Book Review: Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door

I’m participating in a blog tour for the updated and revised version of Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler’s classic book, Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door.  Read further down, and I’ll tell you how to win a Kindle giveaway package worth $150 from the publisher, Thomas Nelson…

Brain

The Good

This book is written in a very accessible way, which is understandable given that the book’s audience is supposed to be kids in high school and college.  Josh and Bob have a very conversational and story-telling style of writing, which easily draws their readers into the content.

The format of the book is the “Myth vs. Truth” style that many fact-checking websites today have.  For example, there’s a chapter called “The Bible and the Telephone Game,” which begins,

The telephone game has not only been a popular group game for years, but it has also been used to illustrate the value of accuracy in communication…

Many people believe that something like the telephone game has happened in the case of the Bible—you know, that what you have between two leather covers is so far removed from what was really written thousands of years ago that no one can believe in it very much.

That’s a myth.

This chapter was especially interesting to me because I’ve heard this argument before.  McDowell and Hostetler have an interesting chart at the end of the chapter, which I think illustrates their final point nicely:

Two factors are most important in determining the reliability of a historical document: the number of manuscript copies in existence, and the time between when it was first written and the oldest existing copy.

When you compare the New Testament with other ancient works, its reliability is immediately obvious:

Author Written Earliest Copies Time Span No. of Copies
Pliny AD 61-113 AD 850 750 years 7
Caesar 100-44 BC AD 900 1,000 years 10
Plato (Tetralogies) 427-347 BC AD 900 1,200 years 7
Herodotus 480-425 BC AD 900 1,300 years 8
Thucydides 460-400 BC AD 900 1,300 years 8
Aristotle 384-322 BC AD 1,100 1,400 years 49
Euripides 480-406 BC AD 1,100 1,500 years 9

Compare the New Testament to those writers of antiquity:

Author Written Earliest Copies Time Span No. of Copies
New Testament AD 50-100 AD 130 30 years 24,000+

 

The Bad

The book has two downsides to it.  First, much of the evidence that it presents is biblical evidence, which presupposes that the reader accepts the Bible as an authority.  For those in high school or college who are looking for answers to common (and might I say, easy?) questions about what the Bible says about certain topics, this is a perfect resource.  It knocks down, citing biblical passages, common Bible myths, such as “The Vending Machine God” myth and the “The Good Teacher Myth,” as the authors call them.  But, as some of my readers will point out, this book will not necessarily “unconvince the unconvinced,” but is more likely to solidify the already-convinced, or secure the wavering.

The second flaw with the book, related to the first, is that there’s very little in the way of scientific evidence, so it does little to convince the naturalist or the empiricist.  Since it’s written in a popular voice/style, it doesn’t delve very much into academic arguments (though it does have several pages of citations at the end).  I would have liked to have seen more scientific evidence in the book, especially in chapters like, “The Unscientific Myth” or “The New Age Myth,” which could have focused more on scientific evidence.

Overall, though, I think the book accomplishes what it set out to do—challenge young readers to test gospel truths found in the Bible so that they can learn to give an answer for their faith.

Get a Free Kindle Package!

To celebrate the release of their new book, Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler have teamed up with their publisher, Thomas Nelson, to give away a brand new Kindle!

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One “brainy” winner will receive a Kindle prize package worth over $150:

  • A Brand New Kindle with Wi-Fi and Pearl Ink Screen
  • Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler (for Kindle)

To enter the giveaway, just click one of the icons below.  Hurry, the giveaway ends August 18th.  The winner will be announced on the evening of the 18th during the Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door Facebook Party!  The authors will be chatting with guests, answering questions on “knowing what you believe and why” (you don’t have to have read the book), testing your trivia skills, and giving away tons of great stuff!

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Overall rating: 5star5starstarstarblankstar

Title: “Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door”
Authors: Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

The publisher provided me a free copy of this book for review purposes.

  • Anonymous

    Robert,

    You include this quote in your article:

    <<>>

    You then show a chart which shows a date of 130 AD for the “Earliest Copies” of the New Testament.  I want to be sure I understand what the claim of the author is here.  I believe Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest known copy of the New Testament, and it dates to the 4th century AD.  Perhaps there exist some fragments of New Testament scripture dating to 130 AD, but there is no known compiled manuscript of the New Testament of that age on Earth.  Not even close.

    http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/

    As far as the written dates for the New Testament, 50 – 100 AD is a conservative viewpoint.

