Cross Examination: The Will to Believe

My Cross Examination series has led me to read some of the more recent popular books regarding atheism and Christianity.  It seems like the popular books do not often have the evidence that I’m looking for, on either side of the debate, but they have pointed me towards some of the more fundamental, though more obscure, sources of the debate.

determinism

While some of the debate is over science or the historicity of the Bible, some of the debate, I’ve found, is also over philosophy.  This has led me to read a lot more philosophy than I’d originally envisioned reading.  One of those fundamental sources that I was encouraged to read was an essay written in 1896 by Harvard philosopher William James.

James’ main argument is that people often will themselves to believe a proposition before they can prove that proposition.  He says, “Our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must, decide an option between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds; for to say under such circumstances, ‘Do not decide, but leave the question open,’ is itself a passional decision,–just like deciding yes or not,–and is attended with the same risk of losing truth.”

This is one argument that atheists often level against Christians: that Christians take the tenets of Christianity by “faith,” without any evidence of those tenets being true.  I think that, for many Christians, this is true.  Their Christian faith is just that… faith.  However, I would also say that, for many atheists, this is also the case.  They will themselves to believe that there is no god before they prove that there is no god, and then find just enough evidence to reinforce that belief in their mind.

To be sure, atheists do offer some arguments against Christianity that can be easily believed, just as Christians can offer arguments that can be easily believed without any intellectual follow-up.  But for all the accusations that Christians “don’t know” their own religion, many atheists seems to be in the same boat.

James seems to take aim at skepticism in the essay:

“Scepticism [sic], then, is not avoidance of option; it is option of a certain particular kind of risk.  Better risk loss of truth than chance of error,–that is your faith-vetoer’s exact position.  He is actively playing his stake as much as the believer is; he is backing the field against the religious hypothesis, just as the believer is backing the religious hypothesis against the field.  To preach scepticism to us as a duty until ‘sufficient evidence’ for religion be found, is tantamount therefore to telling us, when in presence of the religious hypothesis, that to yield to our fear of its being error is wiser and better than to yield to our hope that it may be true.  It is not intellect against all passions, then; it is only intellect with one passion laying down its law.  And by what, forsooth, is the supreme wisdom of this passion warranted?  Dupery for dupery, what proof is there that dupery through hope is so much worse than dupery through fear?”

James’ argument opens the Pandora’s box of paradigms in belief.  A person’s paradigm is their system of belief–this includes their philosophical views, their political views, their views on family, their psychological outlook, etc.  James makes the argument that a person can only begin to change their paradigm very slowly, by considering contrary ideas that are “live, forced and momentous.”  In this statement, he makes three distinctions:

  • Live vs. dead options – a live belief option is one that we can imagine ourselves believing (for example, believing in God or not believing in God).  A dead option is something in which we cannot imagine ourselves believing (for example, that the earth is flat).  An example of two live options would be: “Be an agnostic or be a Christian.”
  • Forced vs. avoidable options – an avoidable option would be “Choose between going out with your umbrella or without it.”  This option can be avoided by not going out at all.  But James says, “if I say, ‘Either accept this truth or go without it,’ I put on you a forced option, for there is no standing place outside of the alternative.”
  • Momentous vs. trivial options – A momentous option would be “Go on this expedition to the North Pole.”  James says, “Per contra, the option is trivial when the opportunity is not unique, when the stake is insignificant, or when the decision is reversible if it later prove unwise.”

It seems to me that most people are brought up in a certain paradigm–Catholic, Protestant, atheist, conservative, liberal, libertarian, apathetic, dogmatic, agnostic, left, right, strong-willed, compliant, etc–and if they live with that paradigm through a certain age, they are not easily swayed from this paradigm.  Those who find their way from their initial paradigm often hold their new paradigm with a tightly-clenched fist.  There’s a famous quote that says, “There’s no zealot like a convert.”  I find that this is true.

Questions: Do you think that one can will themselves to believe something?  Have you experienced a paradigm shift in your thinking throughout your lifetime?  You can leave your comments by clicking here.

This post is in my series called “Cross Examination: Is Debunking Christianity Possible?” I’m looking at a myriad of topics in the rational examination of my faith, and will write at least one post per week for the next year. If you would like to read some of the previous posts in this series, click on the links below:

  • Anonymous

    “They(Atheists) will themselves to believe that there is no god before they prove that there is no god[….]

    Shifting the burden of proof. Fallacious tactic. Atheists(by definition) lack belief in “God”/gods. Lack of belief is the default position. IOW, we don’t passively harbor a belief in Poseidon until someone can come along and “prove there is no” Poseidon. We don’t passively harbor a belief in Bigfoot until someone can come along and “prove there is no” Bigfoot. Those who insist the aforementioned characters exist are obligated to prove to me that they exist, that is, if they expect me to believe it. If they don’t expect me to believe it?…. then fine—no problem. If Christians don’t expect me to believe “Yahweh” exists, the same—no problem. If they do?….I need credible evidence. It’s that simple.

    [….] and then (Atheists) find just enough evidence to reinforce that belief in their mind.”

    If you’re talking the Xian biblegod, it is by the very doctrine that Christians are convinced that they are right that I am convinced they are in error…i.e..the Bible.  Said document is riddled with errors and in many instances, just plain ridiculous. Moreover, the attributes that said document and its supporters assign to their biblical Protagonist, “God”, are mutually exclusive. For instance, “Merciful” vs “Just”. “Omnipotent” vs “Omniscient”.  And then, of course, biblegod presumable can’t tolerate “evil”, but created it. Absurd.  

    “James makes the argument that a person can only begin to change their paradigm very slowly[…]”

    I’ve already changed my paradigm. I’m a former believer. I change my mind once, and I’ll do it again if I see some credible, convincing evidence that invisible, conscious beings exists. 

    “But for all the accusations that Christians ‘don’t know’ their own religion, many atheists seems to be in the same boat.”

    Atheists don’t know their own religion, as well? Which “religion” is that? Are you cross examining your beliefs? Or are you cross examining Atheism?

    • Anonymous

      “[William] James defined true beliefs as those that prove useful to the believer.” ~ Wikipedia

       So, since a Christians beliefs are “useful” to him or her, those beliefs are “true beliefs”. Again, what’s to “cross examine”?

      • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

        Or, since an atheist’s beliefs are “useful” to him or her, those are “true beliefs,” right?

        • Anonymous

          “Or, since an atheist’s beliefs are ‘useful’ to him or her, those are ‘true beliefs’, right?”

          What beliefs? Did you mean, lack of belief in “God”/gods? How many times do we need to go over the same thing again and again before it penetrates? Atheism is NOT a “belief” nor an absolute proclamation that, “God does not exist!”

           In any case, I will give benefit of doubt. A consequence of my lack of belief in “God” is, yes, useful, but it’s useful in ways that I’ll wager that even you, a Theist, would agree are beneficial to all of human kind. For example, my lack of belief in “God”/gods forces me to take responsibility for my own actions, as opposed to blaming someone (or some-‘thing’ else). Would you agree that taking responsibility for one’s own actions is a good thing? Yes, or no? Another example would be, I don’t hold beliefs on “faith”, in which case, aside from one “God”, you and I agree that the tens of thousands of other gods throughout history do not exist. Would you agree that it’s a good thing that we don’t believe in all of those gods in lack of evidence for them? Yes, or no?

          You see, you evidently think there a corollary where there isn’t one.  My lack of belief in “God”/gods isn’t a a statement where “true” or “false” even applies. It is “true”, yes, that I don’t believe in your “God”, or any other. Perhaps there is some generic, incomprehensible “God” out there. Notwithstanding, I don’t believe it.

