is throw scripture at each-other, and are no longer seekers of truth, do these types of biblical debates become useless and fruitless.

      • It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of playing Bible-ping pong it helps to take one passage at a time to look at, in context with the whole, seasoned with love of course.

      • By the way, I never suggested that if you take the challenge, you will not be an atheist. You very well may be an atheist after taking the challenge. Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

        Oh, and Bondage of the will is a good book!

  7. Arjun

    Source for my first assertion that atheists and skeptics know significantly about , among many, is here:
    http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey-who-knows-what-about-religion/

    //God has a right to do with his own creatures as He wills, doesn’t he? Furthermore, God has given the human race far, far less punishment than we deserve, given our state of rebellion against him. He is extremely merciful, shown by the fact that we are still here.//

    Frankly, I want to stop this right here. So God has the ‘right’ to kill anyone he wants, without any justification, and you think that’s fine, you think that’s okay? Come now, you can’t be serious! What if I just substitute God with Hitler and say : Herr Fuhrer has the right to do what he wants with his subjects, including the Jews. Judging by how EVIL they are, weren’t they still lucky to be allowed to exist before they turned SO EVIL that Herr Fuhrer decided it was time to do away with them? OR “Look at the guy who stalked you everyday, intimidated you and made your life living hell for all those years. But isn’t he extremely merciful that he didn’t ever physically abuse you?” Please listen to yourself. This God of yours appears to be more horrible than some of the recent detestable human beings we’ve come across in recent times.

    We are in a state of rebellion against him? Says who? by what evidence? Who says we as a species deserve punishment? Can you please keep this masochism and self loathing out of this, which is something that this particular religion LOVES to wallow in? I can’t believe I actually read that….

    //I don’t. I find it true, instructive, and relevant to life today. There is a judgment coming upon the world far worse than the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. But God is gracious for giving all of mankind an opportunity to repent and believe the good news right now.//
    YOU find it true does not mean that it is fact and your finding it the truth is because of indoctrination and a lifelong exposure to a stream of though that is rationally so ludicrous that had it not been accepted by billions it would have been a very bad joke. God is gracious for giving mankind the opportunity to repent and ‘save’ themselves from a nuisance that he’s going to create in the first place, never mind that he drowned so many men women and children during the first flood after REGRETTING that he made humans at all (as of he didn’t know that humans were going to do that in the first place). Also, this flood myth precedes your God or Noah and almost the same story has existed in many other traditions, Hinduism included, before Abraham even came round to dreaming up this Personal God of a nonspecific desert people.

    //Among other things, you’re making the mistake of judging him by human standards. When the Creator, God, and Judge of all the universe requires all people to worship him, and brings judgment upon those who disobey, he is acting jealously, and he has a right to be. If I were to command you to worship me, it would be insanely arrogant, and probably insecure. But when God commands us to worship him, it is fitting, since he is in fact worthy of all worship, and we owe it to him as his created beings. And it is for our good, and the order of the universe that he created.//

    Okay, have you read George Orwell’s 1984? If you haven’t it’s high time you do because your God, like I’ve said so many times, seems to have achieved something like Big Brother’s and INGSOC’s objective- it has actually been implanted in your brain somehow that if a higher authority, (a SUPPOSEDLY higher authority which cannot be shown by any means to exists and is equal in evidence to the claim that I own my own pet unicorn) does an immoral and in this case, extremely envious and arrogant action of requiring everybody to kneel down and kiss his feet and basically act like a tyrant, it is okay because he has the RIGHT to do so. This right, by your reasoning, stems from a baseless and totally nonsense assertion that he created the universe itself, which by no reasoning leads us to the end that : “he deserves the right to be worshiped and get jealous when he doesn’t” //It is for own good// Why? Why is it good for me? What happens if you don’t worship him? He punishes you? Why does he punish you? Because it is good for you and you didn’t do it. Why is it good for me? Because he punishes you if you don’t do it…. this is primary logical fallacy of circular reasoning here and I am most disinclined to engage with anyone who uses it. After reading 1984, compare it with what Big Brother finally makes the population and Winston believe: a person who may not even exist, but due to his cult of personality it is established that he is supreme and deserves to be LOVED and WORSHIPED. I am not drawing these comparisons between the biblical God and Orwell’s book uselessly. Although a greater part of me hates to even write the names of these two books together in the same sentence, one by the great Orwell and another by unknown, unreliable and inarticulate people in the desert, I am doing this because literature serves a window to expressing thoughts like nothing else does. By comparison you will realize that one thought which is so repulsive to us intuitively instantly becomes alright when the name of God is inserted to justify any degree of tyranny and atrocities. You have in reality, accepted that it’s okay to have an eternal dictatorship as long as it’s GOD doing it. And I know when I’ve hit a wall when I see it, sad.

