Saturday, 9 May 2009

God Is Not a Supernatural Terrorist

How we think about God matters, and the kindergarten mindset of the "Big Dude In The Sky" with thunderbolts and a scowl just doesn't cut the mustard. Here's a short article by Michael Dowd that attacks the fallacy at the heart of the problem.

For what it's worth, I believe the question "do you believe in God" is meaningless unless the term "God" is clearly defined. The Sky Father is a projection, not a reality - a human idol and nothing else. It's no tragedy to see it disappear like the smile on the Cheshire Cat, passing the way of Zeus and Odin. Is that atheism? No, it's a commitment to end idolatry. Put another way, many of the folk who call themselves atheists have a much clearer vision of the pervasive idolatry that parades under the cloak of Christianity than the rest of us.

Have a look at the article, and see if you agree. There's a lot more available here.

149 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't agree. I think this guy is full of it, and like most "enlightened believers" wants not only to have and eat his cake, but to order it special made with little swirly things on top. Once you start re-shaping the god of the bible in your own vision (in this case, to avoid the embarrassment of the bible), the god of the bible ceases to exist; you have just made up your own, brand new god.
You may as well give him or her a new name and write your own "sacred" scriptures.


The Apostate Paul

Corky said...

Yep, all your life you have been taught that the bible is literally the word of God. Now all of a sudden it is opinion of goat herders under the influence.

Typical of Christians. Run, duck, dodge and make up more lies to prop up the old lies.

Gavin said...

To be fair, fellas, outside American fundamentalism this kind of discourse has been going on for over 200 years. The problem is that the preachers are often scared to pass on the "enlightenment" to the folks in the pews. The insight about God as a projection was first coined by Feuerbach, then taken on board by Christian thinkers like Kierkegaard (circa 1830).

"God created mankind in his own image, and in requital we created God in ours. A person’s conception of God is essentially determined by the kind of person he is."
Kierkegaard.

Of course, you won't have heard this kind of thing from Herb, or Billy Graham for that matter, but by the same token it isn't a case of desperate apologetics either.

Bamboo_bends said...

Bravo Gavin!

About time someone addressed the issue of whether the God people worship is an unforgiving blood lusting monster who beats people with a rod of iron, or the Abba Father Jesus spoke of!

lnrd said...

gavin goes fishing

Anonymous said...

"About time someone addressed the issue of whether the God people worship is an unforgiving blood lusting monster who beats people with a rod of iron, or the Abba Father Jesus spoke of!"

This is exactly what I am talking about. Where do people get the idea that god (the god of the bible) is a monster? From the bible.

Where do you get the idea of an Abba Father god? From Jesus, right? And what is your source? The bible.

It seems that the main source of information on your god is the bible. I don't see how people can disregard one view of god that is in the bible yet uphold a different view of god that isn't in the bible yet still claim to worship the god of the bible.

And the author doesn't really present a definitive case for Abba Father as opposed to Genocidal Murdering Father beside his own wishful thinking.


"God is said to employ “the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or intimate...”, which is how the U.S. Department of Defense defines terrorism. We all know this is not true, of course. God is NOT a supernatural terrorist. But because many passages in scripture clearly portray God in just such an unflattering light.."

How do we "know this is not true???" His only connection with his god is the bible, right? I can assume that he has never seen or heard his god, beyond wishful thinking and subjective experiences. Outside of the bible he has absolutely no way of knowing what his god is like. NONE. He may have an idea of what he WANTS his god to be, but he has no way of knowing. Yet he finds unflattering passages about his god in the bible and instead of finding a less bloodthirsty god to worship, he decides that the bible, which is his sole source of information on his god, may not be true.

I have to admit that I have more respect for nutcase fundamentals(like many here) than the religious intellectuals. At least the nutcases are being honest, as best they can.


The Apostate Paul

Corky said...

The thing is, Gavin, Jesus thought that the OT book was literal and he should know, right?

If not, well, maybe PhD theologians know more than Jesus did about the Jewish scriptures.

Byker Bob said...

One thing which I believed when I was agnostic, I still believe today. Evolution of the human experience is undeniable. Compared to our levels of education today, and our abilities to communicate, many of the people who were involved in the writing, transcribing, or redacting of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, were primitive.

I personally believe that much of the material included in the Old Covenant is deliberately intended to appear unattractive. The only purposes it has is to provide us with a sense of history so that we know why Jesus Christ was so sorely needed by humanity.

If you watch old Star Trek episodes, you see within the starship Enterprise, a crew with transcendent minds. We're extended that encouraging image of the future, and led to believe that mankind will evolve to this point of advancement. Although Star Trek provided a glimpse into a secular utopia, the basic concept of a transformed heart is rooted in the revolutionary teachings of Jesus Christ.

I believe I'm going to aquire Dowd's book. What he has to offer, while I may not fully embrace it, deserves contemplation.

BB

Anonymous said...

You know, I was wondering what kind of responses this was going to get, which was why I held off posting.

My initial reaction to Gavin's excerpt of the article was right on, that's it on the money. Then I read the article. Can you guess where Dowd lost me?

"We all know this is not true, of course. God is NOT a supernatural terrorist."

I know it's unintended, and the fella is probably a nice guy IRL, but the sneering superiority and the Christian entitlement is ALMOST as bad as "the new atheists" he so derides.

(I can't stand "the new atheists" either, FWIW: Even though I agree with the majority of their concepts vis a vis the non-existence of "the spirit world", I absolutely despise the packaging and presentation they use.)

Another fallacy that people here still haven't kicked (that I believe is ingrained in us because of our experience in the church), is the idea that "the bible", i.e., the Anglican translation of the canonical Catholic texts, with a few bonus features thrown in, IS any kind of unified whole, or overarching mythos.

The truth is definitively anything but.

There IS no such thing as "THE holy bible", because all we have is a mishmash of (as Bob says) primitive writings by primitive men (and women --- some gnostic texts are authored by women, or claim to be), writing from different parts of the world, at vastly different times.

The net effect of the Holy Christian Bible is as if someone took (for example, off the top of my head) Hindu comics, Muslim sharia law texts, Jewish grade school grammar readers, and American harlequin romances (all written in different time periods, and different places, by vastly different people), translated all the texts into English, slapped them between one cover, and pronounced them unified.

The truth is, it simply ain't so.

That said, however, that quote from Kierkegaard is partially correct: Men DO create god(s), a fact which the Valentinian gnostics even acknowledged (the Christian response to which was, to hunt them down like dogs).

"But without a sacred deep time worldview we'll lack the eyes to see and ears to hear how glorious the good news actually is—that is, in a this-world realistic way. And. of course, we'll continue to be publicly (and rightfully!) mocked by the new atheists."

My response to this is, you can't get there from here. A "sacred deep time worldview" from Christianity?? Hmm, well Tom Harpur tried that, and look what's happened to him. He's been villified by both sides. Dowd is, I believe, attempting the same.

"I quote several new atheists at length who show the limitations of traditional ways of viewing scripture. I also show how God's word, God's will, and God's guidance are REALized by a meaningful evolutionary worldview."

I dunno, Gavin, it seems like a bit of the old bait-and-switch to me. "You don't like that god? You're absolutely right! Here, have another!"

Um, pass, thanks. It's not for me.

"The insight about God as a projection was first coined by Feuerbach, then taken on board by Christian thinkers like Kierkegaard (circa 1830)."

The nineteenth century was when the ideas of religious Gnosticism really began to flourish, inspired in part by the writings of philosophers as quoted above.

Of course, the "hidden TRUE TRUTH for 1900 years" the Gnostics hold to is pure crap. Any Gnostic religion claiming "apostolic succession" needs to be avoided like the black death, because they've swapped one brand of fundamentalism for another (as I suspect Dowd of attempting, in a Christian context).

"'God created mankind in his own image, and in requital we created God in ours. A person’s conception of God is essentially determined by the kind of person he is.'
Kierkegaard."

Drop the first sentence, which infers the Deist fallacy, and I'm onboard. Bolstered, I add, by that passage from the Gospel of Philip, said quote which I use consistently, and won't bore you with again.

"but by the same token it isn't a case of desperate apologetics either."

I don't know if I agree with that entirely, Gavin. I mean yes, Dowd is attempting to draw people in to a "kinder, gentler" religion, so to speak. But is it really? At the heart of it lies the same fallacy that god(s) created men.

I applaud men like Dowd and Harpur, but I wish they would go one step further, and abandon the idea that "god" or the concept of same, is anything outside the boundaries of the human mind to begin with. An overarching external force? No. Men create gods. Within themselves, within others, within the texts from the past that they read and rearrange, to their whim. (Hmmm, now where have I seen that last tactic before, I wonder?)

There is no "Oversoul". Deep time worldview, non-linear consciousness, sure that exists, and can even be tapped into by atheists. (Meditation and/or mindfulness, anyone?) That mental space is NOT extrinsic to ourselves however, it is a manifestation of the three evolved (and evolving) cortexes of our brain (we all have one) trying to work together as a unified whole, without making us crazy.

(Sometimes this unification fails: Schizophrenia, paranoia, other mental illnesses, etcetera are manifestations of this.)

All that aside, Gavin! I didn't know you leaned towards Deism!! Or are you just looking to inspire debate, as lnrd's illustration indicates? ;-)

ExAndroid said...

Gavin said:

"I believe the question 'do you believe in God' is meaningless unless the term 'God' is clearly defined."

That has been stated for years by freethinkers. Now, who will attempt that task? Who dares to describe just what "God" is without an endless list of personal adjectives? Bring on the chap that will try to accomplish the impossible.

I believe we now can get ready for evasiveness.

How Hi Herb said...

Definitely off topic. Some time ago, one of the xCOGblogs brought up a question about Herb's height. I don't think there was a definite answer.

Following the reference in the story of Loma's dreamtime in Living Armstrongism to Herb's serialized Autobiography, he claimed to be 5 feet, 6 and a half inches tall. He mentioned this in his WWI draft story.

That puts him at about 169 cm, the same height as Napoleon (who is often thought to be shorter) and shorter than Hitler (173 cm, about 5'8").

Anonymous said...

Einstein once stated that science without religion was lame and religion without science was blind.

Kierkegaard said...

First a passage from Kierkegaard with Feuerbachian overtones, and then some interpretive notes.

God created mankind in his own image, and in requital we created God in ours. A person’s conception of God is essentially determined by the kind of person he is. (C. E. Moore ed., Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, p. 313.)

1. The first sentence’s literary effect depends on an equivocation on ‘God.’ In its first occurrence, it denotes God, in its second, our conception of God.

2. The equivocation on ‘God’ is logically harmless, and the thought is coherent: God creates man, and man creates a concept of God that reflects human limitations. S. K. does not confuse God with the concept of God in the way Feuerbach does.

3. The discursive intellect’s only access to God is via the God-concept. Feuerbach confuses this concept with God and then traces the origin of the concept to an unconscious anthropomorphic projection/idealization. The Feuerbachian thesis that God is an anthropomorphic projection unconsciously made thus begs the question against the existence of God. Indeed, the thesis is equivalent to the thesis that God does not exist. For it is clear from the very concept of God as causa sui that God cannot be a human projection. The very concept of God analytically entails that God cannot be a human concept. For the concept of God is the concept of something that exists whether or not we exist. Of course, the existence of God does not follow from the mere concept of God. The ontological proof aus lauter Begriffen (as Kant puts it) is invalid. But from the concept of God we can legitimately infer that God cannot be a human concept or any sort of human projection. Therefore, Feuerbach does not by a long shot prove the nonexistence of God via his explication of the concept of God as resting on idealization of human attributes and their projection into reality; Feuerbach begs the question by presupposing the nonexistence of God.

4. Kierkegaard, by contrast, rightly stands firm on the distinction between God and any concept of God. God is not a mere concept projected into reality; God is a reality inadequately reflected (re-created) in our concepts. We don’t create God; we re-create God in our concepts of God. Indeed, we re-create God in our own image and likeness.

5. At the end of the day, after all the dialectical maneuvers have been executed, one must simply decide what one is going to believe and how one is going to live. There is an inexpungeable element of decisionism here. Kierkegaard’s decisionism is extreme and untenable; but he sees the truth albeit through the distorting lense of his being, as he says, a “corrective.”

6. But can one decide what one is going to believe? Belief or non-belief comes under the control of the will.

Bill Valicella

Anonymous said...

Hmmm I thought I had cornered the market on "deep thought" posts that are probably only meaningful to me.

"But can one decide what one is going to believe? Belief or non-belief comes under the control of the will."

As the prayer for the ascent through the spheres in the text of Poimandres says, "Holy is the will, accomplished under its own power."

Not sure I agree completely with all your points, Bill V., but they certainly bear thinking about. And fortunately, raise the level of this discussion to the mere back-and-forthing and potshots that we have all grown entirely too accustomed to.

Well done, all around.

Mark said...

Seems to me he wants to change the Bible stories to fit into a naturalistic mind. Anything that sounds "supernatural" must be retold so that it doesn't sound weird? No thanks.
Honestly, I don't have a problem with how God is portrayed in the OT. The Bible is a progressive revelation of who God is, so He looks different in the OT and the NT.
Just because so many "atheists" want to purge any construct of God out of human psyche, is no reason for me to change, sugar coat, or be embarrassed about how God revealed Himself in the OT v. the NT. It doesn't matter what we make God into for them as they won't have anything to do with Him anyway.

Anonymous said...

Nobody likes the God of the Bible. Everybody wants some other god. Any other god, as long as it is not the God of the Bible.

Bamboo_bends said...

lnrd said...

gavin goes fishing
...and you just illustrated Gavin's point!

No difference between your link and Weinland calling curses on those who mock him. Its still a monster god that attacks people.

-------------------------------

BTW, I agree in part with the other post about it ALL comes from the Bible. But the author makes the same mistake most religious people make in thinking the Bible is some homogenous whole.

