“Not My God” – The Argument Atheists Consistently Fail to Address.

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Discussion by: Stew282

When confronted with certain arguments, particularly about the Old Testament God, most Christians point out that they do not believe that God would have unruly teenagers stoned to death or that Moses ordered his captains to slaughter innocents. They see no wrong in eating shellfish or wearing two types of cloth, and many are happily prepared to work on the Sabbath.

The atheist glibly responds with something like: “Well, that’s what your Bible says… You can’t pick and choose, either the Bible is true or it isn’t…Ha! Got you! I Win!” And that’s that. The atheist sits smugly with his arms folded, inwardly celebrating his victory of perfect logic over the backward and stupid Christian.

The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?

The Christian, far from feeling wounded, reflects that it’s pointless arguing with someone who can’t even grasps the basics of Christianity, and just keeps harping on about some Old Testament rubbish that the Christian knows little about and cares even less. The Christian knows that most of the Bible is rubbish, that’s why he’s never bothered to read it – he did try once, when he was younger, but found it a tedious, impenetrable tome and gave up. But you don’t need to know every word of the Bible to appreciate God’s love – Jesus’s message is writ large in every interaction, every observation, every emotion and every experience of every day.

My dear fellow atheists, the ridiculousness of God as espoused in the Bible is a STRAW MAN. No buts. We will never convert any theist by picking on the easy target. Yes the Bible is nonsense; we know it, they know it. It’s pointless arguing with someone about what they don’t believe.

Find out what they do believe, before embarking on a well-constructed, logically infallible, perfectly presented but completely useless rant. If you’re not sure how to find out what their beliefs are, it’s quite simple: ask them, then shut up and listen!

It’s also highly ineffective to argue against any faith-based belief. It is much more constructive to offer them a godless alternative. Illustrate, demonstrate and educate; introduce the faithful to the wonder and beauty of the natural world. The horrific “evil” of nature – tsunamis, parasites, predators, hurricanes, volcanoes etc. are far more impressive than any Biblical story. The beauty of flowers, birds, rainbows, landscapes, birth, cell-structure, the cosmos. The ingenuity of technology – aerodynamics, 3D printers, laser microscopes, MRI and CAT scanners, keyhole surgery, stem-cell possibilities.

Explain to the theist how none of these things requires a god. They can believe if they want, they can even attribute the wonders of the world to a god, but there is really no place for Him among them. It’s time to let Him go.

222 COMMENTS

  1. But they SHOULD care about the fact that they dismiss entire parts of the Bible without even batting an eye. Because everything about their religion comes from the Bible. So if the Bible is the word of God, it either is true, or it isn’t.

    If they agree that it’s a man-made book with better and worse parts, then those people are basically admitting they’re have their own made-up religion, only loosely based on the Jesus character.

  2. I can see where you are coming from… the most frequent argument I encounter however goes something likes this, “The natural man does not understand the word of God”. With this one magic formula the evangelical or fundamentalist declares themselves the sole arbitor of what the bible says so the atheist, who is the deceived shill of satan by definition can be safely ignored no matter how flawlessly logical their argument may be the christian takes on a protean form that changes to absorb any perceived biblical contradiction or absurdity.

    I have found it far more productive to go for the foundational jugular… ask them how they know what they know? Upon what basis do they declare faith a superior or even viable means of discerning truth given humanities many different faiths. Otherwise you are merely arguing about people in the equivalent of a fairy tale… all very logical it may be but at the end of the day you are still discussing the doings of unicorns and flying pink elephants.

  3. I’m not sure that the OP is correct in saying:

    It’s also highly ineffective to argue against any faith-based belief.

    I agree 100% to show them the science of how the natural world works. But in doing that, you are showing up the falsity of their religion’s claims. Those honest Christian pioneer geologists who went in search of the evidence of Noah’s flood, were forced to admit that the Earth was in fact much older than the 6000 odd years given by Archbishop Ussher’s Biblical chronology.

    Like the Cheshire Cat, religion’s claims about reality fade into nothingness when confronted by science. I don’t have to argue that Jonah could not have lived in the belly of a great fish for three days. Those believing such nonsense should provide the evidence. Incidentally, I do think people can change their minds when confronted by evidence. Not all religios are unthinking automatons. They are just people like you and me, confronted with the same problems of every day life. Whether we like it or not reality forces its way into our lives continuously. A man walking on water becomes irrelevant.

  4. OK as far as it goes, but there is a strong strand of Christianity that believes the Bible is inerrant: every word of it is literally true. This includes the Reform Wing of the Church of England (nominally as mild a religion as you could wish for) – these are the nutters who continue to frustrate the church’s own desire to have women and gay bishops. These are the people who try, insidiously, to worm unadulterated Creationism into school science lessons.

    And even when you get past these people into your run-of-the-mill cherry pickers, the New Testament is every bit as bad as the Old in many ways. St Paul’s Letter to the Romans says children who disobey their parents deserve death. Jesus said (allegedly) he came not to update the [OT] law, but to uphold it. I could go on in this vein for some time.

  5. I agree with T.L.P: they should care about the foundations of their religion(the bible). Otherwise they come across as someone who assumes, just because they like Tom Cruise and believe in aliens, they must be scientologists. Which is kind of silly.

  6. I have to disagree with this sentiment. Especially this:
    “It is much more constructive to offer them a godless alternative.”

    When you dealing the god of the gaps this will get you no where. When you are dealing with a die hard fundamentalist there are no godless alternatives, He is everywhere.

    “Explain to the theist how none of these things requires a god.”

    Theists don’t care if god is required or not, faith is belief without evidence. If they required god for anything their faith would have already been shaken by some event in history, that would have inevitably been pointed out to them, and if it hasn’t and you’re the person to point it out, their faith wasn’t that strong to begin with and as such they probably weren’t picking and choosing to begin with. The only ones I’ve noticed that pick and choose are those who either argue those passages are taken out of context or that they entirety of the OT is irrelevant in light of jesus’ sacrifice. For the first part there are dozens of other quotes with which to counter on. For the second there are several NT quotes stating that the old law are not to be thrown out. Showing them all the things you’ve pointed out as evidence will summarily be thrown back as either proof of the need for a creator (MRI, Cat scans, Lasers), or give them a chance to use irreducible complexity. Both of which will only exacerbate the problem.

  7. Here’s the situation: sensible people know no valid epistemic criterion justifies any religious belief, and every defence of a religious belief boils down to trusting in the validity of an epistemic criterion of the form, “This is right because my book says so”. Any cherry-picking religious person therefore has to ALSO have a rule saying, “that criterion only gets invoked in these contexts”. Whatever way you slice it, religious belief is indefensible. The problem isn’t that religious people disagree with each other over how to cherry-pick; the problem is they all falsely believe there is at least one pair (p,X), p a proposition and X a text, such that if X says p, then it’s reasonable to believe p, regardless of whether any evidence for X exists. And no such pair exists. I don’t believe what science textbooks say because they say it; I believe it because of the evidence that supports it, the evidence textbooks et al discuss.

  8. I think the type of argument you put to a believer depends on what type of believer he/she is. The OP is most likely talking about the lukewarm church-goer who doesn’t think too hard about their beliefs and therefore doesn’t worry too much about biblical contradictions. These believers are in the majority in England (and in New Zealand where I live); indeed they don’t really want to engage in theological debate because they have an inner feeling that there is something behind their belief and a few contradictions are not going to disturb that feeling. So I think the OP is quite right in these cases to engage in a discussion which first exposes what his particular theist believes and then addresses that particular set of beliefs.

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever debated a believer, nor would I want to. If someone asks me about it, I will tell them, but nobody has.

  10. I agree thread author. What if we were to hold science to all the written words of the past four centuries. It seems atheists give themselves license to grow and evolve through science while at the same time they try to deny religion the very same license by attempting to hold it to words written in 2000yr old books!

  11. In reply to #9 by A3Kr0n:

    I don’t think I’ve ever debated a believer, nor would I want to. If someone asks me about it, I will tell them, but nobody has.

    Don’t debate believers but have been a member of this site for three months. That at least denotes an interest doesn’t it? Unless of course you’ve been here for three months and have made not a single judgement yet. that’s possible, maybe.

  12. My understanding of the New Atheist position is not that Religion is false and everyone should recognize that but that Religion is dangerous and that Positions based on faith or scripture should be challenged critically the same way we challenge any other notions.

    I, for one, have no interest in trying to debunk someone’s belief in a god. I do have an interest in debunking their belief that (for example) sex outside a church-certified monogamous relationship allowable only between one man and one woman is wrong no matter the circumstances…

    …or (as another example) that the singular, simple models of family or society that are endorsed by a religious text are a perfect fit for all families and all communities.

    …or (yet another example) that women should be forced into a subservient role, should be required to wear gender-based clothing, should be required to undergo mutilation, and should be restricted from some of the rights and liberties that are available to men.

    People can believe in whatever god they want, and I endorse preservation of their liberty to do so. People should not expect the public to follow morality that is dictated by their holy books. Nor should they pass laws to enforce such morality.

    When law does enforce a given ethos, it should be because the law’s secular benefits to the community outweigh the costs to personal freedom. (Ergo, respect of life and property are no-brainers. Prohibiting specific kinds of art because it offends someone..not so much.)

    EDIT: grammar.

  13. T.L.P

    You illustrate my point somewhat: “They SHOULD care…” is YOUR opinion. It may not be THEIR belief. What you say makes perfect sense…to me, and other atheists. However, the rationale of many Christians is that the Bible is probably written by men, much of it is inspired by God, there may be parts that weren’t – especially the pre-Jesus stuff. However, that doesn’t matter – there is enough in the Bible to justify their beliefs, so they’re happy to reject the bits that don’t.

    My issue is not with the validity of any argument about the fallaciousness of the Bible. My point is the motive of the atheist. Do you just want to win an argument? Do you want to achieve a sense of smug satisfaction, having bettered an easy target? If so, crack on. Proving the Bible to be nonsense is so triflingly easy, you really shouldn’t take any satisfaction from it. (Unless the Christian is a true fundamentalist and actually does believe it to be the infallible word of God; in that case, enjoy ridiculing him, but it won’t make a blind bit of difference to his faith!)

    On the other hand, if you genuinely want to lead a believer to enlightenment, destroying something he doesn’t care about won’t work. I think the real challenge for atheists is not “to win the argument with fundamentalists”, but to convert the masses through reasoned, and reasonable (in the gentil sense), persuasion.

    Regards,
    Stew

  14. ******PLEASE READ BEFORE COMMENTING******

    The more observant among you will note the title of this discussion. “Not My God” – The Argument Atheists Consistently Fail to Address.

    This discussion is aimed at addressing that. The “Not My God” argument is used by Christians who do not consider the Bible to be the absolute, direct and infallible word of God. It is used by the moderate, common-or-garden Christian who goes to church less than perhaps he thinks he should, and has a personal relationship with God/Jesus that does not necessarily mesh too precisely with the exact word of the Bible.

    Regards,
    Stew

  15. When confronted with certain arguments, particularly about the Old Testament God, most Christians point out that they do not believe that God would have unruly teenagers stoned to death or that Moses ordered his captains to slaughter innocents. They see no wrong in eating shellfish or wearing two types of cloth, and many are happily prepared to work on the Sabbath.

    And those Christians you describe would probably have no issue with Homosexuality, women clerics, abortion, contraception, etc. either. But this doesn’t describe most Christians…with over 38,000 flavors of Christianity the issue is not as simple as the OP is generalizing.

    There is stacks of the dogma to be witnessed on the website Strange Notions, a place set up by Catholics to facilitate a “central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists. It’s built around three things: Reason. Faith. Dialogue.”

    The leading political Party in Northern Ireland is the Democratic Unionist Party. It is chock full of sectarian bigots who are homophobic, misogynistic, pro-life, creationist, bible literalist’s. Ian Paisley Jr., son of the world renowned religiously sectarian bigot firebrand and founder of the party said…“I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it – harm society. That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them – I mean, I hate what they do”.

    Just last week he was despicable to Peter Tatchell on the BBC’s “Question Time” discussing same sex marriage.

    The leader of the party and First Minister of the NI Assembly’ Peter Robinson, publicly stated that homosexuality was against Christian theology.

    “[Peter’s] wife, Iris, [who was also a democratically elected member of the DUP] had said that homosexuality was an abomination and that gay people could be turned around “with help”. These comments came the same week that a gay man was badly beaten in a purported homophobic attack. A police investigation was brought on, claiming “her comments breached hate crime laws but no charges were brought.”

    “Peter Robinson supported his wife’s statements, saying: “It wasn’t Iris Robinson who determined that homosexuality was an abomination, it was The Almighty. This is the Scriptures. It is a strange world indeed where somebody on the one hand talks about equality, but won’t allow Christians to have the equality, the right to speak, the right to express their views”.

    Ironically, Iris Robinson had to “retire” from office after an extra marital affair[adultery] with a lad of 19 while she was 59, and misappropriation of council funds [stealing], back in 2008.

    “The Democratic Unionist Party is viewed as a socially conservative right wing party, with strong links to Protestant churches. It has had several prolific members come out against homosexuality and has also advocated the promotion of creationism in Northern Irish classrooms.”

    They are advocates of…

    “Sunday shopping refers to the ability of retailers to operate stores on Sunday, a day that Christian tradition typically recognises as the Sabbath, a “day of rest”.

    …which includes recreational facilities also.

    “The [Christian] Institute’s response states: “Given that there are already five hours in which to shop on Sundays, to privilege the minority who want even more time to shop over the many who want to enjoy their legitimate religious liberties is incompatible with a tolerant society.”

    “Northern Ireland Officer for The Christian Institute Callum Webster added: “Any further extension of Sunday trading will put even greater pressure on Christians in the retail sector to work on Sunday.”

    “In May 2010, Nelson McCausland (the Culture Minister and the party’s North Belfast MLA) asked Northern Ireland’s museums to include creationism in their exhibits. He was berated by Richard Dawkins (among others), who said: “If the museum was to go down that road then perhaps they should bring in the Stork theory of where babies come from. Or perhaps the museum should introduce the flat Earth theory”

    These lunatics are in charge of the asylum and they believe the crap in the OT are instructions for living. They want to force their lunacy on those of us that know it’s bullshite.

    The erroneous bollocks of their folly needs pointing out, neigh, demands pointing out to the imbeciles. These people won’t be debated rationally as Richard Dawkins knows only too well, they are fundamentalist’s, so they need to be ridiculed, not as a means to convert, but as a display to those that are susceptible to a bit of free thinking that they might see the obvious holes riddled through the biblical texts of woo woo.

    That’s just my tuppence worth for the plight my family has to endure with these fuckwits in caharge…rant over.

  16. The atheist glibly responds with something like: “Well, that’s what your Bible says… You can’t pick and choose, either the Bible is true or it isn’t…Ha! Got you! I Win!” And that’s that. The atheist sits smugly with his arms folded, inwardly celebrating his victory of perfect logic over the backward and stupid Christian.

    The backwards stupid Xtians don’t care about evidence or logic. Logic to them is a circular argument (with assorted other fallacies), which confirms whatever version of god they have imagined and attributed to the bible they have not read, have selectively cherry-picked, or have blindly accepted from versions of pre-digested stories, made up by preachers. They have been indoctrinated in the view that “faith” in wish-thinking and in fellow wish-thinkers is a “superior form of intellect”. It is the well known

    Dunning-Kruger effect

    This overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.

    ..

    @OP – The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?

    A respect for evidence, facts, truth, and honesty, gives atheists the right to object to fiction being presented as facts and con-men and liars claiming an exclusive version of “truth”.

    Explain to the theist how none of these things requires a god. They can believe if they want, they can even attribute the wonders of the world to a god, but there is really no place for Him among them. It’s time to let Him go.

    So many times we have seen detailed explanation patiently presented to theists and fundamentalists who are only interested in the delusions they want to believe. There might be the occasional waverer, but for most their minds are closed to evidence and reasoning.

    @OP- The Christian knows that most of the Bible is rubbish, that’s why he’s never bothered to read it – he did try once, when he was younger, but found it a tedious, impenetrable tome and gave up.

    This is true of some cultural Xtians and weak Xtians but not of fundamentalists. The Literalists and fundamentalists, like many Xtians have gullibly accepted the false claims that the bible is a historical record. Most of them have no idea about other gospels (http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html ), or when the various parts or versions were written.

    @OP – But you don’t need to know every word of the Bible to appreciate God’s love – Jesus’s message is writ large in every interaction, every observation, every emotion and every experience of every day.

    You don’t need to know or study any of it if you gullibly swallow whatever the preachers say, or you just make it up according to how you feel at the time!

  17. I can grasp the basics of Christianity. The basics of Christianity is the Bible. I have not yet run into a Christian who was so obtuse they would not admit that.

    If a person wants to pick and choose what parts of the Bible they buy into, that’s fine with me (indeed, I certainly hope they don’t buy into it all wholesale). However, in doing so a person is both negating the infallibility of the Bible and affirming the inherent ability of humans to judge right from wrong (or at the very least, to engage in the kind of moral philosophy, independent of religion, to develop a moral code). Ergo, their morals come from secular sources, not religious sources, so ultimately I have to ask: why bother with the religious stuff in the first place?

  18. I don’t see this as an argument against the existence of God so much as an argument against an authoritarian view of ethics. When we ask Christians and others why they do not advocate draconian punishment such as stoning, we’re demonstrating that their ethical sense is based on something other than their adherence to scripture. I think the argument has a different purpose than what you think it does.

  19. Jesus is supposed to have claimed that the Old Testament is to be kept as valid and law. It is not to be passed up, ignored, justified or rejected; see: [ Thou Shall Not Ignore the Old Testament ! ] (http://www.evilbible.com/do_not_ignore_ot.htm)

    If Christians want to rationalise or ignore the O.T. they need to read their N.T. more carefully, for it says that they must NOT..

  20. The OP almost seems reasonable but I don’t think that it is. Nor do I think that the facts about religious faith are squarely faced.
    “When confronted with certain arguments, particularly about the Old Testament God, most Christians point out that they do not believe that God would have unruly teenagers stoned to death or that Moses ordered his captains to slaughter innocents. They see no wrong in eating shellfish or wearing two types of cloth, and many are happily prepared to work on the Sabbath.”

    Actually when confronted with Old Testament beliefs that are not political talking points many Christians behave like deer caught in headlights or rabbits that have gone ‘tharn.’ Most leftist Christians from traditions of faith steeped in liberal theology might disavow these beliefs, and offer a number of reasons why they reject these passages, but most Christians? I am not so sure. Even many of the liberally minded Christians think God was more or less okay with the things described in the Old Testament just that Jesus fulfilled the law and we no longer have to follow the old codes to off set the weight of our sins. There is a lot of thought shared between the liberally bent Christian and the Fundamentalist christian, and I don’t think one can just magically wipe that away. My stats prof in college was about as liberal and open-minded as you can get, but he fully believed that the battle of Jericho happened exactly as described in the OT, and he believed that evolution was the best explanation for biodiversity.

    “The atheist glibly responds with something like: “Well, that’s what your Bible says… You can’t pick and choose, either the Bible is true or it isn’t…Ha! Got you! I Win!” And that’s that. The atheist sits smugly with his arms folded, inwardly celebrating his victory of perfect logic over the backward and stupid Christian.”

    Here I think you misrepresent both the general attitude of most atheists when we note cherry-picking and the whole point of bringing up said cherry picking. We generally bring this point up because the theist is trying to have their cake and eat it too. To take only the most obvious example of homosexuality we find all kinds of intellectual high crimes and misdemeanors. Often, the most frequent justification for Christian dogma on same sex relationships/attraction is found in the Old Testament. If a Christian of any stripe trots out Leviticus it seems perfectly reasonable to ask them why they are so inconsistent in their adherence to the law. On what basis have they to pick and chose? If they are going to use the book as an authority on some matters, but dismiss it for dubious or ill considered reasons, we, their potential converts or adversaries are entitled to ask why this should be so/ I’m not sure why this should be objectionable.

    “The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?”

    Sure they can, and we can point out how inconsistent their approach is. The point isn’t to dictate to theists how and what they are allowed to believe. IF they want to claim that they are being intellectually honest though, then they need to have a good reason for this maneuver. If they can’t offer it, then we can say they are being unreasonable, and non-rational.

    “The Christian, far from feeling wounded, reflects that it’s pointless arguing with someone who can’t even grasps the basics of Christianity, and just keeps harping on about some Old Testament rubbish that the Christian knows little about and cares even less. The Christian knows that most of the Bible is rubbish, that’s why he’s never bothered to read it – he did try once, when he was younger, but found it a tedious, impenetrable tome and gave up. But you don’t need to know every word of the Bible to appreciate God’s love – Jesus’s message is writ large in every interaction, every observation, every emotion and every experience of every day.”

    I’ve only brought, and seen brought up, the cherry picking when Christians want to have it both ways. When they want to use the Old Testament, and simultaneously dismiss it when it is something they don’t agree with. This is not a problem of just fundamentalists. I’ve heard Catholic priests claim to find evolutionary theory consistent with reality at the same time talk about Adam and Even, but reject the Flood as a mere myth. That was a fairly liberal Catholic priest.

    “My dear fellow atheists, the ridiculousness of God as espoused in the Bible is a STRAW MAN. No buts. We will never convert any theist by picking on the easy target. Yes the Bible is nonsense; we know it, they know it. It’s pointless arguing with someone about what they don’t believe.”

    I hate to point out the obvious here, but it is often the Christian who gives us that easy target. And in so doing, demonstrates how incorrect it is to say they know the bible is nonsense.

  21. But then again, I almost always see this argument made against fundamental christians. And these types do indeed believe the bible to be the literal word of god, old testament and all.

  22. Speaking of straw men I think this one qualifies as well

    The atheist sits smugly with his arms folded, inwardly celebrating his victory of perfect logic over the backward and stupid Christian.

    I’ll bet there are more Christians who do believe all their bible than atheists who behave like that.

    Yes the Bible is nonsense; we know it, they know it.

    Actually they don’t. Even moderate Christians who reject most of the old testament stuff will still believe in the divinity of Jesus based on what they regard as first hand witness statements in the bible as to miracles and resurrection. The Archbishop of Canterbury would sign up to that for example.

    Explain to the theist how none of these things requires a god. They can believe if they want, they can even attribute the wonders of the world to a god, but there is really no place for Him among them. It’s time to let Him go.

    Come on over to Strange Notions and give it a try.

    Michael

  23. You have a point, with some Christians.

    However the problem with Christianity along with all the other ‘ities’ is that they use selected passages of the bible to justify their own individual god. For this reason it IS important to keep pointing out problems in logic, consistency and so forth.

    Start looking at all the laws and discrimination based upon views contained in this book and you’ll find that gays cannot marry because of this book, women in much of the world are still considered second class citizens in much of the world in part because of this book, Euthanasia is not allowed in most places because of this book, and on and on…

    So it’s all fine to say Christians are not going to be convinced by my arguments that’s fine, I’m genuinely happy for them to believe what they want. However, I don’t argue with the religious for fun, I do it because they vote and try to encourage politicians to pass legislation that discriminates against me and mine because of some artificial cloud of respect I’m meant to give their irrational beliefs. At least in public discourse they should have their views throughly criticized and be asked to justify any stance they take on public policy. The New Atheist movement (a term I hate) stands out because of how loud they are shouting and not letting go of issues that need constant and deliberate attention until things improve. That’s the point, characterizing atheists as arrogantly pointing out the flaws in logic misses the whole point.

