Census 2011: What has caused this massive flight from Christianity?

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So, now we have the census figures and, as expected, there has been a huge drop in the number of people declaring themselves Christian in Britain – from 72% to 59%. The rise in those declaring they have no religion has risen from 15% to 25%. 


So what has happened in this country in the decade since the last census? What has caused this huge flight from religion? 

It’s complicated, but we have to take into account that in that intervening period we have had the trauma of 9/11 and the subsequent rise in Islamic militancy. We have seen a lurch towards conservatism within Christianity, with the Catholic Church becoming aggressively political and reactionary. But the Anglican Church, too, has been taken over by evangelicals with an agenda that repels people, even those who have been traditionally attached to the Church of England.

After the debacle over women bishops, we have seen another demonstration of the inhumane approach that the Church of England is taking to same-sex marriage. Some of the rhetoric coming from the bishops and their supporters in parliament is verging on the crackpot.

There is nothing wrong with them being out of step with the opinions of the rest of the nation, but they have to accept the consequences of their stance – and that is a wholesale defection of their supporters.

Written By: National Secular Society
continue to source article at secularism.org.uk

123 COMMENTS

  1.  
    What has caused this massive flight from Christianity?

    Modern scientific education and access to information.  
    “God-did-it”,  is no longer considered an educated answer, so why listen to ignorant preachers and priests?

  2. Christianity is absurd and weird, and can only survive in an echo-chamber. Globalization has been killing Christianity since the 1800s. John 3:16 sounds fine, until you meet a non-Xian and realize they are bound for Hell.

    A century of recording technology eliminates rumors of magic. There has never been a miracle on tape. Google is killing urban legends. It used to be people established themselves as reliable sources of information, and seek the esteem of others. If I heard it from a professor or read it in a reputable publishing, it was safe to repeat. I had a circle of friends who lived by the same standard, and we were the smug, cafe intellectuals that spent regular time at the city library. We had power, prestige, even groupies! Now everyone has the same access. There used to be a population of people who just repeated BS that they heard from someone else, and bad memes would run unchecked. Those people are gone now. I think we passed into a new era, without much attention paid to it.

    I used to dogear the Bible to show people the juicy, faith killing bits. Now, there are websites dedicated to each topic (slavery, rape, absurdities, racism, sexism, etc).

    Christianity also got even stranger. The world did not end in 2000, and a lot of people were banking on that. Even more people saw others that foolish hysteria. How many millennialists had kids? [Speaking of which, I look forward to this year being the death knell for New Age hokum]. The rise of Pentecostalism and Evangelism were signs of hypothermia, the flock retreating into vital fundamentalism. Such an exciting time to be alive.

  3. I would summarize it as:
    - 911 (dangers of religious fundamentalism, and ridiculousness of religions)
    - internet (“Where religions go to die”)
    - child abuse scandals (Catholic church, religious parents whose children die from neglect, etc.)
    - increase in atheists in the public square

  4. Heres an interesting spin on it. Catholic apologist Peter D Williams tweets:

    “Sorry to state the blindingly obvious, but the #Census shows less Christian nominalism, not less Christianity, in the UK. Good news, IMHO.”

    So basically, the fundies havent dropped in numbers, its the liberals, and the “church goers”, the “pew sitters”

     How does he know this for certain? Did the religion question in the E&W census ask “are you an evangie or a liberal?” 

     A lot of the “growth” in evangie churches is due to evangies leaving liberal congregations, plus another big factor – immigration.

     Christianity will become concentrated into a hard core kernel of total nutters, YEC, homophobia, biblical literalism, charismatic behaviour, misogyny, and rapture-ready lunacy being the norm

     Finally, people like Peter D Williams might welcome the loss of the nominalists and liberals, but you can be certain that when people like this like to quote figures for how this is such a Christian country, they will include the nominalists and the liberals in their reckoning.

    Peter Williams describes himself as “Religio-Political Commentator. Speaker for @CatholicVoices. Ex-Atheist revert, via liberal dissent, to Orthodoxy. Catholic Humanist. Libertarian Conservative.”

    https://twitter.com/PeterDCXW

    chunder…….

    SG

  5. In Massachusetts a staue of the virgin mary was unearthed from twenty feet below the ground where a new foundation is being set for a building. The patients at the ajoining convelesant home are calling it a christmas miracle. Unreal. You might think the statue was talking or something. It is just a twenty year old statue that has been found by construction workers eleven days before christmas. Seems like it does not take much to constitute a miricale these days. I am nearly certain they would have found the same statue if they were digging in April. Does the proximity to chistmas really have that much meaning. I can do nothing but feel sad for these people.

  6. Especially when everyone considers how that particular day became the ‘official’ birthday of the messiah…a really big joke and a half…poor bloody buggers, intravenously drip fed the Kool-Aid.

  7. Hi all,

    I do appreciate a Christian posting (again) on this site may not be welcomed by all. I won’t insist on doing this if it’s considered an intrusion, but happy to post a few thoughts here and there if it keeps interesting debates going.

    I do think there is a rather alarming amount of triumphalism and over-excitement here. Despite the mocking going on, Peter Williams is right. Few right-minded Christians worry about Census figures, and over-the-top media appearances sounding the death-knell for faith in the UK (yes, Prof RD) genuinely do not alarm many Christian believers. At the risk of mentioning the dreaded ‘G’, JC’ or ‘B’ words on such a website, this is exactly what Christians expect.

    Although you won’t find such thoughts mentioned here, the growth of large, evangelical Christian movements in almost all the major UK universities (I met with hundreds of other Christians each week at Cambridge), and large, rapidly-multiplying evangelical church plants (particularly in urban areas)  suggest that caution is needed on ‘your’ part. And no, this is not based on immigration and deluded uneducated fools. In fact many evangelical churches are concerned that the growth (although welcome) is much too heavily centred on an urban, university-educated, professional elites in society, instead of reaching poorer, and also more more racially diverse, segments of society. 

    I’m honestly not intending to be overly provocative or defensive here, just simply pointing out that there are tens of thousands of doctors, scientists, teachers, academics, and city business people in the UK who act as evidence against what many seem to be falsely celebrating on here. This is without even mentioning church growth in other places worldwide. I work in Uganda and, despite a few folk like that pleasant-sounding Lindsey on a previous post here, belief in Christ is unbelievably huge, and growing everyday. And I’m afraid this is also amongst educated, professional and yes, freethinking people. 

    I will grant you one thing: “people like Peter D Williams might welcome the loss of the nominalists and liberals, but you can be certain that when people like this like to quote figures for how this is such a Christian country, they will include the nominalists and the liberals in their reckoning” That is a very fair point, and I’ve noticed it myself amongst Christian friends/bloggers etc. since the figures were released.

    Chris

  8. chrishowles10
    Hi all,
    I do appreciate a Christian posting (again) on this site may not be welcomed by all. I won’t insist on doing this if it’s considered an intrusion, but happy to post a few thoughts here and there if it keeps interesting debates going. 

      Hi Chris!
    Anyone who debates using evidence and reasoning is welcome. 
    It just that many Xtians who come here have very little knowledge of the history of Xtanity! 
    The fundamentalists and literalists seem to have very little knowledge of anything! -  but we like a debate – particularly with educated people.
    Of course some theists who come here are from other religions, not the many forms of Xtianity.

  9. chrishowells10 says:

    I’m honestly not intending to be overly provocative or defensive here, just simply pointing out that there are tens of thousands of doctors, scientists, teachers, academics, and city business people in the UK who act as evidence against what many seem to be falsely celebrating on here. This is without even mentioning church growth in other places worldwide. I work in Uganda and, despite a few folk like that pleasant-sounding Lindsey on a previous post here, belief in Christ is unbelievably huge, and growing everyday. And I’m afraid this is also amongst educated, professional and yes, freethinking people.

    Well good luck to you Chris !  All you are actually pointing out is that there are many educated Christians.  No disagreement from me.  There are indeed many educated Christians incuding His Joeliness, the Pope.   So bloody what?  The fact that the Christian view of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is wrong, is becoming increasingly clear among the British public.  Chris, my friend, your Jesus has had his day. He promised to come back within a generation and failed to do so. In the meantime, scientists have explained many “mysteries” regarding the world, which the Bible gave false explanations for.

    Christianity is wrong on so many levels, however many current supporters it might have.

  10. scottishgeologist
    Here’s an interesting spin on it. Catholic apologist Peter D Williams tweets:

    “Sorry to state the blindingly obvious, but the #Census shows less Christian nominalism, not less Christianity, in the UK. Good news, IMHO.”

    He may have no evidence, and this sounds like a supporter of some growth fundie sect, or just wishful thinking, but the “pew-sitters ” have definitely decreased in numbers along with their buildings!

    The Church of Scotland – Properties for sale – http://www.churchofscotland.or…  

      Church of England – Closed Churches Available for Disposal – http://www.churchofengland.org… – Around twenty Church of England church buildings are closed for worship each year. The list shown below gives information about buildings that are available for disposal and are being marketed for a suitable alternative use.

     
    BTW:  I would not class those who attend churches as “nominalists”!

  11. @rdfrs-853de048693ebcdbd1299be3f462e9e2:disqus
    Where’s the “alarming triumphalism”?
    There are only  a few comments on this thread, none of them overly excited as far as I can see.
    I used to belong to the “Church Triumphant”, the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
    That was one of its very own, self-descriptive, now pathetic, epithets.
    Religion’s all about triumph … over reason. Its stock in trade.
    Atheism is gaining ground in the public mind perhaps but we know that even “educated, professional elitist” people (like you?) can still be hoodwinked by skygod pushers, so we don’t think anyone has triumphed at anything. We know how the real professional elites exploit and use religion and we know how dangerous religion can be especially when it feels cornered.
    Over-excitement?
    It is you who sounds worked-up.
    Get over it.

  12. There is no need to fear that some opinions are unwelcome on this site. As long as a comment is well reasoned, and truth claims are backed up with evidence, we welcome it with open arms. All opinions must be heard, even unpopular ones (which I am not claiming that yours is). Unlike many heavily censored “discussion forums” which some sites have apparently just for the sake of appearances and to push one dogma, we here are all about discussion and debate. If there is disagreement, it can only be a positive thing because it can potentially lead to new insights and conclusions about one idea possibly being better than another.

    Having said that, I only have one thing to say about your comment. I would dare to claim that the absolute majority of the people visiting this site are the kind who say that they are passionate about discovering the truth. They want to know if a claim is true or not, regardless how the conclusion will make them feel, or how it will be received by others. So despite what one might think from reading this article, we do not care about the number of people belonging to religions per se. The decreasing percentage of people belonging to Christianity in the UK is not a source of glee. But we are happy about what the numbers indicate: that people are honest about what they actually believe. Some people are apparently looking themselves in the mirror and saying “I cannot with good conscience belong to the church any more because I know the truth about what the organisation is and what it isn’t.” Numbers are quite irrelevant. We just want honesty; that the people who do feel that Christianity does not offer the truthful account of events do not deceive themselves by belonging to a Christian denomination. Self-deception is not an intellectually honest road to the truth.

    And talking about striving for the truth: maybe you are right about the growth of the church. Maybe some Christian denominations are growing rapidly. I don’t have any numbers to form an opinion on that, but let’s for arguments sake say that you are right on that. Unfortunately, it still has nothing to do with whether Christianity is true or not. Appealing to the number of people supporting an idea as a sign of it being true is a fallacious argument. Most people on this site are very much interested in whether Christianity or any other religion is true, not whether they have many followers.

  13. “Some of the rhetoric coming from the bishops and their supporters in parliament is verging on the crackpot.” 
    Exactly the same thing is happening within the GOP in the US.  Both religious and political zealots, who cling rigidly to increasingly fringe viewpoints that they’d like to force upon everyone else, drive moderate people away.  Actually, much of the crazy GOP rhetoric seems to originate with their evangelical religious base.

  14.  Heres an interesting spin on it. Catholic apologist Peter D Williams tweets:
    “Sorry to state the blindingly obvious, but the #Census shows less Christian nominalism, not less Christianity, in the UK. Good news, IMHO.”

    A brave attempt at Catholic spin but the political power and the money comes from having a large congregation nominalist or not.  Of course if the RCC has decided it wants to be a small poor, powerless sect of religiously devoted then I would have to agree that is Good News.

    Michael

  15. I don’t actually think this is a flight from Christianity. The Ipsos MORI poll RDF did makes clear what we all suspected.  Most people left Christianity in everything but name years ago.  All that is happening now I think is that people are admitting to themselves and the Census that they can live without the label.  This is very important of course as the political power of religion goes next.

    Michael

  16. Thanks for all the replies and responses folks.

    Mr Darcy, I do appreciate your post, although I do think saying “Your Jesus has had his day” flies against the overwhelming statistical evidence from across the globe that Christianity is growing rapidly and thriving. There are also plenty of places where Christianity comes, goes, and comes again. Just look at South Korea, even China to some extent. I really do think that the presumption that Christianity is being defeated by the power of ‘reason’ is a very geographically and historically narrow viewpoint that will be looked back at in hundreds of years to come in the same way as all the other predictions of Christianity/religions demise over the past 2000 years. 

    Quarecuss the reason I suggested there was a certain over-excitement was that Professor Dawkins made numerous media appearances on the day of the census results to proclaim the death-knell of faith, but I just wanted to suggest to you guys that there are alternative narratives taking place in the UK and worldwide which suggest precisely the opposite. I agree that appealing to numbers is no argument at all, but I really, really don’t think the human race is on some sort of grand meta-narrative arc rising up and out of religious faith to burst free into the glories of humanism. And yes, I’m afraid, as an outsider, that is how it appears to be viewed on this website. Christianity is a long-way from death, in the UK or elsewhere I’m afraid. 

    Aztec, thank you for your post and I really agree. Most Christians are very, very happy to reduce the nominalism in the UK-church and long for people to tell the truth. My Father is not a believer but would tick that box on the census…I think you and I would both appeal to him not to and to be honest! I do appreciate the political power will wane in that case in the short-term, but I suspect that the church would grow rapidly again shortly after when the “pew-sitters and liberals” aren’t there to muddy the message. Obviously you’ll disagree and that’s fine, but it’s nice to know we both want the same thing re: intellectual honesty! 

    Just finally, I wanted to clarify that I’m not from a Christian home and grew up an athiest. I had no ‘life-crisis’ that drew me to Christ, nor was I taken in by a cultish group of ‘faith-heads’ (when in Rome, and all that…) I simply employed my reason and intelligence to ask questions of life and the universe which led me to Christian faith. Again, I think it’s important for you guys to realise this happens, and to employ the term ‘reason’ and an opposite of ‘faith’ is a smart use of rhetoric but not accurate. Richard Dawkins once tweeted (or wrote somewhere) that there were no  examples of deconversion from atheism…I’m afraid I must disagree! 

    I appreciate this thread can’t go on forever but I just wanted to clarify briefly my thoughts in order to add an ‘opposite’ perspective to the discussion. I find it difficult to write about these things without invoking the G-word or B-word, but I do appreciate that’s perhaps not the point on this website!

    Thanks all, Chris

  17. chrishowells10 makes the point:

    ” In fact many evangelical churches are concerned that the growth (although welcome) is much too heavily centred on an urban, university-educated, professional elites in society, instead of reaching poorer, and also more more racially diverse, segments of society. “

    I am in total agreement here regarding the demographic being described. At the moment, in Scotland, there is a massive flare up in the Church of Scotland over one of its leading, possibly its biggest congregation, (St Georges Tron) in Glasgow leaving the CofS over the issue of gay clergy and doctrinal liberalism.

    St Georges Tron is little more than a professional middle class social club, it is full of professionals students and other middle class types from the leafy suburbs of Milngavie, Bearsden and the West End. Someone once pointed out that the entire eldership is also private school educated.

    Another Scottish example of such a demographic imbalance would be Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh, another very middle class place of worship.

    From what I can see, and from what the figures point out, there is a re-alignment within Christianity – the liberals are definitely on the way out and there is a coalescing round an evangelical core. I suspect an American style model of “church” in the UK is emerging.

    SG

  18. What has caused this massive flight from christianity, well partly because the more educated people become the less interested they are in superstition and invisible friends and also in the case of the census there are more people prepared to actually state what the already knew that they no longer believe in the christianity lie.

  19. chrishowles10
    I simply employed my reason and intelligence to ask questions of life and the universe which led me to Christian faith. 

    Perhaps you asked the wrong people – or accepted dubious information on trust and “faith” without checking it! 
    Atheism is simply an absence of belief in gods.  It is possible to grow up as an atheist without understanding science or the psychological delusions or damaging effects of  religions.

    Yours is an interesting claim, because those of us who are familiar with the bible and its origins, would see problems with trying to logically connect its stories to a modern ethical world view.  (This is well illustrated in the rantings of biblical literalists.)

    That is not to say that as in the likes Aesop or the Greek myths, there are no lessons to be inferred, but cherry picking according to an existing moral philosophical view, would be required to select them from the self-contradictory ideas presented. 
    Projecting a pre-existing personal or copied view on to the “interpretation” ancient texts, seems to be the Xtian norm – hence the thousands of differing denominations, cults, and individual theist views, about “interpretations” of the same myths.

    Again, I think it’s important for you guys to realise this happens, and to employ the term ‘reason’ and an opposite of ‘faith’ is a smart use of rhetoric but not accurate.

     
    When most of us use the word “reason” on this site, we use it in combination as – “evidence and reason”. 
    “Faith” is “belief without evidence”, so any reasoning built on “faith” is potentially disconnected from material reality before any “reasoning” begins.  (- Castles in the air)
    The use of the combination of “evidence and reason” as the opposite of “faith” is entirely accurate.
    Any relationship between “faith” based thinking, and material or historical reality, is likely to be purely coincidental.
    That is why Scientific methods of testing and checking of information are valued on this site.

    Richard Dawkins once tweeted (or wrote somewhere) that there were no  examples of deconversion from atheism…I’m afraid I must disagree!

    Deconversions are much more unlikely in those who have come to an atheist view, because they have understood the damage religious “faith” does to thinking processes, and human relationships.
    There are, and have been, brutal wars over minor differences in religious views. There are also those whose brains are in denial and are determined to maintain their scientific illiteracy!

    Those who have grown up simply unaware of these aspects, are much more vulnerable to be drawn to the social attractions and illusions of religious groups.

  20. Just finally, I wanted to clarify that I’m not from a Christian home and grew up an athiest. I had no ‘life-crisis’ that drew me to Christ

    Hi Chris,

    Can I ask what particular denomination of Christianity you chose, and why.

    Thanks.

  21. Hi guys, sorry to be so slow in relying to the posts aimed in my direction below…It’s been a busy day as I was preaching all morning (how many of you can say that, eh? ;-)

    I suspect this thread is dying out slightly so I won’t speak for long. 

    Tyler, “Can I ask what particular denomination of Christianity you chose, and why.” Of course. To be honest, it’s such a long story and I suspect it would bore you and other readers senseless, but basically I slipped into an evangelical Anglican church in Cambridge, but ended up, without a huge amount of thought, at an evangelical free church in London. Both fairly conservative, as you may have guessed already! As an atheist being exposed to Christian reasoning, denominations weren’t important to me at all and, to be honest, still aren’t, although I’m working with the Anglican Church of Uganda now.

    Ridelo: “Maybe you could reconvert me to Christianity if you could give a few examples of your thinking.” Maybe you could reconvert me to athiesm if you did the same! Ah this could take all night, but I’m not sure you want that, or even will be reading this. Ultimately I don’t think there is any other worldview that explains what I see and understand and experience in the world with anything like as much clarity as the Christian worldview does. Furthermore, I’m afraid when a fair and balanced approach is taken to the Gospels and, in fact, all the NT, I don’t think there is a ‘reasonable’ way out other than to understand them for what they claim to be – true historical accounts of a remarkable man. 

    Alan4discussion. I don’t know where to begin. I’m afraid faith is not belief without evidence as you claim, and I think that misapprehension clouds the whole of the rest of your post. I am also turned away significantly from any potential reconversion to athiesm when I read such posts. 

  22.  
    chrishowles10 – Alan4discussion. I don’t know where to begin. I’m afraid faith is not belief without evidence as you claim, and I think that misapprehension clouds the whole of the rest of your post.

    Really!! – It seems like you have been persuaded by the evangelical semantic reinterpretation religio- blinker – spectacles to be unable to understand my post, which I thought was a clear and factual explanation.

     

    faith http://www.thefreedictionary.c… –

    1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
    2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

    I am also turned away significantly from any potential reconversion to athiesm when I read such posts.

    It seems like factual evidence and dictionary definitions are a problem for your understanding!

    Ultimately I don’t think there is any other worldview that explains what I see and understand and experience in the world with anything like as much clarity as the Christian worldview does.

    This would suggest your understanding of other world views is very limited, and that your understanding of science and history is minimal!  There is of course no such thing as the Xtian World view.  There are numerous conflicting Xtian views, many of them fighting each other, as  they and their followers, have done throughout history.

     
    Furthermore, I’m afraid when a fair and balanced approach is taken to the Gospels and, in fact, all the NT, I don’t think there is a ‘reasonable’ way out other than to understand them for what they claim to be – true historical accounts of a remarkable man.

    This I am afraid is delusion and ignorance which indicates a lack of study!  Not even serious theologians or biblical scholars regard the NT as a historical record. 
    I can see how evidence and the lack of it would be a challenge for your faith!

    Not one word of the NT was written within decades of supposed events,  
    It is highly doubtful if any of its books were written by the attributed authors. 
    The name Jesus of Nazareth is notably missing from the well kept Roman records of the time, and those of the numerous gospels ( eg.  http://gnosis.org/library/mary… ) which have been preserved to the present time, often contradict each other on major claims. 
    The basic edited present version of NT selected folk-tales, was not cherry-picked by the Roman bishops until the meeting at Nicea in AD325.

    I set 4 questions on biblical history on this other discussion – http://richarddawkins.net/news…  – and it looks like you would score nil on these.

    You claimed your conversion was based on “reason” but have simply dodged Ridelo’s request for an explanation of how this took place or on what information it was based. I would have thought at least an explanation of why a particular god should be chosen from the thousands available? – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L

    It is not a very credible demonstration of “reasoning skills”, to present wrong answers about history, which could have been checked with a basic minimum of research!
    Indeed it is clear that as you say, -  you don’t know how to begin.

    Still that’s how “faith”-  ie. belief and conclusions asserted without evidence! – (with a bit semantic reinterpretation of words to duck the contradictions), works. 

    Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s one to ponder!  – That moment when you know you’ve made a mistake. – or how do you know which god to pick?

    http://www.atheistmemebase.com

  23. Thanks for the clarification.

    Would you accept growing up in the UK had an influence on your decision? In other words, had you lived in India, would you now be a Hindu?

    Just out of curiosity, what other religions did you research before deciding on Christianity?

    Furthermore, I’m afraid when a fair and balanced approach is taken to the Gospels and, in fact, all the NT, I don’t think there is a ‘reasonable’ way out other than to understand them for what they claim to be – true historical accounts of a remarkable man.

    Does the same apply to the Book of Mormon?

  24. Middle of the night in Uganda, but huge thunderstorm keeping me awake, so thought I’d make a quick post now. Alan such anger! You are labouring under a false understanding that comes from limiting your study to people who believe what you believe. The issues you bring up over NT reliability, Nicaea, and other things have been thoroughly dealt with by evangelical scholars and, when suitably understood, present no problems to a rational, reasonable belief.  I appreciate that you probably don’t have the time to read every link I post, as I don’t you, but this site provides a brief but very densely-packed summary of some (not all, I’m afraid) of the issues you raise – and may have wanted to raise if you had the time.http://michaeljkruger.com/the-complet… 

    As for the implied doubt about Jesus’ even existence (which is the point I think you’re making), that is a rare and largely discredited position to hold in the academy today.

    Good dictionary work about faith! I hold my hands up! However that definition is not what Christians mean when we talk about faith – and that’s one reason why we’re just crossing over each other on our posts. In your mind Christian belief and logical thinking cannot co-exist. I’m a Christian believer and therefore you accuse me of all sorts ranging from being the victim of brainwashing, to downright stupidity. Whether you like it or not, and however cross it clearly makes you, you must accept that real, educated, thinking people come to the opposite conclusions to your own…in fact, worldwide, most do. You would put that down to the power of religion keeping minds locked down, but I’m afraid, like it or not, that isn’t what biblical Christianity does or expects. I’m entirely free to reject your worldview based on evidence, reason, and free-thinking, and I have. Of course Christian thinkers, writers, academics and friends were important in making that decision, but I bet you’ve read Prof. Dawkins books and others who helped you make your life decisions. I wouldn’t accuse you of being brainwashed, just standing on the shoulders of giants in that field. I really do think you’d benefit from engaging more directly with some giants in other fields, and I’d happily recommend some reading if that would help. But you really do need to calm down a little in your tone…surely calm, sensible debate with people who disagree is the bedrock of a site like this?