          • Steve McCormick

            It is interesting that you start off this response by referring to “…lack of belief in ‘God…'” and end with an emphatic statement “I don’t believe it [that there is even a “generic” God]. These are the contradictory bookends ( “I lack a belief in God” to “I believe there is no God whatsoever”) to your qualifying statement about the definitive position of what it is to be an atheist with a useful worldview. I think you need to make up your mind about what you believe.

            “…my lack of belief in ‘God’/gods forces me to take responsibility for my own actions as opposed to blaming someone (or some-‘thing’ else).”

            This is a fallacious statement. Your lack of belief (in anything) does not force you to take any action at all. You may feel (if you are emotionally inclined), or believe (if you tend toward intellectualism), that your perceived lack of evidence that there are supernatural forces which affect human destiny requires that you fully assume responsibility for your actions. But you are not forced into that position. Indeed there are many who reject responsibility for their actions blaming society and even genetic predisposition. There are plenty in the medical and legal fields who make a substantial living promoting such positions.

            By using the term “forces”, you demonstrate your belief that you alone are the captain of your fate. This presupposes that there are no outside forces which can determine your direction contrary to your will. You do not KNOW this, you BELIEVE this, and you have absolutely no proof to back up the position. The fact that you can on a moment’s notice make up your mind to do one thing, and then before you do it change your mind and do something else, does not prove that your choice was your choice.

            At the same time, I would argue that fatalism is no crutch for a scripture informed Christian. Although the Bible clearly provides information leading to the promotion of the doctrines omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence there is no excuse for those who would put the blame on God for all of their actions. That conclusion is arrived at by a smorgasbord approach to scripture where people take what they want from information about God and leave the spinach and brussel sprouts behind.

            So the premise that taking responsibility for one’s actions is a good thing is pointless. It is equally important for a Christian as well as a pagan to take responsibility for one’s actions.

            But this all misses the point anyway. Scripture has never been meant to be evidence that God exists and that He is who He says He is. The proof has always been that God manifested himself in the world he created, and continues to do so. I have a grocery list of answered prayers to back up my belief.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      You ask, “Atheists don’t know their own religion, as well? Which “religion” is that? Are you cross examining your beliefs? Or are you cross examining Atheism?”

      My answer: William James, in this essay that I read, says that we examine those beliefs which are “live” for us (i.e. those where there’s a possibility that we can believe them).  Since atheism is a very “live” belief possibility for me, I’m examining it as well.  If I find that Christianity is wrong, then my belief system will change… I’m not going to go to a belief system that I haven’t tested.

      • Anonymous

        Robert,

        <<>>

        Do you feel the presence of the infallible Holy Spirit as it indwells you?  

        How can you rejoice in the assurance of your own salvation if you are openly considering the possibility that Christianity may be wrong?

      • Anonymous

        “My answer: William James, in this essay that I read, says that we examine those beliefs which are ‘live’ for us (i.e. those where there’s a possibility that we can believe them).  Since atheism is a very ‘live’ belief possibility for me, I’m examining it as well.”

        It might very well say that in the essay your read. However, that it irrelevant to the definition of “truth” that I provided from Wikipedia. If we use Mr. James’ conception of what makes “truth”, this conversation is pointless, as well as your “cross examination” of Atheism or Christianity.

         “If I find that Christianity is wrong, then my belief system will change… I’m not going to go to a belief system that I haven’t tested.”

        You’ve been given numerous examples of how “Christianity is wrong”. Take, for instance, the attributes of biblegod. Omniscience is philosophically incompatible with omnipotence(free will). Strike one. “Mercy” is incompatible with “Justice”. Strike two. Evolution is a demonstrable, testable fact of science. Strike three. So? ‘Care to explain why you ignore these facts, and/or, care to offer an apologetic that overcomes these facts(preferably, something new)?

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Omniscience (all-knowing) is not incompatible with omnipotence (all-power), philosophically speaking.  In fact, it’s not incompatible in most senses.  The only way that I can think of that they would be incompatible is if the the omniscient and omnipotent entity were to be forced to act in some way using that knowledge and power (that the entity must ACT on that knowledge with its power).  I believe your contention is that, IF God is all-knowing AND all-powerful, then he MUST act to irradicate evil, or God MUST act to overrule his creation’s free will.  That’s how you make these characteristics “incompatible.”  Is this right?

          Similarly, mercy and justice are not incompatible, either.  They are only incompatible if an entity must be merciful in ALL circumstances, or must be just in ALL circumstances.  In other words, God MUST be merciful in all circumstances, forgiving all people’s sins, which then invalidates his justice.  OR, he must be just in all circumstances, which would necessitate NO ONE being saved, because of their sin, which invalidates his mercy.  Is this your view of God?

          So, two of your strikes are illogical, and the third I’m looking at.  Regarding evolution, I don’t think that anyone is disputing that evolution happens (the “testable fact of science” kind, at least).  The extrapolation of this evidence to conclude that the Bible is incorrect is what is in question.  I have not yet seen evidence that the verifiable evidence of evolution contradicts the Bible.  The apologist would say that micro-evolution happens, and is verifiable, but macro-evolution (from species to species) is in dispute, and there is no conclusive evidence that this happens; at best, the fossil record is inconclusive.  Of course, I do not take this argument as truth, because I have not yet studied it.

          • Anonymous

            “Omniscience (all-knowing) is not incompatible with omnipotence (all-power), philosophically speaking.  In fact, it’s not incompatible in most senses.”
             
            You are wrong. (See below)

            “The only way that I can think of that they would be incompatible is if the the omniscient and omnipotent entity were to be forced to act in some way using that knowledge and power (that the entity must ACT on that knowledge with its power). “

            That might very well be the only way that you can think of. I won’t deny that. Keep reading.

            “I believe your contention is that, IF God is all-knowing AND all-powerful, then he MUST act to irradicate evil, or God MUST act to overrule his creation’s free will.  That’s how you make these characteristics “incompatible.”  Is this right?”

            NO, my contention is that if “God” is “Omniscience”, and in which case he/she/it knows the future set of events, a priori – including all of his/her/its own decisions – then that future set of events is fixed and immovable, including said decisions. Think about it. If “God” can use his/her/its free agency(aka omnipotence) to change a future decision or act contrary to the known future, then logic says that he/she/it didn’t know the future, absolutely, after all. Basic logic, friend.

            And I notice that you only picked one of three damaging arguments against your beliefs. Those who end up in “hell” deserve it, yes? Yes, of course, this is the “perfect justice” part. “Sin” MUST be punished! Now, what about the “perfect mercy” part? Doesn’t Jesus’ death on cross constitute an act of “mercy” for those who are “elect”, or those who accept Jesus as their “Savior”? In which case, isn’t “God” obstructing “justice” by letting some  “sinners” off the hook for what we ALL presumably “deserve”? Think about it.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            You say, “If ‘God’ can use his/her/its free agency(aka omnipotence) to change a future decision or act contrary to the known future, then logic says that he/she/it didn’t know the future, absolutely, after all. Basic logic, friend.”

            Response: Who’s to say that God’s acting was contrary to the known future, or that his/her/its act was to “change a future decision”?  Furthermore, you could have an omniscient and omnipotent God that was uninvolved in the workings of the world, and that would make omnisicence and omnipotence compatible (i.e. a god that doesn’t interfere at all).  My contention is that the ideas of omniscience and omnipotence aren’t incompatible, only your conception of those attributes as they relate to the god you envision.

            You say, “Yes, of course, this is the “perfect justice” part. “Sin” MUST be punished! Now, what about the “perfect mercy” part?”