Does our atheist friend believe the Bible arrived as a complete compiled anthology from the "non-existent one"? He certainly seems to believe it consists of equally valid verses, chapters and books.

That view view of Bible inerrancy is what drives me bonkers about fundamentalism. Their preachers seem to think it takes the fun out of fundamentalism if they keep up with the latest research and science on the texts. Its funny that atheists view it the same way...is atheism a religion?

There was more difference between early Christians than there is between the UCG and WCG/GCI. Searching for the historic faith is about picking your favorite time period.

Byker Bob said...

The Bible is, perhaps, the original anthology. During the time period which it covers, we see mankind developing from the basic status of playmates in a garden, and passing through various stages, such as farmers and shepherds, slaves and subjugated people at various points, warriors, prophets, priests, and kings, subjects of Helenism during the era of the classic Greek philosophers, Roman subjects, and finally, Christians undergoing transformation of the human heart. That's just to name a few of the basics. And, you have to wonder what uses a slave or goatherder might have found for a MENSA level IQ during most of those eras.

I was quite amazed, when getting back to the Bible after a thirty year absence, at what a difference a modern study Bible can make. The only Bibles we used in old school WCG were the KJV, and occasionally the RSV and Moffatt versions to enhance clarity. These days, Zondervan puts out a very scholarly product which has charts and timelines contrasting Israel's history with that of the great empires and surrounding nations. TNIV also has extensive notes, and while the purists will always point to these and proclaim that they are not inspired, they do provide a wealth of background information. I find it especially helpful when the notes make reference to archaeological digs or the secular history of Assyrians, Babylonians, and such that confirm places and events described in the Bible. We didn't have notes such as these back in the day, in our KJVs. Unfortunately, we drew from widely discredited sources, such as Hislop, Velikovsky, and our own internal "experts", such as Herman Hoeh, who never failed in his proof-texting abilities to support Armstrongism.

I also like the New American Bible for its extensive notes. And these notes are often brutal. They don't always support the Catholic or Evangelical agendas, believe me.

Anywhere there are discussions concerning God, there is much agenda-based shading. Even when we rely strictly on the Bible, human instruments have been involved both in the initial recording and the later explanations regarding the nature and attributes of God.

The Bible's one major lesson, to me, is that the all powerful Creator of the universe loves us, and things always seem to work out best for those who recognize this, and love Him back.

As I stated earlier, full explanations are offered for the punishments in the OT. Nevertheless, I'm still interested in Dowd's input on this to possibly help deepen my understanding.

BB

larry said...

Anon 02:25 said,
"Nobody likes the God of the Bible. Everybody wants some other god. Any other god, as long as it is not the God of the Bible."

Yep. That is because the God of the Bible demands one thing from us:...humility.

PG said...

Larry wrote:

"Yep. That is because the God of the Bible demands one thing from us:...humility."

There is not one single minister that has ever been connected to Armstrongism, including Herb himself, that had ANY humility! This includes all the whack jobs in the 550+ harlot daughters of WCG.

Corky said...

Anonymous said...
Nobody likes the God of the Bible. Everybody wants some other god. Any other god, as long as it is not the God of the Bible.

Sun May 10, 02:25:00 PM NZST
------------------

I'd say about 2,000,000 (two billion) people like the God of the New Testament, since that is the number of "christians" there are. Then there are the millions Jews and the billion or so of Muslims who like the God of the Bible.

So, where do you get that "Nobody likes the God of the Bible"?

The truth is that there are a few people who see the God of the Bible for what he is - the imagination of bronze age men - and you can't stand it because we don't believe in him.

Plus the fact that the days are long gone that you could force us to believe in your imaginary friend. You just can't stand that, can you?

Byker Bob said...

Of course, it would be nice, Corky, if you believed so that you could share in all of the blessings. But, force you? If indeed anyone succeeded in that, it would be of no value whatsoever. Belief only has value if it is complete, sincere, and totally free will.

BB

Divine Projection said...

"Plus the fact that the days are long gone that you could force us to believe in your imaginary friend."

Corky,

Then prove your friends are real, that they are not just a figment of your imagination.

Angel

Bamboo_bends said...

Anon 02:25 said,
"Nobody likes the God of the Bible. Everybody wants some other god. Any other god, as long as it is not the God of the Bible."
Which God of the Bible?

The polytheistic Elohim? (there is no such thing as uniplural btw)

The fire and brimstone YHWH?

The Abba(Dearest Daddy) God of Jesus?

The mystical God who slayed his Son so that He could forgive us God that Paul speaks of?

The Unity God?

The Binity Godhead?

The Trinity God?

The God of the book of Revelation (back to YHWH again! Shouldn't that be a clue to its intended time period? Nero's street address was 666 btw).

When I first left the WCG in 1996,
a man on a mailing list kept referring to "Bible God". That term "Bible God" used to drive me nuts. I didn't then see my own blindness about the Bible descriptions of God. But now I know what he meant. Just took me 10 years. Bible God is all of the above. But people don't see the conflict in the descriptions within the book.

There's so much circular thinking in Christianity. The Bible is inerrant, therefore true, and because its true its inerrant. ARRGGGHHH!!! That does not justice to the book, nor the wealth of gems in it. But read it in its historical context and worldview.

The "God of the Bible" has more personalities than Sybil. Save yourself some later embarrassment and view them historical world views of God.

Human thinking has indeed evolved over time.

Anonymous said...

"Does our atheist friend believe the Bible arrived as a complete compiled anthology from the "non-existent one"?"

Of course not. But the other "books" floating out there- the ones that were not included in "The Bible" (ie, The Director's Cut) do not, as far as I know, contradict the description of the bible god that is found in "The Bible."

I guess what I am trying to get at is if you want a description of the god named Jehovah, then you have to go to "The Bible," and associated Bonus Material. Just as if you want to understand who the god named Allah is, you go to the Koran. Christians can always say (and this always bugged me as a Christian), "well, I don't think God would really (insert unsavory action of god found in bible) just because I (insert action prohibited in the bible)." Or, "I think the Genesis account of the flood is a fantasy. God would never do that."

My thought is, really?? How do you know? The only reason you have ever even heard of your god is due to the Bible. The "god known as Jehovah" doesn't exist outside of the Bible and Bonus Material. Once you start questioning one particular part of the Bible, then how do you know the other parts are true? Think about it. If a description of god in the bible is unappealing to you, and therefore you decide that since it doesn't fit your own view of god (and you basically made that view up- you have no evidence to support this view) then you decide that that part of the bible must not be true- then how do you know other parts are "true?" Especially those parts which are used to explain the very existence of Jehovah in the first place?

If it turns out that a scientist has fabricated data in a published paper, then ALL of the data in that paper is suspect. That doesn't mean that ALL of the data is false, but that it is now suspect. I would apply this to the Bible, as well. And if you pooh-pooh this idea as some smarmy "loose brick" argument, then you aren't willing to be intellectually honest with the situation.

If you don't like the god of the bible, then by all means find another. But please spare us the walnut shell con game of making up a new god and calling him jehovah. He aint jehovah.


The Apostate Paul
(Promoting biblical literallcy since 2005)

Mark said...

"The only reason you have ever even heard of your god is due to the Bible. The "god known as Jehovah" doesn't exist outside of the Bible and Bonus Material."

Once again, this is just a plain lie. I didn't read the Bible and learn about God, I learned about God first through my parents. People didn't learn about God by reading the Bible, mankind learned about God and then wrote the Bible. Most people today who are Christian don't even read their Bible, let alone the OT.
I will also submit to you that people who have no access to the Bible can turn to God and walk in faith. They can have salvation apart from the scriptures.

Anonymous said...

The concept that an all-powerful, all-loving God requires a human sacrifice in order to forgive peoples' sins is absurd. It's a carry over from the period of time when people thought gods required (and liked) animal sacrifices. If an animal sacrifice accomplishes good things, a human sacrifice must be even better, right?

And what's better yet? The sacrifice of a living being that is above a human! Yes, that's it, sacrificing a GOD must have really spectacular results! Let's write that mythology!

I can understand that kind of thinking making sense to stone age minds, or even to bronze age minds. But to modern educated man? That I DON'T GET.

THINK IT THROUGH from beginning to end, Christians! Think of the logic of it - or lack therof! C'mon, guys, can you put "faith" on the shelf for a few minutes and just say to yourself, "does this really make any sense?"

ExAndroid said...

Please note--this thread started by a call for "God" to be defined.
So far, none have attempted it in in this little group.

Maybe the undefind God and the non-existent one are one and the same?

Anonymous said...

"I learned about God first through my parents."

And where did they learn about god?? Did he talk to them? No, they were either taught by their parents or the bible. And at some point, someone's parent's got their information from the bible.

"People didn't learn about God by reading the Bible, mankind learned about God and then wrote the Bible."

So says the bible. But this is irrelevant- those people are dead. If you want information on the god of the bible, where do you turn?

The Apostate Paul

SmilinJackSprat said...

In the comments above Gavin notes Kierkegaard's, "God created mankind in his own image, and in requital we created God in ours. A person’s conception of God is essentially determined by the kind of person he is."

There's a wonderful truth in this. Each of us finds or creates God in terms of his or her personality. It has to work like that. Parents work similarly with their children, and they with parents.

Each child is unique, born in the image of both its parents, and because of its uniqueness must learn in ways that its own personality allows. For this reason, each child knows his or her parents differently, because the parents relate, or should, to each child in terms of its unique needs. We therefore cast even our parents, whom we know from infancy through much of adulthood, to some degree in our own image, just as we do with God, who is no less there because each of us sees him differently. One might conclude that it’s supposed to be like that.

Byker Bob said...

I've got a question for all of our atheist or agnostic friends: Do you believe that Jesus' teachings were actually bad, or harmful?

Even if the sin and redemption elements seem a bit corny to you, can you honestly say that imitating Jesus would mess up your whole life?

BB

SmilinJackSprat said...

Dowd’s monster in the sky theory as a major threat to belief in God is in my opinion a misread of evidence. Not many people will give up on God because they see him as Terrorist; no serious quest for God will yield that distortion. One finds God in Nature, in Scripture and in the satisfaction of prevailing prayer. This can take serious effort because God isn’t easy. Yet the majesty of the universe, the beauty of the earth, the charm of wildlife, the eyes of a newborn child – for believers all of this attests to an indescribably wonderful Creator. “Only those who see take off their shoes.”

Those who might give way to atheism should dig deeper to find God; but God can be inconvenient for some, requiring changes of lifestyle. Show these atheists, from the Bible, that God encourages casual sex between consenting adults, and churches would run out of space overnight. Of course, there is no such teaching in the Bible – and there is no supernatural terrorist there either.

If Dowd wants to lead people in God’s direction, he needs to spend more time in those brilliant old works of “goat herders and fishermen.“ They’re every bit as sophisticated and challenging, more so in fact, as any other discipline offered in the greatest universities. God as the compassionate One is in those writings; God as terrorist is absent.

Our Awesome Universe said...

Our Awesome Universe

Atheistic existentialism Theistic existentialism Absurdism
Corky's Nihilism

Take your pick:

1. There is such a thing as "meaning" or "value".
Yes
Yes
Yes
No

2. There is inherent meaning in the universe (either intrinsic or from God).

No
Maybe, but humans must have faith to believe there is
Maybe, but humans can never know it
No

3. Individuals can create meaning in life themselves.

Yes, it is essential that they do
Yes, it is essential that they do
Yes, but it is not essential
No, because there is no such meaning to create

4. The pursuit of intrinsic or extrinsic meaning in the universe is a futile gesture.

Yes, and the pursuit itself is meaningless
No, and the pursuit itself may have meaning
Yes, but the pursuit itself may have meaning
Yes, and the pursuit itself is meaningless

5. The pursuit of constructed meaning is a futile gesture.

No, thus the goal of existentialism
No, thus the goal of existentialism
Maybe
Yes

Anonymous said...

"I've got a question for all of our atheist or agnostic friends: Do you believe that Jesus' teachings were actually bad, or harmful?"

Where are all the handless and eyeless christians out there? If your hand offends thee, cut it off, and if your eye offends thee pluck it out!
I have yet to meet a christian who actually has the faith to follow that teaching of Jesus. All who don't are faithless hypocrites.

Yes, following that teaching of jesus would be harmful, so let's just wish that teaching away and say it was metaphore.

That is just one of many harmfull teaching attributed to the fictional character called jesus!

Thomas Munson

jack635 said...

"Yep. That is because the God of the Bible demands one thing from us:...humility."
I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.-- God
"Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."-- Jesus
From my view "humility" seems to always be preached by those who require tithes.

Anonymous said...

"Once again, this is just a plain lie."

Aaaaaaaaaaand when they can't convince the other side of "the one true truth", they resort to tactics like this.

"Men create gods. That is the way it is in the world. Men create gods, and worship their creations. It would be better for the gods to worship men!"

- Gospel of Philip"I've got a question for all of our atheist or agnostic friends:"

You have two questions, not one, Bob and they are unrelated to one another; this is a typical tactic of Christian apologia, known as the "bait and switch". You start off with an innocuous question, that presumes nothing:

"Do you believe that Jesus' teachings were actually bad, or harmful?"

And then you segue into a question that presumes a logical fallacy:

"...can you honestly say that imitating Jesus would mess up your whole life?"

The fallacy of course being that "Jesus" existed, and is not merely another in a long line of ancient gods and goddesses, unfortunately one that was made far too literal, in an effort to shore up two crumbling empires, a long time ago and far far away.

But, yeah, imitating the Jesus from the book of Revelation would certainly mess up a LOT of people's lives. Oh, you meant the Jesus from Matthew? Sure, you can pick and choose, and I encourage you to do so.

Just don't demand the rest of us to conform to your particular choices, as per the passage above.

As for Jack's remark, I have no idea what you're trying to say SJS; superficially, you appear to agree with Kierkegaard and the passage I've quoted from Philip, but at the end, you still drift into the logical fallacy that Bob does: That "god" exists as an external entity, outside of our own heads. Also, a parental-like god, while perhaps applicable for you, may not be applicable for all.