    I think this point about ‘Why this God and not the other 2,000′ comes up a lot on here  and even with Ricky Gervais on Twitter etc. Again, whole books could be written on this, but I don’t know why some atheists think this is a knock-out punch for Christians, as if we haven’t realised that some other folk speak of different gods. In an absolute nutshell, and conscious that I need to get back to bed ASAP, the Bible (sorry…!!!) contains clear, sophisticated and theological reflections which account for the presence of other religions. It is not a challenge to the Christian worldview (or perhaps Alan I should say Biblical worldview…I’m sure you’ll point out these are numerous of these also, but actually when Scripture is read seriously, in it’s own context, with exegetical skills applied in the original languages, standing of the shoulders of 2,000 years of historical theology, there is huge consistency) nor my personal faith, to recognise that many people in the world either don’t believe in any god, or ‘my’ god. Your worldview excludes 2001 gods, mine, a monotheistic worldview along with most of the world today, excludes  2000 (2001 gods is, for want of argument  the number Ricky Gervais uses on Twitter when asking these sorts of questions). Tyler thank you very much for your post and tone. It’s a good question about the UK cultural influence thing – I agree to some extent…it’s very possible I would be a Hindu growing up in India, but surely the same could be said for you? Would you still be an atheist if you were brought up practically anywhere else in the world apart from the UK? Of course it’s a huge topic to think about how much of our thought is culturally located, but it reassures me that Christianity is the most extensive worldview on the planet and has rooted itself successfully into every culture on earth to some greater or lesser extent, suggesting that when we theologise together as a global body of Christians (which is exactly what I’m doing here in Uganda) we have the best chance possible of eradicating significant cultural shaping on our thoughts. Given the limited global scope of atheism/humanism beyond certain segments of Western society, is that not a challenge I could politely throw back in your direction?

    And finally finally, did I research other religions coming to my decision to leave atheism, no, in a word! I did not go from atheism to theism to Christian theism, (thereby having to ‘pick’ a god from the 2001)…I went from atheism to Christian theism. I was suitably convinced that Christian theism accounted for what I saw and experienced better than my atheism. Remember Biblical Christianity is unique amongst the 2001 (!!) in that it speaks of a global, transcendent, unique, monotheistic god (ok, not quite unique, but almost. No-one spoke of Zeus in such terms) and that, crucially, it speaks of grace not religion, God’s work in salvation not our own. If 1 god is different from the other 2000, accounts for those other 2000, and makes absolute sense (in my mind), then I don’t see it necessary to have systematically intellectually eradicated each god one by one in some sort of game of ‘last man standing wins’. 

    Wow. So much more I’d love to say, but gotta go sleep. Speak soon, Chris

  25.  

    Furthermore, I’m afraid when a fair and balanced approach is taken to
    the Gospels and, in fact, all the NT, I don’t think there is a
    ‘reasonable’ way out other than to understand them for what they claim
    to be – true historical accounts of a remarkable man.

    I just can’t get my head around such a remark. I would be curious to know just what sort of investigation you undertook in your “fair and balanced approach to the Gospels” that led you to the conclusion that they are  “true historical accounts of a remarkable man”. It is an impossibility. So how could someone with a reasonable intelligence, as you seem to have, could have looked at the facts and evidence, and come to such a conclusion.

    Example: Jesus’ genealogy. Who was Joseph’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather?

    In Luke, they are Heli, Matthat and Levi.

    In Matthew, they are Jacob, Matthan and Eleazar.

    Now only the simple could not fail to understand both can’t be correct, so which is the “true historical account”, and how do you know?

    And more importantly, the elephant in the room part, how can either genealogy be correct if Jesus was the son of God?

    So what is the purpose of two contradicting genealogies to show Jesus’ lineage if he was the son of God and how does any of it relate to “true historical accounts of a remarkable man”? If you had prior knowledge of my example, and it’s one of many, how do you square this circle?

  26.  

    Why has that post come out without paragraphs? It was written with them
    in! So sorry for the aesthetically displeasing nature of it.

    It’s an on going problem with a new commenting format(Disqus), that is in the process of being solved with the development of a newer format.

  27. I’m entirely free to reject your worldview based on evidence, reason, and free-thinking, and I have.

    Yes of course you are. It’s just that religious apologists, and believers in general, have visited here with this very same pitch. It’s when the intrigued among us ask for some of this “evidence, reason and free-thinking”, the replies are not forthcoming. Pressed for same “evidence, reason and free-thinking” usually results in some lame excuses and a disappearing act of the visitor in question. After five years of this behaviour, folk like Alan and myself start to get a tad browned off and then a bit of pricklyness comes across in some curt discourse. No one get’s undeserved respect, Wishful thinking, conjecture and assertions without supporting evidence count for nothing here.

  28. I’m having a look at your link Chris…I’ll start with number ten…

    Athanasius’ Festal Letter (367 A.D.) is the First Complete List of New Testament Books

    Here is a prime example of a strawman fallacy.

    No one is arguing that this was the first list of books to be used as scripture. What it is, is the first list we have of the books of the NT in the form we see later ratified at the council of Trent.

    St Athanasius is also the first person to identify the same 27 books of the New Testament
    that are in use today. Up until then, various similar lists of works to
    be read in churches were in use. A milestone in the evolution of the canon of New Testament books is his Easter letter from Alexandria, written in 367, usually referred to as his 39th Festal Letter.

    There were many scriptural texts being used in the first 3 centuries of Christianity…they were all ditched in the 4th century as heretical, except those in the present NT canon…don’t you ever wonder why?

  29. BTW, your man Michael J. Kruger is going to be somewhat biased wouldn’t you say?

    Michael J. Kruger, I am Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. In addition, I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and serve as an Associate Pastor (part-time, of course) at my home church, Uptown PCA.

    Try reading some Bart D. Ehrman…

    Bart D. Ehrman (born 1955) is an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
    While Ehrman is a leading New Testament scholar, he has also achieved
    acclaim at the popular level, authoring four New York Times bestsellers.
    His best-known works at the popular level are Misquoting Jesus and Jesus, Interrupted. Ehrman’s work focuses on New Testament textual criticism and early Christianity.

    He began studying the Bible and its original languages at the Moody Bible Institute and is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. He received his PhD and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under Bruce Metzger.

    Ehrman became an Evangelical Christian as a teen. In his books, he recounts his youthful enthusiasm as a born-again, fundamentalist Christian, certain that God had inspired the wording of the Bible and protected its texts from all error.
    His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the
    study of ancient languages and to textual criticism. His graduate
    studies, however, eventually convinced him that one ought to acknowledge
    the contradictions in the biblical manuscripts rather than attempt to
    harmonize or reconcile discrepancies. He remained a liberal Christian for fifteen years but later became an agnostic after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and suffering.

    http://www.bartdehrman.com/

    Only if you are willing to be impartial in your approach to ” your worldview based on evidence, reason, and free-thinking”,  mind.

  30. And finally finally, did I research other religions coming to my decision to leave atheism, no, in a word! 

    I see, thanks for the honesty. Considering the change in thinking, actions, and its consequences, you were about to undertake, I would’ve thought a cursory examination of ALL world religions was in order. It’s not a decision you want to get wrong – or so we atheists are constantly told.

    I went from atheism to Christian theism. I was suitably convinced that Christian theism accounted for what I saw and experienced better than my atheism.

    Without any research of anything else in-between. Don’t you find that curious? I do. I mean, curious, but also quite normal due to your upbringing in the UK. It’s almost a cliche that you chose Christianity, as the odds were very much stacked in favour that way. Now, had you become a Hindu…

    I assume of course you at least read every single word of the Judeo-Christian bible before deciding upon Christianity, yes?

    Remember Biblical Christianity is unique amongst the 2001 (!!) in that it speaks of a global, transcendent, unique, monotheistic god

    Ah, now we see the issue of not researching one’s religion before signing up for it. The idea of the Christian religion, based upon the Judeo-Christian bible, being unique of a “monotheistic god” is erroneous.

    Your god, Yahweh, merely evolved from previous gods and iterations (e.g. El or Ĕlōhîm, Baal, Asherah, Marduk) and from the locale (Babylon, Canaan, Mesopotamia); and was “born” in 600 BCE by the writings of Issiah; and then “P”. 

    See: The History of God by Karen Armstrong for a full disclosure.

    Or watch a clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  31. Gosh – so many different threads coming at me here I’m struggling to keep up. I’m going out now for the morning but allow me just to say one thing until later (oh, Amos and Tyler, thank you for the replies…I will try and write back more I promise)…I’m just mystified as to why I’m not allowed to trust an academic researcher who’s a Christian, but am who’s an atheist? Why is my professor any more biased than your professor? One has looked at the evidence and believes, the other not, but you guys are only willing to engage with the ‘not’ because your presuppositions prevent you from listening to anyone who believes. How is that ‘freethinking’? You must see the irony in your position, surely?

    If I came on here and said I refuse to listen to Erhman because he’s biased as an atheist  you’d take that as evidence of my closed mind! Yet that’s exactly what you do. Is it just because he ‘converted’ away that he has more credibility? What about people who ‘converted’ the other way. Did all of you used to be religious people?It seems to me that this dismissive approach to evangelical scholarship is the cause of much of the problem here, and that keeps you intellectually locked in to your own closed system of thought with no chance for escape. The more time I spend on here, the more I am suspicious of this ‘I’m free from the shackles of religion’ narrative that saturates the website. 

    Genealogies – it was Matthew 1 I preached on yesterday! Let me come back later…

  32. Ignorant Amos: “No one get’s undeserved respect.”

    Clearly: And perhaps a little glimpse into the future ethics of our Post-Christian humanist world?

    ;-) A sly little dig. Forgive me…couldn’t resist it. 

  33.  

    I’m just mystified as to why I’m not allowed to trust an academic
    researcher who’s a Christian, but am who’s an atheist?

    Well Chris, if you’d read my comment, and as Tyler has pointed out, Ehrman is Agnostic. How he came to his Agnosticism is very interesting in it’s own right and he outlines this in his book “God’s Problem”. It’s the biggest problem the believer has to deal with in my opinion. The issue of theodicy.

    Why is my
    professor any more biased than your professor?

    Because my professor isn’t ‘my’ professor. He started out on his career as a ‘your’ professor, but being honest and truthful to himself he had to go where the evidence took him, not his evidence mind you, thee evidence. The evidence took him to the place the consensus of critical biblical scholars are, most of them religious btw…that the Gospels are not a true historical record of the life of a first century Jewish Rabbi from the Palestinian Levant.

    One has looked at the
    evidence and believes, the other not, but you guys are only willing to
    engage with the ‘not’ because your presuppositions prevent you from
    listening to anyone who believes.

    But that is just not the case. Many here, unlike yourself, have come from a very religious background. We have read the bible that so many who still follow it have not. I myself come from probably thee most Protestant fundamentalist parts of the UK, Belfast. My friend here, Tyler, comes from one of the most Roman Catholic fundamentalist parts of the world, the Republic of Ireland. We’ve witnessed first hand the impact of Christianity in our respective communities. Don’t suppose we are not well read on the apologetics of Christianity, it will come at a dear cost. Our presuppositions were the presuppositions of the believer, even if it was only for a short period of our lives.

    How is that ‘freethinking’?

    Have you read the bible? Have you read any critical bible scholarship? Someone like John Dominic Crossan for example…surely you couldn’t claim him to be ‘my’ man? http://www.johndominiccrossan….

    You must
    see the irony in your position, surely?

    SPOIIING!!!…That’s the sound of another meter going south.

    If I came on here and said I refuse to listen to Erhman because he’s
    biased as an atheist  you’d take that as evidence of my closed mind!

    Yes I would…because so far you’ve proved my point…the man isn’t even an Atheist. Look, here it is again…”He remained a liberal Christian for fifteen years but later became an
    agnostic after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and
    suffering.”

    His wife is a devote Christian, his colleagues and friends are Christians, if the criterion of embarrassment was ever applicable, it would be to Bart Ehrman. His interests lay in the evidence proving the Christian case. It didn’t, so who is the unbiased expert?

    Yet
    that’s exactly what you do. Is it just because he ‘converted’ away that
    he has more credibility?

    It’s at this point that folk here, myself included will get prickly. You are now commenting from a position of ignorance. The strawmen are coming thick and fast now. Get educated on the subject first, then present your argument.

    What about people who ‘converted’ the other
    way. Did all of you used to be religious people?

    I’d estimate that most did. From all directions…granted that Christianity would be the most prevalent, but loads of other religions are represented…and we are all the better for their input and expertise.

    If you’ve got the time…”Convert’s Corner” will give you an idea. http://old.richarddawkins.net/

    Then there is the “Clergy Project”. http://www.clergyproject.org/

    Please don’t assume that you are involved in discourse with a bunch of ignorant heathens, you’re not.

    It seems to me that this
    dismissive approach to evangelical scholarship is the cause of much of
    the problem here, and that keeps you intellectually locked in to your
    own closed system of thought with no chance for escape.

    Again, this comment is coming from an assumptive erroneous position. You have built a straw giant to systematically take down. Let me quote two passages of scripture…Matthew 7:5 and Luke 6:42.

    No one here is dismissive of anything as long as it is accompanied by the evidence. Not just the word ‘evidence’, but actual examples.

    The more time I
    spend on here, the more I am suspicious of this ‘I’m free from the
    shackles of religion’ narrative that saturates the website.

    What did you expect? Everyone devastated at their loss of faith? Sitting around hand-wringing and worrying about a bleak future without “a man in the sky” in our lives to sycophant over…sorry to disappoint.

    I’ve spent the time at your link. I countered the erroneous point made at number ten. I’ll await any reply before wasting any time on the others.

    Regarding ‘undeserved respect’, do you grant respect to someone arguing fo a flat earth? Respect the person, if they warrant it, not their beliefs.

    I’ll round off with a favourite comment of mine….

    “Donald Akenson,
    Professor of Irish Studies in the department of history at Queen’s
    University has argued that, with very few exceptions, the historians of
    Yeshua have not followed sound historical practices. He has stated that
    there is an unhealthy reliance on consensus, for propositions which
    should otherwise be based on primary sources, or rigorous
    interpretation. He also holds that some of the criteria being used are
    faulty.
    He says that the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars are
    employed in institutions whose roots are in religious beliefs. Because
    of this, he maintains that, more than any other group in present day
    academia, biblical historians are under immense pressure to theologize
    their historical work and that it is only through considerable
    individual heroism that many biblical historians have managed to
    maintain the scholarly integrity of their work.”

    Just so we are clear…my own position is that of Igtheist. When it comes to the NT, I’m edging on the mythicist side of the argument.

  34.   chrishowles10 -   Alan such anger!

    I am a scientist who is used to dismissing poorly thought-out asserted unevidenced ideas, but have no anger in doing so.  I think this is a case of psychological projection on your part.
     

    You are labouring under a false understanding that comes from limiting your study to people who believe what you believe.

    This is another example of your psychological projection and assertion without evidence. 
    I have debated with people on this site, from a whole range of religions and backgrounds – and looked at links they have provided. .. .. …. I also work with people from many backgrounds.
    Your other misconception, is that there is a unanimity of world-view among atheists. An understanding of the lack of evidence for gods, does not confer a “world-view”, (any more than being a non-stamp-collector confers a “world-view”)!
    A personal or Humanist world-view is entirely separate from atheism.

    The issues you bring up over NT reliability, Nicaea, and other things have been thoroughly dealt with by evangelical scholars and, when suitably understood, present no problems to a rational, reasonable belief. 

    Actually they have been fudged around  with made up stories by people who had no historical evidence to support their views.  That is how “faith based belief without proof” works to produce multiple sects and cults all with their own interpretations.

    In your mind Christian belief and logical thinking cannot co-exist.

    They can co-exist but frequently do not.  It is the absence of evidence and refusal to recognise the absence of evidence which identifies “faith” based thinking. 
    Some “faith claims” are logically self-consistent, but are “castles in the air”, with no connection to material reality.

    I’m a Christian believer and therefore you accuse me of all sorts ranging from being the victim of brainwashing, to downright stupidity.

    So far you have asserted that you use reasoning and have evidence, but you have produced none. 
    All you have done is to refer other people who make claims with out evidence as “authorities” on the subject.
    (It’s a bit like someone who claims to have used mathematics to prove 2+2=17 … You suspect there are errors and ask for the details. – When they are not forthcoming but the assertion is repeated, a lack of basic understanding is suspected.)

    Whether you like it or not, and however cross it clearly makes you, you must accept that real, educated, thinking people come to the opposite conclusions to your own…in fact, worldwide, most do.

    There are certainly notable educated people who have been brought up and retained their religious beliefs. I have quoted the work of some of them in scientific debates. 
    It is however the evidence base and reasoning behind these beliefs which interests me.  While you have asserted that such exists, requests for examples have produced nothing!

    I’m entirely free to reject your world-view based on evidence, reason, and free-thinking, and I have.

    You certainly would be: – if we had discussed my world view, and you had found some flaws in the evidence and reasoning, but we have not discussed it, so your claim has no credibility.

    Of course Christian thinkers, writers, academics and friends were important in making that decision, but I bet you’ve read Prof. Dawkins books and others who helped you make your life decisions.

    I see another example of unchecked or tested “make-it-up-as-you go-along “faith” based thinking which projects your blind copying from preachers on to an image of me. 
    I had a scientific world-view and was an atheist for decades, before I heard of Professor Dawkins, or read any of his books.
    It was Xtian vicars and preachers who persuaded me they we talking nonsense!

      as if we haven’t realised that some other folk speak of different gods. In an absolute nutshell, .. .. .. …  It is not a challenge to the Christian worldview (or perhaps Alan I should say Biblical worldview…

    I am sure from debating many fundamentalists that using the “no True Scotsman fallacy” (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/N… believers will choose to conclude that other “true believers” agree with them – regardless of monumental differences and contradictions.

    I’m sure you’ll point out these are numerous of these also, but actually when Scripture is read seriously, in it’s own context, with exegetical skills applied in the original languages, standing of the shoulders of 2,000 years of historical theology, there is huge consistency)

    It is a feature of the rosy reinterpretation blinkers of “faith” to see consistency of confirmation, in a plethora of contradictions, with applied semantic shuffling of “interpretations”, cognitive dissonance, and simply accepting stories on the basis of confirmation bias.

    On this site we do evidence based reasoning, to try to establish scientific and historical facts where possible, and also to identify areas where information is not known at present, or to estimate probabilities and possibilities when possible.

    Asserting the use of reasoning and evidence is not the same as actually using it. (A story made up hundreds of years after supposed events, is not evidence!)

    So far you have asserted you arrived at an (unspecified)  xtian world view using reason, but have failed to produce requested examples of how you did this. – Apart from:-  you chose to believe some friends and a theology professor as an act of faith (and think that atheists/scientists also follow this type of thinking! )

    - This is not a use of evidence or reasoning.

  35.  I see…so being an Anglican evangelical Christian and free-thinker…how much respect do you accord to those fellow evangelical Christians that are seeking a law to execute homosexuals in Uganda, seeing as you are there on the ground so-to-speak? That’s giving my assumption that you think it’s wrong, which you may not?

  36. Hi guys,
    A few more things… Erhman is an agnostic? ok, apologies for my ‘mis-speak’. But does that change the point about why he is any less biased than, say, Michael Kruger? It is very convenient for many people to be agnostic – so I really would love to hear Amos, or anyone here, justify why it is freethinking to think that a Christian scholar is biased, and an agnostic one isn’t. I’m sure you disagree with the Christian scholar, but on what basis do you presume they must be more biased than a non-Christian one?  How do we know Kruger isn’t a converted atheist like me and therefore has sampled ‘both sides’?  This is my continual problem with the responses I’m getting on this thread: some people are so, so sure of themselves and their interpretations even though they don’t seem to be honestly, rationally, seeking the truth…only what they want to believe, and discounting everything else simply because they disagree. I get accused of selective listening, and yet I see no evidence of doing anything different to people here – just simply interpreting evidence to a different end! With regards to genealogies, thank you for raising this. Amos, it really ins’t an elephant in the room for the NT to list Jesus’ family tree and uphold too a virgin birth. The NT is consistent in it’s explanations that Jesus has both earthly and heavenly ‘roots’. Putting him in the line of David and also as the Son of God is exactly the point of this ‘God-man’ being able to save humankind. I’ve not heard anyone before raise your point as a substantive piece of evidence against the NT witness. With regards to the Luke-Matthew genealogies  that is a fair point and you’ve certainly chosen well one of the trickier pieces of the NT, but certainly not anywhere near definitive enough to be a deal-clincher. Scholars do not all agree, but this very brief page outlines some of the possible explanations…http://http://www.cck.org.uk/reason/why-are-... ask me about what evidence I put forward for what I believe. I’d ask you to read the NT with an neutral, open mind, and you might be surprised what you find.  I find the NT documents reliable works of history compared to any other ancient documents, breathtaking in their consistency, and remarkable in their ability to make sense of the world I see around me. I find Jesus of Nazareth as described in the NT to be an irresistibly compelling man who cannot be explained away through any ‘other’ method or viewpoint…I believe he is who he says he is. This is then supported on a personal level by the fact that I find fellow Christian believers in my life to be on the whole more loving, friendly, sensible, and rational than non-Christian friends. I have a Masters in theology…I’m honestly not unaware of pentateuchal theories of authorship, attack on the authorship and dating of the NT documents, and the ‘historical Jesus’ dates. I suspect there is very little that you could throw at me that I haven’t seen and heard before…but, incredible as you clearly find it, I am thoroughly unconvinced by modern attempts to discredit the Christian faith. I am thoroughly convinced that the NT is true. I can see why my life, on one level, would be easier if it weren’t, and I can therefore understand why atheists exist, but, sorry, I just can’t believe it myself.Tyler, I think it was, you didn’t respond to my question: would you be an atheist if you were born in India, and isn’t it more likely that actually it is you who has been shaped by their own culture, given how little the Professor Dawkins style militant atheism has spread across cultures outside Western intelligentsia, as Christianity has done? Please re-read my previous post but one…you seem a nice person and I’d be fascinated by your response.By the way, there is clearly a trend on this website to presume that conversions only go one way. There are plenty of lists on the internet concerning athiests/agnostics who converted to Christianity…scholar, thinkers, writers, academics. (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L… I think some here are overly-confident that Christianity is dying out, and I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it really, really isn’t. I think this thread is perhaps coming to an end, and I won’t keep writing on the site loads as I appreciate it is annoying some and I don’t want to do that, but the whole point of my original post was to challenge the meta-narrative that you guys seem so sure of: the triumph of atheism. If posts keep coming at me I will try and respond, and I do enjoy hearing from you guys, but I do think it’s important for you all to hear a different perspective. If all we listen to is people who think like us, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice. Chris

  37. Oh wow. As I was writing that two massive posts have come up at me. I can’t keep up guys I’m afraid ..I do appreciate you taking the time to engage with the conversation, honestly, but it’s getting longer and longer, not shorter and shorter, and my work here is starting to pile up and my wife is overworked in looking after the two little guys. I honestly appreciate what you’ve said. and maybe one day we could continue, but allow me to raise the white flag for now. Please don’t interpret this as an intellectual surrender, just simply an inability to keep up with your literary output! The previous post was written whilst the others were being posted so apologies I ahven’t replied. I’m not sure we’re going to meet each other at any place, but, for a final time, thanks for the engagement. Perhaps we’ll speak again soon,

    Wow. Homosexuality bill here in Uganda. Man alive – HUGE topic to discuss: it has been very erroneously reported from the UK so don’t believe everything you hear, and I have engaged with my students (future church leaders here) about it, but, again forgive me, we may have to save that one for another day. Regards,chris

  38. That is gutting. I wrote a massive post just a moment ago, (during which Alan and Amos posted) but it seems not to have gone up…it did go up, but it was one long paragraph again, i tried to edit it and post, but now it seems to have gone. Please say it ain’t so…that took me about an hour! And it would have converted all you guys (only kidding). 

    Is there any way we can get it back? So, so, so annoying. That’ll teach me not to write it in Word and save as I go along. 

    What a miserable way to finish. I hate just losing an hour of my life like that. Really sorry guys – I did try and engage with much of what you said, honestly. 

    Is there way we could sort out the comments section, or is it just my ICT ignorance? Or maybe the Ugandan authorities blocking this website :-)

    OK, well, many apologies. A disappointing way to finish but hey.

    Warmest,

    Chris

  39. OK, well, many apologies. A disappointing way to finish but hey.

    Not to worry, Chris, it happens around here quite regularly. As soon as the questions get too tough, theists tend to feel out of their depth, and suddenly become very busy elsewhere, or need to catch a bus to Croydon…

    You’re not the first, and certainly won’t be the last. Happy Winter solstice.