    I hope you will take the time to read something by Bert Erhman re. the historical reliability of the New Testament.  His credibility on the subject certainly merits at least as much consideration as Josh McDowell’s (in my humble opinion).

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Sid, thanks for the recommendation. I do plan on reading some Bart Ehrman stuff.

      • Anonymous

        Robert,

        You did not address my initial point.  There is no known compiled New Testament manuscript dating to 130 AD on this Earth.  I don’t understand why the author(s) of the book reference the date of 130 AD in their chart.  Codex Sinaiticus dates to the 4th Century AD.  That is the oldest known compilation of New Testament scripture.

        <<>>

        BTW, isn’t this the REAL reason for your series re. cross examining your faith?
           

  • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

    Sid, the oldest copy of the book of John is dated to AD 125.

    “Isn’t this the REAL reason for your series re. cross examining your faith?”  This is the author’s stated intent, not mine.

    • Anonymous

      Robert,

      The chart you referenced in your article includes “New Testament” and 130 AD on the same line.  Since I don’t own a copy of the book, I wanted clarification.  The chart you referenced gives the appearance that the author(s) claim the oldest “New Testament” copy dates to 130 AD.  In fact, the oldest known compiled New Testament copy dates to the 4th Century AD.  

      The Book of John that you reference that supposedly dates to 125 AD is, in fact, a tiny fragment (3.5 inches by 2.5 inches in size) that contains a few verses.  It is known as ” Rylands Library Papyrus P52″.   Read about it here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rylands_Library_Papyrus_P52

      There most certainly is not an entire copy of the Book of John that dates to 125 AD on this Earth. Same goes for a compiled copy of the New Testament.  The earliest known version of that came in the 4th Century AD.
       

    • Anonymous

      It is not your “stated” intent.  However, many of us believe it is your intent.  You are an apologist.  That is evident each time someone here raises an issue that you perceive to be a challenge to your faith.

      • Anonymous

        You are an apologist.  That is evident each time someone here raises an issue that you perceive to be a challenge to your faith. ~ Sid

        True, that

        On another note,  the historical accuracy of a given document has no bearing, whatsoever,  on any supernatural claims that said document might make.  History can only tell us what most likely happened(or mostly did not happen). That several people, and one man in particular, got up out of their graves and started roaming around the desert is the LAST thing on a list of what most likely happened.

        IOW, the lil’ chart, above, does nothing in the way of proving that “Jesus” was the “Son of God” and walked on water, yadda, yadda. ..::sigh::

        • Anonymous

          Here’s one issue re. scripture that is confounding.  None of the original Bible manuscripts exists on Earth today.  There is also no known complete copy of the Book of John dating to 125 AD or a known complete copy of the New Testament dating to 130 AD.   Not even close.  Aside from all that, if God wanted to give mankind a written revelation of Himself, wouldn’t you think the almighty Creator of the universe could give us the Word in some fashion that might actually LAST a while in a unified format.  That shouldn’t have been too difficult… since He supposedly crafted the 10 Commandments into stone with His own finger.  As is it, some original Biblical manuscripts were written on pieces of papyrus and/or parchment (i.e.  animal skins including goats and sheep).  The infallible Word of God written by ancient scribes on goat skins…  At least the Code of Hammurabi was written into stone and/or clay so it might last a while (several partial copies have lasted since the ~18th Century AD).  The Code of Hammurabi was crafted long before Mosaic Law.  

          It is amazing what lengths Christian apologist will go to defend their bold claims.  It must be yet another part of the Great Mystery…

          BTW, I haven’t heard too much discussion about the Dr. Stephen Hawking program that aired on The Discovery Channel on Sunday night (August 7, 2011).  Dr. Hawking concluded the program by stating that he does not believe a Creator was necessary to make the universe, and that he does not believe any God existed before The Big Bang.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Correct me if I’m wrong… what you’re saying is that, because God didn’t write his Word on stone, therefore he doesn’t exist? Or that, because we don’t have the original parchment that the Word was written on, then it must not have existed, and was made up later?

            Why would God have written his Word on stone? Why not just put it on CD or DVD, or on a flash drive, make hundreds of millions of copies, and then give a copy to each person on earth along with their very own computer? Or, better yet, he could have given everyone a copy on their own Kindle, and saved a little bit of money on manufacturing.

          • Anonymous

            Robert, you are all too predictable…
             ;->

            “Correct me if I’m wrong… what you’re saying is that, because God didn’t write his Word on stone, therefore he doesn’t exist?   Or that, because we don’t have the original parchment that the Word was written on, then it must not have existed, and was made up later?”