Those are my thoughts on the subject, at least.

Corky said...

Byker Bob said...
I've got a question for all of our atheist or agnostic friends: Do you believe that Jesus' teachings were actually bad, or harmful?
-------------------------
First of all, you are assuming that the words in red in a red letter Bible is the exact words that Jesus spoke. Were they really? Because, the gospels don't agree even on that.

If religion is bad, then yes, Jesus' teachings were bad and since his teachings have caused all kinds of persecutions, tortures, murders, hatred, intolerance and tithe slaves, they are definitely harmful. Those things have been the fruit of his teachings, whether that was the intention or not.
-------------------------------
Even if the sin and redemption elements seem a bit corny to you, can you honestly say that imitating Jesus would mess up your whole life?--------------------------------
You mean imitating what you believe Jesus was like, don't you?

You can't even prove he even existed. How do you know that he isn't just an invention? A personification of what the original believers thought a perfect man would be like?

How do you know they didn't just whitewash Judas of Galilee and rename him Jesus?

Imitating Jesus has messed up millions of peoples' whole lives, so yes, imitating Jesus could very well mess up you life - depending on which Jesus you imitate.

Whichever one it is, it's still only your own belief of what Jesus was like.

Anonymous said...

Byker Bob, do you think "turning the other cheek" would have been advisable in Nazi Germany, or during any other tyranical dictatorship?

Seems to me this only would encourage evil, instead of destroying it like the Allies did to the Axis powers during WWII.

On a personal level, I've often seen bullies stopped cold by someone having the guts to confront them, rather than turning the other cheek and allowing them to continue their reign of terror.

Jethro said...

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
~Andre Gide

Anonymous said...

Biker Bob asks "Do you believe that Jesus' teachings were actually bad, or harmful?"

Let's see, taking it off the top of my head, without any real research...

"Sell everything you have and give it all to the poor" sounds like pretty bad advice.

"Hate your mother and your father" sounds bad too. (I know, christians try to say it doesn't really mean what the words say. Baloney. He's supposed to be God, he could thought of better words to use if he meant something different. He meant what he said).

"Blessed are the meek" - it seems to me that the strong-willed do a lot better in life than the meek. Am I wrong?

"Let the dead bury their dead". Well, that was about as cold an answer as I could imagine to a man whose father had just died. My sister just died, and I'm doing the right thing for the sake of the relatives, and making all the arrangements. I guess Jesus couldn't relate to that and didn't have much compassion in his heart for that man's grief.

Well, I won't go on and on. I'm sure if I pulled out a bible and started writing down quotes I could keep doing this all day. But you get the idea.

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

Dowd sees “millions … turning their backs on organized religion altogether because of what [he calls] 'the supernatural terrorist fallacy'—the idea that God is an actual, unnatural Supreme Being.” I emphatically disagree.

Most students of the Bible see God as good and would never entertain the idea of God as terrorist. And atheists don’t shun the “terrorist god” of the Bible; they don't believe in God at all. The Bible doesn’t make them that way; they don’t want accountability to a Creator’s rules. Horrors like the holocaust might dissuade a relative few; but anyone wholeheartedly seeking God, the ineffable Creator, will find Him, and will find him eminently worthwhile. At the bottom line, people believe as they choose, whether Galileo’s Pope or Galileo.

Some say there is no empirical proof of God, but the Genesis creation account, in terms of the full potential of its ancient Hebrew, cannot be explained except as inspired revelation. It anticipates relativity 3100 years before Einstein. There is no terrorist-god lurking behind the brilliance of this literature, but there is a satan (adversary) who might be described that way. Nonetheless, I think thoughtful, if temporary, rejection of God might more often come down another path.

When students apply their minds to university disciplines, the evidence is overwhelming in favor of the subjects they study, as it should be. But when those same students apply critical thinking to religion, they’re faced with egg-laying bunnies, an elf with flying caribou, calendars whose months ignore the moon and whose weekdays are named for pagan gods. Does the little drummer boy, a rumpapumpum, help to rationalize a god-man with the same resume as 40 earlier avatars, all sons of virgins, all conceived by gods, all martyred for their goodness only to rise from death three days later and eventually ascend bodily to heaven? How does this falderal strengthen the Christian belief in Jesus as Messiah? Is there any real continuity between visible Christian culture and Biblical reality?

When a cultural stew of charming pap is presented through daily experience as foundational to the ethical, moral, intellectual, commercial and political life of modern society, how dare the honest student or thoughtful citizen accept it as the stuff of God and Creation? Indefensible religious traditions cannot rival the carefully measured realities one finds in laboratories, libraries and classrooms. Can Santa Claus and the Easter bunny seriously rival the brilliant but atheistic theories of Karl Marx (now an important darling of colleges everywhere)? Unless religion can stand proud and erect in the presence of university education and university graduates, agnosticism and atheism will tend to be natural byproducts, and this tendency will grow as long as religion perpetuates pagan myth as its chosen milieu for serious teachings about God and Godly living.

Anonymous said...

"... but the Genesis creation account, in terms of the full potential of its ancient Hebrew, cannot be explained except as inspired revelation. It anticipates relativity 3100 years before Einstein."

Wow, whatever you're smokin' - I sure hope it's legal!

Mark said...

""People didn't learn about God by reading the Bible, mankind learned about God and then wrote the Bible."

So says the bible. But this is irrelevant- those people are dead. If you want information on the god of the bible, where do you turn?"
Again, you are mistaken. You DO NOT need the Bible to learn about God. The heavens declare God's glory. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Byker Bob said...

Anon 9:48. Interesting question regarding a hypothetical person in a concentration turning the other cheek. Perhaps my comments to you will help address some of the hypotheticals others posed, as well.

First of all, understanding Jesus, and balancing all of His teachings properly requires a lifetime, and I admit that I'm getting into all of this a bit late in life. Just to set the record straight, I used to believe in bullying bullies almost just for pleasure. There have been times when I have made grown men break down and cry, and probably even made a few shit in their pants. (apologies to the sensitive, and most definitely to the deity!) But, we all come from different walks in life. I became the way I was as a direct reaction to WCG childrearing practices. In my teenage years, I determined to become so big, so bad, and so bulletproof, that nobody would ever be able to hurt me again in this lifetime. And, it worked for a long time.

I believe that we have enough scriptural examples to help us understand both organized collective approaches to bullyism, and the individual approach. In the OT, prior to battle, the observant kings and judges always consulted the Lord to see if He was behind their cause, and if He would deliver the enemy into their hands. Often, the battles were due to injustices, or indignities suffered, although many were devoted to capturing lands from idol worshipping pagans who defied and blasphemed the true God. In our modern times, in the case of WWII, God's chosen people were being systematically exterminated. It was incumbent upon the US, a Christian nation, to rescue them. The scriptures show that God blesses those who bless His chosen people, and curses those who curse them. IMO, our entry into WWII was entirely justified just from that standpoint. Still, 1/3 of the Jewish population of the entire world at the time ended up being killed. In spite of HWA's false prophecies involving Hitler and Mussolini being the beast, God was with the USA and our allies, we emerged victorious, and He turned Hitler's bad into something good. World War II galvanized opinion regarding the rebirth of the nation of Israel. After many centuries, Israel once again became a nation in 1948.

Addressing individual behavior in a concentration camp, the most important factor would be getting as many of the people through the experience alive as possible, and helping all of the ones we knew were not going to make it. I believe one of Christ's cautionary examples which could inform us would be that of Peter cutting off the centurion's ear as the troops surrounded Jesus. Our Lord and Savior rebuked Peter, and healed the centurion, and what a powerful witness and testimony that was! If any of us finds ourselves in a concentration camp sometime in the future, let me just say that we would know for a certainty exactly what was going on. I submit to you that, if this happens, it would produce some very remarkable logic-based changes in attitude even in the most hardcore or hard hearted. I am sure that some would actually curse God, because scripture indicates that that is one amongst several possible human reactions. But, others would turn to Him.

Probably an individual Christian would be assisting and encouraging the fellow detainees. Secret prayer vigils could be part of this, along with people sharing their recollections of scripture. A Christian warrior would be praying for God's daily guidance, and would realize that while personal heroism or violent resistance might be temporarily fulfilling, it could also unneccessarily bring additional retribution and pain on some of the others who may not be warrior types. So, yes, in some cases the wise act might be turning the other cheek.

It is all too easy for any of us to post what we post from the comfort of our offices, dens, or living rooms, in relative peace and safety today. Probably none of us really knows what we would do under extreme circumstances, which is why I hope that all of this discussion remains hypothetical. I hope that peace and safety continue for a long, long time, so that all of us who are of a mind to can explore and practice Jesus' teachings in our daily lives right now, and experience blessings for this. But, our Savior's precepts are very flexible and adaptable, and if we try to understand this without mocking, we can apply them and make them fit to a wide variety of circumstances.

BB

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure if I pulled out a bible and started writing down quotes I could keep doing this all day. But you get the idea.

The Skeptic"

A perusal of cultural expressions from the ancient mid-east will clear up all these objections

Anonymous said...

"I've got a question for all of our atheist or agnostic friends: Do you believe that Jesus' teachings were actually bad, or harmful?"

Others here have brought up some good points, but as a whole, filtering out the hand chopping and dead relatives bit, I would say of course not.

Your point?
Ghandi also is worth emulating. Gandalf the Grey in the LOTR also had some good things to say about how we live our lives. Epictetus had many good teachings. So should we begin to worship these people or fictional characters as divine supernatural entities because they had some good things to teach us?

Or are you saying since Jesus (if he even existed) had some great ideas about how we should conduct ourselves, this some how cancels out the actions and speech of the genocidal god of the OT?

The Apostate Paul

Byker Bob said...

Paul,

Cliches often abound amongst different communities, whether they be atheist or Christian. One of the most powerful and poignant of these is the legend of this allegedly arbitrary and psychopathic God. People remember all of the gore and death, but have totally forgotten the context, and the testimony supporting these acts.

Try this exercise. Go back to the OT, and deliberately search for specific instances of genocide. Read the context and circumstances, and the explanations given. Try to pick out specific instances where God was unjustified. Pre-Helenist mankind was especially animalistic, savage, and brutal. Faced with such brutality, the God of the Old Testament was amazingly revolutionary in His approach to basic civilized behavior, fairness and ethics.

The best thing former ACOG people can do, regardless of their current beliefs, is to get rid of the image of an angry, average height, paunchy, hog jowled god, attired in an Armani suit, white, slicked back, Brylcreemed hair, wearing wire frame glasses.

BB

Anonymous said...

"You DO NOT need the Bible to learn about God. The heavens declare God's glory. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen..."

Well, for one, I don't accept your claim that your god created anything.

So, if you want to know if your god finds picking up sticks on Saturday acceptable behavior, where do you go? The Smokey Mountains? The Crab Nebula? Gravity? DNA synthesis? How do you know if your god is a jealous god? Look at the leaves falling? Whales swimming?

Could you try, next time, to answer with some substance other than ancient poetry and spiritual goo?


The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Jesus Christ: "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Matt. 5:39, NKJV)

Byker Bob: "So, yes, in some cases the wise act might be turning the other cheek."

Sorry Bob, but it doesn't seem to me that you are taking Jesus word's literally, consistently or seriously here. His instruction is quite plain and unambigious - but you waffle by saying "in SOME cases the wise act MIGHT be turning the other cheek."

I've often found that the Bible's various and sundry instructions work great in the controlled imaginary battles that take place within the confines of our own minds, or in sermons or Bible Studies as they are being expounded, but in the actual battles that take place in real life, where we often have no control whatsoever over the various inputs, and many surprises pop up continually, they often fall far short and don't deliver "as advertised."

At least that's been my life experience. This is not what I originally WANTED to believe, but what my 30+ years in the Church has COMPELLED me to believe if intellectual honesty means anything.

And I think many other bloggers here know this to be true, deep down in their hearts, if they be completely honest with themselves, and stop deluding themselves in order to artifically prop up a cherished religious ideology they WISH was true and infallible.

Just my two cents worth.

ExAndroid said...

BB asked:

"Do you believe that Jesus' teachings were actually bad, or harmful?"

I don't even believe your Jesus actually existed. But we do have these words someone put into his mouth:

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." (Ma 12:30)

"The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." (Ma 13:41-42)

"But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me." (Lk 19:27)

Over the centuries many freethinkers and "heretics" went to their frightful deaths at the hands of Christian thugs urged on by the above scriptures. The murderers were willing to serve Jesus and kill before the time.

I'll leave it up to you as to whether the scriptures were harmful or not.

Jared Olar said...

The net effect of the Holy Christian Bible is as if someone took (for example, off the top of my head) Hindu comics, Muslim sharia law texts, Jewish grade school grammar readers, and American harlequin romances (all written in different time periods, and different places, by vastly different people), translated all the texts into English, slapped them between one cover, and pronounced them unified.What rubbish. I've got as much use for the abovequoted falsehoods told about what the Bible supposedly is as I do for the falsehoods that Herbert Armstrong told about the Bible.

There's also the erroneous belief being advanced by some that places the biblical testimony of God prior to knowledge of God. Folks really should quit reinventing the wheel, recycling old ideas already tried and found wanting, and start studying the classic philosophers and theologians, who've already explored all of these issues and left behind their findings for our edification. Aquinas, for example, explains that knowledge of God and of His existence is not an article of faith but among the preambles to the articles of faith.

Anonymous said...

Um, Bob?

Hitler was a Christian. Set aside the fact that yes, he was an extraordinarily bad Christian, but he was self-declaredly of the Christian faith. He was a Catholic, even!! 8-O

So, your contention that Christianity makes bad people good --- is a mass generalization that is absolutely not true, on an individual level.

I am hard-pressed to see, to be honest with you, how Christianity even makes people in general any different --- except it makes them think they are better than the non-believers.