    Mind you is atheists wish to spend their time arrogantly pointing our flaws in logic surely this is also as much their right and the religious to preach to us all?

  24. What many Atheists and many Christians fail to grasp is that in the Old Testament there are 3 different categories of Law which are not all treated the same. The problem is that some Atheist argue that to be consistent Christians (and I guess Jews) should keep them all…not so. The other problem is that some Christians also think to be consistent they should keep all…again not true and also is a misunderstanding of what it means to be “God’s word”. The big problem with this is how to know which part of the Old Testament Law falls into what category of Law.

  25. In reply to #10 by blue_book:

    I agree thread author. What if we were to hold science to all the written words of the past four centuries. It seems atheists give themselves license to grow and evolve through science while at the same time they try to deny religion the very same license by attempting to hold it to words written in…

    No, they are the ones trying to hold on to words written 2000 years ago, if they could let go of it there wouldn’t be any religious people. They choose to selectively let go of some bits and hold onto others when the extent to which they are harmless is the extent to which they have let go of it. When they have let go of it all they will be atheists.

  26. To be honest, you’re unlikely to come into a debate with one of those vague, liberal Christians that often. The reason the debates come about is when you come across those Christians who want to ban homosexuality, teach creationism in schools etc and we try and counter. When that happens they almost invariably turn to the bible to back up their stance. We should ban homosexuality because it says so in the bible.

    Now, you are correct in saying that we cannot tell theists what they can and can’t believe. However what they CANNOT do legitimately is use a source to justify their position on something whilst they simultaneously reject other sections from the exact same source. If it is ok to disregard the passage on mixed cloth, then you must explain why it shouldn’t be ok to disregard the passage on homosexuality and vice versa.

    The other problem is the distinction between people’s individual beliefs and the dogma of religious organisations. If people under the branch of Christianity all believe different parts of the bible – which they’re ok to do – then any religious head cannot say that ‘x should be law because it’s a Christian principle’ when everyone under your umbrella believes differently.

  27. Dogma of all stripes holds people unreasonably in thrall. The less of it the better. The less of it the more freedom is bestowed on an individual to think, act and be fully moral. Dogmas may fade to become mere tags for our innate aesthetic and moral dispositions, empathic, fearful etc.

    The tag, the descriptor someone uses, is the only complaint when dogmas have relaxed to this near minimal state of values. To identify as Christian say when you are a love and niceness hopeful agnostic is to endorse a cultural poison. You may persuade the poisoners to your view, but given the more likely outcome that you will unintentionally endorse what honestly you would despise, the safer route is to use a safer tag.

  28. I’ve never felt that this characterized the atheist position(s). Theism, deism, pantheism, even accommodationist agnosticism: all of them are targets of criticism because all of them are flawed. Even Dawkins himself tackled the accommodationist agnostic, deistic version of god, and the interventionist version of theism in his book. It’s utterly wrong to think this is an issue atheists haven’t tackled.

    The “I see God in everything” line of argumentation is actually weaker than the “Bible as evidence” line because it either contradicts any interventionist interpretation or renders itself unprovable; it’s simply cheap wordplay designed to make the believer untouchable (“You don’t see it? Well, you don’t see as I do, my friend”). A Christian who isn’t merely a “cultural Christian” is, according to our best understanding of the world today, simply wrong.

    And to be frank, since the only “evidence” for Jesus’ existence comes from the Bible, the Christian who venerates Jesus’ message of love and yet doesn’t believe the bible’s account is making a hash of their own case.

  29. In reply to #8 by Mike Atkinson:

    These believers are in the majority in England (and in New Zealand where I live); indeed they don’t really want to engage in theological debate because they have an inner feeling that there is something behind their belief and a few contradictions are not going to disturb that feeling.

    Yes. Countless times I’ve heard (when the super’s claims are being scrutinized), “I don’t want to engage in a theological debate.” It’s a reply that’s almost as common as, “well it’s just my faith.” Another conversation stopper. When I reply that I too don’t want to have a theological debate (I want a discussion devoid of theology, in fact), they stand there with their mouths open, voiceless.

    These two defensive postures, “it’s just my faith” and “I don’t want to discuss theology,” are like quasi-evolutionary pressures for selecting the shapes of human ear canals and fingertips. Combine that with the lingering value of martyrdom for beliefs and it becomes impossible to dispute that entire generations have truly lost access to cognitive freedom.

    Mike

  30. Whoa! Talk about smug. How do you know this method works? Better still, how do you know how another person’s thought process operates?

    I’m glad people are still analyzing the contents of the bible. For me it was (but not limited to) the dissecting and identifying the inconsistencies in the bible that turned me away from god and religion. I haven’t participated in a church service for thirty years and I did not consider myself a devout anything.

    I read the bible once (it was boring) but still clung to the god belief just for the sake of clinging to something. Of course I realized that much of the bible was nonsense, but it wasn’t until others explained to me WHY and HOW the bible was nonsense that I was able to let it go.

  31. I understand the OP’s point, but I think there is value in using the Bible’s inconsistencies with ‘less-than’fundamental’ believers. These people may not have read the Bible, but they will believe what their preacher says, which is that the book is true and infallible.

    Pointing out that this is not true can perhaps make them really think about it for the first time. Leaving aside the specific arguments against Bible-informed bigotry, I think most of us would agree that introducing individual people to reason and logic is worthwhile.

  32. In reply to #29 by Smill:

    In reply to post 27. Hi. That’s interesting; what would you suggest as a safer tag?

    Unitarian Universalism perhaps? They should shorten it to Double U or some such. It would make a great web address.

  33. In reply to #31 by Shell:

    I read the bible once (it was boring) but still clung to the god belief just for the sake of clinging to something. Of course I realized that much of the bible was nonsense, but it wasn’t until others explained to me WHY and HOW the bible was nonsense that I was able to let it go.

    It is so easy to say, ” Ah! we know that refuted bit (cherry-pick to taste) is nonsense”, but think of all the “good bits”!

    Denial is so much simpler than understanding for the lazy thinker! (A cross is a badge of “my superior morals” – no details required!)

  34. If those christians denounce what is written in the Old Testament (OT) then how can they refer to themselves as being christian?

    One believe or one does not believe, one accepts that what is written as being the truth or one is not accepting that what is written as truth!

    Nobody can accept a law partially, all in the law is valid and when one selects that what one finds suitable or acceptable and the rest is dismissed…….. then, in my opinion at least, one is a hypocrite!

    And THAT (being a hypocrite) is something what Jesus and God finds an abomination at the core!

    I would love being able to be selective in what laws or parts of laws I want to adhere to, but when I select the part were it says it is my right to defend myself by killing another person and I dismiss the part were it says that the danger to my person must be substantial before I can kill another person, then I am wrong, and a hypocrite!

    The same is valid when I would follow the bible as my leading guide, but would dismiss the parts were it says (for instance) that I can not eat sea food, not wear certain fabrics, etc. etc.

    The people referring to themselves as christians but are dismissing certain parts of their guide (for whatever reason) are, simply, hypocrites!

    It is all or nothing…………………………

  35. If they do not live by Leviticus, then I do not understand why they adhere to Genesis.

    I bring this up to them all the time….. to no avail. They have been told what to believe and that is that.

  36. You’re wrong, its not atheists who are failing to address the points raised, its Christians. If the Bible is “The Word Of God”, you don’t get to pick and choose which bits you agree with.

    It even says as much in the Bible: “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What makest thou?'”

    The point of the article seems to be that atheists know more about the Bible than Christians, but that’s not news.

    You can’t understand the Bible without stopping being a Christian, and you can’t live your life based on Biblical teachings without acting like a total barbarian

  37. In reply to #22 by mmurray:

    Explain to the theist how none of these things requires a god. They can believe if they want, they can even attribute the wonders of the world to a god, but there is really no place for Him among them. It’s time to let Him go.

    Come on over to Strange Notions and give it a try.

    I’d forgotten about that website. Looks like there are some great discussions there. I might have to visit and change that. :-j

    For starters, their About section states:

    If Catholics are wrong about God, then we hope our critics can correct us so that we will no longer be ignorant. We hope atheists will be open to the same kind of correction. The goal here isn’t to win an argument, but to help each other find the Truth.

    I have a teensy weensy problem with that capitalized t in Truth. And secondly, finding the truth means not winning an argument? I’m no longer fluent in gibberish, I might need some translating help while I’m there.

    Mike

  38. at #36 and others…my post below suggest why it is ok not to follow every rule/law if you are a Christian.

  39. In reply to #38 by Sample:

    In reply to #22 by mmurray:

    Explain to the theist how none of these things requires a god. They can believe if they want, they can even attribute the wonders of the world to a god, but there is really no place for Him among them. It’s time to let Him go.

    Come on over to Strange Notions and give it…

    Come on over Quine, Ignorant, ZenDruid and others are already there. They have a leader board of top posters (bottom RHS of screen). Atheists are running 1, 2, and 3.

    Michael

  40. In reply to #35 by Master Adrian:

    If those christians denounce what is written in the Old Testament (OT) then how can they refer to themselves as being christian?

    It is all or nothing…………………………

    But consistency is only a requirement for rational people. Those with compartmentalised cognitive dissonance, have no problem with believing self-contradictions, circular arguments or personal non-dictionary reinterpretations of words!

    That is why there are so many sects and cults, all contradicting (or on occasions fighting) each other over their “interpretations” of the same book!

    “Not My God” – The Argument Atheists Consistently Fail to Address.

    Atheists can only address each customised version of “my god” individually;- according to its particular properties. Each owner’s pet god, usually has at least some properties which conflict with those of other sects’ pet gods. There is no “standard refutation” of whatever variation of whimsy an individual may make up, or “interpret”!
    Magic delusions have many mysterious ways – and ignoring or contradicting laws of science, does not present a problem in the minds of some “faith-thinkers”.

  41. “Well, that’s what your Bible says… You can’t pick and choose, either the Bible is true or it isn’t…Ha! Got you! I Win!”

    I think that that the real issue is WHY the religious person picks some areas and rejects others. It’s not so much that we are attempting to define a person’s religious beliefs for them, it’s that we are pointing out the rather haphazard process they use to determine what is knowledge of reality magically revealed by God to certain folks, and what is not.

    I will say, though, that there are points where the atheist may justifiably challenge a religious person’s personal definition of their religion. For example, if a person identifies as Roman Catholic, but does not believe in the Resurrection, then one may legitimately ask in what sense they are Catholic.

  42. In reply to #42 by blitz442:

    I will say, though, that there are points where the atheist may justifiably challenge a religious person’s personal definition of their religion. For example, if a person identifies as Roman Catholic, but does not believe in the Resurrection, then one may legitimately ask in what sense they are Catholic.

    Eminently reasonable. And yet when I have to say I am an ex-Catholic in a faith environment, not a few insist that I am mistaken because baptism made an indelible mark upon my soul. I think this phenomenon falls under the “you can’t reason a person out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into” category.

    Mike

  43. Find out what they do believe, before embarking on a well-constructed, logically infallible, perfectly presented but completely useless rant. If you’re not sure how to find out what their beliefs are, it’s quite simple: ask them, then shut up and listen!

    Yes… yes… find out about your audience. I get it now. I just wish xians would do that before the “greatest literary work known to man-kind” has my eyes water and glaze over imagining all our immanent deaths by solar wind.

  44. Rather than explaining anything, I rather teach them Critical Thinking skills,
    ask them questions like…(not necessarily in this order)

    How do you know what you know?
    How do people know what they know?
    How do they know its true?

    What is evidence?
    How do we know what we know?

    If you must give examples of knowing and evidence, use Conspiracy Theory examples, try not to use Religion or Scriptures.

    Be open to what they say to you, try to repeat what they say and be open to the possibility that they know something you don’t know !
    Don’t assume that they are less knowledgeable, assume You are less Knowledgeable.
    Be truly humble and be ready to learn something new.
    If you take this attitude of humbleness and honest openness the person you are speaking to will do the same.

    Remember that the conversation is about how we acquire knowledge and whether this knowledge is valid or not, the conversation is about what things we discard as true and what things we accept.

    Its not about de-conversion. its about teaching people a better way to arrive at the truth that will be more beneficial for them.

    I have been having conversations like this and its very effective.

    Thanks

  45. The “A” badge, of course, has exemption for entirely superior reasons.

    In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #31 by Shell:

    I read the bible once (it was boring) but still clung to the god belief just for the sake of clinging to something. Of course I realized that much of the bible was nonsense, but it wasn’t until others explained to me WHY and HOW the bible was nonsense that I was able to le…

  46. In reply to #46 by jburnforti:

    Apologies.The “A” badge, of course, has exemption for entirely superior reasons refers to Alan4discussion’s remark about the cross being a badge of superior morals – no details required.

    In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #31 by Shell:

    I read the bible once (it was boring) but still clung to the god belief just for the sake of clinging to something. Of course I realized that much of the bible was…

  47. No No No No No…. This is my problem with it all. You CANNOT sit and edit THE WORD OF GOD. You can categorize the laws. You can enjoy some of the stories more than others. Certain morals can hit home more effectively. But you cannot say that it is all the word of god and then shit all over some of it and abide by other parts of it. If it were simply ‘THE TEN SUGGESTIONS” you could get away with picking and choosing. But it is the ten COMMANDMENTS FROM GOD.

    So, next time someone hates on a homosexual because of the fucking bible ask them why they didn’t stone their father to death when he cheated on their mother. This is where the hypocrisy comes home to roost. Not everything has to be “all or none” but if you are saying that this book is the unadulterated literal word of god; then you abide by it all. Or I think you are an asshole and will tell you.

  48. Yeah you did but you left how to know which laws your suppose to obey as an open question.

    ” The big problem with this is how to know which part of the Old Testament Law falls into what category of Law.”

    I’ve checked the internet many times for answers to how Christians should treat the law and there are literally a million sites for every perspective from strict obedience to all of the old testament laws to completely ignoring the law. Considering the fact that god wanted the Bible to be a book to live by it’s a wonder that he wasn’t, or didn’t inspire the writers to be, clearer on such important matters.

    In reply to #39 by jimbobjim:

    at #36 and others…my post below suggest why it is ok not to follow every rule/law if you are a Christian.

  49. Stew282: “When confronted with certain arguments, particularly about the Old Testament God, most Christians point out that they do not believe that God would have unruly teenagers stoned to death or that Moses ordered his captains to slaughter innocents.”

    1. Do you have any evidence that that’s what most Christians say? (in my experience, it’s a small minority).
      In particular, do you know what the stance of the Roman Catholic Church on the Old Testament?
      Do you know the position of, say. William Lane Craig?

    Stew282: “The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?”

    Atheists, like everyone else, have the right to make claims and arguments about what other people should or should not believe. Why would anyone need that someone give them a right in order to have it?
    Also, by the way, some of us challenge the reply that the Old Testament is mistaken but Christianity is true by explaining many of the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and particularly those cases in which the New Testament refers to Mosaic Law, or some other parts of the OT. Stew282: “When confronted with certain arguments, particularly about the Old Testament God, most Christians point out that they do not believe that God would have unruly teenagers stoned to death or that Moses ordered his captains to slaughter innocents.”

    1. Do you have any evidence that that’s what most Christians say? (in my experience, it’s a small minority).
      In particular, do you know what the stance of the Roman Catholic Church on the Old Testament?
      Do you know the position of, say, William Lane Craig, or Alvin Plantinga?

    Stew282: “The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?”

    Atheists, like everyone else, have the right to make claims and arguments about what other people should or should not believe. Why would anyone need that someone give them a right in order to have it?

    Also, by the way, some of us challenge the reply that the Old Testament is mistaken but Christianity is true and the NT is correct by explaining many of the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and particularly those cases in which the New Testament refers to Mosaic Law, or some other parts of the OT.

    Stew282: “My dear fellow atheists, the ridiculousness of God as espoused in the Bible is a STRAW MAN.”
    A strawman is an attack on a misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.
    However, most Christians adhere to versions of Christianity that actually support Mosaic Law as inspired by Yahweh.
    So, arguing against their views using the OT is no strawman.
    As for those Christians who reject OT atrocities, again, some of us challenge the reply that the Old Testament is mistaken but Christianity is true and the NT is correct by explaining many of the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and particularly those cases in which the New Testament refers to Mosaic Law, or some other parts of the OT. That’s not a strawman, but actually an argument against the interpretation supported by that minority of Christians.

    Stew282: “Yes the Bible is nonsense; we know it, they know it. “
    Actually, most Christians do not know it.
    Some reject the OT but embrace the NT, so one may argue based on the NT, pointing out the references to the OT.

    Yes, there may be a minuscule proportion of Christians that may reject much of the NT as well. In those extremely unusual cases, another approach would be needed, but that does not make approaches that encompass the majority of Christians (nearly all, if one includes the NT-to-OT variant) strawmen.

    On the issue of convincing Christians, in my experience, nearly all Christians (or theists, for that matter) will not be persuaded by any arguments at our disposal, or at anyone’s disposal at this point.
    However, that’s not the only goal one may properly have. There are others, such as reducing the risk that people who aren’t Christians would become Christians in the future, or giving other non-theists arguments that they can use in order to reduce such risk, etc., and good moral arguments based on the OT and NT as well may be helpful. This is not to say that other approaches should not be used. But the more good arguments we provide, the better our chances.

    Other than that, I do not know what argument would be more likely to persuade a Christian, in the very infrequent cases in which some arguments persuade them. It depends on the case, but I don’t know what’s more common

  50. Stew282,

    On the issue of persuading Christians, in my experience, nearly all Christians will not be persuaded by any arguments at our disposal, or at anyone’s disposal at this point.
    However, that’s not the only goal one may properly have. There are others, such as reducing the risk that people who aren’t Christians would become Christians in the future, or giving other non-theists arguments that they can use in order to reduce such risk, etc.
    This is not to say that other approaches should not be used. But the more good arguments we provide, the better our chances. And a moral case against Christianity is a good argument, when properly made.

    Other than that, I do not know what argument would be more likely to persuade a Christian, in the very infrequent cases in which some arguments persuade them. It depends on the case.

  51. In reply to #46 by jburnforti:

    The “A” badge, of course, has exemption for entirely superior reasons.

    In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:

    I get various presents with an “A” – but usually its just a personalised initial!

  52. The purpose of any dialogue between Christians and atheist should be to inform and educate, not necessarily to sway. (And it should go both ways. Just because someone is Christian doesn’t mean she has nothing new to add to the dialogue.) One is not converted or won over, rather they have to be allowed to decide by their own volition when their position has changed.

    But I’ve heard even literalists analogize scripture with a leopard (or the leopard-like beast in Revelations) saying that some scripture is literal, and some scripture is allegory, and that it is possible to tell which is which (as if it were obvious). Typically, these parishioners believe that their intuition and their pastor and their denomination are singularly capable of determining which is which. (The term cafeteria Christianity is derision from the outside for this practice, usually by other Christians guilty of the same method.) The question arises: In a sea of dissenting voices each who believes that its own interpretation is the divine truth, how do we determine which of them is right? Rationalists trust an evidence based approach: truth will reveal itself in collaborating evidence in nature, as it is with all things less regarded as divine.

    From an epistemological standpoint we have little debate with liberal Christian denominations such as the Unitarians or the Episcopalians. Some groups regard the bible as a historical document. Some Christian conventional stories are interpreted based on the circumstances (King Lot beat his son, from which we get the advocacy of corporeal punishment. Lot’s son in turn grew up to be a hated tyrant. This is interpreted as a cautionary tale of cause and effect.) Most liberal groups expect Jesus was an Arabic Jew as opposed to the Anglo-Saxon or Aryan depictions that are commonplace today.

    Incidentally: https://www.google.com/search?q=jesus&tbm=isch

  53. In reply to #46 by jburnforti:

    The “A” badge, of course, has exemption for entirely superior reasons.

    The A badge posits no intrinsic morality, except maybe a skeptical approach to epistemology. Rationality presents a descriptive outlook, not a prescriptive one. And when we are outraged (as we sometimes should be!) by the cruelty or injustice of the real world, it is up to us to fix the real world…or to continue being outraged.

    For example, the lack of Heaven in an future life indicates that either we create heaven in this one, or we just don’t get heaven.

  54. In reply to #53 by Uriel-238:

    The purpose of any dialogue between Christians and atheist should be to inform and educate, not necessarily to sway. (And it should go both ways. Just because someone is Christian doesn’t mean she has nothing new to add to the dialogue.) One is not converted or won over, rather they have to be allow…

    Yes, exactly. I would add as with any other topic whether its science, history, etc. If you really want to have an honest discussion you can’t start off by assuming the person you are talking with is an idiot (as some people on this site do with all theists) and you should truly have an open mind, be willing to admit that you might learn something from them rather than assume you are 100% right they are 100% wrong and the only possible good outcome is for them to realize that fact. I’ve had some very heated and interesting discussions with theist friends at various points in my life.

  55. In reply to #55 by Red Dog:

    If you really want to have an honest discussion you can’t start off by assuming the person you are talking with is an idiot

    99% of the time assuming otherwise would be intellectually dishonest.

  56. In reply to #56 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #55 by Red Dog:

    If you really want to have an honest discussion you can’t start off by assuming the person you are talking with is an idiot… 99% of the time assuming otherwise would be intellectually dishonest.

    So you are saying that 99% of theists are idiots? Where you work or used to work were most people atheists? Because they never have been where I worked. So that means you go through life thinking that most of your work colleagues are idiots. Isn’t it difficult to collaborate with people you think are idiots?

  57. In reply to #57 by Red Dog:

    So you are saying that 99% of theists are idiots?

    To me about 99.999% of the population seem like idiots, but atheists occupy about 1% of the population, so I was trying to be inclusive. I find most MENSA meetings dull and uninspiring.

    Where you work or used to work were most people atheists?

    Have met very few atheists.

    Because they never have been where I worked. So that means you go through life thinking that most of your work colleagues are idiots.

    Yes.

    Isn’t it difficult to collaborate with people you think are idiots?

    Not really.

    Soul destroying perhaps, but not difficult.

  58. In reply to #54 by Uriel-238:

    In reply to #46 by jburnforti:

    The “A” badge, of course, has exemption for entirely superior reasons. I meant that Atheists are capable of ignoring in themselves what they criticise in others.

    Rationality is prescriptive from the off if it enjoins us (as is usually the case) to make use of it and not, say, religious dogma in our decision making. And you yourself glided rather smoothly (if perhaps unknowingly) into something that looks very like prescription in your next sentence using, presumably, rationality as your guide. Though I do agree with your conclusion.