            Response: Again, you’re showing that you think that God MUST be just at all times, OR God MUST be merciful at all times.  Why is that?  You use these phrases, “perfect justice” and “perfect mercy,” but what you really mean is “absolute justice” and “absolute mercy.”  He must be one or the other all the time.  There’s no room, in your mind, for justice AND mercy.  Why is it that humans can be both just and merciful, but not God?  Why can a human judge provide leniency to a reformed criminal, but God cannot provide mercy to those who are undeserving?  Why is it that mercy and justice are incompatible?  Or is it “just because I say so”?

          • Anonymous

            “Who’s to say that God’s acting was contrary to the known future, or that his/her/its act was to ‘change a future decision’?”

            Let me be clear: I am NOT claiming to know what “God” would do, one way, or the other, in a given circumstance. I’m merely saying that if “God” knows every single decision he/she/it will ever make, then those decisions are carved in stone, so-to-speak. For example, if “God” knows that on May 15, 2112 at 12:15 PM that  he/she/it will “harden” so ‘n’ so’ s heart, then said “God” cannot change his/her/its mind in the mean time. If “God” reconsidered and decided on that day that he/she/it didn’t want to tamper with so ‘n’ so’s heart and instead, be merciful, then “God” didn’t know his/her/its ultimate choice to begin with. I cannot make any clearer.   

            “Furthermore, you could have an omniscient and omnipotent God that was uninvolved in the workings of the world, and that would make omnisicence and omnipotence compatible (i.e. a god that doesn’t interfere at all).”

            Oh? So, you’re all of the sudden not talking about the Christian deity, but some generic, Deistic god? Okay, fine. However, we both know that this isn’t the “God” you worship. No, the “God” you worship is claimed to “interfere” 24/7, 365 days @ yr. It even takes special requests, if asked with the right humility and sincerity.  

            “My contention is that the ideas of omniscience and omnipotence aren’t incompatible, only your conception of those attributes as they relate to the god you envision.”

            Good grief. Are you, or you not, giving a “Cross Examination” of YOUR “faith”..i.e..CHRISTIANITY!??? Well? If so, then the Christian’s contention that their biblegod is a “Prophet”, knows future events, foresees the future, etc., is a BUNK claim, that is, if they also claim that said biblegod is “omnipotent”(which they DO claim). You can “contend” all you’d like that some generic, Deistic, non-personal god exists and is both “omnipotent” and “omniscient”. I couldn’t care less, as it isn’t pertinent to your personal theology, the one you claim to want to “cross examine”. 

            “Again, you’re showing that you think that God MUST be just at all times, OR God MUST be merciful at all times.  Why is that?”

            Because that is precisely what the majority of Christians claim, and they even use terms like “Perfect Justice”.  

            “You use these phrases, ‘perfect justice’ and ‘perfect mercy’, but what you really mean is ‘absolute justice’ and ‘absolute mercy’.”

            Guilty! That is precisely what I mean. And again, it is Christians who claim that their biblegod is “Absolute” in nature. If your spin on Christianity doesn’t include “Absoluteness” as an attribute of “God”, then speak right up and say so.

            “He must be one or the other all the time.  There’s no room, in your mind, for justice AND mercy.”

            Yes!…yes, there is room for both. But if there is, don’t sit there and tell me that “Sin must be punished!”, when, evidently, “sin must be punished, sometimes“. Big difference.

          • Anonymous

            And BTW,
             
            “Why can a human judge provide leniency to a reformed criminal, but God cannot provide mercy to those who are undeserving”

            Can an occupant of “hell” be “reformed”??????? Is “hell” remedial???????

            ‘ Didn’t think so. Thus, your “human judge” analogy doesn’t quite align with your doctrine.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I’m not using the analogy of the human judge to clarify my doctrine.  I’m using the analogy of the human judge to point out the weakness in your argument.  You allow for the combination of justice and mercy in your view of humanity, and then claim that the two cannot coexist, that they are “incompatible” (to quote your original argument).  Even in humanity, they are not incompatible; how could they then be incompatible with God?  Unless, of course, you want to argue that the ability for them to be compatible was the result of the fall recorded in Genesis.

          • Anonymous

            “You allow for the combination of justice and mercy in your view of humanity, and then claim that the two cannot coexist”
             
            Let me see if I’m understanding correctly—–are you contending that “God” is no better or worse than “humanity” and its human judges? Is thAT what you’re contending???? If so, then why on nature’s green earth should I worship and/or bow down and/or revere “God” and his judicial system? I certainly don’t worship Judge Judy. Morever, shouldn’t the judicial system of “God” be MORE just, than our own? I think so. Good grief, even we mortals know enough not to give a child who steals a Reese’s Cup the same flippin’ sentence as a serial killer. Duh, right? Okay, so why then might a nonbeliever who never gets so much as traffic ticket get the SAME EXACT sentence as serial killer who happens to be a nonbeliever? Well? ‘Listening.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Ah, you come around to a theological question…  Why does God condemn to death a “good non-believer,” while sparing the “serial killer believer”?  Why does God allow good people to go to hell, while allowing some dispicable people into heaven?  Why can’t we all just live good lives, and then God will let us into heaven?
             
            Let’s look at the Bible:
             
            Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Point: Everyone has sinned.
             
            Romans 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death.”  Point: Because we’ve sinned, we deserve death.
             
            Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Point: God offered a way for reconciliation/salvation.
             
            Titus 3:5 – “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds that we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy.”  Point: We’re not saved because of our works/deeds.  We’re saved because of his mercy.

            Conclusion: God is justified in condemning everyone because of their sin, but he chooses to have mercy on those who believe.  Romans 10:10 – “For with the heart one believes and is [made right with God], and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

          • Anonymous

            “Let’s look at the Bible:”

            Let’s….

            “Romans 3:23 – ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’  Point: Everyone has sinned.”

             Yes…’got it. Everyone is a “sinner”.

            “Romans 6:23 – ‘The wages of sin is death’.  Point: Because we’ve sinned, we deserve death”

            Yup.  Under God’s judicial system, every human being DESERVES death. We’re born condemned, which is an absurdity for another discussion.

            “Romans 5:8 – ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Point: God offered a way for reconciliation/salvation”

            Case in point: God “offered a way” to get us OUT of what we presumably DESERVE. Thus, patently, logic and your own supplied scripture illustrate that those for whom clemency has been offered, justice has not been served, where justice is defined as giving someone no more or no less than what he or she deserves.  You lose.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            boom, you’re arguing around in circles, and it’s based upon your false
            assertion that most Christians believe in your version of absolute justice,
            which is untrue.

            Boom: Christians believe God must be punish people for their sins, all the
            time.
            Bob: Most Christians don’t believe that. The Bible says, “The wages of sin
            is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life.”
            Boom: See!?! There, that proves that justice has not been served!
            Therefore, your belief that God must always be just is a lie!

            Boom, I said before, “If you think that the majority of Christians believe
            that God MUST punish sin, or mete out justice, or whatever, I would ask that
            you cite evidence, because I don’t believe that is true.” I’m still waiting
            for evidence.

          • Anonymous

            “boom, you’re arguing around in circles, and it’s based upon your false assertion that most Christians believe in your version of absolute justice, which is untrue.” 

            No, I am not arguing “in circles”; I’m trying to get you to commit, one way, or the other, on two separate, very pertinent issues, both of which give you the FREEDOM to choose(IOW, you can’t sit there and hand me the whole, “you don’t know my doctrinal position!”, rigmarole).

            The two issues are… 

            1) “God” either knows the future, ABSOLUTELY, or “God” does not know the future, ABSOLUTELY.