    //The Bible is credible evidence for the events that it records. If you have any proof beyond calling the Bible dirty names, I’d be happy to discuss. However, what you are doing now is just proving the point of my post. You are displaying a lack of knowledge and evidence, yet you continue to make assertions against the Bible. This just takes away all credibility from your opinions. Please, if you are going to talk about the Bible, at least have the respect to read it and hear it authentically preached before you make any more claims. This would be intelectually honest.//

    //You are making more opinionated assertions without evidence. Please stop. It looks quite foolish. I can just as easily say that Christ’s sacrifice is true, and his miracles really happened, and that they are confirmation of what he said about who he is. But I do thank you for illustrating in your comments the point of my post.//

    Come on. the Bible is credible evidence for itself? nothing is credible evidence for itself, that is a self contradictory statement. The Bible is an ASSERTION, and the evidence is always independent of what is asserted. Going by your logic, the Quran is itself its evidence that Christ was no special personl he was not the Son of God at all. Or my account of flying on a dragon itself is evidence of the same assertion. You talk about intellectual honesty? After reading what you’ve written those words don’t even fit right into your paragraph. You have exhibited yet another logical fallacy of placing the burden of proof on the wrong side. Your book makes the assertion X and until such time that assertion is proven, it WILL be considered null and void (and in my case, pure applesauce). Assertion X stands untrue until proven. Simple. The inability to grasp this simple matter takes away the credibility of what YOU have said thus far. You have no evidence apart from circular logic and a rock solid, blind faith in an assertion you refuse to prove.
    I Display a //lack// of //knowledge and evidence// eh? I actually face-palmed myself quite hard and now it hurts…. oww. Where is the source of your ‘knowledge’, apart from reading from a book that itself claims to be the source of the evidence? What is your independent logical or empirical proof? Where is your verifiable corroboration for this really far fetched conjecture? All this is what lies at YOUR door to prove and not mine. Till such time you present it, after having it reviewed from credible sources, your claims stand insignificant. In order to make it simpler, isn’t this what you would say if I declared that for the True Believers, Peter Parker is Spiderman because Amazing Spiderman #1 itself is proof of it? Now you can see how stupid all those claims seem from my and any rationally thinking person’s perspective.

    //OK, now this is getting silly. Anyone who has read the Bible knows that the means of propagating its message is not through violence, but by preaching with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. I now question whether you’ve actually read it. It’s obvious that you don’t know what its even about. I think you are the perfect candidate for this challenge. Why don’t you take it up? What do you have to lose?//

    Uh-huh? This is getting silly? I bet it is friend, I bet it is. For once, I agree to you. Your reply IS getting silly. never did I say that the message of the Bible is to spread it through violence. For one, till much of the Old testament there is nothing specific to preach about and the real proselytizing part begins when everybody has to be convinced that Christ is the true Son of God and none else (a gigantic effort, therefore, has to be made to spread an assertion, quite loudly, without any proof). but was it really carried out that way? I don’t think so. The Inquisitions and the Crusades are classic examples. The very nature of any proselytization and spreading a belief system while considering it to be a fundamental part of it will and has inevitably led to violent conflicts.

    //It should make you cringe in terror, because of the state that you and every other person is in by nature: under God’s wrath.//
    No, I am not of any particular ‘nature’ by worth, and just because you believe in some tosh doesn’t mean it is so. You have no right to make personal remarks about me or general remarks against all humanity, whatever your beliefs may be. I am fortunate that even when I used to believe in some form of higher power, I was never taught this as a child and I think it is stupid to say so to anyone. Please refrain. Though having its own faults, at-least Hinduism (more or less my family’s religion) doesn’t resort to pinning the blame for every wrong in the world on humans themselves, and more specifically, teach this appalling doctrine that all are born sinners. You and I are better than this, and if not you, I know it and I will lead a fulfilled and satisfied life with that knowledge and not ashamed of being born as I am.

