The Fundamentalist Atheists

I’ve been blogging periodically about unbelief. 

In The Psychology of Unbelief, I proposed that: 

  • Unbelief stems from our emotional response to our mental perception that life has let us down, and, therefore, the Author of life is at fault and faulty. 
  • Unbelief is an emotional response to a mental interpretation about the ultimate Relational Being where we falsely conclude that this Being is unfair, un-protective, unsafe, and untrustworthy, and so we choose to trust anything and anyone but Him. 

In The Bible Is Counter-Cultural: Christ’s Humiliation Humiliates Us, I proposed that: 

  • Why do people refuse to believe in Christ? Here’s the unspoken reason: “Christ calls me to live for others and I want to live for myself!” “Christ calls me to put others first, and I insist that I am number one!” 
  • We insist that we are the captain of our fate. Christ insists that He must be our Captain by faith. The choice is clear. In our self-sufficiency, we reject the reality of our desperate need for Christ. We refuse to humble ourselves and become Christ-sufficient by clinging to Christ alone. 

Five Hallmarks of The Fundamentalist Atheists

Today my focus is on the personal, interpersonal, and relational aspects of unbelief. Increasingly in public writings you find men like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens displaying what might best be described as “fundamentalist atheism.” You experience the same tenor and tone by less well-known atheists on various blog sites, on Amazon in the “comments” section, and on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. 

What are some of the hallmarks of fundamentalist atheism? 

Hallmark # 1: Angry

When I read the fundamentalist atheists, I detect that they are angrier than the Christians they accuse of being angry. I wonder, “Why the venom?” “Why do they find it so difficult to have a gracious, open, give-and-take, adult-to-adult conversation?” 

I wonder if it has something to do with their suppressed rage against the God they say does not exist. I wonder if it has something to do with their lack of peace with God which leads to a lack of personal and interpersonal peace. 

Hallmark # 2: Anti-Intellectualism

When I read the fundamentalist atheists, I detect that they are more anti-intellectual than the Christians they accuse of being anti-intellectual. In personal conversation I’ll sometimes ask, “What books by thinking, loving Christians have you read in the last year? The last decade?” Almost universally the answer is, “None!” The exclamation mark indicating pride in their refusal to read Christian material. 

Yet, many thinking Christians read Dawkins, Hitchins, and Harris (books by the fundamentalist atheists). Why are Christians, who read books by atheists, who attend universities staffed by secularists, and who are well-educated and well-read called “anti-intellectual,” when atheists who only read “within their camp” viewed as intellectuals? 

What causes this close-mindedness to any books, materials, or facts other than those that seem to support the atheistic perspective? What might explain this failure to read widely and/or to read with an open mind. Could this be caused, in part, by fear of being swayed by the other perspective? 

There’s seems to be a fear to doubt their doubt. Personally, I’ve spent years honestly facing my own doubts. The atheists I talk to don’t seem to want to spend even a second candidly pondering the possibility that they may be wrong about their unbelief. They don’t seem to want to wrestle intellectually and emotionally with doubt. 

Another aspect of this anti-intellectualism is “cherry picking.” That is, in a discussion they will describe one extreme negative example from the life of a Christian and stereotype that as indicative of the Christian norm. In research statistics this is known as an “outlier.” However, you are not to use an outlier to assess the whole. 

Yet it happens seemingly endlessly. “Well that tele-evangelist…” Well, what about the quarter-million pastors who sacrificially love and serve people as they serve Christ? That would be like the Christian saying, “All atheists are just like Stalin and Castro.” 

Hallmark # 3: Unloving

When I read the fundamentalist atheists, I detect that they are less loving than the Christians they accuse of being unloving. A frequent stereotype tossed about is that Christians are focused exclusively on what they’re against and do little or nothing in terms of positive ministry. It’s the “truth without love” stereotype. 

And yet, statistically, Christians give far more to charitable causes than non-Christians. They give far more time to charitable work. The fundamentalist atheist expends more energy railing against Christians than sacrificially giving to others—like Christ lived His life. 

Hallmark # 4: Judgmentalism

When I read the fundamentalist atheists, I detect that they are more judgmental than the Christians they accuse of being judgmental. When they hold a view with passionate conviction they call it “social justice.” When a Christian holds a view with passionate conviction they call it “arrogant condemnation” or “hateful intolerance.” 

This conveys the typical post-modernist perspective that the only approved moral position is amorality. They fail to acknowledge that their refusal to allow others to hold a moral view other than their own view is itself intolerant. 

John Dickson has an excellent definition of humility: holding power in the service of others. Why wouldn’t the Christian who stands up for pro-life views be seen as compassionately and humbly holding power in the service of the most powerless—the unborn? Instead, in the supposed name of an accepting and cooperative society, the only acceptable cooperation is blind allegiance to an atheistic worldview. 

Hallmark # 5: Weakness

Fundamentalist atheists often accuse Christians of being “weak” because “they have to place their faith in a Supreme Being.” Is faith weak? Is it weak to engage in “creative suffering” that provides healing hope that leads not only to surviving, but also to thriving? It is weak to engage in “creative suffering” that not only produces meaning in seeming meaningless suffering, but prompts and promotes sacrificial living for others? 

Why can’t unbelief be perceive as potentially “weak”? Perhaps it is weak in that it can’t handle life and has to rage against the Author of Life. 

A Way Forward

So what? Is the point to “bash fundamentalist atheists?” 

No. 

The relational point is to call for a mutually civil, honest, respectful conversation. 

The theological point is to call for a reasonable investigation of truth—the truth will set you free. 

The personal point is to say, “I have compassion and empathy for anyone who doubts Christ.” By “lovingly exposing” some of the inconsistencies of “fundamentalist atheism” I hope to encourage and challenge those who do not believe in Christ to reassess their own unbelief.

103 Comments

  1. joejoejoe said:

    I dont know if you allow atheists to respond on this site, I just had to say this was the most depressing artical written by a christian professional and educated person I have ever read against atheism in my entire life. I really truly mean that, it almost makes me want to cry. And I should also say that it would be more honest of you include that people like myself do not believe due to lack of empirical objective evidence.. its really that simple. I reject Mormonism and Islam because of lack of evidence. But they would both claim that I am angry, weak, anti-intellectual,unloving and judgemental for rejecting mormonism and Islam. No? Just my two cents. Peace.

    November 10, 2011
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  2. said:

    Joe, Yes, we do welcome comments. Thank you for sharing. I’m saddened that you found my post depressing. That was not my intent. My intent, as I indicated at the end of the post was: By “lovingly exposing” some of the inconsistencies of “fundamentalist atheism” I hope to encourage and challenge those who do not believe in Christ to reassess their own unbelief. I believe there are numerous reasons why people do not believe. I articulate several of those in the first post linked at the top of the article. I would be glad to engage with you about those reasons, developed from my interpretation of God’s Word. So I don’t see it simply as evidential, nor does the Bible (Romans 1:16-28). I don’t claim people are angry, weak, anti-intellectual, unloving, and judgmental simply because of rejection of Christianity. In the article I articulate examples of the tenor and tone and approach to Christians in the writings of the “fundamentalist atheists” that lead me to the conclusions made in this post. The post does not claim that this is typical of every person who doubts, simply that the “fundamentalist atheists” in their writings can be seen to express the “five hallmarks” oulined in the article. Again, I would be glad to engage with you on each of the five issues, looking at specific examples from the authors noted and from bloggers, etc. Thank you again for your courageous and civil response. Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  3. joejoejoe said:

    Thank you Bob, but why should I bother? You are already convinced that I am angry,weak,stupid,unloving and judgemental, when you know nothing about me,my past, my joys and sorrows and my relationship with Humanity. As with all groups of people there are people who are these negative things regardless of faith or lack of. I feel your conclusions are demonizing and dehumanizing when we are all humans, in the same boat,non of us wants to live life following a lie..But your assumptions about me are demonizing in the same way somebody would declare all Jews as dishonest, or all muslims are pedophiles.

    November 10, 2011
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  4. said:

    Joe, First, I very much would appreciate the opportunity to get to know you and your joys and hurts. Second, I sense that we both share the same concern that no one is unfairly stereotyped. In fact, the focus of my article is the same as the focus of your comments: challenging unfair stereotypes. I don’t appreciate when the “fundamenatalist atheists” unfairly and inaccurately stereotype all Christians as angry, anti-intellectual, unloving, judgmental, and weak. Can you empathize with me and other Christians over those false caricatures? I do empathize with you. My point in my first response and I would repeat it again here is that I would not label you or anyone else who doubts as having those “five hallmarks.” I am specifically addressing the writings of the “fundamentalist atheists” who unfairly attack Christians. Would you join me in challenging those unfair stereotyped attacks against Christians? Is it wrong for a Christian to challenge unfair stereotypes by outlining five ways that the “fundamentalist atheists” stereotype Christians? My invitation stands: you can feel free to contact me through the contact information on my personal/ministry website. We could email or even call. Thank you again for your willingness to prove that not all those who doubt are “fundamentalist atheists.” Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  5. joejoejoe said:

    I am not sure. If you really want to continue, that’s fine I guess.I am tired of arguing, I dont want to argue that I am right and you are wrong if you are happy and fulfilled in your faith, its your personal business and I am happy for you. Atheism isn’t for every one. I suppose my motivation is some sympathy, or understanding for an atheist position, coming from an ex-christians point of view who is very familiar with Christianity. I would label myself as fundy atheist, probably since I come from a fundamentalist christian past, so its natural that I would try and define Reality in fundamentalist/ dichotomous/ black and white terms. Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennet, I think their critical attitudes and stereotypes towards Christianity is mainly directed at the anti-science American flavored evangelical conservative Christianity. Its an easier target since their views are more defined than the majority liberal Christianity around the world, Fundamentalists are more easily defined and stereotyped and they also get more media coverage, like Fred Phelps or Falwell, or muslim terrrorists and so forth. So I think the atheist authors focus on this because it simplifies the arguments and the public is more familier with Fundamentalist Christianity. Its an easy trap to fall into.I think we all have a motivation to simplify and label groups, its easier to comprehend and understand, even if its inaccurate. Do I think all Christians are Angry? no Weak? no Stupid? No, except that they assign no value in the highest standard known in validating a truth: objective empirical evidence validates a hypothesis.Instead they value feelings, emotions, and personal subjective experiences that validates their personal hypothesis, and refusal to allow falsification of hypothesis. Unloving? No Judgemental? Yes, its a part of the theology, they cannot help it.

    November 10, 2011
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  6. KeenanSteel said:

    Hi Bob, I wrote a brief response to your post here. http://www.everydaychristian.com/blogs/post/10405/ I think your post was a little unfair. You did make it sound, however, that you are open to discussion, so I thought it worth notifying you of it.

    November 10, 2011
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  7. said:

    Keenan, I much appreciate you alerting me to your post and you inviting me to a civil, caring conversation. I just posted a comment/response on your blog post in response to your post. I would be glad to continue an honest give-and-take discussion. Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  8. said:

    Joe, Thanks for your willingness to continue the conversation. Personally, I do not sense this as an “argument” but as a dialogue. I appreciate your sharing your opinion about the five hallmarks and whether/how they might relate to Evangelical Christians. Regarding “stupid” (I used the phrase “anti-intellectual”), we may have to agree to disagree here. Myself and Evangelicals I know grant much value to science and empirical research. In fact, I think Christianity has the most holistic and comprehensive approach to the “ways of knowing.” We value revelation, reason (redeemed by grace), research (science, empiricism), and experience (spiritual, relational, emotional) all wedded to our faith system. As to judgemental, again, we may need to agree to disagree. I think the way Hawkins and others use the term they embed it with “angry, anti-intellectual, unloving” judgment. Are some Christians guilty of that at times (am I)? Likely. Are some atheists guilty of that at times? Likely. But if by judgment we mean “loving discernment” then I will “own” that. You say “judgmentalism” is embedded or wedded to Christian theology. I would say loving discernment is wedded to Christian theology. I would also say that you are using “judgment” in your responses to this post–your personal opinions, convictions, and judgments based upon the a-theistic values you hold. As image bearers, yes, we all have the God-given capacity to discern, and we can either use it in a loving way or an unloving way. Thanks again for the dialogue. Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  9. Justine said:

    This is absurd! Why would you publish such a dishonest article? “That is, in a discussion they will describe one extreme negative example from the life of a Christian and stereotype that as indicative of the Christian norm. In research statistics this is known as an “outlier.” However, you are not to use an outlier to assess the whole.” This is ironically hypocritical. Why is it okay for you to “use an outlier to asses the whole” of atheism when you are chastising atheists for doing the same thing? If you can’t be bothered to follow your own advice, why should anyone else follow it? You are making so many unfair assumptions about why people do not believe in your god. The idea that I’m an atheist because “life has let me down” is preposterous, and it is simply untrue! I have a beautiful life, and I resent the fact you would suggest otherwise! I would argue that very few atheists don’t believe in a god because they are unhappy with their lives. Where did you get this idea? “‘Christ calls me to live for others and I want to live for myself!’ ‘Christ calls me to put others first, and I insist that I am number one!'” Again, this is nothing short of abhorrently wrong! I am a wife and mother, and I put my family before EVERYTHING else. However, I do understand that it is exceptionally important to ensure that I take care of myself; if I’m not happy and healthy, I won’t do a very good job of caring for my husband and our children. In that respect, I am number one in my own mind, but only in the sense that I can’t give my best to my family if I am not at my best. The reason you rarely hear from the “good” atheists is because they are afraid. Why? Your readers are not going to make the distinction between a militant atheist and an atheist who simply wants to peacefully live out her life. I don’t know how large your readership is, but I can only hope that it is highly limited. It is utterly heart wrenching to read such malicious sentiments and know that you are perpetuating misinformation and outright lies about me and others like me! Furthermore, I believe that it only seems as though Christians are more charitable. I served as a volunteer in my community for quite a long time. I was a Junior Achievement teacher in my children’s school, and I was the leader of a troop of Girl Scouts for three years. Now that I am in college, I can’t afford the time to do those things. I’m certain that many of the people with whom I came into contact simply assumed that I was a Christian because those appear to be things that a good, Christian woman would to do. Certainly, no angry, selfish, downtrodden, bitter atheist would endeavor to do selfless things like volunteering her time with children because she would be too busy rallying against religion, wouldn’t she? So many atheists refrain from labeling themselves as such in order to escape the social backlash they might receive. As such, it is all but impossible for you to know when and how atheists are being charitable. I sincerely hope that you will reconsider the way in which you look at and speak of atheists. We are your neighbor, your mailman, you child’s teacher. We prepare your taxes, bag your groceries, and change your oil. We love our families and value our lives. We simply do it without a god. There are more of us than you think, and some of us are simply fed up with hiding who we are. Stop insisting that there’s something wrong with us, and stop feeding others the same idea.

    November 10, 2011
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  10. joejoejoe said:

    This is the crux of the argument that separates atheists and Christians,you and me, is your “ways of knowing” list. The biggest being Revelation, acquiring special knowledge directly into your head without external stimuli. I cannot put my trust in personal revelation when humanity is so full of examples of how this is not a good way to aquire truth. I would define Reason as applying the rules of Logic to something, I am sure you have taken Logic and critical thinking classes, and I am sure both of us have read the arguments ad naseum for years and years so I am assuming we are both familiar with these arguments ( which is why its kind of pointless for me to continue), that is the rules of Logic do not change when it becomes “redeemed by Grace” And your last point ,spiritual, relational, emotional Experience as a reliable way of Knowing I also feel is flawed because again its the same strategy used by every other faith-based system and religion, and everybody’s acquired Knowing is in conflict with everybody else. My standards are higher in that I would only accept Reason, Logic, and the Scientific method in acquiring knowledge. I feel applied science ( and medical science) is a testament to the success of a more rigid standard in determining truth. A computer was built using the scientific method,reason and logic, not built on private personal revelation or emotions. Everybody around the world objectively experiences a computer working, regardless of religion, culture or creed. This is what I put my faith in. Objective repeatable empirical testable evidence. I cannot value personal revelation when it is not consistent with other peoples personal revelation and it differs from person to person, or doctrine to doctrine. Even if its my own personal revelation about something, I remain skeptical that there is any truth to it unless I can empirically validate it in the outside world. Its a high standard,the highest I can think of, but it keeps me grounded and prevents me joining a UFO cult or blowing things up in my gods name.