Which is kind of the point, I guess.......Fact is, we are ALL, believers and non-believers alike, all made up of the same stuff, behind our eyeballs; call it human consciousness or holy spirit, we all have a spark of life within us, whether we choose to deify that spark, or don't feel the need to explain that spark. We all have it.

People need to stop arguing whose spark is brightest. That's sillier than all the ancient desert fairy tales combined.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:36 said "A perusal of cultural expressions from the ancient mid-east will clear up all these objections".

Of course. And a perusal of other (non-bible) writings from the ancient mid-east will show that all of the so-called "sayings of Jesus" were actually existing sayings that were lifted from other writings available at that time and were put into Jesus' mouth by anonymous authors. None were original.

People often think of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" as some great idea that Jesus invented. It's a very good principal, however it was not created by Jesus and was not unique to him. There are quotes nearly identical to this from other religions and even from pagan philosophers dating well before the time of Christ.

Indeed, nothing Jesus said or did was original. The anonymous authors sat with an open old testament on one side and other writings on the other side and created fanciful but inconsistent and absurd tales. Jesus's deeds and sayings can almost all be found elsewhere.

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

"Or are you saying since Jesus (if he even existed) had some great ideas about how we should conduct ourselves"

I have it figured. The Apostate is having all of us on. He is a secret believer who loves to poke fun. I hope.

Anonymous said...

"Go back to the OT, and deliberately search for specific instances of genocide. Read the context and circumstances, and the explanations given."

Infants who were murdered in the flood. Infants of Canaan who were murdered by the Israelites upon order from god.

Context: People were being naughty so god decided to kill them.

Circumstances: God said the people were being naughty.

Explanation: Cause' god said so.

This still does not justify the murder of infants- unless you want to drag out original sin.

So what you are left with is "God said so so it's good enough for me."

Bob, I know why you continue to attribute atheism to a warped view of your religion. It makes it easier.
But I left Armstrongism and entered mainstream Christianity before I stopped believing in your god. You know what? My bible still said the same things. God still killed infants in the flood. He still killed teenagers for laughing at an old man. He still condemns every living person to death because a dude named Adam ate an apple. HWA has nothing to do with this.
But I know my words will fall on deaf ears. It is much easier for you to sleep at night thinking atheism is a result of a misunderstanding and not the result of a total and complete lack of evidence and the realization that gods, in general, are no different than leprechauns.

"One of the most powerful and poignant of these is the legend of this allegedly arbitrary and psychopathic God."

Legend? And where do people get this idea from?? The bible, Bob, the bible. Well, when you think of it in this way, perhaps it is a legend! Along with god himself.

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"...who've already explored all of these issues and left behind their findings for our edification."

Oh yes. And I put these writings in the same category as commentary on works of fiction...for that is what they are.


The Apostate Paul

Mark said...

Well, for one, I don't accept your claim that your god created anything. Well then, there you go. There's no need to debate the NATURE of my God since you don't believe in Him anyway. If you believed in Him, then we could debate His nature. Make sense? Also, you conveniently (and I think intentionally) left out the last part of that scripture "being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

You know, there are many people who deny the holocaust, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. There are also "flat earth" people. No matter how much proof one gives, it is never enough for them.

Furthermore, you, and the other self proclaimed "atheists" on this board have never offered a plausible alternative explanation for the existence of life, therefore I reject your assertion that there is no God. Additionally, if you don't care how/why we are even here or how the universe came into existence, then you have no need to debate the nature of God. Don't take your reactions to a false prophet Herbert Armstrong out on all people of faith.

I say to you apothecary paul, aka "atheist", prove to me that this all started from nothing. Prove it to everyone here, beyond a shadow of doubt. Show me the proof.

Our Awesome Universe said...

Atheists and nihilists try to cleverly assert, or variants of the following:

1. There is no such a thing as "meaning" or "value".

2. There is no inherent meaning in the universe (either intrinsic or from God).

3. Individuals cannot create meaning in life themselves, because there is no such meaning to create.

4. The pursuit of intrinsic or extrinsic meaning in the universe is a futile gesture, and the pursuit itself is meaningless.

5. The pursuit of constructed meaning is a futile gesture.

Which leads humanity into an empty, unfulfilled, unhappy existence- not worth the time of day.

Jared Olar said...

And a perusal of other (non-bible) writings from the ancient mid-east will show that all of the so-called "sayings of Jesus" were actually existing sayings that were lifted from other writings available at that time and were put into Jesus' mouth by anonymous authors. **** Really? All of them? Well, no, you later say "almost" all of them. How about you quit making stuff up and get serious here.

Byker Bob said...

Leonardo,

Legalists always dwell on literalism. However, Jesus brought some very advanced teaching methods to planet Earth, and often used allegory, exaggeration, metaphor, humor, and logic in presenting His lessons. This is an integral part of what made Him so effective.

The challenge of today is to make the Bible relevant to our modern times. If we were to put Jesus' teachings regarding turning the other cheek into modern terms, we would say that Jesus taught early conflict resolution. And, His method ensured that that the bad cycles of escalation and retaliation would be broken. That is the essence and beauty of it, and the underlying principle behind it.

You have to be very careful of splitting legalistic hairs. Otherwise, we might find you believing that a woman being vaginally raped should turn over and present her anus to her rapist as well, when the intelligent response would be some sort of non-violent escape, if at all possible.

BB

Anonymous said...

"There's no need to debate the NATURE of my God since you don't believe in Him..."

I'm just pointing out that your own bible portrays your god as a genocidal murderer.


"Furthermore, you, and the other self proclaimed "atheists" on this board have never offered a plausible alternative explanation for the existence of life..."

Why should I? You are implying that the lack of an alternative explanation, that is, one different from that found in religious tomes/fairy tales, is somehow proof of the existence of your god. The existence of reality is not a proof in favor of the existence of your god. And what does this have to do with the biblical portrayal of your god as a genocidal murderer??

Furthermore, not one Christian has offered an alternative explanation as to how those little pots of gold appear at the ends of rainbows. Just how did they get there, if it weren't by the hand of the leprechaun? Prove me wrong! I demand it!

The Apostate Paul

Byker Bob said...

Differences between a
Christian and a non-believer:

1) Blessings

2) Tranquility

3) Imputed innocence before God.

Of and by ourselves, we are no better than atheists, idol worshippers, or mass murderers.

BB

Anonymous said...

"Individuals cannot create meaning in life themselves, because there is no such meaning to create. "

Define "meaning."


If my motive for living, and my behavior and interactions with fellow humans was all based on the whims of an imaginary being, I'd kill myself. For when you get down to it, I would be a mindless robot.

The Apostate Paul

Corky said...

Our Awesome Universe said...
Atheists and nihilists try to cleverly assert, or variants of the following:

1. There is no such a thing as "meaning" or "value".

Blah, blah, blah . . .

Which leads humanity into an empty, unfulfilled, unhappy existence- not worth the time of day.
------------------------------
Sad ain't it? But, life is hard, then you die.

Truth is truth and wishful thinking is still a lie.

Yeah, it's hard to face reality but a false hope and a wish and a prayer is not going to change it.

The really sad part is the lie you tell yourself because of an unwillingness or inability to face reality.

Anonymous said...

"How about you quit making stuff up and get serious here."

Hey, if the anonymous writers of the Old Testament could make stuff up, why can't I?

And by the way, I AM serious. If you doubt the truth of my assertions, there are quite a few books available that were written in the last couple of years that can take you through the fine details of where the anonymous writers got the sayings they placed into the mouth of the character they created.

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

"What rubbish. I've got as much use for the abovequoted falsehoods told about what the Bible supposedly is as I do for the falsehoods that Herbert Armstrong told about the Bible."

So why are you responding? Also, your traditional "All atheists are liars liars pantses on fires!!!" Christian attitude problem made me not even bother to read the rest of your comment.

So, if you're trying to win souls for your self-created god, you're not doing a very good job.

(As for "my" "falsehoods", I recommend both of these fine websites: Early Christian Writings and Early Jewish Writings, which provides an objective, historical overview of the texts in question --- from believers.

Still think I'm a liar? Fine. Your Armstrongism has not changed one iota, the only thing that's altered is the window dressing.

Retired Prof said...

Our Awesome Universe mentioned
"[a]theists and nihilists" as if they were two separate categories. They are not; they are nested: it's safe to say all nihilists are atheists, but many atheists are anything but nihilists. I know a number of atheistic scientists who revel in their attempts to understand (parts of) the universe. They would not embark on their research with such fervor if they believed there were no such thing as "value."

About "meaning" I'm not so sure. I'm not a nihilist, I just don't understand the meaning of "meaning" in the question "What is the meaning of life/the universe?"

In ordinary affairs, "meaning" involves a relationship between something relatively easy to identify and point to or manipulate (the sign) and something else, perhaps remote or abstract (the signified). At a traffic intersection the word "stop," an upraised hand, a red light, and a red octagon are all signs with the same meaning: "Apply your brakes and come to a halt before crossing." Those are all human-devised.

There are natural signs too. Dark clouds looming in the west mean it will probably rain soon, and a line of certain large three-toed tracks in the dust mean a turkey has passed that way. The regular rise and fall of an ailing person's chest conveys the meaning that the sufferer still possesses life.

But to me the question "What is the meaning of life?" is just nonsensical, because "life" seems both too complex and too abstract to be a sign. If "life" has a meaning, it should be possible to paraphrase that meaning, but I have never heard or read a satisfactory paraphrase.

Can someone who sees sense in the question explain what it means?

Anonymous said...

"Differences between a
Christian and a non-believer:

1) Blessings

2) Tranquility

3) Imputed innocence before God."

Fallacies implied in the above statements about atheists:

1) Atheists must be cursed, and must live wretched lives, because they don't believe.

2) Atheists must be agitated, not at peace with themselves and the world the way it is.

3) Atheists must be amoral and criminals and/or guilty of crimes, whether biblecrimes or real crimes, because they don't believe.

Fallacies implied in the above statements about Christians:

1) Bad things never happen to Christians because they believe.

2) No Christian is ever unhappy or lacking in peace.

3) No Christian can ever commit a crime, or act in an immoral manner.

Do you see the fallacies you have implied by your statements Bob?

You are applying a cookie cutter approach to both Christians and atheists with your statements, and serving neither side very well at all, IMO.

Anonymous said...

"The challenge of today is to make the Bible relevant to our modern times...You have to be very careful of splitting legalistic hairs."

Yes, of course. The bible is god's inerrant word, but you can't take it to mean what it says. You have to change it to mean something that makes more sense. Right.

Anonymous said...

"Differences between a
Christian and a non-believer:

1) Blessings

2) Tranquility

3) Imputed innocence before God."

My sister followed Guru Maharaj Ji for many years. They said exactly the same thing. It was as true for them as it is for christians.

Their god is just as real as the christian god too... equal proof exists for both.

Our Awesome Universe said...

"Individuals cannot create meaning in life themselves, because there is no such meaning to create. "

Define"meaning."

Paul,

Meaning (non-linguistic), extra-linguistic meaning (intentional communication without the use of language), and natural meaning, where no intentions are involved at all
Meaning (semiotics) has to do with the distribution of signs in sign relations
Meaning as a relationship between ontology and truth
Meaning as a reference or equivalence
Meaning (existential), as it is understood in contemporary existentialism
The meaning of life, a notion concerning the nature of human existence

The last two definitions of meaning will suffice for me. Perhaps you think there is no ascertainable meaning to existence.
The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of human existence. This concept can be expressed through a variety of related questions, such as Why are we here?, What's life all about? and What is the meaning of it all? It has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific, and theological speculation throughout history. There have been a large number of answers to these questions from many different cultural and ideological backgrounds.
Albert Camus observed, we humans are creatures who spend our lives trying to convince ourselves that our existence is not absurd.
What is the meaning of life and why are we here? That's a question that has been consciously asked since at least pictographs began appearing on cave walls.
The meaning of life is deeply mixed with the philosophical and religious conceptions of existence, consciousness, and happiness, and touches on many other issues, such as symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul and the afterlife.
Scientific contributions are more indirect; by describing the empirical facts about the universe, science provides some context and sets parameters for conversations on related topics. An alternative, human-centric, and not a cosmic/religious approach is the question "What is the meaning of my life?" The value of the question pertaining to the purpose of life may be considered to be coincidal with the achievement of ultimate reality, if you believe that exists. Some don't, and see random chaos in the universe, devoid of any transcendental meaning or purpose to existence.


“If my motive for living, and my behavior and interactions with fellow humans was all based on the whims of an imaginary being, I'd kill myself. For when you get down to it, I would be a mindless robot.”

If your behavior, interactions with other animals, imagination, dreams, and assigned meaning to life were all based on random gray matter's chemical soup, you would be a mindless robot. No god is necessary for that.

Existential angst in our postmodern world

Each man and each woman creates the essence (meaning) of his and her life; life is not determined by an imagined supernatural terrorist god or some earthly authority, one is free. As such, one's ethical prime directives are action, freedom, and decision, thus, existentialism opposes rationalism and positivism. In seeking meaning to life, the existentialist looks to where people find meaning in life, in course of which using only reason as a source of meaning is insufficient; the insufficiency gives rise to the emotions of anxiety and dread, felt in facing one's radical freedom, and the concomitant awareness of death. To the existentialist, existence precedes essence; the (essence) of one's life arises only after one comes to existence.
Kierkegaard coined the term "leap of faith", arguing that life is full of absurdity, and one must make his and her own values in an indifferent world. One can live meaningfully (free of despair, feelings of nausea, overwhelming anxiety, sickness unto death) in an unconditional commitment to something finite, and devotes that meaningful life to the commitment, despite the vulnerability inherent to doing so.

Our Awesome Universe said...

Sad ain't it? But, life is hard, then you die.

Truth is truth and wishful thinking is still a lie.

Yeah, it's hard to face reality but a false hope and a wish and a prayer is not going to change it.

The really sad part is the lie you tell yourself because of an unwillingness or inability to face reality.”