            I am clearly not saying that.  I am clearly saying that if the Creator of the universe wanted to present us mere mortals with some sort of written revelation, He could have done so in a fashion that could withstand the forces of decay.  That shouldn’t have been too difficult for God… since you believe he created the universe.

            “Why would God have written his Word on stone? Why not just put it on CD or DVD, or on a flash drive, make hundreds of millions of copies, and then give a copy to each person on earth along with their very own computer? Or, better yet, he could have given everyone a copy on their own Kindle, and saved a little bit of money on manufacturing.”

            Aside from your obvious sarcasm, you are actually onto something.  If God wanted to give humanity a revelation in written form, it certainly could have been done more efficiently.  As it is, billions of humans lived and died on Earth who never once read a Bible or owned a Bible or once heard the Gospel message.  Yes, I suspect your next argument is to summon up the notion of “General Revelation” and tell us God’s attributes can be clearly seen by all humankind… ad nauseam…  ad infinitum…  etc. etc.  We have heard it before.

          • Anonymous

            Robert, the gist of my above points is obviously not that the original manuscripts never existed.  It is that I do not believe them to be the infallible Word of God.  I believe the oldest manuscripts  were written by primitive men, and the OT and NT manuscripts were  compiled and codified centuries later by men to serve their own purposes.

            You believe God created the universe (in its unimaginable vastness), and that God (YHWH) was the God of the Hebrews (the OT clearly declares this) during the OT era.  Of all the unimaginable vastness of the universe, the Creator of the universe  specially designated the Hebrews as His chosen people… the very same people who ginned Him up in the first place.  Take your blinders off and think about that for a while.

            Bottom line:  Christianity is a religion based upon eternal reward and eternal punishment.  The notion of Heaven and Hell are powerful incentives.  Emperor Constantine knew what he was doing. 

          • Anonymous

            “Correct me if I’m wrong… what you’re saying is that, because
            [Yahweh] didn’t write his Word on stone, therefore he doesn’t exist?”

            ‘Good thing you’re asking for clarification as opposed to just assuming that’s what any of us are saying. 

            This is why finding common ground becomes tedious..i.e….Xian apologists instantly jump to the conclusion, that, to THEM, seems the most far-fetched, and then they project that “argument” onto their interlocutor, and they do this in order to not have to address the finer points of what’s actually being said to them. A dishonest tactic, if there ever was one. 

            In any case, if you’re interested in arguments that specifically debunk Yahweh’s existence, see previous threads under “The Problem of Evil”.

          • Anonymous

            “This is why finding common ground becomes tedious..i.e….Xian apologists instantly jump to the conclusion, that, to THEM, seems the most far-fetched, and then they project that “argument” onto their interlocutor, and they do this in order to not have to address the finer points of what’s actually being said to them. A dishonest tactic, if there ever was one. ”

            It should have been patently obvious that I never once suggested the original manuscripts never existed.  My obvious point is that I don’t believe those manuscripts are the infallible Word of God.

            Well, at least young Robert has been consistent in his methods…  ;->
             

          • Anonymous

             boomSLANG,

            BTW, I don’t know if you were able to see the the Dr. Stephen Hawking program that aired on The Discovery Channel on Sunday night (August 7, 2011).  Dr. Hawking concluded the program by stating that he does not believe a Creator was necessary to make the universe, and that he does not believe any God existed before The Big Bang.  If Dr. Hawking had come out and said he thinks God would be necessary to create the universe, do you think many televangelists on planet Earth would be crowing about that right now?  As it is, I haven’t heard much reaction from them.  I hope more of Dr. Hawking’s peers will follow his lead and be open with what they really believe.  I imagine the prevailing sentiment among his peers is overwhelmingly against the notion of Bible God.   

  • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

    BTW, this is something really small, but do you know that when you put the carrot marks around your quotes (<<>>), the quote does not come across in email notifications?  So, anyone who’s following the string in email doesn’t see your quote, only your responses.

    • Anonymous

      Noted.  I will use another delimiter in the future.  Thanks.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KBY52OYW6XWECTCG3BUNJW6BU4 Broc

    Once this table is fact checked, I believe this is pretty convincing evidence of the reliability of Biblical writings.  Good post Bob.

    • Anonymous

      I sent Bob a few links to allow him to check some facts.  Nobody here is denying that the ancient manuscripts existed.  What I don’t believe is that those manuscripts are the infallible Word of God.