  40. Sorry about that, Chris. It seems to be a “feature” of the Disqus commenting system that comments are automatically treated as spam when users try to go back into them and edit them, and have to be specifically approved by us before they appear on the site. It’s not how we want things to work, it’s just the way it is. Anyway, alerted by your post, we’ve just checked the “Spam” section of our moderation system and found the comment that had been lost. So it’s back now. We’ll edit your paragraph breaks back in too.

  41. Tyler, I think it was, you didn’t respond to my question: would you be an atheist if you were born in India, and isn’t it more likely that actually it is you who has been shaped by their own culture…

    Sorry, just saw this now. 

    Chris, I grew up in Dublin, Ireland, a Catholic; went to Catholic schools; made my communion, was confirmed etc. I became an atheist in my teens when I realised whenever I questioned the dogma of the church (usually in RE class), no answers were forthcoming, and equivocation was the letter of the law. I was highly inquisitive as a kid, so organised religion held no mystery for me, and no answers.

    If I had been born in India, who knows, but I’d like to think having been as inquisitive growing up, and questioning of Catholicism – I’d be the same with Hinduism, and therefore an atheist.

  42. Mr Moderator, thank you! 

    Tyler, happy winter holiday to you too! Thanks for your kindness :-)

    ” As soon as the questions get too tough, theists tend to feel out of their depth, and suddenly become very busy elsewhere” Nice one :-) Made me smile.

    In fairness to me, I’ve written I think 5 fairly lengthy posts on this thread in the last 48 hours. And read all of yours. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old and live in Uganda where, believe me, everything takes about 5 times longer than it does in the UK. I spent almost all morning today picking up post … oh for Royal Mail here. I have a full time job. I’m busy. You guys are hurling things en masse at me and if this is what you do to other theists too, then I can understand why they leave – it really isn’t because they’re out of their depth, but rather because I can hardly finish one post before another 10 things come in which you demand answers to, often with very little grace or basic human courtesy…something perhaps I should have anticipated here. 

    There has been nothing said on this thread which has made me feel there is substantial grounds to doubt my reasonable faith. Just a re-hash of biblical critical scholarship which has been engaged with dealt with substantially by a host of Christiana academics.

    Time for a confession: I haven’t read the God Delusion. I know that’s a poor show if I’m here, and I promise I will try and find it out here (might be hard, but I will try!). Have you guys had the chance to read any of these books. I think they may counter some of what you believe…at the end of the day, you can’t expect one busy guy to thoroughly respond to the 50-60 points you are raising with me. Let me allow Oxford Professors to do some of the talking for me…

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Re

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dawkin

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jesus-

    Regards,

    chris

  43.  

    Time for a confession: I haven’t read the God Delusion. I know that’s a
    poor show if I’m here, and I promise I will try and find it out here
    (might be hard, but I will try!).

    Yet you’ve already read Alastair McGrath’s rebuttal flea to TGD and even have the audacity to offer it as suggested reading…a wee bit naughty methinks. McGrath is both disengenuous and erroneous in his attempt.

    But anyway…McGrath’s pathetic attempt has been flogged to death quite some time ago, deader than a dead thing in fact. Here, have a wee look for yourself…

    http://old.richarddawkins.net/

  44. “Yet you’ve already read Alastair McGrath’s rebuttal flea to TGD and even have the audacity to offer it as suggested reading…a wee bit naughty methinks.” Yep. Fair point, and a situation that needs correcting as soon as possible. Apologies.However that ‘review’ seems nothing much more to me that a list of quotes, most of which seem perfectly acceptable to me, which she then presumes acts as a suitable rebuttal of the whole book. I make the same point again: if Christians did that, we’d be accused of intellectual dishonesty and shutting our minds off to reasoned debate. I can’t help thinking throughout all this that there’s two different sets of rules being employed here.Have you read either of the other two books I linked to? There’s no particular reason why you might have, but I think you’d enjoy them (on one level, anyway). Can I ask you guys a genuine question, and I ask it carefully aware that this might open a HUGE can of worms. A lot of your own personal testimonies, and many of those PRD employed on Twitter recently when he retweeted other people’s de-conversion stories, seem to revolve around leaving Catholicism  I too would have great doubts about the theology of Catholicism (I’m not a Protestant for no reason!) and the resultant ethical and social frameworks which they have built up structured around some dubious and unbiblical beliefs. My question is this: am I arguing for an evangelical Christianity, whilst you are arguing against a Catholic one, and therefore we’re crossing over each other? Certainly many of you seem to have been ‘scarred’ by experiences in the Catholic Church, and yet few mention being a part of an evangelical church family in the UK or elsewhere, and rejecting that. It’s a genuine question here which I’d be interested to hear your views on…

    Warmest, Chris

  45.   – Tyler Durden  -  Not to worry, Chris, it happens around here quite regularly. As soon as the questions get too tough, theists tend to feel out of their depth, and suddenly become very busy elsewhere, or need to catch a bus to Croydon…

    After all the psychological projection, I recognise that I am unlikely to get rational responses to the challenges to Chris. 
    He clearly thinks evidence is citing some flea-book or the ramblings of some other theist. 
    The concept of peer-reviewed (historical / archaeological) evidence or critically addressing issues raised by competent investigations, does not seem to have surfaced, despite the length of the posts.

      chrishowles10 –   Erhman is an agnostic? … . . . . . .. . But does that change the point about why he is any less biased than, say, Michael Kruger? It is very convenient for many people to be agnostic – so I really would love to hear Amos, or anyone here, justify why it is freethinking to think that a Christian scholar is
    biased, and an agnostic one isn’t. I’m sure you disagree with the Christian scholar, but on what basis do you presume they must be more biased than a non-Christian one?

    This is an interesting illustration of the “football supporter” type of thinking, which ignores evidence, and chooses to support the “home team”.  looking through the filter blinkers, – those wearing the club badge are right, whatever they say! – and then assuming other people also think in that way, rather than objectively.

    This is my continual problem with the responses I’m getting on this thread: some people are so, so sure of themselves and their interpretations even though they don’t seem to be honestly, rationally, seeking the truth…only what they want to believe, and discounting everything else simply because they disagree.

     Gazoooinggg!!!  The idea that others may have previously studied the subject in a more rigorous investigative manner, does not seem to occur! Rationality is a process of deduction, not a badge of authority.

    I get accused of selective listening, and yet I see no evidence of doing anything different to people here – just simply interpreting evidence to a different end!

    The problem is in understanding what material evidence is!  Facts are not a matter of personal choice!
    Absent evidence can only be interpreted as being absent, regardless of what some people, past or present, made up because they really! really! really!  wanted  to believe it, and wanted others to believe it!

    You ask me about what evidence I put forward for what I believe. I’d ask you to read the NT with an neutral, open mind, and you might be surprised what you find. I find the NT documents reliable works of history compared to any other ancient documents, breathtaking in their consistency, and remarkable in their ability to make sense of the world I see around me.

    … Must be a different book to the one read by the rest of us!!  Inconsistency is inconsistency, self contradiction is self contradiction. The circular argument that ” the NT bible is true because the Bible says it is true”, is still a circular argument – lacking independent verification on most points.

    I have a Masters in theology… … …. but I do think it’s important for you all to hear a different perspective. If all we listen to is people who think like us, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice.  

    A masters in theology sounds like rather a long time as a student in close association with fellow evangelical theists, and an absence of contact with rational critical thinkers who use material evidence, and logical deduction, as a basis for reaching conclusions.

    Such isolation does tend to encourage circular arguments, strawmen, appeals to authority, confirmation bias, acceptance of copied fallacious arguments, psychological projection, dogged adherence to long discredited claims,  round-the-clock indoctrination, and uncritical group-think! (All of which have been seen on this site, in the comments of theists)

    BTW:  This site has debates between people of many religions and none, from all over the world, many of whom have specialist high-level academic qualifications in a wide range of subjects -  with a special emphasis on clear thinking, education, reason and science..

  46.  I too would have great doubts about the theology of Catholicism

    It’s from the exact same book you’ve signed up for but under a different denomination, Chris, only yours is due to a different human interpretation. It’s enough to make your head spin.

    If only you had independent, convergent and historical evidence yours is one true interpretation.

  47. There has been nothing said on this thread which has made me feel there is substantial grounds to doubt my reasonable faith.

    1. The doctrine of original sin: is founded upon “Adam and Eve” as first humans, in the Garden of Eden, and the “fall” of humanity. Jesus was sent as a redemptive saviour to save humanity. But “Adam and Eve” never existed, and were not the “first” humans – Darwinian evolution by natural selection shows that.

    What was the point of Jesus coming to Earth?

    2. Jesus was human or God: Now, if you want to claim the resurrection of Jesus was due to the fact he was the “Son of God” then so be it. But that just leaves you on the horns of yet another dilemma – how much of a redemptive sacrifice was Jesus if he was the “Son of God”?

    He spends 33 years on planet Earth, wanders in the desert, magics up some fish and bread, the odd carafe of vino, curses a fig tree, and has a bad weekend around Easter, and ends up back where he started. Not much of a sacrifice for a demi-god.

    What exactly was this sacrifice as performed by Jesus? 

  48.  
    Tyler Durden
    It’s from the exact same book you’ve signed up for but under a different denomination, Chris, only yours is due to a different human interpretation. It’s enough to make your head spin.

    Hi Tyler!
    I was just having a look at some other “Xtian interpretations” from African missionaries!

    My People! My People!! This Witch Hunting Must Stop – http://old.richarddawkins.net/

    http://saharareporters.com/sit

  49. Tyler mentions the Fall /Adam / Redemption thing.  In a similar vein:

    I’d like to ask Chris his opinion on the following. I used to sort of believe at one time, used  to  go to church and all that, but I felt that there was something fundamentally wrong that didnt connect. Didnt add up. Here it is:

    Evangelicals tell us we need  Saviour. THE Saviour.

    Why? Because we are sinners, separated from God

    Where did that sin come from?

    We were born that way because we are all descended from Adam (Note: Paul and Jesus BOTH refer to Adam as a real person)

    In Luke’s genealogy, it would appear that, give or take, Adam live about 10,000 years ago.Prior to Adam sinning and the Fall, there was no physical death, no natural disasters and everything was basically perfect.

    Now science shows us that the Earth is about 4.7 billion years old, the universe is over 13 billion years old, and that life as we know it evolved to what it is today over a long period of time.

    The Christian paradigm, even if you reject YEC but accept OEC, requires there to be over 4 billion years of “perfection” and then suddenly, humans are created in what is little more than “one minute to midnight”

    And after this Adam eats the fruit, (about 10000 years ago)  physical death appears, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions begin. Prior to that there were no predators, no disasters, just bliss

    .That simply does not make sense.  It is completely at odds with science. I simply cannot find a way to square that circle without allegorising huge parts of scripture, which scripture itself  (Paul and Jesus ) manifestly make clear are literal fact

    I would ask of Chris, not to post a huge reply, but perhaps post a web link to a page or two that does make sense of this, if there is one. It is a massive problem. Paula Kirby also   mentioned this some time back in an article on this site.

    Perhaps the liberals can make sense of it, by picking and mixing and just ignoring the inconvenient bits,  but I really cannot see how the evangelicals can be true to their beliefs without invoking an anti-science YEC paradigm.

    SG

  50.  

    Amos, it really ins’t an elephant in the room for the NT to list
    Jesus’ family tree and uphold too a virgin birth. The NT
    is consistent in it’s explanations that Jesus has both earthly and
    heavenly ‘roots’. Putting him in the line of David and also as the Son
    of God is exactly the point of this ‘God-man’ being able to save
    humankind. I’ve not heard anyone before raise your point as a
    substantive piece of evidence against the NT witness.

    Which New Testament witness?…Luke or Matthew? They tell different accounts. The synoptic gospels were written when the Jewish sect of Christianity was an apocalyptic ideal. By the time of Johnine construct of the yarns, it was apparent that the apocalyptic prophecy was not fulfilled and the ideal had to manifest to other ideals. Every biblical scholar of any repute will tell you the Luke-Matthew genealogy was part of a contortion to shoehorn the round Jesus myth peg into the square hole of Old Testament prophecy. The word for for young women, ‘almah’ in Hebrew, could even have been a mistranslation in such eagerness, just like the ‘from Nazareth’ issue.

    With regards to the Luke-Matthew genealogies  that is a fair point
    and you’ve certainly chosen well one of the trickier pieces of the NT,
    but certainly not anywhere near definitive enough to be a
    deal-clincher.

    Of course not…one piece of evidence does not a case make…unfortunately there are loads of just such pieces of evidence. But I’m not as much interested in clinching deals as to invoking real rational thinking.

    Scholars do not all agree, but this very brief page
    outlines some of the possible explanations…http://http://www.cck.org.uk/reason/why-are-.. 

    “Conclusion

    As we can see above, the respective accounts of Matthew and Luke were
    written to make very different points, to convince different audiences.
    Matthew was written to reason with Jews that Jesus fulfilled the
    prophetic criteria of the Old Testament, whereas Luke is not so
    concerned with such things. As a result he pursues Jesus’ lineage with
    respect to Adam.

    In conclusion, a brief study of the form and context of these
    genealogies provide a basis for believing in the uniformity and
    historical accuracy of the Bible.”

    Ha ha ha…bollocks….this is the divinely inspired word of the Lord according to you. If you heard that excuse for the discrepancy anywhere else, you’d think, what a load of bol…codswollop. The contortionist you theology types get yourselves into never ceases to amaze me. May I suggest the implementation of Bayesian logic?

    Who was present at the Nativity?

    It was pointed out on these pages a few weeks ago about the cacagnor, or cacalero as I’ve since discovered he’s known sometimes none. This is a Christian tradition that’s origins are unknown, but modern. I wouldn’t have believed it only for witnessing it myself. My partner and I are playing the ‘spot the caganer’ game…it’s hilarious.

    “In 2005, the Barcelona city council provoked a public outcry by
    commissioning a nativity scene which did not include a Caganer. Many saw
    this as an attack on Catalan traditions. The local government countered
    these criticisms by claiming that the Caganer was not included because a
    recent by-law had made public defecation and urination illegal, meaning
    that the Caganer was now setting a bad example. Following a campaign against this decision called Salvem el caganer
    (Save the caganer), and widespread media criticism, the 2006 nativity
    restored the Caganer, who appeared on the northern side of the nativity
    near a dry riverbed.”

    See how easy this sort of shit(pun intended) becomes tradition? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C

    Who would’ve thought a giant 19ft defecating man would become a Christmas tradition?

    http://laughingsquid.com/world

    Now there’s a pop at respect.

  51.  

    Wow. Homosexuality bill here in Uganda. Man alive – HUGE topic to
    discuss: it has been very erroneously reported from the UK so don’t
    believe everything you hear, and I have engaged with my students (future
    church leaders here) about it, but, again forgive me, we may have to
    save that one for another day.

    I really didn’t think it was that hard a question.

    “I see…so being an Anglican evangelical Christian and
    free-thinker…how much respect do you accord to those fellow
    evangelical Christians that are seeking a law to execute homosexuals in
    Uganda, seeing as you are there on the ground so-to-speak?”

    If I’ve heard right, there is a bill proposed to bring in execution for those found guilty of homsexuality. Then again, I tend not to believe everything I hear.

     http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl

    Of course the Guardian may have got it wrong. Perhaps Reuter’s paints a grander picture…

    http://www.reuters.com/article

    …then again, perhaps not.

  52. But does that change the point about why he is any less
    biased than, say, Michael Kruger?

    Well, yes it does when one considers his reasons for becoming Agnostic, not Atheist mind you, Agnostic.

    It is very convenient for many people
    to be agnostic – …

    No I don’t think it is, especially when the individual in question has so much invested in being a Christian….and an evangelical Christian at that. Perhaps you might wish to refrain from commenting further until you get up to speed…it will save face.

    …so I really would love to hear Amos, or anyone here,
    justify why it is freethinking to think that a Christian scholar is
    biased, and an agnostic one isn’t.

    Evangelical Christian Bible scholars are not critical Bible scholars…that makes them de facto biased.

    http://members.bib-arch.org/pu

    Don’t take my word for it, take the evangelicals word…

    “His central argument is that evangelical scholarship has to face up
    honestly to the mostly well-grounded results of historical criticism,
    whether it likes it or not, because it may be paying a much higher price
    for its intellectual ambivalence, if not dishonesty, than it realizes.”

    http://www.postost.net/2011/03

    I’m sure you disagree with the
    Christian scholar, but on what basis do you presume they must be more
    biased than a non-Christian one?

    On the evidence, or lackthereof. Have you been reading my comments. I don’t solely rely on non-Christian scholarship. Unlike you, I review the whole picture. When a top Jewish Rabbi says the Exodus probably didn’t happen, I take that as a unbiased view, a view based on the evidence, or lack thereof, because a senior Jewish Rabbi has no interest in shooting himself in the foot. I thought you said you were a rational thinker?…you are struggling here to show it.

    How do we know Kruger isn’t a
    converted atheist like me and therefore has sampled ‘both sides’?

    We don’t! And because we don’t, we don’t make wild assumptions. This is why we use a methodology. Making stuff up doesn’t get us anywhere.

  53.  

    I find Jesus of Nazareth as described in the NT to be an irresistibly
    compelling man who cannot be explained away through any ‘other’ method
    or viewpoint…I believe he is who he says he is.

    Argument from incredulity…http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument…

    Many can’t imagine the Earth is a sphere, or evolution is the method by which all life has developed on Earth…some people even think man never went to the Moon…it doesn’t make them right.

  54.  

    This is then supported on a personal level by the fact that I find
    fellow Christian believers in my life to be on the whole more loving,
    friendly, sensible, and rational than non-Christian friends.

    Indeed, like the loving people here…http://markhumphrys.com/christianity….

    How many non-Christian friends do you have?

    This is what Christians do to each other where I come from… http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi

    The more fundamental, the worse they behave.

  55.  

    I am thoroughly unconvinced by modern attempts to discredit the
    Christian faith.

    Is that what Bart Ehrman is about then? Trying to discredit the Christian faith. Or those on this list…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B

    All conspiring to discredit the Christian faith.

    Early Christian father Justin Martyr c. 100-165, upon criticism from Pagans had this to say…
    “ANALOGIES
    TO THE HISTORY OF CHRIST. And when we say also that the Word, who is the
    first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus
    Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into
    heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those
    whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed
    writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all;
    Aesculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt,
    and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from
    limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his
    toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and
    Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse
    Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been
    declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among
    yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you
    produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Caesar rise to heaven from
    the funeral pyre?”

    Basically, he was saying that the Jesus myth was no more ridiculous than the Roman Pagan yarns, and he was right. But they are no less ridiculous than the Pagan yarns either.

    I am thoroughly convinced that the NT is true. I can
    see why my life, on one level, would be easier if it weren’t, and I can
    therefore understand why atheists exist, but, sorry, I just can’t
    believe it myself.

    Which is your prerogative of course…claiming the use of evidence, rationale and critical thinking to get there is a different matter. Unless you have evidence…got any evidence?

  56.  

    By the way, there is clearly a trend on this website to presume that
    conversions only go one way. There are plenty of lists on the internet
    concerning athiests/agnostics who converted to Christianity…scholar,
    thinkers, writers, academics.

    You are doing it
    again. You are assuming stuff erroneously. And this ignorance is
    showing you up as irrational. If you don’t know something, don’t
    comment…it’s that simple. You are not the first self confessed Atheist
    to comment here that has found god. We are aware of the high profile
    individuals who have found belief. Folk like Francis Collins for
    example… http://old.richarddawkins.net/

    I think some here are overly-confident that Christianity is dying out,
    and I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it really, really isn’t.

    Aye
    it is…in the western first world, and the educated parts of the 3rd
    world, it really, really is…I’m sorry to disappoint you. That’s why
    you are in Uganda. But don’t take my word for it…

    http://www.ministers-best-frie

    Is that an unbiased enough source for you?
     

  57.  

    I think this thread is perhaps coming to an end, and I won’t keep
    writing on the site loads as I appreciate it is annoying some and I
    don’t want to do that,…

    What will annoy folk is lack of reasonable evidence based responses and any reverting to preaching.

    …but the whole point of my original post was to
    challenge the meta-narrative that you guys seem so sure of: the triumph
    of atheism.

    Hardly….this is your lack of understanding of the situation. Atheism is the default position. Everyone is born Atheist…belief in a deity has to be planted there. Depending upon the individuals circumstances will depend on which deity.

     

    If posts keep coming at me I will try and respond, and I do
    enjoy hearing from you guys,…

    And I think I can speak for everyone in saying ‘us’ too.

    …but I do think it’s important for you all
    to hear a different perspective. If all we listen to is people who think
    like us, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice.

    Why do you insist on making this ridiculous assertion? Even after it has been pointed out to you by others. For the nth time, we are not all stuck here on this site in some sort of Atheist vacuum. You are not the first holy roller to show up here in an attempt to educate the heathen hordes in some kind of epiphany. As I said earlier, religious apologists visiting here follow a format. It hasn’t changed in the five years I’ve been a member, and you have not disappointed…it’s par for the course, but that is fine and dandy.  

  58. n.b. Internet had gone down. I wrote this a few hours ago…

    Wow. I post before bed, wake up, have breakfast, have a quick glance before starting work and fine a pile of posts aimed in my direction, with, at a rough count, 33 separate points made for me to respond to and 16 different weblinks to follow up. I’m not content to give dismissive, sweary, one-line answers to these things like some, not all, on this site, and it is quite literally impossible to keep up. Theists are being chased from this site not by the power of argument, but the quantity of rhetoric being thrown in their direction. 

    Scottish Geologist – thank you for your post – a very interesting point, and, in the same way that I think the geneaologies is perhaps the toughest part of the Gospels to account for as a believer in errancy, you’ve certainly picked perhaps the toughest line of criticism biblically-theologically speaking – respect! I did read a book on this by Dr Denis Alexander but I was not fully convinced I must admit. http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.u… Let me have a another think/research and see. Do you have an email address or something so I could find you in the future… is it bad internet form to give it out on a forum like this?

    Amos, you are clearly a fan of identifying apparent fallacious thinking in others, but you must realise that you frequently do the same. I share my personal experiences of the differences between Christians and non-Christian relationships in my life, and it gets doubted by you because a.) some people who proclaim themselves Christians have done bad things in the past, and b.) I clearly can’t have many non-Christian friends. My responses…a.) spot the fallacy? (as poor an argument as when Christians say ‘Stalin’ as evidence for the evil of atheism)  and b.) wrong. And I stand by my point entirely about the experiences of interacting with people from both ‘camps’. And my interactions with you have not changed my mind. This point has been a significant piece of ‘evidence’ for the existence of God for me – radically transformed lives, and deep, meaningful, grace-filled relationships. I’m genuinely sorry for you if you haven’t experienced that in your own experience of the church. 

    Amos, you send me a link to a list of critical biblical scholars. Is it a strong argument to send the opposite list back to you? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L…    Of course it isn’t. This list will be as convincing to you and yours was to me. You believe ‘mine’ are uncritical, and I believe ‘yours’ are also, in that they interpret the evidence according to their on belief system that they have chosen for moral and ethical reasons. The conviction you have in the power of your own neutral thinking is perhaps the key difference between us. You are not a neutral observer of evidence and science. There is, I suspect from your posts, no evidence that could persuade you to commit your life to an external authority, however strong that evidence might be. You are not neutral, you are a product of a relatively recent philosophical/epistemological movement and you interpret everything through the lens of it. I’m quite sure you’d say exactly the same of me (apart from the ‘relatively recent’ bit) but the fact that you don’t see it in yourself makes these interactions as frustrating on my part as they must be on yours. 

    Another example… I do a Masters in theology, and it’ immediately interpreted as me hanging out with evangelical friends uncritically nodding along with each other blinded to outside views. One of your people does  Masters/Doctorate in Natural Sciences or whatever, in a non-Christian, non-believing college surrounded by non-Christians and non-believers, reading each others books and articles, and it’s seen as a glorious freethinking space of neutral, unbiased rationality. Can you not see the point I’m making…no-one has yet dealt with this adequately, just insultingly. You describe how you take the views seriously of people when they are going against their natural ‘position’ e.g. a Rabbi who argues against the historicity of the exodus narrative. But that means it’s impossible for a Christian scholar, analysing evidence and making strong apologetic defences of Christian theism and biblical in-errancy to have your respect, as you presume them of bias. The only person it seems you would listen to is a non-Christian scholar who is convicted of the inerrancy of Scripture – but, realistically, that’s an impossibility isn’t it? You only listen to biblical critics, not biblical defendants, and you are immediately dismissive of people who convert out of atheism. Issues of supposed ‘contradictions’ in Scripture have been dealt with thoroughly and convincingly by scholars using evidence and rational thinking, as have issues of Pentateuchal authorship and the ‘development’ of monotheism prior to the Iron Age. You’re acting like there aren’t strong rebuttals to many of these theories of yours, like we/ just haven’t thought about it. That’s why I accuse you of having limited reading in some of these areas (NOT limited intelligence ..I’m not suggesting you’re not a smart, smart guy, just that you’re not looking at everything out there). Please read the final book on my list on the previous post for example…I really think it will stop you doubting the basic reliability of the gospels (I’m not saying it will convert you, of course, just that you’ll realise that this attack is not a suitable one) 

    You keep asking for what ‘evidence’ I have for my belief, but there really is no point, as you’re not approaching it rationally and neutrally. You turn immediately to the first critical scholar you can find who agrees with you, and ignore other critical scholars who agree with me (yes, they are critical scholars still), or have written a rebuttal of the first one. That’s why I’m trying to point out the irrationality in your own methodology without getting into pointless debates about the authorship of the NT documents. 