            Pick one.

            2) The “wages of sin” is either death, ABSOLUTELY, or the “wages of sin” is only death sometimes.

            Pick one. 

            “I’m still waiting for evidence.”

            And I’m still waiting on unequivocal answers to my (multiple choice) questions.

            If the answer to “1” is “God” knows the future, ABSOLUTELY, then said “God” is no longer a free agent, as “God” is bound by the foreknowledge of its own decisions.  Basic logic.

            If the answer to “2” is, the “wages of sin” is “death” only sometimes, then the times that it isn’t, justice has not been served. 

            Get honest, and stop trying to weasle-word your way out of this.

            BTW, another question you completely ignored was the one regarding humanity’s judicial system, versus your biblegod’s judicial system. Remember? It is my contention that the latter system should be more “just”, not less. Do you agree? 

            Yes, or no?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Here was your original objection:  “Omniscience is philosophically incompatible with omnipotence(free will).”  I’ve proven to you that it isn’t, and now you say, “Oh, no, I didn’t mean philosophically, I meant that your god can’t be both.”

            Furthermore, if God is omniscient, then wouldn’t he know every decision that he will make, and every action that he will take.  So, he could never really “change his mind,” right?  So even if he’s involved “24/7, 365 days,” he would know when he will reverse course, and it’s not “changing his mind.”

            Re: absolute vs. perfect.  You are using these words interchangeably,  but they are not interchangeable.  “Perfect” does not mean that God’s hand is forced, either in regards to his justice, or in regards to his mercy.  “Absolute” implies that God MUST do something.  This is where you’re deriving your “incompatibility.”  It seems odd to base one of your foundational “strikes” on an imprecise definition of a word.

            I’m not telling you that “sin must be punished!”  In fact, neither does the Bible.  Romans says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (emphasis mine).  So, those who say that God MUST punish sin, or he MUST pardon all are wrong.

            If you think that the majority of Christians believe that God MUST punish sin, or mete out justice, or whatever, I would ask that you cite evidence, because I don’t believe that is true.

          • Anonymous

            “Here was your original objection:  ‘Omniscience is philosophically incompatible with omnipotence(free will)’.  I’ve proven to you that it isn’t, and now you say, ‘Oh, no, I didn’t mean philosophically, I meant that your god can’t be both.”

            Are you kidding mE? Okay, from now on when you use the word “God”, I’ll ask “which God?” each and every flippin’ time you use it, and then we can waste a whole lot of each other’s time. How’s that? ‘Sound smart? Or is it a better idea that since you are examining YOUR FAITH, that we can assume we are talking about a SPECIFIC “God”…i.e..the “God” of the Christian belief-system? Your objection is as amusing as it is obvious you have nothing better. 

            “Furthermore, if God is omniscient, then wouldn’t he know every decision that he will make, and every action that he will take.”

            Are you asking me something or telling me something???? Do I need to supply a definition with reference??? If “God” knows the past, present…. and hello….the FUTURE, then logic says that “God” knows all of it’s future decisions as well. Yes.   

            “So, he could never really ‘change his mind’, right?”

            Right.

             “So even if he’s involved ’24/7, 365 days,’ he would know when he will reverse course, and it’s not ‘changing his mind’.”

            You cannot be this obtuse. If “God” knows something for sure(absolutely), but decides to “reverse course”, then I’m sorry, but yes, that constitutes a change of mind.

            “‘Absolute’ implies that God MUST do something.

            It most certainly does not. At a minimum, it implies that “God” is CONSISTENT in ALL that “God” does. If “God” punishes ALL sin, ABSOLUTELY, then there is zero room for clemency. NONE.

            “I’m not telling you that ‘sin must be punished!'”

            Then why doesn’t the “God” you worship do away with “hell” and let EVERYONE into “heaven”???? 

            “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” 

            The juxtaposed statements are not cohesive. The first is either true across the board, or it isn’t. If the latter statement gets just one person out of the former, it becomes a mockery of the first statement. Imagine if our judicial system said, “The wages of serial killing is death row, but you can go free if you have a personal relationship with the judge!” Same mockery of “justice”; same absurdity.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            You said, “It most certainly does not. At a minimum, it implies that ‘God’ is CONSISTENT in ALL that ‘God’ does. If ‘God’ punishes ALL sin, ABSOLUTELY, then there is zero room for clemency. NONE.”

            This shows that (a) you don’t understand Christianity, and (b) that you desperately want biblegod to be what you want him to be.  You’re making him to be inconsistent where he is clearly consistent.  You’re making his attributes incompatible, when they are clearly compatible.

            God punishes sin consistently.  He has made a way for “clemancy,” as you call it.  All who take advantage of that way are “pardoned.”  All who don’t, aren’t “pardoned.”  That is consistent.

            You want  to call this a “mockery of justice,” and inconsistent, but it’s not.  You believe that God’s rules must be consistent with your rules, and since they aren’t, you reject God altogether.

          • Anonymous

            You quote me….”It most certainly does not. At a minimum, it implies that ‘God’ is CONSISTENT in ALL that ‘God’ does. If ‘God’ punishes ALL sin, ABSOLUTELY, then there is zero room for clemency. NONE.”

            You respond….“This shows that (a) you don’t understand Christianity,”

            What is shows is that I know you can’t have your cake and eat it too, which you and other Christians so desperately wish you could. You evidently have your own ‘Christianese’ definitions of words, too. Let’s put a stop to that nonsense here and now…..

            Absolute: 

            1 Perfect in quality or nature; complete.
            2. Not mixed; pure.
            3. a. Not limited by restrictions or exceptions; unconditional: absolute trust. b. Unqualified in extent or degree; total: absolute silence.
            4. Unconstrained by constitutional or other provisions

            ***********Okay, do you see the words “complete” and where it says not constrained by “other provisions”?????? If the biblegod you worship makes OTHER PROVISIONS for some of the “guilty”, then your biblegod’s judicial system is NOT consistent, absolute, nor complete. Your “judge” plays favorites. Neither you, nor your invisible judge, fool anyone.

            “and  (b) that you desperately want biblegod to be what you want him to be.”

            No, ‘sorry, pal, what I desperately want you to do is to PICK and commit,  for the duration of this discussion, to which attributes your biblegod has/doesn’t have, and stop changing your mind and position. ‘Think you can do it?

            ” You’re making him to be inconsistent where he is clearly consistent”.

            See here**********, above.

          • Anonymous

            “You believe that God’s rules must be consistent with your rules, and since they aren’t, you reject God altogether.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            False. For the umpteenth time, I don’t believe in “God”, therefore, to say I “reject God” is nonsensical. 

            But for the record, if….IF, such being did exist, I would expect his/her/its “rules” to be better than my own…… as in,  showing more consistency. Certainly not less.

          • Anonymous

            “This shows that (a) you don’t understand Christianity” ~ R. Ewoldt

            The ridiculousness of the above statement can’t be reiterated enough:

            Everyone,

            This is coming from a guy who belongs to a group that is subdivided into upwards of 3,400 subgroups, all of which subgroups think that they and their members have the One True “Understanding” of the religious doctrine that all subgroups claim to adhere to..i.e..”Christianity”. 

            Maybe it’s YOU, Bob, who doesn’t understand Christianity. And BTW,  it’s not like if all Atheists decided to become Theists that the debate would be over once and for all. Oh, hell, no. Christians would still be bumping heads with other Christians.  What a joke.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            “And BTW,  it’s not like if all Atheists decided to become Theists that the debate would be over once and for all. Oh, hell, no. Christians would still be bumping heads with other Christians.  What a joke.” 