    The A badge posits no intrinsic morality, except maybe a skeptical approach to epistemology. Rationality presents a descriptive outlook, not a prescriptive one. And when we are outraged (as we som…

  59. I fully agree with the OP. I live in a fairly secular, Christian dominated society and I, as many others (I believe), don’t go through a daily epic battle with religion. I sometimes see otherwise intelligent people making strange arm movements when passing in front of a church, kissing unknown men hands (ouch) or closing their eyes in a fervent(?) prayer. And what can I say? Do you believe in Noah’s story? Do you believe the story with the talking snake? Do you know about the Inquisition? Is the Earth 6000 years old, really? They would dismiss me, and rightly so, as a grumpy obsessed simpleton. So yes, I think we should try to have more nuanced and intelligent discussions with those people, who are the majority of believers in the west (maybe not in the southern US).

  60. In reply to 58

    And if they’re collaborating with someone they think is an idiot (know who I mean?), that must help. Hope this is.

  61. Because of this thread I remembered years ago when a friend’s son said something where I had an aha! moment. We were talking about the birth of christ and how Mary and Joseph were travelling around looking for a place to give birth. This 10 yr-old said, “Wasn’t Joseph a carpenter? Why didn’t he just build something for them?” I thought it was an interesting observation. The unraveling process can happen through any type of dialog, it doesn’t have to be in any order or stick to a specific theme. I don’t remember the birth story, so there could be a counter to his statement, but it worked at getting me to “think” more about the bible/religion and what else didn’t quite add up.

  62. In reply to #59 by jburnforti:

    …you yourself glided rather smoothly (if perhaps unknowingly) into something that looks very like prescription in your next sentence using, presumably, rationality as your guide.

    This has been a part of the epistemological aspect of rationality I’ve never been able to fully master: The rationalist regards deriving knowledge from observation and logic, the process of making and testing hypotheses as natural or even axiomatic, but it’s still a presumption. It doesn’t lend itself to why these processes are intrinsically better than blind faith to sacrament, to authority or to custom (all of which are instinctive to humans).

    Myself, I have resorted to appeals to consequence: You are going to better predict the outcome of events if you based your predictions on scientifically founded models rather than scriptural ones, if nothing else, because scientific models are updated to accommodate newer observations, whereas scriptural ones are not. Two thousand years of science, for example, have very solidly nailed the operations of the orbs of our solar system (in contrast to Geocentrism in the bible)

    Of course, this presumes it is more important to get accurate results than it is to preserve cultural identity.

    We’ve seen in recent times that some of our cultures believe that preservation of their ideology is more important than even saving lives (Pope Ratzinger’s anti-condom stance in Africa; the women and doctors who were excommunicated for performing life-saving abortions — and times when the abortions weren’t provided and women died — all serve as examples). From my relative morality, I find such things abominable, but I cannot argue my position is better founded than theirs, or comes from a higher source of morality than theirs.

    (There is an evolutionary factor: civilizations that go through scientific golden ages tend to apply their advanced knowledge to military causes and economic causes with which they then trample the more superstitious civilizations, but that’s a process that takes centuries, and your common layfolk will not often concern themselves with this eventuality.)

    Our positions of skepticism, of deriving truths from observation and logic are built on foundations of sand similar to those that appeal to divine authority, in that there is a basic presumption either way. In one case, it is presumed that logic and observation overrule authority and custom.In the other case it’s the other way around.

    How do we derive the superiority of rationality so that it’s ironclad? Heh. Might be worthy of new topic.

  63. In reply to #24 by jimbobjim:

    What many Atheists and many Christians fail to grasp is that in the Old Testament there are 3 different categories of Law which are not all treated the same.

    Who says? How do you know?

    The problem is that some Atheist argue that to be consistent Christians (and I guess Jews) should keep them all…not so.

    Who says? How do you know which ones to keep and which not?

    The other problem is that some Christians also think to be consistent they should keep all…again not true and also is a misunderstanding of what it means to be “God’s word”.

    Ah, the “No True Scotsman Fallacy”. Who says? How do you know?

    The big problem with this is how to know which part of the Old Testament Law falls into what category of Law.

    Now we are getting to the nitty gritty of the matter. So who says? How do YOU know? It’s a case of theological interpretations throughout the centuries…which have changed depending on the zeitgeist.With over 38,000 varieties of Christianity…which one has the right interpretation. So then. Who says? How do you know?

  64. I have found it far more productive to go for the foundational jugular… ask them how they know what they know? Upon what basis do they declare faith a superior or even viable means of discerning truth given humanities many different faiths. Otherwise you are merely arguing about people in the equivalent of a fairy tale… all very logical it may be but at the end of the day you are still discussing the doings of unicorns and flying pink elephants.

    spybubble avis
    http://spybubblez.fr/

  65. Deriving an iron-clad superiority of rationality will be hideously difficult without using rational arguments, I think. Perhaps one simply is obliged to continue in that vein in the hope that enough people will support it (boringly obvious, I accept). Then, of course, History in one form or another ends up doing the judging – which perhaps is good enough? reply to #63 by Uriel-238:*

    In reply to #59 by jburnforti:

    …you yourself glided rather smoothly (if perhaps unknowingly) into something that looks very like prescription in your next sentence using, presumably, rationality as your guide.

    This has been a part of the epistemological aspect of rationality I’ve never been able…

  66. In reply to #13 by Stew282:

    My issue is not with the validity of any argument about the fallaciousness of the Bible. My point is the motive of the atheist. Do you just want to win an argument? Do you want to achieve a sense of smug satisfaction, having bettered an easy target? If so, crack on. Proving the Bible to be nonsense is so triflingly easy, you really shouldn’t take any satisfaction from it. (Unless the Christian is a true fundamentalist and actually does believe it to be the infallible word of God; in that case, enjoy ridiculing him, but it won’t make a blind bit of difference to his faith!)

    With fundamentalists it is likely nothing will shake their “faith” in their bigoted ignorance. They will consult each other to reinforce their irrational beliefs and dishonestly present their star muppets as experts.
    Debating with such people individually is a waste of time and a waste of reason.

    Where progress can be made is where such people are evangelising to an audience (such as on this site), where ridiculing them, stops the rot, and influences others towards scientific rationality.

    On the other hand, if you genuinely want to lead a believer to enlightenment, destroying something he doesn’t care about won’t work. I think the real challenge for atheists is not “to win the argument with fundamentalists”, but to convert the masses through reasoned, and reasonable (in the gentil sense), persuasion.

    This can be so on an individual one-to-one basis with partially educated people, but for wider influence, a wider audience should be involved. In these circumstances the religious nonsense is often best left out altogether, and an educational presentation of scientific expertise presented. (David Attenborough comes to mind.)
    Where the crunch comes is if fundamentalists dishonestly challenge the science or the history.

  67. I am a cultural (cultural only–I stress that) Jew. I have a professional colleague, and I consider him a friend too, who describes himself and his wife as “liberal Methodists.” For example, I once heard him speak very disparagingly of a cousin of his who does not believe in evolution. Yet when I told his wife about my daughter’s upcoming wedding, she asked me about the groom’s religion–whether he, too, was Jewish. I knew full well that he didn’t give a damn about religion any more than my daughter did, but didn’t say that. I just replied that he had Christian parents. She asked about how the children would be raised. I told her they would decide that when the time came. The reply was, “Well, just so they believe something.” THESE ARE THE KIND OF PEOPLE WHO EXASPERATE ME. I am at a loss to know what to say to them.

  68. In reply to #61 by jburnforti:

    And if they’re collaborating with someone they think is an idiot (know who I mean?)

    No, they think I’m an asshole because I make them feel like idiots. There is a difference.

  69. BTW feeling like an idiot is such a rare and novel experience for me that I positively welcome it. Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris (to name but a few) have written quite a bit that has made me feel totally idiotic at times. I am eternally grateful to them.

  70. I have never encountered a proper tub-thumper outside of the extreme Left but don’t much agree about ridicule which, unchecked, segues all too easily, all too often into the Stalin/Napoleon theme “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?” and, anyway, mostly just frightens the horses. Also, its practitioners so often give the impression of combining gloating with hating. In these contexts, I believe we serve reason better when we serve it neat. In reply to #67 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #13 by Stew282:

    My issue is not with the validity of any argument about the fallaciousness of the Bible. My point is the motive of the atheist. Do you just want to win an argument? Do you want to achieve a sense of smug satisfaction, having bettered an easy target? If so, crack on. Prov…

  71. Though, having said that, re 71, I hope you’re using irony and, if you are, just wanted to caution you not to hold it to your ear if someone phones you. Which belongs, re asshole and idiot, with the poker apercu that if you haven’t spotted who the sucker is in the first 10 minutes, it’s you. Peace and goodwill.
    In reply to #72 by jburnforti:*

    I have never encountered a proper tub-thumper outside of the extreme Left but don’t much agree about ridicule which, unchecked, segues all too easily, all too often into the Stalin/Napoleon theme “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?” and, anyway, mostly just frightens the horses. Also, it…

  72. ‘If you’re not sure how to find out what their beliefs are, it’s quite simple: ask them, then shut up and listen!’
    I have had a good few debates with Christians online, and as a rule, trying to get them to actually spell out what they do and do not believe is a struggle.

  73. @ jburnforti

    Are comedians that are earninging hefty salaries by taking the pish from the asinine ideas in religions not using ridicule?

    If not why not?

    A favorite of mine is **George Carlin on religion and God*. I wonder how many believers have sat up and taken a good look at their beliefs after seeing that one or something similar.

  74. Yes, I agree. I’ll try and come up with a more useful proposition. Thanks for reminding me of how funny he can be and for your correction.In reply to #75 by Ignorant Amos:

    @ jburnforti

    Are comedians that are earninging hefty salaries by taking the pish from the asinine ideas in religions not using ridicule?

    If not why not?

    A favorite of mine is *George Carlin on religion and God. I wonder how many believers have sat up and taken a good look at their beliefs after s…

  75. If they don’t take the whole Bible literally, they are heretics.

    Burn them.

    I fully understand the beautiful logic of Christianity : The omnipotent creator of the universe’s only way to forgive humanity for a sin that never happened was to incarnate Himself as His son to get hideously tortured. We must love Him or He will torture us for eternity while his followers watch and laugh at us. I love Him as a friend and I talk to Him sometimes. Thank you. Goodbye.

  76. You make some good points. Certainly, pointing out the absurdity of the old testament is fruitless since so few believers identify with it or are even familiar with it. Indeed, they tend to be fairly vague about many of the official tenets of their faith. For many christians, religion is a tradition into which they were born, were taught about as a child, and which therefore forms a sort of background in their lives, but they seem very reluctant to question it seriously or to ask themselves if their beliefs make sense. Perhaps this discomfort about challenging their beliefs is because really they know it doesn’t make much sense, but there are feelings of guilt or fear or unease about challenging what is so familiar and accepted. (Actually, sometimes this happens in science too – you know the idea that the old guys never change their minds; they eventually just die and younger people who are less resistant to progressive thinking take their place, and so science advances. Well I know that doesn’t apply in all cases but there is certainly an element of it in scientific institutions and universities.)
    Most of the christians I know are Irish catholics. They probably know that such things as divorce and contraception and avarice are technically ‘sinful’; but do they care? No, most of them don’t, and the few who do, and who talk loudly about it, are regarded with some suspicion and avoided on the street.
    So are these ‘pick and choose’ christians hypocrites? I guess so. Many of them are also good and kind people.

  77. In reply to #73 by jburnforti:

    re 71, I hope you’re using irony

    Not at all, whenever I have the good fortune to encounter anyone clever enough to teach me something new my gratitude is entirely sincere. Even just knowing that there are at least some people out there who are smarter than me is also immensely comforting.

  78. In reply to #74 by RevJimBob:

    I have had a good few debates with Christians online, and as a rule, trying to get them to actually spell out what they do and do not believe is a struggle.

    Most of their “beliefs” are blatantly contradictory, so I doubt even they know what they believe.

  79. It’s simple, ask what their God is like. If it’s a Christian you’re speaking to most will agree that God is all knowing, all powerful, and good. That is all it takes to start showing that the world we live in shows no evidence of such a being.

  80. In reply to #24 by jimbobjim:

    What many Atheists and many Christians fail to grasp is that in the Old Testament there are 3 different categories of Law which are not all treated the same. The problem is that some Atheist argue that to be consistent Christians (and I guess Jews) should keep them all…not so. The other problem…

    But as soon as you say you are allowed to pick and choose, you are admitting the Bible is not inerrant. You are admitting you are using some other criteria than “it is in the bible” to choose what is right and wrong. It is only another 1/2 step to place the Bible in the literature pile instead of the scripture pile.

  81. In reply to #69 by 78rpm:

    She asked about how the children would be raised. I told her they would decide that when the time came. The reply was, “Well, just so they believe something.” THESE ARE THE KIND OF PEOPLE WHO EXASPERATE ME. I am at a loss to know what to say to them.

    On the other hand, is she the type of person who thinks being an atheist is a belief system? That’s easy enough to tidy up in your next conversation and relieve your exasperation. If however, she truly wants a faith-based system introduced (of any kind), I sympathize with you.

    Mike

  82. The fact that the majority of people, Americans in particular, are mentally lazy explains how the vacuum occurs into which theologians project themselves and their sets of doctrines. True, most Christians are daunted, and early, by the arduous task of exploring the writings of ancient people, usually rendered in archaic English. They long for someone to just explain what it means to them and tell them what is expected of them in beliefs and actions. Enter the charlatan ‘Religious Leader’, tin prophet, intermediary for the Savior, ‘lettered’ spawn of a religious studies program or back woods snake oil and snake handling expert.
    I prefer to confront them respectfully on their own ground; that being alleged knowledge of ‘scripture’. The Bible itself is amazingly useful in persuading them to reason without even being aware of using their erstwhile surrendered reasoning faculties. They feel safe on home ground, where the wagons have been circled. Try to challenge them with facts they consider suspicious and ‘of the World’ and the eyes will glaze over.

  83. Mods’ message

    Please keep the discussion on the topic of the OP, which is not about anyone’s conviction of their intellectual superiority.

    Thank you.

    The mods

  84. In reply to #85 by Moderator:

    Please keep the discussion on the topic of the OP, which is not about anyone’s conviction of their intellectual superiority.

    Please forgive if this was directed at me. The point I was trying to make is that our convictions are based on evidence and not faith. Atheists generally are intellectually superior to theists, I can quote some statistics if you like.

  85. I have to accept that I can’t truly profess to being a very rational person and I’m not interested in having discussions with any person of faith about their faith. All the power to you if you are interested.

    One day relaxing on the usual park bench, I couldn’t be bothered moving away from the advancing preacher.

    a: Beautiful day isn’t it? The Sun, the trees, wow look at those butterflies…

    b: … Monarchs… Nice coffee too, thanks.

    a: Well, I have to ask you: Where do you think all this came from?

    b: Somebody said it came from the Big Bang.

    a: So you think all of this came from nothing?

    b: Not sure, I don’t really believe in anything, but there was most likely a Big Bang.

    a: How could you say that this park you are sitting in came from nothing? Do you agree that 1 + 1 = 2?

    b: It might not.

    a: C’mon that’s not logical..

    b: … yes it is, because 0 + 2 = 2.

    This guy was completely taken aback and flustered by basic arithmetic, because he left his comfort zone, why should we waste our energy on working their crap out? I suggest the axiom: Quantum sufficit.

    Given this ditty, my one and only experience giving an atheistic response to a Christian and after reading all prior comments here, my advice would be:

    1. Christians should keep to their Bible for their futile arguments.
    2. Atheists should keep to the absolute minimal required, it seems saying “Big Bang” strikes fear.

    In my understanding of human nature, this battle is not going to change for a very, very long time.

  86. We will never convert any theist by picking on the easy target.

    Convert? Sorry that’s not my game. I have far more productive pursuits on my mind. Debating is generally useless, but worthwhile to an unknown onlooker. I was a quiet observer of debates when I was deconverting. Usually one line stuck out and I pondered about it for some time.

  87. One day relaxing on the usual park bench, I couldn’t be bothered moving away from the advancing preacher.

    This kind of stuff bothers me. We don’t want it done to ourselves so why do this with your own views to anyone else? If they challenge you then it is fair game. If someone says something untrue then it’s best to say the correct view. (Only if you feel it is worth your time.) I find it’s best to be blunt and say a one liner that is hopefully strong enough to make the person think. Unfortunately, they usually come to some sort of conclusion about you instead.

  88. The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?

    The Christian, far from feeling wounded, reflects that it’s pointless arguing with someone who can’t even grasps the basics of Christianity, and just keeps harping on about some Old Testament rubbish that the Christian knows little about and cares even less. The Christian knows that most of the Bible is rubbish, that’s why he’s never bothered to read it – he did try once, when he was younger, but found it a tedious, impenetrable tome and gave up. But you don’t need to know every word of the Bible to appreciate God’s love – Jesus’s message is writ large in every interaction, every observation, every emotion and every experience of every day.

    None of this is remotely relevant. Much as the Christian may sit there feeling smug, absolutely everything about god, jesus and the church they believe in suffers from a critical flaw that is both fatal and fundamental; that is that, there being no god, jesus cannot be the son of god. Everything that follows that has been built on this premise is a lie, an untruth, a fabrication that undermines the very foundations of Christianity. No Christian should ever have any cause to be smug,

  89. In reply to #78 by Archaic Torso:

    Most of the christians I know are Irish catholics. They probably know that such things as divorce and contraception and avarice are technically ‘sinful’; but do they care? No, most of them don’t, and the few who do, and who talk loudly about it, are regarded with some suspicion and avoided on the street. So are these ‘pick and choose’ christians hypocrites? I guess so. Many of them are also good and kind people.

    Except on key social issues where the RCC and local priests do their thinking for them!

  90. I guess the main point of the OP is that one should know the opposition. Figure out what they actually believe before you engage in a debate. I’ve had problems with that before. I live in Norway, a country where the majority of people don’t really care about religion.

    But there are some. Getting them to actually define their god is hard – partly, I think, because they just don’t have a clear view of it. Or didn’t like the impersonal nature of the universe, and thus nicknamed it “God”, and chose the religion they thought made the most sense. I’ve had some interesting discussions with some of these.

    Then there are a few… sects. I have (or had, I should perhaps say) a friend who is a Jehovah’s Witness. When she tried to convert me, I considered her fair game for deconversion. After beginning by bludgeoning her with cold facts, I’ve since changed tactic. Asking her questions. For instance, I simply asked her the order of creation in Genesis. And also why they believe the Bible (which, technically, I guess they don’t) is inerrant – from where it gets its authority. She hasn’t got back to me on those yet…

    Does anyone know any good questions worth asking to start someone on a questioning path?

    On a slightly different note, about the authority of the Bible, someone mentioned that some denominations of Christianity defers to scientific knowledge over the Bible. At which point, it is only natural to ask whether there are any of the stories of divine intervention in the Bible which one can test that has also not been disproved by modern science. Is anyone familiar with this approach?

  91. No because Inerrancy allows for for changes in circumstances/context, language of perspective and different genres. (unfortunately a lot of strong fundies don’t understand that)

    In reply to #82 by canadian_right:

    In reply to #24 by jimbobjim:

    What many Atheists and many Christians fail to grasp is that in the Old Testament there are 3 different categories of Law which are not all treated the same. The problem is that some Atheist argue that to be consistent Christians (and I guess Jews) should keep them al…

  92. I’ve used the ‘Not my God’ position, and it stopped the other person cold. Works well with family, since I care about my loonie Christian cousin, and having a religious argument she can’t win isn’t good for her.

  93. But if people of faith are determined to continue with their prejudice against people sexual orientation for example, do I not have a right to argue with them…and at this point I even feel justified in saying, “fuck your faith, you can shove it up your arse”.

    The point is that I and imagine most others with no faith do not spend our time trying to convert people of faith, we only argue against that faith when it affects the lives of those with other faiths or no faith at all.

  94. In reply to #94 by jimbobjim:

    No because Inerrancy allows for for changes in circumstances/context, language of perspective and different genres. (unfortunately a lot of strong fundies don’t understand that)

    Many fundamentalists (and some others) think the King James Bible (in old English) is an original (primary source) document. They are quite unaware of the Roman history of biblical times, and the fact that there are no contemporary documents to support the myths of the Old or New Testaments!

    Oldest complete Torah scroll reportedly found in Italy – University of Bologna, says the 850-year-old Jewish text, belonging to Babylonian tradition, was mislabeled by a librarian in 1889.

    After re-examining the scroll, Perani determined it belongs to the Babylonian tradition. Perani also recognized in the writings features that were forbidden in later versions of the Torah.

    There are multiple “gospels”, contemporary with the cherry-picked NT versions selected in AD325, but none written within decades of supposed events. The numerous translations, mistranslations and retelling of stories, indicate that there are no “inerrant records” to interpret, and no evidence of any “inerrant message”! That is why there are hundreds of versions of Xtianity, which like biblical texts, have their own differing and contradictory, “inerrant messages”! Each one has its own version confirmed by circular faith-thinking matching the conclusion to their own initial suppositions. It’s a bit like the “inerrant” interpretation of ink-blot images!

  95. Hi Alan,
    I wasn’t really arguing for (or against) Inerrancy. I was more trying (maybe badly) to make the point that if God gave a law and that was for a specific time, place and culture and therefor may not apply today, it isn’t a case for Inerrancy (either way). The problem I see is that many fundamentalist take some laws that are for a time, place and culture and apply it to every time, place and culture…and they are wrong in doing so. My original post was because I see atheist in here making the same general mistake. Although I do accept that the big problem is working out what laws apply to when and which are permanent. As I said before there are 3 categories of law in the OT…some (maybe most) are specific to a time, place and culture.

  96. This was true in the past but not so much today. I guess that stereotype still persists, and you will find some cases of it still. However, it isn’t true that most catholics, at least most of those of my acquaintance, let the Vatican and the local priests do their thinking for them on key social issues.
    In reply to #91 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #78 by Archaic Torso:

    Most of the christians I know are Irish catholics. They probably know that such things as divorce and contraception and avarice are technically ‘sinful’; but do they care? No, most of them don’t, and the few who do, and who talk loudly about it, are regarded with s…

  97. Their god is just an ancient concept meaning Science / Nature anyway…. anything they can’t explain they put it down to god….we non believers Can explain most things scientifically these days and we’re always improving our own reason and rational thought – Religions are stuck in the past and Free thinking is not something Religious people are capable of and most of them wouldn’t dare to anyway !….They fear reality and it really shows. Atheists should help the ones who want to disassociate themselves from religions, Who cares what they believe really – I’m only interested in Reality and what the great scientists and free thinkers have done and will do for humanity…

  98. In reply to #98 by jimbobjim:

    Hi Alan, I wasn’t really arguing for (or against) Inerrancy. I was more trying (maybe badly) to make the point that if God gave a law and that was for a specific time, place and culture and therefore may not apply today, it isn’t a case for Inerrancy (either way).

    I think we can agree that the myths arise from the cultures of the times where they originated, – which would point to their human authorship.

    The problem I see is that many fundamentalist take some laws that are for a time, place and culture and apply it to every time, place and culture…and they are wrong in doing so.

    I would certainly agree on that from experience of on-line discussions.
    Humanists would look at consequences in current populations and recent recorded history, to make relative moral judgements based on predicted outcomes, rather than pretending such information can be derived from ancient texts written when people were very ignorant and revamped numerous times since. .