    //There are plenty of rational people who believe the Bible. The Bible does not, as you claim, tell us to lay aside reason. It invites us to follow God’s reasoning, which is quite reasonable. “Let us reason together”, God says. There is a God who created the universe. He has revealed himself to man. This revelation is recorded in a book. It’s the Bible. I can show you a copy of it. Can you show me any irrationality in these statements?//
    //In fact, there is, because it is objectively true, whether I believe it or not.//

    Many otherwise rational people believe in a lot of things. They believe in conspiracy theories, in homeopathy, etc as well. Their overall average sense of objective judgement does not mean that they suspend that same though process when it comes to a particular assertions: the God question being foremost. This belief can be easily classified as delusional though the person holding it may be perfectly normal. Doesn’t take away the fact that it’s still a delusional belief. ‘God’s reasoning’ is for one thing, not reasoning at all and this little dictum of ‘let’s reason together’ is nonsense, all it means is that let us unconditionally accept what is told to us by our Lord who otherwise will be angry and cast you in Hell. That, by no definition, is reasoning. But your statement : ‘… God’s reasoning, which is quite reasonable’ may surely serve as a line in a limerick; may I use it in mine?
    As for your irrationality, your first statement in the ludicrous chain of “There is a God who created the universe. He has revealed himself to man. This revelation is recorded in a book. It’s the Bible. I can show you a copy of it” reeks of it.:

    //There is a God who created the Universe// BASELESS. Show me the proof other than the Bible which is the assertion.
    . //He has revealed himself to man// Says the Bible, again the assertion and not the proof.
    //This revelation is recorded in the book, it’s the Bible// No supporting evidence. Ample scholarly works demonstrate that the Bible in fact was translated and re translated and even written long after the events it describes. Thus, it credibility comes down to zero, if it wasn’t so when it was first established that it has no validity to speak of.
    //I can show you a copy of it// Well okay, this one holds, I have a Bible as well.

    It is not objectively true, In order to claim something as being objectively true you have to go through a lot of pains to prove it to be so instead of just conveniently cracking open a book and proclaiming your faith in it and reaching the conclusion that it must be true. That is not the case at all, in reality. You have to prove to me,(as I have said for the umpteenth time) without using the bible itself as ‘evidence’ because it is the claim, not the proof.

    //More claims without any rational or evidential support. Not convincing. The reliability of the text of Scripture as it has been handed down through history is really quite impressive, even to non-believing scholars. That it is old does not make it untrue.//

    Oh no it’s not. Please provide me the scholarly sources referring to exactly what part of the Scripture you say is reliable. The magic claims that are made in it? And you talk of rational and evidential support? As if you’ve been providing it yourself. The very nature of this conversation places you as claimant and i as listener, so all burden of proof is on you, not me. So I don’t see why the evidential and rational support (which I have provided in plenty anyway) should come from my side.

    //Faith embraces the truth that God will, in the future, perform what he has promised. It’s made believable by the experience of what he has done in the past. The evidence of who God is and what he has done makes it possible to believe that he will yet do what he has said he will do. That is faith.//
    So let’s talk about who’s going on and on without any evidential and rational support whatsoever. Neither do you know for certain, conclusively and with concrete proof that God has promised you anything (no, the Bible doesn’t count as the reason you know it because…. claim not proof, remember?) nor do you know whether he’s going to do what he’s ‘promised’ to do in the future. That is AT BEST, an unfalsifiable hypothesis. In the future, Lord Vishnu’s final avatar ‘Kalki’ will come on a white horse when the world is deluged by the Great Flood (sounds familiar?) and take the righteous with him before the world enters dissolution and He sleeps just before the beginning of another cosmic cycle. There you go, another claim. My proof? The Puranas. Why is it my proof? because the Puranas say so (fortunately, no one goes to hell for not believing it). You said faith embraces that idea, that fantastical situation; and that is my point. That’s all you’ve got. Faith. An unsupported belief, a conviction that you’ve set to be true IS true and IS going to happen, regardless of what the facts say or what reason says.

    //Do you really think that you have an “unbiased” outlook when it comes to the Bible? Your statements suggest otherwise. The power of the word of God in the assembly really has nothing to do with the influence of other people. It has to do with the presence of God. It is God who gave the Bible in the first place, and it is he who provides the subjective evidence to the soul that it is indeed true, in addition to the objective evidence in the text that anyone can see.//

    Outlook or conclusion reached after studying a source can never be ‘unbiased’. One has to form an opinion at the end of one’s labors. My opinion, as is clear to you, is formed. So your first statement was incoherent, but I answered nonetheless.
    The power of mass acceptance of a particular claim is immense, whether you accede to this or not is a separate matter. In simpler words, it is what is called peer pressure and indoctrination, along with repeated drilling of the same line of thought over and over again. There is no such thing as subjective evidence. All that exists is subjective response to and reception of phenomena, after that, it has to be evidenced independent of personal judgement if you make objective claims. The text that you say is the objective claim is not the objective claim because it has not been tested, peer reviewed or given any empirical or logical backup. It is at best, a poor assertion.