    Finally, Amos, you asked me to speak more about the homosexuality bill here in Uganda. Firstly, it doesn’t propose immediate death penalties for any homosexuals, although there are certainly absurdly long prison sentences for those found promoting it. Secondly, and crucially, this isn’t fundamentally from evangelical Christianity in Uganda. It’s from Ugandan culture in Africa. I bet you anything (although clearly I don’t know for sure) that some of Lindsey’s freethinking group are in favour of the legislation. There are deep, centuries long aversions here to homosexuality. Of course some Christian pastors here try to justify the legislation from their own faith-perspective, but it’s not hard to point out the theological objections and inconsistencies to such an argument, and I do try to. The problem we have is that the more Westerners try to speak to Ugandans about this, the more entrenched they get in their views as a form of ‘we’re African, not European’ anti-colonial assertion of independent sovereignty. I fear that for that reason most of the fanfare and petitions going on in the West is making the matter worse, to be honest. Anyway, my point is that it’s not from Christianity, it’s from African culture pre-dating even the arrival of the missionaries here. 

    I do believe it’s important in debates like this to remember that we’re talking to real individuals with real lives. You may have no interest at all in this and please don’t feel I expect you to click, but if you want to put a face to the name, this is a pic of who we are and what we’re doing. I don’t expect that you must care, but it’s so easy online to forget that real people lie behind the words so it’s there if you want to see. I do feel a tiny bit concerned ‘exposing’ myself like this with my family to people who clearly don’t like me (or, let me say, what I say) so I’d ask you to be respectful with the info, if that makes sense! I’m hoping this forum is free from spammers, trolls, and nutcases (no jokes at this point, please Amos ;-)  http://www.crosslinks.org/miss

    Regards to all, 

    Chris

  59. @Paul:disqus  Why do you insist on making this ridiculous assertion? Even after it has been pointed out to you by others. For the nth time, we are not all stuck here on this site in some sort of Atheist vacuum.

    This sort of assumptive belief without evidence, would be comical, if it was not a rather sad reflection on thinking processes taught as “education” in theological establishments – cut off from the wider field of education.

    Bearing in mind that in recent years I have been working with international staff & students in two universities (one US one UK), this suggestion of limited contacts confined to atheists is nearly as ridiculous as YECs who don’t know a meteorite from a galaxy or a star, telling me I don’t understand the big picture in an astronomy discussion!
     - Not to mention other RDFS posters living in diverse communities all over the world (including Africa!).

  60. You are doing it again. You are assuming stuff erroneously. And this ignorance is showing you up as irrational. If you don’t know something, don’t comment…it’s that simple. You are not the first self confessed Atheist to comment here that has found god.

    .. and sometimes there are clear explanations why!

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re… – New research provides fascinating insight into brain changes that might underlie alterations in spiritual and religious attitudes.

  61. I share my personal experiences of the differences between Christians
    and non-Christian relationships in my life, and it gets doubted by you
    because a.) some people who proclaim themselves Christians have done bad
    things in the past, and b.) I clearly can’t have many non-Christian
    friends.

    Well, first of all, personal experiences are nice, but have no bearing in rational discourse. But let’s look at your reply.

    a) Those some people proclaiming to be religious are still doing bad things to each other in the name of their religion.

    b) I feel sorry for your non-Christian friends, do they know they rank beneath your Christian friends on your better people and  goodness scale?

    My responses…a.) spot the fallacy? (as poor an argument as
    when Christians say ‘Stalin’ as evidence for the evil of atheism)  and
    b.) wrong. And I stand by my point entirely about the experiences
    of interacting with people from both ‘camps’.

    Your response is erroneous.

    a) Religious people do bad stuff because of their religion, no Atheist has done bad stuff because of their lack of belief in a deity. I am prepared to be corrected on this point though. I can fill pages with the names of people who have carried out bad deeds in the name of their respective religions, can you give me the name of one Atheist who has done the same.

    b) I don’t believe you. Prove it.

    And my interactions with
    you have not changed my mind. This point has been a significant piece of
    ‘evidence’ for the existence of God for me – radically transformed
    lives, and deep, meaningful, grace-filled relationships. I’m genuinely
    sorry for you if you haven’t experienced that in your own experience of
    the church.

    I don’t need your pity or condescension. You came to a website and engaged in debate with knowledgeable non-believers, did you think it was going to be a free ticket. Different people have different styles of engaging. But I can put my hand on my heart and tell you that my curt and direct way of interacting isn’t a pale on some of the Christian diatribe we see here. You can see for yourself…this is one off the top of the pile…

    Dr. Dawkins,

    Fuck you, u fucking fucker. What will u think when u are being basted
    in the broth of God’s righteous indignation? I look forward to
    observing from my post in heaven the exquisite tortures u will suffer at
    the hands of the just and loving God Whom u have rejected, u fuckity
    fucker.

    God bless, RB

    http://old.richarddawkins.net/

    Now admittedly that’s no excuse for anyone else to drop the the level of a snakes belly. But, as an intellectual hero of mine puts it…

    “It would be impossible to imagine going through life without swearing,
    and without enjoying swearing,” he attests. Some would call swearing
    unnecessary, and Fry recontextualizes their argument like so: “It’s not
    necessary to have colored socks. It’s not necessary for this cushion to
    be here. But is anyone going to write in and say, ‘I was shocked to see
    that cushion there! It really wasn’t necessary’? No. Things not being
    necessary is what makes life interesting.”

    The use of epithets has been shown to improve tolerance to pain, but I can understand why religious people shy away…”Profanities in the original meaning of blasphemous profanity are part of the ancient tradition of the comic cults, which laughed and scoffed at the deity or deities.”… I learned my vocabulary growing up in a Christian society, so there ya go.

    I do feel context is everything though. The wanton misuse of profane words such as in the example above just makes the user appear like the lunatic they patently are.

  62. Amos, you send me a link to a list of critical biblical scholars. Is it a
    strong argument to send the opposite list back to you? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L
       Of course it isn’t.

    You seem to be having great difficulty in identifying the concept of what it is to be a unbiased source. A unbiased source is one that is neutral or proclaims that which flies in the face of their position because of the evidence.  So if you can show me an unbelieving biblical scholar who cites the gospels as historically and factually correct, that would be an unbiased source that I would need to address. Have you got any unbelievers who cite the gospels as historically and factually correct?

    This list will be as convincing to you and yours
    was to me. You believe ‘mine’ are uncritical, and I believe ‘yours’ are
    also, in that they interpret the evidence according to their on belief
    system that they have chosen for moral and ethical reasons.

    Oh ffs…mine aren’t mine, they are just there. Many critical bible scholars are Christian, that makes them de facto unbiased.

    I use Bart Ehrman as an excellent example of a scholar, who in spite of his evangelical Christianity, had to accept certain facts…there is no use you burying your head in the sand. Evangelical scholars who can’t accept the evidence in favour of theology are biased sources.

    “Could it be that historical criticism—like the astronomy of Galileo—has
    been destructive not because it is false, but because the church has
    often misunderstood its implications? If so, then we may eventually have
    to face a tragic paradox: the church’s wholesale rejection of
    historical criticism has begotten the irreverent use of Scripture by
    skeptics, thus destroying the faith of some believers while keeping
    unbelievers away from the faith. If this is indeed what has happened and
    is happening, then nothing less is needed than the church’s careful
    reevaluation of its relationship to historical-critical readings of
    Scripture.”

    The
    conviction you have in the power of your own neutral thinking is perhaps
    the key difference between us. You are not a neutral observer of
    evidence and science.

    What is wrong with your ability to grasp some of the basics? Are you being wilfully obtuse? You are not paying attention at all and you call yourself a rational free-thinker. I’ll say it again. Most of us here came from a religious environment. That means that we were not neutral observers in the first place, but not in the way you are asserting. It means that in spite of our religious bias, we were convinced otherwise. Which is something you can’t even claim. Regardless, evidence and science doesn’t care whether the observer is neutral or not. It is what it is. It stands by the method and the data observed and collected. If the data observed and collected is abused by the unscrupulous, that is not the fault of evidence and science.

    There is, I suspect from your posts, no evidence
    that could persuade you to commit your life to an external
    authority, however strong that evidence might be.

    You first have to get over the hurdle of defining that external authority. What are the attributes of your god? How do you know?

    I did explain that I’m an Igtheist.

    “The view that a coherent definition of God
    must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be
    meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition is unfalsifiable, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless. In this case, the concept of God is not considered meaningless; the term “God” is considered meaningless.”

    What evidence would be strong enough to convince you that you’ve got it wrong. What evidence would be strong enough to convince you that you’ve tied your colours to the mast of the wrong external authority?

    You are not neutral,
    you are a product of a relatively recent philosophical/epistemological
    movement and you interpret everything through the lens of it.

    I never professed to be neutral, but you are wrong again when you say I’m the product of a relatively recent philosophical/epistemological
    movement and you interpret everything through the lens of it. Take a look in the mirror Chris, that is you that you’ve just described. There were Atheists and religious believers way before there were Christians…and there were other Christians with different philosophical/epistemological
    views a long time before yours.

    Atheism pre-dates religion…I thought you’d know that.

    I’m quite
    sure you’d say exactly the same of me (apart from the ‘relatively
    recent’ bit) but the fact that you don’t see it in yourself makes these
    interactions as frustrating on my part as they must be on yours.

    I just did…and with the relatively recent bit.  The philosophical/epistemological concepts behind the disbelief in deities can be traced back to the 5th century B.C. with Diagoras of Melos. Socrates is alleged to have been put to death because of his non-belief. he was tried for heresy, a capital offence in ancient Greece.

    The rational thinker has to deduce that the very first human that conceived of the concept of god, must have been an Atheist the day before. How could it be otherwise? You yourself have stated you came from a non-believing origin and I submit that everyone has to have religion planted in their mind, otherwise, everyone would be born with the belief in the same god and the whole subject would be moot.

  63. Another example… I do a Masters in theology, and
    it’ immediately interpreted as me hanging out with evangelical friends
    uncritically nodding along with each other blinded to outside views.

    How many on your course were not then? I can only take the statement of someone who has also taken a Masters in theology as source that this is the case. Is it not?

    One
    of your people does  Masters/Doctorate in Natural Sciences or whatever,
    in a non-Christian, non-believing college surrounded by non-Christians
    and non-believers, reading each others books and articles, and it’s seen
    as a glorious freethinking space of neutral, unbiased rationality.

    Back to the strawmanning…where are you pulling this stuff from Chris?

    Can
    you not see the point I’m making…no-one has yet dealt with this
    adequately, just insultingly.

    You only find it insultingly because you see the lack of respect. You will not get undeserved respect on this site for your personal views. You need to support them convincingly. This is also par for the course with the apologist visitor…next the toys will be out of the pram.

    You describe how you take the views
    seriously of people when they are going against their natural ‘position’
    e.g. a Rabbi who argues against the historicity of the exodus
    narrative.

    This isn’t really that difficult surely. The point isn’t a Rabbi arguing against the historicity of the Exodus, the point is a Rabbi having to accept the evidence, or lack thereof, rather than cling to the coattails of a ridiculous assertion. Surely you have to be able to see that for an eminent Jewish Rabbi to accept that the Exodus is a myth, the evidence must have been pretty overwhelming.

    But that means it’s impossible for a
    Christian scholar, analysing evidence and making
    strong apologetic defences of Christian theism
    and biblical in-errancy to have your respect, as you presume them of
    bias.

    Not at all Chris. But there is a big difference between a Christian scholar and a Christian critical biblical scholar…that is the point, a point you are having dificulty grasping. The first tries to fit the evidence to fit the theology and disregards anything that damns the theology. The later goes where the evidence leads, warts and all. The first is employing bias, the later is not. The first is using bias to reach a conclusion, the later isn’t. These
    are not my rules, they are the rules of the evidence based, rational,
    free-thinking scholarly historians. Perhaps you should brush up on the
    methods used.

    The only person it seems you would listen to is a non-Christian
    scholar who is convicted of the inerrancy of Scripture – but,
    realistically, that’s an impossibility isn’t it?

    This is like pulling hens teeth now. Bart D. Ehrman was a Christian scholar. He remained a Christian scholar in spite of where the evidence took him. His Agnosticism had nothing to do with his coming to the conclusion the gospels are far from inerrant and not historically true accounts…and don’t even profess to be. His Agnosticism was a result of his inability to come to terms with theodicy.

    John D. Crossan is a Christian. Marcus J. Borg is a Christian. Stephen L. Harris is a Christian. Robert W. Funk was a Christian, there are many more. I could list the work of many non-Christians, but then you could play the bias card…I choose not to. Just keep pushing your rock up that hill.

    You only listen to
    biblical critics, not biblical defendants, and you are immediately
    dismissive of people who convert out of atheism.

    Spoiiing!!!

    Issues of supposed
    ‘contradictions’ in Scripture have been dealt with thoroughly and
    convincingly by scholars using evidence and rational thinking, as have
    issues of Pentateuchal authorship and the ‘development’ of monotheism
    prior to the Iron Age.

    Then cite some and we can see how well the contradictions have been dealt with. Let’s start with the aledged conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in the gospel of John…a conversation that does transcribe to Aramaic, the language of a first century itinerant Rabbi of the Palestinian Levant. It could not have taken place. The ambiguity in the Greek word for ‘again’ and ‘above’ does not translate back into Aramaic, so the confusion by Nicodemus would not have happened. This means that one of the most of statements in Christianity, ‘Ye must be born again’, can be shown to be made up by who ever the author of John happened to be.

    You’re acting like there aren’t strong rebuttals
    to many of these theories of yours, like we/ just haven’t thought about
    it.

    I’m not, I’m acting like the rebuttals are anything but strong and the rebuttals don’t review all the evidence. They favor the omission of the evidence to support a theological claim. Provide rebuttals and lets see what we can do. You have yet to respond to my observation that the statement number ten of your preferred champion is inaccurate.

    That’s why I accuse you of having limited reading in some of these
    areas (NOT limited intelligence ..I’m not suggesting you’re not a smart,
    smart guy, just that you’re not looking at everything out there).

    But that is a fallacious comment in it’s own right Chris…and one I could direct right back at you, which you’ve admitted already would be accurate.

    Please read the final book on my list on the previous post for
    example…I really think it will stop you doubting the basic reliability
    of the gospels (I’m not saying it will convert you, of course, just
    that you’ll  realise that this attack is not a suitable one)

    I promise I will have a look to see if there are any new arguments in it, but my reading list is choc-o-block at the moment. You could save some time here by presenting some evidence that the gospels are reliable.

    The Pericope Adulterae is not found in any manuscript prior to the late 4th century. It doesn’t show up until the Codex Bezae of the late 4th or early 5th century.

    ” Bishop J.B. Lightfoot
    wrote that absence of the passage from the earliest manuscripts,
    combined with the occurrence of stylistic characteristics atypical of
    John, together implied that the passage was an interpolation.”

    ” Bart D. Ehrman concurs in Misquoting Jesus, adding that the passage contains many words and phrases otherwise alien to John’s writing.”

    Or maybe the extended ending of the Markian gospel.

    “Most scholars, following the approach of the textual critic Bruce Metzger, hold the view that verses 9-20 were not part of the original text.”

    You’ll never guess who Bruce Metzger is…

    “Metzger was born in Middletown, Pennsylvania, and earned his B.A. (1935) at Lebanon Valley College.
    Metzger had strong academic training in Greek before enrolling in
    Princeton Seminary, and in the summer prior to entering the Seminary, he
    completed reading through the entire Bible consecutively for the
    twelfth time. He received his Th.B. in (1938) at Princeton Theological Seminary, and in the autumn of 1938 began teaching at Princeton as a Teaching Fellow in New Testament Greek. On April 11, 1939, he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. which after mergers is now known as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In 1940, he earned his M.A. from Princeton University and became an Instructor in New Testament. Two years later, he earned his Ph.D. (“Studies in a Greek Gospel Lectionary (Greg. 303)”), also from Princeton University.”

    yep, a Christian scholar…incidentally, he was also Bart Ehrman’s mentor at Princeton.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B

    The current consensus among scholars is that verses 9–20 were not
    part of the original text of Mark but represent a very early addition.

    “Explaining the reason for adding the verses, text critic and author Bart D. Ehrman, without going into much detail about the manuscript-evidence, says:

    Jesus does rise from the dead in Mark’s Gospel. The women go to the
    tomb, the tomb is empty and there is a man there who tells them that
    Jesus has been raised from the dead and that they are to go tell the
    disciples that this has happened. But then the Gospel ends in Codex
    Sinaiticus and other manuscripts by saying the women fled from the tomb
    and didn’t say anything to anyone because they were afraid, period.
    That’s where the Gospel ends. So nobody finds out about it, the
    disciples don’t learn about it, the disciples never see Jesus after the
    resurrection, that’s the end of the story. But later scribes couldn’t
    handle this abrupt ending and they added the 12 verses people find in
    the King James Bible or other Bibles in which Jesus does appear to his
    disciples.”

    Hmmm…I’ll be extremely interested in your rebuttal to that last point.

    realise that this attack is not a suitable one)

  64.  @Paul:disqus
     

    These are not my rules, they are the rules of the evidence based, rational,
    free-thinking scholarly historians. Perhaps you should brush up on the methods used.

    I am still reading this discussion and looking at examples of failures to use proper methods of investigation or checking, resulting in cascades of asserted assumed misconceptions, and confirmation bias cherry-picking.

    Back in the 1990s when I was last teaching science to young children, 93% achieved level 4 or above in their National Curriculum SATs test on investigative scientific methods. – as explained on the “Critical thinking discussion” – http://richarddawkins.net/news
    We have to wonder what it is about theology colleges which keeps their graduates from mastering these basic investigative and reasoning skills.

  65. You keep asking for what ‘evidence’ I have for my belief, but there
    really is no point, as you’re not approaching it rationally and
    neutrally.

    Same old, same old. Not evidence for why you have belief per se, we have discussed the reasons here at length…evidence that the stuff that forms the basis for that belief is the inerrant word of a supernatural deity and not just a bunch of successive story tellers. I won’t elaborate on the rationally and neutrally part, I think, short of drawing a picture, I’ve fully explained my position on that score.

    You turn immediately to the first critical scholar you can
    find who agrees with you, and ignore other critical scholars who agree
    with me (yes, they are critical scholars still), or have written a
    rebuttal of the first one.

    No Chris, unlike you, I don’t…I go out of my way to find sources from the other camp that, even though it might be a point of embarrassment, must concede the fact that the gospels are not historical documents, nor do they claim to be. They are a collection of four story books picked from a big pile of other somewhat similar story books, in the 4th century, with the purpose of unifying a deeply fractious sect-come-religion. You have not cited a single scholar that employs the historical critical method, so no, your scholars are not critical scholars of the bible, they are just scholars of the bible.

    That’s why I’m trying to point out
    the irrationality in your own methodology without getting into pointless
    debates about the authorship of the NT documents.

    This is laughable. It’s not even so much who wrote the books, but when, where and why. Authorship could help answer those question, but authorship of the NT is pointless to you because you have drank the Kool-Aid. In no other discipline would that approach stand. If I was devoting my life to the contents of some books I’d sure as hades want them to be accurate accounts and not just made up nonsense to provide a sense of awe for the principle character.

    Let me use an analogy. Mohammed is proclaimed as the messenger of Allah. He recieved the first message from Allah when rode Al-Buraq, a divine flying steed sent by the Arch-angel Jibril (Gabriel), to transport Mo from Mecca to Jerusalem on what is known in Muslim circles as the ‘Night Journey’. I presume you don’t believe that malarkey lest you be a Muslim too. Why not? Intellectual Islamic scholarship attests to the event as real and having occurred 12 years after Mo became Mo, sometime in the 7th century. How can 1.2 billion Muslims be so irrational?

    Is there irrationality in your methodology to arrive at your conclusion in spite of all Islamic scholarship. Have you even employed a methodology? Of course not…you just employed the ‘smell check’…a quick mental Bayesian logic. Flying horses don’t exist outside mythology to begin with. Yet when I apply critical investigation, I’m using irrational methodology.

    What about Ganesha…a big Elephant headed multi armed deity? How could 600 million Hindus be so irrational…not to mention those other religions that hold Ganesha a god.

    How about Mormonism…ya don’t believe Joseph Smith was visited by two angels who pointed him to a couple of golden plates contain the Word of the Lord…and a special seeing stone from which to fashion magic spectacles in order to read the plates via a special hat. I know it sounds preposterous doesn’t it? Who could believe such absolute rubbish, right? I mean, 14 million Mormons must be wrong, right? Yet they believe their uncritical scholars exactly like you and yours.

    This list is extensive Chris…of course you only looked at one and decided you had landed on your feet, how lucky was that?

    Whose irrationality and poor methodology is muddying the waters now Chris?

  66.  

    Of course some Christian pastors here try to justify the legislation
    from their own faith-perspective, but it’s not hard to point out the
    theological objections and inconsistencies to such an argument, and I do
    try to.

    Brilliant!

  67. I do believe it’s important in debates like this to remember that we’re
    talking to real individuals with real lives. You may have no interest at
    all in this and please don’t feel I expect you to click, but if you
    want to put a face to the name, this is a pic of who we are and what
    we’re doing.

    You have a lovely family there Chris.

    I don’t expect that you must care, but it’s so easy online
    to forget that real people lie behind the words so it’s there if you
    want to see.

    Why wouldn’t I care Chris? You seem like a really nice human being. You obviously believe you are doing the right thing. This is not about personalities though. This is about intellectual discourse. Debate where each side states their argument and supports their position with constructive and verifiable evidence…anything else is wishful thinking. Interactions here for me are more about the silent majority that come to lurk and I hope will learn something. It obviously takes both views to encourage that debate, so for that at the very least you must be congratulated. It’s just that it is not incumbent on me to give you an easy time of it. I want your best shots. Remember you came here so I have to assume you are up for it. Ya wanna try being an unbeliever commenting on a conservative Christian site to see a real hard time.

    I do feel a tiny bit concerned ‘exposing’ myself like this
    with my family to people who clearly don’t like me (or, let me say, what
    I say) so I’d ask you to be respectful with the info, if that makes
    sense!

    I shouldn’t if I were you. No one here hates you..no one here even knows you. We are not a bunch of baby eating monsters, honestly. Because we engage passionately doesn’t mean we are holding disdain for you. Respectfulness is subjective. As a person I’ve no reason so far not to respect you as a person, but you don’t get respect for your beliefs, no more than your politics, your dress sense, your taste in food, your choice of motor vehicle or the music to which you choose to listen. 

     

    I’m hoping this forum is free from spammers, trolls, and nutcases
    (no jokes at this point, please Amos ;-)  http://www.crosslinks.org/miss

    We get more than our fair share of all those…but the moderators are very good at nipping them in the bud early on. Sending nonsense e-mails is not in our nature…that would be both immature and childish.

  68. Ignorant Amos

    Chris “You keep asking for what ‘evidence’ I have for my belief, but there really is no point, as you’re not approaching it rationally and neutrally.”

    This is laughable.

    You are not using that special semantically modified, “theistic rationality”, which starts with its critical thinking in neutral, and having chosen a conclusion, then seeks out stuff that matches the confirmation biases to support it. 
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    This should not of course be confused with evidence based logical reasoning, (as used by scientists historians etc) which is a deductive process based on material evidence, and not an asserted badge of (false) authority stamped on to gossip and speculations!

    The whole concept of “neutrality” is a false dichotomy based on the false assumption that facts are some sort of compromise between viewpoints in the thinking processes of people who depend on confirmation biases and do not seek objective evidence!
    It is the limited thinking which only sees only one view and creates a strawman opposite, rather than looking all the possibilities and following the evidence.

    http://www.atheistmemebase.com

    http://www.atheistmemebase.com

  69. @rdfrs-853de048693ebcdbd1299be3f462e9e2:disqus
     - I do feel a tiny bit concerned ‘exposing’ myself like this with my family to people who clearly don’t like me (or, let me say, whatI say) so I’d ask you to be respectful with the info, if that makes sense!