    My original post was because I see atheist in here making the same general mistake. Although I do accept that the big problem is working out what laws apply to when and which are permanent.

    If you are using intelligence and anthropological information to decide which parts of ancient texts are relevant today, you can make those judgements without reference to ancient texts, simply by looking at the issues.

    That is the problem with cherry-picking from texts. The second problem is that there are no original texts to pick from. They have been so revised to later agendas, forgotten, elaborated on, and mistranslated, that there is nothing reliable to go on from whatever the original stories may have been.

    As I said before there are 3 categories of law in the OT…some (maybe most) are specific to a time, place and culture..

    At least that is what you suppose from the texts currently available, but most events, if not fiction, elaboration, or exaggeration, are lost in distant unrecorded past histories. Some stories represent atrocious “them” and “us” morality. There is some archaeology, but it is very patchy.
    The mixture of fact, fantasy, and fiction, is characteristic of world-wide myths.

  99. In reply to #99 by Archaic Torso:

    This was true in the past but not so much today. I guess that stereotype still persists, and you will find some cases of it still. However, it isn’t true that most catholics, at least most of those of my acquaintance, let the Vatican and the local priests do their thinking for them on key social issues.

    There has certainly been a great reduction in the unthinking follower mentality, but there is still a long way to go. Critical scientific thinking is a learned skill, which many of the older generation were kept from learning during their “Catholic Education”.

    It is only since the International Theological Commission in July 2004 that the RCC * deferred to scientists on matters such as the age of the earth and the authenticity of the fossil record*, but still vaguely claim the science is compatible with “God-did-it-by-magical-interventions”!

  100. Yes, it is education in particular that has made the change and doubtless will continue to do so. Happily, given a proper education many people who ostensibly would identify with a certain religion in fact have surprisingly little regard or even familiarity with its rules and laws. And yet they don’t formally leave because of the unease in rejecting something so long accepted. Perhaps the catholic church will eventually be seen as something like the monarchy in Britain – an institution with a dubious past, regarded as old-fashioned and largely irrelevant, something to poke fun at occasionally, to be regarded with nostalgic fondness by some, but not to be taken seriously. In reply to #102 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #99 by Archaic Torso:

    This was true in the past but not so much today. I guess that stereotype still persists, and you will find some cases of it still. However, it isn’t true that most catholics, at least most of those of my acquaintance, let the Vatican and the local priests do their…

  101. Glad someone’s addressing Prof Dawkins’ central problem. When ever anyone gently points out that people in the parish church would rather start a jumble sale than a jihad, he patently gets defensive, tries to credit humanism rather than Sunday School with the desire to hold jumble sales, and then returns to his attack and tries to tell you that you don’t actually believe something you believe you’re believing.
    re TLP’s comment below. Yes everything about the Christian religion comes from the Bible one way or another, but not everything in the Bible comes from religion.
    To start quoting all those passages which Dawkins describes as evil, is like me saying that my University is evil becasue it has copies of Mein Kampf by Hitler in its library.
    The Bible is not a book, it’s a library, and was assembled to be used as such.

  102. I reject the proposition that there is one correct way of discussing this (& any other) complex mater and cannot exclude the “bible is full of contradictions” approach.

    I find all these “my way is the only right way” or “you can’t convert anyone that way” arguments hard to comprehend. Is the fact that they exist not enough to explain that they have a purpose even if not in every case as the author proposes for his approach? Baffling.

    I have had discussions and I have not “failed” to address anything thank you very much.

    Did everyone else, except STU282, notice that there’s plenty in the NT without having to delve into the OT? If they’re big Jesus fans I like to tell them to abandon their family as he commanded.

  103. If they think that they can pick and choose whatever they wish from their scripture, then they’re basically telling us that their beliefs are nothing more than mere opinion, or interpretation of opinions. This book (the Bible, in the case of Christianity) dictates the origins of the cosmos and the value of everything within it. It also dictates how we should all live our lives, and tells us what we should avoid doing (sinning). These are presumably very large and ambitious claims, to say the least. I don’t think I’d let them get away with condemning homosexuals or belittling females, for e.g., just because they use some half-hearted opinions that they picked by personal choice from some ancient scripture, or from parents and priests who half-heartedly interpret these books for them using their own opinions, experiences or internally consistent logic. Oh, how convenient that must be.

    When I pick up a biology text book, or a physics text book, I can’t help but notice that these books, unlike ancient scripture, do not claim outrageous, ridiculous, hard-to-believe assertions. It does not matter what my opinion is, because if I just pick and choose, I’ve missed the whole point of what facts are. Text book facts (from reputable publishers) are much harder to deny because they are backed up by scientific fact, scientific theories and evidence, instead of a string of ambiguous opinions that could mean anything. These books provide us with adequate evidence and at the same time do not expect us to subscribe to any kind of dogma, nor do they try to dictate the origins of the universe! Scientific books are always open for discussion so long as we can adequately support ourselves.

    If the Christian scripture is open for discussion and interpretation, just like scientific textbooks or any other form of credible literature, then it automatically forfeits any privilege it had in dictating anyone’s lives. You just simply cannot create dogma out of cherry-picking opinions. You cannot determine the origins of the universe (which is such a large topic of subject) based on half-hearted cherry-picking choices! If they think the Bible is something that they can utilize to pick and choose morals and truths out of, then the Bible has to be put up against the rest of the literature in this world and then adequately assessed for any real truth other than parables or ambiguously worded statements which rarely match up with any truth. The Bible has been assessed and refuted over and over again and denied as a good source for any kind of outstanding truth. I’m sorry, but they have to put their scripture aside with their bedtime story tales for their children (or horror novels – whichever way you see it) and find something else. No single book in history can sum up the total grandeur and elegance of the natural universe. And morality is not a simple concept that one can really appreciate or understand just by reading an all-in-one summary book.

    What I’m saying is, the counter-arguments we’re met with when we criticize scripture are not arguments. They aren’t even excuses. If they wish to start picking and choosing desirable quotes from the Bible, that’s fine. But in exchange, I will NOT allow them to use it as a source of truth, nor as a reasonable source of morality. They can just as easily cherry-pick another set of rules/guidelines from other, more horrendous books (though quite honestly, it would be hard to find more horrendous books than bronze-age theology) and use this same non-excuse to justify their cherry picking from those books. You can pick up another book, say, ‘The Selfish Gene’ (1976) by Richard Dawkins, then cherry-pick and derive your truths and morals from it (though I don’t personally recommend anybody to do that) and you’d still end up with a fairer belief system and a far better understanding of your place in the world than you would instead from some first century tome made by extremely egotistical, egomaniacal, immodest desert tribesmen (yes, I’m that confident). Christians have to throw away that horrible Bible and find another book/philosophy that still satisfies their spiritual aesthetics but does not fly directly in the face of strongly supported facts and scientific theories (such as Evolution by Natural Selection or the Sun which is orbited by Earth etc.).

    If they admit that most of the Bible is rubbish anyway, then why need the Bible at all? If you take out all the nonsense from the Bible, you’d only be left with only a small part of the picture. You’d be left with some sort of incomplete, ambiguous, ancient pseudo-secular book (or as I like to call it, ‘more nonsense’). In which case, you’d find that you’d be much better informed if you looked at modern secular works or scientific writings.

    We’ve come far enough with argument and evidence over so many years to have even Christians themselves discredit much of the Bible. It took a while, but it did happen. Please, I beg you all, don’t give up now. Please don’t let them crawl back under the blankets with their religion in hand and then allow them the esteemed privilege of recuperating and refining their already-dying old books so that they can come back out and become the so-called ‘sophisticated theologians’. Please don’t accept their non-arguments so easily. Don’t excuse their claims until we can safely remove the Bible (and God/Jesus/Yahweh/Allah) from the literal world and put it back into the fantasy world, where I’m sure it would make a good place next to Zeus, the unicorns and homeopathy in a chronologically oriented line-up of myths formerly debunked by science, reason and understanding.

  104. Several commenters are referring to the practice of “cherry picking” the best quotations. I decided some years ago to read the Bible each Easter starting at the beginning, and shared my thoughts on the Pentateuch on social media. It did get some responses, so I think perhaps it does help to highlight the bad bits. I refer to this as “bogey-picking from the bible”.

  105. Religion is a business especially as free enterprise on the USA and other western countries,and in some Muslim countries it’s part of the ruling authority.
    This is backward philosophy in the 21st century and perhaps some USA politicians should give Godlessness a try ; especially as non believers within the USA are on the rise.
    Hopefully in a hundred years or so the same common sense will influence those within Muslim countries?
    Belief in belief is all that religionists can claim.
    Sacerdotalists are the shysters who claim correspondence with their particular fairy boss!
    Is It bigotry to suggest that they are dishonest or suffer from cortical pathology?

  106. If the god believed in is not “the god of the bible”, it becomes a personal god; therefore everyone has their own god (not just a personal relationship with The God), so a belief in “one creator” (or one whatever) falls apart. If there is just The God, then they must agree that, while they may not see it, it must be the same god that the OT writers believed in. So the believer has just shot themsleves in the foot, destroyed by their own admission!

  107. I see the point.
    faith is something linked to the core of self-identity.
    if you want to convert somebody, this link you must hit.

    II agree that bible as many other holy books are found as “impenetrable tome”.
    this puts them as “distant object”, not closely linked to self-identity.

    we need a more effective and smarter strategy if we aim to break the link.

  108. The atheist glibly responds with something like: “Well, that’s what your Bible says… You can’t pick and choose, either the Bible is true or it isn’t…Ha! Got you! I Win!” And that’s that. The atheist sits smugly with his arms folded, inwardly celebrating his victory of perfect logic over the backward and stupid Christian.

    First, I have not seen many in debates who identify as atheist or not, who sit smugly back and inwardly celebrate a victory of perfect logic over a stupid and backward person as you put it. Saying either the bible is true or not is a terrible argument and begs the question. The reasonable person simply asks if it is likely to be true or not in light of other evidence. It’s not perfect logic to say that; it’s a crude form of argumentation. And I don’t think Christians are necessarily backward and stupid. Why would you say that?

    The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?

    Yes indeed, they pick and choose and interpret and re-interpret and massage things over, that’s correct. Atheists or reasonable people who might be Christian but accept evolution do not claim any right to determine how and what other people believe. That is nonsense. It is supposed to be constructive argument and critical thinking, which evidently some people do not grasp very well. Contructive argumentation is reason giving for a position or conclusion and it requires the free assent of others. Argumentation supposes, I think correctly, that it can only be constructive and lead to consensus with free assent. You don’t beat people with a club and get them to accept something. At least we hope so.

    How have we ever claimed the right to determine what others can believe or not?

    My dear fellow atheists, the ridiculousness of God as espoused in the Bible is a STRAW MAN. No buts. We will never convert any theist by picking on the easy target. Yes the Bible is nonsense; we know it, they know it. It’s pointless arguing with someone about what they don’t believe.

    It is not a straw man argument. If someone draws on the Bible as reasons for God or proof of God, then it is not a straw man to attack the position. The evident ridiculousness is criticised validly when someone presents God as espoused in the bible, and I assume you mean some translation which a lot of people read like the JKV or NIV. A straw man is a fake device set up to attack a position, then there is a claim to win the argument based on that. There is no straw man.

    Find out what they do believe, before embarking on a well-constructed, logically infallible, perfectly presented but completely useless rant. If you’re not sure how to find out what their beliefs are, it’s quite simple: ask them, then shut up and listen!

    Do you really believe such a perfect argument that is infallible and perfectly presented is possible at all? Let’s assume that it is possible to achieve such perfection. If it is, then it is not a useless rant. A useless rant is hand-waving and name-calling and simply asserting correctness without giving any reasons. People ask others of religion what they believe all the time, and do shut up and listen. But you find the difficulty when they do not understand what reason and science and testable evidence gives, and then change their argument to something that appears to agree. They will all claim to accept valid evidence and we need it. But they do not seem to understand what valid evidence is. If you try to explain even simple evidence for evolution and more abstract arguments, such as there is not necessarily a meaning or reason for the universe at all, people will often say, that’s your opinion, or “just a theory.” Like “just an opinion based on no reason or evidence at all.” So we do ask, shut up, and listen. The problem is that education is lacking sometimes. When it is not lacking much, people do not like sacred cows slaughtered. They find it offensive. Some things are off-limits to examination and questioning, according to a lot of religious people. They constantly beg the question, by assuming the existence of God before trying to find any reasonable evidence for the existence of God. Or all the turtles that hold the earth up. Which is turtles all the way down silly, otherwise what would the first turtle stand on? Do you see the problem? Like God, or the turtles which the earth stands on, or the tea pot which revolves around the moon, it is assumed beforehand as truth and how dare you criticise my personal choice of belief.

    It’s also highly ineffective to argue against any faith-based belief. It is much more constructive to offer them a godless alternative. Illustrate, demonstrate and educate; introduce the faithful to the wonder and beauty of the natural world.

    I do not agree it is ineffective to argue against faith-based belief. People give their free assent to such debates all the time and enjoy the battle. If it was ineffective a priori, then nobody would bother. People try to do what you say is constructive all the time. It is a slow process. You seem to assume that nobody offers what you call constructive.

    Illustrate, demonstrate and educate; introduce the faithful to the wonder and beauty of the natural world. The horrific “evil” of nature – tsunamis, parasites, predators, hurricanes, volcanoes etc. are far more impressive than any Biblical story.

    That has already been tried and often fails, so some re-examination of argumentation is probably necessary. Richard Dawkins has often said that just because of the fact of the horrific, and what happens in darwinian evolution, it doesn’t mean that this is what we have to accept as a basis for society now or in the future. Like some kind of social darwinism as it is often said, because people of faith like to say that their god is lovely and wonderful and society is just better if we all believed in god. Yes it is impressive to illustrate darwinian evolution, but not more impressive than a ridiculous and horrific biblical story to argue from.

    Explain to the theist how none of these things requires a god. They can believe if they want, they can even attribute the wonders of the world to a god, but there is really no place for Him among them. It’s time to let Him go.

    Just wait a moment. If you want to argue for a place without god as creator or some other creation myth, then what are you arguing for if you also say well, it might be that a god that creates the universe and everything in it for our purposes only? Theists are on a firm ground to shoot down any argument you make if you offer the godless then change your mind and say, well, it might be god’s creation. Yes, they can continue to believe in god or some other mythology if they want, why do you seem to give them the right to believe? That’s ridiculous. Nobody assumes the authority to give anyone the right to believe, unless they are delusional. It is already there and we assume that now. We can believe whatever we want.

    We either argue for facts and what’s reasonable, what is more likely, but not in some state of double-think where we argue that this is how it can be without god, oh, wait, with god if you like. What kind of argument is that?

  109. sorry if this has already been said but I think the post is a straw man. firstly, I’ve never smugly sat back after describing the old testament god to a christian, in fact never do unless they bring up the OT.

    secondly, who’s god is it then? it was jesus’s god wasn’t it? I’ve yet to hear a coherent argument for the existance of the xtian god. is it a different one to yaheh? if so, which one created the world. if it’s the same one, why put your trust in such a god? it seems he can be a bit changable. he used to have “his children” and happily commited genocide on other humans (did he create his enemies?) then suddenly everonye’s one of gods children and he wants everyone to be nice and forgiving.

    for chistians to get away with a “not my god” argument, christianity must reject the old testament. not selectively pick the bits that suit (usually prophesies that get used as proof of jesus’s divinity) but chuck the whole lot out. The prophesies of the return of the sun king who would bring the promised land were talking about a specific place on earth, not a nebulous idea of life after death.

    the two books do not belong together, if it’s not your god, why even teach these stories to christians?

  110. In reply to #105 by alaskansee:

    I reject the proposition that there is one correct way of discussing this (& any other) complex mater and cannot exclude the “bible is full of contradictions” approach.

    Me too…it’s a case of horses for courses in my opinion. An opinion that is borne out of the evidence.

    I find all these “my way is the only right way” or “you can’t convert anyone that way” arguments hard to comprehend. Is the fact that they exist not enough to explain that they have a purpose even if not in every case as the author proposes for his approach? Baffling.

    Exactly. One only has to have read the letters in “Converts Corner” as evidence of the various reasons folk lose their faith. The “problems with the scriptures” hypothesis may not be enough on it’s own to sway a believer, but it is bound to bump start the thought process.

    Did everyone else, except STU282, notice that there’s plenty in the NT without having to delve into the OT? If they’re big Jesus fans I like to tell them to abandon their family as he commanded.

    Yep, I think Mark Twain summed it up nicely…

    “There is one notable thing about our Christianity: bad, bloody, merciless, money-grabbing and predatory as it is – in our country particularly, and in all other Christian countries in a somewhat modified degree – it is still a hundred times better than the Christianity of the Bible, with its prodigious crime- the invention of Hell. Measured by our Christianity of to-day, bad as it is, hypocritical as it is, empty and hollow as it is, neither the Deity nor His Son is a Christian, nor qualified for that moderately high place. Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilt.”

  111. In reply to #104 by sergius:

    Glad someone’s addressing Prof Dawkins’ central problem.

    I think you’ve failed to grasp the concept being explained. The debate is not about “addressing Prof Dawkins’ central problem”, Richard Dawkins hasn’t got a central problem, the bible has the central problem. The discussion is whether it is worthwhile bothering to demonstrate the bibles central problem to the closed minded Christian.

    When ever anyone gently points out that people in the parish church would rather start a jumble sale than a jihad, he patently gets defensive, tries to credit humanism rather than Sunday School with the desire to hold jumble sales, and then returns to his attack and tries to tell you that you don’t actually believe something you believe you’re believing. re TLP’s comment below.

    Where does he say this? I love the hyperbole by the way, “gets defensive”…”returns his attack”…”tries to tell you”…typical religio rhetoric when describing Richard Dawkins debating techniques…you missed out “shrill and strident” in your straw man construction.

    Yes everything about the Christian religion comes from the Bible one way or another, but not everything in the Bible comes from religion.

    Ah yes, a bit of sophisticated theology. What does 2 Timothy 3:16 say…

    “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.

    “Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, that God, through the Holy Spirit, intervened and influenced the words, message, and collation of the Bible. For many Christians the Bible is also infallible, and is incapable of error in matters of faith and practice, but not necessarily in historic or scientific matters. A related, but distinguishable belief is that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, without error in any aspect, spoken by God and written down in its perfect form by humans”.

    Now you are free to interpret the scriptures as you like, but you are only speaking for yourself…there are as many interpretations of Christianity as there are Christians…but if you want to reduce that to Christian sects, try 38,000 plus.

    But even if I grant you your opening gambit, there are glaring problems you still need to overcome. Example, the Book of Job…if that peace of obnoxious pish has no seating in religion, why is it in the canon?

    So, next up I’ll be expecting the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

    As for the Christian Bible…

    “A Christian Bible is a set of books that a Christian denomination regards as divinely inspired and thus constituting scripture. Although the Early Church primarily used the Septuagint or the Targums among Aramaic speakers, the apostles did not leave a defined set of new scriptures; instead the canon of the New Testament developed over time. Groups within Christianity include differing books as part of their sacred writings, most prominent among which are the biblical apocrypha or deuterocanonical books.”

    Most Christians don’t know this. Christians throughout history were told, and believed, that the bible was thee “word” and factual. The talking serpent, Noah’s big boat, Jonah and his big fish, the parting of the Red(Reed) Sea, the Mosaic law and Decalogue, and on, and on, until that bullshit we refer to as the Book of Revelation, the rantings of a maniac on acid.

    To start quoting all those passages which Dawkins describes as evil, is like me saying that my University is evil becasue it has copies of Mein Kampf by Hitler in its library.

    That analogy presents a false equivalence unfortunately. If the students in your university were living there lives on the inspiration of Mein Kampf, if the university hierarchy were instructing the students to live by the moral values in Mein Kampf, if the university was holding Mein Kampf up as the inerrant and last word on moral superiority, then yes, your university would be evil. Mein Kampf is in your university library as a reference source and not instructions on how one lives their life I presume? The bible is seen and accepted by the religious on completely different terms.

    The Bible is not a book, it’s a library, and was assembled to be used as such.

    Yes, we are well aware of the formation and history of the canon around these parts, we discuss it regularly with the believers that pass this way to offer some epiphany they think they have only to be found ignorant and wanting on the contents of their on scriptures….usually because they haven’t bothered their backsides reading the bloody thing and have instead, relied on the passing down of specifically selected nice bits. Good to see you are not one, perhaps. But I fail to grasp just what this non sequitur has to do with the subject under discussion. One book or a compilation of books bond into one book has no bearing on the content and what it is alleged to represent.

  112. In reply to #98 by jimbobjim:

    I was more trying (maybe badly) to make the point that if God gave a law and that was for a specific time, place and culture and therefor may not apply today, it isn’t a case for Inerrancy (either way).

    Well it is a case for inerrancy either way. I’ve heard this argument from apologists before and it creates a bagful of problems in an attempt to square one circle. You see there is confusion among all the Christians on the planet on this point. If the theses holds true how do you know which ones are now to be regarded as obsolete and which ones are not? The Amish would hold to more being applicable than the Catholics for example. Does the quoting of Leviticus today on the subject of homosexuality have any relevance, when rules like eating habits, fashion and body art have obviously been ignored by most as not applicable? I’m currently in debate with a Catholic elsewhere on the legitimacy of the death penalty for adulterers and sorcerers and I can tell you there is some rum attitudes in the thinking processes being displayed by the believer.

    But the big issue is the universality of the rules and the issue of Gods omniscience. If all the rules, or even just some of them, came from God as universal rules for all time everywhere, there is still problems.

    Thomas Aquinas states that moral laws are permanent. he also stated that judicial laws held some of the universal principles of justice that reflected natural law. But that is just one theologians interpretation. Jesus himself was alleged to have said something different, but that gets reinterpreted to suit whoever is doing the reinterpreting. It is clear though, that the moral branch of Mosaic law is not to be fiddled with. So, blasphemy, thought crime and adultery are big no no’s, where slavery, pedophilia, incest and rape are not a big issue, or even an issue at all according to the not-so-good book.

    Which Old Testament Laws Must I Obey?

    On the omniscience point, you and I might have expected a God that knows everything that was, is, and ever will be, might have foreseen such confusion and clarified the subject before it ever got a chance to get so out of hand. But then there would be no need for theologians and their hermeneutics now would there?

    The problem I see is that many fundamentalist take some laws that are for a time, place and culture and apply it to every time, place and culture…and they are wrong in doing so.

    Who says they are wrong to do so? How do you know this? And even if true, it still leaves you holding the baby that is those ridiculous moral laws.

    My original post was because I see atheist in here making the same general mistake.

    It isn’t a mistake because you say it is a mistake. You have yet to demonstrate why one rule should be obeyed, while others disregarded. In any case, just sticking to the big ten, we have no more control over feelings of desire(coveting) than any other. Yes, we have control over how we act upon such feelings, but we have no control over having them, and it’s having them that is the crime.

    Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28: You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder,” and “anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    Although I do accept that the big problem is working out what laws apply to when and which are permanent. As I said before there are 3 categories of law in the OT…some (maybe most) are specific to a time, place and culture.