Corky,

All men will die. It's a fact. No one is asking you to engage in wishful thinking in false hopes about your future. No one is asking you to lie to your self or not face cold, hard facts of reality head on.

Reality, in everyday usage, means "the state of things as they actually exist". In a sense it is what is real. The term reality, in its widest sense, includes everything that is, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. Reality in this sense includes being and sometimes is considered to include nothingness, where existence is often restricted to being.

In the strict sense of western philosophy, there are levels or gradation to the nature and conception of reality. These levels include, from the most subjective to the most rigorous: phenomenological reality, truth and fact.

Mark said...

Differences between a
Christian and a non-believer:

1) Blessings

2) Tranquility

3) Imputed innocence before God."
I understand what BB is saying. You are wrong PH in some of your interpretations. That's a result of your extreme thinking on this subject and taking things so personally.

Blessings= blessings we receive from God. The non-believer will not receive these blessings.

Tranquility= That's the peace of God which non-believers don't understand. They cannot understand it. You can create your own peace, but you don't have the peace of God. (BTW, any objective person can see from your blog, PH, that you don't have peace and that you are angry and vindictive).

Imputed righteousness= In a nutshell, it doesn't mean that Christians never sin, but means that our righteousness isn't of our own, but we are imputed with Christ's righteousness, therefore justified before God. It doesn't mean that atheists are criminals, but it does mean that they are not righteous in God's eyes. (that shouldn't upset you because you don't believe in God anyway).

Anonymous said...

Normally I don't have a problem with the Christian concept that one person is really no better than another, however Bob's statement earlier in the post rubs me the wrong way.

Even within the ancient concept of sin there are some worse than others. You cannot say Christians, Atheists, and idol worshippers are no better than mass murderers.

Don't drag out that tired old argument about sin being the transgression of the law and the penalty for that being death somehow justifies your statement. In the Bible stories prior to the crucifixion, not every sinner was stoned. There were varying penalties based on the seriousness of the infraction.

On the other hand Bob, you could probably make an argument that murderers are actually better than teenagers that are amused by a a bald, crazy old coot. The more I read the Bible, the more repulsed by people that believe it to be literally true I become.

For example: A couple of teens with too much time on their hands call a cranky old crazy coot "Baldy" and they get devoured by a bear. Good for those ne'er do well kids huh?

BUT: Commit adultery and impregnate the woman, have the husband killed, and take the woman as your own and what happens? The blameless child of the illicit union is killed, call the offender 'A man after God's own heart' and make his descendents Kings!"

Sick sick sick

Our Awesome Universe said...

Prof,

My purpose in posing the five questions was to illustrate a simplified relationship between the postmodern beliefs of atheistic existentialism, theistic existentialism, absurdism, and nihilism.

Perhaps some nililists are agnostics, or atheists existentialists and not nihilists. Some undoubtedly will quibble how the normative atheist, nihilist, and existentialist positions will nest, overlap, or exclude certain areas of belief.

According to absurdism, humans historically attempt to find meaning in their lives. For some, traditionally, this search follows one of two paths: either concluding that life is meaningless, and that what we have is the here-and-now; or alternatively, filling the void with a purpose set forth by a higher power, often a belief in God or adherence to a religion.

However, even with a spiritual power as the answer to meaning, another question is posed: What is the purpose of God? Kierkegaard believed that there is no human-comprehensible purpose of God, making faith in God absurd. Camus on the other hand states that to believe in God is to "deny one of the terms of the contradiction" between man and universe (and therefore not absurd), but returns to "philosophical suicide". Although Camus (as well as Kierkegaard) suggests that while absurdity does not lead to belief in God, neither does it lead to the denial of God. Camus notes, "I did not say 'excludes God', which would still amount to asserting".

For some, suicide is a solution when confronted with the futility of living a life devoid of all purpose, as it is only a means to quicken the resolution of one's ultimate fate. For Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus, suicide is not a worthwhile solution, because if life is veritably absurd, it is therefore even more absurd to counteract it; instead, we should engage in living, and reconcile the fact that we live in a world without purpose.

For Camus, the beauty which people encounter in life makes it worth living. People may create meaning in their own lives, which may not be the objective meaning of life, but can still provide something for which to strive. However, he insisted that one must always maintain an ironic distance between this invented meaning and the knowledge of the absurd, lest the fictitious meaning takes the place of the absurd.

Camus introduced the idea of "acceptance without resignation" as a way of dealing with the recognition of absurdity, asking whether or not man can "live without appeal", defining a "conscious revolt" against the avoidance of absurdity of the world. In a world devoid of higher meaning or judicial afterlife, man becomes absolutely free. It is through this freedom that man can act either as a mystic (through appeal to some supernatural force) or an absurd hero (through a revolt against such hope). Henceforth, the absurd hero's refusal to hope becomes his singular ability to live in the present with passion. Your atheistic scientist probably finds some sort of personal value in his research and revels in better understanding how the mysteries of the material universe work.

Anonymous said...

"1) Blessings"

What blessings? Be exact, Bob.



2) Tranquility

That is in no way a characteristic of Christians- "tranquility" can be found anywhere, from pagan religions to New Age hoo-doo to meditation to philosophy to drinking a cup of tea on the porch.


3) Imputed innocence before God

Duh. This is like saying one difference between Christians and Muslims is that Muslims get virgins when they go to heaven.

But I am glad that your god has granted you a pardon for being you. You won't have to die in a Lake O' Fire now. Isn't that nice?

The Apostate Paul

larry said...

Byker Bob said,
"Legalists always dwell on literalism."
A brilliant statement.

In order to understand the Bible, one must have something called "discernment". This comes only from God and with some time and experience as well.

With discernment one learns that not everything is MEANT to be taken LITERALLY. And, some things (but not all) apply to some people (but not all) some of the time (but not all).

And, other things apply to other people at other times.

This seeming paradox is what causes so much confusion and even dissension in Christianity. What may be perfectly acceptable for one person is viewed as hypocrisy by another. Outsiders, rightly or wrongly, throw up their hands and accuse everyone involved of ignorance. Humans prefer concrete legal interpretations. It is either right or wrong. This has been the source of much angst throughout history. But, if you look at the US Constitution, a document intended to be concrete, literal, and flawless; even it has been the subject of interpretation over the years.

The real key to the Bible is the mind of God, trying to understand what He wants us to understand. Not everyone can do this. Those who can understand do not, should not, and must not hold it over others (as a matter of pride) because understanding, like faith, is a gift from The Almighty.

Byker Bob said...

Purps,

I did not imply those fallacies in any way. You alone own those. You totally read them into my own words.

Traditional and typical Christians do not even believe what is embodied by your restatements. That would be an over-simplification of the truth. We are told in scripture that God rains on the just and the unjust. The disciples asked Jesus on one occasion about the relative goodness or evil of those who had been killed by the collapse of a wall, and He stated that they were neither more righteous, nor evil than those who had not been killed. This implies a certain randomness factor, in addition to blessings and cursings.

Throughout the Bible, there are examples of God leaving room or space for free will repentance. This means that often, both non-believers and the deliberately disobedient will experience long stretches of time without any type of punishment, duress, or curses for their chosen lifestyle. It's part of God's love for all of His children. He's even willing to take a chance that the prodigals might hurt some of His own people, as they are allowed this space.

We also have examples where God has not removed circumstances from the lives of his obedient children. He does promise not to ever give us any trials too difficult to deal with. Often, we are required to remain in bad circumstances, but are simply given help in overcoming them. And, a sense that everything God is doing will work out for our ultimate good. Yet, often, atheists might appear to have a more tranquil and peaceful life, because they do not need to be concerned for any of the spiritual implications of their activities.

But, I can see why you would raise the issues which you did, just based on secular understanding and human logic. When I was a non-believer myself, I always wanted to feel as if I were on a level playing field with the believers, and that there were no real advantages to being Christian. Having experienced the Christian lifestyle, I would never want to go back. There really is no comparison.

As for possible worries over the cookie cutter syndrome, God would not have created us as individuals with diverse talents and abilities if this had been his intention. Cookie cutters and yellow pencils are part of the box that man made religion attempts to impose. People who "have a relationship with God" can understand this. People who "belong to a church" are often securely in the box, and cannot.

BB

Anonymous said...

"With discernment one learns that not everything is MEANT to be taken LITERALLY."

Like talking animals and a man that died and rose from the dead three days later? How do you discern which one of these equally improbable events isn't true? If both are true, then what parts of the bible aren't true?


"And, some things (but not all) apply to some people (but not all) some of the time (but not all)."

Like picking up sticks on Saturday? Giving all your money and property to the assembly?

Those are some pretty big disclaimers you have there. Sounds like the fast talk/fine print in automobile advertisements on the radio. So let me get this straight:

'Not everything in the Bible may or may not be taken literally, and some things may or may not apply to everyone, and that also depends upon the time frame. And only those with "discernment" can figure which is which.'

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"I understand what BB is saying. You are wrong PH in some of your interpretations. That's a result of your extreme thinking on this subject and taking things so personally."

And again, this is where I stopped reading. I was not "taking things personally", I was attempting to engage a Christian in dialog (not you, by the way).

Really, you're going to have to try to meet me a little more than less than halfway, if you want to me to pay any attention to what you are trying to tell me in the first place, Mark.

Anonymous said...

"I did not imply those fallacies in any way. You alone own those. You totally read them into my own words."

Wow. I stopped reading your comment earlier than I stopped with Mark's screeds.

Sorry Bob.

Byker Bob said...

Aggie, it doesn't bother me if you only read a few sentences of each of my posts. That won't get you kicked off of my prayer list!

Remember, it wasn't too long ago that I myself was tearing God stickers off of cars, and making the little Christian fish into Darwin ones on real estate signs.

BB

larry said...

The Apostate Paul said,
"Not everything in the Bible may or may not be taken literally, and some things may or may not apply to everyone, and that also depends upon the time frame. And only those with "discernment" can figure which is which."

Hey, you got it! There is hope for you yet.

Corky said...

All this talk about God, church, doctrines, personal relationships and obedience to something that doesn't even exist. What a pity.

It's a shameful thing to teach one's children about the monster of the OT when they can't even prove the monster exists.

Before anyone can speak with God's authority, they must first prove that God exists and they have yet to do so.

If someone says that Hercules, son of God (Zeus), exists, should I demand proof before worshipping Hercules? I think so.

So believers, where is your proof?

larry said...

Corky, I have no "proof" that YOU exist. For all I (we) know, your posts could be the rantings of some schizophrenic teenager in a mental institution.

Now, I really don't believe that to be the case. But, I have no evidence to back up that belief, just deductive reasoning. God says that the Creation itself, which I CAN actually see AND verify, is proof of and testimony for His existence and power. Who am I to argue?

And to the "Apostate Paul",
See, how easy that was to figure out. Christianity really isn't all that complicated.

Mark said...

Before anyone can speak with God's authority, they must first prove that God exists and they have yet to do so.And your alternative explanation for the existence of everything is...? We're waiting. You can believe that this is all a matter of random cosmic chance. I don't believe that. To me, the most rational explanation is that there is a creator.
Who knows, maybe the proof is all right in front of you, but it is up to you to accept it. I have to think that it really isn't so much that a person ("atheist") doesn't want to believe there's a creator, but it is what that creator asks of the person which the person doesn't want to have any part of.

After you believe that God could create something out of nothing, it isn't a hard leap to believe that he could come here, die, and also be resurrected. Maybe the reason he chose to be seen in the OT as a burning bush is because that's what they needed to see to believe. Of course, the burning bush WASN'T God, but a manifestation of him. Because if we saw God we could not survive. (Go outside and stare at the sun for a little while and you will get a tiny glimpse of what I am talking about). We see manifestations of God all around us. It's up to us to choose to believe.

Corky said...

Mark said...
Before anyone can speak with God's authority, they must first prove that God exists and they have yet to do so.And your alternative explanation for the existence of everything is...? We're waiting.

---------------------------

I don't have to have an alternative explanation for the existence of everything. Most of it is common knowledge these days anyway (course, you'll need to actually read a science book or two).

The default position to the scientific explanations is not "God-did-it". It would be far better to say "I don't know" rather than invent a god.

No, the most rational answer is not that a creator did it until you can prove it was created to start with. The most rational answer to the natural world is that it is, well, natural.

-----------------------

To Larry: I have never heard such fantastic logical reasoning in my life . . . wow!

Anonymous said...

"Remember, it wasn't too long ago that I myself was tearing God stickers off of cars, and making the little Christian fish into Darwin ones on real estate signs."

I'm not you, Bob, and I would never ever, stoop to doing those kinds of terrible and insulting things in the first place. Why? BECAUSE I am an atheist. And equating ME with the kind of atheist that YOU were, is applying a cookie cutter approach that is neither conducive to dialogue, nor reflective of reality.

You and Mark are the ones who are refusing to dialog with me, by calling me a liar (when I am providing links to objective sources on the history of the collection of books that have come to be known as the Christian bible), saying I am spreading falsehoods, or making my own interpretations, when I am only trying to show you what your words are saying to me.

If that's not what you were saying, with your three points about Christians, then reword it in a way that you think I might better understand, don't just dismiss me out of hand because I'm not a believer. I'm trying to not to do the same to you, but I keep running into these verbal roadblocks you are setting up yourselves.

Our Awesome Universe said...

Corky asks,

"So believers, where is your proof?"

Now where is your air tight, highly persuasive, completely convincing, atheistic proof God DOESN'T exist, Corky?

Atheists put themselves into a terrible position. They have have one of two possible states after death:

1. You were 100% RIGHT in your unrepentant atheism.

God doesn't exist. Your unhappy life on Earth had absolutely no lasting significance of any sort.

A tiny mosquito's blood sucking, short life when it died had as much value and meaning as your lengthy one.

2. The second possiblility is that you were 100% WRONG in your unrepentant atheism.

God exists, is in charge, and makes all the final judgments.