            Yes, there are differences between Christians.  But not about this.  I think that most, if not ALL, Christians would say that justice and mercy are compatible, and that God is both just and merciful.  In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find someone inside or outside Christianity that would say that the two are incompatible.

            By the way, this whole “3,400 subgroups” argument is limiting for you, because I would say that while there are things that Christians disagree about, there are relatively few things that would cause a Christian to say of another person in another group, “You are not a Christian.”  There are 3 main subgroups of Christianity–Catholicism, Orthodox, and Protestantism.  And, while one within one of those branches might say that there are those in another branch that are not Christians, they do not deny that there are some true Christians in all branches.  Lastly, when you say “3,400 subgroups,” you must be counting all the individual Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist church organizations separately, which aren’t necessarily divided theologically, but rather geographically or otherwise.

            Here’s the argument you’re making, in essence: “There are many groups of Christians.  They don’t all agree on everything.  Therefore they must all be wrong (i.e. ‘What a joke’).”  Can you spot the fallacy?

          • Anonymous

            Robert,

            <<>>

            You accused me of this same logical fallacy, Robert, and you are mistaken.  boomSLANG (and me) are not saying that all groups of Christians must be wrong because they have differences.  We are clearly saying that since they all have some doctrinal differences (some more glaring than others) they can not all be right.  You can not deny this.  In fact, if there is one correct and absolutely true interpretation of  scripture, some Christian groups must be embracing doctrinal error because of their differences in doctrine.  Surely you do not believe that God intended for the Christian faith to be so deeply divided?  That is unthinkable!   

            <<>>

            Robert, this is a broad statement that doesn’t seem to accomplish much.  I will assure you that the Roman Catholic Church has boldly (and repeatedly) declared that no Protestant Church is a “true” church.  They don’t mince words.   Whether they view you as a real Christian or not is up to them, but they certainly do not recognize your church as a “true” church.   
            The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the one true church.  The Orthodox Church makes the same claim.

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

            Beliefs of others, Catholicism, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Baptist etc…none of those labels are relevant.  What is important is accurate biblical teaching, if a Catholic church is providing sound biblical teaching then more power to them.  If Evangelicals or Baptist are teaching biblical truth let them be, the Bible does not require conformity to one rule of law….
            Romans 14:1-5
            “1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
             5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            What?!?!  Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians each certainly believe they belong to the one true church.  They each believe their doctrine is completely correct.  They don’t share this viewpoint that church affiliation is irrelevant.

            <<>>

            If you think accurate Bible teaching is what matters, I would like to understand how you can know what the Bible actually teaches.  Bible scholars disagree on the meaning of many different Bible passages.  Bible scholars disagree on the authorship and the dates of writings of many books in the Bible.  Bible scholars disagreed on what books belong in the Bible canon.  How can any one person possibly know what the correct standard for “accurate biblical teaching” is?

          • Anonymous

            “What is important is accurate biblical teaching” ~ Broc
            @ Sid,

            If it wasn’t so pathetic, it would be amusing. Biblegod says don’t do X, Y, and Z, in one chapter. Two chapters later he doing X, Y, and Z himself—-or at a minimum, he’s commanding it.

            What’s “accurate”?…. the former? or the latter? Wait!….is it up to us to decide..i.e…situational? Hmmmmmm

            “Cross Examination” my butt

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            It is amazing how so many different Bible-thumping Protestant denominations have popped up here and there and claimed they have a firm grasp on things.  I wonder if they really think that huge numbers of the nearly 1.5 Billions members (combined total) of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have been misguided for centuries whilst God has chosen to enlighten their special little Bible-thumping Protestant Churches.  Amazing.            

            <<>>

            True believers are supposed to have the infallible Holy Spirit as a guide and an inner witness.  Catholics believe that.  Orthodox Christians believe it.  Many Protestants believe it.  Funny how they don’t all share one uniform doctrine.  And, no, that doesn’t mean they must all be wrong.  It means that some of them must be wrong… unless Robert and Bob believe God really WANTED Christianity to be deeply divided…

            <<>>

            I concur.  I simply don’t believe it.

          • Anonymous

            @  Sid, 

            We’ll see if either them can provide answers to the direct questions before them, and/or, give apologetics that actually make sense. I’m not hopeful, however.

          • Anonymous

            We shall see…

          • Anonymous

            “Yes, there are differences between Christians.  But not about this.  I think that most, if not ALL, Christians would say that justice and mercy are compatible, and that God is both just and merciful.”

            Once again, you are simply wrong. *Please note that not  “ALL Christians” are Evangelicals. IOW, a good many of them are Christian Universalists—that is, they are believers who hold that all people are saved, which is actually consistent with a “merciful” god. Whether “hell” is “just”, or not, isn’t even applicable in that instance.

            “In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find someone inside or outside Christianity that would say that the two are incompatible.”

            As for the inside of “Christianity”, see here**, above.

            As for outside of Christianity, of course you’d find people who’d say that a court judge can grant clemency(mercy) at his or her own discretion, and be “just” in other situations. However, if the wages of serial killing is death row, you’re not going to find a judge letting a convicted serial killer go scot-free simply because he or she might happen to have a personal relationship with the killer. IOW, once proven guilty, there is nothing under the sun that a serial killer can do or say that’s going get him or her a “get out of jail free” card. 

            “Here’s the argument you’re making, in essence: ‘There are many groups of Christians.  They don’t all agree on everything.  Therefore they must all be wrong (i.e. “What a joke”).’ Can you spot the fallacy?”

            Why, yes, I can spot the fallacy……not in my own (alleged) argument, but in yours, since that’s not at all what I’m arguing. You’ve errected a strawman. I’m merely saying that it is ridiculous when you(and other Christians) say to me and other Atheists,  “You don’t understand Christianity!”.  No more; no less. It’s ridiculous, because even other Christians would tell you, Robert Ewoldt, that you don’t understand it. You see, that’s the problem. Scripture is completely open to interpretation, and on top of that, biblegod doesn’t even follow his own rules, which we are to believe are “Absolute”—-that is, true in every single situation. Not only absurd, but demonstrably false.

            In any case, I’ve provided a definition of “Absolute” for you and your readership to see. Using that definition, I’ve illustrated that your personal “spin” on Christianity is flawed. It’s flawed because, while you insist that “the wages of sin is death”, you omit the stipulation that, under the right conditions, the “wages of sin” is NOT “death” at all, but quite the opposite: an eternal life of pure, unadulterated, heavenly bliss. 

            Bob, your biblegod, as a “judge”, is not consistent. Shall I provide a definition of “consistent”, too?

          • Anonymous

            Also, on two occasions now I’ve asked a pertinent question regarding biblegod’s judicial system vs humanity’s judicial system. 

            I contend that the former’s system should be much, much better….. as in,  more just; more fair; more consistent. But yet, that clearly doesn’t seem to be the case. In the former’s “system”, I, an Atheist, could live next to a child-molester who kills all his victims. If no time before either one of us die we become believers, my neighbor and I get the same sentencing..i.e..never-ending torment in a lake of fire(“hell”). Contrast that to our judicial system, one where the punishment is designed to actually be proportionate to the crime. For instance, we don’t give a person who J-walks the same punishment as someone who molests and kills children.

            Why is it glaringly obvious that our system is better than that of “God”? Could it be that it’s not really a “God”-inspired  system at all, but simply the system of the primitive, barbaric, uneducated people who redacted the bible, and who wanted to scare people into believing their theology? IMO, a no-brainer.