    November 10, 2011
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  11. said:

    Justine, I hear your passion and I appreciate your sharing. Perhaps at the very least we can identify with each other in not enjoying when we perceive that someone is applying the “five hallmarks” to us without knowing us. I am not suggesting that everyone who doubts can be identified by the five hallmarks of the “fundamentalist atheists” like Dawkins. I indicate in the article that I am indeed talking about the outlier–“fundamentalist atheists” like Dawkins. As for the two issues you address related to the introduction to this post, reading the entire linked posts might be of benefit. There I provide the context that everyone, believer and unbeliever, struggles with the twin issues of self-centered focus and self-sufficient mindset. I owe those struggles myself. Then I make the theological point (my interpretation of Romans 1, Psalm 19, Philippians 2), that the Bible does outline reasons that people suppress the truth of God and their calling to relationship with Him by faith through grace. Given that you and I would view Scripture entirely differently, neither of us should be surprised that the other would view reasons for belief or unbelief differently. I do believe that the Bible teaches that there are “issues of the heart” that lay behind the choices we make about our relationship to God. Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  12. InvisiblePinkUnicorn said:

    I guess a good place to start a civil discussion would be here. “Why do people refuse to believe in Christ?” Just replace the word Christ with any of the other thousands of deities and you’ll see why your comments on this make no sense. Or to sum it up with one of my favorite quotes “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen F Roberts. Why do you dismiss all the other gods, but not yours?

    November 10, 2011
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  13. said:

    IPU (I love the name!), I also love your question. You nail the crux of the issue with one word: “Christ.” “Why do people refuse to believe in Christ?” “Why do you dismiss all the other gods, but not yours?” Christ and the Gospel of grace through faith is what separates every religion from Christianity. All other approaches to relationship with God are via works where we earn our way to relationship with God (salvation). In Christianity alone and in Christ alone by grace alone by faith alone God draws us to Himself. It is grace versus works. God’s initiative versus human effort. Christ-sufficiency versus self-sufficiency. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). In religion, we try to work our way up to God. In Christianty, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Much more could be said, but your question was appropriately brief, so I’ll keep my response equally focused. Bob (SBG) (Saved By Grace)

    November 10, 2011
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  14. DarrellR said:

    Bob, Your analysis is poor. You begin by assuming that anyone who is atheist was at one point a believer and is simply bitter. I was never a believer. I was raised atheist – that’s without belief in god or gods. By this measure, only former theists can be “fundamentalist atheists”. I think the main problem is your attempt to paint some justifiably irritated people as fundamentalist. Fundamentalism generally refers to strict adherence to specific doctrines. Atheists do not have a doctrine, a world view, or any similarity with theists (or Christians) in that regard. Your offers to some people who left comments to have a civil discussion are pretty asinine given that your post is bereft of civility. You clearly hurl five insults and then request special treatment. Good luck buddy! On a side note, I don’t think you have really internalized what it means for someone to be atheist. I am atheist and skeptic. This means that ALL supernatural nonsense is on the same level. The bible, santa claus, jesus, yahweh, zeus, allah, the tooth fairy — all myth. Given that there is no proof of any of these, why must I walk on eggshells when discussing your specific belief but can openly mock an adult who believes in the tooth fairy? Please don’t stop studying. You have a LOT to learn. –Darrell

    November 10, 2011
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  15. michael2911 said:

    Bob, Hope you don’t mind if I jump in here. I think it’s simplistic to simply dismiss all other religions as “works-based.” Islam is what one thinks of when one thinks of a “works-based” religion, but of the 5 pillars of Islam, only one (the giving of Alms) has anything to do with morality. Hinduism teaches that all lesser spirits are ultimately one with a Supreme Spirit (called the Brahman) and that we find unity through community with it. Bhuddism teaches that desire is the ultimate cause of evil and suffering, and by supressing our desires we can achieve Nirvana. Neither one of these religions seems built on works, at least in the straightforward sense of the word. A religion can not be built on works alone. It would not survive. We already have within us the desire to do good, and a religion that demands faith over works will win every time over a religion that demands works but no faith. Faith is the force that perpetuates every religion, not just Christianity. It is also simplistic to regard Christianity as a pure faith-based religion. Paul leaned heavily on faith, but Jesus taught that compassion for the “least of these” would “inherit the kingdom” and those that didn’t feed the hungry or clothe the naked would “depart into everlasting fire.” James says that “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” So not everyone who wrote the Bible was sold on the “faith alone” line that Paul taught. Even if it was, I don’t see how it matters. The real issue is not whether Christianity is the easiest way to get to heaven, but whether it is a way into heaven at all, and what evidence you can come up with to back up the claims of the Bible. Because, assuming that heaven exists, there are a great many potential paths there, and if Christianity is a wrong path, we need to abandon it as quickly as possible and get started on finding another way. Edison tried 11,000 light bulbs before he found one that worked, and as far as I’m concerned, Christianity is just one of those bulbs.

    November 10, 2011
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  16. said:

    Darrell, Thanks for your pointed, point-by-point interaction. I think your analysis of my analysis is missing my point. It’s not necessarily one I would expect you to agree with, but it is the basis of this post and the two earlier ones: we are all worshipping beings. We all entrust ourselves to something/someone. We often suppress that awareness/capacity. Of course, this is simply my interpretation of Romans 1, but that is the theological foundation for my analysis. As to fundamentalism, I would disagree that atheists have not world view. There is clearly a world view; we all have one. And some, like the authors I mention, clearly hold theirs with a fundamentalism. I’m unclear how it is bereft of civility to take five areas (hallmarks) where “fundamentalist atheists” challenge Christians and then ask those authors whether they do not, in fact, evidence the very hallmarks they are challenging? As for internalizing atheism, I did not grow up in a Christian home and was an agnostic/atheist until my mid-teen years. I’m not saying I can relate/internalize all that someone else’s unbelief and doubt entails, but I do know my own story of my own journey. And I continue to think and reflect deeply on issues of doubt, unbelief, and belief. Let’s both agree to keep learning. Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  17. said:

    Michael, I don’t mind at all you jumping in. I’m using “works” as a contrast between “human initiative and effort in making a way to God” or “God-driven initiative to pave the way as a free gift of grace for people to have a relationship with Him.” The self-giving sacrifice of Christ is unique among all approaches to knowing and relating to God. Additionally, the self-giving nature of the Christian God as a Triune God is also exclusive to Christianity. As three-in-one, God does not “need” humanity for He is the eternal community of Oneness. Therefore, not only is salvation by grace, but even creation is by grace, for God creates not out of need but as a free offer for His creatures to share in the joy of His eternal being. I agree with your additional issue of the claims of the Bible. Of course, that moves us in directions beyond the focal point of this blog, and beyond what a brief comment could address. Still, you are right to assert that the validity of the Bible’s claims are worthy of discussion and study. And it is a topic, as I’m sure you know, that has been thoroughly studied and written about for 2,000 years. I’ve read materials on “both sides” and I would encourage those who doubt to do the same. Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  18. said:

    Joe, I like how you identify the crux of the issue and the ways of knowing. It seems to me that your response assumes that Christians jettison the ways you hold dear in order to also hold to a view of “special revelation.” I do not think that is the case. The other ways of knowing that you hold, I also hold. In fact, in my “coming to faith” I explored and used those various ways of knowing as part of my journey to Christ. As I noted in an earlier response/comment to someone else, issues for me like the uniqueness of Christ, the uniqueness of salvation by grace, the uniqueness of God as a Triune God, and the trustworthiness and uniqueness of the Bible all played a role, from the “human side of the equation” on my journey to Christ. My definition of “revelation” would differ from yours where you call it aquiring special knowledge directly into your head… It is special revelation in terms of God having inspired the Bible, but then there is the reasoned and intelligent work of studying God’s Word–examining the concrete teachings of the Bible, applying the rules of logic, as you describe them. But you are right, faith must come into play. Part of one of the earlier posts I reference indicates my perspective that we all are “faith beings”–some placing faith in God and others placing faith in their non-god world view. All of this for me, like for you, keeps me from joining a UFO cult and blowing things up in god’s name. Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  19. joejoejoe said:

    Well Bob this is when our conversation ends, judging from your responses to me and others, you are not interested in actually having a two-way meaningful conversation about the critical points brought up against your assumptions. Criticisms MUST be addressed in order to hold the interest of people like myself. Otherwise I am just listening to a pre-programed predictable impersonal robot who has NOTHING original to say and is not really listening and thinking about the criticisms of your position. I have seen this thousands of times of times before. You may assume that atheists like me are unfamilier with Christianity or the Bible, but I come from a large family of preachers, missionaries, and most all my childhood friends are now pastors and missionaries. I am private christian school educated, and was even a youth pastor for a while. I am well aware of your positions as I have listened to I am estimating 6000 sermons in my life and used to memorize whole chapters of the bible. Your simplistic and bigoted assumptions about atheism indicates you have never gotten to know any atheists or have had any deep hearted personal discussions with them. It seems to me you have not really studied the arguments presented by atheist authors, maybe you have skimmed thru the pages of the books, read the last chapter and called it good. maybe all your experiences with atheism comes from secondary sources from other christian authors. You seem to lack knowledge of the meaning and proper usage of logic, critical thinking, the scientific method and naturalistic philosophy. For a PHD, you really lack academic integrity in your writings, your assumptions and interpretations of naturalistic philosophy is based upon emotions. You say you wrote a book on “Psycology of unbelief” but your writings fail to use BASIC psychological terminology and instead use christian pop-culture pseudo-terms that it seems you invented. Anyways, peace to you. Wish you all the happiness in the world. bye.

    November 10, 2011
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  20. InvisiblePinkUnicorn said:

    The Book of the Prophet April Chapter 1 1 Verily am I blessed among women, for I have had revealed unto me the Truthful Doctrine of the Invisible Pink Unicorn (Peace Be Unto Her). 2 And this was the manner of it. For I was wandering and confused upon the beaches of A/sa/teague, when I was approached by a small and shaggy pony, which did attempt to eat the apple which I was holding. “Away,” I cried. “Foul beast, would you steal the apple which is mine?” 3 Then did the pony look down upon me, and spake: “Child, do you not know me?” 4 And I said, “Verily, it is not my habit to consort with local wildlife.” 5 And the pony spake thus: “Quit it with the ‘verily’ bit, OK? Know, then, you ignorant heathen, that you are in the Presence of the One you have sought, but never found.” 6 And lo! the shaggy pony disappeared, and I felt myself to be in the Presence. And indeed was the Presence pink, and shaped like unto a unicorn. Yet such was the overwhelming nature of the Presence that I could not, in truth, look upon it. 7 For indeed, my friends, it is for this reason that the great Pink Unicorn is called Invisible, and that is, that the Presence is too great for our small eyes to truly see, and to awesome for our small minds to comprehend. It is by our faith alone that we know her to be Pink, and a Unicorn. 8 And truly those who say otherwise are heretics and unbelievers, and shall be cast into the Great Manure Pile where her Sacred Dwarves shall indeed nibble on their kneecaps for all eternity. And serve them right. 9 Yet when I felt myself to be in the Presence I was afraid. And I cast myself face down in the sand and begged, “O Galloping Goddess, forgive me that I did not know you, and do not send me forth to eat lunch with your ancient foe, the Purple Oyster of Doom. For he will force me to eat pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms, and I shal be most afflicted.” 10 And Her Pinkness proclaimed, “Do not be afraid, my servant, for you have been mislead by the false prophets who quote Chapters and Verses of books which do not exist. And yet I have also revealed to them the Eternal Truth, and indeed have they mangled it.” 11 “And furthermore shall you know that it is fitting that I be celebrated by prophets who do not exist, in verses that do not exist, for books that do not exist. For my own existence is of a dubious and contradictory nature, and I like it that way.” 12 Then was I much confused, whereat I asked, “Then how, O You Whose Hooves Are Never Shod, shall I know how to behave myself, if even Your holy books are not to be believed?” 13 And thus spoke She Who Is Pink, and said, “That is what I shall tell you, for I shall reveal to you the Truth, if you will just shut up and listen. And verily, get your face outta the sand.”

    November 10, 2011
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  21. said:

    Joe, I’m sincerely sorry that you feel that way. Nothing I in my responses were at all pre-planned or robotic. I sense some of the same in comments: perhaps we are each talking past the other. I did not hear you listening to the other perspective. Perhaps because you’ve come from a Christian background you naturally assume that I’m just saying what you used to say (perhaps I am, I don’t know). Also, as I’ve indicated, I did not have the benefit of growing up in a Christian home as you did. So I lived my early life as an unbeliever. I have at least some understanding of that mindset. I also have family and friends who do not believe and we talk deeply and lovingly. I sincerely pray for peace for you, also. If you ever change your mind and wanted to talk, feel free to email at my website and we could talk by phone. Bob

    November 10, 2011
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  22. DarrellR said:

    Bob, You said you were atheist until your teens. I pretty much ignored religion until about age 20. Then I looked long and hard at Buddhism, Wicca, various sects of Christianity, and Druidism. Wicca was by far my favorite but casting spells (or praying) just felt too darn silly. Eventually, I decided I was atheist and then skeptic was a short hop from there. > I think your analysis of my analysis is missing my point. > It’s not necessarily one I would expect you to agree with, > but it is the basis of this post and the two earlier ones: > we are all worshipping beings. I’m not missing your point. You have no evidence to base this on beyond conjecture. We are not worshiping beings. We are born both skeptic and atheist. Trust does not imply worship. Faith does not imply worship. You are making connections and your only evidence is your interpretation of scripture which lacks evidence that it is not a myth. > As to fundamentalism, I would disagree that atheists have > not world view. There is clearly a world view; we all have > one. And some, like the authors I mention, clearly hold > theirs with a fundamentalism. You are taking my words literally. No worries. I’ll rephrase for you. What I meant was that *atheism* has no world view. Of course atheists themselves have a worldview but it is not a unifying worldview. Please read up on what “fundamentalism” means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism. I’ll provide the part relevant to my argument: “Fundamentalism is strict adherence to specific theological doctrines.” Since atheism is not a religion in ANY WAY, you cannot really be a fundamentalist atheist. > I’m unclear how it is bereft of civility to take five areas > (hallmarks) where “fundamentalist atheists” challenge Christians > and then ask those authors whether they do not, in fact, evidence > the very hallmarks they are challenging? Hallmarks? Let’s list them again shall we? – Angry – Anti-intellectualism – Unloving – Judgementalism – Weakness I’ll let that list speak for itself. If you lack the tact to understand why those could be perceived as uncivil, then there is little need to continue to converse with you. > As for internalizing atheism, I did not grow up in a Christian > home and was an agnostic/atheist until my mid-teen years. I’m > not saying I can relate/internalize all that someone else’s > unbelief and doubt entails, but I do know my own story of my own > journey. And I continue to think and reflect deeply on issues of > doubt, unbelief, and belief. The problem appears to be that you are only able to view issues of unbelief from your perch of belief. You are not actually understanding. It is clear from your defense that your initial post is civil that you are not learning. I’m sure you are aware of the phrase, “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.” Well, the information is there. If you wish to actually learn it, then you need to respect the viewpoint and not brush it aside with attacks. > Let’s both agree to keep learning. This statement is sadly ironic. Please visit this website and learn: http://truth-saves.com You can respond again but I agree with Joe, you are attempting to mask your bigotry behind the Bible. Good day, –Darrell

    November 10, 2011
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  23. theGuyGD said:

    Bob, Your 5 hallmarks seem to be nothing more than 5 assertions that you fail to support with any concrete examples whatsoever. I could just as easily invert your thesis for each “hallmark,” swapping “atheist” and “Christian.” As far as anyone could tell, we’d both just be making stuff up.