    Yes, problems, problems, problems…what a mess your god left you with. You’d love the “specific to a time, place and culture” line to be true…what happened to objective morality then?

  113. I usually don’t ask them how they know what they know. Because their answers are most of the times “nonsense”.

    I just use these steps, and lead the conversation. I will stop the opponent if they try to cut in the middle, and say that conversations is not healthy if someone cut the idea in the middle, and i promise that i will give my time to listen to them after I finish. if they insist to speak, I let them speak first, make a note and ask them if they are finish with their idea after 5 mins listening.:

    And here is my reply (listen, it’s unstoppable):
    First, I will tell them that there are about 30,000 different Christians group. Such as Protestant, Advent, Bethany etc. Each of these group has each own way of interpreting what is right and wrong. Then I provide the fact that there are 2 billion Catholics who pray to mother Mary and do the rosary, while the Christians will see it as a sin for praying to or through a dead person. This will create a doubt in their brain on what they believe. Because this reminds them that there are 2 billion other people who have a different belief than them.

    Second, I will provide the fact that in Islam, there is written in their Quran chapter 5:72 that says whoever pray to Jesus, definitely go to hell. And as of today, there are about 1,6 billion Islam follower. There are other chapters in Quran that mentioned Nasrani is the infidels and deserve to die. The similar thing was done by Joshua in the Bible who mass murder, genocide the whole city including females, children, even the cattle. This will also create a thinking that what they believe maybe nonsense.

    Not only that, I will provide the fact that in this earth, religion is not only Christian and Islam. Now they will start to see that now we found Hindu, Buddha, Shinto and the other 3000 supranatural beings, while 2700 of them are defined as the creators. (this approach is similar as USA used Taliban’s hand to fight with Russia in the past.)

    Yet, because I also know that Christians see Jesus as a God because Jesus resurrected from the death. Then I will provide them that in Buddhism, there are 2 Buddha who died and resurrect from the death, and so does the Ancient Greek religion and ancient Egyptian religion, whose Gods are born by a virgin, did a lot of miracles in their life, and ressurect from death such as Dyonisius, Hercules, Osiris etc. This will create the fact that resurrection doesn’t make you a God.

    Last but not least, I will use Christopher Hitchens quote that says something like this… “Anything that you assert without scientific evidence, can be easily dismissed by absurd nonsense.” And hold on…. most of the time their brain are too stupid to understand this quotes. Then I will explain with the example that “when you accuse him as a rapist and you don’t have scientific evidence, he can also accuse you that you are the murderer without scientific evidence. or using fake alibi that he was in planet Mars at the time of rape / murder happened”; Then I can also go back to the idea that Christians says Jesus is God only by faith, while Islam can also deny the Christian by saying “whoever pray to Jesus will go to hell.” by their faith.

    Nowadays witness’s statements is not enough, this world is full of liars, so that we need scientific evidence such as DNA test on the rape or murder victims.

    Now is my turn to give the Christian a super hard blow, by saying this… “I respect you as a person who is nice and willing to help others. Yet if you want me to respect you on your God, I demand the scientific evidence from your belief, I don’t give respect as a free giveaway, respect has to be earned, for example, I earned respect from my co-workers in my workplace by being honest and teamwork. And I know my co-workers will see me as a BS when I start lying to them. Someone who give BS doesn’t deserve respect. Someone who is honest deserve the respect. It’s better to admit if you don’t know than pretending you know everything but all the statements are less worth than a cow dung”

    And the final argument to end all arguments, I will show the clip from youtube on “Living Together – Capuchin and Squirrel Monkeys at Living Links” and tell the believers that these monkey never know who Jesus is, Mohammad is nor Brahma is etc etc. Yet they live together help each other. On the other hand, the fact of the matter is Christian and Islam, until today, is an “endless” war. So it’s better for them to study biology on how monkey lives and improve the ecosystem than believing things without evidence and make our world a worse place to live.

    The idea of my approach is to create a habit of critical thinking, and make them realize why they have to believe on faith rather than facts based on scientifice evidence analysis.

    NOTE:
    If you have a better idea, please response.
    If christian believers read my writing want to have a discussion, please provide scientific evidence to me before talking BS.

    In reply to #2 by Typhon:

    I can see where you are coming from… the most frequent argument I encounter however goes something likes this, “The natural man does not understand the word of God”. With this one magic formula the evangelical or fundamentalist declares themselves the sole arbitor of what the bible says so the ath…

  114. I think that point works for situations like when Lot was going to send his daughters out to get raped, it seems immoral but god didn’t tell him to do it, it’s just the Bible recording that supposed event. But if I were to point out passages where god’s actions or commandments call it’s moral wisdom and character into question, like when it told it’s followers to murder homosexuals and burn prostitutes alive, to murder girls who lie about their virginity, or when it sanctioned or even encouraged the wholesale genocide of people, how would your “The Bible is a library” approach invalidate those criticisms?

    In reply to #104 by sergius:

    Yes everything about the Christian religion comes from the Bible one way or another, but not everything in the Bible comes from religion. To start quoting all those passages which Dawkins describes as evil, is like me saying that my University is evil becasue it has copies of Mein Kampf by Hitler in its library. The Bible is not a book, it’s a library, and was assembled to be used as such.

  115. I for one believe every word recorded in the Bible. I have read where God instructed the nation of Israel to completely obliterate a people for their ungodly and atheistic culture including women and children. He mandated this because He did not want his people influenced to commit spiritual adultery by assimilation.

  116. In reply to #118 by Tribforce:

    I for one believe every word recorded in the Bible.

    Anyone who had actually studied the bible would know the self-contradictions can’t be true!

    I have read where God instructed the nation of Israel to completely obliterate a people for their ungodly and atheistic culture including women and children.

    If you actually read the story, those people were actually of rival gods. The video I link on: “The History of God” helps explain this!

    He mandated this because He did not want his people influenced to commit spiritual adultery by assimilation.

    And how would you know this – apart from simply believing some ignorant preacher?

    I take it you have only studied bits of “the bible” and no history. – Not even the history of the bible, the other gospels, the First Council of Nicaea, or the History of God!

    As it says at the OP:

    The Christian knows that most of the Bible is rubbish, that’s why he’s never bothered to read it

  117. It would make sense if they ignored the OT in its entirety, but they don’t. Leviticus commanding them to harass and kill gay people is the most holy of holies.

    I think we have every right to point out their inconsistence and lies. If they want to claim the entire bible in inerrant, they can’t very well leave out parts of it.

    If they can leave out parts of the bible so can I — 99.9% of it.

  118. Yeah, because if they would have given up their faith they might of all turned into a bunch of mass murderers, oh wait….

    In reply to #118 by Tribforce:

    I for one believe every word recorded in the Bible. I have read where God instructed the nation of Israel to completely obliterate a people for their ungodly and atheistic culture including women and children. He mandated this because He did not want his people influenced to commit spiritual adultery by assimilation.

  119. The better one in Leviticus are the verses on mildew. One of my RE classmates got a detention for pointing out that it proved that the ancient jews were too dumb to invent bleach.

    In reply to #120 by Roedy:

    It would make sense if they ignored the OT in its entirety, but they don’t. Leviticus commanding them to harass and kill gay people is the most holy of holies.

    I think we have every right to point out their inconsistence and lies. If they want to claim the entire bible in inerrant, they can’t very…

  120. You say that ” The Christian knows that most of the Bible is rubbish”. That assumption is a pernicious mocking Christianity. To most atheists and unfortunately many Christians much of the Old Testament particularly the writings of Moses in the Pentateuch are personally and intellectually disquieting. I know from personal experience of a type of cognitive dissonance in trying to rectify the God of grace, mercy, and salvation in the new testament with the patently, sanguineously judgemental God of the Old Testament. Regardless of how cognitively dissonant I may have been the Bible’s veritable character is above reproof. I know that Christianity is a factual faith that appeals to history. It is based upon the same cognitive, informational facts upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based.

  121. In reply to #119 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #118 by Tribforce:

    I for one believe every word recorded in the Bible.

    Anyone who had actually studied the bible would know the self-contradictions can’t be true!

    I have read where God instructed the nation of Israel to completely obliterate a people for their ungodly and atheistic cu… the fact is I have read the whole Bible several times in my lifetime of 62 years. Also I have been pastored and taught by several eminent theologians. These were not ignorant preachers but true scholars of religion, philosophy, sociology and literature. Contrary to what atheists and other unbelievers assume many Christians have intelligence. And we don’t allow our intelligence to keep us from perceiving the truth.

  122. In reply to #2 by Typhon:

    I can see where you are coming from… the most frequent argument I encounter however goes something likes this, “The natural man does not understand the word of God”. With this one magic formula the evangelical or fundamentalist declares themselves the sole arbitor of what the bible says so the ath…
    Christians don’t believe we have a “faith that is a superior or even viable means of discerning truth”. Actually faith does not determine truth, faith is a consequence of being exposed to the truth. Christianity is a faith based on historical fact. these facts are the same cognitive, informational facts upon which all historical, legal and ordinary decisions are based.

  123. You “take it” that I’ve only read bits of the Bible. What do “you take it” from that that is factual. My ,my you assume alot. [Removed by moderator to bring within Terms of Use.] I am very familiar with the history of my faith the horrible atrocities and the laudable accomplishments. I am aware of the many apocryphal gospels and writings and even read excerpts from several of them. I was not impressed. In reply to #119 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #118 by Tribforce:

    I for one believe every word recorded in the Bible.

    Anyone who had actually studied the bible would know the self-contradictions can’t be true!

    I have read where God instructed the nation of Israel to completely obliterate a people for their ungodly and atheistic cu…

  124. In reply to #127 by Tribforce:

    I am aware of the many apocryphal gospels and writings and even read excerpts from several of them. I was not impressed.

    Which ones did you read? And what does it mean that you weren’t impressed? You thought they were forgeries? I’ve read many of the Gnostic gospels, I think they are fascinating and beautiful in parts very poetic language. Its a shame we only have fragments of most of them.

  125. In reply to #127 by Tribforce:

    In reply to #118 by Tribforce:

    I for one believe every word recorded in the Bible.

    Anyone who had actually studied the bible would know the self-contradictions can’t be true!

    You “take it” that I’ve only read bits of the Bible. What do “you take it” from that that is factual.

    If you have studied it and come to the conclusion that you ” believe every word recorded in the Bible” , the only conclusion can be that you compartmentalise your thinking and are unable (probably through cognitive dissonance), to rationally see that at least one of two self contradictions must be false.

    I am very familiar with the history of my faith the horrible atrocities and the laudable accomplishments.

    Clearly you confuse “history” with “Biblical accounts”.

    I am aware of the many apocryphal gospels and writings and even read excerpts from several of them. I was not impressed.

    Arbitrary rejection of conflicting views or evidence is a characteristic of cognitive bias and irrational “faith-thinking”! That is why there are thousands of differing versions of Xtianity.

    The Coptic and Gnostic gospels were written decades after supposed events, by cults developing their own mythology – just like the gospels selected at Nicaea in AD 325.

    You have offered no evidence of understanding any independent historical records outside of bible stories. All you have indicated, is that you cherry-pick bits of stories according what you like to believe.

  126. In reply to #125 by Tribforce:

    I have read where God instructed the nation of Israel to completely obliterate a people for their ungodly and atheistic culture including women and children.

    If you actually read the story, those people were actually of rival gods. The video I link on: “The History of God” helps explain this!

    He mandated this because He did not want his people influenced to commit spiritual adultery by assimilation.

    And how would you know this – apart from simply believing some ignorant preacher?

    No explanation of an alternative source of this pseudo-“knowledge”? Even the bible suggests that the genocides were against rival tribes or followers of Baal and Asherah (in the process of separating monotheism from HISTORICAL polytheism).

    In Israel and Judah – Asherah

    Between the 10th century BC and the beginning of their exile in 586 polytheism was normal throughout Israel;[8] it was only after the exile that worship of Yahweh alone became established, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BC) that monotheism became universal among Jews.[9][10] Some biblical scholars believe that Asherah at one time was worshiped as the consort of Yahweh, the national God of Israel.[9] There are references to the worship of numerous Gods throughout Kings, Solomon builds temples to many Gods during his reign and Josiah is reported as cutting down the statues of Asherah in the temple Solomon built for Yahweh.

    Amazing how many supposed “Bible readers” fail to spot this, but still claim to have studied history!!

    Tribforce @124I know from personal experience of a type of cognitive dissonance in trying to rectify the God of grace, mercy, and salvation in the new testament with the patently, sanguineously judgemental God of the Old Testament. Regardless of how cognitively dissonant I may have been the Bible’s veritable character is above reproof.

    Yahweh – originally – was the god of war! A god of war is not a god of peace!

    Tribforce: – the fact is I have read the whole Bible several times in my lifetime of 62 years.

    .. and you still could not recognise the the significance of the self contradictions, the lack of independent historical confirmations, or the contradictions of science in claims of miracles? – And then made this ridiculous claim about atheism being involved in the genocides against biblical peoples with rival gods???

    Also I have been pastored and taught by several eminent theologians.

    There are many followers who study StarTrek and Harry Potter. That does not make the stories true!

    These were not ignorant preachers but true scholars of religion, philosophy, sociology and literature.

    We are all ignorant of subjects we have not studied or understood, or rejected out of hand. I am well aware of the No True Scotsman is a logical fallacy , which defines the “true” group in agreement, as those supporting the conclusion. Among reputable academic scholars, Biblical Literalists are recognised as among the most ignorant!

    Contrary to what atheists and other unbelievers assume many Christians have intelligence.

    Atheists recognise that many Xtians have intelligence. It is simply unfortunate that in many, their rational and critical thinking and learning processes, have been impaired by indoctrination – resulting in the huge diversity of conflicting Xtian beliefs over which wars have been , and are, fought!

    And we don’t allow our intelligence to keep us from perceiving the truth.

    All those conflicting versions of *THE TRRrrroooooth, which block off the use of intelligent investigations where EVIDENCE leads to truth without dogmatic preconceptions!!!

    Each cult and denomination has its own unevidenced “TRRrrooooths” (which should not be confused with scientific or historical facts)!!

    It is the indoctrination, the cognitive biases, the flaws of irrational “faith-thinking” (belief without evidence), and uncritical acceptance of fictions as “truth”, which impairs a real understanding of the world, life, and the larger universe.

  127. In reply to #124 by Tribforce:

    Regardless of how cognitively dissonant I may have been the Bible’s veritable character is above reproof.

    I think historical evidence and self biblical contradictions prove otherwise.

    I know that Christianity is a factual faith that appeals to history. It is based upon the same cognitive, informational facts upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based.

    Really???? You have found some verified independent historical documents and artefacts which confirm bible stories of which all the historians are ignorant?? Amazing!! I look forward to you producing the scientific, linguistic and cultural evidence to support this assertion!

    (Perhaps you should study how competent evidence based, historical and legal decisions are made.)

    That is the difference between scientific or historical EVIDENCE and faith-thinking. Faith-thinking (individually or collectively) simply chooses what it wants to believe (often elaborated into circular reasoning), without carrying out checks from independent primary sources!

  128. Ooooh, this article made me smile.
    Technology without a God? You tell me where you got your rationality which lifts you above the brutes, and I’ll give in. Explain to me your ability to know universal, immaterial things (such as mathematics) if you believe in a wholly material world, and I’ll give in.
    By the way: I am a Christian and have read the entire Bible, cover to cover, and could explain to you in detail the Old Testament and how it makes up a consistent whole with the New. Further, I know hundreds–thousands–who could do just as well. Just sayin’. 😉

  129. In reply to #132 by elisabeth.cervantes1:

    Ooooh, this article made me smile. Technology without a God? You tell me where you got your rationality which lifts you above the brutes, and I’ll give in.

    It evolved! …. and there is no clear cut distinction between humans and other animals apart from a geologically recently more developed capabilities to use tools.

    Explain to me your ability to know universal, immaterial things (such as mathematics) if you believe in a wholly material world, and I’ll give in.

    That is easy! Mathematics is the description of recognisable patterns in the material world, just as scientific laws are human explanations of the working of physical universe.

    By the way: I am a Christian and have read the entire Bible, cover to cover,

    Would that be a particular version of “THE BIBLE”? ….. …. That is:-

    The Hebrew Bible (Tora)

    The Septuagint (Greek translation)

    The New Testament (Paul’s letters)

    Latin Vulgate Translation, (Commissioned by pope)

    Alcuin Bible, (Charlemagne)

    Paris Bible,

    Wycliffe Bible ( First English translation 1382)

    (1408 RC archbishop forbids English translations)

    Gutenburg Bible,

    Dutch scholar Erasmus translation ( Latin and Greek)

    Luther Bible,

    William Tyndale English translation 1526 (which leads to his execution),

    (Henry VIII takes over CofE from RC),

    Coverrdale Bible 1535,

    Matthew Bible 1537,

    Great Bible 1539,

    Geneva Bible 1560 (Published in English in Switzerland),

    Douai-Rheims Bible,

    King James Bible 1611,

    New English Bible.

    These repeatedly translated, mistranslated and contradictory works are all pronounced to be read and understood! – Usually by people who have never heard of them and never read them! Still that’s fundamentalism!!
    Then of course there are all those other Coptic and Gnostic gospels which were not cherry-picked by the Roman bishops at Nicaea in AD 325 when they put together the NT stories!

    and could explain to you in detail the Old Testament and how it makes up a consistent whole with the New.

    That really would be a clever trick – making Yahweh – the polytheistic god of war into the NT god of peace and forgiveness!
    Some of us have seen people unsuccessfully try to square that particular circular triangle before!

    Further, I know hundreds–thousands–who could do just as well. Just sayin’. 😉

    Ah! but do they actually KNOW any history, or are they just copying the same nonsense stories from each other, being are too ill-informed to realise they have no idea what they are talking about?

  130. In reply to #132 by elisabeth.cervantes1:

    Technology without a God?

    So you reckon we have technology because a god? Really? How do you know?

    You tell me where you got your rationality which lifts you above the brutes, and I’ll give in.

    Which brutes are you talking about here?

    Explain to me your ability to know universal, immaterial things (such as mathematics) if you believe in a wholly material world, and I’ll give in.

    By the way: I am a Christian and have read the entire Bible, cover to cover,…

    Woo hoo! Thems mighty fine credentials ya have there.

    …and could explain to you in detail the Old Testament and how it makes up a consistent whole with the New.

    Unlike the many Christians who are embarrassed by the OT because it is not consistent with the New.

    What would impress me more if you displayed a working knowledge of the history of the bible, Old and New. Where it came from, who wrote it, when it was written and for what purpose. I’d be impressed if you could rectify all the forgery, lies, contradiction, interpolation, un scientific claims that the bible is full to the brim with. And while your at it, how you square the circle with the nasty Yahweh?

    Further, I know hundreds–thousands–who could do just as well. Just sayin’. 😉

    I doubt that very much…just sayin’.

    So, lets start with one we all know and a favorite of mine…the Exodus from Egypt…basic question to begin with, real event or allegorical myth?

  131. over the course of the next several weeks I will elaborate on certain independent sources of evidence for the historicity and accuracy of the biblical record . Incidentally that is exactly what history is a record of past events as recorded or inscribed by those contemporary to those events or who have affidavits of those who experienced those events.In reply to #131 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #124 by Tribforce:

    Regardless of how cognitively dissonant I may have been the Bible’s veritable character is above reproof.

    I think historical evidence and self biblical contradictions prove otherwise.

    I know that Christianity is a factual faith that appeals to history. It is based u…

  132. In reply to #135 by Tribforce:

    over the course of the next several weeks I will elaborate on certain independent sources of evidence for the historicity and accuracy of the biblical record .

    As far as the NT is concerned, there are no contemporary primary sources.

    All the various and often conflicting stories were written decades or centuries after supposed events.

    Incidentally that is exactly what history is a record of past events as recorded or inscribed by those contemporary to those events or who have affidavits of those who experienced those events.

    I know what history is! – The point is the total absence of any such documents supporting the NT. –

    and that is even before looking at all the conflicting myths written later by various sects, and the even later misunderstandings from mistranslations and misreading of the earlier documented myths. Not a single contemporary eye-witness or document! All you can have is stories which have been passed around and confused as in “Chinese whispers”, with various people copying from each other and adding their own elaborations and misunderstandings.

    There are of course various pseudo-historical claims made up by later authors, but these are mythology, not history.

    For someone claiming to be so well versed in the subject, you seem to have nothing to say about the substance of my posts!

  133. In reply to #133 by Alan4discussion:

    In the first place, all I was trying to say right there was that there were gross mis-representations of Christians and their Biblical understanding being said in the original article, and perhaps you would do well to consider the fact that it is not necessarily true.
    But of course I’ve heard of those translations of the Bible! No, I have not considered them all, although I’d like to at some point.
    Now, you threw a lot of things out there, and I would love to address them all at some point, but firstly, it seems to me that arguments between Atheists and Christians are difficult because we disagree all the way back up to our first principles. Ultimately, Christians have their faith in God–supported by reason–whereas this faith is adamantly and surprisingly bitterly denied by Atheists (why is that, by the way? why all the hostility? This is something I’ve failed to understand for years…) So maybe if we could establish some sort of common ground we could go from there. A wise man once said that if you cannot agree on first principles, the only other way to converse with another is by taking their arguments and pointing out (seeming) contradictions or lack of consistency in them. So I have this….burning question, really it is, and I would love it if you could answer it for me. And maybe it could help me understand better your campaign to destroy faith:
    What makes you think you have any better of an understanding of the science in which you seem to put so much “faith”? Oh yes, faith. Let’s see here….you read textbooks at one point, at least at the beginning of your education. How do you know these were the real deal? Sure, some of it can be empirically confirmed. Biological truths, for instance. But how about chemistry? Nuclear fission? Or let’s go back further. Newton’s inverse square law for finding the universal gravitation of the universe? You feel gravity and it must exist, but what about the years, decades, centuries even, of mathematical thought leading up to this crowning achievement? Do you really understand that the force of gravity varies inversely as the distance of the planet from the sun? Or do you just take up that whoever asserted this is correct? If you answered yes to this latter question, that’s what I like to call….faith. Believing something you cannot syllogistically prove yourself. Or how about this? Have you seen an electron? Have you been to every country in the world or do you just take people’s word that they exist? Were you there to witness the sack of Rome, or Hannibal’s victories, or must you have….oh no, here it comes….faith that those who are asserting wholeheartedly they exist or those things happened are correct.
    Let’s go further, shall we? All these modern physicists, chemists, etc, did not re-invent the wheel. They did not start from the ground up. In this century, we are all blessed to inherit a rich intellectual culture where each generation is able to contribute to the work of the many who have come before them. Let’s just list off a few….
    Lavoisier, Avogadro, Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Pascal, Mendel, Cannizzaro, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, et alii.

    I’d like to point out here that none–not ONE of these men wrote in English. And yet, they are some of the men upon whom the foundations of all science rests. They helped discover the table of elements, the inverse square law, gravitation, etc. All of these things have formed the grounding for our modern scientists to make the wonderful studies and discoveries that they have.
    But my point is this: do you know Latin, French, Italian, etc.? Did YOU go back and read all these original works in the original language? Or are you having to have faith (oh, there it is again!) that it has been translated and interpreted correctly? Just to begin with the basics.
    So yes, maybe we should start there.