    You  keep jumping to the wrong conclusions, because of your irrational thinking processes. 
    This is a science site where people care about others.  That means that if someone’s muddled thinking is getting it wrong, they are told so!  It has nothing top do with liking a person. 
    Frankly, leaving them to cause a disaster and then be blamed for it, would be much meaner than hurting their feelings in the short term.

    That’s how it works in science! 
    We don’t have bridges collapsing, aircraft dropping out of the sky, chemical plants blowing up, or doctors killing people, because nobody wants to upset those people making the mistakes, by telling them they are making a mess of the job, using the wrong information, or failing to think it through.

    Generally, scientists and engineers, thank people for correcting their errors. 
    Theists more often sit in denial being “offended”!
    It is a difference of attitude, but it means that scientists discard erroneous ideas and accumulate verified knowledge, while theists fragment into sects and cults, grouped according to shared misconceptions and delusions.

  70. Looks like this thread is becoming a bit of a “Fleabytes 2.0″   (Remember those heady days? There is a link – I was alerted to this following article from the Wee Flea’s tweets…..)

    Anyway, here is a fascinating article about the decline of evangelicalism in America. Its not just here. And its not just liberals……..

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12

    :-)SG

  71. Hi folks,

    I’m going away for a handful of days from tomorrow morning to Jinja (Source of the Nile – you must visit if you ever find yourself in Uganda) and will be offline. Let me raise a few things, but I’m going to call it a day soon on this thread if that’s ok. I think I’ve posted enough to hopefully avoid more accusations of running away because the going is getting tough. It’s 1 against many here, and my wife is starting to complain that I’m spending too much time on this, and she possibly has a point. It’s 1am Kampala time. I appreciate this gives you guys the last word and I think that’s fair game as I’m on your territory. If there’s major things raised or asked, maybe we could continue but you guys must feel ready to move on soon, as I do. 

    “You have a lovely family there Chris.” Thank you so much! Just as I found my BP rising a little you brought it right back down again! I have undeservedly fallen on my feet, I must admit. They are really amazing. Thank you again.

    “Remember you came here so I have to assume you are up for it.” A fair point. I do remind myself that I found you, not the other way round. “Ya wanna try being an unbeliever commenting on a conservative Christian site to
    see a real hard time.” Would you be able to post a link to a forum where you’ve been debating with a group of conservative (protestant evangelical?) Christians. I would honestly love to see how it went…give us the ones you’re proud of and the ones less so! I appreciate the links might not still be there though, but if you can?

    ” The current consensus among scholars is that verses 9–20 were
    not part of the
    original text of Mark but represent a very early addition.” Agreed. No problem at all with that – Mark 9-20 or John 8. In fact I teach just that to my students here, and point out that all their Bibles have footnotes in them which explain exactly that. I don’t really get why this should be a problem to Christians at all? I can see exactly why some good-willed monk has added a finale to Mark, but I think there are some theological reasons why Mark maybe, just maybe, finished on v8. However perhaps on balance of play we have to go with a lost-ending of some sort. John 8 I think probably is of Johannine authorship, but is almost certainly not originally of where it has been placed now. Because of the confusion I wouldn’t preach on it though or even quote it in any authoritative sense, but I enjoy it greatly as a pericopae and hope that some archaeological find might one day prove it’s existence in the original book. I’d love to preach on it! 

    Nicodemus and Jesus in Aramaic  A repeated point made by Erhman. A significant mistake and misunderstanding on his part. http://katachriston.wordpress….

    I said ” That’s why I’m
    trying to point out the irrationality in your own methodology without getting into
    pointless debates about the authorship of the NT documents.” You replied “This is laughable. It’s not even so much who wrote
    the books, but when, where and why. Authorship could help answer those
    question, but authorship of the NT is pointless to you because you have drank
    the Kool-Aid. In no other discipline would that approach stand. If I was
    devoting my life to the contents of some books I’d sure as hades want them to
    be accurate accounts and not just made up nonsense to provide a sense of awe
    for the principle character.” Sir, you misunderstood my point. Of course authorship matters. Goodness it was one of the central reasons why I was convicted of NT reliability in the first place. My point was not that authorship doesn’t matter, but that debating on this thread quoting evangelical scholars employing contemporary reasoning on linguistics, textual criticism, and form criticism just seems to result in you guys disregarding what these scholars say simply because they are evangelical, and therefore not critical. That’s why I avoided bringing up issues of NT authorship, among others. 

    “This is also par for the course with the apologist
    visitor…next the toys will be out of the pram.” I hope you’ll agree that I’ve avoided this, even when muchos provocation has come my way, and if all I’ve achieved is to break the mould slightly of theists visiting this site, then, well, hey. 

    I said “But that means it’s
    impossible for a Christian scholar, analysing evidence and making 

    strong apologetic defences of Christian theism and biblical in-errancy to have your respect, as you
    presume them of bias.” You replied “Not at all Chris. But there is a big difference
    between a Christian scholar and a Christian critical biblical scholar…that is
    the point, a point you are having difficulty grasping. The first tries to fit
    the evidence to fit the theology and disregards anything that damns the
    theology. The later goes where the evidence leads, warts and all. The first is
    employing bias, the later is not. The first is using bias to reach a
    conclusion, the later isn’t.” I do understand this point, I honestly do, but you have not consistently argued in terms of evidence, just in terms of their belief system. I quote Michael Kruger using facts and rational thinking to defend the NT canon, and the first comment that comes up is that he’s a Christian pastor and therefore must be biased and ignored! I want to suggest to you that there are many Christian critical biblical scholars out there who are critically convinced of the veracity of the NT witness as evangelical protestants. Notice I said critically…they are not using evidence to confirm their beliefs, they are coming to, and continuing with, their beliefs based on the evidence. They are engaging with biblical scholars disputing NT reliability, and answering them. Richard Bauckham, Tom Wright, Darryl Bock, Craig Blomberg, and many others. They are coming to, and continuing in, belief even when it is deeply inconvenient for their careers or reputations to do so.  These people are smart and have fought for years against the tide of biblical disbelief in the academy, presumably at the cost of their own peer-reputations and career progression at times. You obviously admire Erhman’s ‘journey’ in life but you really think it was that inconvenient for him to switch? I’m sorry, but you don’t really believe that all non-believing scholars base their work only on evidence, fact, and rational thought do you? Without even a hint of realisation that to disagree with the common position in the academy on these matters can make their professional lives more difficult? Come on… If you’re consistent in your line of thought you should listen very closely to what some of the above men say, because when you think about it they really do fit your criteria for who is worth listening to. You say “I go out of my way to find sources from the other camp that,
    even though it might be a point of embarrassment, must concede the fact that
    the gospels are not historical documents” Do you go out of your way to listen to  sources form the other camp that, even though it might be a point of embarrassment, must concede the fact that the gospels are historical documents?

    I said “It is very convenient for many people to be agnostic” You said “No I don’t think it is, especially when the individual in question has so much invested in being a Christian….and an evangelical Christian at that. Perhaps you might wish to refrain from commenting further until you get up to speed…it will save face.” A life lived free from any moral or ethical imperatives? I have absolutely no idea about Erhman’s personal life and I’m not speaking about him, but you must see that, as well as the ‘professional’ reasons given above, there are moral reasons which may shape interpretation of evidence. If you deny this, then I think we’ve put our finger on why we’re just not going to meet over these issues. 

    You said ” A unbiased source is one that is neutral or proclaims that which flies in the face of their position because of the evidence.  So if you can show me an unbelieving biblical scholar who cites the gospels as historically and factually correct, that would be an unbiased source that I would need to address. Have you got any unbelievers who cite the gospels as historically and factually correct?” Of course not. If they believed that and were consistent in their beliefs, they wouldn’t be unbelievers. You’ve made my point better than I could have. You’ve cleverly set up a system that can only allow ‘Erhmans’ in and no-one else. 

    I said “I think some here
    are overly-confident that Christianity is dying out, and I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it really, really isn’t.” You said “Aye it is…in the western first world, and the educated parts of the 3rd world, it really, really is…I’m sorry to disappoint you. That’s why 

    you are in Uganda” And to think that I get accused of “psychological projection and assertion without evidence” (Alan) and then get this thrown back at me. Wow. Please do tell me more about why I’m in Uganda! 

    You asked me name bad deeds done in the name of atheism. Is murder bad enough? Check out the French Revolution… “Another anti-clerical uprising was made possible by the instalment of the Revolutionary Calendar on 24 October. Hébert’s and Chaumette’s atheist movement initiated an anti-religious campaign in order to dechristianise society. The program of dechristianisation waged against Catholicism, and eventually against all forms of Christianity, included the deportation or execution of clergy; the closing of churches; the rise of cults and the institution of a civic religion; the large scale destruction of religious monuments; the outlawing of public and private worship and religious education; the forced abjurement of priests of their vows and forced marriages of the clergy; the word “saint” being removed from street names; and the War in the Vendée.2 The enactment of a law on 21 October 1793 made all suspected priests and all persons who harboured them liable to death” (Wikipedia: reign of terror) Check out former communist states too. I know you’ll say that wasn’t done in the name of atheism, but come on. Religious folk persecuted and killed by communists whose key tenet (well, one of the key tenets) was to seek the destruction of religion and those who practice it. 

    You also asked me to prove that I engage with and have non-Christians as friends. “Prove it” You said. Come again? What would suffice here? Names? Addresses? Letters from them to you affirming our friendship? I know you’re trying to ‘cleanse’ this thread of un-evidenced thought, but when personal experience, impossible to quantify, becomes unacceptable in this courtroom as part of an argument in the context of evidenced thought, then one wonders if you too have, like the French revolutionists above, erected a statue to the goddess ‘reason’. Look through your own posts and testimonies…personal experiences are used everywhere and I haven’t asked you to ‘prove it’ everytime.

    You said “But I can put my hand on my heart and tell you that my curt and direct way of interacting isn’t a pale on some of the Christian diatribe we see here.” and then quote that ‘interesting’ (!!)  letter to Professor Dawkins with the letter ‘f’ appearing more regularly than statistically should be expected in English. You’re arguing that Christians are ruder than you and then quote from a letter which is quite clearly from, in your own words, a lunatic. I appreciate this isn’t the most important point on the thread, but some fallacious argumentation here, too? Type the word ‘Jesus’, ‘Bible’ or ‘Christian’ into YouTube. click on the first video that appears, and scroll down to the comments. There’s foul-mouthed fruitcakes galore there in the name of atheism, but I wouldn’t choose to quote them at you in support of my point. I chose to quote you. 

    You said “Atheism is the default position. Everyone is born Atheist…belief
    in a deity has to be planted there.” Then surely, logically, theism would have never have emerged at all? Chicken or egg? I’m afraid my experiences suggest that the much more rational explanation is given by Paul in Romans 1 who speaks of non-believers “suppressing the truth”  The presence of religion across all societies and cultures throughout history would suggest that it is the default position. Atheism comes later. And I’m convinced by Paul’s understanding in Romans 1:18-32 as to why it comes. If you do happen to take the time to look that up, please also do me a favour and keep on going to 3:26. You’ll see why.

    There are clearly, well, probably, silent lurkers reading so gentlemen, please feel free finish off the thread and I hope it’s been time enjoyably spent for you as it has me and, hopefully, those reading. I wish you all the very best in the future and maybe we’ll talk more. If you ever find yourselves in Uganda, please don’t hesitate (I’m not kidding here! Although I appreciate you may have better things to do!) to get in touch and we could talk more over a beer. chrishowles10@hotmail:disqus.com (your kind reassurances earlier have convinced me it’s safe to be open with photographs, email addresses etc.) Again, with warmest regards to you all, Chris

    p.s. Scottish Geologist I’m aware that I haven’t yet touched on the good point about Adam and Eve and Denis Alexander etc. (search above..it’s there somewhere!) but let me have your email and I will try and think more in the coming weeks. It is a good point. No worries if not, but I’m not trying to hide from it, but I can’t answer it now I’m afraid. Thanks for your understanding. 

     

  72. I wrote a massive post, but it’s not being accepted. Let em try and break it into parts…

    Hi folks,
    I’m going away for a handful of days from tomorrow morning to Jinja (Source of the Nile – you must visit if you ever find yourself in Uganda) and will be offline. Let me raise a few things, but I’m going to call it a day soon on this thread if that’s ok. I think I’ve posted enough to hopefully avoid more accusations of running away because the going is getting tough. It’s 1 against many here, and my wife is starting to complain that I’m spending too much time on this, and she possibly has a point. It’s 1am Kampala time. I appreciate this gives you guys the last word and I think that’s fair game as I’m on your territory. If there’s major things raised or asked, maybe we could continue but you guys must feel ready to move on soon, as I do. 

    “You have a lovely family there Chris.” Thank you so much! Just as I found my BP rising a little you brought it right back down again! I have undeservedly fallen on my feet, I must admit. They are really amazing. Thank you again.

    “Remember you came here so I have to assume you are up for it.” A fair point. I do remind myself that I found you, not the other way round. “Ya wanna try being an unbeliever commenting on a conservative Christian site to see a real hard time.” Would you be able to post a link to a forum where you’ve been debating with a group of conservative (protestant evangelical?) Christians. I would honestly love to see how it went…give us the ones you’re proud of and the ones less so! I appreciate the links might not still be there though, but if you can?

    ” The current consensus among scholars is that verses 9–20 were not part of the original text of Mark but represent a very early addition.” Agreed. No problem at all with that – Mark 9-20 or John 8. In fact I teach just that to my students here, and point out that all their Bibles have footnotes in them which explain exactly that. I don’t really get why this should be a problem to Christians at all? I can see exactly why some good-willed monk has added a finale to Mark, but I think there are some theological reasons why Mark maybe, just maybe, finished on v8. However perhaps on balance of play we have to go with a lost-ending of some sort. John 8 I think probably is of Johannine authorship, but is almost certainly not originally of where it has been placed now. Because of the confusion I wouldn’t preach on it though or even quote it in any authoritative sense, but I enjoy it greatly as a pericopae and hope that some archaeological find might one day prove it’s existence in the original book. I’d love to preach on it! 

    Nicodemus and Jesus in Aramaic  A repeated point made by Erhman. A significant mistake and misunderstanding on his part. http://katachriston.wordpress….

  73.  

     Part two…continued…

    I said ” That’s why I’m trying to point out the irrationality in
    your own methodology without getting into pointless debates about the
    authorship of the NT documents.” You replied “This is laughable.
    It’s not even so much who wrote the books, but when, where and why. Authorship
    could help answer those question, but authorship of the NT is pointless to you
    because you have drank the Kool-Aid. In no other discipline would that approach
    stand. If I was devoting my life to the contents of some books I’d sure as
    hades want them to be accurate accounts and not just made up nonsense to
    provide a sense of awe for the principle character.” Sir, you
    misunderstood my point. Of course authorship matters. Goodness it was one of
    the central reasons why I was convicted of NT reliability in the first place.
    My point was not that authorship doesn’t matter, but that debating on this
    thread quoting evangelical scholars employing contemporary reasoning on linguistics,
    textual criticism, and form criticism just seems to result in you guys
    disregarding what these scholars say simply because they are
    evangelical, and therefore not critical. That’s why I avoided bringing up
    issues of NT authorship, among others. 

    “This
    is also par for the course with the apologist visitor…next the toys will be
    out of the pram.” I hope you’ll agree that I’ve avoided this, even when
    muchos provocation has come my way, and if all I’ve achieved is to break the
    mould slightly of theists visiting this site, then, well, hey. 

    I said “But that means it’s impossible for
    a Christian scholar, analysing evidence and making 

    strong apologetic defences
    of Christian
    theism and biblical in-errancy to have your
    respect, as you presume them of bias.” You replied “Not
    at all Chris. But there is a big difference between a Christian scholar and a
    Christian critical biblical scholar…that is the point, a point you are
    having difficulty grasping. The first tries to fit the evidence to
    fit the theology and disregards anything that damns the theology. The later
    goes where the evidence leads, warts and all. The first is employing bias, the
    later is not. The first is using bias to reach a conclusion, the later
    isn’t.” I do understand this point, I honestly do, but you have not
    consistently argued in terms of evidence, just in terms of their belief system.
    I quote Michael Kruger using facts and rational thinking to defend the NT
    canon, and the first comment that comes up is that he’s a Christian pastor and
    therefore must be biased and ignored! I want to suggest to you that there are
    many Christian critical biblical scholars out
    there who are critically convinced of the veracity of the NT witness as
    evangelical protestants. Notice I said critically…they are not using evidence
    to confirm their beliefs, they are coming to, and continuing with, their
    beliefs based on the evidence. They are engaging with biblical scholars
    disputing NT reliability, and answering them. Richard Bauckham, Tom Wright,
    Darryl Bock, Craig Blomberg, and many others. They are coming to, and
    continuing in, belief even when it is deeply inconvenient for their careers or
    reputations to do so.  These people are smart and have fought for
    years against the tide of biblical disbelief in the academy, presumably at the
    cost of their own peer-reputations and career progression at
    times. You obviously admire Erhman’s ‘journey’ in life but you really think it
    was that inconvenient for him to switch? I’m
    sorry, but you don’t really believe that all non-believing scholars base
    their work only on evidence, fact, and rational thought do you? Without even a
    hint of realisation that to disagree with the common position in the academy on
    these matters can make their professional lives more difficult? Come on… If
    you’re consistent in your line of thought you should listen very closely to
    what some of the above men say, because when you think about it they really do
    fit your criteria for who is worth listening to. You say “I go out of my
    way to find sources from the other camp that, even though it might be a point
    of embarrassment, must concede the fact that the gospels are not historical
    documents” Do you go out of your way to listen to  sources form the
    other camp that, even though it might be a point of embarrassment,
    must concede the fact that the gospels are historical documents?

     

     

  74. part 3…continued….

    I
    said “It
    is very convenient for many people to be agnostic” You said “No
    I don’t think it is, especially when the individual in question has so much
    invested in being a Christian….and an evangelical Christian at that. Perhaps
    you might wish to refrain from commenting further until you get up to
    speed…it will save face.” A life lived free from any moral or ethical
    imperatives? I have absolutely no idea about Erhman’s personal life and I’m not
    speaking about him, but you must see that, as well as the ‘professional’
    reasons given above, there are moral reasons which may shape interpretation of
    evidence. If you deny this, then I think we’ve put our finger on why we’re just
    not going to meet over these issues. 

    You
    said ” A
    unbiased source is one that is neutral or proclaims that which flies in the
    face of their position because of the evidence.  So if you can show me an
    unbelieving biblical scholar who cites the gospels as historically and
    factually correct, that would be an unbiased source that I would need to
    address. Have you got any unbelievers who cite the gospels as historically and
    factually correct?” Of course not. If they believed that and were
    consistent in their beliefs, they wouldn’t be unbelievers. You’ve made my point
    better than I could have. You’ve cleverly set up a system that can only allow
    ‘Erhmans’ in and no-one else. 

    I said “I think some here
    are overly-confident that Christianity is dying out, and I’m sorry to
    disappoint you, but it really, really isn’t.” You said “Aye it
    is…in the western first world, and the educated parts of the 3rd world,
    it really, really is…I’m sorry to disappoint you. That’s why 

    you
    are in Uganda” And to think that I get accused of “psychological
    projection and assertion without evidence” (Alan) and then get this thrown
    back at me. Wow. Please do tell me more about why I’m in Uganda! 

    You asked me name bad deeds done in the
    name of atheism. Is murder bad enough? Check out the French Revolution…
    “Another anti-clerical uprising was made
    possible by the instalment of the Revolutionary Calendar on 24 October. Hébert’s and Chaumette’s atheist movement initiated
    an anti-religious campaign in order to dechristianise society. The program of
    dechristianisation waged against Catholicism, and eventually against all forms
    of Christianity, included the deportation or execution of clergy;
    the closing of churches; the rise of cults and the institution of
    a civic religion; the large scale destruction of religious monuments; the
    outlawing of public and private worship and religious education; the forced
    abjurement of priests of their vows and forced marriages of the clergy; the word
    “saint” being removed from street names; and the War in the Vendée.2 The
    enactment of a law on 21 October 1793 made all suspected priests and all
    persons who harboured them liable to death” (Wikipedia:
    reign of terror) Check out former communist states too. I know you’ll say that
    wasn’t done in the name of atheism, but come
    on. Religious folk persecuted and killed
    by communists whose key tenet (well, one of the key tenets) was to
    seek the destruction of religion and those who practice it. 

  75. part 4…continued… (and ongoing apologies that my posts look so awful when yours are all formatted so nicely!)

    You also asked me to prove that I
    engage with and have non-Christians as friends. “Prove it” You said.
    Come again? What would suffice here? Names? Addresses? Letters from them to you
    affirming our friendship? I know you’re trying to ‘cleanse’ this thread of
    un-evidenced thought, but when personal experience, impossible to quantify,
    becomes unacceptable in this courtroom as part of an argument in the context of
    evidenced thought, then one wonders if you too have, like the French
    revolutionists above, erected a statue to the goddess ‘reason’. Look through
    your own posts and testimonies…personal experiences are used everywhere and I
    haven’t asked you to ‘prove it’ everytime.

     

     

    You said “But
    I can put my hand on my heart and tell you that my curt and direct way of
    interacting isn’t a pale on some of the Christian diatribe we see here.”
    and then quote that ‘interesting’ (!!)  letter to Professor Dawkins with
    the letter ‘f’ appearing more regularly than statistically should be expected
    in English. You’re arguing that Christians are ruder than you and
    then quote from a letter which is quite clearly from, in your own words, a
    lunatic. I appreciate this isn’t the most important point on the thread, but
    some fallacious argumentation here, too? Type the word ‘Jesus’, ‘Bible’ or
    ‘Christian’ into YouTube. click on the first video that appears,
    and scroll down to the comments. There’s foul-mouthed fruitcakes galore there
    in the name of atheism, but I wouldn’t choose to quote them at you in support
    of my point. I chose to quote you. 

     

    You said “Atheism is the default
    position. Everyone is born Atheist…belief in a deity has to be planted
    there.” Then surely, logically, theism would have never have emerged at
    all? Chicken or egg? I’m afraid my experiences suggest that the much more
    rational explanation is given by Paul in Romans 1 who speaks of non-believers
    “suppressing the truth”  The presence of religion across
    all societies and cultures throughout history would suggest that it is the
    default position. Atheism comes later. And I’m convinced by Paul’s
    understanding in Romans 1:18-32 as to why it comes. If you do happen to take
    the time to look that up, please also do me a favour and keep on going to 3:26.
    You’ll see why.

    There are clearly, well, probably,
    silent lurkers reading so gentlemen, please feel free finish off the thread and
    I hope it’s been time enjoyably spent for you as it has me and, hopefully,
    those reading. I wish you all the very best in the future and maybe we’ll
    talk more. If you ever find yourselves in Uganda, please don’t hesitate
    (I’m not kidding here! Although I appreciate you
    may have better things to do!) to get in touch and we could
    talk more over a beer. chrishowles10hotmail.com (your kind
    reassurances earlier have convinced me it’s safe to be open with photographs,
    email addresses etc.) Again, with warmest regards to you all, Chris

    p.s. Scottish Geologist I’m aware that
    I haven’t yet touched on the good point about Adam and Eve and Denis
    Alexander etc. (search above..it’s there somewhere!) but let me have your
    email and I will try and think more in the coming weeks. It is a good point. No
    worries if not, but I’m not trying to hide from it, but I can’t answer it now
    I’m afraid. Thanks for your understanding. 

  76. I’ll pick out afew items from the continuing cascade of blinkered assertions!

    chrishowles10
    You asked me name bad deeds done in the name of atheism. Is murder bad enough? Check out the French Revolution… ”

    .. and all those HISTORIANS thought it was a revolt AGAINST the abuses of royalty, aristocrats, and elitist cardinals!

    Do you go out of your way to listen to  sources form the other camp
    that, even though it might be a point of embarrassment, must concede the
    fact that the gospels are historical documents?

    Ah! The stuff presented by evangelists as “evidence”!

    – scottishgeologist  – Looks like this thread is becoming a bit of a “Fleabytes 2.0″  

    Antway – cutting through the verbosity:-

      . . A life lived free from any moral or ethical imperatives? I have absolutely no idea about Erhman’s personal life and I’m not speaking about him, but you must see that, as well as the ‘professional’
    reasons given above, there are moral reasons which may shape interpretation of evidence.

    The old “Only Xtian dogmas provide morals fallacy” is trotted out as a REASON for using confirmation bias to select made-up stories as “evidence”, in the absence of confirmed evidence (such as original carbon-dated documents in languages of the time, stone inscriptions, coins, artefacts, archaeology etc) or as basis for rejecting this sort of supported evidence in favour of mythology or recently invented fiction!