    November 10, 2011
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  24. jaimehlers said:

    I don’t agree with the points made in this blog post. First off, without intending to quibble over definitions too much, a fundamentalist is one who strictly adheres to specific doctrines. Not a single one of the qualities you listed are necessary to be a fundamentalist. Second, atheism doesn’t have ‘doctrines’ in the sense that religions do. There is no Atheist Bible out there that gives instructions on how to live a properly atheistic life. So it is difficult to give credence to the idea of a “fundamentalist atheist”. Third, regarding the vie hallmarks you listed: #1, Anger. You state that atheists have suppressed rage against God. Yet you give no examples of this suppressed rage. You simply say that they have it, and that doesn’t fly. By the same token, you say that you detect they are angry, but you again do not give examples. Simply saying that they’re angry doesn’t fly. You have to show the evidence to back up your statements. #2, Anti-intellectualism. You cannot point to the examples of Christians who are intellectuals while ignoring all of the other ones who are not. You also cannot point to an example of a quarter-million pastors unless you are aware of everything that they do. Otherwise you are generalizing in their favor, which does not help your case. As for talking to atheists, how many have you talked to? Which ones are they? You are not being specific here, and that is not helpful, because it leads to misleading assumptions. For example, you talk about an answer ‘fundamentalist’ atheists almost universally give you, yet if you have not talked to many atheists overall, then “almost universal” is misleading. #3, Unloving. Again, you say that you ‘detect’ that they are less loving than Christians. If you are trying to make a case or prove a point, you have to give examples to back up your words. And you refer to statistics (comparing Christian charity to non-Christian charity) without citing your sources. Nobody can make a statement such as that and expect it to be believed without being able to show their work. #4, Judgmental. This is the third time you’ve said you ‘detect’ something from these atheists you refer to. At no time have you given examples to justify this, only a vague phrasing that you detect it. As for views, I honestly have to ask, what views do Christians hold with passionate conviction that atheists refer to as arrogant condemnation or hateful intolerance? What the view actually is makes a difference; for example, one could point to a bigot holding the view that people of another race are inferior and say it is passionnate conviction, and they would not be lying. And as for tying it to amorality, that strongly depends on just what these atheists are speaking out against. Calling a bigot out on their feelings towards the race they hate is the antithesis of amorality, whereas allowing the bigot to continue is amorality itself. Regarding your statement about abortion, I have to point out that a substantial number of pro-life people seem to care far more about welfare before birth than after it. They are perfectly willing to spend money and put government to work to protect the unborn, but once they are born, it seems that it’s up to the parents to take care of things, whether or not they can do so effectively. This may not be what they intend, but it is certainly how they come across. #5, Weakness. I have observed that faith tends to occur most often amongst those who are relatively helpless. Whereas those who are not helpless tend to not number among the faithful. This is regardless of religious beliefs; it is entirely a function of the position someone finds themselves in and how likely they see themselves as being able to get out of it on their own. While I am not against giving hope to the hopeless, I would rather give them the ability to pull themselves out of their hopeless state, rather than helping them to feel hope while leaving their situation unchanged. In conclusion, I must say, show your work and present the evidence. Posts like this can sound stirring and inspirational, but to borrow from Shakespeare, without substance to back them up, they are “sound and fury, signifying nothing”. I agree wholeheartedly with civil, honest, and respectful conversation, with a reasonable investigation into truths, and with having compassion and empathy towards others. However, it is not civil to say that you ‘detect’ things about a certain group of people without backing it up; it is not honest to state that atheists feel rage towards a being they do not believe in; it is not respectful to tell others that their beliefs are not valid simply because they are not your beliefs. If you intend to investigate the truth, you must also investigate what you believe to be true, and look into things that other people tell you is wrong with it without blinkering yourself.

    November 11, 2011
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  25. michael2911 said:

    Yes and I respect that this is your blog and you can post what you want, although it seems that a discussion about the claims in the bible would be more productive than ad hominems against non-Christians. Dawkins and Hitchens don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is “Are the claims of Christianity true, or would those that care about the truth do better casting those claims aside and looking elsewhere?”

    November 11, 2011
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  26. said:

    Michael, I really appreciate the tenor and tone and focus of your engaging comments. Thank you. I agree completely with you about the central issues being the claims of Christ. Of course, no one blog post serves every purpose. The initial purpose of my post was to “defend” Christians against the attacks of folks like Dawkins, in part, by showing how Dawkins evidences the same caricatures he accuses Christians of. I’ve actually updated my post on my site (www.rpmministries.org) to embed some comments about “evidence” for Christianity. As I note there, and has been evident in this comment string, their are world-view differences that make that discussion more difficult at times. And, from my theological perspective, as I note in my post, I believe there are some issues of “suppression of evidence.” Bottom line, what you are suggesting is what I suggested in this post. Let’s all be willing to read widely. In a blog post I can’t share the literally millions of pages in research books that have been produced to support the evidence of the historicity of Christ, the uniqueness of Christianity, the veracity of the Bible, etc. It is there for the reading–and then we each need to make informed, intelligent decisions. Or, as you aptly stated it, What matters is “Are the claims of Christianity true, or would those that care about the truth do better casting those claims aside and looking elsewhere?” Bob

    November 11, 2011
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  27. said:

    Jamie, Regarding your words about Christians and pro-life. Here are a few thoughts I added in my updated edition to my post on my own website: A frequent stereotype tossed about is that Christians are focused exclusively on what they’re against and do little or nothing in terms of positive ministry. It’s the “truth without love” stereotype. How loving is it to highlight extreme negative examples while failing to acknowledge the myriad ways in which Christians seek to love others with Christ’s love? For example, people will say that Christians are pro-life but don’t support care for those who are born needy. Yet there is a huge emphasis in Christianity on adoption, on charitable giving, on ministering to the orphaned and oppressed, on parental training and family counseling. Is it fair and loving to ignore these acts of mercy when writing about/against Christianity? John Dickson has an excellent definition of humility: holding power in the service of others. Why wouldn’t the Christian who stands up for pro-life views, for example, be seen as compassionately and humbly holding power in the service of the most powerless—the unborn? Instead, in the supposed name of an accepting and cooperative society, the only acceptable cooperation is blind allegiance to an atheistic worldview. So…I know these are not the “final word,” but at least they represent a fuller depiction of the reality, as I see it, regarding Christians, abortion, pro-life, and caring. Bob

    November 11, 2011
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  28. said:

    All, Several have commented about “worldview.” While I don’t suspect that many with a “worldview” different from the Christian worldview will agree with the following, at least here is a very brief attempt (added to my original blog post on my site) that addresses some of my ponderings on an “atheistic worldview.” Here: And, yes, I do believe atheism is a worldview. Predominant among the “doctrines” of that worldview is a modernisitic anti-supernatural bias that dismisses the both/and thinking of science and the supernatural (the lower story and the upper story). It claims to accept as acceptable only that which can be seen with the eyes and tested under a microscope. In its “fundamentalist form” it then becomes dismisses of and disrespectful toward the 95% of the seven billion people on earth who believe in both the natural world and the supernatural. With snide and snarky comments, belief in Christ is equated to belief in the tooth fairy. Besides the point that this lacks empathy for those who hold their faith dearly, it also lacks consistency because there is historical evidence for Christ that can be evaluated, whereas, of course, no such historical evidence for the tooth fairy exists. This returns us to two previous points. First, it reflects the refusal to read the books that do address evidence for Christ and Christianity such as the historicity of Christ, the veracity of Scripture, the changed lives of Christians (including love and hope), the evidence from creation, the uniqueness of the Christians message of grace, the uniqueness of the Christian message of a triune God, the uniqueness of the Christian message of an incarnate God who dies for humanity (these later areas address “comparative religion”). Second, this returns us to the theological issue of the suppression of truth (Romans 1:18-25), evidence, and facts. Rather than simple anti-supernaturalism, it becomes anti-willingness to consider the evidence. Why? As indicated above, from a theological perspective, Romans 1 and Psalms 10 and 14 present one perspective: a chosen, willful suppression of allegiance to and love for the Creator.

    November 11, 2011
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  29. said:

    All, At my own site, I have updated the post considerably. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/uOEWk7 While I don’t suspect that those who a-priori disagree with me will like this much better than my original post, I trust that the message is more clearly and compassionately composed. Here’s one piece of my new post. My new conclusion to my updated post reads as follows: A Way Forward So what’s the point? The cultural point is to stand up to the bullying, labeling, and unfair, prejudicial stereotyping done by Hitchins and Dawkins. The labels they heap upon Christians match their own writings. It’s the pot calling the kettle black. That’s really all I’m saying. The relational point is to call for a mutually civil, honest, respectful conversation. Let’s admit that all of us may at times need to ask ourselves whether we are guilty of being angry, anti-intellectual, unloving, judgmental, and using bullying to cover weakness. (From my theological perspective, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness.) Let’s admit that most Christians and most atheists’ lives are not characterized by angry, anti-intellectual, unloving, judgmental weakness. The theological point is to call for a reasonable, open investigation of truth—the truth will set you free. Here’s my invitation to my friend who do not believe. In our mutual commitment to the many ways of knowing (reason/logic, empiricism/research/science, and experience/relationships/“intuition”) let’s not ignore revelation—God’s revealed truth in His Word. Let’s be open to exploring the evidence for the veracity of God’s Word and the uniqueness of Christianity. The personal point is to say, “I have compassion and empathy for anyone who doubts Christ.” By “lovingly exposing” some of the inconsistencies of “fundamentalist atheism” I hope to encourage and challenge those who do not believe in Christ to reassess their own unbelief. There’s no need to walk lock-step in the path of strident folks like Hitchins and Dawkins. There are other, more reasonable ways to view and explore Christ and Christianity. A second and final personal point. To those who are offended by my words in this post. I am sorry. My point is not to offend. In part, as I’ve said, my point is to defend Christians against unfair attacks. I have tried to avoid doing the same. From interactions, I know I have failed in some ways. I have written and rewritten this post. I have thought about deleting it because I truly want to help the conversation forward, not move it backwards. I wonder, am I free to ponder out loud and to share my ponderings? Is it okay to “push back” some on those who “push down” Christians? Must a blog post cross every t and dot every i of evidence and citation as if it’s a published research book? Am I allowed to hold and express my theological convictions based upon my biblical interpretations? Certainly others are allowed to disagree—hopefully respectfully. In many ways, this post is written out of my own experience of doubt and unbelief and the process that God brought me through and is still bringing me through to faith and belief. To all who want to ponder that journey, I will conclude with the invitation from Jesus that changed my life. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

    November 11, 2011
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  30. jaimehlers said:

    I need to clarify the point I made about Christians and abortion. The problem is not that Christians are open to adoption, charitable giving, etc. The problem is that too many Christians seem perfectly willing to try to use the mechanisms of government to ban things they find to be immoral and wrong, such as abortion, but to leave the support systems that would help to provide for people who don’t do those things in the hands of private agencies. I have no problems with private decisions not to have abortions, coupled with private support systems to help deal with the repercussions of those decisions. I do have a problem with attempting to ban abortion through the auspices of government while not providing an adequate public support system to deal with the repercussions. Aside from that, let me reiterate that if you are going to make assertions about atheists, you need to back up those assertions with facts. It is not enough to say that you detect certain things from the writings of these atheists, or to give reports of personal conversations when you give no details but leave it up to the imagination, or anything else of that nature, because those are purely subjective. Subjective doesn’t fly when you’re trying to convince people.

    November 11, 2011
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  31. said:

    Jamie, I personally agree with you on both point. I do think there are societal and even governmental roles of protecting and providing for people, especially the least fortunate, unborn and born. I believe both the Old Testament and the New Testament ethic points toward social responsibility. How that plays out in “politics and policies” and in church outreach, can be debated, of course. As for your second issue, I agree that an ongoing intelligent conversation requires much more than my introductory blog post. In my rewritten version (http://bit.ly/uOEWk7) I tried to make a more clear connection between each assertion and at least one concrete example. Granted, that still is not enough, but the new post is already almost 2,000 words. The purpose of my original post has expanded with the good engagement of folks like yourself. Originally, it was meant for to support and defend Christians who are bullied with those five hallmarks. I was simply trying to briefly illustrate how those very writers exemplify those very hallmarks. I have opened books highlighted with examples, but I don’t tend to make my blog posts like footnoted research papers or published books. I was not trying to convince anyone. I actually originally used “detect” to try to soften my language and express that this is just one person’s opinion. But that word has (rightly) been challenged, so the new post connects assertion and example more clearly (but still not with footnotes). Some of my blog posts, like this one originally, are more “conversations among friends.” (I’ve written 6 heavily footnoted and thoroughly researched books, but that’s quite different from a daily blog post I spend 30 minutes on.) However, given the ongoing discussion, I do intend on my own site to further develop these points (even though in my 8 years of daily blogging, I’ve only addressed issues related to atheism 3 times). I also intent to provide readers with a bibliography of books that they can read if they want to see evidence for the case for Christ and Christianity. I also intent to provide a bibliography of “apologetic” books that do address Hitchens and Dawkins point-by-point. So, thanks for the encouragement. Now, back to my day job. Bob

    November 11, 2011
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  32. joejoejoe said:

    Old Testament Ethics points toward social responsibility? Maybe. Are you referring to Numbers 31? Maybe you are right, the world would be a better place if all Nations practiced Old Testament Ethics. Numbers 31:17-18 more specifically. Or try an older translation of Numbers 31:40, before the translators removed the word “sacrifice” for a more socialy ethical term.

    November 11, 2011
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  33. said:

    Joe, No, I was thinking of a host of other passages, but I appreciate the sarcasm and example of cherry picking. Having said that, I take your concern seriously, and if you or others have a serious desire to explore questions like this in depth, here is an excellent, well-researched, well-reasoned and documented book you might want to consider: Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan. Paul Copan begs to differ with Dawkins’ evaluation of the Old Testament God, not to mention the similar critiques of other New Atheists–e.g., Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. In Is God a Moral Monster? he uses these critiques as “a springboard to clarify and iron out misunderstandings and misrepresentations.” More than that, he essays to defend the justice of God, properly understood and correctly presented. Bob

    November 11, 2011
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  34. joejoejoe said:

    the Old Testament does have an opinion about Abortion it seems. Numbers 31:17-18 2 Kings 15:16 Judges 21:10-24 Psalms 137:9

    November 11, 2011
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  35. joejoejoe said:

    Well Bob if you can excuse child virgin Rape and forced marriage/slavery after their parents and family were killed, and some how minimize it to “misunderstanding” Justice. Really you need to Google the term Cognitive Dissonance, and admit this goes against your own ethics,I am assuming. But I suppose since “GOd did it/commanded it” it makes it OK and even Righteous. Cognitive Dissonance, look it up. Its not a satanic concept

    November 11, 2011
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  36. joejoejoe said:

    And you are not allowed to use the “Situational Ethics” defense, since I am guessing you are against Situational Ethics

    November 11, 2011
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  37. said:

    Joe, You asked me for concrete, researched, detailed responses, and I provided you with exactly that in the book I referenced. Copan deals with the specific passage(s) you reference. Obviously in blog post comments no one can provide the type of context necessary for a reasoned response. If you want to read Copan and interact with me on that, I’m all in. You say on the one hand that you want detailed, factual engagement, and then send a litany of quick posts, and ignore an excellent resource I offered in a sincere desire to respond to your request and question. I’m in this discussion in good faith that you and others are open to the factual information you say you need. Again, if you want to discuss Copan’s take on your concerns, let me know. Bob

    November 11, 2011
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  38. joejoejoe said:

    I have read all your books you mention, and the defenses, and all the apologetic books for decades since I was a child reading thru all my families library of Apologetic, Creationism,and End Time/Prophecy books. And continuing thru out my adult life when I was given my fathers church library after he died. “Context” = Gods Situational Ethics= Bronze Age Ethics= Old Testament Ethics= “Gods” Ethics that NEVER transcended the social ethics of the day. = Your Cognitive Dissonance. The only defense your books give is “God commanded child slavery/rape after genocide, so its OK and ultimately awesome Justice, just because God said its cool, who are you mere human to question Gods situational ethics?”