  134. Well , The Atheists know very well that the Christians pick and choose to suit their personal preferences. The problem lies in the rationalization of self chosen bigotry to a verse in the Bible. and Why..because the Bible is the word of God. (whoever that might be)..but when it becomes uncomfortable ..I am just picking and choosing..How low can you go.. you are even fucking with God’s word. (is that supposed to be a sin-well Jesus died .. not to worry..anyways you lost me here..
    “But you don’t need to know every word of the Bible to appreciate God’s love – Jesus’s message is writ large in every interaction, every observation, every emotion and every experience of every day.”

  135. In reply to #137 by elisabeth.cervantes1:

    In reply to #133 by Alan4discussion:

    In the first place, all I was trying to say right there was that there were gross misrepresentations of Christians and their Biblical understanding being said in the original article, and perhaps you would do well to consider the fact that it is not necessarily true.

    It may well not be true for some Xtians in some parts, but there are certainly Xtians which it accurately describes. There are however thousands of differing Xtian sects/denominations, and almost as many differing views as there are Xtians.

    But of course I’ve heard of those translations of the Bible! No, I have not considered them all, although I’d like to at some point. Now, you threw a lot of things out there, and I would love to address them all at some point,

    My point is that there are considerable differences and contradictions in them.

    but firstly, it seems to me that arguments between Atheists and Christians are difficult because we disagree all the way back up to our first principles. Ultimately, Christians have their faith in God–supported by reason–whereas this faith is adamantly and surprisingly bitterly denied by Atheists

    I see you have come to try to understand atheist views, – which is good. You have have raised the first common Xtian misconception. Atheists do not specifically “deny the Xtian’s individual perception of their god” per se. Atheists recognise that there is no evidence of the existence of ANY gods. Unsurprising theists usually do not believe in most gods either. – Only the gods they have been culturally indoctrinated to believe in.

    (why is that, by the way? why all the hostility? This is something I’ve failed to understand for years…)

    The hostility comes form the detrimental actions of believers in the name of their religion, and the bigoted adherence to dogmas which closes religious minds to evidenced reasoning and often to consideration of others. In some the effect is quite moderate and does little damage to other people. In some it has extreme effects – such as anti-science, or anti-medical science, political actions, jihadists, sectarian wars, crusading wars, inquisitions etc.

    So maybe if we could establish some sort of common ground we could go from there.

    The fundamental problem is “faith-thinking” which claims “knowledge without evidence” starting with dogmatic preconceptions, contrasting with “scientific reasoning”, which starts with evidence, and by calculation and reasoning, works to arrive at the most accurate answers we can determine.
    Scientific methodology, then has the information made available for checking and retesting by experts in that field of study.

    A wise man once said that if you cannot agree on first principles, the only other way to converse with another is by taking their arguments and pointing out (seeming) contradictions or lack of consistency in them.

    That is what critics here have done with biblical stories, checking inconsistencies between different versions, inconsistencies with independent historical records, inconsistencies with scientific laws, and parts which have no supporting evidence or contain proven falsehoods. It is the same procedure which unbiased objective biblical scholars and historians use. Many stories told be preachers are nothing like the researched information, even from religious scholars.

    So I have this….burning question, really it is, and I would love it if you could answer it for me. And maybe it could help me understand better your campaign to destroy faith: What makes you think you have any better of an understanding of the science in which you seem to put so much “faith”?

    This is another misconception. Science does not use “faith” to reach its conclusions. This misconception arises by faith-thinkers misapplying their own thought processes to science.

    Oh yes, faith. Let’s see here….you read textbooks at one point, at least at the beginning of your education. How do you know these were the real deal?

    Children can have confidence in science textbooks because of the quality control system which is called “Peer Review” – The source of reputable scientific information. A badly written text-book or pseudo-science fake textbook, will be exposed and condemned by the scientists of the world specialising in those subjects. Such rubbish books are often exposed condemned and ridiculed on this site although they are promoted in some areas by ignorant fundamentalist politicians. Fortunately most schools avoid badly written books – (in sciences at least).

    Sure, some of it can be empirically confirmed. Biological truths, for instance. But how about chemistry? Nuclear fission? Or let’s go back further. Newton’s inverse square law for finding the universal gravitation of the universe?

    Scientists constantly test theories and laws, using these in everyday processes. That is why engines work, bridges and buildings stand up and we can land roving vehicles on Mars. These faith if the science is not understood. The understanding is constantly independently re-tested. If nuclear fission was not understood, nuclear power stations would not work.

    You feel gravity and it must exist, but what about the years, decades, centuries even, of mathematical thought leading up to this crowning achievement?

    You do not need “years of mathematical thought” to recognise gravity. Anyone who stepped off a high ledge or dropped something knows it exists. It is working out the detailed calculations which takes mathematical skills.

    Do you really understand that the force of gravity varies inversely as the distance of the planet from the sun?

    Yes! This is basic textbook stuff, but it can be tested by anyone taking astronomical measurements – and these are very accurate. – often to within minutes, years into the future for things like the position of planets, or eclipses.

    Or do you just take up that whoever asserted this is correct?

    No! It has been rechecked thousands of times. When Einstein found that newton was slightly inaccurate for objects travelling at superfast relativistic velocities, the theories were updated. Nevertheless, Newton’s laws are still 99.99999% accurate for travelling on Earth.

    If you answered yes to this latter question, that’s what I like to call….faith.

    That would be wrong. “Faith” is belief without proof. Anyone following a basic science textbook can experimentally prove, measure and calculate the effects of gravity. and be confident in their levels of accuracy. You can do it from an upstairs window with a ball a stop-watch and a tape measure, with only a slight error from air-resistance.

    Believing something you cannot syllogistically prove yourself.

    Scientists publish their methods and results for others to duplicate in order to confirm them.. Anyone who wants to challenge the conclusions is free to carry out the tests for themselves. After a few thousand honest scientists have confirmed the accuracy, there can be little doubt, but even so science is always open to new evidence. That is why it provides the beast and most accurate information available. Incompetent or dishonest claims are exposed by other scientists.

    Or how about this? Have you seen an electron?

    You are now arguing from personal ignorance of scientific measuring techniques.

    Have you been to every country in the world or do you just take people’s word that they exist?

    I have been to quite a few, and have seen space photographs of all of them, taken by satellites owned by different countries and different companies. I can be more confident in these than any unevidenced claims such those of “Flat Earthists”.

    Were you there to witness the sack of Rome, or Hannibal’s victories, or must you have…

    The overview in history is by its nature less accurate than currently testable science, but the is evidence to be found: – archaeology, buildings, coins, pottery, artefacts, inscriptions, documents etc.

    .oh no, here it comes….faith that those who are asserting wholeheartedly they exist or those things happened are correct.

    Any honest study of history is going to check claims for honesty and competence before provisionally accepting them. Contra-indications such as carbon dating clashing with the claimed dates will refute mistaken claims.

    This is vastly different to “faith”, which simply chooses what it wants to believe without checking evidence.

    Let’s go further, shall we? All these modern physicists, chemists, etc, did not re-invent the wheel. They did not start from the ground up. In this century, we are all blessed to inherit a rich intellectual culture where each generation is able to contribute to the work of the many who have come before them. Let’s just list off a few…. Lavoisier, Avogadro, Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Pascal, Mendel, Cannizzaro, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, et alii.

    I’d like to point out here that none–not ONE of these men wrote in English. And yet, they are some of the men upon whom the foundations of all science rests. They helped discover the table of elements, the inverse square law, gravitation, etc. All of these things have formed the grounding for our modern scientists to make the wonderful studies and discoveries that they have. But my point is this: do you know Latin, French, Italian, etc.? Did YOU go back and read all these original works in the original language?

    While the history is interesting, you do not need to go over the original historical studies. Their results can be seen to work in the modern world and are in constant use. We do not have to “reinvent the wheel”! there are thousand of them working all over the planet and some in space!

    Or are you having to have faith (oh, there it is again!) that it has been translated and interpreted correctly?

    You continue to confuse the “belief without proof” of faith, with the confidence in the results of observable and repeatable testing. The probability factors of reaching accurate conclusions are vastly different.

    Faith and prayer has consistently failed to produce any measurable result beyond random chance. Science can accurately predict working machines from manufacturing processes, Electrical generation from climatic, chemical, and nuclear energy sources, the orbital positions of planets and spacecraft to incredible levels of accuracy, and yet those with unevidenced “faith” try to claim a false parity for untested claims which have simply been dreamed up.

    Just to begin with the basics. So yes, maybe we should start there.

    These are the basics. Faith claims for a “parity with science”, generally indicated a profound ignorance of science, and the multiple independent testing of scientific methodology to verify (or reject) earlier work.

    In some areas science lacks has only partial evidence some knowledge, but this in no way validates “faith” claims which (are simply what some people want to believe) have no evidence at all!

  136. In reply to #139 by Alan4discussion:

    TYPOS TO CORRECT:-

    Scientists constantly test theories and laws, using these in everyday processes. That is why engines work, bridges and buildings stand up and we can land roving vehicles on Mars. These faith if the science is not understood.

    This should read:

    “Scientists constantly test theories and laws, using these in everyday processes. That is why engines work, bridges and buildings stand up and we can land roving vehicles on Mars. These fail if the science is not understood.”

    After a few thousand honest scientists have confirmed the accuracy, there can be little doubt, but even so science is always open to new evidence. That is why it provides the beast and most accurate information available.

    Should read:

    “After a few thousand honest scientists have confirmed the accuracy, there can be little doubt, but even so science is always open to new evidence. That is why it provides the best and most accurate information available.

    The overview in history is by its nature less accurate than currently testable science, but the is evidence to be found: – archaeology, buildings, coins, pottery, artefacts, inscriptions, documents etc.

    Should read;

    The overview in history is by its nature less accurate than currently testable science, but there is evidence to be found: – archaeology, buildings, coins, pottery, artefacts, inscriptions, documents etc.

    In some areas science lacks has only partial evidence some knowledge, but this in no way validates “faith” claims which (are simply what some people want to believe) have no evidence at all!

    Should read:

    In some areas science lacks information and has only partial evidence with some knowledge, but this in no way validates “faith” claims which (are simply what some people want to believe) have no evidence at all!

  137. IMHO, 99.9% of all Christians (and similar, although smaller percentages — especially for Islam) fall at an even earlier fence than this. Namely, the fact that they not only haven’t read their holy book, but, indeed, cannot.

    Reminding them that their precious “quotes” are in fact quotes of translations is often a particularly interesting tack to take. And one that requires no ridicule, simply disbelief.

    Rather than trying to quote their own book back at them in English (or whatever modern language you choose) – and thereby fall into the exact same trap – it is far more productive to either quote the original, or, more simply, just ask “You choose to live your life according to the words of a translation..?”.

    Sometimes, even the simplest of facts in this context can be mind-boggling. The earliest complete text of the OT, for example, is dated to roughly 1000 AD. None of the earliest NT papyri are dated earlier than about mid-way through the 3rd century AD. This means the earliest complete manuscript of the OT actually postdates NT papyri by a long way. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls are dated relatively recently, to 400 BC and contain only 30% of the “final” Hebrew Bible. And so on and so forth.

  138. In reply to #14 by Stew282:

    PLEASE READ BEFORE COMMENTING

    The more observant among you will note the title of this discussion. “Not My God” – The Argument Atheists Consistently Fail to Address.

    This discussion is aimed at addressing that. The “Not My God” argument is used by Christians who do not consider the Bible to be t…

    Stew, I agree with the thrust, but I do not believe it is off-topic to confront this kind of Christian with the reality that it is not merely their “choice” not to read the Bible too closely. They cannot read it – they cannot pick and choose – and in fact must de facto be Christians who justify their faith solely on something else. Pressed into a corner, they would attempt to keep certain aspects of it and my point is that even that is doomed to failure.

  139. I agree that the argument of pointing out the crazy nonsense in the bible almost always fails to sway any Christians, but we are still right when we make this argument because they claim that the bible is the “perfect word of god”, so if they don’t follw every teaching in the bible, they are foresaking their god.

  140. The Futility of Atheism: The Argument atheists fail to address
    Atheism is a futile belief. Atheists boast that there is no god of any kind. They rebuke and mock theists, i.e. Christians, for their faith because of alleged lack of evidence for god. Atheists accuse Christians of adhering to a blind faith. But I say that I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist because atheists are the ones who are living a blind faith. Even though confirmed atheists don’t admit to it, in order to be consistent in their faith they must implicitly admit to possessing omniscience. Why ? In order to say there is no god anywhere they must possess all knowledge. However, I don’t know any human even one as eminent as Richard Dawkins, the poster boy of atheism today, admit to having all knowledge. Therefore the possibility exists of God existing beyond the scope of human knowledge.
    What’s really telling about the futility of atheism is the atheist’s attitude about atheism at the end of their lives. For example Sartre called atheism “cruel”, Camus called it “dreadful”, and the iconic Nietzsche called it “maddening”. Many atheists who try to live consistently without God become suicidal or go insane. According to Norman Geisler in Baker’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, page 282, writes “ those (atheists) who are inconsistent live on the ethical or aesthetic shadow of Christian truth while they deny the reality that made the shadow”.

  141. Your dates are wrong about the most recent OT and NT manuscripts.I am too tired tonite but tomorrow I will begin a discussion of the authenticity and reliability of OT and NT documents. Stay tuned friends.In reply to #142 by zhrskih:

    IMHO, 99.9% of all Christians (and similar, although smaller percentages — especially for Islam) fall at an even earlier fence than this. Namely, the fact that they not only haven’t read their holy book, but, indeed, cannot.

    Reminding them that their precious “quotes” are in fact quotes of transla…

  142. In reply to #144 by TheCircle000:

    I agree that the argument of pointing out the crazy nonsense in the bible almost always fails to sway any Christians, but we are still right when we make this argument because they claim that the bible is the “perfect word of god”, so if they don’t follw every teaching in the bible, they are foresaking their god.

    A lot of these nonsensical fictitious claims from AIG and creation.com have been covered in earlier discussions with fundamentalists.

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/1/17/non-believer-to-beliver#comment-box-115

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/1/22/public-school-bible-classes-plagued-with-religious-bias#.UP7sWyc8DTo#comment-box-55

  143. I also put in a letter for publishing on challenging atheists on some of their inconsistencies. Sadly the mods didn’t publish it , hopefully I can address some of my concerns without going off topic. Score!

    fallacy number 1 . Comparing God to a Spaghetti Monster. God is the typical creator of our universe in religion , we accept that an act of creation/manifestation took place , such an act is mind numbingly mysterious , so there is a level of logic for the leap in imagination ( doesn’t wash with me ). I don’t see a universe full of spaghetti and meatballs however.

    Atheists that use such comparisons makes us all look like nerdy trekies 🙂

  144. In reply to #149 by Pauly01:

    I also put in a letter for publishing on challenging atheists on some of their inconsistencies. Sadly the mods didn’t publish it , hopefully I can address some of my concerns without going off topic. Score!

    fallacy number 1 . Comparing God to a Spaghetti Monster.

    FALLACY NO.1 – Failure to recognise the satirical fictitious nature of the FSM. (Fictitious – Just like gods)

    God is the typical creator of our universe in religion.

    FALLACY NO 2. Assumption that a particular asserted god is a default position and that no evidence of such a god or creation is required! !

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster is just a spoof which illustrates the ludicrous nature of god-assumptions and most “god-arguments”. There have been plenty of other god creation claims past and present.
    List of creation myths

    we accept that an act of creation/manifestation took place ,

    No we don’t! This is just the starting point of a fallacious theist circular argument.

    such an act is mind numbingly mysterious ,

    It would only be so to the unthinking.

    The science is well explained, right up to the frontiers of knowledge, beyond which there is a mixture of speculation and the unknown. The unknown is unknown to science and to “faith”. It’s just that science is honest about what it does not know.

    so there is a level of logic for the leap in imagination ( doesn’t wash with me ).

    I don’t think magical gods or spoof gods “wash” with any atheists.

    I don’t see a universe full of spaghetti and meatballs however.

    Nope! No gods either! Just interacting atoms forces and energies.

    Atheists that use such comparisons makes us all look like nerdy trekies 🙂

    Perhaps you just did not “get” the analogy of the close resemblance of the FSM to the properties of soooo many gods, and sooo many followers of gods, – or the fact that it is a parody!

    Have you read it? It is very entertaining!

    The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a satirical book written by Bobby Henderson that embodies the main beliefs of the parody religion the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism.[1][2] The Flying Spaghetti Monster was created by Bobby Henderson in an open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education in which he parodied the concept of intelligent design.

  145. In reply to #146 by Tribforce:

    I will begin a discussion of the authenticity and reliability of OT and NT documents.

    I think the comments @154 and @155 on this other discussion on historical facts, sum up the situation quite clearly!

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/4/28/historical-fact-vs-faith-reasoning#

    Tribforce – @ 135 –
    over the course of the next several weeks I will elaborate on certain independent sources of evidence for the historicity and accuracy of the biblical record .

    If you have gone to look for the “independent historical evidence” you have been told exists for authenticating the NT – it might take you quite some time – given the reports from others who have already looked!

  146. Can’t see your logic Alan.
    I said ‘we accept that an act of creation/manifestation took place’
    and you said
    ‘No we don’t! This is just the starting point of a fallacious theist circular argument’.

    Ok I could see why you could be sensitive about the ‘creation’ part that’s why I threw in ‘manifestation’
    As far as I know the universe began over 13.5 billion years ago , or at least began expanding , it has being growing ever sense. I can’t see your point, Give me a sentence that will distil this for me?

    In reply to #150 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #149 by Pauly01:

    I also put in a letter for publishing on challenging atheists on some of their inconsistencies. Sadly the mods didn’t publish it , hopefully I can address some of my concerns without going off topic. Score!

    fallacy number 1 . Comparing God to a Spaghetti Monster.

    FALL…

  147. Also the fact that there is a universe is mind numbingly mysterious. Don’t know how you think my comment to be ‘unthinking’. its an aloof response from yourself.

    In reply to #150 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #149 by Pauly01:

    I also put in a letter for publishing on challenging atheists on some of their inconsistencies. Sadly the mods didn’t publish it , hopefully I can address some of my concerns without going off topic. Score!

    fallacy number 1 . Comparing God to a Spaghetti Monster.

    FALL…

  148. except that their belief is — and their bible states that — God doesn’t change. He’s the same today, yesterday and forever. so it might be a sound argument to point out that if God wanted children stoned to death 3000 years ago, he should today, or at least wonder why he would have then, but not now. or why he thought coveting was worse than slavery. and if he wrote a book that we would call “the bible” thousands of years later, he should have left out anything confusing or contradictory.
    and when christians think that some of the Bible is just words of humans, and possibly wrong, then why should they think it all isn’t just the words of humans?

  149. I get this most often when a Christian claims the reason he should be permitted to kill me (a gay) is because it says so in Leviticus.

    I ask, “Have you ever read Leviticus? If simply appearing in Leviticus is sufficient justification, you can happily kill almost anyone. Why cherry pick just that once verse?”

    The argument is completely unconvincing, but that is because they are brain damaged.

  150. In reply to #152 by Pauly01:

    Can’t see your logic Alan. I said ‘we accept that an act of creation/manifestation took place’ and you said

    ‘No we don’t! This is just the starting point of a fallacious theist circular argument’.

    Ok I could see why you could be sensitive about the ‘creation’ part that’s why I threw in ‘manifestation’

    Why put in “act of creation” which incorrectly implies a creator and invites a distracting theistic unscientific argument?

    As far as I know the universe began over 13.5 billion years ago , or at least began expanding , it has being growing ever sense. I can’t see your point,

    Give me a sentence that will distil this for me?

    The origin of the Big-bang is currently unknown and speculative. It is known, that after a period of inflation, conditions changed sufficiently for the energy to form the first hydrogen and helium atoms, from which the universe evolved into its present form. ( No anthropomorphism or personified creators required.)

    @153 – Also the fact that there is a universe is mind numbingly mysterious. Don’t know how you think my comment to be ‘unthinking’. its an aloof response from yourself.

    I would have said “awesome” and rather than being “mind-numbing”, – I would see it as inspirational, stimulating curiosity and investigation.

    I cannot recall ever having my mind feel numb from seeing new scientific discoveries.

    We should choose our words carefully to avoid implying underlying cultural assumptions which are incorrect. Maybe my comments lacked some sensitivity, in the interests of brevity and accuracy.

  151. Right,

    I’ll have a look at this book , didn’t know the history.

    Still to me , I once went into an atheist chat room and all these guys were throwing this language around like it actually meant something. I remember at the time I was new to the whole area and it all seemed so nerdy to me.

    In reply to #156 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #152 by Pauly01:

    Can’t see your logic Alan. I said ‘we accept that an act of creation/manifestation took place’ and you said

    ‘No we don’t! This is just the starting point of a fallacious theist circular argument’.

    Ok I could see why you could be sensitive about the ‘creation’ part tha…

  152. In reply to #137 by elisabeth.cervantes1:

    In reply to #133 by Alan4discussion:

    An impressive list of scientists and specialists in their fields, although most notable for later Western traditions – why not mention the work done by Pythagoras, Aristotle, Archimedes, Galen, Aristophenes, Cicero, Ali Bin Isa, Jabir ibn Hayyad?

  153. In reply to #158 by Pauly01:

    I’ll have a look at this book , didn’t know the history.

    Still to me , I once went into an atheist chat room and all these guys were throwing this language around like it actually meant something. I remember at the time I was new to the whole area and it all seemed so nerdy to me.

    Like those who put “Jedi” as their religion there are a small number who play it seriously, but the authors wrote it as a spoof religion – complete with ceremonies and fancy (pirate) dress!

    There are also some who would quote it to take the Micky out of theists. You really should go to the book as a primary source, rather than trying to make sense out of blog comments about it.

    Its arguments are very true to ID v science arguments, but they don’t just play from one side. You need to know some science if you want to know if any of it is to be taken seriously. I suggest you get a copy from the library. One of my sons passed me a copy when he had finished reading it. It was very entertaining.

  154. Of course I do not agree with your final assessment, but you make some good points.

    First, there are some Christians who believe either it’s all true or none of it is. They say, “The Bible is the true and revealed Word of God.” I know, because in my youth I tried them out: Southern Baptist, The Way International, The Church of God, The United Pentecostal Church. They are all very strict when it comes to the truth of the Bible in its entirety.

    There are plenty who are not so extreme, too. In the Lutheran church they did teach me to respect the entire Bible–in general. They just didn’t harp on it so much and some individuals are just how you described them.

    Now I am a heretic. I believe in science and the divinity of everything. So I have science buffs, scientists, and Christians all looking at me like I’m some kind of nut. I have a spiritual belief, but I am not affiliated with any particular religion or church. And my belief is psuedo-Christian.