Then does God reward a dead, mistaken, unrepentant atheist with undeserved salvation?

Our Awesome Universe

Anonymous said...

The existence of the universe and all that it contains is concrete proof of the universe and all that it contains. It is not proof of any imaginary creator who made it all out of nothing after waving his magic wand. It is far more logical to believe that matter has eternally existed than it is to believe an unseen imaginary being has eternaly existed. There is proof the universe exists, no proof that what people call God exists.

Who created your imaginary creator? The minds and imaginations of our ancestors created what you believe to be God. The universe created God, not God creating the universe. How did the universe create God? Because mankind evolved from lower life forms over the course of time, then reached a stage where mankind created God out of its imagination.

So therefore the universe created God out of nothing through mankind. Proof of this abounds in the multitudes of gods mankind has created throughout its history.

Thomas Munson

Byker Bob said...

Excellent posts, Larry and Mark. For me, personally, everything around us is proof that God does exist because all physical things are literally made and fashioned from the essence of God. When there was nothing, He literally took of Himself for the raw materials with which to create everything. The atomic structure of these items testifies that everything in our physical universe is made from God's energy, and our very act of breathing speaks and praises His name hundreds of times each day. Hallelujah!

Paul Ray asked me to list the blessings I have received from God as a Christian. They are many. But, I'm not going to comply with his request, because I know just what he wants to do with that list. Blessings are personal, something that one must experience oneself. Sharing the specifics will not turn the heart of a disbeliever who is yet filled with hostility, although such sharing can often help and encourage those whose hearts God is opening. I continue to believe that the very best action we can all take is to pray for the non-believers.

Our God is a very powerful and very subtle God, and can and does even use atheism to draw His children back to Him. It sometimes requires years, and many many lessons, but eventually one realizes that life totally sucks without God and His love.

BB

Anonymous said...

Larry and Mark,

What I have a difficultly with in both your reasoning is that because existence exists, and thus needs a rational explaination, you therefore make the wild jump that the God of your particular cultural religion (the God of the Bible) is THE Creator God, and so in your minds you think this massive leap of faith has solved the mystery of existence - when in reality all it's done is make the issue infinately more complex and confusing.

Islam will claim the Creator is Allah, as ancient Greeks claimed it was Zeus, and so on around the world's religions.

Positing a magical Creator in no way proves the truth of the Bible nor of Christianity at all, nor of theism.

Corky said...

Corky asks,

"So believers, where is your proof?"

Now where is your air tight, highly persuasive, completely convincing, atheistic proof God DOESN'T exist, Corky?
-----------------------------------
You know better than that. You don't have to prove a negative such as saying that Zeus doesn't exist because it is impossible to prove Zeus doesn't exist. You know that too, so why are you acting so obtuse?

You are making the positive assertion that God exists. It is your burden to prove it. It is not my burden to disprove it. Why? Because God's existence stands as unproved until you can prove it.

If you can't prove you have a 747 in a hanger in your back yard, I need to assume that you have no 747 in a hanger in your back yard.

Anonymous said...

"God doesn't exist. Your unhappy life on Earth had absolutely no lasting significance of any sort."

Unhappy is as unhappy does. People are unhappy either because of life circumstances, other people, or just plain bad brain chemistry. I would ask respectfully, if your life before becoming a believer (if you were ever lucky enough to have such a life, and became a believer through your own free will) was unhappy, are there things you could have done, outside of religion that would have made your life happier? I.e., gotten a better job, learned to stop sweating the small stuff, stopped hanging around people who were bringing you down, etc.?

The next question is, what changes in your unhappy life were made as a result of your newfound religion, that were completely independent of religion to begin with?

If you need to externalize positive changes in your life and your personality to some outward force, then more power to you. Just don't expect everyone else to agree with a picture of something that, ultimately, only exists inside your own head.

Anonymous said...

"But, I'm not going to comply with his request, because I know just what he wants to do with that list. "

Belittle it? No. Though I easily could. What I would do with your list is point out that every single one of your "blessings" is experienced by:

Muslims
Jews
Hindus
Buhddists
Satanists
Diests
Agnostics
Atheists
New Agers
Pagans
Pawnbrokers
Chimpanzees
Ect.

I know, I know. Rain on the just, and the unjust, right? More Larrylogic.

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"I continue to believe that the very best action we can all take is to pray for the non-believers."

I agree! Keep praying. Nothing gets things done like praying!


Bob, you want me to accept the existence of your god? It's so simple. Evidence. The kind of evidence you demand from the world around you in your daily life, not the un-evidence you use to prove the existence of your god. It's not an unreasonable request, is it?


The Apostate Paul

Byker Bob said...

Paul,

My purpose is not to get you to believe in God. In the ultimate sense, only God can prove that He exists. I can, however, proclaim my own belief, and provide testimony as to the fruits of that belief. I mean, you've got to give me one thing. At least I'm not spewing a lot of anger, or bringing everyone down by proclaiming that life sucks, or chronicling a bunch of real and psychosomatic illnesses.

At best, all that I can hope to accomplish is to provide a bit of balance, since WCG-induced atheism seems to make its adherents so vociferous.

And, perhaps, amongst our larger audience of regular AW readers, there are some people who are looking to make some improvements in their lives. They may be silently watching to see what type of world view or philosophy produces the most positive and fulfilling lifestyle. It is for those people that I heartily recommend a personal adventure with Heavenly Father!

Oops! Time to wind down for bed now. Worship services start Sunday morning promptly at 11:15!
Highlight of the entire week, you understand!

BB

SmilinJackSprat said...

Corky & the Apostate, maybe you should be on the defensive. Surely our best and brightest unbelievers wouldn't have dumped God on a whim. You've come to responsible conclusions by carefully, soberly, exhaustively weighing the evidence against him, right?!!

So for us mentally and spiritually challenged believers, prove God DOESN'T exist, won't you? Show me your evidence.

Everything else exists. Why not God, the Creator, the Compassionate One, our Father, our King?

Anonymous said...

"At least I'm not spewing a lot of anger, or bringing everyone down by proclaiming that life sucks, or chronicling a bunch of real and psychosomatic illnesses."

OK Bob, time for YOU to pony up some evidence that IS retrievable: Point to ANYONE in this thread, who is an atheist, and quote the words that prove we are doing anything of the above.

(And "chronicling a bunch of real and psychosomatic illnesses"?? WTF? Bob, are you reading AW in an alternate universe??)

"Worship services start Sunday morning promptly at 11:15!
Highlight of the entire week, you understand!"

You've just replaced "the church" with what you think is a better church. It isn't a better church, Bob, it's just a different church.

I really really really hope, given some of what you've said in past weeks, that you aren't giving anyone any of your money. :-(

"So for us mentally and spiritually challenged believers, prove God DOESN'T exist, won't you? Show me your evidence."

I'm not Paul, I'm not Corky, and I wouldn't presume to call believers mentally challenged, but I'll answer your question, Jack.

God does exist, for every single believer.

As the Gospel of Philip says, "Men create gods. That is the way it is in the world. Men create gods, and worship their creations. It would be better for the gods to worship men!"

Armstrong's god existed, for all of us, in a universe a long time ago and far, far away. Fortunately we have all (mostly) divested ourselves of that god.

Some of us have replaced that god with another demiurgic creation. Others of us have replaced that god with the antithesis of the demiurge, railing long and loud at those who have created their own gods, because they are scared of the god they might create, if they believed.

I, personally, have no created god in my mind or in my life. The gnostic techniques I use, which could be considered religious in some contexts, are not religious to me. But they are useful. Those techniques inform me that, no matter how much we disagree with each other, here and elsewhere, we ALL have the same spark of human consciousness within us.

Like shining a light through a prism, each spark reflects a slightly different colour, across a broad and fascinating spectrum. Some of the colours are dark, and will remain dark. Others are light, and do bring positive change and interactions to the world. Other colours are in between, trying to stay out of both the darkness and light. Those colours keep the rest in harmony, or at least arms'-length to each other. I try to be one of those colours in the middle, whether I'm right or I'm wrong in doing that. Wisdom in harmony, and harmony in wisdom, to paraphrase the end of the "cross of light" passage from the Acts of John II.....

Well, now that I've disagreed with everybody, and stirred up the hornet's nest again --- time for me to go do better things, I suppose.....

Anonymous said...

"Everything else exists. Why not God, the Creator, the Compassionate One, our Father, our King?"

Everything else exists? Really? Do the following exist:

- The boogeyman
- The Flying Spaghetti Monster
- Klingons
- Zeus
- Reincarnation
- Nirvana

Well, you get the idea. How can you invent something out of your imagination, then to claim it MUST exist unless someone can prove it doesn't exist?

The fact that millions of others also believe doesn't make it any more true. Entire nations believed in gods that we now know were human inventions: Egypt had their gods, Greece had theirs, Babylon had theirs. These people truly believed. They even sacrificed animals, and even sometimes humans, to these gods. They believed sincerely, but you and I know their belief was ridiculous.

How is your belief different?

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

"In the ultimate sense, only God can prove that He exists."

*rolls eyes*

Thanks, Bob.



The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"Everything else exists. Why not God, the Creator, the Compassionate One, our Father, our King?"

I agree! And why not flying unicorns, leprechauns, cyclons, time machines, Thor, lightsabers, shadow hounds, magic, the Force, ect. Why not? And no one can't prove that these things DON'T exist, can they? Until then, I'll continue to believe.



The Apostate Paul

SmilinJackSprat said...

Paul, I asked for proof that God doesn't exist. Evidence would suffice if proof is unrealistic.

Is that too big a request?

larry said...

The level of skepticism evident on this board to some extent reflects what is going on in the world as a whole.

I personally do not foresee a major revival of Christianity in the modern industrialized world, unless someone comes along with an INCREDIBLY charismatic personality OR the ability to perform REAL miracles. It may even require both!

And, with the level of expertise that currently exists in matters of illusion and deception, the bar for proving miracles to the general public will be VERY high. It could still happen, and it is possible that I am completely off base as far as the likelihood of religious revival goes. But, I just don't see a sweeping change in religious thinking coming.

And, if it is unlikely in the USA, it is probably more unlikely anywhere else in the developed world. Where it could happen, and some say already is happening, is in the so-called "bottom billion", the poverty-stricken areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Byker Bob said...

Aggster:

My comments are not soley based on the posts which have appeared on AW. They derive from ten years of reading materials from the WCG dissident diaspora, carefully analyzing the various solutions to Armstrongism, and how these solutions have affected peoples' lives.

As far as having "found a better church", that type of statement makes what has happened in my life seem so trite or trivial. What I did find is a relationship with God, through which I allow Him to speak to me via His word. Sadly, I'd spent decades being one of the spiritually homeless, when in fact a good refurbish or remodel would have kept me safe and sheltered from the sometimes awful self-centered elements that ruin our marriages, or destroy the lives of our friends and loved ones.

How could I not write some checks that I normally would have considered to be a waste back when I was a non-believer? Don't worry. I do make sure the recipients aren't spending the moneys on their own versions of the "Flying Whorehouse". We didn't use to get a say in such matters, and had to watch helplessly as our church forbad us to help the poor starving African children that they displayed on the covers of their magazines! I realize that our past makes so many so cynical about giving, but that can also be washed away.


BB

Anonymous said...

"Remember, it wasn't too long ago that I myself was tearing God stickers off of cars, and making the little Christian fish into Darwin ones on real estate signs."

You really were quite angry, weren't you? I suppose I can see now your tendency to label us as people who are Just Angry At God (though you may be right about some) and I still believe that alot of it is simply a reverse demonization. I am glad you are at peace, just disappointed that you chose to achieve it through belief in imaginary beings.

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

Sorry Skeptic, for stealing your thunder. We think alike.

Want to meet on the Death Star for Romulan Ale one hundred years in the past? I can arrange it. I have a time machine in my garage (which you Christians can't disprove) if you can just teleport over using those magic crystals of yours (which you Christians can't disprove) and we can transport ourselves to 1909, and then I can beseech Zeus via burnt offerings to contact Darth Vader (both of whom you Christians can't disprove) and request that a shuttle be sent by hyperdrive (which you Christians can't disprove) to pick us up. On the way back, we will use Imperial technology to contact Starfleet (or if that fails, I will summon a demon from the icy bowels of the Alterdimenshun) and see if we can bribe someone to get us a bottle of Romulan Ale (ALL of which you Christians can't disprove).

Causal wear. Don't carry any weapons. Ensure that your energy color is in harmony with The Divine Spark of Vlatuhala.

Cheers!
The Apostate Paul

Corky said...

SmilinJackSprat said...

So for us mentally and spiritually challenged believers, prove God DOESN'T exist, won't you? Show me your evidence.

---------------------------------

I'll make a deal with ya, if you can prove Hercules doesn't exist, I'll prove your God doesn't exit.

That's fair ain't it?

Anonymous said...

"Is that too big a request?"

It is no different than asking for proof that Spiderman doesn't really exist. Do you understand? You are claiming that there exists a supernatural being who created the universe by divine fiat..without any evidence. In fact, you demand that we prove that this being doesn't exist as proof positive that it does exist. If I claimed that Jedi Knights created human beings by spitting into a magic golden cup and pouring it onto the ground, would you ask for evidence to support my claim? What would you think if I were to demand that you prove that it DIDN'T happen??


The Apostate Paul

SmilinJackSprat said...

To Corky and the Apostate Paul,

So on one side we have the universe, the earth and moon with their miraculous timely functions, all at a perfect distance from the sun, supporting near-infinite varieties of life, including human life. Humanity possesses genius, creativity, plus the ability to love or hate, to experience joy, to manipulate earth's resources to accomplish whatever it imagines. Could all of this result from completely random activity of matter in existence since the Big Bang? Why and from where the Big Bang? Why so much beauty and awesome majesty from random activity?