    November 11, 2011
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  39. michael2911 said:

    Here’s a difficulty I have with the evidence that I haven’t seen addressed in any apologetic books. Many people assume that Jesus’ resurrection proves he is God. However, Jesus says that “Many false prophets will arise with signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, the very elect.” In other words, not only is Satan supposed to be able to do miracles too, but normal people aren’t supposed to be able to tell the difference. This seems to expose a flaw in regarding miracles as evidence of the divine: a miracle simply manifests as something we don’t understand, and if you don’t understand something, it’s difficult to say anything useful about it. If it is wrong to reflexively anticipate a natural explanation for some great mystery it seems equally wrong to reflexively attribute it to the divine, since the divine is (even according to Christian theology) a distinct subset of the supernatural, and there is much about even the natural world that is poorly understood.

    November 11, 2011
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  40. JimmyJones said:

    Hi, In the spirit of honest and courteous discussion please let me try to disabuse you of your best-guesses, which from my point of view are laughably incorrect (and I mean that in a matter-of-fact way, not as a put-down) #1 Angry. You said “I wonder, “Why the venom?” “Why do they find it so difficult to have a gracious, open, give-and-take, adult-to-adult conversation?” I wonder if it has something to do with their suppressed rage against the God they say does not exist.” The anger you are perceiving has nothing to do with suppressed rage against a god which, you imply, atheists secretly believe exists. I do not believe Yahweh exists for the very same reasons that I do not believe Hanuman the Monkey God exists: to me, they are preposterous notions which are patently fiction. If you apply your own reasoning consistently, then you must honestly concede that both you and I don’t believe in Hanuman because of our suppressed rage against him! Is that true? Tell me, do you have suppressed rage against Hanuman? If your answer is no, then by what right do you ascribe rage against your god of choice to those who chose not to believe in him, whilst at the same time not believe yourself in thousands of OTHER gods for different reasons? You are applying a double-standard where your god-of-choice is concerned. You are too biased to make any assessment of why people may not believe in a God that seems so potently real to you. Furthermore, I can tell you what actually DOES account for some of the anger or “venom” you perceive coming from atheists (and I’ll grant, it can be pretty venemous!). But it’s not anger at a god in which we don’t believe, for Pete’s sake!! For instance… 1. Blog posts such as this which imply atheists must be angry at God! This tired old canard reveals the inability of theists to see beyond their world-view and empathise with others for whom YAHWEH is but one false god in a pantheon full of fictitious deities. 2. Special privileges given to religion. Too numerous to mention, but for example, religious organisations in my country are given special exemptions to break some laws, simply because of “religious beliefs”. If laws are good for society, then what does that say about organisations who demand to be able to break laws because of some old doctrine from hal way around the world a millenia ago? It says to me that organised religion is not a team-player, and is ANTI-social (unless, of course, you happen to be a member of the club) 3. The insistence of Christians that everyone must live by christian rules, whether they want to or not. As an example, Christian docteine forbids gay marriage, yet Christians are vociferously campaigning against gay marriage… EVEN FOR NON-CHRISTIANS!! How rude! Don’t try to impose your religion on me, thankyouverymuch. 😉 and, most importantly… 4. Ridicule. To me, believing the preposterous fairy-tales required to be Christian is a ridiculous concept. Since the weight that religious belief carried in shaping public policy is grossly overrepresented considering it’s ludicrous (and multitudinously contradictory claims), one of the best weapons to deflect religious “reason” is ridicule. I can understand that people calling your ridiculous beliefs ridiculous must seem like an angry, personal attack, but sometimes calling a spade a spade is the best approach. Remember the little boy in the story of the Emperor’s New Cloths? Was he ridiculing the people, or merely telling it like it was? Anyway, that’s #1. I’d be delighted to expound on your further points, if you feel that my tone was sincere, respectful and honest enough, and you have dealt with my rebuttals to your propositions in point #1. Peace! Jimmy. 🙂

    November 12, 2011
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  41. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom!In response to readers comments on Kelleman’s excellent article “fundamentalist atheists”. In today’s uncertain rapidly changing world a question that comes to my mind and I ‘m sure many other people’s minds is what is truth?Readers on this site have been debataing this subject through innuendo and cynicism.In Mel Gibson’s2004 epic movie the Passion of the Christ there is a scene where Pilate asks Yeshua “Quid est veritus?” or What is truth?It’s a question that surely is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. Surely truth has to be universal or there is no truth!Yeshua (aka Jesus Christ)claimed to be the Truth.He is the truth He can’t deny Himself.How do I know this? Because of creation.everything has an origin. Everything has a beginning and an end. In Genesis it clearly states God created Man in His own image.We have a hunger to know God our Creator just as we hunger for food and water.People don’t have hungers for things that don’t exist!This statement begs the question If Christianity is true and we ALL deep down know it is Romans 1v 20 is clear proof of God’s existence can be clearly seen in creation and therefore people are without excuse for their unbelief in God.We know there is a Maker by seeing the things that have been made.Nothing comes of nothing!.Everything has an origin to reiterate.In conclusion people believe in God or not by CHOICE.People are naturally hostile towards God due to their sinful nature.There is overwhelming historical evidence Yeshua lived and died in Israel 2000 years ago. Prominent1st century Roman writers,such as Tacitus, Joshephus,and Suetonius wrote about Yeshua describing Him as a healer and a teacher.Yeshua’s place of birth Beit Lechem Bethlehem) can be easily located on any map of Israel,unlike Hanuman’s which remains unknown. Bless you ALL! Andrew

    November 13, 2011
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  42. DaveGamble said:

    Andrew, You ponder the question “what is truth?”, then proceed to make the usual religious claims for which there is not one jot of evidence. You also claim, “People are naturally hostile towards God due to their sinful nature” … if you had read the comments here you might have begun to understand that while this rhetoric is popular among believers, it is not factually correct. Non-believers have not rejected a real god, they have instead found no credible evidence and so they do not embrace a fantasy as reality. You also finish with the claim “There is overwhelming historical evidence Yeshua lived and died in Israel 2000 years ago” and cite several reasons for this assertion. So lets look … – 1st century Roman writers,such as Tacitus, Joshephus,and Suetonius wrote about Yeshua Tacitus wrote in 116 … long after the events, he describes events in Rome and what happened to members the cult and describes it as a “most mischievous superstition” Joshephus born in 37 … also writing long after the events, has one passage that scholars deem to be a fake. Read it in context and you can clearly see it is completely out of the context of all the words around it. Suetonius born in 67 … so also writing long after the events, he writes about what was going on in Rome and what motivated those events. He says nothing to confirm any historical facts about jesus. So despite all the claims regarding miracles, not one single contemporary writer appears to have noticed. All you have are a couple of rather vague indirect references that are highly dubious and talk about beliefs of a cult, and do not establish any facts. Regarding the supposed place of birth, yes there is a claim, but the amount of credible evidence that actually verifies that claim is exactly zero. I don’t mean to turn this thread into a long debate regarding the historical claims, I’m simply attempting to explain that atheists are not angry at a real god, they truly do find no evidence. Do you now begin to see why the claim regarding “overwhelming historical evidence”, is not exactly overwhelming?

    November 13, 2011
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  43. DaveGamble said:

    Bob, As discussed here … I blogged a response to this post … here … http://www.skeptical-science.com/religion/claim-fundamentalist-atheists-angry-antiintellectual-unloving-judgmental/ You then took the time to kindly respond to my reply. Thanks for taking the time to do that. FYI … I’ve now posted a response to that reply in the comments at the link above. I suspect we are now done, now that we have both stated our positions and responses and its time to move on to other dialogs with other folks. If you review and do find that there are some points you made that I’ve not understood correctly, do feel free to chip in with a correction.

    November 13, 2011
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  44. said:

    All, A new resource: http://bit.ly/Case4Christ Many have asked for more detailed “support” for aspects shared in the original post and in the updated blog post. The small comment section of a post can’t possibly adequately and intelligently address people’s sincere questions. So, I dedicated many hours and collated a working list of over six dozen books from a Christian perspective that address “Exploring the Case for Christianity.” You can browse that list, with direct links to Amazon.com here: http://bit.ly/Case4Christ Bob

    November 13, 2011
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  45. jaimehlers said:

    Historical writings are tricky. How do we determine what is fiction and what is fact? Without corroborating evidence or archaeological remains, it’s not sensible to simply assume something is true just because someone wrote about it. Furthermore, it is absolutely incorrect to point a town on a map and say, “this existed in ancient times, thus Jesus existed because he was born there.” Should we say that the Olympian pantheon existed merely because there is a Mt. Olympus in Greece? No. What is needed is contemporary documents and records from the time someone is believed to have lived. And so far, there’s not much of anything in that regard. I am not going to say that there certainly was no historical Jesus, but it would be wholly improper to assume there was without corroborating evidence outside the Bible which supports the existence of Jesus. For example, the Gospel of Luke describes a census where people had to return to their ancestral cities, except there are no records of the Roman Empire ever requiring such a thing for a census. Such an unprecedented act would have been documented by the Romans in their own historical records, and there would be any number of written missives about it to the various Roman governors, and from them to their underlings. Yet there are no records at all of such a thing. Should we assume the Gospel of Luke is correct even though there is nothing in the historical record which supports it? The same goes for many other parts of the Bible.

    November 13, 2011
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  46. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave in response to your comments to my blog. With all due respect you seem to neglect the first part of my blog where I mention the fact we can be sure there is a Maker by seeing the things that have been made. Romans 1 v20 the book (bible) says it.Can you tell me what can come of nothing? ANswer nothing it’s in King Lear the great play by William Shakespeare.I n respect to overwhelming evidence of the Life of Yeshua.Over 40 writers wrote the Bible obviusly not all of them mention Yeshua. You can’t say they’re all lying.There has to be a truth in this world or there is no truth.One of my favourite writers the great Fyodor Dostoyevsky is renown for the remark”Lies are nothing because they lead to the truth” In the Bible people told lies about Yeshua but their stories didn’t agree.!Truth has to be consistent!!The Bible says SIN, which including lying finds people out,Can you please kindly define truth for me?

    November 13, 2011
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  47. said:

    Dave, I responded to your response on your blog. Thank you for your graciousness in allowing me to comment on your blog. Bob

    November 13, 2011
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  48. said:

    Jamie and Others, If you’re interested in reasoned evidence for the historicity of Christ, I’d encourage to consider checking out my post: http://bit.ly/Case4Christ I list over 6 dozen books that explore the case for Christianity, including many that discuss evidence for Christ’s life (and His resurrection). I’m sure that those who might read these materials with a presuppositional biased against Christianity might not accept the evidence. However, I think an objective reading at the very least demontrates that every person should consider the evidence with an objective, open mind. Two of the books is by Antony Flew who used to debate around the world against Christ and Christianity and theism. Flew, Antony. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind http://www.amazon.com/There-God-Notorious-Atheist-Changed/dp/0061335304/ref=pd_sim_b_5 Flew, Antony, Habermas, Gary, and David Bagget (Ed.) Did the Resurrection Happen?: A Conversation with Gary Habermas and Antony Flew http://www.amazon.com/Did-Resurrection-Happen-Conversation-Habermas/dp/0830837183/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1321152362&sr=8-4 For the entire post: http://bit.ly/Case4Christ Bob

    November 13, 2011
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  49. jaimehlers said:

    With regards to Antony Flew, I looked up some background information on him, and it looks like his conversion was because he felt he could no longer consider naturalistic explanations to be more likely than supernatural ones. I don’t accept this, because it’s a cop-out to attribute something to the unexplainable supernatural. I do not consider anything to be ‘supernatural’, even something presumed to be outside of the universe. As far as the list of books goes, can you recommend a couple that are specifically to do with the historical evidence for the life of Jesus? That is what I am concerned with, not “the scientific pretensions of atheism”, “why atheism is actually raging against God”, or “the secular assault on mind, morals, and meaning”, all of which are from a Christian perspective. I assume you read all of these books, so you should be able to point out ones that specifically address the historical evidence for Jesus.

    November 13, 2011
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  50. PaulQuinton said:

    [quote]When I read the fundamentalist atheists, I detect that they are more judgmental than the Christians they accuse of being judgmental.[/quote] Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. 1Co:6:1: Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 1st Corinthians 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 1st Corinthians 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?. 1st Corinthians 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. So basically, atheists follow God’s Word and Christians do not? [quote]Personally, I’ve spent years honestly facing my own doubts. The atheists I talk to don’t seem to want to spend even a second candidly pondering the possibility that they may be wrong about their unbelief.[/quote] Perhaps if (i) you offered the slightest proof of the supernatural (ii) explained why your god differs from the thousands of others and the Flying Spaghetti Monster (iii) indicate what your god has provably done in the last few millennia and (iv) explain why your god loves you more than Africans who die of malnutrition, then they might take some note. There is no explanation that is not improved by leaving God out of it.

    November 13, 2011
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  51. said:

    Jamie, Flew’s testimony involves much more depth than that quick summary background you looked up. I think either of the two books on the list by Flew would address many of the questions you and others have raised. The couple of books you pulled out of the list are from the part of the list where Christians examine the “new atheist’s” claims in detail. Many on these comments have asked for that info, and I now it is available for them quickly at: http://bit.ly/Case4Christ As for your specific request, I’ll try to carve out some time to select a couple from among several that address the historical evidence for the the life of Christ. To be honest, one thing I wonder though, as I read responses here (and also on Amazon.com) is how much of an open mind there is from some folks. It seems no matter what people write (books on Amazon) from brilliant minds with in-depth research, many who has spent years as atheists and converted to Christianity, that people dismiss them with a phrase or two (many come up repeatedly, is there a place to go to cut and paste them?–yes, a little levity). For examples of what I mean, go to the Amazon links to just about any of the books. The level of quick dismissal of 100s of pages of research is remarkable. But I’ll make the time trusting that some, like yourself have a sincere desire to objectively read some of these materials with an open mind. Bob

    November 13, 2011
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  52. DaveGamble said:

    Andrew, You are of course correct, I did indeed neglect the first part of your comment. The basic assertion being made is … “we can be sure there is a Maker by seeing the things that have been made”. OK, this is a teleological argument, or argument from design. It makes a basic assumption … natural objects and man-made objects have similar properties, therefore both must be designed. For this argument to stand you have to prove that only design can cause orderly systems, if not then the argument is invalid. If you look about you find that there are indeed examples of systems that are non-random or ordered; for example, diamonds or snowflakes. In fact, there are some highly complex systems that have perfectly natural explanations such as weather and the seasons. Our ancestors once attributed those to deities, but because we now understand them, we no longer do so. But the flaws in the argument don’t stop there, there are deeper more fundamental flaws. Nature provides the basis of comparison by which we distinguish between designed objects and natural objects. We are able to infer the presence of design only to the extent that the characteristics of an object differ from natural characteristics. Therefore, to claim that nature as a whole was designed is to destroy the basis by which we differentiate between artifacts and natural objects. Evidences of design are those characteristics not found in nature, so it is impossible to produce evidence of design within the context of nature itself. Only if we first step beyond nature, and establish the existence of a supernatural designer, can we then conclude that nature is the result of conscious planning. In other words, the design argument has a catch-22. To prove that nature was designed you first need to prove god exists … but to do that you are using the design argument. Thats circular logic. Regarding the observation on the life of Jesus, “Over 40 writers wrote the Bible”. The first and earliest NT text, Mark, was written in 60 … Luke and Matthew came 10-15 years later and simply copied most of Mark. Then approx 90-110 comes John These are not documents by contemporary eye-witnesses, but folks writing down things many decades after the events. (Luke in fact says so in the opening of his text). I do not accuse them of lying, the authors may indeed have been sincere in what they wrote (I do have some doubts about even that, but I’ll skip over that for now), but there are compelling reasons for serious doubts about their accuracy, for example basic geographical errors, huge discrepancies between the texts regarding the same story, or claims regarding historical events for which there is no evidence when in fact there should be (for example the census that an earlier commenter mentioned). Finally, you asked about truth. In order to determine what is true, the standard is to look for good solid objective empirical evidence. If you don’t, you will end up believing in all sorts of unverified stuff such as astrology, gods, ghosts, lake monsters, aliens, the supernatural, etc…