      If the written Word of God is important (and I assume you think it is), why did it take so long to be inspired and recorded and compiled and mass distributed to the people it was supposedly recorded for?  That process took perhaps 2,000+ years dating back to the oldest OT manuscripts (perhaps the Book of Job was the oldest?) to the newest NT manuscripts and until the Bible was canonized and until a modern printing press was devised in the 15th century AD so it could be mass produced.  Even then, billions of humans never owned a Bible or read a Bible or heard of its contents.  You want us to believe THAT is how God chose to reveal Himself to us via the written Word?  The Creator of the universe was limited by human technology when it came to spreading His message?  Look at the many Bible stories re. how God supposedly demonstrated His power to the masses through miracles.  God supposedly drafted the 10 Commandments with His own finger and personally gave them to Moses.  Now, you want me to believe God required the development of the modern printing press in order to mass distribute the written Word to us… even though billions of humans never got the message via oral tradition or the written Word?  That is quite a leap of faith on your part.  

      You may argue that the Good News was communicated orally way back then before the manuscripts were compiled and codified and distributed.  If so, consider how many humans never once heard the Good News.  They didn’t have TBN back then.  Oral tradition is a mighty inefficient way to get such an important message out… especially considering that billions of humans never heard it.  If God had something important to share with us humans, He certainly could have done so in a way that every single human being that ever lived could perceive and understand (and please don’t bother arguing on behalf of “General Revelation” because I view that concept as a cop-out and pure bunk).

      Doubting Thomas was supposedly a contemporary of Christ.  He himself reportedly asked for physical evidence of Christ’s resurrection in order to believe… and he was supposedly one of the 12 men personally chosen by Christ to be a disciple.  Christ didn’t condemn Thomas for asking for more evidence.  Please don’t condemn us if we feel we do not have sufficient evidence to believe.

      • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

        Your argument is based on the premise that, in order to prove that God is all-powerful, he must save as many people as possible, isn’t it?

        • Anonymous

          “Your argument is based on the premise that, in order to prove that God is all-powerful, he must save as many people as possible, isn’t it?”

          Absolutely not, Robert.  My argument is real simple.  If God believed the Gospel message was important enough to convey to us (orally or in written fashion), God could have conveyed the Gospel message to every living soul in a straightforward fashion that all of us could readily comprehend.  Thomas reportedly asked for prima facie evidence that Christ had risen, and that evidence was provided to Thomas on the spot with no condemnation from Christ.  Thomas was someone who was specifically chosen by Christ as a disciple, and Thomas had seen Christ in the face during His lifetime.  Thomas STILL required more evidence to believe.   Billions of humans never once were afforded that sort of evidence or anything close to it.  Also, an all-powerful God shouldn’t need scribes or translators or priests or white-bearded elders or Bible-thumping pastors to convey its message to others.   As it is, billions lived and died and never once heard the Good News during their lifetime.  Not very convincing.  

          Churches like yours hold Bible teaching as central to your faith.  I wonder how many members of such churches have a grasp of how the Bible actually came about.  It didn’t just fall from the sky in codified form on day one.  If God had intended the Earth to be filled with Bible-teaching churches, don’t you think He might have made the Bible complete and readily available from the beginning?  God reportedly gave Moses the 10 Commandments right on the spot, yet the Bible took many centuries to record and compile and distribute, and billions of people never once read it or saw it or learned from it.  Not very convincing.

          The leaps of faith that Christian apologists take to defend their own faith are astonishing.  Apologists give God a free pass every single time they can’t explain something re. His methods.  Chalk it all up to the Great Mystery. 

          • Anonymous

            “Your argument is based on the premise that, in order to prove that God is all-powerful, he must save as many people as possible, isn’t it?” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Steeee-rike two! 

            Chiminy christmas!…where does he get this stuff?

          • Anonymous

            “Chiminy christmas!…where does he get this stuff?”

            Your guess is as good as mine.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            You speak of Thomas… what did Jesus say to Thomas after he offered the “proof” that Thomas needed? “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
            You’re saying that you don’t choose to believe in God given the evidence that he has chosen to offer, and since the evidence doesn’t meet YOUR standard, then God is not all-powerful. I guess you’re entitled to that belief.