    If “scholars” have to take a vote on what is a “fact” then no soundly evidenced information is available.  If any conclusive evidence (as for the existence and activities of Roman emperors/ generals/ centurians /priests or Egyptian Pharaohs) exists there is no need for a vote.  No historians have votes about if the Emperor Hadrian existed or commanded the building of various structures!  They have evidence, indications, or admit to the absence of evidence and the need for more investigations.

    If you deny this, then I think we’ve put our finger on why we’re just not going to meet over these issues. 

    Indeed!  Those who use blind faith and confirmation bias, as a basis for thinking (comically calling this “reasoning”and “evidence” ), will doggedly stick to their dogmatic views, regardless of: evidence, the absence of evidence,  or reasoning.

    “My ‘scholar’ tells me more things I like to hear, than your scholar!” has never been a system for establishing facts or working systems , but has been repeatedly established as the cause disasters, when accident investigators have looked at the history of events!

  77. chrishowles10 –
      You (Amos)  said  

      ” A unbiased source is one that is neutral or proclaims that which flies in the face of their position because of the evidence.  So if you can show me an unbelieving biblical scholar who cites the gospels as historically and factually correct, that would be an unbiased source that I would need to address.
    Have you got any unbelievers who cite the gospels as historically and factually correct?”

    Of course not. If they believed that and were consistent in their beliefs, they wouldn’t be unbelievers. You’ve made my point better than I could have. You’ve cleverly set up a system that can only allow
    ‘Erhmans’ in and no-one else. 

    Oh dear Chris!  In your little world-view, everybody has confirmation bias as a way of thinking, and nobody has the academic honesty or integrity to seek out evidenced information!

     
    I said “I think some here are overly-confident that Christianity is dying out, and I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it really, really isn’t.” You (Amos) said  

     
    “Aye it is…in the western first world, and the educated parts of the 3rd world,it really, really is…I’m sorry to disappoint you. That’s why you are in Uganda”

     
    And to think that I get accused of “psychological projection and assertion without evidence” (Alan)

     
    There is a massive list of straw-atheist positions which are simply psychologically projected (see footnote) reversals of the isolation of theological colleges and evangelical communities, from the educated, rational, critical, thinking, of other academic disciplines, along with the reverse projection on to atheists of the “confirmation bias as a thinking and information selection process”, you have demonstrated here.

       and then get this thrown back at me. Wow. Please do tell me more about why I’m in Uganda!  

     
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Declining Xtianity – Amos – “Aye it is…in the western first world, and the educated parts of the 3rd world,

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E… - 
    Education is important for a successful post-conflict transition in Northern Uganda (see Conflict in Northern Uganda), as it helps develop peoples’ abilities to break free of circles of violence and suffering.[3] 
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Uganda’s Universal Primary Education (UPE) has resulted in high enrolment rates in Northern Uganda, but education tends to be of a low quality and few pupils actually complete primary school.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    There are inadequate facilities; e.g. out of 238 primary schools in Pader, 47 are still under trees, limited teacher accommodation is causing high rates of teacher absenteeism and in some areas the average primary school teacher to student ratio is 1:200.[4]
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Furthermore, there is some evidence to suggest completion of secondary school is necessary to provide an individual with a proper chance to escape poverty, as employment and income levels for those who completed primary schools are similar to those who did not attend at all.[5]
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    There region has particular difficulties as teachers are hard to find, the conflict created a lost generation without an adequate education themselves and teachers from other areas are still highly concerned
    about security in the region.[6]
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Special attention to education in the region is required to ensure the fragile peace does not deteriorate into full scale conflict once more.

    So what is difficult to understand about Xtianity latching on to trusting people desperate for proper education, and declining in areas where people understand proper education is, objective evidence based scientific methodology and the verified information it provides?
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    Footnote
    Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people.
    Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings.

    Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them.

    An example of this behavior might be blaming another for self failure. The mind may avoid the discomfort of consciously admitting personal faults by keeping those feelings unconscious, and by redirecting libidinal satisfaction by attaching, or “projecting,” those same faults onto another person or object. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P

  78.  

    It’s 1 against many here, and my wife is starting to complain that I’m
    spending too much time on this, and she possibly has a point.

    Daniel went into the lions den…of course the Book of Daniel is a yarn too.

  79.  

    Would you be able to post a link to a forum where you’ve been debating
    with a group of conservative (protestant evangelical?) Christians. I
    would honestly love to see how it went…give us the ones you’re proud
    of and the ones less so! I appreciate the links might not still be there
    though, but if you can?

    Oh it’s been a while since I’ve been into the lions den. Only online newspaper ‘comments’ recently. Religious sites have admins that jump all over the heathens and challenging comments are removed forthwith. Even Facebook are at it. Banning Atheists who comment about the non existance of gods while allowing Christians to damn unbelievers to an eternity of the worst imaginable suffering that a body could think up. Now Atheist are at liberty to visit religious pages and engage in the same immature and childish antics, but that would be…childish and immature.

    http://www.change.org/petition

  80.   chrishowles10
    Check out former communist states too.
    I know you’ll say that wasn’t done in the name of atheism, but come on.
    Religious folk persecuted and killed by communists whose key tenet (well, one of the key tenets) was to seek the destruction of religion and those who practice it. 

    Ah! The conclusions of those “faith-based thinking” processes and blinker specs! -  I think there is a clue to the fallacious thinking, in the word “Communism” (not “atheism”)!

    Communist ideology opposed & attacked religious opponents who opposed Communist ideology, supported Czarists, or just happened to be victims of Stalin’s paranoia – like many of his fellow Communists.

    Theist “faith-thinking” without evidence,  will tell you that any anti-theists attacking a religious group must be atheists rather than political ideologues!   – like all those “nasty Muslim atheists” attacking Hindus, Buddhists, Xtians and Jews where religion is mixed with politics.

  81. The current consensus among scholars is that verses 9–20 were not part of the original
    text of Mark but represent a very early addition.

    Agreed. No problem
    at all with that – Mark 9-20 or John 8. In fact I teach just that to
    my students here, and point out that all their Bibles have footnotes in
    them which explain exactly that. I don’t really get why this should be a
    problem to Christians at all?

    It’s not a problem to Christians. If a Christian can belive the other nonsense in the Bible is true, then the fact that these bits are not, shouldn’t be too big a hurdle to negotiate either. What they prove is that the NT is not the divinely inspired inerrant word. What they prove is that at least some of the scripture isn’t to be trusted. What they do prove is that your claim that the gospels are historically accurate, is bogus.

    I can see exactly why some good-willed
    monk has added a finale to Mark, but I think there are some
    theological reasons why Mark maybe, just maybe, finished on
    v8.

    You can see exactly why making stuff up about the Lord Jesus Christ, good-willed or otherwise, in contravention to one of the ten commandments, or Jesus’ commandment in Matthew 19:18 for that matter. Furthermore, well meaning scribes not withstanding, upon knowing its interpolation, its inclusion was continued, therefore historical accuracy was obviously of little consideration as opposed to theology.

    However perhaps on balance of play we have to go with a lost-ending
    of some sort. John 8 I think probably is of Johannine authorship, but is
    almost certainly not originally of where it has been placed now.
    Because of the confusion I wouldn’t preach on it though or even quote it
    in any authoritative sense, but I enjoy it greatly as a pericopae and
    hope that some archaeological find might one day prove it’s existence in
    the original book. I’d love to preach on it!

    You won’t preach on it because you lack confidence in its veracity. So by your own admission, the gospel is not historically accurate. And yet, there is no doubt in the veracity of many of the other dubious parts. I wonder why.

  82. Ignorant Amos – The current consensus among scholars is that verses 9–20 were not part of the original text of Mark but represent a very early addition.

    Original text?????  – early additions ???????  Given that nothing was written within decades of supposed events!!!! – and that the selected “NT gospels” were cherry picked from the many (written over the ensuing years), about 300 years later – Original text ??????

    BTW there is an underlying presumption in Chris’s posts that we are being given “new enlightening information”, and have not looked at Biblical literalist,  fundigelical views before!!
    It looks like more projection of the lack of understanding of the diverse positions of atheists, humanists and other religions, which have been fudged around with the straw positions from the “theology college explanations”, which we have seen so often before!

  83. I hope you’ll agree that I’ve avoided this, even when muchos provocation
    has come my way, and if all I’ve achieved is to break the mould
    slightly of theists visiting this site, then, well, hey.

    You are doing well. The number of regular religious that come here and don’t loss it can be counted on one hand. We have a C of E minister and a  Ahmadiyya‎ Muslim among them. Evangelicals don’t usually last long, but then I can’t remember a pastor with a Masters among them.

    What I have noticed, you choose your rebukes carefully…I guess that is just part of your cherry-picking training.

  84. That’s why you are in Uganda”

    And to think that I get accused of “psychological
    projection and assertion without evidence” (Alan) and then get this
    thrown back at me. Wow. Please do tell me more about why I’m in Uganda!

    Don’t you read your own links, or perhaps you didn’t think I’d pay that much attention, a common failure with holy rollers….according to the Crosslinks website, you are a missionary. Your work…

    “A huge variety of placements – but always with the aim of taking God’s
    Word to God’s World through front-line evangelism and the training of
    trainers.  Crosslinks
    has people teaching in churches and theological colleges, doing student
    work, English teaching in Bible colleges, working with commercial sex
    workers, working with returnees (those who have studied abroad and
    returned to their home country as Christians), theological literature
    work, youth work, working with vulnerable children and training
    children’s ministry workers.”

    So unless I’m being a bit simple and your own website is lying…proselytising is your game.

    “Proselytising is the active attempt to convert someone to a particular
    faith system or religion by direct or indirect means.  Proselytising
    includes requiring people to attend religious services or meetings, or
    using goods, services, meals, or shelter as an incentive to conversion.

  85. You said “But I can put my hand on my heart and tell you that my curt
    and direct way of interacting isn’t a pale on some of the Christian
    diatribe we see here.” and then quote that ‘interesting’ (!!)  letter to
    Professor Dawkins with the letter ‘f’ appearing more regularly than
    statistically should be expected in English. You’re arguing
    that Christians are ruder than you and then quote from a letter which is
    quite clearly from, in your own words, a lunatic. I appreciate this
    isn’t the most important point on the thread, but some fallacious
    argumentation here, too? Type the word ‘Jesus’, ‘Bible’ or ‘Christian’
    into YouTube. click on the first video that appears, and scroll down to
    the comments. There’s foul-mouthed fruitcakes galore there in the name
    of atheism, but I wouldn’t choose to quote them at you in support of my
    point. I chose to quote you.

    I’m not arguing that Christians are ruder than me…how could anyone even prove such a subjective assertion. I’m arguing that many many Christians ARE rude and abusive. They come here just to be rude and abusive…and I linked to some evidence to support my point, though in the general forum the moderators are quick to remove rude or abusive comments. I’ve been neither rude nor abusive to you as far as I can see. Yet even though you have complained about your lack of time to address many of the more important points being made, you’ve found the time to complain about the time you haven’t got, and to complain about the tone of some of the discussion. That’s called ‘tone trolling’ in the blogosphere and another par for the course here. http://rabett.blogspot.com.es/

    My point was to outline that no one gets to set the tone of the debate other than the mods. Everyone is free not to engage if they want to be dismissive, but the argument is still the argument.

    That said, It is the ‘Christians’ that are constantly harping on about having the moral high ground according to the good book. There should really be no rude remarks from Christians any where. You have done it on this thread in compartmenting believers and non-believers. You’ve classified your friends along the very same lines. Yet the evidence is counter to that position when its appraised. Is the lesson of Christ really that hard to learn? The bigotry, misogyny, downright sectarian nastiness in Christianity is apparent for everyone with open eyes to see. I may sometimes use colourful epithets that you do not particularly like, but you need to suck it up, there are parts of your technique that far from enthral me too. As long as I’m not being abusive or objectively rude, or indeed you are not being abusive or objectively rude, anything goes. By objectively rude, I mean in a way the majority of folk would see it, not just evangelical Christians, and more importantly, the moderators.

  86. You also asked me to prove that I engage with and have non-Christians as
    friends. “Prove it” You said. Come again? What would suffice here?
    Names? Addresses? Letters from them to you affirming our friendship? I
    know you’re trying to ‘cleanse’ this thread of un-evidenced thought, but
    when personal experience, impossible to quantify, becomes unacceptable
    in this courtroom as part of an argument in the context of evidenced
    thought, then one wonders if you too have, like the French
    revolutionists above, erected a statue to the goddess ‘reason’. Look
    through your own posts and testimonies…personal experiences are used
    everywhere and I haven’t asked you to ‘prove it’ everytime.

    I didn’t ask you to prove that you engage with and have non-Christians as
    friends. I was asking you to prove they are not as good as your Christian friends, as you re-asserted when you made this comment…

    b.) wrong. And I stand by my point entirely about the experiences of interacting with people from both ‘camps’.

    You can’t prove it because it is anecdotal. Anecdote serves no purpose in academia other than colourful interest. It is not evidenced by virtue of being anecdote as you rightly said.  The fact is, Christian people are no more reliable at being good than any other people. Believer and non-believer alike. History is littered with evidence to support the same. So I call your anecdote disingenuous and there isn’t anything that can be done about it because you can’t prove anecdote. I’m wondering if your non-Christian friends know you deem them not as good as your ‘holier than thou’ friends?

    Or perhaps you just need to pick your non-Christian friends more carefully.

    Look
    through your own posts and testimonies…personal experiences are used
    everywhere and I haven’t asked you to ‘prove it’ everytime.

    Feel free to point out some of the many anecdotes in my comments. If they are there, feel free to disregard them. If you wish to challenge them, I will either endeavour to uphold them with evidence which will move them from the anecdote pile…or hold my hands up. Either way, I never said I don’t make anecdotal remarks, did I? I merely claim they are not reliable as evidence.

  87. @Paul:disqus  – So unless I’m being a bit simple and your own website is lying…proselytising is your game.
     “Proselytising is the active attempt to convert someone to a particular faith system or religion by direct or indirect means. 
    Proselytising includes requiring people to attend religious services or meetings, or using goods, services, meals, or shelter as an incentive to conversion.

    … And responding to statistical evidence of declines with incredulity and denial, is a well known feature of liars for Jebus!  – A bit like contradicting dictionary definitions (faith = belief without proof) and then claiming all Xtians use a non-dictionary definition of “faith” – with the usual other redefinitions of: “reason”, “proof”, and “evidence”.  (The term “dictionary denial” was used on another thread.)
    Remember this Chris: -

    Another example… I do a Masters in theology, and it’s immediately interpreted as me hanging out with evangelical friends uncritically nodding along with each other blinded to outside views.

    Nothing new I’m afraid!  Just the usual ducking, dodging and denial of difficult to answer issues, and the semantic shuffles of preachers!  – Covered in much side-tracking verbosity.

    It looks like some unfortunate Ugandans – desperately seeking education, or to learn English, are going to be taught how not to think!

    @rdfrs-853de048693ebcdbd1299be3f462e9e2:disqus
     - .. .. . . and if all I’ve achieved is to break the mould slightly of theists visiting this site, then, well, hey.

    There is no “theist mould”, as theists are as diverse as their religions, their denominations, their cults, their politics, and their humanity.
    - But your profile seems to fit the theology college evangelist pretty closely.

    @Amos – Chris still imagines that we have not seen this sort of thinking before – despite all the comments!

  88. You said “Atheism is the default position. Everyone is born Atheist…belief
    in
    a deity has to be planted there.”
    Then surely, logically, theism would
    have never have emerged at all?

    Seriously? Did you really mean that? Where do human ideas come from? Are babies born with their politics already? Babies are born with few natural skills. Breathing and eating being a few.

    The fact that there are so many flavours of theism…and none, should be proof enough. According to you, you had not belief in gods until later…how does that work?

     “Anyone who understands the definition of atheism
    must acknowledge that all children are born atheists, including those
    born to Christian parents. Atheism is nothing more than the lack of
    acceptance of the theistic belief claim (i.e., some god or gods exist). A
    theist is one who believes that god(s) exist; an atheist is one who
    does not share this belief. The newborn child cannot even entertain such
    possibilities and thus lacks theistic belief. Atheism is the default
    position, and this is where we all begin.”

    “In
    order for Christians to argue against the reality that all children are
    born atheists, they must distort the meaning of atheism. They must
    convince themselves and their audience that atheism is a religion, a
    philosophy, or a worldview. They claim that atheism is an explicit
    repudiation of religion and that it involves faith that no gods exist.
    Such distortions in the meaning of atheism
    allow them to claim that children cannot be born atheist because
    atheism requires the same sort of deliberate choice required by
    religious belief.”

    If Atheism is a religion, philosophy or worldview, then ‘OFF’ is a television channel and not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    Chicken or egg?

    No it really isn’t.

    I’m afraid my
    experiences suggest that the much more rational explanation is given by
    Paul in Romans 1 who speaks of non-believers “suppressing the truth”

    But Paul is not talking about non-believers in gods, or Atheists, Chris. He is talking about everyone who is a non-believer in the Christian God…there is a big difference don’t you see? There were many, many concepts of gods before the god of Christianity, there still are many, many concepts of gods other than the god of Christianity. In fact, there are many, many concepts of God within Christianity. 

    Ironically, the Protestant interpretation of the Roman epistles is that they iterate the importance that folk are saved by their faith and not by
    their own righteous actions. As long as one has the faith, being good is secondary.

    The presence of religion across all societies and cultures throughout
    history would suggest that it is the default position.

    It depends on the definition of ‘religion’, ‘societies’ and ‘culture’ you use.

    The Pirahã people of the Amazon, for example, are not religious and don’t have gods. So, just because you know of no such cultures or societies, doesn’t make it so.

    “According to Everett, the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god
    and they lost interest in Jesus when they discovered that Everett had
    never seen him. They require evidence based on personal experience for
    every claim made.”

    “As far as the Pirahã have related to researchers, their culture is
    concerned solely with matters that fall within direct personal
    experience, and thus there is no history beyond living memory. Pirahãs
    have a simple kinship system that includes baíxi (parent, grandparent, or elder), xahaigí (sibling, male or female), hoagí or hoísai (son), kai (daughter), and piihí (stepchild, favorite child, child with at least one deceased parent, and more).”

    “Daniel Everett states that one of the strongest Pirahã values is no coercion; you simply don’t tell other people what to do. There appears to be no social hierarchy; the Pirahã have no formal leaders. Their social system can thus be labeled as primitive communism,
    in common with many other hunter-gatherer bands in the world, although
    rare in the Amazon because of a history of agriculture before Western
    contact.”

    Not so primitive imho. There is good reason to think that many pre-historic societies took a similar line.

    Atheism comes
    later.

    No Chris it doesn’t… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E

    But when religion first popped into the human psyche is a non sequitur… when in pre-history religion started has nothing to do with the cognitive skills of a new born.

    And I’m convinced by Paul’s understanding in Romans 1:18-32 as to
    why it comes. If you do happen to take the time to look that up, please
    also do me a favour and keep on going to 3:26. You’ll see why.

    Preaching is a no-no, and again, you presume that we here are ignorant of scripture just because we don’t believe it. Paul is making a fudge job up to get the gentiles on board. Christianity was a Jewish sect. The rules of the Jewish sects were not very appealing to non-Jews. Male circumcision is a dangerous procedure for adults. And those ridiculous dietary regulations, what’s that all about? For Paul to sell the snake oil to the Gentiles, he had make it attractive, being told one had to obey the Law to be one of the gang wasn’t going to cut it(pun intended). So Paul applied the caveat that non-Jews could join up without having to have their penis cut among many other stupid things….and the rest as they say, is history, sort of.

    Remember, Paul was apocalyptic, or was he? He believed that the Kingdom of God was coming in his generation too, so all this stuff was academic, or did he? Was he just the same as the many cult leaders that preceded him, or were around at the same time, or have been ever since? Was he selling a product for his own interests like so many others? In any case, he appears to have written letters as a man for all seasons. Of course you are aware that almost half of the Pauline epistles are forgery, or of questionable origin? Although not first Romans.

  89. “Anyone who understands the definition of atheism
    must acknowledge that all children are born atheists, including those 
    born to Christian parents. Atheism is nothing more than the lack of 
    acceptance of the theistic belief claim (i.e., some god or gods exist). A
    theist is one who believes that god(s) exist; an atheist is one who 
    does not share this belief. The newborn child cannot even entertain such
    possibilities and thus lacks theistic belief. Atheism is the default 
    position, and this is where we all begin.”

    I think that children are born implicit atheists by default. Until they know and understand the notion that a god or gods exist they cannot reject theism. No implicit atheist will ever voice their opinion on the matter.
    I don’t and can’t disbelieve (or believe for that matter) anything I’ve never heard of.

  90.  

    I don’t and can’t disbelieve (or believe for that matter) anything I’ve never heard of.

    You make a valid point. Babies are born ‘ignorant’ of religion and gods. Perhaps even ‘nescient’ is a better descriptor. I thought about ‘Agnostic’, but that only works in the same way as the definition you are using for ‘Atheist’.

    In it’s narrow sense, Atheist works for the new born.

    “In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.”

    Babies are not born with the belief in one or more specific god, ergo A-theist. Etymologically speaking, the word derives from the Greek word for ‘godless’…’atheos’.

    As Sam Harris would say…A baby doesn’t need to identify as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist”…or a “non-conservative” or “non-rock’n’roller” or “non-stamp collector”.

    Still, your point has some validity. But, in any event, and putting semantics aside, the default position is at the very least, no knowledge of deities, so defo not a theist.

  91. You asked me name bad deeds done in the name of atheism. Is murder bad enough? Check out the French Revolution…

    “Another anti-clerical uprising was made possible by the instalment of the Revolutionary Calendar on 24 October. Hébert’s and Chaumette’s atheist movement initiated an anti-religious campaign in order to dechristianise society. The program of dechristianisation waged against Catholicism, and eventually against all forms of Christianity, included the deportation or execution of clergy; the closing of churches; the rise of cults and the institution of a civic religion; the large scale destruction of religious monuments; the
    outlawing of public and private worship and religious education; the forced abjurement of priests of their vows and forced marriages of the clergy; the word “saint” being removed from street names; and the War in the Vendée.2 The enactment of a law on 21 October 1793 made all suspected priests and all persons who harboured them liable to death” (Wikipedia: reign of terror)

    You didn’t finish the quote though….

    “The enactment of a law on 21 October 1793 made all suspected priests and all persons who harbored them liable to death on sight. The climax was reached with the celebration of the goddess “Reason” in Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 November. Because dissent was now regarded as counter revolutionary, extremist enragés such as Hébert and moderate Montagnard indulgents such as Danton were guillotined in the Spring of 1794. On 7 June Robespierre, who had previously condemned the Cult of Reason, advocated a new state religion and recommended that the Convention acknowledge the existence of God. On the next day, the worship of the deistic Supreme Being was inaugurated as an official aspect of the Revolution. Compared with Hébert’s somewhat popular festivals, this austere new religion of Virtue was received with signs of hostility by the Parisian public.”

    Check out former communist states too. I know you’ll say that wasn’t done in the name of atheism, but come on. Religious folk persecuted and killed by communists whose key tenet (well, one of the key tenets) was to seek the destruction of religion and those who practice it.

    The Cult of Reason and Communisn….oh dear, how often will this be trotted out as an example of the immorality of Atheism?

    “[The Cult of Reason]  actually personified Reason as a goddess, so whether it was strictly atheistic is debatable. It was physically
    violently anti-religious, something which wasn’t seen again until
    Communism. And of course Robespierre shut it down within a year, and no
    one seems to have even tried to revive it. Call it a failed
    experiment.”

    “What the Cult and Communism had in common was the main problem with
    both, really: they were pseudo-religious all-encompassing ideologies,
    which happened to not only be superficially atheistic but see themselves
    as incompatible with even the existence of nearby religion. Atheism
    itself isn’t an ideology, a philosophy or even a worldview. It’s a
    position on one specific issue, which allows for the existence of
    contrary positions in the same room. It just doesn’t have the same
    drive behind it.”

    Anyway, sociopathic tendencies I would posit were to blame, not Atheism.

  92. Nicodemus and Jesus in Aramaic  A repeated point made by Erhman. A significant mistake and misunderstanding on his part. http://katachriston.wordpress….

    I e-mailed Bart Ehrman with your concern about his alleged error and the link to the katachriston article. I received his reply and have copied it below…

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    The point is that that Aramaic word does not also mean “from above” – which is what the Greek word means (as well as “a second time”).  That is, it doesn’t present the double entendre the Greek word does.
     

        I think an even easier way to deal with questions of inerrancy is simply to point out discrepancies that cannot be reconciled without doing some incredibly fancy footwork with the text.  Good luck with it!