    November 13, 2011
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  53. said:

    Dave, I appreciate your presentation of information. Of course, we both are constrained by the limits of time and this little comment box. This is why I encourage folks who have an interest in in-depth conversation to consider any of the 78 books I’ve listed (http://bit.ly/Case4Christ). Whether with your brief response to the teleological argument or your brief response to the issues related to the historicity of the Gospels, there’s much more that has been studied, as we both would agree. Just for a quick and brief example. You note a few observations about the Gospels. Given the space limits, there were a few key points omitted. For instance, given the oral culture of the ANE in which Jesus lived and ministered, the 4 Gospel Narratives come closer in time to the events described and provide more information from more perspectives with more eye-witnesses than other historically accepted events in the culture of the day. Additionally, as an oral culture, the passing on of factual information was guarded in ways we can’t appreciate in our Internet-driven culture. Mark’s main source, of course, is Peter–an eye-witness of the events. You also mention the copying: yes, portions of the other three Gospels draw from this written account of a first-hand witness, but just portions, and even so, it is still from Peter’s words about his witness. Additionally, the oral accounts of these stories and soon thereafter these written accounts circulated among the very people who were still alive and had every reason to say, “That did not happen. I was there!” Yet we don’t have first-century written documents by eye-witnesses that seek to counter what was said by the four gospels. By the way, your date for John is much disputed and many would place it much earlier. You mention Luke, a doctor, trained in the culture of the day to research. You use Luke’s comment as an implied negative, yet in the culture of the day, it was very positive. Here’s what Luke actually writes. “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4). Amazing. Even for a modernistic, written culture like ours, that would be a robust statement of research–which, again, could have easily been countered if it were false. For an oral culture of their day, it was light years beyond what typically occurred. You bring up possible difference, discrepancies, etc. I’m not pretending that there are not textual issues and perceived discrepancies to examine, nor that everyone has been finally resolved. But in fairness, many of the books in the bibliography address issue after issue, point by point. Surely with enough overall evidential credibility to suggest that the documents must be given fair weight simply from a historical perspective. Many perceived errors have during the past 100 years of archaeological research been proven not to be errors at all (just as one example). Again, the limits of this box and time (Da Bears! are playing soon) causes me to stop and to refer to “the list” of books. I don’t want people to think that a quick list of counter-arguments settles the day (no more than my tiny blog post was ever meant to be a final word). Thanks. Bob

    November 13, 2011
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  54. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave Thankyou for responding to my questions In my blog yesterday I touched briefly on the subject of first century Roman writers writing about Yeshua.Flavius Josephus(c37-100AD) was of course both a Jew and a Roman citizen.In AD 93 he wrote ‘The Antiquities of the Jews’.His best known work concerning Yeshua is known as the Testimonium Flavianum. This passage of writing though controversial among scholars in it’s authenticity, mentions the crucifixion,and resurrection of Yeshua. Many biblical historians accept Josephus’s claims about Yeshua due to the fact they accept his passage on Yitzhak (James)Yeshua’s brother. It is interesting to note,that Jerome who died in 420 AD,and another writer Michael the Syrian who died in 1199AD quote literal translations of Josephus concerning Yeshua.The identical wording of Jerome and Michael the Syriac’s texts concerning Yeshua indicate the existence of an early Greek version of Testimonium in the 5th century since Latin Christian scholars and Syriac scholars never read each others works,although they did both commonly translate Greek Christian writing. Despite all the historical evidence for Yeshua,records from the trial of Yeshua have believed to have been found,people believe things because they CHOOSE to. Belief is a personal choice that an individual chooses to accept or reject. I believe in faith,hope ,and love as I’m sure millions of people do,yet unfortunately I can’t put these things in test tubes for scientific analysis. Does anyone need to prove the existence of faith ,hope,and love? Surely you can’t deny their existence?Can you prove their existence Dave? or do you not believe in them? Regards, Andrew

    November 14, 2011
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  55. DaveGamble said:

    Hi Andrew, We appear to be straying further and further off the primary topic here … I’m happy to continue, but first let me put an interesting question on the table. This is just a thought experiment … if I did indeed take you though the concerns regarding the rather famous and oft quoted paragraph attributed to Josephus, and if I managed to persuade you that it was indeed rather dubious and not reliable, then would that make any difference to your belief? I don’t think I need to answer because I think there is a rather high probability that the answer to that is obvious, it would not in any way make any difference. Why? well because that is not the foundation that your belief rests on, so if removed, nothing happens … right? What I’m getting at is that your final question regarding faith is perhaps the far more important question. Where we both differ is in the approach we take to the world around us. I’m skeptical about most things and look for evidence so that I can make an informed choice. If presented with new evidence, then I change my mind (for example I used to be a climate change skeptic, but I’ve now change my mind due to the evidence presented to me). It is for this reason that I do not just ‘believe’ in anything … ghosts, gods, astrology, aliens, bigfoot etc… I’m not suggesting the deployment of test tubes, but rather simply doing a bit of critical thinking and asking questions such as, “Why do I believe X to be true?” perhaps in contrast to all the other possible alternatives. The context is the article by Bob … the point I’ve been making is that I don’t secretly believe and am simply angry, I simply find no evidence. Now what is interesting is that you started to present evidence, (Josephus etc…), but that is not the evidence that convinces you. If dismissed, it would make no difference, you would still believe (I suspect, you will probably confirm that). So the conclusion here is that while I’m evidence based, you would be more inclined to opt for faith-based … right? If just faith based and without any evidence, then how do you know it is true?

    November 14, 2011
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  56. DaveGamble said:

    Bob, You are of course correct, it is challenging in comments like this to tackle such topics in detail. There are a couple of quick points to respond to. You mentioned the 4 texts are closer to the events described, but that is not verified. When Matthew and Luke copied Mark (about 76% of it) they changed things, it is not the same (I’ll provide examples if you like). So if when copying written text and such changes take place, then we can have no confidence in the integrity of any claimed oral tradition. Regarding the date for John … I’ll stick with the 90-110 date … thats the majorty consensus. Yes others claim earlier dates, but until somebody makes a compelling case that convinces the majority of the subject matter experts, I’ll stick with the generally accepted date. We could of course also discuss discrepancies, but as I pointed out to Andrew, I suspect it makes no difference to your belief. The point of the dialog was to simply enable you to reach an understanding that I do not believe due to a lack of evidence … but as you hinted in various replies, you don’t accept that, and so we may simply have to agree not to agree.

    November 14, 2011
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  57. said:

    Dave, I know you were responding to Andrew, but as you brought us back to my original post, I’ll jump back in briefly. I doubt (no pun intended) that we will see eye to eye on this. However, you are making my original point in reverse. I believe there is credibly evidence to belief and we have to suppress that truth. I did that for a number of years in my life. But eventually the truth won out in my life: both the truth of Scripture and the truth of “nature”–of evidence (the type of evidence in the 100 books making a case for Christianity (http://bit.ly/Case4Christ) highlights. I hear you and others saying that’s not good enough evidence or it’s not the type of evidence you would need (though I don’t see anyone engaging with specifics from any one of the listed books). Just as you say that even if someone disproved a piece of evidence, a Christian would still believe by faith, I would say that even if someone proved a piece of evidence, a non-Christian who choose to disbelieve the evidence. Granted, that is a theological argument, at least in part, from passages like Romans 1 and Psalms 10 and 14. But from my perspective I’ve seen it verified on this comment box repeatedly. That was also my original point that both belief/unbelief and doubt/faith are comprehensive, complex processes. It’s never simply about purely objective observation and interpretations of facts. For all people, Christian and non-Christian, a host of factors are involved: background, subjective emotions, life experiences, volitional choice, relational and social factors, etc. Personally for me, if someone disproved something from Josephus, that would not break my faith. Josephus is a human author in whom I never placed my faith. However, that’s very different than saying that if someone disproved every rational reason and evidence that I see that supports my faith, that this wouldn’t have an impact. But one piece of extra-biblical evidence and every piece of biblical and other extra-biblical evidence are world’s apart. In short, I do not believe my faith is a blind faith. It is a reasonable faith. And I continually examine and ponder the evidence. I have done for four decades exactly what you suggest: “simply doing a bit of critical thinking and asking questions such as, “Why do I believe X to be true?” perhaps in contrast to all the other possible alternatives. My faith is not just faith-based without any evidence. That neither minimizes the nature of my faith nor the nature of the evidence. Bob

    November 14, 2011
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  58. said:

    Dave, Again, I understand that you need to be brief in these comments, but even the brief comments are points I do not think the evidence supports. You say that Matthew and Luke “copied” Mark and then list 76%. The fact is, we have no way of knowing that any similarities are due to “copying” especially in a modernistic way. It’s a modernistic mindset that would then cause someone to say, “if the copying was not perfect then obviously there are errors.” First, the similarities may not be “copies” at all. They may be, as was common in ANE oral societies, a presentation of similar oral accounts. And, sometimes, there was more than one oral accounts of the same event. In ANE historiography, the author selectively used various oral accounts that best developed the purpose or theme of his narrative. And clearly, each Gospel purposefully presents a unique portrait of Christ for a unique audience written by a unique author. Now, you and I could dispute my quick response to your quick response all day. But my point is, it’s not mental gymnastics to explain why what appears to you to be copying and errors, more reasonably could be explained by an fuller understanding of ANE historiography. Whether you agree or disagree with my quick summary, I’m noting that actual reasoning and logic and historical examination is a vital aspect of the Christian study of the Scriptures and of evidence for their veracity. Now, are there presuppositions that you and I both bring to our examination of the potential evidence? Yes. Are there subjective elements that we each bring to the conclusions we make? Yes. Again, that’s back to the original point of my original post: its an unfair stereotype that Christians are anti-intellectual. And it’s a human reality to state that we bring our biases (both Christian and atheist) to our interpretations–another core point of the original article. Bob

    November 14, 2011
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  59. InvisiblePinkUnicorn said:

    I do not see the point in quibbling over the historicity of a person named Jesus. There is plenty of evidence of the existence of Joseph Smith, but that doesn’t cause hordes of people to believe in LDS’s version of Christianity. OTOH there are plenty of historical inaccuracies in the Bible and that also does not seem matter to the faithful. Personally I just try to understand why someone believes what that do. Mr. Kellemen answered that question when I asked him. That seems a much more interesting topic, what constitutes a rational reason for belief and to what degree of certainty.

    November 14, 2011
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  60. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave Thanks for responding to my email.Sorry I’m confused if you beleve in things like faith ,hope and love? You’ll see that you can’t put these things in test tubes?Yet no one can deny these abstract things exist.I’m a Christian primarily because I believe the Bible to be the infallible word of God.Have you read the Bible? the wisdom in the book of Proverbs amazes me.Life on this earth is temporary.According to the Bible we all have immortal souls.Believing in God is rational to me.I have a personal relationship woith Yeshua and I can honestly say He answers my prayers!He’s revealed future events to me before they happened.I’m not clairvoyant Dave in Christianity it’s commonly known as prophecy. Sorry this may sound presumptuous of me,you sound like a scientist in your school of thought. We live in a natural world.Gravity of course holds everything down.We all breathe in oxygen and out carbon dioxide. Sorry but to me there are too many common denominators in the world for there not to be a God.Without oxygen we would die within seconds.That backs up Genesis to me where God breathed the breath of life into Adam and he became a living being.I’m no scientist in college I majored in languages I speak several.I’ve recently been studying the history of World War One.In World War 2 sixty million people died.Largely due to people like Adolf Hitler and his free will.God makes us free moral agents to CHOOSE good or evil.Hitler was a chubby little baby once like everyone.God gives us the freedom to do whatever we like, to accept or reject Him.Where I see evil in this world I see freedom of choice. Where there can be no free will there can be no moral accountability!If there is no God people can do whatever they like and they’re not answerable to anyone.Christianity is a JOKE if there is NO FREE WILl! As I mentioned before about science and gravity and natural laws. We live in a natural world governed by laws of science yet a Christian is a person who has a relationship with a SUPERNATURAL God.Some things defy the laws of gravity.I used to live with an Indian family and speak some Hindi, In India some people practise levitation. As I say there are things that science can’t explain.It’s beyond my comprehension how God formed a man from the soil and a woman from his rib,yet I choose to believe it.I want to tell you a little story.Last year in New Zealand I was in horrendous pain with a dental abscess.I had to have a root canal done.Son after different pain returned I went to a hospital and had an X ray done.Sure enough it was worse than I thought I had another two abscesses and needed to have two moreroot canals done.It was awful. I was in despair about the pain and the $1500 price tag.I take good care of my teethI took my pain medication but told a good Christian friend Jean about the abscesses.A few days later to my utter astonishment the pain had vanished and I felt fine.I saw Jean and she asked about my teeth.I said I’m fine now it’s great.Jean then explained that she’d prayed God would heal my problems and save the tooth.I think she thought there was just one abscess. I’ve got an X ray of my jaw showing clearly the abscesses, to PROVE it was a miracle! If Jean hadn’t told me that she’d prayed for me I would never have known God had healed me! Can you see God works through HIS People the BODY of BELIEVERS!I know a lady in Atlanta who is a Christian .I’ve prayed for her and she was amazed .Yeshua(Jesus) revealed things to me about her she’d never told a soul! Things I could never have known.She was really astounded!! Blessings Andrew

    November 14, 2011
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  61. jaimehlers said:

    The presence of free oxygen on this planet has nothing to do with “the breath of God”. It has everything to do with the various processes in nature which cycle carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and release oxygen into it. It doesn’t require anything special. That is part of what I meant when I said there was no such thing as the supernatural. There is only the natural which we do not understand (yet). If there were something like magic in the universe, it would still be a natural force which could be explained and understood. And that goes all the way up; to say otherwise is to engage in special pleading.

    November 14, 2011
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  62. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Jaimehlers I’m confused by your responses to my comments The bible is clear God created the heaven’s and the earth.God created the universe.Nothing can come of nothing. Who or what do you think created the gases on the earth?Surely everything has an origin? The bible says in Genesis 2 God breathed the breath of life ito Adam and he became a living being.Take breath away from people and they die in seconds.I’ve studied yoga for years.We have a saying in yoga “breath is life” and it’s true. How can you argue without breath(oxygen) people can live? When people need CPR they can receive CPR to keep them alive. Also you say there’s no such thing as the supernatural.What proof have you got to back up that assertion? One of the languages I speak is French.In French Polynesia there are Witch doctors or Shamans as they are otherwise known in French.They administer to sick people.I assure you from a very reliable source they have a very real power. According to the Bible it’s not from God. Andrew

    November 14, 2011
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  63. jaimehlers said:

    “Nothing can come of nothing” is a very common misconception, but it does not necessarily mean anything. For example, virtual particle pairs are hypothesized to come into existence and then immediately go back out of existence; we have evidence of this via radiation being ’emitted’ from black holes, which is because one of the pair appears inside the event horizon and the other appears outside; the outer one escapes, which is the radiation we detect. Since that happens, “nothing can come from nothing” is a meaningless statement, because the particles appear from nothing and then go back to being nothing. Nobody ‘created’ the various gases on the Earth. They form via chemical reactions due to natural processes. We can observe this through any one of a large number of ways, such as the fact that hydrogen reacts to heat and combines with oxygen to form water. The “breath of life” is a poetic statement, but it means nothing in and of itself. It is based on the observation that humans and animals must breathe to live, and is an attempt to explain why. We’ve already determined through biology why humans and other animals breathe, and it does not take a ‘supernatural’ explanation that someone caused it to happen. Also, do not misrepresent my statements; I most certainly did not say nor did I suggest that people could not live without breathing. I say there is no such thing as the supernatural because many things we take for granted as being perfectly natural and normal today were once believed to be supernatural. Lightning is a prime example. It was believed to be an expression of divine wrath until we figured out that it was due to the discharge of free electrons from the negatively-charged clouds to the positively charged ground. And as for witch doctors/shamans, they have methods they have passed down which are used to treat sick people. I strongly doubt that they are using some mystical power to effect their cures, and if you want to assert this, you have to document the evidence so that you can show it to other people. You cannot say “I have a very reliable source which told me this”, because that is hearsay.