            You’re “real simple” argument seems to confirm what I said. You respond “Absolutely not” to my premise that “If God is all-powerful, then he must save as many people as possible,” but then you say, “An all-powerful God shouldn’t need scribes or translators or priests… to convey its meaning to others,” and you also say, “As it is, billions lived and died and never once heard the Good News during their lifetime.”

            So, I deduce from your statements that if God were “all-powerful,” then billions would NOT have lived and died and never heard, but rather they all would have believed. Is that what you believe?

          • Anonymous

            “You’re saying that you don’t choose to believe in God given the evidence that he has chosen to offer, and since the evidence doesn’t meet YOUR standard, then God is not all-powerful. I guess you’re entitled to that belief.”

            I am well aware of the contents of John 20:24-29.  That is why I referenced its contents in my previous post(s).  My point is that I have not been presented with sufficient evidence to believe what YOU claim to believe. As far as the evidence I desire to meet MY standard, that certainly makes more sense to me than my accepting evidence based upon YOUR standard.  Thomas certainly had his own standard for evidence, and Jesus didn’t condemn him for it.         

            “So, I deduce from your statements that if God were “all-powerful,” then billions would NOT have lived and died and never heard, but rather they all would have believed. Is that what you believe?”

            No!  If God were all-powerful, every living soul could have been presented with sufficient evidence to decide for themselves of God’s existence and if they wanted to worship God and accept His plan (assuming one believes humans were given the free will to decide for themselves).   Perhaps some people might observe the evidence and choose not to worship God.  Many Jews reportedly observed Jesus during His lifetime and still rejected Jesus as the Messiah.  As it is, I do not feel I have been given sufficient evidence to believe in God or His supposed plan as you claim to believe.

          • Anonymous

            “As far as the evidence I desire to meet MY standard, that certainly makes more sense to me than my accepting evidence based upon YOUR standard.  Thomas certainly had his own standard for evidence, and Jesus didn’t condemn him for it.” ~ Sid

            This is whole “my standard”/”your standard” rigmarole is utter lunacy. Why on nature’s green earth should I accept and use someone else’s “standard” for evidence!??? That would make as much sense as  having someone eat a slice of pizza to determine if I like pizza, or not. Absurd. If I accepted someone else’s standard for evidence, and he or she accepted things like revelation and personal testimony as credible reasons to believe, I could easily find myself being a Mormon or Muslim. 

            As far as “God” being “all powerful”, the direct implication for that is that he/she/it can do anything he/she/wants. ANYTHING.

            Hence, the bottom line: If this “God” wants me to believe that he/she/it exists, then he/she/it could give me the evidence that would be convincing to ME . If this all powerful “God”, instead, chooses to send ambiguous, vague, open-t0-interpretation signs —-in other words, the type of evidence that convinces people that “Aliens” are real—-then evidently, this “God”, either a)  doesn’t care so much if I believe he/she/it exists, after all, or b) doesn’t qualify as “all powerful”

          • Anonymous

            That sums it up nicely, boom SLANG.  Those were my exact points.

            I would add one more choice to your list of choices in your last paragraph:

            (c) God does not exist 

          • Anonymous

            “(c) God does not exist”

            Yes, of course. You and I know that “c” is the more likely choice. However, for those who insist that “God” is real, they must pick “a” or “b” if they expect me to believe that they value reason and logic.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Why should you accept someone else’s standard for evidence? You do it all the time. Criminals are forced to do it. A criminal can’t say, “Hey, your evidence doesn’t conform to MY standard for proof. Therefore, I’m a free man.” No, that’s not the way it works. Our entire culture is built upon a system of law that’s someone else’s standard.

            When someone stands before a judge and says, “I refuse to accept the punishment that’s been given me, because I don’t believe that the prosecution proved its case,” the judge says, “Well, that’s too bad for you; you’re still going to be serving 5-10 years in prison.”

            So, you may have your own standard of proof–God must prove himself beyond any doubt; or, he must reveal himself to you in some tangible, repeatable way; or, he should have revealed himself in some other way than the way that he did (as Sid argues above); etc… this just shows that you don’t WANT to believe in God.

            This is an act of your volition. Once you’ve made the volitional act to not believe in God, then your paradigm is such that you must explain away all evidence for God that comes up, in order to buttress that act of will.
            As long as one’s clear that it’s their WILL that is devising a standard of proof for God, and they’re unwilling to accept some sort of objective standard, then there’s very little for me to argue with them about. They’ve
            chosen their standard, and they can change it at any time. But it seems a
            little bit silly to me.