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

            Your evaluation between you and your hypothetical neighbor is based upon a standard which you have established a hierarchy of wrong-doing.  In your hierarchy being a child-molester is much worse than J-walking, which seems very reasonable to us. However we are NOT held to man’s standard, our man made hierarchy of wrong-doings from which as long as you don’t do the “really bad stuff” like murder, rape, theft, etc. then you are basically a good guy and you are ok. Unfortunately we are held to God’s standard which is perfection; our bar to reach is not doing anything wrong, ever.  So if you honestly compare your track record against perfection and not our man made hierarchy of wrongs maybe you will begin to see how far we all are from the real standard. 

          • Anonymous

            “Your evaluation between you and your hypothetical neighbor is based upon a standard which you have established a hierarchy of wrong-doing.” ~ Broc

            No…. NOT just “me”; the vast majority of our society.

            In your[OUR] hierarchy being a child-molester is much worse than J-walking[…] ~ Broc

            Direct, multiple choice question: 

            Do you agree with the rest of us that child-molestation is “much worse” than crossing the street in areas not designated to do so?

            a) yes

            b) no

            “However we are NOT held to man’s standard, our man made hierarchy of wrong-doings from which as long as you don’t do the “really bad stuff” like murder, rape, theft, etc. then you are basically a good guy and you are ok. “

            And you put “really bad stuff” in quotations for what reason? Do you not agree that what follows is “really bad stuff”?..i.e…”rape, theft, etc”?????

             In any case, you underscore my point:

            If, presumably, “God’s standard” is BETTER than our own, then why do we not USE that very standard in our OWN judicial system? You people want the “Commandments” on display in our courts, right?  So? Why, if someone kills in self-defense, don’t we sentence them to “death”? Why, when a women ‘s rapist is caught, do we not force her to marry her rapist? Why, when a juvenile delinquent is brought in do we not line up and throw rocks at him(or her)? Why, when a woman is brought in for prositution do we not KILL her? ‘Listening.

             Additionally, we have things like misdemeanors and felonies. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be because we’re smart enough and compassionate enough to know that a 9 year old who steals a Reese’s Cup is not quite as serious a crime as someone who points a gun at a bank teller’s head and demands money?? Well? Please put it in terms that *make sense.

            *And BTW, if it doesn’t have to make “sense” to me/us, then you lose the argument by default, since, that would mean that I can come along and make any ol’ flippin’ claim I feel like making, and say, “Oh, just believe me!…it doesn’t have to make sense!” 

            you continue…… 

            “Unfortunately we are held to God’s standard which is perfection[…]”

            Why is it “unfortunate”? I’m supposed to believe it is presumably a “GOOD” thing that we are born imperfect and needy of “God’s forgiveness”, right? Yes, we are born with an imperfect nature, and then held accountable for it. Like, let me throw a goldfish in a tank of water and blame it for being “wet”. ‘Sound absurd? That’s what I think of the policies of your biblegod. Thank reason it doesn’t exist.

            ” So if you honestly compare your track record against perfection and not our man made hierarchy of wrongs maybe you will begin to see how far we all are from the real standard.”

            And the question goes back to this:

            If “GOD” has the “real”, “perfect”, and “just” standard as laid out in your bible, then why don’t we imperfect, mere  mortals use that standard in our own society?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

            Well I can see
            that a lot of progress has been made in these conversations (sarcasm). You two
            seem to be debating what you “understand” of God. I hope you both
            understand how absolutely fruitless this conversation will be for a couple of
            reasons. One each of you have very different “understandings” of God
            and secondly neither of you can truly understand God so it a bit like two first
            graders discussing string theory or quantum physics. What we can comprehend and
            understand of how God works, if anything, is infinitesimal in comparison to all
            of who God is. So, while the Bible has provided SOME insight into the characteristics
            of God, let’s not pretend that we have any chance of understand him as a being,
            or how he chooses to use his power.

          • Anonymous

            Broc,

            Robert didn’t respond to this:

            ———————————–
            <<>>

            Do you feel the presence of the infallible Holy Spirit as it indwells you?

            How can you rejoice in the assurance of your own salvation if you are openly considering the possibility that Christianity may be wrong?
            ———————————–

            The doctrinal statement of Robert’s church clearly says that true believers can rejoice in the assurance of their own salvation.  According to Reformed Doctrine, the infallible Holy Spirit indwells true believers and gives them this assurance.  If Robert does feel assurance of his own salvation from the Holy Spirit, I don’t understand how Robert can be truly open to the possibility that Christianity may not be true and that Robert may elect to abandon it.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, you’ve brought up this question more than once.  I’ve answered it time and again.

            For anyone who’s interested in my answer to this topic of “assurance of salvation,” they can read my responses to any of the numerous other threads on which this question has been posed.

          • Anonymous

            “For anyone who’s interested in my answer to this topic of ‘assurance of salvation’, they can read my responses to any of the numerous other threads on which this question has been posed.”

            And as well, they can read sound refutations of the contradiction that is inherently part of any doctrine that claims the “elect” are elected, a priori—IOW, the occupants of this supposed “heaven” place are selected in advance, so any supposed “assurance” is an illusion at best, a lie, at worst. Calvinism refuted, 1, 2, 3.

          • Anonymous

            Robert,

            I don’t seem to recall you stating your response to those two specific questions.  I seem to recall you rambling on about the pointlessness of debating who all is (or is not) among the elect, but I want to know what YOUR convictions are re. Robert Ewoldt. 

            (1) Do you feel the presence of the infallible Holy Spirit within you? 
            (2) Do you feel the Holy Spirit’s assurance that you are saved?

            Well, do you?  It should require no great effort for you to respond.  It took longer for you to type your last reply than it would have taken to simply type “yes” or “no” to each question. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

            My “small group” (bible study group) is about to start a new book (we just finished about a 6 month study of Romans), the new book is called “Forgotten God, Reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit” by Francis Chan. When my small group leader said we would starting this book I believe God wanted me to invite you to join us because I too have seen your multiple questions about his role in our lives.   I would happy to correspond with you if you want to get the book and follow along with us. 

          • Anonymous

            Broc,

            Thanks for the note.  I appreciate the thoughts.  I may read some reviews of the book, but I don’t think I will read it at this time.      

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

            Ok, np we are only taking it one chapter at a time so if you change your mind you will have time to catch up. 

          • Anonymous

            “Well I can see that a lot of progress has been made in these conversations (sarcasm).”
            With all due respect, I frankly don’t care one iota if anyone, Theist, or Atheist, thinks there’s no progress being made. It is my hope that there is someone who truly has doubts and who is honestly questioning their “faith” who is listening in/looking in on these discussions, since I was once one of those people, and it was my paying close attention to these type of discussions and topics that finally led to my deconversion.  

            “I hope you both understand how absolutely fruitless this conversation will be for a couple of
            reasons. One each of you have very different ‘understandings’ of God and secondly neither of you can truly understand God so it a bit like
            [SNIP]”

            If you don’t see the immediate contradiction in your statement, then perhaps that’s part of the reason no progress is ever made. If “God” cannot be understood, then at least two things become clear: 1) You can’t know if anyone else has incorrect “understanding” of “God”, and 2) We can discard the bible and the myriad different interpretations that Christians come up with when they minister to others.  

            “What we can comprehend and understand of how God works, if anything, is infinitesimal in comparison to all of who God is’

            What’s that? “God” is a “who”? And what we know of “God” is “infinitesimal”? How can you make either determination if “God” is NOT understandable???

            “let’s not pretend that we have any chance of understand him as a being, or how he chooses to use his power.”