    //I have studied both books. They are not well-done. They both have many kinds of defects that the Bible does not. How thoroughly have you studied the Bible?//
    Oh yes? Please detail the ‘defects’ and if those ‘defects are simply disagreeing with your Bible then you’re happily spiraling down your circular reasoning path again, which I think is your favorite among the many different logical fallacies that you like to use. One of them is the straw man and even ad hominem. How thoroughly I have studied the Bible has little or nothing to do with the doubts I have raised over its essence, which are very independent of it or any other Holy text supposedly sent by your God, who just happens to be another deity of another tribe of another place of another planet…. in this great, grand Universe which I refuse to attribute to such pettiness.

    You have also said nothing about 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. Please do and share your views about it, no?
    After reading though your responses to different comments and seeing my ordeal of elucidating the simplest of logical concepts while approaching such basic level notions to you, I daresay many would be disinclined to join at all.
    I must also say that if this response of mine gets posted and you in turn generously reply, I will be compelled to exit the discussion if the same fallacies and misconstructions, especially referring to the non existent ‘higher’ authority of your deity without any logic behind it are displayed again. You may consider that as an atheist and unbeliever, bound for hell, has decided to flee and embrace grudgingly the might of your LORD. In actuality however, I don’t see much use in reasoning when a dead end has been hit. I get quite stiff from typing out the same old stuff again and again, you see.

    If there’s something new from you to add, I’ll be happy, however, to carry on.

    Peace and tasty noodles in the name of the LORD and Mster of Universe, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    • Arjun, I’m glad to be having this discussion with you. The purpose of this post was to encourage people to read the Bible and hear it preached consistently–not to feel qualified to criticize it without really knowing it. Although I would be happy to deal with your further questions of evidence and specific passages, it would take a lot of space and time. I do not have a lot of spare time to devote to this, and a lot of the work has been done already, better than I could do, by other Christians. But I will continue to engage your specific questions, as I am able, but first I would like you to certify that you have recently read through the entire Bible and that you have been attending a church which faithfully preaches it. If you are unwilling to do so, I’m afraid our dialogue will be fruitless. I can’t prove to you that something is authentic if you are not willing to look at it thoroughly as it should be. May the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit richly bless and save you.

      • Arjun

        I thought you posed a challenge and I met it.
        It’s not necessary for me to go to a church or listen to a priest go on and on about a book which I, being a literate person, can read in the comfort of my own home without my reading of it being biased by what I’m being told about it, especially if that person happens to be an avid believer of the said text. And no one has to be ‘qualified’ to criticize a myth. At best, one needs to know what it is saying and that knowledge is with me. I’ve been painfully making my way through the Old Testament (New is done) but its poor plot outline, bad narrative, two dimensional characters, overt repetitions and zero plot twists (anyone can predict what’s going to happen next, come on) tare giving me a headache now…

        The ‘work’ done by ‘many other Christians’ must then, include, claims even more outlandish than this; the Creationism nuisance for example. Or are you referring to Christian apologists, who occasionally tear away their Bibles from its near permanent place hugged close to their breasts and cherry pick verses attempting to make a smokescreen of alleged academic and scholarly worth out of them?
        If you say that you think that Batman doesn’t really exist, would it require you to read every issue, starting from Detective Comics to the present day Batman series, plus watch all the movies ever made about him and all the cartoon shows as well before you can reach to the conclusion? Isn’t a claim that has ‘LIE’ written on its face worthy of being chucked there and then instead of pretending that it is something more than just a false claim and thus needs to be ‘studied’ and ‘researched’ and ‘taught’?

        And none of the three are interested in being with me (God, Son and Spirit; if they even exist) anytime soon. On the contrary, I know that your deity, your very, very angry and jealous deity, is planning the most horrible things for me right now….

        Thank you all the same.

    • Arjun, you have admitted that you have not met the challenge, so I will refrain from further discussion with you until you do. The Bible is not a dead book. It is a living document meant to be proclaimed by a live voice and applied to the specific lives and situations of those who hear. Until you take up the full challenge, the conversation is over. This is only logical, since it does not make sense to keep talking about something that one party in the conversation has no intention of seriously evaluating.

      If you decide to complete the challenge, let me know when you have. Until then, I will leave you with a link to a free book that provides answers to some of your specific questions: Why Christianity is True by Mark Hausam http://www.lulu.com/shop/mark-hausam/why-christianity-is-true/ebook/product-18953167.htmlU

      • Arjun

        I clearly said :
        ‘I thought you posed a challenge and I met it.’ Like I have said, you have only created this ‘challenge’ criteria in this discussion to evade any real questioning that may come from my side. I have demonstrated that it is not necessary to waste one’s time going in the fine details of a baseless assertion to refute it. If two comic nerd passionately slug it out between Spiderman and Iron man’s powers based on Stan lee’s marvel Universe, it still doesn;t mean that they exist (though they’re very cool, both of them). Same goes for you and your little book of fairy-tales. Merely knowing what it says and then finding that it agrees to no reasoning whatsoever is enough to dismiss it. Have you read every Batman comic there is? Then how do you know that there isn’t a Gotham and there isn’t a Batman? If I give you a giant 10 day old burger to eat , will you have to eat all of it before ascertaining that it is spoilt and it tastes horrible?