    November 14, 2011
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  64. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Jaimehlers In response to your comments.Firstly I never said you said nobody can survive without oxygen.I felt you were implying there was no Divine Hand at work in the creation of human beings,I used the example of God creating oxygen and breathing into Adam to illustrate my point that NOBODY can survive without OXYGEN.Universally it’s needed by us all and is a common denominator as evidence for God .You mention particles etcSometing had to create them.Have you got proof there is no such thing as the supernatural? have you got proof there is no God? I have first hand experience of the Supernatural and of God.I don’t need to prove my God to anyone.He’s BEYOND HUMAN COMPREHENSION! I have seen miracle healings first hand with my own eyes! IF you say there’s no GOD and you have no proof your claims are hearsay. Andrew

    November 15, 2011
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  65. jaimehlers said:

    Kindly stop putting words into my mouth. I said nothing about the existence or nonexistence of God; my post was not about it either. You also clearly do not know what hearsay is, so I suggest you go look it up in a dictionary. You said, and I quote, “How can you argue without breath(oxygen) people can live?” My response was to point out that I never said that or suggested it, the point being that I also therefore did not argue that people could live without breathing, as you stated quite clearly. Your statement to the effect that you never said I said anything is immaterial; you attributed an argument to me which I did not make. I also did not imply that there was no divine hand at work. But to preempt a needless argument, let me state quite clearly that I do not accept the belief of special creation or of direct divine involvement in the evolution of humans. The only source you have for that belief is the Bible, specifically part of Genesis. Except there was nobody there to witness the “special creation” of humans. The only possible source for it was God; that may satisfy you, but it does not satisfy me any more than any other religious creation story satisfies me. Without evidence, no creation story is anything but speculation. The fact that most organisms on Earth use oxygen to respirate does not serve as a common denominator of evidence for God. That, again, goes back to special creation, which I do not accept due to the utter lack of evidence for it. The reason most organisms use oxygen is because oxygen is a reasonably efficient means to convert food to energy, and these aerobic organisms were able to crowd out anaerobic competitors except in places where there was no oxygen. It no more evidences God than hydrogen fusion evidences God. And no, nothing has to create virtual particles, because they are constantly popping in and out of existence everywhere (they are so tiny they make atoms look huge by comparison). It makes no sense at all for something to create them only to have them vanish out of existence an unmeasureable instant of time later. Your statement that something had to create them is not based on any evidence, but only on your religious belief, and that is nothing but special pleading. If you have first-hand experience of unexplainable events, why do you not keep records, measurements, etc of them to serve as evidence to convince the skeptical? Hard evidence is enormously more convincing than any amount of ‘witnessing’, because witnessing depends on convincing people to believe something without evidence, whereas the mere presence of evidence goes a long way towards convincing people. Also, the fact that something is currently beyond human comprehension does not make it supernatural. Things like X-rays and radiation were beyond human comprehension once, but they were never supernatural. The same goes for things which are currently beyond human comprehension. You demand that I prove there is no God; should I also prove there are no Fey, no dragons, or any of the host of other creatures that people have believed to exist without proof? You are the one who is saying that God exists, and it is incumbent on you to prove it. If you are unable or unwilling to, then you certainly cannot demand that someone else disprove it.

    November 15, 2011
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  66. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Would you please stop sending me rude.nasty emails twisting things I said. You keep contradicting yourself.I am free to think anything I wish. You’ve just told me you dont beleve in the “special creation of human beings”… that contradicts the bible.For your information Charles Darwin couldn’t find the missing link in his theory of evolution. I can tell you proof of creation is in the created things. I recently bought a bottle of soda. Looking at that soda bottle you can prove somebody or someting made it.It can’t have made itself can it.That’s what I meant when I told you nothing comes of nothing. The universe had to come from somewhere, You have not one shred of evidence that there is no God.Please kindly remember this is a Christian website.If you are not a Christian or not why are you arguing about Christian issues on a Christian website?

    November 15, 2011
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  67. jaimehlers said:

    If you think I am twisting things you say, or contradicting myself, then you need to provide examples and the basis of your reasoning. Or do you think I should go away and not bother you simply because you’re bothered by what I’m saying, as you suggest when you ask “why are you arguing about Christian issues on a Christian website”? If my questions and statements bother you, perhaps you should take a moment and think about why they bother you, instead of getting annoyed with me for bringing them up. As for contradicting the Bible, let me make it clear that I do not accept the Bible as 100% literally, factually accurate. Many of the things written in it are metaphor and allegory, which can be very useful in their own rights, but are decidedly not so if taken literally. I consider the creation stories in Genesis to be metaphorical. In Genesis 1, vegetation (seed-bearing plants and trees) were created on the third day, while humans were created on the sixth; whereas in Genesis 2 plants are clearly described as not having appeared when God made the first man; the Garden of Eden contained only trees. This is a significant problem for trying to reconcile the two stories literally, but it represents comparatively little problem if the two stories were written as metaphor. As for Charles Darwin not being able to “find the missing link”, you do know that he proposed the concept 150 years ago, right? His writings and ideas were a necessary step to develop biological sciences, but they themselves do not represent the whole of biology. As for your soda bottle analogy, a big part of the reason we know that it was made by someone is because we can observe and verify the process by which the bottle is shaped and made. If I were so inclined, I could visit a bottle factory and see them in the process of bering made, and ask to examine sample bottles from each stage of its construction. But a soda bottle does not prove that a star, or a planet, or a life-form, was intentionally made. We have perfectly satisfactory theories to explain how stars and planets, which are relatively simple, come about through natural deterministic processes without intentionally being made by someone; it is necessarily more difficult when it comes to life-forms because life-forms are more complicated than planets or stars, but the greater complexity in and of itself does not prove that someone had to intentionally make that life-form. We cannot say with certainty that the universe came from somewhere, something, or someone, because we do not have any evidence before a certain moment in time. We don’t know why the universe came to be, or if it came from “something” or “nothing”, or anything else. If you do not know, you certainly cannot conclude “God did it”, because that is the essence of “God of the gaps”. If the only place you can fit God in is the gaps of human understanding, then as those gaps shrink, so too does the concept of God. Would you not prefer to have a better idea, one that does not depend on simply using God as the ‘answer’ for what we do not yet understand?

    November 15, 2011
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  68. said:

    All, I’ve enjoyed and been stretched by the conversations here. In fact, I now have several ongoing email conversations. One person told me, “You’re now my first Christian friend!” That said, for me, the discussion here has run its course. With all my other life and ministry commitments, I need to move forward. Others certainly can feel free to continue. I think the point of the initial post has been covered sufficiently. If others want to interact with me directly, my contact info is listed at my personal ministry website and blog: http://www.rpmministries.org Thank you. Bob

    November 15, 2011
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  69. DaveGamble said:

    Wow … things have moved on quite a bit since I last checked. Bob has left a link to the Ehrman/ Wallace debate and then stepped out. To be honest, I’m with Ehrman on this, his argument stands, and Wallace does nothing to undermine it. In fact Ehrman in his writings makes a very good case for the unreliability of the NT. Meanwhile Andrew’s claims are … (I’d be tempted to use the word bizarre, but thats not polite) … ‘interesting’. Andrew, I’ve really got to ask a couple of questions … 1) Do you truly believe what you are claiming? 2) What makes you sure it is correct? (Ask a Muslim or a Hindu about their beliefs and you will find many are equally sure, so why is this different?) 3) Do you have any evidence for these claims that would persuade a non-believer like me? Don’t feel you have to respond, but if you do … well, I’m curious.

    November 15, 2011
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  70. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave In one of my earlier emails I asked you a simple question.Do you believe in faith ,hope and love?Sorry but you never gave me a direct answer.You say you don’t believe in God because you don’t see any evidence for God right? With all due respect,don’t you think you’re being hypocritical? on one hand you’re telling me you don’t believe in God due to “no evidence”when ,on the contrary you seem to be trying to convince me of atheism,with not one jot of evidence to support your claim that there Jesus didn’t exist ? right? You say you are a non believer.How can you say there’s no God without evidence? or proof? If hypothetically speaking there was no God surely it would be able to be proven.People can’t prove lies In this I refer to scripture”the Lord sees that truth is kept safe by disproving the words of liars”(proverbs Holy Bible).I would encourage you to read Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis. Many years ago he was a hardened atheist who set out once and for all to prove there was no God and he ended up becoming a Christian.In Mere Christianity he puts forward some compelling evidence for Christianity.In conclusion.People believe things because they CHOOSE to. Nothing to do with evidence.I CHOOSE to be a Christian.In your last mail you mention Islam and Hinduism.I know Muslims and Hindu people.I used to live with a Muslim family.People CHOOSE to believe in whatever religion they believe due to FREE WILL,as I’ve said where there can be no FREE WILL there can be on moral accountability.T be a Christian or not the CHOICE is up to the individual.With all due respect if you don’t believe in God why are you spending all your time arguing about it? It’s certainly a subject worth debating isn’t it Dave?Blessings Andrew

    November 19, 2011
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  71. DaveGamble said:

    Hi Andrew … nice to hear from you. >> In one of my earlier emails I asked you a simple question.Do you believe in faith ,hope and love?Sorry but you never gave me a direct answer. True … no direct answer, I was distrated by everything else we were discussing. OK, a direct answer, No, I don’t “believe” in any of these, instead I accept their reality because they are all quantifiable and measurable. >> You say you don’t believe in God because you don’t see any evidence for God right? Correct. >> With all due respect,don’t you think you’re being hypocritical? Nope (but then I would say that … nobody would seriously think to themselves, “Gosh, I think I’ll be hypocritical today”) … 🙂 >> on one hand you’re telling me you don’t believe in God due to “no evidence”when ,on the contrary you seem to be trying to convince me of atheism,with not one jot of evidence to support your claim that there Jesus didn’t exist ? right? Wrong … I’m not making that claim, I simply reject the supernatural claims. Was there a chap wandering about in Galiee 2000 years ago claiming to be the son of God? Yes there was, in fact I can name three or four separate individuals who did exactly that … not just Isreal, but Galiee and of that period. (If curious, I’ll supply their names and references). What I find no evidence for are the supernatural aspects, or the claimed miracles. >> You say you are a non believer.How can you say there’s no God without evidence? or proof? Its not my claim. There is a standard called the Burden of Proof (Google that term if curious). Basically, those who make claims are supposed to provide proof. >> If hypothetically speaking there was no God surely it would be able to be proven. Nope, its easy to make claims that cannot be disproven. If I assert that pink unicorns live on the planet zod … can you disprove that? The bottom line is that whatever is asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. That applies to all sorts of claims not just religious ones … bigfoot, lake monsters, ghosts, aliens, etc… >> I would encourage you to read Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis. Many years ago he was a hardened atheist who set out once and for all to prove there was no God and he ended up becoming a Christian.In Mere Christianity he puts forward some compelling evidence for Christianity. I note it was on Bob’s list … and in fact I have read it, and I’m familiar with his argument. Its mostly an agrument from morality. He asserts that there is a moral code common to all human societies, but there is not, and so his argument for the existence of God collapses. Lewis’ case hinges on the assertion that not only is there an absolute morality, but that every human being is aware of it, and yet this is not true. For evidence of that you need not look too far, for example idiot fanatics who are 100% sure and truly believe that flying airplanes into buildings is moral and right and that they are doing god’s will. >> In conclusion.People believe things because they CHOOSE to. Actually, I’d argue that people tend not to choose, but instead flow with the tide and copy those around them. In other words it is more about where you are born, and says nothing about what is actually true (and before you say it .. thats a general observation, you will always find small numbers of exceptions). >> if you don’t believe in God why are you spending all your time arguing about it? I’m not spending “all” my time arguing about it, I simply came across bob’s article stuffed full of myths about non-belief and so entered into a dialog to point out the fallicies. >> It’s certainly a subject worth debating isn’t it Dave? Yep.

    November 19, 2011
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  72. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave thanks for your mailSorry i’m a little confused here as to your stance on theism. I hope you don’t mind me asking are you an agnostic? Sorry i don’t think I’m being hypocritical in my Christian witness to you as God has proven Himself to me many times in my life. Through miracles,healings,Angelic visitations! Before you ask yes Dave I have seen Angels! Seeing is believing !etc and many other tangible things.God has revealed future events to me even years before they occurred.I have a faith or trust in Yeshua aka Jesus. At various times in our lives we ALL need to trust another person,eg A doctor,a dentist,an airline pilot .Someone who is more knowledgeable than we are in any given field.When we board an airplane we are trusting another person with our entire life.It takes a lot more faith to trust someone we can’t even see.I guess thats why people have to have faith to be a Christian.I will keep praying for you.The Lord told me you are “talented”! There you are Dave He has faith in YOU!!! Andrew

    November 19, 2011
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  73. DaveGamble said:

    Hi Andrew, >> I hope you don’t mind me asking are you an agnostic? I don’t mind. When faced with a lack of evidence for an extraordinary claim, I tend to dismiss it, so it would be more accurate to label me a skeptic. As you may gather, I apply skepticism to many things and not just belief. In fact we all do this to a degree, for example most people would be skeptical about astrology claims, I simply apply the same thought process to religion. >> Sorry i don’t think I’m being hypocritical in my Christian witness to you as God has proven Himself to me many times in my life. I also do not believe you are being hypocritical, I have no doubt that you are 100% certain in the truth of what you claim. The folks who are frauds tend to be those who use belief as a tool to either manipulate people or generate a revenue stream … we can all think of examples such as politicians or TV evangelists. It is my experience that individual believers are never hypocritical, they truly believe and so it is always interesting to understand why. >> Through miracles,healings,Angelic visitations! Before you ask yes Dave I have seen Angels! Seeing is believing !etc and many other tangible things.God has revealed future events to me even years before they occurred.I have a faith or trust in Yeshua aka Jesus. The standard is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I do not doubt that you truly believe in this, but it is not objective evidence that can be independently verified. Many different belief systems have folks who make similar claims, so they cannot all be right. It does open up the question to ponder what is going on, and many have indeed done exactly that. So far the evidence on the table is that this can all be replicated by simply stimulating the appropriate parts of the human brain. Lets conduct a thought experiment – If a well-respected scientist sat down, worked with you and proved that many of the supernatural claims were not in fact supernatural and did indeed have a natural explanation rooted in brain chemistry, would you still believe in Jesus? I suspect the answer is “yes”. >> At various times in our lives we ALL need to trust another person,eg A doctor,a dentist,an airline pilot .Someone who is more knowledgeable than we are in any given field.When we board an airplane we are trusting another person with our entire life. These are all evidence based. In this context the word “faith” or “trust” is based upon previous experience and observation. These are all individuals who have not just read a book and given it a go, they have had to study, pass exams and become licensed or certified to earn that trust. >> It takes a lot more faith to trust someone we can’t even see.I guess thats why people have to have faith to be a Christian. This is where I have a problem, I find no evidence to be able to do that. >> The Lord told me you are “talented”! Most people are. >> There you are Dave He has faith in YOU!!! Andrew I know you believe this to be true, but I still do not think this is real. What would be truly amazing is if you could tell me what is in the envelope I have in the desk back home in the right-hand drawer, or even if you are able to tell me where I am right now as I write these words … now that would be truly impressive. I do not think I will change your mind about belief, and thats OK, but I would very much like us to get to a place where you truly do understand that I do not secretly believe and am just angry at god (as asserted by Bob). Instead I would like us to get to a place where you do truly understand that I do not believe, and for you to also understand that the reason I do not believe is founded in the lack of evidence. If we can get there, then we have reached a better place of understanding.