Humanity also possesses a collection of ancient Hebrew writings that cannot be explained without Einstein's discovery of Relativity -- yet these writings were committed to parchment over 3000 years before Einstein's birth. These prescient and scientifically precise documents exhaustively and in remarkable detail explain the creative processes that began in a singularity expanding to form a near sentient universe from pre-atomic raw materials called tohu and vohu. The account, with commentary to fully explain its written potential, could easily fill libraries -- and the same account attributes everything in existence, this side of Creation's day one, to a compassionate but just Creator, both Father and Mother to everything and everyone.

I say the evidence for God is both overwhelming and irresistible. Beyond the physical evidence, God can be experienced in prevailing prayer. But that takes desire...

Trying to prove or find evidence that God does not exist is, as you rightly say, an empty futility. Evidence to the contrary is staggering -- and there is every evidence that Darth Vader, the Death Star, Romulin Ale and Spiderman never existed.

Hercules is another matter, and lies in the realm of those mythical characters who some insist had their origins in real people.

Anonymous said...

"Prove MY imaginary being doesn't exist!"

"No, YOU prove MY imaginary being doesn't exist!"

"Dare you!"

"Double dare you!"

"Olly olly oxen free!!!"

WHO CARES whether or not they're real?!?!

The question is, what can YOUR mind do for YOU, to make you a better person in this world and this life, right here and right now? If your mind needs to conjure up a mytho-theological cosmogony to do so, then so be it. Laugh at all mockers, and greet all others cheerfully.

Just don't expect the contents of YOUR cranium, to be replicated in anyone else's mental space, and we will all get along just fine.

I learned about racism, and why racism was a bad, no-good, amoral thing, from Star Trek. Are the Star Trek characters "real"? Of course not! But the teaching behind the mythology was.

Was "Jesus" real? No, Jesus never existed, and the canonical Christian version of him is like a badly-drawn caricature, rendered by several different artists, onto the same piece of paper. The "extra-canonical" books give much the same impression. Why?

Because each "book of the saviour" came from inside the author's own head. Remember what I said above, about men creating gods?

You know, there's a verse about the root of a tree, but I really really REALLY don't wanna start sounding like Herbie at this point; besides which, in MY estimation, the "root of the tree" is the spark of human consciousness that we ALL have. Regardless of theism, non-theism, deism, or something in between.

Are you people willing to look for the REAL "root of the tree" in yourselves, and in each other, or are you just going to spend the rest of your days debating whether or not the contents of your own skull are "the most true truth"?

THERE IS NO SPOON.

Yeah that's it. I'm done.

Leonardo said...

Once again, SmilinJackSprat, all you furnish is fantastical ASSERTIONS, not evidence.

You write with regard to the early chapters of the Old Testament:
"These prescient and scientifically precise documents exhaustively and in remarkable detail explain the creative processes that began in a singularity expanding to form a near sentient universe from pre-atomic raw materials called tohu and vohu."

But these Hebrew documents clearly borrowed from Babylonian creation accounts of a more ancient vintage - so why can't I make the very same claim that the Babylonian documents they were lifted from were inspired by an invisible magical Being as well?

You can read whatever modern scientific findings you want to into whatever ancient creation myths you choose to believe is the word of God – but that proves absolutely nothing. Overlaying modern views of the universe on top of these ancient accounts can be done by anyone at any time. But it still proves nothing.

Show me an ancient account, that plainly and in clear language, shows planet earth to be a sphere rather than a round flat disk/island (as both Babylonian and the derivative Hebrew accounts do), or the basic fundamentals of atomic theory – i.e., ideas that clearly are not intuitive – then perhaps those of us who doubt the fantastical claims of religion would be more inclined to believe that such a document truly is remarkably prescient.

But even the fact that the ancient Greek natural philosopher Aristarchus speculated around the 4th century B.C.E. that the earth revolved around the sun doesn’t prove he was an inspired prophet of your magical deity.

One thing all you ardent believers have in common is your refusal to admit that, at the end of the day after all your assertions and arguments have been made, your religious ideology must be accepted on FAITH alone, not demonstrable factual EVIDENCE, at least evidence that is in any way comprehensible to the rational mind.

Why do you resist this clear fact, instead arguing that somehow the Bible predicted or foresaw Einsteinium relativity, etc?

Anonymous said...

SmilinJackSprat said...

So for us mentally and spiritually challenged believers, prove God DOESN'T exist, won't you? Show me your evidence.

Here's some evidence: (1) prayer doesn't work. Unbiased studies have been conducted where a group of people who are sick and/or undergoing an operation are prayed for. A similar "control" group is not prayed for. Noone in either group knows whether they're being prayed for or not. The results? Prayer had absolutely no impact.

(2) absence of miracles. Or sure, we read about miracles in the past that can't be verified. Or current claims of miracles, that don't stand up to scientific analysis. But not a single real miracle.

(3) lack of verified healings. Amputees and other cases where clear proof would be possible are NEVER healed. Cases where a person "thinks he feels better now" are all the healings we ever get. Sound fishy?

(4) The existence of diseases, germs and plagues. Would a loving god create this kind of world?

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

SmilingJackSprat said:

"Hercules is another matter, and lies in the realm of those mythical characters who some insist had their origins in real people."

Oh, I see. You mean Hercules is just like Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Jesus Christ. I agree.

The Skeptic.

Anonymous said...

"Humanity also possesses a collection of ancient Hebrew writings that cannot be explained without Einstein's discovery of Relativity"

A couple of points:

(1)Mankind does not possess these ancient writings. It possesses copies of copies of copies of copies of parts of these documents. The copies were obviously repeatedly edited, so that no two are the same. Many edits are minor but some are major. In translating these books, "experts" compare all existing copies and agree, line by line, on which is the most likely "original intent".

(2) No reputable scholar attributes historical truth nor scientific truth to the bible books. They reflect history and science as it was understood by their primitive writers.

(3) "Biblical Errancy" and "Skeptics Annotated Bible" are two excellent sources for the thousands of inconsistencies and errors in the bible.

The Skeptic

SmilinJackSprat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ExAndroid said...

Theists call for the atheists to provide proof that "God" doesn't exist. (An arguably impossible task. No wonder the burden of proof is shifted to the atheist).

Tell me, please, just what would the theist require as acceptable proof of the non-existence of any gods? How would the theist recognize the proof?

Think about it.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Dear Skeptic, the Orthodox Jewish world would disagree with your assessment of the Hebrew Torah. Because of the rules of its transmission, it would have been virtually impossible for scribes to have copied it inaccurately. This is the authentic Torah of Moses.

The Israeli Dr. Gerald Scholar is extremely reputable, MIT trained, with extensive accomplishments in the scientific world. He is also a believing Jew, completely convinced of the written Torah's virtually perfect inerrancy. Several of his best selling books discuss the scientific implications of Hebrew Genesis in its original, which is far, far richer than modern Hebrew. If you are interested, "The Science of God" would be a good place to see what Genesis has to say about Creation; it cannot be gleaned from translations. The books of Moses cannot be brought across in translation; there is far too much implied in the original; these are not ordinary books.

The commentary of Ramban (Nachmanides) and an unusual translation of the first eleven chapters of Genesis entitled "In the Beginning: The Bible, Unauthorized," by H. Moose, 1947, from thirtysevenbooks.com are both eye-opening. Ramban is particularly good because he wrote from Torah alone, long before modern science could influence interpretation. But my recommendation would be to start with Schroeder's "Science of God."

Gavin said...

Dr Gerald Scholar? Extremely reputable he might be, but he doesn't seem to be known to the folks on Google...

SmilinJackSprat said...

Ok. Thanks for the heads up, Gavin. Red face here.

The Israeli scholar's name is Dr. Gerald Schroeder, an MIT grad. Some of his lectures can be seen on YouTube.

His academic bio can be found here: http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/encyclopedia/Gerald_Schroeder/

Anonymous said...

SmilinJackSprat said...

"Because of the rules of its transmission, it would have been virtually impossible for scribes to have copied it inaccurately."

And yet, all we have is parts of books that all say different things. That's why teams of 100+ translators are needed to produce a bible. It's not as if there were many complete copies of the bible, all identical, and all the translators have to do is translate hebrew to english. No, they've got to try to make sense of a bunch of fragmented and contradictory documents.

The "rules of transmission" are a system where copies are double-checked, letters are counted, words are counted, and various other checks are made to ensure accurate copying. This was a real good system for maintaining the fidelity of hand-written copies. But Jack, are you aware that these rules went into effect hundreds of years A.D.? The rabbis at that time may have agreed upon one set of texts they would consider "official", and all the rest were rejected, but who's to say they picked the "right" ones?

Thanks for the book suggestions - I will follow up on them.

May I suggest you venture out into the world of unbiased researchers, i.e. archaeologists and historians who have no interest in proving or disproving the bible either way? These men analyze "holy land" findings the same way they would any other findings. A LOT of new documents, both scriptural and non-scriptural, have been discovered and analyzed over the past 40 years. You'd be surprised what it implies.

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

Smiling Jack,

I can see why you and I have such divergent opinions. We're dealing with two different sets of "facts". You seem to honestly believe, as I once did, that the bible was written by original writers and has been preserved perfectly to this day, so that the bibles we read today are exactly as they were originally written.

Jack, this is just not the case. Modern analysts can easily see places where later editors added to text, removed text they didn't like, changed meaning, etc. They scribes who made changes didn't think they were doing anything wrong - modern concepts like copywrite didn't exist back then - they were just "improving" the text. Nevertheless, it left us with a mishmosh. You may have an author or two who think otherwise, and of course the religious establishments argue otherwise, but the preponderance of mainstream archeologists and historicans know otherwise.

Even if I thought the current bible was an exact replica of the "original" texts, I would still have a problem with all the errors and inconsistencies. Check out the "Biblical Errancy" website for an exhaustive list of these. Many you might call nit-picking, but many others are major. And if the bible is inerrant, why would there be ANY inconsistencies, even the little ones like saying Solomon had 600 horses in once book and 6,000 horses in another (let's see now, how did that error happen?)

The Skeptic

Leonardo said...

Ex Android wrote:
"Tell me, please, just what would the theist require as acceptable proof of the non-existence of any gods? How would the theist recognize the proof? Think about it."

Ex Android, I'm afraid you are asking the impossible in that the vast majority of dogmatic theists have abandoned consistent rational thought long ago in order to arrive at their dogmatic religious beliefs in the first place - despite all their protests to the contrary.

This can be seen clearly on the pages of this blog site, how the theists constantly have to evade logic and evidence, instead substituting nonsense like SmilinJackSprat posts, or try to avoid their responsibility to produce all this “powerful evidence” that their magical God exists by saying things such as “Well, prove that my God doesn’t exist” – and then smugly thinking that this actually constitutes a legitimate answer.

And similar non-responses such as "It would take a lifetime to study and truly understand all the available evidence" falls into the same category - they have all the earmarks of a snake oil promoter's sales pitch.

This is all nothing more than blatant intellectual evasion on their part, plain and simple - and I think most bloggers here are sound-minded enough to recognize it as such.

That’s why world-class philosophers and scientists have long ago stopped taking these folks seriously, because such simple-minded theists have proven over the years that they don’t want an open exchange of ideas; what they really want is a theocracy complete with the power to intellectually or physically enforce their ideas on others. This is what they have always historically done when they had the political power to do so, and what they would do again if given the opportunity.

And to all you fundamentalists out there – just to be clear lest I be misunderstood – I’m not denying that a Power or Mind could eventually be shown to stand behind all that we see and know of in this massive cosmos – but I do deny and reject the magical, anti-intellectual, genocidal, monstrosity of a God you envision and vainly try to prove exists.

And by the way, I suggest to anyone interested in the rather bizarre and esoteric material promoted by SmilinJackSprat to indeed check into Dr. Gerald Schroeder's stuff out there on the Internet - some of it is pretty wild.

But beware someone who bases his arguments on the "research" of primarily just one man - just like we avoid translations of the Bible made by only one person. There's just too much temptation for religious bias to enter into such research and translations.

But I highly suggest spending a little time reading some of Schroeder's various ideas and articles. I think you'll discover that, despite his much-touted MIT education, he's actually more interested in zealously pushing his religious agenda considerably more than the demonstrable facts of reality he may have acquired at MIT in the early '60's.

Anonymous said...

"The Israeli Dr. Gerald Scholar is extremely reputable, MIT trained, with extensive accomplishments in the scientific world."


Okay. So far so good.


"He is also a believing Jew, completely convinced of the written Torah's virtually perfect inerrancy."

Whoops. You don't see a problem with this?

Mark said...

I say the evidence for God is both overwhelming and irresistible."You know, the "atheists" on this board equate God with spiderman or tinkerbell or the tooth fairy, so it really doesn't matter what the evidence is. They don't care and don't want to know God, because the carnal mind is enmity against God.

Anonymous said...

"A LOT of new documents, both scriptural and non-scriptural, have been discovered and analyzed over the past 40 years. You'd be surprised what it implies."

Many would also be surprised, if they were willing to step outside of their bibliomancy, at the picture of Middle Eastern religions a wholistic approach to all the texts written, can provide.

Anonymous said...

For anyone too lazy to Google, Biblical Errancy.

Excellent recommendation, Skep.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Dear Skeptic and others, please note that I have reserved my comments about extreme accuracy for the written Torah alone, Genesis through Deuteronomy, not the "Bible." Here's a quote from a 1962 Bible dictionary.

"The New Testament is now known, in whole or in part, in nearly five thousand Greek MSS alone. Every one of these handwritten copies differs from every other one. ... It has been estimated that these MSS and quotations differ among themselves between 150,000 and 250,000 times. The actual figure is, perhaps, much higher. A study of 150 Greek MSS of the Gospel of Luke has revealed more than 30,000 different readings. ... It is safe to say that there is not one sentence in the New Testament in which the MS tradition is wholly uniform.