        And if we’re doing book recommendations here, read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings by David G McAfee which will more than ‘answer’ your questions. Throughout the course of this charade, which I will now be exiting, you have waved the banner of ‘first try and let a *good* Church and an *unbiased* reading of the Bible con you’ before you speak. You have demonstrated a good capacity for changing goals, evading questions and general logical fallacies. Posting links to random books doesn’t change anything, if you have anything credible to say, let’s hear it. And as our previous discussions have shown, what you consider ‘credible’ are usually just opinions you love to hug to your chest. Not one shred of objective evidence came my way for all my troubles. What else did I expect anyway….

      • You have not met the challenge. You may not like the challenge. Yet the Word of God was meant to be preached and heard. It is not just a book. Its message is contained in the Bible, but more than that, the Word of God is a message from God to his creatures. I think it just makes sense and is intellectually honest to fully examine something that you are going to criticize. I am not going to go on the internet and start posting critiques of Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, since I have not seen it. And I would not think that reading the script would be enough to lend credibility to such a critique, since it was meant to be watched. Argument from ignorance only makes one look less than credible.

        You are free to post or not on this blog. But please know that your posts will not be approved if you continue in this bellicose tone which detracts from the discussion. I wish you all the best.

  8. Arjun

    Some typos and grammatical errors have crept in due to my refutation being very long. I apologize for the inconvenience, though I’m sure you’ll be able to discern what I mean.

  9. Michelle G.

    @highplainsparson:

    Think about this, and think about it very hard –
    If you were born in Iran, or India or Tibet, what holy book would you be reading?
    What religion would you be preaching?

    It can’t get simpler than that, every human being is born an atheist, we are all atheists by default, then depending on the culture and society one is born into, and the religion and belief that said society practices, one starts to get indoctrinated into said religion and belief.

    Atheists, skeptics and agnostics et al, were simply all just smart to resist the indoctrination and wallow in delusions.Results of a recent research has even shown that non-believers have higher intelligence quotients than believers. FACT.

    Again, this is my counter challenge – ask yourself that question above;
    If you were born in Iran or India or Japan, or Tibet, what holy book would you be reading?
    And do yourself a favor, answer that question honestly.

    • Michelle, I don’t quite get your suggestion that atheism is the default position of the human race. If that were the case, why has every culture in every nation in history held and practiced one or more religions, and the only nations which have openly promoted atheism (USSR, PRC, NK, North Vietnam) had to use significant indoctrination to be heard? And now they are quite unsuccessful at maintaining atheism among a significant portion of their populations. In other words, why is theistic religion so absolutely universal to human society? Christianity has been growing by leaps and bounds in those former atheistic nations, in recent decades.

      Science has no explanation for the universal human phenomenon of theism. They are searching for something they refer to as the “God particle.” The simple explanation is that there is a God, who created mankind with an innate desire to be in communion with him. This is expressed in many ways in many forms of religion and spirituality throughout the world. Although man wishes to be in contact with his Creator, he perverts and mutates his ideas of him in many false and idolatrous ways due to sin. This is why the Creator had to reveal himself to man, and why the Bible was necessary.

      As to your question as to what religion I would hold, what book I would be reading and preaching, if I were born in Iran, Tibet, India, or Japan? That, I simply can’t answer, not being omniscient. It would be left up to God’s Providence to determine these things. But I will say that there are literally millions of Bible-believing Christians today among the native populations in India and Iran, including personal friends of mine. And Christians are not absent in Tibet and Japan. There are entire Christian denominations functioning in Japan! There was a time in history when most Bible-believing Christians were located in Europe and North America (after the European peoples gave up paganism and embraced the gospel.) But today, and for over twenty years now, over 2/3 of Bible-believing Christians are outside of Europe and North America. We are truly a global faith and movement. Before long, there will be more Christians in China than there are in the US, at current rates of conversion.

      These things are not equal. Christianity is unique. Every day hundreds of Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, and Muslims, disillusioned with the religions in which they were brought up, are hearing the good news and placing their faith in Jesus Christ, because the see his superiority over every other God, religion, and philosophy. They are turning to Christ much as my ancestors in northern Europe turned from their false Gods to worship the true and living God 1300 years ago. They left something false and perverted for that which was demonstrably true and superior, that is, the benevolent rule of King Jesus.