    November 20, 2011
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  74. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave Thanks for your mail. I wanted to tell you another little amazing story. Recently I was talking to my brother in Japan and I prayed with him.We’re both Born Again Christians.During the prayer the Lord gave me a vision of a pair of good black mens shoes just like a pair I have.My brother replied ‘that’s amazing” He then proceeded to tell me about four days earlier he had gone in to a department store to buy some good black dress shoes for work.As it was summer he was wearing thongs and as he couldn’t try on the shoes without socks he told the salesman he’d be back the next day to buy the shoes.As he’d been so busy that week he’d clean forgot all about the shoes and going back to the shop.I had known nothing previously about the matter with the shoes. As I was getting the vision of the black shoes I couldn’t understand the significance of the vision till my brother elaborated.Even he was amazed. What an amazing God we serve Dave reminding us to buy shoes,never for getting any detail in our lives even if we do! Andrew

    November 20, 2011
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  75. joejoejoe said:

    Andrew.Thats an interesting story about the black shoes… meanwhile that same day across the globe, 20,000 children died from preventable disease and starvation. The next day 20,000 more children died, and the day after that and so on. FOrgive me for minimizing your experiences, which you highly value. And yes, some people in my life do call me Debby Downer. Forgive my sarcasm, But really? I live in a christian culture that it seems everyday people are claiming GOd helped them buy a car or get a new job…. But really? 20,000 children died in horrible UNNECESSARY suffering yesterday while God helped me choose a new water heater from my house. Something is not right about that.

    November 20, 2011
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  76. jaimehlers said:

    Andrew, you said that your vision was of shoes just like yours. Are you sure it was not simply an errant thought of your own shoes, that popped into your head for some reason? Because this really smacks of a misunderstood coincidence to me. There are people who pray, earnestly, even desperately, for healing miracles for themselves, their loved ones, or others. Most of those prayers are never answered. You might want to spend some time thinking about that. Perhaps you should pray to God and ask him why he had no trouble reminding you about your brother’s shoes, yet leaves so many healing prayers unanswered. If you get an answer, consider sharing it.

    November 20, 2011
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  77. DaveGamble said:

    Andrew, I ‘get it’ that you truly believe this was God … but there are numerous quite natural alternative explanations. The problem here is that it is very easy to be fooled by ourselves. In fact we have entire Industry’s built around this fact. You do tend to find that most illusionists and mentalists are also usually skeptics because they tend to understand how easy it is to fool ourselves. In fact a lot of psychologists also have an interest in magic for this same reason, because they are curious about why it is so easy to be fooled. Just to be 100% clear and transparent here, when I use the word “magic”, I am of course talking about tricks and showmanship, because there is no such thing as real magic. Now, please do not be offended, because I am not accusing you of fraud, I am simply suggesting that you have fooled yourself. We are all prone to doing this for very good evolutionary reasons. OK, my turn for a story. There exists a town in the UK that has a “lucky dog”. The locals truly believe that if you go pat the statue of the lucky dog in the park, then you get good luck. The owner of the local toy shop recounts a story about how he received a bill he could not pay, so he went to pat the lucky dog and then had the very best week in his shop ever. Is there something supernatural going on here? Well, suppose he had instead been a believer, and had gone to pray about it at the next prayer meeting … it would have been a miracle from god. He was of course truly convinced in the power of the lucky dog, but was it supernatural? Nope, not at all, it was all fake. A famous illusionist had set it all up and then planted the idea and let it circulate … it is a great example of how easy it is to fool ourselves. If curious for some real evidence to verify all this, I blogged about it here and have links there to the actual program he made about it all. It was broadcast in the UK on 11th Nov … http://www.skeptical-science.com/people/skeptics/darren-brown-experiments-secret-luck/ Give it some thought Andrew … we can and do indeed fool ourselves, we all do it.

    November 21, 2011
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  78. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave Nice to hear from you.Sorry I’m alittle confused by you telling me you consider yourslf a sceptic.No offence but to me thats a vague term.Due you mind me asking are you open to the possibility of there being a God? I mean monotheism. Anyway sorry but with your story about the lucky dog I believe the salesman wasn’t fooling himself at all.On the contrary he was the victim of a hoax a deliberate lie perpetrated intentionally by an illusionist.He was deceived by nother person unknowingly.With all due respect where is the deliberate lie in my story?It involved just my brother,God,and me,no other party involved.No illusionist was involved n any way whatsoever,Dave you say there is no such thing as magic right? Sorry how do you know that for a fact? Anyway I want to tell you another story. Back in 1996 my parents sold the family home.One time I was praying with my mother who was a really strong Christian about my life etc.I was a bit uneasy to be honest as I knew I ‘d have to start looking for my own apartment.As we prayed my mother had a vision of a road with a bend in it and a house with a red roof. Anyway a few days later we both went to the local housing office to try and find an apartment for me.The housing man gave us the keys to an apartment in the suburbs. Incredible the apartment was right smack on the bend in the othewise straight road and sure enough had a red roof! How can anyone call that coincidence or guessing? Blessings Andrew

    November 21, 2011
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  79. jaimehlers said:

    Andrew, the probability of a house being near a bend in an otherwise straight road and of having a red roof is not all that unlikely. It’s not that dissimilar to the odds of rolling a five and then a six, although the exact odds would be different. Then you just figure out the odds of a real estate agent having a house like that available. Even if the odds were a million-to-one, you personally would have something like that happen about once every thirty-five days or so. To you, in your day-to-day life, such things look amazing and incredible. But compared to the whole span of your life thus far, they are not particularly uncommon. Which is not to say they’re regular or should be counted on, just that it isn’t anywhere near as unlikely as it appears to you at the time it happens.

    November 21, 2011
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  80. DaveGamble said:

    Hi Andrew, I have a rather interesting thought. I have no idea what evidence I would find compelling and would convince a skeptic such as myself in the reality of God. For the stories that you recount, I can indeed think of more natural explanations. However … – since god is all-knowing, he should know what would convince me. – since god is all-loving, he should be willing to provide such evidence – since god is communicating with you, then we have the means. All you need to do is to pray and seek guidance on what evidence would convince me. If god is real and truly talking to you, then this should indeed be really easy.

    November 23, 2011
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  81. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave I’ve been thinking about some of the questions and comments you’ve made in respect of proving Christianity.I’ve had a number of amazing experiences invloving my Christian faith happen to me in my life.Events have occured in my life that defy logic.or reason,even defy science.I think you would be amazed if you knew all the details of miraculous events I’ve experienced.However I’ve come to the conclusion that faith is by definition “a trust and hope in something that cannot be proven” God wants us to believe in Him by faith,If you could scientifically prove faith it would cease to be faith and that ‘s not what God wants.To have faith or not therefore has to be a CHOICE! The Book of Revelation warns us people who reject Yeshua will be eternally damned.For God to be just condemning a person for rejecting Him the rejection has to be a CHOICE!I hope and pray everyone becomes a Christian and gets SAVED!

    November 25, 2011
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  82. jaimehlers said:

    Andrew: I’ve no problem with the “believe in something not proven” part. But you’ve hit on the crux of the problem; for people to be eternally damned for not believing in something that can’t be proven to them is one of the most capricious things I could imagine any being doing. It is basically setting them up to be punished regardless of anything else they do in life, on what amounts to a divine whim. Is it good and just for someone to say, “I love you, and I want you to love me, but if you choose not to I will condemn you to be punished forever”? Or is it capricious and selfish? If you can honestly answer that, you will maybe start to understand the problem many atheists have with Bible-belief.

    November 25, 2011
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  83. JimmyJones said:

    @AndrewKnight re. “I’ve had a number of amazing experiences invloving my Christian faith happen to me in my life. Events have occured in my life that defy logic or reason,even defy science. I think you would be amazed if you knew all the details of miraculous events I’ve experienced.” Andrew, you must realise that people from beliefs other than yours (from astrology to Scientology to Raelianism) also claim “miraculous events”. What would you say to a person who from a false religion (i.e. not Christianity) who makes such a claim, and why should your claims of “miraculous events” be regarded as legitimate where theirs obviously aren’t? —- And, re… “To have faith or not therefore has to be a CHOICE!” Incorrect! I contend that it is not within my power to start believing Christianity has any basis in reality. If you wanted to demonstrate that your faith is indeed a “choice”, as you say, then please choose to stop believing it right now, just to prove your point. If you can’t do that, then I suggest you re-think how much “choice” is actually involved in belief, and what the implications are of a God who asks the impossible of people who are unable to choose to believe in him. Thanks, Jimmy. 🙂

    November 26, 2011
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  84. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Jimmy thanks for your comments.As I have said in several of my blogs people are hostile towards God due to their sinful state.6000 years ago in the garden of Eden,in a place nowadays known as Iraq, SIN entered the world through FREE WILL. Namely through Adam and Havah’s disobedience.FOR PEOPLE TO BE TOTALLY FREE they HAVE to HAVE free will.It’s a FACT.God is the Creator of the Universe people are the created.In the Garden of Eden after having sinned the first thing Adam and Havah did was to run away and hide in the trees.NOBODY WANTS TO FACE THEIR SIN.AS I’ve said everyone is guilty of SIN in God’s eyes.In the Bible Yonah ran away from God but God intervened by sending a big fish to rescue him back.Ironically from inside the fish Yonah prayed.In a crisis people turn to God.After the horrific 9/!! attacks church attendance in the U.S went up considerably.People CHOOSE to believe in God or not.Faith broadly defined to me “is believing or trusting in something that is unable to be proven”. The reason you seem to want proof of God’s existence is because you don’t have faith.Faith and proof are opposites. I have faith therefore I don’t need proof.If I could prove my faith it would no longer be faith. Blessings Andrew

    November 26, 2011
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  85. JimmyJones said:

    Hi Andrew! With respect… >> “people are hostile towards God due to their sinful state.” I am not hostile towards God! How could I be? I don’t believe he exists! Perhaps I can make you understand how ridiculous your claim is by putting the following propositions to you… YOU ARE HOSTILE TO YODA BECAUSE YOU FOLLOW THE DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE. YOU ARE HOSTILE TO SHIVA BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE THE DESTRUCTION SHE BRINGS. YOU ARE HOSTILE TO BUDDHA BECAUSE YOU HATE YOUR LATEST REINCARNATION. YOU ARE HOSTILE TO SANTA CLAUS BECAUSE HE DIDN’T BRING YOU A RED BICYCLE WHEN YOU WERE 10. So, telling me that I’m “hostile towards God because I don’t like sin” is just as stupid as any of those statements above! Now do you begin to see how nonsensical your opinion of my “hositility” to God is? I know it must be hard for you to understand that some people can carry on quite well without belief in one of the many thousands of deities people have invented. I assume you were raised from childhood to believe in a god, which is perhaps why you can’t imagine how someone like me can function quite well without believing in one. You are wrongly ascribing my disbelief to “hostility” because you assume everyone must believe in a god on some level, but please have faith in my when I tell you it’s JUST NOT TRUE!!! >> “FOR PEOPLE TO BE TOTALLY FREE they HAVE to HAVE free will.It’s a FACT.” Very well… DEMONSTRATE that it’s a fact by choosing to disbelieve in christianity right now. I suggest that you are UNABLE TO CHOOSE what you believe. If it were a choice, you would be able to choose NOT to believe, just to prove your point! But you can’t… YOU HAVE NO CHOICE! Just as I have no choice but to remain a disbeliever in your religion (for various reasons) If you can’t “choose” to disbelieve, then I have demonstrated that your belief is NOT a matter of free-will. Come back to me when you’ve chosen to disbelieve. 😉 >> “The reason you seem to want proof of God’s existence is because you don’t have faith.” I do not require proof of God’s existence. I have more than enough proof that your god doesn’t exist (ask me if you’re interested, but it’s probably the same as the reasons why you don’t believe in any other religion but the one you were taught as a child.) Live long & prosper! Jimmy 🙂

    November 26, 2011
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  86. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Jimmy If you are going to answer my emails would you please show some courtesy and not put words in my mouth.I never said or implied I was hostile towards Buddha, or Shiva,Santa Claus, or any deity.It so happens I have studied and practised yoga for years and am well acquainted with Hinduism.I have been to Malaysia 14 times and have visited Hindu temples many times and met Hindu people.I said in my blog that Christianity is true it stands for itself.It doesn’t need to be defended. Let me make a point.Los Angeles exists right? I haven’t been to LA yet I choose to believe in L.A. L.A exists whether anyone believes it or not right?If anyone hypothetically speaking were to denies L>A’s existence does that change the fact it exists?Of course not! You sayI said you’re hostile towards God. I’m sorry i was speaking generically.You say you’re not hostile towards God because you don’t believe in Him right? I’m sorry but the Bible disagrees with you.Romans 1 is clear that evidence for God’s existence can be perceived or plainly seen from creation so people are WITHOUT EXCUSE for their unbeief.With all due respect I put it to you that people’s hostility towards God is evident to me by their refusal to believe.The fact that people refuse to believe in God proves their hostility,hence their REFUSAL to beileve 2000 years ago Yeshua (God incarnate) came into the world,showing forgiveness of sin ,amazing healings,love,miracles and for His phenomenal goodness people crucified Him.What had He ever done to harm people apart from telling the truth about God,sin,and salvation?and for His efforts people horrifically crucified Him.If that doesn’t prove people are hostile towards God I don’t know what does? As a ChristianI have to believe the Bible as the inerrant word of truth .People make mistakes God NEVER DOES!By the way Yeshua’s place of birth Beit Lechem(Bethlehem) in Israel is easily locatable on any map of Israel,unlike Santa’s place of birth which remains unknown, Blessings Andrew

    November 26, 2011
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  87. JimmyJones said:

    Dear Andrew, With respect… >> “I never said or implied I was hostile towards Buddha, or Shiva,Santa Claus, or any deity.” I know!! I didn’t say you said those things… I was merely writing those sentences about you to show you what it feels like when YOU say to other people “you are angry with God because…” (I fear there is a lack of communication between us, but I will try anyway, ok?) You said I am angry at God, which is ridiculous! I don’t believe he exists. Saying I am angry at God is as stupid as me saying you are angry at Santa Claus, or whatever. Do you understand? >> “I said in my blog that Christianity is true it stands for itself.It doesn’t need to be defended.” Bully for you! I say in my blog that Christianity is false. It CAN’T be defended. >> “I’m sorry i was speaking generically.You say you’re not hostile towards God because you don’t believe in Him right? I’m sorry but the Bible disagrees with you.” I don’t care what the Bible says. The Bible is wrong about a lot of things. It is just an old book written by very ancient people who did not know very much. I’m sure you will tell me it’s divinely-inspired, or something, but that is just your opinion which I do not agree with. In fact, you will find that the Bible disagrees with REALITY on a lot of things, from the age of the Earth to the effectiveness of prayer. >> “With all due respect I put it to you that people’s hostility towards God is evident to me by their refusal to believe.” With all due respect, I put it to you that people who do not believe in God HAVE NO HOSTILITY towards him. How could they if they don’t believe he exists?! I AM NOT ABLE to believe in the Bible because I find it to be a bunch of silly old myths. Again, you will tell me it’s not, but that is just your opinion, and I value MY opinion over yours because I am a lot smarter than you. >> “The fact that people refuse to believe in God proves their hostility” No. The fact that I do not believe in god proves no such thing. How can I be hostile to something I don’t believe in?? Again, are YOU hostile to Santa Claus? It has nothing to do with “hostility”, no matter how much you may think it does. Are you so arrogant that you think you know my mind better than I do? How dare you presume to tell me the reasons why I don’t believe in the things I don’t believe in! Remember how upset you just got when I said you are angry at Santa Claus? Well now you are doing EXACTLY the same thing to me… telling me I am angry at God! How dare you! Why can’t you see that? >> “for His efforts people horrifically crucified Him.If that doesn’t prove people are hostile towards God I don’t know what does?” I did not crucify Jesus, so what has that got to do with me? It proves NOTHING about me at all. I have already told you – I don’t believe in the Bible because I find it to be just another silly old myth (like hundreds of other religions that people make up all the time) Christianity is no different. >> “As a Christian I have to believe the Bible” Oh dear! A moment ago you told me you have “free will”. Now you tell me you “have to” believe the Bible! These two statements are contradictory. Sorry, you have lost the argument right there. By the way, it might interest you to know that you don’t have to believe EVERYTHING in the Bible to be a Christian. For example, the Catholic Church does not teach that the Earth was created exactly as described in Genesis. But you think you know better than the Pope too, I suppose!! >> “People make mistakes” Yes! YOU are mistaken about the Bible being accurate, and you are also mistaken about my reasons for disbelieving it. I realise you will never accept this, and I am sorry that there is nothing I can do for you. Can I only ask that you consider the POSSIBILITY that you might be wrong about some of the things you have written here, and reflect upon what others have said by trying to see things from their point of view. Peace out! Jimmy 🙂

    November 26, 2011
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  88. JimmyJones said:

    One more thing, Andrew… >> “I choose to believe in L.A.” WRONG! You do not “choose” to believe in L.A!! Please try to follow… If it were a “choice”, you could either… A. choose to believe in LA, or B. choose not to believe in LA. But since you cannot do B. (choose not to believe in LA) IT IS NOT A CHOICE!! You have NO CHOICE but to believe L.A. exists! Good day. 🙂

    November 26, 2011
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  89. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Jimmy I will no longer be answering your email due to your rude.nasty remarks.You misrepresent me.I am multi lingual have an IQ of 138 and am proud of it, Your immaturity is startling.