            Oh, please. “God” is relating to all sorts of biblical characters “as a being”, specifcally, a personal being…i.e…one who claims to sympathize with our humanity, while the next minute, condemning our humanity. ‘ Just part of the “Mystery”, I suppose[/sarcasm]

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I don’t think God is unknowable.  Even if there is some mystery to God, much can be known about him through “reason and intellectual honesty” (to borrow from boomSLANG).

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

            Bob, I never said God was “unknowable”, I said it was fruitless to try and understand God in a comprehesive way like we would understand math/history.  Be mindful to note where I wrote “understand” and understand.  Yes much can be known about God hence what I wrote…. “So, while the Bible has provided SOME insight into the characteristics of God, let’s not pretend that we have any chance of understand him as a being, or how he chooses to use his power…”we can know God through a study of the Bible and a relationship with him, we will never and can never understand/comprehend God. 

          • Anonymous

            “I never said God was ‘unknowable’, I said it was fruitless to try and understand God in a comprehesive way like we would understand math/history.”

            Actually, here’s what you said….

            One each of you have very different “understandings” of God and secondly neither of you can truly understand God so it a bit like two first graders discussing string theory or quantum physics. What we can comprehend and understand of how God works, if anything, is infinitesimal in comparison to all of who God is.

             I see this as equivocation. If “God” is a personal being whom we can know on a personal level(as Christians and their bibles make clear), then said “God” can be understood enough that the how of “God” and the who of “God” is not a meaningful distinction. 

            There’s a pattern: God can be understood just fine when “God” acts in ways that align with our own sphere of thought and standard of “right” and “wrong”. But the very second this “God” acts in ways that would normally raise an eyebrow or in ways that defy logic, this “God” is all of the sudden incomprehensible and not understandable to us. I don’t buy it.

          • Anonymous

            “The extrapolation of this evidence to conclude that the Bible is incorrect is what is in question.  I have not yet seen evidence that the verifiable evidence of evolution contradicts the Bible.”

            The bible, specifically, the Genesis account of “Creation”, clearly suggests that biological life was created “as is” in 6 literal days. Contrast that with the theory (and fact) of Evolution by Natural Selection, for which there is demonstrable, testable evidence that says that biological life evolved over millions of years, and I really fail to see how you can say there’s no contradiction.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Argument from scientific evidence: From how I understand it (and this is from limited exposure to the topic), there is evidence of micro-evolution (intra-species) in nature.  However, there is little or no evidence of macro-evolution (inter-species).  In order to disprove the 6-day literal interpretation of Scripture, there would have to be abundant evidence of inter-species evolution, which there is not.  The theory of evolution itself is not contradictory to Scripture.  It’s when the theory of evolution is used to explain the origin of life without conclusive evidence that I currently have a problem.

            Argument from biblical interpretation: There is much debate over whether the creation account in Genesis was actually literal days, as opposed to days being a mis-translation.  To many Christians, the word “day” in Genesis is actually an “age” (an undetermined period of time).  While I don’t personally buy into this interpretation, one cannot throw out this interpretation when dealing with the evolution issue.

            So, to say that the theory of evolution (or the fact of evolution, as you call it) completely disproves Christianity is nonsense, and is below your standard of intellectual honesty.

            In any case, the topic of evolution (and whether or not it disproves Christianity) is one that I plan to delve into, and if you have any books on the topic that you would suggest, I would be glad to read them.

          • Anonymous

            “there is evidence of micro-evolution (intra-species) in nature.  However, there is little or no evidence of macro-evolution (inter-species).”

            The whole “micro vs macro” is a theist concoction. There are no hard lines between species. In any event, there is an abundance of transitional fossils, if you are willing to look in the right places. Creationist sites and “Creation Museums” are not the right places. 

            “It’s when the theory of evolution is used to explain the origin of life without conclusive evidence that I currently have a problem.”

            Abiogenesis deals with the origin of life. Evolution only deals with and explains the diversity of life. If you don’t have have a problem with the latter, then…well, what’s the problem? 

            “Argument from biblical interpretation: There is much debate over whether the creation account in Genesis was actually literal days, as opposed to days being a mis-translation.”

            If “days” is a “mis-translation” there, then perhaps it’s a mis-translation in other places where the word “days” is used. 

            “To many Christians, the word “day” in Genesis is actually an “age” (an undetermined period of time).”

            Yes, got it. And again, to many Christians(if not all), “day” means 24 hour period, for instance, where “Jesus” stayed dead for 3 DAYS before he became undead. 

            “While I don’t personally buy into this interpretation, one cannot throw out this interpretation when dealing with the evolution issue.”

            Ah, perfect. You won’t commit, one way or the other; you want to hold on to the option, if need be. Can you seriously not see how flimsy this looks to someone on the outside looking in? This doesn’t sound like someone who wants to KNOW the what the truth is. 

            “So, to say that the theory of evolution (or the fact of evolution, as you call it) completely disproves Christianity is nonsense, and is below your standard of intellectual honesty.”

            Please don’t put words in my mouth, okay? I said no such thing. I used three different points in conjunction with one another to show that enough of Christianity’s claims are “wrong” to make the rest of it suspect. It should raise doubt, at a minimum. But with you?… for some reason it doesn’t.  That reason, I believe, is that your “cross examination” is a charade, and deconverting is highly unlikely, if not an impossibility.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            The Theory of Evolution makes absolutely no attempt to to explain the origin of life.  The Theory of Evolution attempts to explain variation within populations of organisms.  It would be misguided to suggest that the Theory of Evolution is somehow lessened because if doesn’t explain why life began.  It never attempted to explain why life began.

            <<>>

            Read more on the subject:

            http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

            <<>>

            Perhaps this debate is taking place among fundamentalist Christians, but the debate is of zero value to the legitimate scientific community.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Thanks for the link, Sid.  I’ll check it out as part of my post(s) on evolution.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Argument from scientific evidence: From how I understand it (and this is from limited exposure to the topic), there is evidence of micro-evolution (intra-species) in nature.  However, there is little or no evidence of macro-evolution (inter-species).  In order to disprove the 6-day literal interpretation of Scripture, there would have to be abundant evidence of inter-species evolution, which there is not.  The theory of evolution itself is not contradictory to Scripture.  It’s when the theory of evolution is used to explain the origin of life without conclusive evidence that I currently have a problem.

            Argument from biblical interpretation: There is much debate over whether the creation account in Genesis was actually literal days, as opposed to days being a mis-translation.  To many Christians, the word “day” in Genesis is actually an “age” (an undetermined period of time).  While I don’t personally buy into this interpretation, one cannot throw out this interpretation when dealing with the evolution issue.

            So, to say that the theory of evolution (or the fact of evolution, as you call it) completely disproves Christianity is nonsense, and is below your standard of intellectual honesty.

            In any case, the topic of evolution (and whether or not it disproves Christianity) is one that I plan to delve into, and if you have any books on the topic that you would suggest, I would be glad to read them.

      • Anonymous

        Previously, I posed the following two MULTIPLE choice questions[in bold]….

        A consequence of my lack of belief in “God” is, yes, useful, but it’s useful in ways that I’ll wager that even you, a Theist, would agree are beneficial to all of human kind. For example, my lack of belief in “God”/gods forces me to take responsibility for my own actions, as opposed to blaming someone (or some-‘thing’ else). Would you agree that taking responsibility for one’s own actions is a good thing? Yes, or no? Another example would be, I don’t hold beliefs on “faith”, in which case, aside from one “God”, you and I agree that the tens of thousands of other gods throughout history do not exist. Would you agree that it’s a good thing that we don’t believe in all of those gods in lack of evidence for them? Yes, or no?

        Any takers?