      • Arjun

        I don’t think you’ve even considered that question properly, but your answers about Hindus and others ‘finding the joy’ of Christ are literally very funny. How very condescending of you, though. So your preferred myth and deity is superior to all other myths and deities? Such conceit. I can visualize a Tibetan monk jumping for joy when a missionary ‘saves’ him: “GOOD NEWS! THERE WAS A FELLOW IN A DESERT WHO WAS NAILED TO A CROSS BECAUSE HE MANAGED TO ANGER THE LOCAL ELITE BY CLAIMING HIS DAD WAS GOD! HOW HAPPY I AM THAT HE DIED TO ‘SAVE’ ME EVEN THOUGH I CULTURALLY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM AT ALL. ANYWAY, THANKS FOR THE BIBLE! WHOPPPEEE!”

        You know Hindus (at least most of them) are never told about there being only one God and only one Son and his one true religion, etc. In fact, there is no such thing as the ‘one’ in the Hindu cultural milieu. Finally they talk of the Ultimate Reality, but at the ground level for everyday people, there are 3 million + options to choose from, and that too with unlimited combinations. The point here is that the less a thought system proselytizes and claims to establish itself as the ‘one and only'(which is the primary fault of the monotheists), the less cases of intolerance and misery it beings to other people it tries to ‘redeem’ and ‘save’. You and I know both know how Christianity has spread itself ‘by the sword’ whereas never will you hear of the same thing as in the case of Hindus or Buddhists or Jains or Taoists, etc. In fact, in the worship room of our house (we call it the mandir) we have the picture of the Last Supper right above and opposite our various idols of the other gods. In the ‘vishwaroop’ (the universal form) of God we even have Jesus’ face included in the many faces of other gods as part of the Universal Reality. The essence being that it is this tolerance and acceptance, rather than exclusiveness and rejection that finally enables a belief system to survive without ‘competing’ with rival ones (as Christianity and Islam have always done). As for me, idols are about as valid a way to getting to your sky fairy as is closing your eyes and talking to yourself in your head. At least the idol tells you what the fellow looks like (if the sky daddy exists, that is).

        Michelle’s question succinctly brings out the faults in your own stream of thought. Your religion is nothing special, and nor is it exempt from the processes that have enabled others to establish themselves as well. No religion is the ‘right’ one because all of them are myths. Atheism is the default position because without being told about a religion, an individual would never dream it up on his own and thus it leaves you an ‘unbeliever’ or an ‘atheist’ (the dirty word)

      • If, as you believe, all religions were equally false, it would be arrogant to wish someone to convert to my religion. But if Christianity is true in distinction from all other religions, as I believe, it is not arrogance, but love that wishes them to convert. Anything that I have, I received as a free gift. I want others to receive the same gift.

  10. I have worshiped with Indian Christian brothers and sisters in India who were later attacked and beaten by Hindu mobs wielding tire irons. Some peacemakers! But we both know that the actions of some individuals do not necessarily represent the religion or philosophy that they claim to hold to. The same is true of Christianity. The name has been misused by various people at times, but the good news is of a kingdom which is not of this world. And yes, there is supreme joy among those I have met who have been brought into the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ from all kinds of false religions and philosophies including from atheism. You can see a big smile on their faces that melts your heart.

    • Arjun

      You seem to know very little about the political situation that has led to Hindu -Christian violence and I’m not here to teach you Indian politics. Your ‘Christians brothers and sisters’ have had more than their fair share of the pie in certain parts of my country and it’s best if we don’t go into the details. That being said, that mob did not act according to any teaching of Hinduism, direct or indirect. They were politically motivated hoodlums out there to garner a vote bank. There are a lot of idiots out here who have converted it into just a militant ‘religion’ like any other and rest assured, I couldn’t care less. Hinduism be damned just as much as any other religion, I won’t bat an eyelid. It has given India its fair share of nuisance as well (caste system, of which the missionaries incidentally took full advantage of to make desperately downtrodden and poor people convert to their religion) But the neutral truth is that there is no text whatsoever that preaches conversion in any form. there is simply nothing to convert to, no prophet to follow, no absolute God to finally worship and accept as the one and only. It is too flexible to even begin to summarize and it quickly moves from one niche to another. In fact, Hinduism did not even identify itself as a religion until the British and the Muslims before them did it for them. The term ‘Hindu’ itself was introduced from outside, no text of this diverse religion even identifies it being a single unit. All this just to tell you that this particular religion has nothing against any other,According to it both Jesus and Mohammed can be equally valid paths to your supposed ‘goal’, and even mine is. never did I say that Hindus were’peacemakers’, I said the religion was tolerant and that is a fact, or else there won’t be any ‘Christian brothers and sisters’ in this country at all (the same can’t be said of the Muslims because they were our rulers with the power to impose Islam). If it had been a rigid belief system with a proselytizing nature such as your religion’s, then there would not have been 3 completely different religions that stemmed from it and existed peacefully alongside. Do not mistake me for a Hindu supporter and much less as a Hindu. I am merely stating cold facts here, no personal bias.