            Standard 1: I demand that God show me some logical proof. [Logical proof is
            given]
            Standard 2: No, I meant that I demand that God show me natural proof.
            [Natural proof is given]
            Standard 3: No, what I really meant was that I demand God appear to me. [God
            appears]
            Standard 4: That must have been something I ate last night. I demand that
            you appear again. [God appears again]
            Standard 5: I could be delusional, and my mind is making me see things. I
            demand that you prove you’re all-powerful by showing yourself to everyone in
            the world. [God shows himself to everyone in the world].
            Standard 6: I could just be imagining that everyone in the world saw you. I
            demand that you make me believe. [Silence]

            Aha! I told you that God didn’t exist!

          • Anonymous

            “Why should you accept someone else’s standard for evidence? You do it all the time. Criminals are forced to do it. A criminal can’t say, “Hey, your evidence doesn’t conform to MY standard for proof. Therefore, I’m a free man.””

            Poor analogy there, Robert.  If you allow that humans have free will, they have a choice to review the evidence and decide for themselves if they believe God exists based upon the evidence.  Criminals that willingly deviate from a known and established standard (i.e. the law) have forfeited control of their fate to those who enforce the law. We do not accept your God as the final authority or zealots like you as his standard-bearer.  

            ” Our entire culture is built upon a system of law that’s someone else’s standard.”

            What?  Do you think we live in Stalinist U.S.S.R.?  We have a role in electing those who make laws, those who interpret laws, and those who enforce laws.  We have a role in establishing the rules, how the rules are interpreted, and how they are enforced.  It is called DEMOCRACY.

            “or, he should have revealed himself in some other way than the way that he did (as Sid argues above)”

            Sid argues that he believes God did not revealed himself at all to billions of humans.  No oral Christian tradition or written word re. Biblical contents were ever provided to billions of humans.  I will not argue with you re. “General Revelation” because it is an intellectually absurd concept (imho).  

            “this just shows that you don’t WANT to believe in God.”

            Robert, this is untrue and personally insulting.  I WANTED to believe for 35+ years, and I lived accordingly.  I was every bit as zealous as you are.

            “This is an act of your volition. Once you’ve made the volitional act to not believe in God, then your paradigm is such that you must explain away all evidence for God that comes up, in order to buttress that act of will.”

            Robert, this is absolutely comical coming from you.  You are an apologist.  You have clearly (and repeatedly) demonstrated that you are determined to strike down any point that does not support your doctrine.  Pot, meet kettle.

            The amusing scenario in your final paragraph has one fatal flaw.  God has given us no logical proof, natural proof, a personal appearance, a repeat of a personal appearance, or a grand appearance to all of us.  The scenario is a charade.

          • Anonymous

            “Why should you accept someone else’s standard for evidence? You do it all the time. Criminals are forced to do it. A criminal can’t say, ‘Hey, your evidence doesn’t conform to MY standard for proof. Therefore, I’m a free man.’ No, that’s not the way it works.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            As Sid pointed out, the oversight and flaw in your analogy is that “criminals” give up certain rights when they decide to be criminals. Moreover, judges don’t claim to be “all powerful”, nor is anyone disputing the existence of judges or the people who makes laws. We have empirical, objective evidence that the people who make up our judicial system exist. Conversely, we do not have empirical, objective evidence that an invisible, Ultimate, law-Maker-in-the-sky, exists. ‘ No small distinction.

            “So, you may have your own standard of proof–God must prove himself beyond any doubt; or, he must reveal himself to you in some tangible, repeatable way; or, he should have revealed himself in some other way than the way that he did[…]” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Yes, yes, and yes. And additionally, it’s a consistent standard, across the board, whereas, you use one standard to believe in YOUR cultural “God”, but use a totally different standard – that is, the same standard I use – to dismiss all the same gods that I dismiss besides yours. It is you who compartmentalizes your beliefs; it is you who has a double-standard.

            “this just shows that you don’t WANT to believe in God.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Putting aside that arrogance it takes to pretend to know my desires—by your own reasoning, then I can conclude that you  DON’T WANT to believe in Thor, Allah, Quetzacoatl, Osiris, Poseidon, and a bazillion other gods who have been claimed to exist throughout history.  What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, kiddo.

            “This is an act of your volition. Once you’ve made the volitional act to not believe in God” ~ R. Ewoldt

            It’s not an “act”;  it’s the end result of being intellectual honest with myself. What would you think if I said…..”Once you’ve made the volitional act to not believe in Osiris, then [X, Y, and Z]”.