    Christians would call me a pagan or a heretic. Either term would suffice; I’m just not a heathen. As far as the strict Bible-thumpers are concerned, I’m just as bad. Some of the more moderate Christians do not react so strongly, though.

    [Link to personal blog removed by moderator]

  155. In reply to #2 by Typhon:

    I can see where you are coming from… the most frequent argument I encounter however goes something likes this, “The natural man does not understand the word of God”. With this one magic formula the evangelical or fundamentalist declares themselves the sole arbitor of what the bible says so the ath…

    You misunderstand the definition of faith. It isn’t “faith” if you have a logical or empirical basis for it. Faith implies that you believe anyway.

  156. In reply to #2 by Typhon:

    I can see where you are coming from… the most frequent argument I encounter however goes something likes this, “The natural man does not understand the word of God”. With this one magic formula the evangelical or fundamentalist declares themselves the sole arbitor of what the bible says so the ath…

    That’s how you see it, and that’s you prerogative. I say I’m talking about the bonds of love that we share with other people. It’s abstract, but it isn’t a fairy tale. You love your family and even some others, right?

    Where I go beyond that, well…that’s different. But I won’t argue with you about it. You have your belief and I have mine, and I think it is wrong to push my belief on anyone. If you want to talk, that’s one thing; but I have no business trying to force it on you.

    Academic debates I have no problem with. I engaged in them all the time in college and enjoyed it, because I learned something from everyone I talked to, even those who did not agree with me. Of course, I’m not your average Christian, either.

  157. In reply to #3 by Mr DArcy:

    I’m not sure that the OP is correct in saying:

    It’s also highly ineffective to argue against any faith-based belief.

    I agree 100% to show them the science of how the natural world works. But in doing that, you are showing up the falsity of their religion’s claims. Those honest Christian pioneer ge…

    I do not agree that showing me how the natural world works will also show me the falsity of my spiritual belief. In fact, if anything, the hypocrisy and erratic behavior of many so-called “Christians” are what showed me the falsity (or, at least, misuse) of what they taught me. Science and philosophy showed me something else entirely.

  158. In reply to #4 by Stevehill:

    OK as far as it goes, but there is a strong strand of Christianity that believes the Bible is inerrant: every word of it is literally true. This includes the Reform Wing of the Church of England (nominally as mild a religion as you could wish for) – these are the nutters who continue to frustrate t…

    I will have to reread Romans. I do not recall anything like that. I will reread, but since science buffs (other than myself) and scientists always like to say the burden of proof is on the believer, I ask you to please post at least the nomenclature for the specific passage(s) you mean. Of course, I don’t think I have to prove anything, but many Christians do and I agree that the burden is on them.

  159. In reply to #5 by Bruiser40:

    I agree with T.L.P: they should care about the foundations of their religion(the bible). Otherwise they come across as someone who assumes, just because they like Tom Cruise and believe in aliens, they must be scientologists. Which is kind of silly.

    Like I said, there are many who do. A member of the United Pentecostal Church will say that Christians are supposed to be “spiritual Jews,” or a member of Sabbath Day Keeper’s might say we actually have to uphold the law of the Old Testament (but Jesus changed the penalty for breaking the law, so you won’t get stoned to death for breaking it).

  160. In reply to #6 by Zexks:

    I have to disagree with this sentiment. Especially this:
    “It is much more constructive to offer them a godless alternative.”

    When you dealing the god of the gaps this will get you no where. When you are dealing with a die hard fundamentalist there are no godless alternatives, He is everywhere.

    “Ex…

    Actually, Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, yes, but many Christians will say, “He did it so that we no longer have to, and he gave us new commandments.” He did give new commandments, too: love your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul; and, love your neighbor as yourself. And yes, these new commandments were meant to supersede the old laws.

    The problem is, many so-called Christians do not actually live that way. The Southern Baptists who cry out, “God hates fags!” for instance.

  161. In reply to #7 by Jos Gibbons:

    Here’s the situation: sensible people know no valid epistemic criterion justifies any religious belief, and every defence of a religious belief boils down to trusting in the validity of an epistemic criterion of the form, “This is right because my book says so”. Any cherry-picking religious person t…

    Yes. You have just spelled out what makes mainstream religious belief different from a personal spiritual belief. I don’t believe any such thing. If anything, God’s Word is in my heart, not in a book that was written by human hands and handled by many, many human hands for centuries.

  162. In reply to #12 by Uriel-238:

    My understanding of the New Atheist position is not that Religion is false and everyone should recognize that but that Religion is dangerous and that Positions based on faith or scripture should be challenged critically the same way we challenge any other notions.

    I, for one, have no interest in tr…

    Well said.

  163. In reply to #15 by Ignorant Amos:

    When confronted with certain arguments, particularly about the Old Testament God, most Christians point out that they do not believe that God would have unruly teenagers stoned to death or that Moses ordered his captains to slaughter innocents. They see no wrong in eating shellfish or wearing two ty…

    A very relevant rant, indeed. It’s this kind of behavior that turned me away from mainstream Christianity.

    A museum built to showcase scientific discovery is not the place for religious belief. Why can’t they just build their own museum?

  164. In reply to #16 by Alan4discussion:

    The atheist glibly responds with something like: “Well, that’s what your Bible says… You can’t pick and choose, either the Bible is true or it isn’t…Ha! Got you! I Win!” And that’s that. The atheist sits smugly with his arms folded, inwardly celebrating his victory of perfect logic over the backward…

    I agree with everything you said about fundies except for one point: “the Bible they have not read.” Most fundies I know are very strict about reading every single word in the Bible and reading something every day, upon which to meditate. Many of them can spout off almost any chapter and verse and almost any time. Some will even go so far as to compare the original Greek compilation of the New Testament or even the Hebrew of the Old Testament to the English of the KJV. When I was a member of the Way, I owned a Greek interlinear NT. I would not underestimate a fundy’s dedication to or knowledge of the Bible.

  165. In reply to #17 by JBJR:

    I can grasp the basics of Christianity. The basics of Christianity is the Bible. I have not yet run into a Christian who was so obtuse they would not admit that.

    If a person wants to pick and choose what parts of the Bible they buy into, that’s fine with me (indeed, I certainly hope they don’t bu…

    I would say the Bible is not the only source for spiritual edification anyway, and that the true Word of God is not in it. It’s in our hearts.

  166. In reply to #19 by SurLaffaLot:

    Jesus is supposed to have claimed that the Old Testament is to be kept as valid and law. It is not to be passed up, ignored, justified or rejected; see: [ Thou Shall Not Ignore the Old Testament ! ] (http://www.evilbible.com/donotignore_ot.htm)

    If Christians want to rationalise or ignore the O.T….

    Where? I never read that, and I have read it extensively. Of course, I haven’t kept up with it over the years and I forget many things if I don’t look it up. But please, refer to chapter and verse for our benefit.

    The way I remember it, Jesus fulfilled the old law so that he could introduce a new one.

  167. In reply to #23 by Reckless Monkey:

    You have a point, with some Christians.

    However the problem with Christianity along with all the other ‘ities’ is that they use selected passages of the bible to justify their own individual god. For this reason it IS important to keep pointing out problems in logic, consistency and so forth.

    Sta…

    And there are plenty with personal spiritual beliefs who speak out against these things too.

  168. In reply to #28 by Zeuglodon:

    I’ve never felt that this characterized the atheist position(s). Theism, deism, pantheism, even accommodationist agnosticism: all of them are targets of criticism because all of them are flawed. Even Dawkins himself tackled the accommodationist agnostic, deistic version of god, and the interventioni…

    I see God in everything. But it is a weak argument. I’ve come to the conclusion that my efforts in the past to show connections between spiritual belief and natural philosophy is a waste of time, and have grown to respect TU science teacher Dr. Storrs’ position on it. He separates his spiritual belief from his belief in natural philosophy by saying, “Belief in God is outside the scope of science.”

  169. In reply to #32 by bob_e_s:

    I understand the OP’s point, but I think there is value in using the Bible’s inconsistencies with ‘less-than’fundamental’ believers. These people may not have read the Bible, but they will believe what their preacher says, which is that the book is true and infallible.

    Pointing out that this is not…

    Since I came around to these conclusions myself, you might be right. Although they did not turn me into an atheist; I just re-evaluated my understanding of God.

  170. In reply to #35 by Master Adrian:

    If those christians denounce what is written in the Old Testament (OT) then how can they refer to themselves as being christian?….

    I respectfully do not agree. Your example that accepting one part of a law and not another is misleading. There are all kinds of secular laws that I not agree with, and I rebel against them. I don’t think that makes me a hypocrite (although I have my hypocritical moments; I’m only human after all). If I believe a law is wrong, why should I accept it?

    Of course, that isn’t how it is with the Bible. But I do believe that Jesus fulfilled the OT laws for two reasons: to prove to his peers that he actually was the Messiah and so that we could follow a new set of laws that he gave us.

    Your emphatic statement that hypocrisy is an “abomination” in the eyes of God shows how very little you know about the Bible. I’m not sure what actually constitutes an abomination in God’s eyes (since the penalty for any sin is the same), but if there is anything at all that might evoke a strong response from God, it is probably breaking the laws that Jesus imparted (love your God and love your neighbor).

    Of course, there are plenty of Christians who blatantly disregard those two very important commandments and they are hypocrites. (again, I refer to examples like the Southern Baptists who say that “God hates fags” and the like).

  171. In reply to #45 by Leif:

    Rather than explaining anything, I rather teach them Critical Thinking skills,
    ask them questions like…(not necessarily in this order)

    How do you know what you know?
    How do people know what they know?
    How do they know its true?

    What is evidence?
    How do we know what we know?

    If you must give examples of knowing and evidence, use Conspiracy Theory examples, try not to use Religion or Scriptures…

    I learned critical thinking skills in college and try to use them as often as possible. But my answers to those questions would still be:

    1. I do not “know” anything. I am simply “convinced” that what I experience is real because the evidence is overwhelming. When it comes to God, I know it through faith.
    2. You got me. I only know how I know what I know, which is answered above.
    3. Again, I don’t. The evidence for the physical world is overwhelming. Belief in God is based on faith.
    4. Do you mean “what is evidence” or “what is the evidence for what you know?” You should already know the answer to what you wrote: “evidence” is empirical data, historical precedent, etc. But if you meant it the other way (which seems likely, in context), that’s probably subjective and will be meaningless in a scientific context (because the evidence is “faith”).
    5. You’re just repeating yourself and pretty much asking your readers to repeat themselves. It really doesn’t sound like “critical thinking” at all.
  172. In reply to #48 by crookedshoes:

    No No No No No…. This is my problem with it all. You CANNOT sit and edit THE WORD OF GOD. You can categorize the laws. You can enjoy some of the stories more than others. Certain morals can hit home more effectively. But you cannot say that it is all the word of god and then shit all over so…

    I might not go that far, but it’s a good point. Since I do not believe the Bible is the infallible Word (because the Word is not in a book), however, your argument bears no weight with me.

  173. In reply to #49 by Ryan1306:

    Yeah you did but you left how to know which laws your suppose to obey as an open question.

    ” The big problem with this is how to know which part of the Old Testament Law falls into what category of Law.”

    I’ve checked the internet many times for answers to how Christians should treat the law and th…

    There is no easy answer. Unfortunately, I do not believe that God necessarily meant for the “Bible” in it’s present form to be “a book to live by.” The books printed as the “Bible” are merely a compilation of many different books by many different authors, arbitrarily chosen by a council from among a myriad of other books on the same subjects. So I’d say it was men who meant for it to be a book to live by. God meant for us to look inside, in our hearts, to find the truth.

  174. In reply to #53 by Uriel-238:

    The purpose of any dialogue between Christians and atheist should be to inform and educate, not necessarily to sway. (And it should go both ways. Just because someone is Christian doesn’t mean she has nothing new to add to the dialogue.) One is not converted or won over, rather they have to be allow…

    Although it also possible Jesus was black. He had Ethiopian ancestors too.

  175. In reply to #56 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #55 by Red Dog:

    If you really want to have an honest discussion you can’t start off by assuming the person you are talking with is an idiot

    99% of the time assuming otherwise would be intellectually dishonest.

    Then you should not have the discussion with them at all. That statement makes you sound just as close-minded as many Christians I’ve dealt with.

  176. In reply to #58 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #57 by Red Dog:

    So you are saying that 99% of theists are idiots?

    To me about 99.999% of the population seem like idiots, but atheists occupy about 1% of the population, so I was trying to be inclusive. I find most MENSA meetings dull and uninspiring.

    Where you work or used to work we…

    Wow. Even more of this. I mean no disrespect, but I have to say that you really sound dogmatic.

  177. In reply to #62 by Shell:

    Because of this thread I remembered years ago when a friend’s son said something where I had an aha! moment. We were talking about the birth of christ and how Mary and Joseph were travelling around looking for a place to give birth. This 10 yr-old said, “Wasn’t Joseph a carpenter? Why didn’t he just…

    It’s a good question. The Romans required a census, so Mary and Joseph, by law, had to travel to Bethlehem to fulfill their obligations to their conquerors. When they got there (according to the Bible, anyway) Mary went into labor. They had to find someplace to settle down for the evening as quickly as possible.

  178. In reply to #63 by Uriel-238:

    In reply to #59 by jburnforti:

    …you yourself glided rather smoothly (if perhaps unknowingly) into something that looks very like prescription in your next sentence using, presumably, rationality as your guide.

    This has been a part of the epistemological aspect of rationality I’ve never been able…

    You have a lot of interesting and thoughtful comments. I enjoy reading them.

  179. In reply to #67 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #13 by Stew282:

    My issue is not with the validity of any argument about the fallaciousness of the Bible. My point is the motive of the atheist. Do you just want to win an argument? Do you want to achieve a sense of smug satisfaction, having bettered an easy target? If so, crack on. Prov…

    Please, just be sure you only ridicule those who want to force their beliefs on you and not the rest of us.

  180. In reply to #72 by jburnforti:

    I have never encountered a proper tub-thumper outside of the extreme Left but don’t much agree about ridicule which, unchecked, segues all too easily, all too often into the Stalin/Napoleon theme “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?” and, anyway, mostly just frightens the horses. Also, it…

    Exactly. If Peter thinks it is intellectually dishonest to begin a discussion with the assumption that the other person is not an idiot, that’s his prerogative. But this kind of stance, I think, will naturally inhibit constructive dialogue.

    And when does the ridicule transform into a law equally as oppressive as banning safe sex marriage?

  181. In reply to #84 by SilverWun:

    The fact that the majority of people, Americans in particular, are mentally lazy explains how the vacuum occurs into which theologians project themselves and their sets of doctrines. True, most Christians are daunted, and early, by the arduous task of exploring the writings of ancient people, usual…

    As much as I hate to admit it, many Americans are intellectually lazy, which is one reason I have ironically called my blog, “The Rambling of Yet Another American Idiot.” However, while I am physically lazy quite often (hey, I don’t want to build a shed, Pop; we’ve already got three!), I try to be thorough in my writing and research.

  182. In reply to #87 by fractaloid:

    I have to accept that I can’t truly profess to being a very rational person and I’m not interested in having discussions with any person of faith about their faith. All the power to you if you are interested.

    One day relaxing on the usual park bench, I couldn’t be bothered moving away from the adva…

    Which is one reaction from Christians that I never fully understand. They might not get or agree with the “nothing” part, but the Big Bang still represents a beginning. At least it isn’t Steady State!

  183. In reply to #88 by QuestioningKat:

    We will never convert any theist by picking on the easy target.

    Convert? Sorry that’s not my game. I have far more productive pursuits on my mind. Debating is generally useless, but worthwhile to an unknown onlooker. I was a quiet observer of debates when I was deconverting. Usually one line stuck…

    Here is another point for which I must respectfully disagree. Academic debates can be educational. At the very least, I will learn something about the other person just by hearing him/her out.

  184. In reply to #90 by Matrix7:

    The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?

    The Christian, far from feeling wounded, reflects that it’s pointless arguing with someone who can’t even grasps the basics of Christianity, and just keeps harpi…

    It is your belief that there is no God, which is likely based on your understanding–your perception–of the natural world. God could still exist, despite that.

  185. In reply to #96 by sbooder:

    But if people of faith are determined to continue with their prejudice against people sexual orientation for example, do I not have a right to argue with them…and at this point I even feel justified in saying, “fuck your faith, you can shove it up your arse”.

    The point is that I and imagine most…

    I know, but that isn’t always true. History shows us that oppression and atheism are no more mutually exclusive than oppression and religion.

  186. In reply to #97 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #94 by jimbobjim:

    No because Inerrancy allows for for changes in circumstances/context, language of perspective and different genres. (unfortunately a lot of strong fundies don’t understand that)

    Many fundamentalists (and some others) think the King James Bible (in old English) is an o…

    Again, the Christians I knew, even fundies, did not take the stance that that the KJV is an original source document. As I have pointed out, when I was a member of the Way, I owned a Greek interlinear NT. Their explanation for KJV being the Word of God is that “God preserved his Word through all the changes it went through before it was printed as the KJV,” or something like that anyway.

  187. In reply to #193 by —:email: !binary |- bXNvdXRoMkBzdHVkZW50cy50b3dzb24uZWR1:username: !binary |-
    c2ZmbWFkbWFuNjY=:

    In reply to #97 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #94 by jimbobjim:

    No because Inerrancy allows for for changes in circumstances/context, language of perspective and different genres. (unfortunately a lot of strong fundies don’t understand that)

    Many fundamentalists (and some others) think the King James Bible (in old English) is an original (primary source) document. They are quite unaware of the Roman history of biblical times, and the fact that there are no contemporary documents to support the myths of the Old or New Testaments!

    Again, the Christians I knew, even fundies, did not take the stance that that the KJV is an original source document.

    Anecdotal claims do not compete with researched information.

    It is a feature of this site that Xtians come here to learn (often unintentionally) about their own religion. Being a science site, scientific methodology is frequently used to get accurate information on science and on history where the confused and contradictory wishful “faith-thinking” only reflects the diverse personal biases of various theological writers past and present.

    King James Only inerrantists

    A faction of those in the “King James Only movement” rejects the whole discipline of textual criticism and holds that the translators of the King James Version English Bible were guided by God, and that the KJV thus is to be taken as the authoritative English Bible. However, those who hold this opinion do not extend it to the KJV translation into English of the Apocryphal books, which were produced along with the rest of the Authorized Version.

    As I have pointed out, when I was a member of the Way, I owned a Greek interlinear NT. Their explanation for KJV being the Word of God is that “God preserved his Word through all the changes it went through before it was printed as the KJV,” or something like that anyway.

    It sounds like the sort of fairy-story which has been brought here quite often. All the contradictions, self contradictions, mistranslations, and absence of contemporary eye-witness accounts however, still remain.

    Please, just be sure you only ridicule those who want to force their beliefs on you and not the rest of us.

    Ridicule of the irrational, persistently making whimsical unevidenced claims, disputing sound information, is ridiculed on the basis of the ridiculous nature of the claims, or the comical posturings of the ignorant on scientific subjects.

    @171- I would not underestimate a fundy’s dedication to or knowledge of the Bible.

    It would be quite difficult to under-estimate the knowledge of anything, of some fundies who visit this site, – without going into negative numbers! There have been many who know less than nothing! (ie. They know nothing of consequence, but contradict established, multiply confirmed, scientific or historical knowledge).

    @191 – It is your belief that there is no God, which is likely based on your understanding–your perception–of the natural world.

    Most atheists understand the absence of evidence makes gods highly unlikely. – some gods are easier to refute than others, but none that have supporting evidence which would give any credibility. The natural world works fine without gods.

    God could still exist, despite that.

    Which one(s)? There are so many and the remaining gaps are disappearing fast! List of deities

  188. Thank you for this article. Like many converts, when I first realised what my mind was for and turned to rationalism instead of religious dogma, I was fervent in my efforts to spread my new understanding. I did indeed try to argue people out of their faith and I went to great trouble to demonstrate how the Bible was full of inaccuracies, contradictions and truly awful events. I failed in my mission and only succeeded in irritating people. It took me a long time to grasp that all religious people pick and choose what they believe and it was only through working alongside some devout but very westernised and integrated Muslims in the UK after 9/11 that I finally saw how the peaceful majority can use the same holy books as the violent minority to support their different beliefs precisely by being selective. It may be hypocritical in our eyes but it is still a reality and if we wish to argue against religious faith we must address that reality. Telling people what they should take from the holy books and then arguing against what it is written is futile.

    I am older now and, I hope, a little wiser. I now try to show people how liberating and exciting it is to revel in our own abilities rather than thanking or blaming god for everything. I only refer to the Bible or the Quran when confronted by people who hold to its literal truth. I am no less passionate in my wish to discuss the fallibility of religious belief but I try to express myself in ways that are less smug, condescending or insulting to people’s beliefs. I am still convinced that the world would be better if we learned to give up the superstitions of mankind’s childhood and I take every opportunity to further an appreciation of rationalism, humanism and science, but I find calm discussion more effective than strident argument.

  189. In reply to #184 by —
    :email: !binary |-
    bXNvdXRoMkBzdHVkZW50cy50b3dzb24uZWR1
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    In reply to #62 by Shell:

    Because of this thread I remembered years ago when a friend’s son said something where I had an aha! moment. We were talking about the birth of christ and how Mary and Joseph were travelling around looking for a place to give birth. This 10 yr-old said, “Wasn’t Joseph a ca…

    It’s a good question. The Romans required a census, so Mary and Joseph, by law, had to travel to Bethlehem to fulfill their obligations to their conquerors.

    This is erroneous. First, the Nativities are literary devices to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, so even these two gospel writers, whoever they were, knew the importance of the OT scriptures in their time.

    But there is no way that anyone, let alone the Romans, would’ve required the couple to travel to Bethlehem. It contradicts the purpose of a census for starters. It also contradicts common sense.

    “What Luke describes has the makings of a chaotic situation of unprecedented magnitude. The people involved would have had to travel throughout the length and breath of the Roman Empire, clogging the roads and disrupting the smooth running of the imperial system in every province of the Empire. In the course of their journey, they would be traveling, for the most part, over extremely poor roads once they left the major Roman highways. Available services to travelers would be strained to the breaking point. Certainly in the eastern provinces, of which Judea was part, such a census would present a serious military danger, for the Parthians, then Rome’s strongest antagonist in the area, would have had an excellent opportunity to attack. Roman troops on the march would find it extremely difficult to compete with the tremendous mass of civilians on their way to or from registration. It is hard to imagine the Romans so incompetent or unrealistic as to throw the entire Empire into such a chaotic state by carrying out the census described by the evangelist.”

    How many folk today know their ancestral home going back a century, let alone a millennia? It also makes the faux pas of supporting the contended argument that the genealogy contradiction wasn’t Josephs, Joesph was Jesus’ paps so why it was important to fulfill the prophecy other than theological reasons is anyone’s guess. No, it was made up nonsense for a particular audience in the latter part of the first century. The anonymous author of Luke could not have know that his particular contradictory version would be one of four that made the redactors cut some 3 centuries later and would be scrutinized by scholars for centuries. And even if correct, then Matthew was mistaken. Just a few of the problems with the Luke version of the myth.