      As for your ‘good news’, that is something that you establish by rigorous and constant attempts at trying to convince people about, so that doesn’t seem much credible. If it really is so true and so great, it will make itself known on its own. The Christian act instead makes it look like something that would vanish if not repeatedly told to oneself and others.
      And last of all, those bright happy smiles on the faces of Christians may be because of anything. How do you know? I would be rather wary of people who smile because of a story of one person tortured and nailed to two slats of wood was told to them. Rather unsettling and creepy, no?

      • Not if he voluntarily went to death in your place, to take your punishment on your behalf, and then rose from the dead so that you would never die. That is good news indeed!

      • My friends in India who were savagely attacked for their Christian faith and whose house was burnt to the ground by an angry mob were the victims of politics, for which they have no responsibility. They are poor, simple folks, and not politically-motivated. They were only meeting to worship their Savior. Yes, I know that Christians in much of the world are used as scapegoats for the politics of western powers and other things, to which the US and other western powers always seem to turn a bind eye. But such violence is completely unjustified. I think you agree, and I am glad to know so.

  11. Angela Martin

    Highplainsparson:
    “Yet the Word of God was meant to be preached and heard.”

    Spoken like a true Catholic priest. Shame on you.

    Arjun: “I find the entire Noah’s Ark story both laughable and disgusting.”
    Me, Angela, I found the same.

    Yet, Highplainsparson replied:
    “I don’t. I find it true, instructive, and relevant to life today.”

    I’m disgusted by you, Highplainsparson, in your callousness and approval of evil.

    it’s very obvious to me that you have aligned your morals with the evil and stupid old testament god. A callous disregard for animal rights. I pity the poor animals in and around your family.

    Don’t bother replying Highplainsparson, you disgust me.

    • Save your pseudo-righteous indignation. While we are talking about “disgust”, I’m disgusted by the sin of man, the evil which brought down the flood upon the world, and I admire the righteousness of God’ for justly punishing sinners. Noah deserved it too. God was merciful to save him and his family. So in the flood I can admire God’s justice and his mercy. So can all those who have been given eyes to see.

      The word being meant to be preached, and not only read, is not a particularly Roman Catholic doctrine. It is one of the foundational doctrines of the Protestant churches; and it is clearly taught in both Testaments of Scripture. Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
      15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

      Ephesians 4
      11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

      12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

      13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

  12. Chad

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/28/pew-forum-religious-knowledge-survey_n_741349.html

    Atheist/Agnostics statistically know more than your average believer. I am an atheist because I read the bible.

    • Sadly, I did not find the results of the survey to be surprising. It is obvious that not everyone who claims to be a Christian has a clue what they are talking about, and this survey confirms it. The challenge for the “average believer” is for another post. Surveys have some natural limitations, including that they must take answers at face value, and that they must ask superficial questions. So it really doesn’t mean that atheists have read the Bible with any depth of comprehension.

      I’d like to see how they do on a short answer quiz with questions like, what is God? what is the gospel? explain the way of salvation. What is the nature of Christ?, etc. This is basic stuff but it starts getting below the surface to the milk of the word.

      So what about you? Do you believe that you have met the challenge? Did you read the whole Bible? How recently? And were you attending a church that believes the Bible when you read it?

      • Chad

        //like to see how they do on a short answer quiz with//

        That would have more to do with your confirmation bias, the answers you want are just your arbitrarily decided upon and cherry picked interpretations.

        //you believe that you have met the challe//

        Your challenge supposes conditions for reading and interpretation that are non-existent. Such as ‘reading with a scientific approach’. Your qualifications are little more than special pleading fallacies, you offer no obvious explanations and their is a veritable chasm of vague notions of what you mean.

        //And were you attending a church that bel//

        This is an excellent example. The only thing you’re willing to qualify as a ‘true’ bible believing church is one that fits your narrowly defined arbitrary interpretation. It is inserted as if your position or the position of someone else MUST be qualified through that pleaded qualification.