     

    -         
    Bart Ehrman

     

    Bart D. Ehrman
    James A. Gray Professor
    Department of Religious Studies
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  93.  I think, as well as the cascades of unevidenced assertions: -  and really, really, really determined wishful thinking,  Chris has ignored or side-stepped the challenging points various other poster have raised, and has concentrated on hoping to blind you with Biblical arguments and ambiguities , where he thinks his theology college background will give him an advantage.

    In the end, a really well armoured woo-bucket over the head is required, to preserve a tunnel-vision belief in Biblical historical literalism, which of course is only a minor aspect of the decline in Xtian affilliations in the UK and elsewhere!

  94.  I decided to take on his last comment paragraph by paragraph. I was waiting on a reply from the expert before replying to that particular item of the ‘Born Again’ narrative. I know the argument from authority is fraught with danger, but in this case, the expert really has some authority. In the meantime I’ve been doing some reading into the Peshitta Primacy…which the majority of biblical scholars refute btw…still, it’s interesting to look into these things. I don’t much expect to see Chris back, but just in case, I thought it only proper to address ALL his remarks to me.

    I will be interested to see just how stumped SG has left him on the Adam & Eve enigma, if he does comeback after his wee ‘safari’ up country.

  95.  

    I never suggested or intimated that they were, but I’m glad you agree with me overall.

    I know ya didn’t, I was just referencing it because it is Chris’ assertion that we are.

    ‘Feliz Navidad’ back at ya….if yer into that sort of thing.

  96. Well I couldn’t find a reply to the Christian rebuttal so a thought it prudent for the horses mouth to answer. The Peshitta has almost certainly not got primacy…because Syriac Aramaic and Galilean Aramaic are different, so the word play doesn’t work. That said, it is possible I suppose that some of the gospels have used an early Galilean Aramaic witness, hypothetically speaking, but not the gospel according to John. In any case, anyone with a noodle if intellect knows that the Johnine gospel is away with the fairies and doesn’t gen with the synoptic gospels…which is why there is synoptic gospels. Still, it’s fascinating sussing it all out. So many “True Scotsmen”, as you say, it would make yer head spin. Ironically, the Peshitta is only 22 books long, but why let that little discrepancy get in the way of the true theology…whatever that even means.

    One unusual feature of the Peshitta is the absence of 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation. Modern Syriac Bibles add 6th or 7th century translations of these five books to a revised Peshitta text

    Almost all Syriac scholars agree that the Peshitta gospels are translations of the Greek originals. A minority viewpoint (see Aramaic primacy) is that the Peshitta represent the original New Testament and the Greek is a translation of it. The type of text represented by Peshitta is the Byzantine. In a detailed examination of Matthew 1-14, Gwilliam found that the Peshitta agrees with the Textus Receptus only 108 times and with Codex Vaticanus 65 times, while in 137 instances it differs from both, usually with the support of the Old Syriac and the Old Latin, in 31 instances it stands alone.

    So, even though it doesn’t agree with the NT proper, nevertheless, as long as the Peshitta can be used in defence of just one piece of obvious theology, and the argument doesn’t even do that, it’s ‘good to go’ for the evangelicals with heads stuck in the armoured plated woo bucket, as Alan puts it, and so succinctly.

  97. Ig Amos, I suspect that the enigma wont be addressed for the simple reason that it CANT, without a lot of compromising and semantic limbo dancing. IMO, its the killer.

    John Piper, one of the worlds leading evangelical heavyweights has attempted it and his response is woefully lame:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/res

    Do You Accept “Old Earth” and Evolution? To which he basically says that he accepts that the Earth is old, but humanity is recent and that Adam was a real person.

    Again, this is the “minute to midnight” issue. A perfect, faultless state of bliss until Man gets “created” just a blink ago, and then every natural bad thing starts to happen. It HAS to be like that for the doctrine of sin to make any sense. And of course it is totally ludicrous.

    I suspect that a lot of evangies, who are keen to talk about Jesus and faith and believing and all that cuddly stuff will start to sweat a bit when trying to answer this type of question. It is way out of the average evangie’s comfort zone. No problem for the YECs though. But they’re nuts…..

    :-))SG

  98. Chris -
    Not sure if you’re still checking this thread, but, I was curious about your thoughts on the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

    If the Christian god could create Mary, born without sin, why didn’t he simply create all human beings born afterwards without sin?If he could do it for Mary, why not everyone who followed?Thanks.

  99. Hi Tyler,

    I am still following the thread as it comes automatically into my inbox, but I did say it was right, being on your territory, that you guys had the last word, so I haven’t been responding to recent posts (much as I would like to). However you’ve asked a direct question, so I will answer that.

    But not yet! Let me get through Christmas and I’ll get back to you. Keep an eye on the thread,

    A very merry Christmas to you! Turkey very hard to come by here in Uganda so we’re having goat, as you do.

    Speak soon,

    Regards, Chris

  100.  The eternity in paradise is another enigma. Here’s just one problem with the paradise hypothesis. Now let’s consider the issue of the righteous getting past the pearly gates…in they go expecting to meet all the loved ones that went ahead of them, except that not everyone was as righteous. Perhaps grand ma didn’t make it…or the wife isn’t coming when it’s her turn….or the kids turned Atheist and shan’t be joining the throng…or both wives are there and aren’t up for sharing. Is that a paradise? For the believer a mean. Thinking about the kids burning in Hell for eternity. All for complicated stuff for the theological circle to square.

  101. Amos, the faith heads actually have a reply to that “loved ones in  hell” enigma. And it is sick and perverse beyond belief: Basically, the “redeemed” actually ENJOY seeing the “reprobate” burning. This is a posting I made about 4 years ago on the subject, referring to a leading evangie of the 19th century (prob the equivalent of Piper, Driscoll or Keller today)

    I posted this 4 years ago, here is the gist of it again:

    R M McCheyne. Scottish Pastor. In one of his sermons 11th Dec 1842, he spoke about “The eternal torment of the wicked – a matter of eternal song to the redeemed” Based on Revelation 19:3. He makes the 3 points:

    1) The eternal torment of the wicked will be a matter of no grief to the redeemed.

    2)The torment of the wicked will be a matter of joy to the redeemed

    3)The reason why the redeemed will rejoice at the condemnation of the wicked.

    Sick stuff. You can find it in the book “A Basket of Fragments” by Christian Focus Publications.There is also the example of Jonathan Edwards, the famous preacher, who said in a famous sermon, The End of the Wicked Contemplated by the Righteous, that

    “when the saints in glory shall see the wrath of God executed on ungodly men, it will be no occasion of grief to them but of rejoicing”Both these men are held up by modern day evangies as “great men of faith” “giants of the faith” “steeped in the Word” and all that BS. 

    Of course, the modern evangies, unless they are the uber-fundy type, tend not to even mention hell, because they know that the crowd wont like it. And if they do, they will refer to it as “eternal separation from God” rather than the hot place of conscious eternal suffering.It is a question that should be put to every pastor, publicly, at every opportunity. “Do you believe in hell?” “Do you believe it is a place of eternal conscious suffering?” If not, why not. That Jesus chap clearly did….

    watch the bastards wriggle and sweat.

    :-)SG

  102. I am amazed at the 113 comments. And some ultra long. Elicited mainly by chris10. He seems just the normal sort of religious apologist pretending to be friendly but often with an undertone of threat. (Don’t get so cross and long winded or I will leave and it won’t be because your arguments overwhelm mine). I did not read the longer posts in detail but I did not pick up anything different to what is normally said between rationalists and the deluded. So why did Amos and Alan spend so much time debunking Chris?

  103. That’s amazing! Where did that come from? What has happened in life for you to read my posts and decide that I’m pretending to be friendly? Or threatening anyone? And to think that I get called deluded with my head in a woo-bucket! 

    My friend, re-read the whole thread again from as neutral a perspective as you can manage, and please tell me that you’re not being serious? What has made some people on this website to be like this?

    Alan and Amos, I do appreciate that you guys, on the whole, have tried to engage with the issues and not posted anything as pointless as ConnedCatholic below. However Amos I think it was (forgive me if wrong…I haven’t checked again) mentioned a while back about silent lurkers reading this. I’ve had a few emails from some silent lurkers who, although completely disagreeing with what I say, are deeply unpersuaded by the way you guys say what you want to say. I know that the RDF world (almost) excludes all talk of experience, personality, tone, background, and character lest they muddy the reason-waters in the search for reason truth, but like it or not that’s not how life works. The reason d’etre of RDF is promotion of your way of thinking, but these threads are promoting it to very few people judging by the responses I’ve received.

    Amos, you said before, when I expressed concern at giving out my website and email address, that “I shouldn’t if I were you. No one here hates you..no one here even knows you. We are not a bunch of baby eating monsters, honestly.” Read ConnedCatholic below. Read SG below about us ‘bastards’ wriggling and sweating. A big part of your (pl) narrative is how horrible Christians are, and RD posts up videos of nutcases delighting in the thought of Hitch in hell, but seriously. Be neutral and re-read. And re-read other threads with other Christians (or Jews) Or listen to the silent lurkers. You are not engaging with people as respected human beings. It’s not just people’s arguments you’re dismissing, it’s people. And like it or not, you’re not going to win many over that way that aren’t already convinced. I agree with Higgs…it’s embarrassing. And inhumane…as far as the Christian worldview would define humanity anyway. Not sure about your definition. (all the ‘you’s there were plural) (and no I’m not suggesting that truth is revealed through tone, I’m saying that you need to be careful that your message isn’t hidden by your tone)

    I get baited and insulted and provoked and told I’m about to throw my toys out of the pram etc. and, when I don’t, I get a random post like that out of the blue, and if I were to then throw my toys out of the pram (which, by the way, this isn’t…I’m responding to a post questioning my character) then some here would rejoice in how another one has bit the dust. It’s weird. And scary. And against what you tell me you stand for, which is objective, reasonable, mature debate.

    Amos, Alan, Tyler, you are all clearly reasonable people. And smart. And nice. Mostly ;-) Do you not think there’s an element of truth in what I’m saying?

    (and please anyone don’t at this point post links about ‘Christian’ atrocities and loony emails to Prof RD etc. Let’s keep it to this thread) (and please don’t accuse me again of tone-trolling…I didn’t say a thing till CC came in below!) (and please forgive me Tyler – I’m SO sorry I still haven’t replied to your question. I WILL I promise. Honestly  Subscribe by email to the thread and keep an eye open. It’s coming! And don’t lose sleep in the mean time in anticipation ;-)

    Anyway, whether or not you think I’m pretending, and whether or not you find this threatening, let me take the chance to wish you all a very happy new year. And allow me to show off that I’ll be celebrating it 3 hours before you :-) (if I do at all…I am breathtakingly dull when it comes to new years and usually go to bed around 10pm. I know I know…

  104. To you too Tyler, and for a final time, apologies for delaying on this. Bad etiquette I know when asked a short, direct question, Hope all well. 

    Immaculate Conception. So, and I know you’re no mug and I don’t mean this to sound patronising, as a Protestant evangelical believer I would not subscribe to that doctrine (i.e. I hold to Maculism). Perhaps more importantly I should say that the Bible clearly doesn’t subscribe to that doctrine (I know one big line of thought on this forum is that the Bible can be made to say anything we want and interpreted any way we like, but I don’t go with that, certainly not on any issue of major doctrinal importance such as this. When we employ exegetical [as opposed to eisegetical] methods of reading Biblical writings in their own context, according to the purpose of the author, in the original languages, with the very best manuscript data that scholars can gather, then there is a pretty widespread consensus on all matters of major doctrinal importance)

    So, as I say, I don’t think the Bible teaches that doctrine at all. Certainly Mary found favour with God (Luke 1:30) and blessed (1:42) but I hardly need say that those greek words (charitoo, and eulogemenos) are used frequently elsewhere without any concept of sinlessness, or disinheritance from original sin. The doctrine was originally formulated in the 1850′s by a Pope speaking ex cathedra (although of course ‘in existence’ well before that through Scotus in the middle ages, but not Aquinas interestingly) and therefore, so claim the Roman Catholic Church, with God’s authority. Certainly it’s one way to resolve the question of how Mary can conceive a sinless child, but of course you end up having to ask why Mary didn’t then inherit original sin from her mother, and so on and so forth. I’m not sure it solves anything and, much more importantly, as I say, it’s not a Biblical teaching. 

    So, given the clear Biblical teaching about Jesus’ sinlessness, and the teaching on original sin, I think we must not allow ourselves to theologise beyond the limitations of the Biblical canon. Sinlessness? Yes. Generational transmission of original and imputed sin to Jesus? No. Immaculate conception therefore? No. As you’ll be aware, nowhere do Protestants claim that the Bible has answers on every theological question we might have (although I would subscribe to doctrines of scriptural sufficiency – it has every major thing we need to know for salvation and holiness) so I trust with the Reformers that the best route forward is to accept that, without a human biological Father, the Holy spirit conception of Jesus miraculously resulted in a foetus without inherited guilt and sin…hence complete holiness (Luke 1:35).

    Finally, if an obvious follow on question would be to ask how Jesus can offer a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins if he himself did not inherit generational original sin in that sense, then maybe I could offer my agreement with this answer here (but I only post this in case that would be of obvious interest, not because I insist on you reading it at all if not)

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/

    I hope that helps a tad Tyler? If not, do let me know if I can help more. I wasn’t quite sure what angle you were looking for. Speak soon, Chris

  105. Hi Chris. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments. The site is all ways more interesting when we have a few theist posting here and there. I’d be interesting to hear your perspective on a few questions.

    First, I’m interested to hear your answer to Tyler’s question about original sin in lue of the fact that Adam and Eve never existed, but for the moment let’s pretend they did. What do you think about god’s punishment for their disobedience? God creates two people that are completely undeveloped mentally and emotionally, have no street smarts, and might not even know what deceit is. Their tricked by the great deceiver of all time. And because of this children in the year 2013 have to die by the millions of horrible diseases. Doesn’t seem fair to me. And it also sounds a lot like Pandora’s box. What do you think about this story and do you really believe disease come from the fall of man?

    Second, I’ve often wondered why god choose to speak to the world through a book when it knew that this approach wasn’t going to be very successful. At present, even after two thousand years, the over whelming majority of people (close to 7 out of 10) aren’t Christians. God had to know religious identities are strongly influence by region and that most people would have their own divine books. 

    Third, do you believe in hell? You sound like a nice guy so I’m going to guess no. What do you believe is going to happen to non- christian’s (the majority of people on the planet) when they die?

    Fourth, what do you think of god sending she bears to kill children for mocking Elisha’s baldness?

    Fifth, do you believe in the Noah story, and if you do what do you think about god drowning every person on the earth, save one family?

    Sixth, Why is it a sin to be gay?

    Seventh, is the weather and plate tectonics of Earth controlled by god, or does it let these things operate more or less randomly. 

    Eighth, why does god allow Satan to interact with our world?

    Ninth, do you believe in demonic possession?

    Tenth, Why won’t god answer me when I pray to it for some kind of connection. The answer I usually get from believer’s is that either I’m not doing it right, or I that I’m an ass hole who thinks their the greatest person in the universe and that’s why god won’t answer me. I feel quite silly when I do it from time to time but I do it anyway so as to stay open minded. Same result every time. Nothing happens and I end up feeling as if I could have spent the time I just seemingly wasted more fruitfully. I feel no sense of god while I pray or at any other time. But according to Paul, I’m lying to you.

    Answer what ever questions you find interesting and take your time in answering. It’s an old thread and I know you’ve got better things to do then take questions from us grumpy atheist.

    ,Ryan

  106. This is great! Brilliant questions. I’ll get going…give me a few days, and if you haven’t already subscribe to the thread do, and I’ll make a mammoth posting in one. I’d like to at least have a crack at all of the questions. 

    Speak soon, Ryan, Cheers,

    Chris

  107. Post 1 of 2

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks so much for waiting to get this – I do hope you’ve got
    the chance to read it all…It’s over 5,000 words I’m afraid, and still there are
    masses of things I’d love to have said but couldn’t due to time and space.

    Just before you read on, can I say one thing: I follow enough
    threads on RDF to know how easy it is for some regular contributors (although I’m
    sure that’s not how you work) to go through a post sentence by sentence, taking
    each one and mocking it for not sufficiently dealing with an alternative
    viewpoint or responding to every question it may raise. That’s how some of the
    posters below go about their business. Please do ask any questions or make any
    comments or present any alternatives, but please note that I may indeed have
    thought about it already, it’s just that it’s not possible to second guess
    every objection possible and include it in the original posting. I’ve tried to
    strike a balance where possible of being sufficiently brief and sufficiently
    thorough. Hope that makes sense a bit, and that the answers below are helpful
    to some extent at least….these are brilliant and huge questions. I could have written
    10,000 words on each and it still wouldn’t be anywhere near sufficient….perhaps
    consider these as glimpses, soundbites, tasters, and if there’s more you want
    to question, agree with, or disagree with, we can talk more.

    Allow me to start with question 2, and answer question 1 near
    the end…

    Second,
    I’ve often wondered why god choose to speak to the world through a book when it
    knew that this approach wasn’t going to be very successful. At present,
    even after two thousand years, the over whelming majority of people (close to 7
    out of 10) aren’t Christians. God had to know religious identities are strongly
    influence by region and that most people would have their own divine
    books. 

    I think, in answer to this one, I’d question that idea that this
    book isn’t ‘very successful. I think that, despite all manner of opposition,
    persecution and oppression (in the West in the early days, elsewhere ever
    since, including in many places currently) the fact that over 2 billion people
    today claim to be Christian (with probably over a billion people realistically
    believing it, as opposed to census-tickers) is fairly successful surely? There
    is scarcely a country on earth that has remained significantly untouched by
    this Nazarene carpenter as revealed in that book. When you step back, that’s
    fairly sensational isn’t it?

    Furthermore, don’t make the mistake of thinking that God has
    failed unless everyone believes. I’m not sure the Bible ever suggests that
    success for God is related to conversions. The Bible presents a sovereign, holy
    God who reveals himself through the Bible and through natural revelation (e.g.
    creation, conscience) clearly. However He also seems to be well aware that
    people will reject Him, and doesn’t appear to ever have a crisis of confidence
    over that. If you believe Jesus reveals God the Father (as I do) then it’s
    interesting how he is very unembarrassed about his own persecution and
    ‘unpopularity’, and that to be expected by his followers (John 15:18-20). It
    seems to me that biblical history, world history can we say, teaches that some
    will always accept, and some will always reject. The fact that the rejecters
    have been prophesying the downfall of Christ and Christianity in every
    generation for 1970 years or so, and yet have been proved wrong each time,
    makes me sceptical about some of the triumphalism in the New Atheism movement.
    I imagine there would have been similar websites in every generation had the
    opportunity allowed.

    In terms of other divine books, God would have known that, yes.
    Doesn’t that also answer your question a little bit – that books are in fact
    very fine ways to preserve and continue religious tradition. Look what happens
    when we leave it to oral narratives over long periods of time (i.e. Chinese
    whispers). Whatever many suggest on this website, there is a breathtaking doctrinal
    unity across space and time within the Christian church…surely a product of
    having a written tradition. When that written tradition is understood through
    correct historical-grammatical interpretative tools, the doctrinal and
    praxeological unity becomes even more intense.

    The Bible is unique amongst major world religions in being
    remarkably translatable – both linguistically and contextually. It is not a
    fixed product of one particular culture or language and my experiences of 2
    years+ Christian ministry in East Africa is that the Christian faith is
    wonderfully and marvellously adaptable to the particular context. The Bible is
    not just one book, temporally and spatially located, but is I believe
    communication, even relationship, between the creator and the creation. All of
    it.

    Can I ask you a related question – do you really think that many
    on this website would believe were appropriate evidence discovered (e.g. a
    drowned Egyptian army, a scientifically verifiable healing today)? Honestly? I
    don’t think the problem is in the book. Or God. Or indeed anything new.
    Engaging with people on this thread made me realise afresh that in my opinion RDF
    is not about the pursuit of reason, but the pursuit of independence.  

    Third, do
    you believe in hell? You sound like a nice guy so I’m going to guess no. What
    do you believe is going to happen to non- christian’s (the majority of people
    on the planet) when they die?

    I’m afraid you’ve guessed wrongly. As someone who trusts in the
    authority of Scripture (as originally written, and understood correctly in the
    original languages, and with proper historical-grammatical exegetical
    methodologies employed such as context, purpose, audience etc.) this is an
    unavoidable and logically necessary belief of Christianity. I call it
    unavoidable because I too find it a toughie, and coming from a non-Christian
    family would find it more comfortable at times were it not so. However…

    Can I ask you a question again please? What does it feel like to
    not believe in hell? What would it feel like if someone did something terrible
    to a member of your family and remained on the run, knowing that there was and
    would not be any justice for that person? Why was the Sun’s headline on the day
    Myra Hindley died something like “now she’s gone to where she belongs to be”
    (it was probably more gripping and consider than that, but the clear
    implication was that she’s rightly gone to hell’) Isn’t hell, or (to put it
    another way) the certainty of justice for evildoers, a universal human longing?
    I would say so.

    If you follow that premise logically (and I suspect as a smart,
    thought-out guy you know where I’m going with this) then the existence of a
    holy God demands it. For if Myra Hindley and Mr and Mrs Goebbels deserve it,
    and yet we are outraged by the thought of us going anywhere near it, then we’re
    simply drawing the line in the wrong place. Living a life of defiance before a
    Holy God, as you and I both do my friend, cannot be swept under the carpet by a
    perfectly Holy God. God cannot be God if just forgets and forgives. As one
    Christian writer says, “God’s wrath is his settled opposition to the cancer
    which is eating out the insides of the human race which he loves with his whole
    being”. That’s a God worth taking seriously – one that doesn’t stand back and forget
    what we are doing to ourselves.

    Of course the wonderful news is that hell is deserved but
    avoidable. Jesus suffers hell so that we don’t have to. The doctrine of hell,
    and the doctrine of heaven both lead to praise.

    A final, brief thought if I may. Many RDF-ers accuse Christians
    of being a product of a particular time and culture and not yet enlightened by
    the fun of acultural, atemporal freethinking. And yet I can’t help but think
    actually this accusation can just as easily (perhaps more so given atheisms
    much more limited history and scope and influence and power) be thrown right
    back. I don’t think I’ve ever met an East African, here or in the UK who has a
    fundamental moral objection to the idea of hell, either in Christianity or a
    version of it within African Traditional Religion. Could it be that our
    post-enlightenment Western culture, which has sought to shape and not be shaped
    by the prevailing moral fabric, be the culturally located and historically
    unusual viewpoint. In fact, to reject the idea of hell would over here be
    considered morally offensive, and not just by Christians. That doesn’t make it
    right or real, but it does contextualise your (I’m guessing) objection to hell
    across space – and the same could be said for Western culture across time.

    Finally, it is interesting that you presumed niceness (thank
    you!) must result in a denial of hell. I can only say that the church has been
    scarred over the years by fools who appear to preach the horrors of hell
    without doing so in a way that magnifies Christ and rejoices for the rescue he
    has provided by giving up his life for us. If you’ve ever seen or heard them
    (and they’re often posted on this website) then I can only apologise on their
    behalf, as fellow-believers with them, for their behaviour. Perhaps this short
    extract (you don’t need the audio – the text is below if you scroll down) might
    help right the balance a tiny, tiny bit. http://www.desiringgod.org/res

    Ryan, I struggle with the idea of hell too. You asked what I
    believe happens to non-believers when they die? I trust Jesus told the truth –
    yes, even hell. Even my parents as things suddenly stand. This results in great
    sadness for me, great heartache in prayer, even doubt sometimes, yet also great
    urgency in the task of mission (with humility and sensitivity) and great
    thankfulness for the cross where someone else bore hell out of love for me.

    Fourth,
    what do you think of god sending she bears to kill children for
    mocking Elisha’s baldness?

    I thought long and hard about doing this, but I’m going to do
    it. I’m going to post a page from the answersingenesis website. NOT because I’m
    a YEC or a fan of the website and its ideas, but simply because, when searching
    around, I stumbled across this through Google and actually found it expressed
    what I wanted to express clearly and (relatively) concisely. PLEASE do not make
    the mistake of thinking that the endorsement of one page means the endorsement
    of the lot. The author of this one page has written with clarity and an
    emphasis on the context and theology of the text itself. With those warnings in
    place, here goes:

    http://www.answersingenesis.or

    Allow me to draw a serious point from that story you brought up:
    when understood in its context, and free from ignorant playground mocking (not
    at all what you were doing, but what others can do), I think the short
    narrative of Elisha and the bears is a significant warning: God takes idolatry
    seriously, and those who mock and taunt those who speak for him can and do face
    judgment (even in this apparently bizarre fashion, although I’d imagine it’s
    less bizarre in an ANE context where bear attacks were real, common, and there
    was little doubt that God controlled every aspect of the natural world which he
    created). It’s easy for some on the internet to mock the story (ironic given
    its central message), much harder to listen to the primary point being made.