    When they got there (according to the Bible, anyway) Mary went into labor. They had to find someplace to settle down for the evening as quickly as possible.

    Yip, good fiction loves cliffhangers.

  190. In reply to #192 by —
    :email: !binary |-
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    In reply to #96 by sbooder:

    But if people of faith are determined to continue with their prejudice against people sexual orientation for example, do I not have a right to argue with them…and at this point I even feel justified in saying, “fuck your faith, you can shove it up your arse”.

    The point is that I and imagine most others with no faith do not spend our time trying to convert people of faith, we only argue against that faith when it affects the lives of those with other faiths or no faith at all.

    History shows us that oppression and atheism are no more mutually exclusive than oppression and religion.

    Another erroneous statement and how you could even go about proving it might me sit up and pay attention. But it isn’t the point anyway, as Steven Weinberg said…

    “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”

  191. The problem is: Yes, they can pick and choose. Who gave atheists the right to determine how and what other people may or may not believe?

    Sure, they have the right to arbitrarily pick and choose, just as they have the right to engage in other poor-quality and ineffective thinking processes. However, if their selections are not arbitrary what are they based on? That leads to the next stage of the discussion. There’s also the question of why they are right and all the other purported (in their view) Christians are wrong, and the consideration of how incredibly arrogant that view is.

  192. I agree that “making the point” about any specific contradiction inside their silly theologies —apart from being TOOO easy to do— has never triggered the striking lightning of “atheistic revelation” to fall on their poor manipulated mind.

    But… one never knows !

    Just to take one example, which I know very well —mine. For me, it started very trivially, by realizing, when I was around 12, that there was an absurdity in their “holy scriptures” (the first in a long line I discovered thereafter) : « If “Jesus” HAD to be of the house of David (in order to fulfill some dark previous prophecy), then WHY did they take so much pain in explaining that the final offspring of this line-up was…. Joseph, being understood that he didn’t have any participation in this generating business anyway ?? There must be a bug somewhere… ».

    That’s how it all started for me. So it does prove that, as soon as the first crack appears in the wall of certitudes, all you have to do is pull the thread, and the whole thing un-knits itself quite naturally !! Then… why shouldn’t that process start, few hours (or few days) after your controversy, in the mind of your interlocutor ???

    One who never tries, never gets anything.

  193. In reply to #175 by sffmadman66:
    (previous incarnation as;
    *:email: !binary |- bXNvdXRoMkBzdHVkZW50cy50b3dzb24uZWR1 :username: !binary |- c2ZmbWFkbWFuNjY=:) *

    In reply to #28 by Zeuglodon:

    I’ve never felt that this characterized the atheist position(s). Theism, deism, pantheism, even accommodationist agnosticism: all of them are targets of criticism because all of them are flawed. Even Dawkins himself tackled the accommodationist agnostic, deistic version..

    I see God in everything. But it is a weak argument. I’ve come to the conclusion that my efforts in the past to show connections between spiritual belief and natural philosophy is a waste of time,

    It is indeed a futile activity to try to bend the science to the faith-thinking, but the study of the natural philosophy of neuroscience which analyses the faith thinking, along with the origins and mechanisms of god-delusions in believers’ brains, is starting to produce elegant explanations as to how this works!

    and have grown to respect TU science teacher Dr. Storrs’ position on it. He separates his spiritual belief from his belief in natural philosophy by saying, “Belief in God is outside the scope of science.”

    Non-overlapping magisteria is well known, but is really only a form of cognitive dissonance to separate the faith-based whimsical assertions from the scientific evidence. The fact that some fellow believer shares this well known, but misguided view, is hardly news! The dedicated mental struggles of faith-thinkers to try to credibly square this triangular circle, is well known on this site.

  194. I think modern sophisticated Christians are the ones that confuse Atheists the most. I think we are very grateful that so many Christians pick and choose the type of God they believe in, instead of basing their perception of this God on what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago. However, the basis of Christianity rests upon the bible and certain core beliefs such as the resurrection of JC – something which is just as much an absurd belief as the story of Noah’s Ark which thankfully many Christians choose not to believe literally.

    What perplexes Atheists is the fact that Christians apply common sense and an evidence based approach towards their decision not to believe in the story of Noah’s Ark, but not towards stories such as the resurrection. This inconsistency is correctly scrutinised in my opinion. In terms of the moral argument, Christians also thankfully pick and choose what is right and wrong e.g. it is wrong to stone homosexuals. Again though, some Christians claim that we all derive our moral values from the Bible (many American Christians whole heartedly believe that the U.S constitution is based upon the values of the Bible) whilst simultaneously agreeing that the enslavement of other human beings is wrong. The very fact that they are able to pick and choose a contradictory belief to what is mandated in the bible shows that morality is independent of the bible and is therefore derived from elsewhere. Again, inconsistencies like this should be scrutinised and questioned by non believers. Of course the problem for the believer is, if they are consistent, there is little point in labelling themselves as a Christian. What Atheists want to know is: if not your god, in what way are you a Christian (i.e. one that follows the immutable word of the Lord)? I think the world would be a better place if these people took the best parts of the Bible and simply re-wrote it to conform to 21st Century values (in a similar way to what Thomas Jefferson did). It would be a start…

  195. If God exists, it is reasonable that at some point in human history he would reveal himself to the world.

    And there is evidence that this has actually happened: first, there was a revelation to the Jewish people, and then the public revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

    And how do we know that there was this revelation?

    Now, you have two things that no man can do miracles and prophecies are genuine, that violate the very laws of nature. And the Bible is full of miracles and prophecies:

    For example, the Wikipedia article on ‘Christ’ shows dozens of passages from the Old Testament (written centuries before the birth of Christ) that were fulfilled in the person of Christ, including: that he would be born of a virgin, speak in parables, miracles would would be rejected and betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, would be wrongly accused, it would be rejected and wounded for our iniquities, would be slapped and spat, had his hands and feet pierced, pray for enemies, would launch lucky to divide his garments, they would drink vinegar would not have broken bones, bury the rich, resurrected on the third day, etc.. etc.. etc..

    Some skeptics argue that Jesus could be a charlatan who took advantage of some of these Old Testament prophecies.
    However, he could have forged the prophecy of his own crucifixion, an instrument of capital punishment used by the Romans?

    “And the LORD said unto him, Make thee a fiery serpent and put it on a rod. Whoever is bitten and behold live. “(Numbers 21:8)

    “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must be lifted up the Son of Man.” (John 3:14)

    “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked surrounded me: they pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones: they are staring at me and staring. They divide my garments among themselves and cast lots upon my vesture. “(Psalm 22:16-18)

    “And they crucified him. And parted his garments, casting lots upon them, to know what each one would be. “(Mark 15:24)

    “He then said to them: ‘Ye fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! It was not necessary that the Christ should suffer all this and enter his glory? ‘And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures that he was concerned. “(Luke 24.25-27)

    And the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrated that such prophecies really were written centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.

    ( OBS.: – I’m sorry by bad english, was translated by Google! )

  196. In reply to #202 by D. R.:

    If God exists, it is reasonable that at some point in human history he would reveal himself to the world.

    And there is evidence that this has actually happened: first, there was a revelation to the Jewish people, and then the public revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

    No there isn’t. There is the bible, which is lies, forgery, interpolation, contradiction, mistranslated, etc., etc., but even if it was none of these, it is a circular argument because it is biased.

    And how do we know that there was this revelation?

    Now, you have two things that no man can do miracles and prophecies are genuine, that violate the very laws of nature. And the Bible is full of miracles and prophecies:

    And the bible is full of lies.

    For example, the Wikipedia article on ‘Christ’ shows dozens of passages from the Old Testament (written centuries before the birth of Christ) that were fulfilled in the person of Christ, including: that he would be born of a virgin, speak in parables, miracles would would be rejected and betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, would be wrongly accused, it would be rejected and wounded for our iniquities, would be slapped and spat, had his hands and feet pierced, pray for enemies, would launch lucky to divide his garments, they would drink vinegar would not have broken bones, bury the rich, resurrected on the third day, etc.. etc.. etc..

    This is a Poe I’m sure…but I’ll play along because I’m bored and it’s too early to open the vino.

    The messianic prophecies you list were written in the gospels with the benefit of hindsight. It’s really easy, see Daniel, also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    “For nearly two millennia, the principal view of both Jewish and Christian scholars has been that the book of Daniel was written by Daniel during the sixth century BCE, considering it as containing prophecy of western political history and an eschatological future.However, since the Age of Enlightenment, critical scholarship of the Bible, taking a cue from third century pagan critic Porphyry, views the Book of Daniel as a pseudepigraph dated around 165 BCE that concerns itself primarily with the Maccabean era and the reign of the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes. Although the book had been historically classified as prophetic, the style of writing is now considered apocalyptic which was popular between 200 BCE and 100 CE.”

    Then you must address the inconsistencies.

    Some skeptics argue that Jesus could be a charlatan who took advantage of some of these Old Testament prophecies.

    Some skeptics posit that Jesus never existed and was invented out of whole cloth by some other charlatan, perhaps Paul. There is no evidence to the contrary. Jesus works better as a myth than a real person. The story of Jesus and the Old Testament prophecies were retconned by the gospel authors with progressive embellishments. Never mind Wiki, have you read the gospels?

    However, he could have forged the prophecy of his own crucifixion, an instrument of capital punishment used by the Romans?

    Did Jesus suffer crucifixion by the Romans, or did someone write a story that he did?

    “And the LORD said unto him, Make thee a fiery serpent and put it on a rod. Whoever is bitten and behold live. “(Numbers 21:8)

    “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must be lifted up the Son of Man.” (John 3:14)

    Seriously? You think this is a prophecy about Jesus from the time of Moses? Because the buck eejit that wrote John made a reference to Numbers? Read some theology on the subject…Numbers 21 Commentary – Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked surrounded me: they pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones: they are staring at me and staring. They divide my garments among themselves and cast lots upon my vesture. “(Psalm 22:16-18)

    And yet, those crucified by the Romans did not have their hands and feet pierced. Someone inventing a messianic Jesus that was trying to get the prophecy fulfilled wouldn’t necessarily know that, even if they did, would it matter?

    “And they crucified him. And parted his garments, casting lots upon them, to know what each one would be. “(Mark 15:24)

    All you have shown there is that the author of Mark was versed in the Hebrew scriptures. You must be aware that the author of Mark wasn’t an eyewitness and wrote his gospel at least 40 years after the proposed events in it, right?

    “He then said to them: ‘Ye fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! It was not necessary that the Christ should suffer all this and enter his glory? ‘And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures that he was concerned. “(Luke 24.25-27)

    Who was look again?

    And the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrated that such prophecies really were written centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.

    No they don’t. They show that the retconned Old Testament prophecies where in the Old Testament, so what? Since you are found of Wiki, read the page on The Dead Sea Scrolls.

    “Analysis of handwriting, a path of study known as palaeography, was applied to the text on the Dead Sea Scrolls by a variety of scholars in the field. Major linguistic analysis by Cross and Avigad dates fragments from 225 BCE to 50 CE. These dates were determined by examining the size, variability, and style of the text. The same fragments were later analyzed using radiocarbon date testing and were dated to an estimated range of 385 BCE to 82 CE with a 68% accuracy rate.”

    This fits well with radio carbon dating and the hypothesis they were buried during the Jewish revolt around 70 AD. There is no prophetic epiphany with the dead sea scrolls discovery I’m afraid.

    “But if you really want to know why Jesus doesn’t fulfill the Old Testament prophecies about the messiah, ask a Jew. Early Christians decided after the fact that different passages that were never before considered prophecies should now be considered prophecies because they could be interpreted to be about Jesus, and that passages which were previously thought to be about the entire nation of Israel could now also be about Jesus.”

    ( OBS.: – I’m sorry by bad english, was translated by Google! )

    Never mind, good effort.

  197. D. R. @ #202

    For example, the Wikipedia article on ‘Christ’ shows dozens of passages from the Old Testament (written centuries before the birth of Christ) that were fulfilled in the person of Christ, including: that he would be born of a virgin, speak in parables, miracles would would be rejected and betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, would be wrongly accused, it would be rejected and wounded for our iniquities, would be slapped and spat, had his hands and feet pierced, pray for enemies, would launch lucky to divide his garments, they would drink vinegar would not have broken bones, bury the rich, resurrected on the third day, etc.. etc.. etc..

    Could I suggest you read through this discussion from the beginning, and through this earlier one http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/4/28/historical-fact-vs-faith-reasoning#, as you seem to have the mistaken view that the bible is a historical record, when it is in fact a selected collection of mythology! – Mostly made up long after supposed events, with bits copied from earlier religions.

    I see Amos has sorted out some of your misapprehensions.

  198. Becoming an atheist in my part of the world (Africa) can be one of the boldest things to do and going about trying to ‘convert’ all these zealots running around can be compared pouring water on a stone. Leaving these believers to realise their own gullibility (just as I did) is just the best thing.

  199. What always amazes me, with these “soooo-faithful-followers-of-the-“lord”, is their level of ability to grasp the meaning of written statements they read ! In other words, their level of what is usually called “comprehension of spoken language”…

    Rational people, all around the world, keep writing thousands of lines, in every site possible, to tell them again and again that quoting “Bronze-Age scribblings made-up by ‘illuminated’ guys” —as the usual formula goes— has never, is NOT, and will never be considered an undeniable proof of what they recklessly claim as being the absotute truth. Even though, they keep knockin’ on atheists’ door, crying all over again : “Here’s the proof of the existence of god” ! !

    It’s becoming a trifle tiring, after a few centuries of such desperating lucubrations…

    Here we have, again, #202, who comes, blank-faced, in an atheist site ( welcome, mate ! ), to tell atheists that 1) his god really exists, and 2) the proof that it exists,,, being that it’s written black on white in his “holy” book !

    It’s exactly like if someone would pop up around here, claiming that Tintin REALLY arrested Al Capone ==> the proof of it being that it is written in “Tintin In America” ! The latter would even be a better example than the previous one with its old-style bible, as the tintinesque reference has even colour drawings to show us how this new superior being performed his celebrated miracle !

  200. PS : Another, more funny explanation to this incomprehensible new, desperate call numbered 202… would be that that “D.R.” pseudonym is to “R.D.” what Dr Jekyll was to Mr Hyde ! !

    Richard Dawkins, having an hour off ahead in his (overbooked) planning, mused into sending a “Poe’s law” post… to his OWN blog !

    Thh hee…

  201. I suppose this all hinges upon your definition of the word “God.” To deny the existence of Source Energy seems to fly in the face of scientific observation. But to develop a personality profile of the God of the Bible is pretty easy, and I for one, don’t agree that the God of the Bible exists. But Source Energy certainly does. That’s where I’ll hang my hat.

  202. In reply to #208 by rlongcore:

    I suppose this all hinges upon your definition of the word “God.” To deny the existence of Source Energy seems to fly in the face of scientific observation. But to develop a personality profile of the God of the Bible is pretty easy, and I for one, don’t agree that the God of the Bible exists. But S…

    What is source energy?

  203. In reply to #208 by rlongcore:

    But to develop a personality profile of the God of the Bible is pretty easy, and I for one, don’t agree that the God of the Bible exists. But Source Energy certainly does.

    The “source energy” of the the universe is the pre-atomic inflationary energy of the Big-Bang, but that bears no resemblance gods, and would have no interventionist properties at later stages of the evolution of the universe. Those stages would simply be following the laws of physics, so would be unrelated to any supernatural, or anthropomorphic claims.

  204. In reply to #118 by Tribforce:

    I for one believe every word recorded in the Bible. I have read where God instructed the nation of Israel to completely obliterate a people for their ungodly and atheistic culture including women and children. He mandated this because He did not want his people influenced to commit spiritual adulter…

    Now that’s scary. You have no morality of your own? Are you asking us to respect your complete lack of morality, your disdain for humanity? Wretched, it is.

  205. In reply to #180 by sffmadman66:

    In reply to #49 by Ryan1306:

    Yeah you did but you left how to know which laws your suppose to obey as an open question.

    ” The big problem with this is how to know which part of the Old Testament Law falls into what category of Law.”

    The books were not chosen by a “council” (my friend Alan made the same mistake above). I assume you mean the Council of Nicaea, but the NT came from Constantine’s delegation to Eusebius of Cesarea (perhaps with help from Athanasius), some 6-7 years after the Council.

    I’ve checked the internet many times for answers to how Christia…

  206. In reply to #146 by Tribforce:

    Your dates are wrong about the most recent OT and NT manuscripts.I am too tired tonite but tomorrow I will begin a discussion of the authenticity and reliability of OT and NT documents. Stay tuned friends.In reply to #142 by zhrskih:

    IMHO, 99.9% of all Christians (and similar, although smaller perc…

    OH , WOW! I am late to this thread, but soon (i.e. before Jesus returns) Tribforce will return to educate me on biblical reliability. Can’t wait!

  207. In reply to #212 by JHJEFFERY:

    Sorry about the confusion over events around the same time. – Thanks for the clarification.

    The books were not chosen by a “council” (my friend Alan made the same mistake above). I assume you mean the Council of Nicaea, but the NT came from Constantine’s delegation to Eusebius of Cesarea (perhaps with help from Athanasius), some 6-7 years after the Council.

  208. In reply to #214 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #212 by JHJEFFERY:

    Sorry about the confusion over events around the same time. – Thanks for the clarification.

    The books were not chosen by a “council” (my friend Alan made the same mistake above). I assume you mean the Council of Nicaea, but the NT came from Constantine’s delegation t…

    Oh no worries–I get overly pedantic about my era. The important thing is not when the choice occurred, but that NTcontent was the decision of one, or perhaps two men. And all we have for evidence of this is the word or Eusebius (who gives Athanasius no credit). Eusebius was called by one early scholar (Gibbon?) “the most unreliable of all historians.”

  209. I agree with the general thrust of this argument–in my experience, most Christians haven’t read the Bible (or if they did, they found most of it impenetrable), and it doesn’t resonate with them to cherry-pick the particularly offensive verses. Their faith is more of an emotional feeling, based on the general thrust of things that they picked up from sermons, or from certain key passages that resonate and which have been often repeated to them (such as “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him and is baptized shall be saved.”). Faith for most of them is favorite Xmas carols, time with family, solace at funerals, prayers for help when suffering, and trying to talk them out of it is usually a waste of time.

    So I don’t bother. To my way of thinking, quitting a religion is a step toward quitting all religions, and it is such a big and personal leap that it feels presumptuous to me to try to push the faithful into atheism. Its analogous to hectoring a smoker to quit cigarettes—you come across as a nag, and its such a powerful addiction that a person really needs to come to the decision “it is time to quit” on their own. Trying to talk a person out of their faith is like trying to talk a nicotine addict off of cigarettes–no matter how good your intentions, it comes across as self-righteous or otherwise annoying.

    I lay out my beliefs, and briefly give my reasons, and leave it at that. If a believer wants to know more, I’m happy to engage, but I don’t push hard or try to play the Van Helsing of Reason in a battle to defeat the Dracula of Faith.

  210. Well, what is it that Christians base their beliefs on? I’m glad they accept that so much of the Old Testament is nonsense, so why is it included in the Bible?

  211. In reply to #215 by JHJEFFERY:

    The important thing is not when the choice occurred, but that NTcontent was the decision of one, or perhaps two men. And all we have for evidence of this is the word or Eusebius (who gives Athanasius no credit). Eusebius was called by one early scholar (Gibbon?) “the most unreliable of all historians.”

    Funny – as I was commenting elsewhere – how some gods and their followers run along parallel lines!

    The ritual of the Aztec flower war all started with Tlacaelel, an emperor of the Aztec empire. Tlacaelel brought the empire to the height of its power in the 1400s. He began to rewrite the history of the Aztecs, burning old history texts and emphasizing that his people were the chosen of the gods.

  212. In reply to #217 by graham.griffiths.777:

    Well, what is it that Christians base their beliefs on? I’m glad they accept that so much of the Old Testament is nonsense, so why is it included in the Bible?

    This is a better question than you know. There was a strong sect on Christianity at the time called Marcionites, who did not believe that Jesus could be connected with Jehovah. Their idea was that Jesus was bigger than Judaism. Unfortunately they lost.

  213. In reply to #216 by functional atheist:

    I agree with the general thrust of this argument–in my experience, most Christians haven’t read the Bible (or if they did, they found most of it impenetrable), and it doesn’t resonate with them to cherry-pick the particularly offensive verses. Their faith is more of an emotional feeling, based on…

    I agree with you, that it is definitely up to the person concerned, to take the decision to “quit believing” —as someone would say : “I quit smoking” or “I quit shooting that stupid whitey powder”…

    However, the above article was dealing with believers and atheists arguing about such and such detail in the OT or NT… What you are bringing forth is a different topic : believers who have an attitude towards religion which, in France, they call : “la foi du charbonnier” ( the ‘coalmonger’s faith’… ).

    Even then, I think that a good, peaceful and friendly argument carried on on that different basis ( the way they see their ‘god’, the good things that religion brings to the faithfiul, etc… ), is never a waste of time.

    On the contrary, this is an excellent occasion for atheists, to wring the neck to those stupid ideas such as : “atheists don’t have any high values to lead an upright life”…. or : “atheists must live a very dull, hopeless and desperate life, without any divinity to comfort them”…

    As I keep saying **: who knows ?** Perhaps such a ‘trivial’ conversation, by a peaceful evening, might, a few days —or even a few months— later, provoke a spiral of thinking, ending up in a “back-leap” of faith ???

  214. Looks lile Tribforce is pullling a “Jesus” and won’t be returning after all. Pity. He had so much to teach us.

  215. While I do agree that it’s rather easy to pick on the bible I don’t think it’s wholly unnecessary. There are actually quite a few believers that take it literally.

    In my experience this comes from the religious tendency (in some cases their duty) to inculcate their beliefs into children below the age of reason.
    In my honest opinion this is the main reason we have entirely reasonable, And in some cases rational adults who can still believe in reserrection or a literal interpretation of genesis.

    These types of beliefs are the kind that can only be shaken with numerous blows over the course of a long period of time so I will take any free hits I can get regardless of ease.

  216. In reply to #222 by TheHardonCollider:

    While I do agree that it’s rather easy to pick on the bible I don’t think it’s wholly unnecessary. There are actually quite a few believers that take it literally.

    In my experience this comes from the religious tendency (in some cases their duty) to inculcate their beliefs into children below the…

    I tend to agree with you. Without the Bible, Christianity could not exist. My sole and small claim to fame on this issue is as follows: one of my very best friends is a born again Christian. Over the years we have discussed the Bible in great detail. He insisted at the first that the Bible was inerrant–every word true. He finally ceased to defend that position and now says something to this effect–it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, I feel Jesus in my heart and I have a personal relationship with him. This is something it is difficult to argue, other than to say that what you feel is the amygdala sending impulses down the first and most powerful nerve in the body. The amydala/esophogeal nerve connection is why we get esphogeal spasms, and ulcers, when the problem is in our brains.

    No luck with this so far, but there’s always hope.

    JHJ

  217. The New Testament is not much better than The Old Testament. The New Testament condones slavery and threatens people with hell causing psychological trauma.

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