        Your job is to explain why I would ever turn to page 1, chapter 1, line 1, and read it to mean anything regardless if I interpret it metaphorical or literal.

      • It’s not as if these things are unclear in Scripture. There are many things in the Bible so clear that a relatively uneducated person with a Bible in a prison cell could grasp the answers with just a little diligence.

        It would help if you would give specifics. A laundry list of fallacies (see how many I can mention in one comment!) is not helpful.

        I purposely left the definition of “church” broad for the purpose of this challenge. The only stipulation is that it be a church which takes the Bible seriously as divine revelation and preaches it. Because of the clarity of Scripture, there will be considerable agreement between such churches.

        So you haven’t answered my questions. Does this mean you’re unwilling to take the challenge?

        You ask why you should even crack open the Bible. I answered that in the post above. If nothing else, it lends you a bit more credibility for your opinions about the Bible, and allows you to have an intelligent conversation about it. Honestly, why any intelligent person would ask that question is beyond me. Even Richard Dawkins recommends that people read the Bible. If you don’t, you will be severely deficient in your understanding of history, western culture, and European languages (like English), among other reasons.

  13. Pingback: In The Name of The Lord | Arjun's Restless Reverie...

  14. To remain objective and eliminate bias, one method scientists use is the “Null hypothesis” when approaching a problem. This hypothesis says if you can disprove what you believe to be true then the null hypothesis is correct. Thus, for Christians who believe God exists, the null hypothesis would be to prove God does not exist. If you cannot prove God does not exist, then your conclusion is God exists. For atheists, the null hypothesis would be the opposite. Since it requires faith to believe both ways, God exists and does not exist, it’s not likely either side wins. So who wins the argument? God wins because he just sorted the good seeds that fell on fertile ground from the bad seeds. Am sure God will find a place for disbelievers, but it may not be in Heaven with the faithful. Since both sides won’t know until we get there and since we’re betting on eternity, I suggest disbelieves take the “Gambler’s Theory” and go with the believers. For disbelievers, the question is “What if you’re wrong?” Sower of the Seeds, Matthew 13:8 & Mark 4:8 See Null hypothesis, Wikipedia
    Richard, Ret. Teacher & Catholic Prison Minister,

    • Thank you for your welcome input, Richard. But my faith as a Christian is not based on a null hypothesis which says that God exists because it cannot be proven that he does not exist. It is based on evidence, objective and subjective. And of this, that the Triune God of Scripture is the only true God, Christians may have full certainty even this side of heaven. Atheists are essentially in denial. They know that God exists because he implanted that knowledge into them at creation. But they borrow from his world, his universe and then try to turn around and use the things he made to establish that he does not exist. But without presupposing the God of Scripture, you cannot truly know or understand anything in the universe. The evidence is there to be seen, and the evidence rules out the non-existence of God, not only as unlikely, but as a distinct impossibility. Your “gambler’s theory” may induce someone to give religion a try in an outward sense, although that’s perhaps not likely, but only the Holy Spirit can give them a full and saving faith based on a conviction that the Triune God of Scripture is true. Nevertheless, the universe points to him as Creator, and we may show this evidence to atheists.

      • The Null hypothesis is one method for making two opposing arguments on the same issue rational and objective and does not exclude faith. My suggestion was a method for disbelievers to make their argument against God’s existence on a rational level by making all the reasons they could think of that God does not exist. This process forces them to learn faith in God as a basis for their objection. For those of us who believe God exists we will use rational reasons to prove God’s existence. For this we need good faith-based answers for every legitimate question. In fact, I believe it takes more faith to believe God does not exist than it does for His existence because they are trying to prove a negative. On each side of the argument faith is one of the reasons for our two positions. But I believe, as I believe you do, there are more rational arguments to prove God’s existence than there are against it. Would it not be better to turn a passionate disbeliever into a reluctant believer searching for reasons to believe rather than looking for reasons not to believe? As a Protestant convert to Catholicism the “Gambler’s Theory” convinced me it was a safer way to answer my questions while inside the Church than outside it. Never did I question the existence of God, only Catholicism. BTW our mission for all volunteer prison ministers of all faiths is not for conversion but to bring Hope and God’s word to prisoners in a non-denominational way. Conversion is the job of the Holy Spirit. How do you see it?
        Rich, Ret. Teacher & Catholic Prison Minister

  15. It doesn’t hurt to study the apologetic arguments, but in the end saving faith is a gift of God, by the working of the Holy Spirit to bring a dead sinner to life in Christ. It would be helpful for someone to clearly lay out their arguments against the existence of God, as you suggest, so that they could be systematically dismantled. I agree 100% that conversion is a work of the Holy Spirit.

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