Many thousands of the variants which are found in the MSS of the New Testament were put there deliberately. They are not merely the result of error or of careless handling of the text. ... It is because the books of the New Testament are religious books, sacred books, canonical books, that they were changed to conform to what the copyist believed to be the true reading. His interest was not in the "original reading" but in the "true reading." This is precisely the attitude toward the New Testament which prevailed from the earliest times to the Renaissance, the Reformation and the invention of printing." (Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 4, Article: TEXT, NT, pp. 594-595.)

Conversely, "The Torah has nine spelling variants -- with absolutely no effect on the
meaning of the words." (http://www.squidoo.com/torahscrolls)

My references to inerrancy apply only to the written Torah of Moses, the handwritten scrolls which by any standard must be acknowledged as remarkably uniform. To my knowledge no other literature has ever been accorded such profound emotional attachment, on the part of its official scribes or transmitters, to accurate transmission.

In Jewry the Torah is seen as DNA of the universe, something to which Jesus alluded when he said neither a letter or decorative mark could be removed from Torah until heaven and earth passed away. With notables as prominent as King David (Psalm 19) and Jesus (Matthew 5) acknowledging its perfection, it seems to me that one must at least allow that this is extraordinary literature.

Anonymous said...

"They don't care and don't want to know God, because the carnal mind is enmity against God."

Horse Puckey. You show me evidence of the existence of your god (or Zeus, Spiderman, leprechuans, ect) then I have no choice but to accept the existence of your god. That is what separates you and I. I am willing to change my view based on evidence (reality) while your view is fixed and evidence be dammned.

The Apostate Paul

Mark said...

You have evidence of a higher power through creation. Once you believe that there is a creator, then we can debate the nature of God.

For all you atheists out there- most of civilization believes in a higher power. I am not talking just about believing in God revealed in the Bible. I think that if you were truly honest with yourself, you would call yourself agnostic.

Anonymous said...

Mark said,

"You know, the "atheists" on this board ... don't care and don't want to know God, because the carnal mind is enmity against God."

Mark, I can only speak for myself, but I believe there are many like me. I don't hate god and I didn't set out to defy god. I didn't choose to be an atheist. Upon realizing WCG was not god's true church, I studied and prayed diligent to find god's REAL truth. Unfortunately my studies led me to disbelief. It was not the answer I was looking for and it was not the answer I wanted. But the more I learned, the more the truth became obvious.


Honestly, I don't think many people really WANT to be atheists. It's much easier in this society to be a believer. But you can't make yourself believe something that you know is not true, can you?

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

To Jack Sprat -

The widely accepted view among archaeologists and historians is that the books of Genesis and the Pentateuch took their "final form" c. 500-450 BCE.

Do you really believe Moses wrote the Toray, and that it is totally inerrant. Did Moses write "Moses was the meekest man who ever lived". Not a very "meek" assertion! Either Moses didn't write it or Moses was not meek.

I strongly suggest you see what the "Biblical Errancy" website has to say about the first five books. Also the "Skeptics Annotated Bible". Believe me, there are hardly two sentences in a row that are not contradicted somewhere else and/or just plain not true

The Skeptic.

Mel said...

Byker Bob wrote that at least he's not "bringing everyone down by proclaiming that life sucks"

But he did say that life sucks for those who are not Christians.

"YOUR LIFE SUCKS! JOIN US, SO IT WON'T SUCK!" is the mantra of many a cult.

Leonardo said...

Mark wrote:
"For all you atheists out there- most of civilization believes in a higher power."

Mark, civilization also believed in a flat earth and a geocentric solar system for most of history - did that make it a correct belief? Numbers of adherents to a particular belief does not make up for the inaccuracy of it.

You folks really amaze me - you rave against following "the world" and yet you have no qualms about saying things like "Well, most of the world believes in a higher power, so therefore it must be true."

ExAndroid said...

Skeptic asked:

"You can't make yourself believe something that you know is not true, can you?"

Yes, it is accomplished anytime someone applies faith. Happens on this site frequently.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Skeptic, I respect your honesty. It appears to me that the Armstrong experience must have been so comprehensive in its application of Bible to life, that when it began to show weaknesses, its more responsible membership had no choice but to abandon ship. This inevitably led to dissatisfaction with other Christian forms, and ultimately to rejection of the Bible itself. I'm sure it's an unhappy business to be left without an anchor for the soul, so to speak.

I have earmarked the internet references you gave me, and will make serious use of them in the future, God willing. But from that you know that I'm still a hanger-on to some traditional sources; and please believe that I hang on intelligently, insofar as my intellectual powers allow.

The references I left you in one of the posts above are not typical. Ramban and G. Schroeder were/are men of genius. I know nothing of H. Moose except that the introduction to his translation insists that honest scholars working from translations have no choice but to reject the Creation account -- because the Hebrew Torah is not ordinary literature and cannot be literally translated. He does accord with Ramban, Rashi and the Talmud, but to a limited degree because the original material is too rich to be handled in usual ways.

His "translation" and commentary is brusk, I think in places even crude and insensitive, but it does help to reveal some of the amazing potential hiding in the ancient text.

If memory serves, Deuteronomy has been handled a little differently than the other four books of Torah because it was produced differently. It consists largely of transcripts of Moses' lengthy speeches at the end of his life. It is therefore not a verbatim account of instructions given to him by God like the earlier material. It is concentrated, boiled down to essentials after years of experience -- yet still considered God-breathed because of Moses' towering spiritual and intellectual stature. His face glowed with the wisdom of Torah.

Torah will never be a closed book over which men like Herbert Armstrong can preside in authority. It is deliberately written to speak to each reader uniquely. According to the Kabbalists it is capable of insights of which not even God is aware; He has left that for humanity to reveal, and continue revealing, to Him. In other words, God needs us to fill up His own life, as He has worked to fill ours. The Torah is therefore not ordinary literature at all.

God speed, dear Skeptic. Your honesty is indeed refreshing. I think if you give it time and a long leash, it will eventually bear wonderful and immensely satisfying fruit.

Byker Bob said...

Mel,

I have to admit that I was an outrageous clown, and had a lot of fun as a non-believer. But, in retrospect, I have realized that I was not unlike the disruptive kid we all knew in our school classrooms, you know, the kid who did not feel fully invested or involved in the process, and therefore tried to shift the attention from what should have been the center of attention to himself? In this case, you might say that it was God's classroom that I was disrupting.

Now, for the first time in my life, Christianity has made me realize my responsibilities, my proper role in the general scheme of things, and the implications of my actions. Neither agnosticism, nor Armstrongite Christianism (if that's not using Christ's name in vain!) had provided proper schooling in those areas.

Agnosticism was too anarchistic, and Armstrongism always had a very bogus feeling about it, because there is no way the disciplines which they imposed could produce the results which they had outlined as being overts. There was a whole other subset of traits that the ACOGs produced. Those are the embedded stealth traits which many of us have spent a lifetime fighting.

Lastly, and it is difficult to make this point credible, considering where we all came from, you can't equate joining a particular cult or church group with having a deeply personal relationship with God. Those would be mutual exclusives, imo. A good, Bible-based non-denominational church can be spiritually nurturing. But, an authoritarian, all-consuming cultic group actually works counter to that personal relationship by introducing some things into that relationship which you really would not want. Like demands for total compliance. Or devotion to extra-Biblical teachings or theories. Or that you shut out non-members and you don't help them, you don't pray for them, and you don't let your light shine for them.

I've noticed that most non-believers on these forums equate Christianity with such cult groups, because that is the only solution to the equation that our background has taught. But, I haven't "joined" anything. I derive spiritual nourishment from an eclectic group of resources, and craft my relationship with God independently from such encumbrances.

I know, raise some issues, get a pageant! (Cue the Bugs Bunny music!) But, it felt good to clear the air. There are some people who think that the very act of becoming a Christian drops your IQ. Actually, such a drop would depend upon what kind of Christian one becomes. If your group teaches that mushrooms and strawberries are unclean, you're probably in a cult.

BB

Anonymous said...

"To my knowledge no other literature has ever been accorded such profound emotional attachment, on the part of its official scribes or transmitters, to accurate transmission."

Were you really in the church SJS? Because we did a pretty good job of that, ourselves, back in the church's heyday.

OK, maybe it was only just me. :-(

SmilinJackSprat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mel said...

Byker Bob,

Perhaps I misinterpreted what you wrote, that "life totally sucks" for non-Christians.
It seemed you were saying so about everyone, and not simply speaking for yourself.

I do realize that you have not 'officially' joined a church, but while in this new Christian walk you are in, you've made some statements that make me wonder if you are watching too much Daystar or Trinity Broadcasting Network.
(Statements such as I commented on above, and others, such as when you wrote that only Christian organizations provide help to people in need.)

Mark said...

"You folks really amaze me - you rave against following "the world" and yet you have no qualms about saying things like "Well, most of the world believes in a higher power, so therefore it must be true."It is so difficult to talk to the atheists on this board because they have such knee jerk reactions to anything dealing with Armstrong and the WCG. It's no wonder they have given up on knowing God. When you get past the "be in the world, not of the world" mindset for a moment, the point I am making is that humanity has a desire to know the spiritual. Ever single "atheist" on this board has, at one point in their life, sought it out. They've just suppressed it now and chosen reason as their only guide.

Spirituality is built into our DNA. You can rail against it (like the "atheists" on this board), but their railing is, in itself, spiritual. That's how we are built and that's how, I contend, God created us.

Anonymous said...

Biker Bob,

It seems you are sincere in your religious beliefs and I respect that. I'm happy for you that you found your "home".

Those of us who were not raised in WCG, but were raised in mainstream churches, have a different perspective than you. I was raised in a mainstream church and I understand their doctrines very well. In my 20's, after much study, I rejected those religions and accepted WCG. Now I also reject WCG and its daughters. I have attended regular churches on occasion since leaving WCG, and in a social sense it would be nice to belong to one. But I just can't do it.

But I'm happy for you that you can.

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

"the point I am making is that humanity has a desire to know the spiritual. Ever single "atheist" on this board has, at one point in their life, sought it out.

Um, what is "the spiritual?" You mean like the supernatural?


The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

It's always interesting how the "believers" - in their posts - almost always seem to come across in a superior kind of manner, sort of a "You-atheists-are-just-too-stupid-and-stubborn-to-know-God" approach.

But notice how they virtually always avoid clear, logical and non-circular reasoning.

And they virtually always avoid citing intelligible evidence that credibly supports their fantastical claims.

And their responses show that they don't even thoughtfully or CAREFULLY read the posts of those whose minds just do not fall prey to their luny concept of God.

Anonymous said...

Prolly nobody is reading this any more, since it fell off the main page. But, a couple of quick things:

1) Mel: There is a lot of just plain absurdity on TBN and Daystar. It's funnier than Looneytoons! I try to avoid that, and to concentrate on the occasional nuggets and keepers. I recall asking Corky and Aggie whether there were atheist charities helping the African children, but it doesn't sound like me to use a sweeping generality as in making a statement that ONLY Christians were involved in charity.

2) Skeptic: I would not classify the church which I currently attend as being from a mainstream denomination. If you were to walk into the church, you'd see that the building in which we meet is totally devoid of stained glass, crosses and crucifixes, or any type of religious art. This church is loosely composed of individuals who are seeking a relationship with God. I, too, would have much difficulty in selling out to some denomination!

I would encourage you to go church hopping sometime! You might be surprised at what you find. Here were the needs which I was seeking to have filled: a place to take communion, a place to indulge in group praise, and a community in which it would possible to indulge in Christian service. Good luck in your search. If you look hard enough and pray for God's guidance, you'll find just what you need!

BB

Anonymous said...

Bob, thanks for the well-intentioned suggestions; however, while belonging to a church would be nice for social reasons, and it would be good to belong to a community in which it would possible to indulge in humanitarian service, I cannot do as you suggest because: (1) "communion" is just a piece of bread to me, and what they claim it to be seems to me both horrendous and absurd"; and (2) I am truly convinced that there is not a god who is actively involved in the affairs of this world nor listening to "prayers", so to engage in group praise would make me feel very silly.

When I say "I am happy for you", please do not take that to mean "I would like to emulate what you are doing". I would not.

Please do not presume all atheists are unhappy or "searching" for something. I am not. I am perfectly comfortable with the truth as I understand it, I am happy, and life is good.

Neither am I "sinning" nor "rebelling against god". I am sincerely convinced god does not exist. Although I leave open the possible truth of the Deist position (that a creator god exists but he is not active in human affairs). I am an honest, moral hardworking person with a wife and kids.

I'm not evil, rebellious nor envious of believers. I simply came to accept what I believe to be true, that we're on our own and have no god over us. Many people feel the same as me, although we mostly don't admit it publicly due to stigma.

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

"I recall asking Corky and Aggie whether there were atheist charities helping the children in Africa...."

And since this post has fallen off the main page, you think that means you can get your last dig in, right BB?

I've already told you that there are atheist charities, AND atheists who contribute to (non-religious) charitable causes.

I've mentioned those links repeatedly, yet you keep harping on that as though it's your only argument against atheism.

You're a believer. Good for you. Just don't expect everyone else to believe the same as you, and don't view yourself as somehow superior to non-believers (you aren't), and your life will proceed apace, and you will indeed win the friends of the Christian promise, instead of the many and varied enemies, of the Christian reality.

Mel said...

BB,
I apparently missed the back and forth you had, about whether there were there were atheist charities helping people in Africa.

The comment you made saying that only Christians help others wasn't made here on this blog. You made no mention of "atheist" in the sweeping comment I alluded to- just that "only Christians" helped others in need.
The term "atheist" didn't enter my mind when I read it, and I wondered why you would not acknowledge the good works of non-secular (or secular, other-than-Christian) organizations.

Perhaps the comment you made was made in the wake of that back-and-forth you had, and you were a little loose and unfocused with your words, in what you wrote.

I'm gonna have some ice cream now.
It's my small consolation since I've learned from you that my life "totally sucks"!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Mel, your life won't suck nearly so much, if you accept Bob's supernatural terrorist into your heart!!! 8-O