    Fifth, do
    you believe in the Noah story, and if you do what do you think about god
    drowning every person on the earth, save one family?

    I think I’d cop out slightly here and refer you to the previous
    answer: surely the message of the passage is consistent again: God takes
    idolatry seriously, and those who mock and taunt those who speak for him can
    and do face judgment. We’re to read these narratives in the context of the
    whole of Scripture: God took idolatry (as in worship of anything other than Him
    – oneself, money, material pleasure) seriously enough to wipe out near the
    whole earth. But he promised not to do that again…instead wiping out his own
    Son so that creation could be reconciled to the creator. In answer to your
    question, the Noah question, and indeed the Elisha story, points me to the
    cross.

    Sixth, Why
    is it a sin to be gay?

    Thank you for this. A short question, but one that could easily
    precipitate a very, very long response.

    In brief though: Because God’s design for sex is within
    faithful, monogamous, heterosexual marriage. This is not random, or outdated,
    but because the very institution of marriage was built upon a picture of Christ
    the groom loving the church, the bride, and remaining faithful to her. Therefore
    humanity is not free to redefine under what sphere right sexual relationships
    can take place, however much contemporary Western culture finds that idea
    abominable.

    Please be careful though to make a careful distinction between
    sex outside of heterosexual marriage (in whatever form that may take –
    adultery, teenagers messing around, or a long-term, civil-recognised homosexual
    marriage) and the concept of being gay. If you consider being gay as feeling
    same-sex sexual attraction, then it’s not a sin to be gay. It’s a sin to act
    that out sexually when God has designed sexual activity for exclusive practice
    only under different circumstances. It’s no better or worse than the sins I
    struggle with – greed, hatred, lust, selfishness, laziness etc. It’s serious,
    it’s deserving of judgment, but like for my sin, its forgivable through Christ.

    In my opinion this interview with Vaughen Roberts, the rector of
    St Ebbes Church in Oxford, is sensible and mostly clear. He is gay but has
    chosen celibacy in order to remain faithful to Christ. I really do recommend a
    close and careful reading of this – it cuts through most of the ignorant,
    thoughtless and prejudiced rubbish that appears on this website, or the
    Guardian comments section, every time an article appears about the church and
    homosexuality.

    http://www.e-n.org.uk/6028-A-b

    Seventh,
    is the weather and plate tectonics of Earth controlled by god, or does it
    let these things operate more or less randomly. 

    Controlled by God. Clearly the teaching of scripture – a complete
    rejection of deism. If there are hints referred behind the question about the
    question of suffering…earthquakes, tsunami’s etc….then may I ask you to keep
    reading as you may find some of the answers below pick up on that a little.

    Eighth,
    why does god allow Satan to interact with our world?

    Ah that’s a cracker. Huge and profound question. I must admit I’m
    flagging slightly so I’m going to cut through a host of secondary answers about
    God and evil, and go straight to the heart:

    The meta-narrative of Scripture is that God wins. God reigns. God
    triumphs. His glory and worth is manifest most clearly, in its full, shining
    brilliance, by securing a victory over Satan and saving people from him. The exaltation
    of Jesus Christ was God’s plan from before the creation of the world…not just a
    plan B that was cobbled together when Satan got stuck in. God allowed Satan to
    interact with our world because by allowing him (always under God’s full
    control) to do that He was able to then manifest his Son’s glory which was
    always His intention…the reason behind him even creating the world in the first
    place…he created us to love Christ and enjoy Christ, and the limited presence
    of Satan for a time enables that end.

    Rest carried on in the next post…. 2 of 2

  108. Post 2 of 2 (I’m sorry Ryan…as I posted your questions were in bold and my answers normal text, but it’s all come out the same in the post…You know your original questions, so hopefully you can make sense of the structure of these posts)

    Ninth, do you believe in
    demonic possession?

    Yes. I believe Scripture gives
    a true account of the world as it really is, and therefore I want to take the
    clear teaching about demonic possession seriously, even in our post-Kant,
    post-Hulme, post-Bultmann Western world that demythologise demons as an
    inevitable consequences of a pre-enlightened worldview.

    It’s worth pointing out that
    the NT doesn’t speak much about demons. There’s little emphasis on them, blame
    attached to them, and spectacularly little teaching about them. Rarely does the
    NT attribute any disease, sin, or trouble to demons or demon possession. My
    point is that some Christians, especially outside the West, can over-emphasise
    their presence and role in the world. But some Christians, especially in the
    West, when they deny their existence altogether, end up underemphasising their
    presence and role in the world.

    Ultimately the NT presents
    demons as spiritual forces active in the world, but ultimately powerless and,
    like Satan, defeated on the cross by Christ.

     

    I think it’s interesting that
    in different cultures, e.g. Uganda!, someone who didn’t believe in demons would
    be considered mad, irrational, and in complete denial about the realities of
    life. People here, in the upper and lower levels of society and education, and
    almost always full believers in the active existence of demons. Almost to the
    point of overemphasis I mentioned above. I wonder whether Satan works in
    different ways in different cultures according to what is most effective to
    distract people from Christ…and (forgive me if this is sounding so far out that
    I’m invalidating any usefulness to you) therefore I wonder whether the mass
    disbelief in the Satan, or indeed demons, is interestingly a very successful
    tactic by him to distract from Christ.

    In terms of demon possession…I
    think there’s very little evidence today in the West of any ‘possession’ in the
    way that you might read about in the Gospels for example. Most stories of which
    I hear out here, or out there in the UK, I respond to mostly with cynicism to
    be honest. I suspect again the key lies in the fact that Satan can work and
    manifest in different ways over different times in different places.

    First, I’m interested to hear
    your answer to Tyler’s question about original sin in lue of the fact that
    Adam and Eve never existed, but for the moment let’s pretend they did. What do
    you think about god’s punishment for their disobedience? God creates two
    people that are completely undeveloped mentally and emotionally, have no
    street smarts, and might not even know what deceit is. Their tricked by the
    great deceiver of all time. And because of this children in the year 2013
    have to die by the millions of horrible diseases. Doesn’t seem fair to me. And
    it also sounds a lot like Pandora’s box. What do you think about this story and
    do you really believe disease come from the fall of man?

    This is also, like all the
    others, a cracking question. With regards to Tyler’s original question, I’m
    afraid, however unsatisfactory this may sound, I honestly don’t know. I do know
    that YEC does not appeal at all, but I also do know that certain strands of
    evangelical theology (just a couple mind) appear to fit more cleanly with YEC.
    That is a tricky one, but there are people out there willing to engage with it.
    Contrary to what this answer may sound like, Christians are not hiding from this.
    It is in fact one of the seminars at the next ‘Gospel Coalition’ Conference (A
    massive gathering of evenaglical leaders Stateside http://thegospelcoalition.org/
    Tim Keller, the New York Church leader, has written on it too at http://biologos.org/blog/creat… (note there’s 6 posts – the link is
    just the first) Dr Denis Alexander, Emeritus
    Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmund’s
    College, Cambridge, has written extensively on this subject too to reconcile
    Darwinism and Genesis, but some would suggest that he loses his grip on the
    authority of Scripture in the process.

    For me, I don’t know Ryan. I
    want to know more, and perhaps if we had this conversation in a year I will. I
    do however believe, deeply and profoundly and unshakeably, that our world shows
    evidence of purpose and design – creation. I believe that the New Atheism talk
    of the sense of wonder and awe of the world is just a pale, diluted, feeble,
    and excuse-making response to what Christians know – that we don’t have to just
    wonder at the creation, but even better at the creator. In fact I believe that
    the awe and wonder that Atheists enjoy speaking about (look at the tagline of
    the recent Atheist church in London –“ live better, help often, wonder more” [italics mine] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.u
    is evidence for a creator, and indeed their own creation. It is a seed of
    religion planted in them that they seek to suppress but which cannot be fully
    suppressed. Although there are still significant gaps in how Christians can
    reconcile evolution and Genesis (as there are for Atheists to reconcile
    evolution and their own worldview – like how to understand ‘wonder’ and
    ethics), I believe that the world and everything therein is strong evidence
    pointing towards the God of the Bible, not away.

    In terms of the pandora’s box
    part of your question, I don’t think what you’ve said is a fair reflection of
    Christian doctrine. The Biblical narrative makes no suggestion that Adam and
    Eve are somehow not culpable through being naive, primitive, ignorant etc. They
    were deceived, true, but they are held fully responsible for this having been
    clearly warned what to do and what not to do by their creator.  

    In terms of the bigger picture
    of your question though, again, I don’t think your way of expressing it is
    quite faithful to the Biblical narrative. Disease, tornadoes, divorce, child
    abuse and the general brokenness of the world we live in are due to sin, not
    necessarily due to one tiny mistake made thousands of years ago. Sin is not a
    single decision that A&E made, but simply the en-masse rejection of God’s
    creator-authority by the creation, chiefly of course by humanity. If God
    creates and sustains the world, then rejection of him will bring disruption and
    disorder into the physical and moral fabric of the world. It’s not their sin
    that’s to blame, it’s sin, including ours. This is not what the world was
    created like, or for. And nor will this current state of play last forever. A
    new creation, restored and perfected by Christ, is coming says God in
    Revelation 21 and 22, where the seas won’t turn back onto towns and villages,
    where the land won’t shake, and where nature will again be controlled and in
    tune with its original created purposes. This is what Christ demonstrated when
    he commanded the wind and the waves to be still at the end of Mark 4, and this
    is what will happen more fully when he returns.

    Again, could I ask you a
    question…do you think that the humanist narrative has any answers to what I’m
    sure we all agree is a fairly broken and busted world. I think the claim of
    some, that science and the abandonment of all religious belief will lead humanity
    into a shining new era of tolerance, goodness, and morality is a remarkably
    naive and dare I say it even foolish one. How many schools, hospitals, charity
    work, financial giving etc. would cease if the church were to vanish? Could the
    same be said of the British Humanist Association? On an absolutely minute
    level, look at the way some people on this website interact with other human
    beings online. The same characters appear on the Guardian News section and
    they’re doing the same on there. This is a TINY (I appreciate how insignificant
    it is in the grand scheme of things, but it’s pertinent given we’re on this
    website now) example of what I mean: what does a humanist world look like? I
    daresay it isn’t very pretty, for there’s no objective, standard reason for
    humanist morals or ethics. One of the posters earlier mentioned how ‘No-one
    gets undeserved respect around here’. That is absolutely consistent with a
    humanist worldview, but it’s quite a frightening prospect isn’t it? 

    My point is this: The state of
    our world is undeniable (regardless of the origin of that state)…the key
    question is the way out of that state. One approach suggests that there is a
    future coming when all suffering and tears will end, and that believers in that
    future are to begin the rebuilding job now…a message of hope, community, and
    purpose. Another approach says that this is all we have…one shot at a life
    where our only true motive is our own happiness, even if this comes at the
    expense of others, the weak and the vulnerable. Christians assign this current
    mess to sin (perhaps even of Adam and Eve). Atheists assign it to the natural
    outcome of an evolutionary teeth-and-claw world. However Christians believe
    that there is a creator who cares about the mess and has taken action through
    Jesus Christ to rebuild it and renew it to perfection, for eternity. That’s a
    meta-narrative that makes a lot more sense to me. And a worldview that enables
    people to cope with death, suffering, and struggle, and yes horrible diseases
    for children, rather than ignore those things with humanist platitudes.

    Put it another way: What do
    atheists have to say to the mother of the child who dies of disease?
    Personally, however difficult it is to understand God’s purposes in suffering,
    I find it a lot more difficult to put my trust into any alternative perspective
    that, whatever humanists may claim at times, is ultimately hopeless.

    Tenth, Why won’t god answer me
    when I pray to it for some kind of connection. The answer I usually get from
    believer’s is that either I’m not doing it right, or I that I’m an ass hole who
    thinks their the greatest person in the universe and that’s why god won’t
    answer me. I feel quite silly when I do it from time to time but I do it anyway
    so as to stay open minded. Same result every time. Nothing happens and I end up
    feeling as if I could have spent the time I just seemingly wasted more
    fruitfully. I feel no sense of god while I pray or at any other time. But
    according to Paul, I’m lying to you.

    This is a cracking question
    again. Well done for being open-minded enough to try and pray – I admire you
    hugely for that! I’m sorry for the answers you’ve got from believers which
    would appear to be deeply insensitive. You don’t sound to me at all like you
    think you’re the greatest person in the world.

    In terms of the Paul thing, I
    presume you’re referring to passages where he suggests we all have an innate
    sense of divine presence. I wouldn’t in the slightest suggest to you that
    you’re lying about feeling absolutely squat when you pray: in fact, isn’t it
    the opposite. Doesn’t the fact that you are willing to have a crack at praying,
    however much of a numpty you feel doing it, evidence that somewhere actually,
    maybe fairly deep down (!!) you do have a sense of the divine, what John Calvin
    referred to as a sensus
    divintatis? I think there’s no reason in the world you’d be so dumb as to
    talk to a brick wall without that.

    I’ve noticed throughout the
    thread that you’ve referred to God as ‘it’. Therein may lie part of the
    problem. God is not an impersonal supernatural being, a metaphysical force.
    Rather the Bible presents Him as a personal, relational, yet sovereign and powerful…the
    balance between the immanence and transcendence of God (well, more like fully
    both, rather than a balance of the two). The fact that he is fully transcendent
    (fully sovereign, powerful, omnipotent etc.) would suggest that there’s no
    reason why a self-confessed atheist should be listened to or responded to (hear
    me out: I’m being purposely controversial here) by God. If you’re not a
    repentant, Christ-trusting believer then the Bible describes you as dead in
    your sins and an enemy of God. What do you expect him to do in those
    circumstances?

    However, the fact that he’s
    fully immanent (relational, personal, involved) means that he can and does
    respond to those who come to him in faith. You’re clearly a thought-through
    guy, so I hope this isn’t patronising to you. Have you ever read Jesus’ parable
    of prodigal son in Luke 15? Do it carefully and with an open mind. That’s the
    character of God the Father as he welcomes back folk like you and I who have
    previously declared independence from him.

    What does this all mean
    practically? Ryan why not approach God as the Bible suggests we should: As a
    returning prodigal son, in repentance and faith as opposed to looking for
    evidence. I do appreciate what I’m saying is no small thing, and I’m not presuming
    you’re about to go and do that, but I’m just suggesting that I don’t think God
    on the whole is indebted to give us proof before we come to him in faith.
    There’s lots of that once we come to him in faith, but not necessarily before.
    In fact Jesus rejected those who came to him looking for signs to prove his
    divine nature, instead asking people to believe his words, believe the
    Scriptures that testify about him, and come to him in faith. I appreciate these
    are not popular things to say on the RDF website.

    Hey, best leave it there. Ryan
    I’m very happy to talk more on this forum, I’m very happy to leave it there
    (although I’d love to know you’ve seen this at least, even if you hate every
    word said and it’s driven you further away than ever!), or I’m very happy to
    talk more by email if you’d prefer – chrishowles10@hotmail.com

    It’s been great to talk either
    way. I really think you’re questions are very good ones but, in my opinion, are
    not ‘solved’ through an atheist approach either which is what I’ve been trying
    to get at with some of the questions too. It’s been great talking, and of
    course I wish you all the very best for the future if we don’t continue.

    Warmest regards from a hot
    Uganda…Every conversation I have with folk in the UK this week they’re
    complaining to me about the snow and I’m complaining to them about the 35
    degree heat! Grass is always greener I guess!

    Chris

     

     

  109. Hi Chris. Thanks for the reply. I really appreciate the long and thoughtful answers you gave. I really enjoyed reading them. The format messed with me too. Some of your post is in all caps when I pasted it. Probably some spelling errors too. Two separate times long portions of my post were deleted so I wrote some of it in haste. Some of my answers may come off a bit on the smart ass side, but know I respect what you’ve written so far, and I’m writing to you as a friend.

    Second question. I think for a man made religion, Christianity is doing pretty well. So is Islam. I think the conversion of the most powerful man in the world at the time, Constantine, didn’t hurt.  But for a book that the lord and master of the universe helped write, seventy percent of the worlds population being unmoved is a bit of a underachievement. And I think to use the word reject in regards to the majority of people who aren’t Christian sounds like a bit of a cop out. It makes it sound as if all these people somehow know Christianity is true but choose to pretend not to believe, when in actuality, they never believed or all ways believed something else.

     “The fact that the rejecters
    have been prophesying the downfall of Christ and Christianity in every
    generation for 1970 years or so, and yet have been proved wrong each time,
    makes me sceptical about some of the triumphalism in the New Atheism movement.”

    I have no idea what the future holds in regards to religious belief. Belief that humans can be immortal and that every seemingly random thing happens for some great reason are very seductive ideas. They’ll die hard.

    “Can I ask you a related question – do you really think that many
    on this website would believe were appropriate evidence discovered (e.g. a
    drowned Egyptian army, a scientifically verifiable healing today)? Honestly? I
    don’t think the problem is in the book. Or God. “

    Maybe. We’ll have to wait for a find like that to take place and then we can see.

    “Engaging with people on this thread made me realise afresh that in my opinion RDF
    is not about the pursuit of reason, but the pursuit of independence. “

    It is true that if your god appeared to all of humanity today many on this site would want nothing to do with it. We find many of it’s actions immoral and cruel beyond belief. Being very powerful isn’t enough for me to love and worship something.

    Third question- hell

    And to hell. Your right, the Bible seems pretty clear on hell. Some Christian’s find the idea of hell so disturbing that they come up with some torched interpretation of the gospels to say there is no hell but the Bible seems pretty clear about it.

    “Can I ask you a question again please? What does it feel like to
    not believe in hell?”

    Great. My grandfather isn’t being burned alive right now. Nor will my grandmother, who I’m sure believes in god but is not religious. Nor will my brother, who I love so much, if he suddenly passed away. I couldn’t enjoy a second of heaven if I knew my sweet, wouldn’t hurt a fly brother, was presently having his guts ripped out by demons. 

    “Isn’t hell, or (to put it
    another way) the certainty of justice for evildoers, a universal human longing?”

    For every murderer and dictator that goes to hell a million decent people go. I can’t get behind a system like that. If god appeared before me and said ” All in hell can now rest( It’s got to be tens of billions of people) if you choose to give up your life” I would hope I would have the courage to say yes. If god came to me and said “All in hell can now rest but only if I erase all humans and their entire history, what is your choice? I hope I would have the courage to say do it. Hell is too horrible.

    I think I could take this critique of atheism

    “Another approach says that this is all we have…one shot at a life
    where our only true motive is our own happiness, even if this comes at the
    expense of others”

    and turn it back at you. ”Yeah almost everybody is going to hell but I’m not so I’m ok with it”.

    “Of course the wonderful news is that hell is deserved but avoidable.”

    When I hear this phrase, which I’ve heard before, I can’t help but to think of someone brainwashed into a cult. Not that you are, but that’s what it brings to mind. Almost no one deserves to be set on fire and kept that way for eternity. Not me, not you, not your family and not mine. If your right, then their are millions of good people screaming for mercy in hell fire as I write. That’s a horrible, horrible thing to do to people and there is no way to spin it other wise. I’ve talked with many intelligent Christians and they all fall flat when it comes to hell. If the net result of the creation of man is that 80 to 90 percent of every person that has ever lived is condemned to hell, then it was a horrible idea.

     Fourth question-She Bears
    Thanks for the link but I’m afraid the answers found there weren’t very compelling. Basically if you make god mad, he might kill you. And oh don’t worry about the kids, they were killed at the ripe old age of 15 or 16. I’ve seen that answer before. I’m not sure why some Christians feel the need to point out that they weren’t kids when god kills children in several other Biblical stories, including the Noah story when he drowns every child on Earth.

     Fifth- The Noah story
     To me the Noah story is sort of a silly story so I won’t dwell on it much. I just want to know is there anything god could do that you might find objectionable? 

    Sixth- why is being gay a sin

    Being gay isn’t just about sex but more importantly, about love. It just seems to me to be another one of god’s petty tortures to create people who have felt gay for as long as they can remember and then tell them that they have to live an entire life devoid of love and romantic companionship . I agree that many Christians have elevated being gay into a greater sin then it is said to be in the Bible. But the Bible’s stance on the issue has caused a lot of pain for a lot of people.

    Seventh- The weather 

     “Disease, tornadoes, divorce, childabuse and the general brokenness of the world we live in are due to sin, notnecessarily due to one tiny mistake made thousands of years ago”

    I’m curious how someone having pre-martial sex causes a tornado? I think there’s a few meteorologists out there that might disagree with you. Plus there are tornadoes on Jupiter and Mars. Are those Tornadoes possibly proof of sinful extraterrestrial life? All right, I’ll stop being a smart ass, forgive me. Seriously though, you use sin as sort a euphemism for punishments from god. It’s god, who controls everything, that’s deciding that because people are doing something it doesn’t like that it’s going to send a tsunami to kill a quarter of a million dirt poor Asians. 

    “What do atheists have to say to the mother of the child who dies of disease?”

    I’d say that I’m terribly sorry for your lose. If there is anything I can do to help, please ask. What do you say to someone who has lost a love one and was not Christian? Sorry but there in hell now? No. Of course you wouldn’t say that. Just like I wouldn’t say “Tough luck but your kid’s worm food now”. We’d both try to say something heart felt, compassionate and human.

    ” Doesn’t the fact that you are willing to have a crack at praying,however much of a numpty you feel doing it, evidence that somewhere actually,maybe fairly deep down (!!) you do have a sense of the divine, what John Calvinreferred to as a sensusdivintatis?”
     
    Nope. I pray because it’s what every god believing person on Earth tells me to do in order to have connect with god. And if I didn’t give it a try then that would make me a hypocrite when I ask religious people to question there beliefs. I do it humbly and seriously.

    Eighth question-Satan

    As far as Satan goes I’ll keep it short and sweet. Life is hard enough without Satan and since god is omnipotent he could have manifested his son’s glory just as easily without Satan as with him.

    Ninth question- Demons

    My ploy here was to see if you would be reticent to admit to belief in demonic possession even though it’s clearly stated in the Bible. You weren’t so I guess the jokes on me. I would like to add though that if people in Jesus’s day would have had a better understanding of mental illness they probably would have encountered less demonic possessions. 

     “I believe that the New Atheism talkof the sense of wonder and awe of the world is just a pale, diluted, feeble,and excuse-making response to what Christians know – that we don’t have to justwonder at the creation, but even better at the creator. “

    I disagree. I do think that some atheist go out of there way to try to prove to theist that they don’t have a monopoly on awe and wonder. I’m not going to play that game. It seems silly to me and go out of my way to convince another person that I’m not a cold, unemotional robot.

    “It is a seed of
    religion planted in them that they seek to suppress but which cannot be fully
    suppressed”

    I disagree. I could say that your simply taking the appreciation for the size and scope of the universe and anthropomorphizing it.

    “Ive noticed throughout the thread that you’ve referred to God as ‘it’. Therein may lie part of the problem. God is not an impersonal supernatural being, a metaphysical force.Rather the Bible presents Him as a personal, relational, yet sovereign and powerful”

    Unless god has a penis I think the word it fits fine.

     “The fact that he is fully transcendent(fully sovereign, powerful, omnipotent etc.) would suggest that there’s noreason why a self-confessed atheist should be listened to or responded to (hearme out: I’m being purposely controversial here) by God.”

    I’m an atheist about what I believe not what I know. In the strictest sense, I’m agnostic.

    “If you’re not a repentant, Christ-trusting believer then the Bible describes you as dead in your sins and an enemy of God”

    I would expect god to be a more nuanced thinker than that.

    “However, the fact that he’sfully immanent (relational, personal, involved) means that he can and does respond to those who come to him in faith. “

    That sounds a lot like a self fulfilling prophecy. Believe in him then you’ll hear him.

     “Have you ever read Jesus’ parable of prodigal son in Luke 15? Do it carefully and with an open mind.”

    I’ll read it for you my friend.

    “In fact Jesus rejected those who came to him looking for signs to prove his divine nature”

    Unless your reading John. ‘Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe” John (4:48)

    I guess that’s a good place to start. Look forward to hearing from you. Like before, take your time. I’m not going anywhere. Best wishes, Chris.

    Ryan

    • In reply to #122 by rrh1306:

      Hi Ryan, SO sorry about long delay. I kept desperately wanting to come back to this but I’m honestly struggling to find the time and motivation to answer in the depth and research that your questions and answers deserve. I really enjoyed reading your posts and especially your last one, and I will continue to fine-tune my understanding of, and approach to, the Biblical doctrine of hell in response to some of what you have said. I hoep you managed to read the Good Samaritan again as you said. Maybe we’ll have a chance to interact again in the future either on this site or elsewhere, but if not, I wish you all the very best. Thanks again for the interactions, Warmest regards, Chris

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