            ‘Silly, right? Yes, because it’s not as if you could just choose to believe in Osiris if you wanted to. Thus, your premise is demonstrably flawed, by analogy.

            “Standard 1: I demand that God show me some logical proof. [Logical proof is given]”

            ERROR 1: Portray your opponent’s argument in the worst possible light in an attempt to make it sound absurd, and do this because you cannot accept what your opponent is really saying. 

            Follow-up: I am NOT demanding anything. Get it through your noggin’. I’m merely saying that IF(key word) “God” wants me to believe that he/she/it exists, then I need something more than ambiguous, vague, open-to-interpretation “hints”. IOW, something besides “revelation” and other people telling me that “God” exists. And BTW, where is this “logical proof”? 

            “Standard 2: No, I meant that I demand that God show me natural proof. [Natural proof is given]” 

            ERROR 2:  See ERROR 1, above. 

            Follow-up: How can there be “natural proof” for a supposed Super-natural being? How does “nature” prove “super-nature”??? 

            “Standard 3: No, what I really meant was that I demand God appear to me. [God appears]” 

            ERROR 3: See ERROR 1, above. 

            Follow-up: “God” was allegedly making physical appearances all over kingdom come jut a few thousand yrs ago, and that didn’t harm anyone’s “freewill”. It would not be unreasonable for me to expect(NOT demand) that he appear now

            “Standard 4: That must have been something I ate last night. I demand that you appear again. [God appears again]”

            ERROR 4: See ERROR 1, above.

            Follow-up. See strawman argument.

            “Standard 5: I could be delusional, and my mind is making me see things. I demand that you prove you’re all-powerful by showing yourself to everyone in the world. [God shows himself to everyone in the world]. “

            ERROR 5: I’m not demanding anything of “God”. Again, see ERROR 1, above.

            Follow-up: Argumentum add populum. You are projecting your belief  that if everyone believed in “God” but me, that this would be convincing evidence. It wouldn’t be. Stop pretending to know your opponent’s mind. It makes you look like a fool.

            “Standard 6: I could just be imagining that everyone in the world saw you. I 
            demand that you make me believe. [Silence]”
             

            ERROR 6: See ERROR 1, above.

            Follow-up: I’m not demanding anything, including, demanding that “God” should “make me believe”. But here’s something very interesting:  the “Word of God” says that “every knee will bow” and “every tongue will confess!”. You know the verse. 

            So, there’s some irony here: Robert has given an elaborate satire in an attempt to make his opponent look ridiculous, but yet, his bible confirms his satire! Yes, “God” is going to MAKE nonbelievers believe! Wow!…so much for that “freewill” stuff, eh?

          • Anonymous

            Well spoken.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Boom, you say you’re not demanding anything, but then you say, “I need something more than…”. Which is it? Are you demanding certain proof from God, or aren’t you?

          • Anonymous

            “Boom, you say you’re not demanding anything, but then you say, ‘I need something more than…’. Which is it?” ~ R. Ewoldt

            There is difference between a “need” and a “demand”, and you know it. Ask any sales representative which customers they prefer to help: a) those with needs, or b) those with demands.

            “Are you demanding certain proof from God, or aren’t you?” ~ R. Ewoldt

            No. And I’ll say it again: 

            If there is a “God” and if this “God” doesn’t care one iota if believe that he/she/it exists, then I don’t need anything from this “God”, much less “demand” anything from this  “God”. If “God” doesn’t care? Then swell,  I don’t care, either.  But of course, you and your Christian constituents are very adamant that this is not the case. That’s right—you guys insist that there is a “God” and that this  “God” very much cares whether or not I believe that “He” exists. If this is the case,  then yes,  I NEED something more than ancient manuscripts and vague, ambiguous “signs”, or “hints”. If my standard was to accept the aforementioned as good, clear “evidence”(as is the standard of theists), then I might find myself believing in Allah, Osiris, or Mithra, too.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Re: ERROR #1 – You do demand logical, empirical, or natural proof of God. You say you need certain proof, and when said proof is offered, your (or Sid’s) derisive response is, “Oh, look at the lengths that these Christian apologists go to to defend their God.”

          • Anonymous

            Are you seriously splitting hairs over our saying we “need” more evidence vs. our “demanding” more evidence?  If we believed such an almighty God were real, we would not presume that it was within our purview to “demand” anything from it.  However, we did search for “proof”, and we believe no such “proof” has been offered to us.
             