    November 26, 2011
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  90. joejoejoe said:

    Andrewknight, too bad your leaving. I did not detect rudeness.Its ok to have a discussion and get frustrated or “rude”. Its normal human nature, I just ignore it and observe the differences in opinion. Internet interaction is faceless, and people intend no personal offense, but a deconstruction of each others opinions.

    November 26, 2011
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  91. JimmyJones said:

    Hi Andrew, >> “You misrepresent me” That’s rich, when YOU are the one misrepresenting ME!! **** I AM NOT ANGRY AT YAHWEH, OR SHIVA, OR SANTA CLAUS, OR THE TOOTH FAIRY …BECAUSE … I DON’T BELIEVE THEY EXIST!!!! ***** GOT IT?? YOU are they one telling me I am angry at these fictitious characters. YOU are the one telling me I really do believe in them! YOU are the only person doing the “misrepresenting”, Andrew! If your IQ really is 138, then I can only assume that the reason you are not understanding what I am writing is that English is not your first language. I did not intend to upset you, and I am sorry I got a bit snappy in my last post, but honestly, can you not see how RUDE YOU ARE BEING YOURSELF when you insist on telling me what I really think!! Take Care, Jimmy 🙂

    November 26, 2011
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  92. DaveGamble said:

    Hi Andrew, In a reply to Jimmy you responded … >> please show some courtesy and not put words in my mouth.I never said or implied I was hostile towards Buddha, or Shiva,Santa Claus, or any deity As Jimmy has now pointed out … that is correct, you never said or implied that, and that is exactly his point. So, as he observes, why is is OK for you to make such statements about us, but it is offensive if we then apply the same rhetoric to you? Belief in LA, even if you have not been there, is rational, there is evidence to verify the reality of LA. Anybody claiming it does not exist can be presented with the evidence. >> You say you’re not hostile towards God because you don’t believe in Him right? 100% spot on. >> I’m sorry but the Bible disagrees with you. It might indeed, but what exactly does that prove? >> evidence for God’s existence can be perceived or plainly seen from creation so people are WITHOUT EXCUSE for their unbeief Yes it says that, but once again it is not factually correct. That hypothesis has many flaws … I’d be happy to outline them for you, but I suspect it will not be of interest, but do ask if curious. Basically … no evidence still means no god regardless of what any ancient text might claim. Now, turning back to my earlier question … I suggested that you pray and ask for guidance on what to say that would persuade me. In reply … you explained I just have to trust and have faith. What happened, why has god not provided you with exactly the right words that would convince me? My point is this, when tested, it failed. Regarding the claims about miracles … I’ve been having a discussion with a Muslim who is making very similar claims. He asserts that his belief is true because the qu’ran says so and it must be true because god does not make mistakes, and also has been listing a series of miracles that have proven it all true to him … sound familiar? So if one were to make a religious leap of trust, exactly how should one choose when faced with completely different belief systems that all assert … – “we have the truth, its here in this book that is the word of god and god does not make mistakes” – “here is a list of personal miracles which confirms it all” It is at this point that folks tend to comment, “Ah but my specific belief is unique because ….”, to which I then reply, “Ah, but how do you know that is factually correct?”, and the common answer is some combination of, “My book says so”, or “you just need faith”, and so we are once again back to zero evidence. In your daily life, if you were ill you would go see a doctor. You place a trust in him that is founded upon evidence. He has certificates on his wall that prove he has the knowledge. He will give you medicine that has been tested and proven to work. You know that if he was a bad doctor, then the medical council will stop him from being a doctor. The pattern remains true for a lot of things, you do not place blind faith in pilots who fly, or teachers who teach … them must prove that can do it and our trust is based upon that proof … they are licensed. Yet, for what is the most important aspect of your life, your belief, you abandon this pattern of evidence based thinking and just believe with no evidence … why? … It shapes who we are, what we think and how we behave? I am simply suggesting that you ask yourself a couple of questions such as these … – “why do you believe what you believe?” – “How do you know it is true?” I do also wonder if we will ever get to a place where you can begin to understand that we truly do not believe your god is real, and that we are not just angry at him. I’m sure that it has been pointed out to you, but you are almost an atheist. You do not believe Thor, Zeus, Loki or any of those other gods to be real. I also do not believe them to be real. It just so happen that I believe in one god less than you do. You (correctly) dismiss much as false, such as Islam, as do I. Think through why you dismiss such beliefs as false and then perhaps you just might begin to see why we dismiss your beliefs.

    November 26, 2011
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  93. jaimehlers said:

    Unfortunately, Andrew has a very real tendency to take exception to comments other people make. He got on my case for “sending him rude, nasty e-mails twisting things I said”, which I never did and certainly would not do, for I value courtesy towards someone regardless of whether I agree with them. And I did not even receive the simple courtesy of a “I will no longer reply to you” message. My guess is that he could not handle the questions I was asking, and instead of taking them as an opportunity to think and to learn (even if I do not agree with someone, I can still learn from the things they say), he took them as attacks on him and his faith. It was not my intention to come across as attacking him, but I refuse to be dishonest and pretend that his comments (such as the one accusing me of contradicting myself because I don’t accept the special creation of human beings, when he made it clear a moment later that he actually meant I was contradicting the Bible) are reasonable efforts to carry on discourse. I would suggest that Andrew get the beam out of his own eye before worrying about the specks in the eyes of the people he is arguing with. If he is unwilling or unable to fairly examine his own behavior, then he has no business accusing other people of problems with theirs.

    November 26, 2011
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  94. JimmyJones said:

    Guys, Re. Andrew… I loved that the ONLY comment of his on anything I had to say (including direct questions put to him) was at the suggestion that someone might be smarter than him! That he disregarded the meat of my argument in but jumped into action ONLY when his ego was threatened speaks volumes about the chap’s hubris. Anyway, why does Andrew own a computer in the first place? How is he even posting here? Everyone knows Jesus commanded his followers to SELL all their possessions and give the money away! (Well, that’s what the Bible says, anyhow…) On that,

    November 26, 2011
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  95. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Dave I wanted to tell you my faith in Yeshua.aka God is exactly what I have said it is, a faith.As I’ve also said faith by definition is “believing in something that cannot be proven”.Sorryi’m confused by your responses to me when you seem to be insisting on proof before being prepared to believe.To reiterate,as I cannot prove my faith it therefore has to be a choice right?Also I wanted to say to prove a point about people choosing to believe things or not DESPITE proof.In the early 90’s in LOs Angeles an unfortunate man was allegedly beaten up by police.A videotape of the assault was produced proving the alleged events took place right? Then how is it possible that the jury acuitted the police officers after a videotape PROVED their guilt? and found them not guilty,and riots broke out. As I’ve said the jury in the trial didn’t WANT to convict them.People believe things because they CHOOSE TO right?I think I’ve made my point. Bless you Dave! Andrew

    November 28, 2011
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  96. jaimehlers said:

    Andrew, the point is that you cannot prove your faith to be true. Therefore you cannot truly say whether what you believe is correct or not. And you cannot say that what others believe is correct or not either, because they have no more and no less proof than you do. You can choose to believe in it, but you will founder upon trying to convince others who expect evidence to support assertions. As, indeed, you are doing now. The thing is, science is not based on faith. I do not need to believe in gravity, for I can observe it at every moment of every day. I do not need to believe in electromagnetism, for I can obseerve it by using a magnet to suspend a piece of iron against the pull of gravity. There are many other things as well, which would take far too long to describe and list, but I can think of quite a few without trying hard (there are a lot of basic chemistry experiments, for example). All those things can be demonstrated to be true to someone, in a way which religion cannot be. You cannot demonstrate the supernatural aspects of your religious beliefs to be true on demand, the way scientists can demonstrate their theories to be true. You may choose to believe that those theories are not true despite the evidence, but how does that make you different from a member of the Flat Earth Society? That is the point here. You cannot make a scientific theory true by believing in it (and conversely, you cannot make it untrue by not believing in it). That is the opposite of religious belief, which fundamentally holds that something that is not proven and presumably cannot be proven is true (or false), simply by the power of belief. —- JimmyJones, I have to disagree with you on your comments on the 26th, where you said that Andrew could not choose to disbelieve his belief on demand. That is not actually a choice, it is a resolution. The choice is whether to follow through on it dilligently enough to make it into a reality. If I were to say that I was going to lose some weight, simply making the statement would not be enough (as many people prove in the weeks following New Years Day), and it would not itself be a choice. I would have to actually do a number of things in order to actually lose the weight, and the choice would be whether to follow through on the resolution or not. So yes, Andrew could choose to disbelieve, but it would not be a matter of him simply saying, “I no longer believe in Christianity”, as you suggested in your rebuttal of free will. It would take much longer and be far more time-consuming for him to actually make the choice not to believe, and at the moment, I’m sure it’s not a choice he could seriously consider. But the point is, he could do it. Anyone who converts to a different religion than the one they were born with, or deconverts from religion and becomes an agnostic or atheist, demonstrates that they can make choices that affect their lives in a meaningful way.

    November 28, 2011
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  97. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom Jiamehlers Thankyou for your comments.Yes you are right I can’t prove my faith.Thats the point I was making in my recent email to Dave.However with all due respect I know my faith to be true and correct because God has proven Himself to me individually.God has done miracles in my life that defy science.He has revealed future events to me years before they happened,The Bible says peoples sin finds them out.2nd Kings.the wages of sin is death and it’s true.SIn ,wromgdoing,lawbreaking destroys peoples lives.God’s not a killjoy His laws are for our benefit! I know of people who have died due to alcoholism.The Bible says alcoholism is a sin and like many sins leads to death.I pray Yeshua will reveal Himself to you and you will be saved.i have a friend in Arizona who died and came back.He emailed me and told me about heaven, Blessings Andrew

    November 28, 2011
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  98. jaimehlers said:

    Andrew, to address your point about sin, there are two reasons things are considered sins. The first is because the behavior described is seen as dangerous somehow (for example, the prohibition against eating shellfish and certain other things in Leviticus); they are described as sins because people observed the negative effects of doing them, but could not understand or explain why. They just knew that bad things happened to people who did them, and thus came up with the idea that God was punishing them for their behavior. Today, we understand the actual reasons why those behaviors caused problems and can explain why to other people. We know that it is not divine punishment that causes someone to get sick after eating improperly-cooked shellfish, it is disease-causing organisms that thrive in such that causes such illnesses. We know that it is not divine displeasure that causes problems with incestuous relationships, it is the fact that inbred organisms become less adaptable to their environment and thus more likely to die. The second reason something is considered a sin is for behavior modification. Homosexuals, for example, do not naturally produce children; the ancient tribal leaders who came up with the prohibition against homosexuality wanted to increase their tribe’s numbers in order to increase its strength. Therefore, they came up with the idea that God disapproved of such behavior, as well as the much more compelling social discouragements against it (stoning an adultress, putting homosexuals to death, etc). They used God as an excuse to justify their actions. Understanding this leads to wisdom. If we only have the belief that God disapproves of something, we cannot know why that might be. Whereas if we have the understanding of why something came to be considered a sin, we can understand the real reasons for it and whether it is something that still needs to be prohibited, something that can be made not-dangerous with the proper precautions, or whether it is something that doesn’t really hurt anything in the first place. For example, you cited alcoholism as a sin and that it led to death. Yet, it is not God’s displeasure that leads to death. We have come to understand what actually happens; drinking too much alcohol overstresses the body’s ability to filter out waste products and damages the liver. When the liver has taken too much damage, it can no longer filter out waste properly, and that is what causes death. Anyone who drinks too much alcohol will suffer this fate, though it may take longer for some due to individual differences. The only thing alcoholism does is make it easier to habitually overindulge. Basically, even if there were no conception of God at all, people would still have recognized that overindulging in alcohol over a long period of time was dangerous and would have put some kind of a prohibition into effect. Regarding your friend, let me ask: How long was he dead for?

    November 28, 2011
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  99. AndrewKnight said:

    Shalom jaimehlers Thanks for your comments.In response to your comments about alcoholism.I do agree with you about the biochemical processes that take place in the body due to excessive alchol consumption.The effects on the liver ,pancreas etc can be horrendous.I do understand alcoholics have chemical addictions to alcohol ie the brain craves the substance.In saying that I consider drunkeness a behaviour and any form of human behaviour HAS TO BE A ChOICE.God can’t hold people morally accountable for anything they don’t choose.Broadly speaking to me,morality what a person believes to be right or wrong,can’t operate without free will.i mentioned in a former mail the death and destruction brought about by SIN.I stand by that.I consider it a fact that SIN brings death.I saw on a talk show some years ago in America 4 teenagers were drinking and driving.The car crashed and the 3 boys were all killed.The girl driver survived and was talking about the guilt she has to live with due to the incident.It’s really sad people make their choices in life and take the consequences.Newton’s third law of motion plainly states for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.Our jails are full of people who have ruined their lives through sin.I know of an attorney who stole a lot of money and got caught and went to jail.The Bible is clear people’s SIN finds them out.It’s true!Thieves like any sinners eventually get caught.The Bible says there’s a devil “who comes to kill rob,and destroy”John 10 Knowbody ever ruined their life by doing anything good. Christ I believe lived a sinless life. It says in the Bible” the Lord loves good deeds.those who do them will live in His presence”.God hates Sin so much,I believe He’s just in punishing people for it. As to your question about my friends NDE Sorry I’m not sure how long my friend in Arizona was clinically dead for.I havent heard from him for a long time.My brother however knew a man who was outside his body in a hospital for 10 hours. Blessings Andrew

    November 29, 2011
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