            Speaking on the subject of derisive responses, Robert, does this little gem have a ring of familiarity to you?

            “And, since this is a post about the Turing test, I think that you guys have pretty well proven that you don’t have a good grasp of Christian doctrine, and have thus failed the test (if you were even trying to pass). This would be a point against your earlier assumption, boomSLANG, that atheists know Christian doctrine as good as Christians do.  If you would like to use my doctrine against me, it would be to your advantage to actually know the doctrine that you’re attacking. “

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            No, I wasn’t splitting hairs between “need” and “demand.” BoomSLANG said that he definitely was NOT making demands, but then said that he DID “need” proof. To me, in this case, there is no difference between “need” and “demand.” I don’t think that any serious person would quibble with my saying that you’re making certain demands of God in terms of evidence.

          • Anonymous

            Robert, if God desires that we accept His plan and worship Him during our mortal lives and for all eternity, I think it is reasonable to ask for sufficient evidence that (a) God does exist and (b) He is a God that we desire to serve.  I would consider it to be irrational for any person with free will to not ask for  evidence before making such a decision.  Otherwise, why shouldn’t a person simply accept the claims of a different prominent world religion.  As it is, you don’t accept the evidence offered by Mormons or Hindus or Muslims.  I assume at some point that you (or perhaps other Christians) considered their claims and rejected them because their evidence was not sufficient to convict you.  Well, we feel that way about the “evidence” that you and others present on behalf of Christianity.

          • Anonymous

            “I think it is reasonable to ask for sufficient evidence that (a) God does exist and (b) He is a God that we desire to serve.” ~ Sid

            Yes, agreed—–and I’m glad you made the distinction.  For “a” doesn’t necessarily mean “b”. Many theists mistakenly assume the two are mutually inclusive. The two are not mutually inclusive, which clearly illustrates that the whole “God’s Divine Hiddenness” apologetic is a fallacious smoke screen.

          • Anonymous

            “I don’t think that any serious person would quibble with my saying that you’re making certain demands of God in terms of evidence.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Yes, of course…..if someone doesn’t think like you, then they aren’t being “serious”, which, from what I can see, is the best you’ve got since the inception of this whole “Cross Examination” hoopla. 

            In any case, this is what I find interesting(in an unconvincing sort of way):

            Even if all of us insincere Atheists were DEMANDING evidence from “God”, so-the-frig-what? You’d think that would be a perfect opportunity for “God” to come out from hiding and give them the evidence that they couldn’t deny. This is not to say every one of them would worship and extol the policies of this “God”, but at least they’d believe that “God” exists, and then at a minimum, *Theists could stop ballyhooing about Atheists. 

            *(for the former believers out there—we know the reason that we make believers uncomfortable is because they can’t help but think that they might lose their “faith”, too)

    • Anonymous

      “Once this table is fact checked, I believe this is pretty convincing evidence of the reliability of Biblical writings.”

      One can also fact-check the time lines of the various biographies written about George Washington, and likewise, I believe that this is pretty convincing evidence of the reliability of said biographical writings, especially since there are many testimonies written at the time Washington actually lived,  by people who actually knew him. 

      Now, assuming those documents reflect a reliable historicity, should I also believe that Washington chopped down his daddy’s cherry tree in a single blow, or that he chucked a silver dollar across the Potomac, which is a half a mile or so wide at its most narrow, bank-to-bank? No, of course not. Those are most likely embroidered, old wive’s tales that were perpetuated by people who wanted Washington to come across like some sort of super hero, maybe because they had some sort of political agenda. ‘ See where I’m going with this?

       If Jesus existed at all, the claims that he was the “Son of God” and was the result of a “virgin birth” and that he died and got up 72 hrs later, are most likely embroidered, exaggerated claims.  

      Again, the reliability of historical writings doesn’t necessarily prove any super-duper-natural claims that may be in said writings. Non sequitur, folks.

      • Anonymous

        “Again, the reliability of historical writings doesn’t necessarily prove any super-duper-natural claims that may be in said writings.”

        Rather diplomatic way of putting it.  In fact, it absolutely doesn’t prove the supernatural claims.

        We have nearly complete remains of the Code of Hammurabi that date to the 18th century BCE.  It is widely accepted that the remains of the code are genuine artifacts.  However, young Robert certainly would not accept Hammurabi’s claim that Anu and Bel were the sources of divine inspiration for the code.  Think about that…