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Yes, I would agree with you that taking responsibility for one’s own actions is a good thing.

          Yes, I would agree with you that we don’t believe in gods for which there is a lack of evidence.  I would take this a step further.  I think it’s a good thing that we don’t believe in anything for which there is a lack of evidence.  However, believing something does not always require overwhelming evidence.  Can you think of something that you believe for which you have not been offered overwhelming evidence?

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            You just described the whole of Christendom.  When one is objective and considers the evidence for the religion, the evidence is lacking.  The best “evidence” you can point to is four manuscripts (i.e. the four Gospels) that were written anonymously and were all written decades (at the earliest) after the main subject supposedly lived and died and lived again.  Not good enough “evidence” for us.  If the best way the supposed Creator of the universe can communicate with us today is through translations of translations of ancient pieces of papyrus that have long vanished from the Earth, I am not persuaded.

            <<>>

            boomSLANG and I both believed in Christianity without being provided overwhelming evidence.  After delving further into the “evidence” we were provided, we chose not to believe.  The claims of Christianity are bold.  The evidence is simply not sufficient. 

          • Anonymous

            “Yes, I would agree with you that taking responsibility for one’s own actions is a good thing.”

            Outstanding. Then by the same consideration, I assume you’d agree that if I’m guilty of a trespass or crime, that only >I< can live out my sentence; no one can do it for me. Is that a fair assessment?  Yes, or no?

            “Yes, I would agree with you that we don’t believe in gods for which there is a lack of evidence.”

            Actually, you’ve water-down your answer. I asked if you agreed if it is a “good thing” that we don’t believe in “God”/gods in lack of evidence for them. If your answer is still “yes”, then I assume you’d agree that it’s a good thing that I don’t believe in your biblegod, since I don’t find the evidence credible. Is that a fair assessment? Yes, or no?

            “However, believing something does not always require overwhelming evidence.”

            The word “overwhelming” is ambiguous. One is either convinced by the evidence, or they are not. I’m not.   

            “Can you think of something that you believe for which you have not been offered overwhelming evidence?”

            Yes, lot’s of things. For instance, I believe in the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The evidence certainly isn’t “overwhelming”, but I’m convinced of the likelihood, nonetheless. But the glaring difference is that I’m free to change my mind and disbelieve it without threats of bodily harm. That same cannot be said of disbelief in “Yahweh”. That’s no small distinction.

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

    Romans 14
    The Weak and the Strong
     1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
     5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
     10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
       “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
     12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
     13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
     19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
     22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
     
    This chapter in Romans speaks directly to your question my advice would be to read it, study it and do not read on until you have reviewed the chapter fully.  Clearly I am not a bible scholar nor a formal teacher so bear with me, I am not the best person to be explaining this to you, however I will try. There is much about this chapter I might not cover and some you may disagree with but hey that is what this all about…kind of.
    1.       This chapter speaks about two types of people, “weak” and “strong”, this description refers to a person’s faith.  Whether a person is of weak faith or strong faith. 
    ·         Weak and Strong: This difference between weak and strong is presented not as those with “strong faith” are able to follow the most rigid rules and tout legalism as good.  This chapter lays out it is actually those of “weak faith” who need the rules because faith alone does not provide them with enough security, enough peace of mind to know they are obeying God and living according to his plan. So to ensure their doing the right things they create rules for themselves and added guidelines.  Using the example of alcohol; many Christians completely abstain from drinking alcohol.  Why? Does the bible teach not to consume alcohol? No it does not however it says do not be drunk (Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit). Well what is drunk? What about buzzed?  To avoid any possible sin many Christians abstain all together. 
     
    2.       This is all about DISPUTABLE matters.  There are things which are not disputable matters when talking about biblical teaching, clear commands that God has given to man for us to follow.  Such as:
    ·         You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:35-39
    ·         Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:35-39
    ·         Love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from My Father. It was not you who chose Me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. This I command you: Love one another. JOHN 15:12-17
    The list of do’s and do not’s could go on however those specifically sited items of do and do not’s are NOT what is being discussed here in this chapter.  Those churches which are not following specifically sited biblical text are NOT correctly teaching God’s word. 
     
    It is import to understand this section of scripture clearly establishes that there are going to be disputed matters in Christianity not “ONE UNIFORM DOCTRINE”.  Verse 1 – 1 “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”  It addresses that different people will interpret things differently, and we as a group of believers should not make judgments or condemn others on these disputed issues. Verse 4 and 10 –  4 “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand….10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”  More importantly, and potentially confusing, about these disputed matters it says in verses 5-6  5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. This scripture is saying that on either side of disputed issues, what really matters is the person’s HEART.  Are your actions (in disputed issues) honoring God? But the heart issue is not the only criteria by which disputed matters are to be examined.  Does this disputed issue create a problem for those around you?  Verse 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. So what this section is saying is not only do your actions need to be honoring God but also it shouldn’t create a problem for others.  What does that mean “stumbling block”.  Again an example of this could be alcohol. Drinking alcohol is not forbidden, there is no commandment or biblical law saying you can’t consume it.  However if you are hanging out with a recovering alcoholic, you consuming alcohol in front of him could create a problem for him.  It creates a “stumbling block” for him and you shouldn’t be doing that.  Which leads me to my last point; verse 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. This simply states that disputed issues are not to be points of contention…let bygones be bygones, to each his own, whatever saying you want to use.  Instead of fighting over disputed issues we should focus on building each other up as brothers and sisters in Christ. 
     
    Now I know that did not answer all your questions, specifically about current church denominations and the Holy Spirit.  As for the church denominations I can’t speak for church denominations because I am not apart of any denomination.  I attend a NON-denominational church and have never educated myself in the distinctions between Catholic, Protestant, Bapist etc outside of the general knowledge you gather from just living life.  As for the Holy Spirit questions I have started reading “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan I hope to have some answers for you in the upcoming weeks. 

    • Anonymous

      So, you’ve  extracted and (selectively) quoted  “scripture” in an attempt to convince those who are unconvinced that said “scripture” is inspired by a “God”. 

      “Those churches which are not following specifically sited biblical text are NOT correctly teaching God’s word.”

      Or, they might very well be following “biblical text” that contradicts the “specifically cited biblical text” that you are referencing. Again, this is the dilemma: The biblical text is saying do X, Y, and Z in one chapter, but saying do NOT do X, Y, or Z in another chapter. 

      For example, you quote…..”Love your neighbor as yourself”  Matthew 22:35-39

      What if your neighbor attempts to lead you away from “the LORD”?????? Here’s what…..

      “13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
      13:7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;13:8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:13:9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.13:10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. ~ Deuteronomy

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

        In short…Love your neighbor as Jesus Christ and the New covenant commanded…Do you understand old covenant vs. New Covenant…I assume you don’t understand the difference because otherwise you would be trying to purposely misrepresent the bible as contradictory…and you wouldn’t do that right?

        • Anonymous

          I somehow missed this….

          “In short…Love your neighbor as Jesus Christ and the New covenant commanded…Do you understand old covenant vs. New Covenant…I assume you don’t understand the difference because otherwise you would be trying to purposely misrepresent the bible as contradictory…and you wouldn’t do that right?”

          Regardless of where it is written, at face-value, a statement that says “love your neighbor”, would contradict a statement condoning the killing of any person who leads you away from “the LORD”, if that person happens to be your neighbor.  If your entire argument rests upon what was previously written(OT), vs what is currently written(NT),  then, well, so much for that absolute, unchanging “Truth” stuff.

    • Anonymous

      Broc,

      Thanks for the note.  All me to ask you a few questions:

      1.  How do you know which Bible scripture is to be taken literally and which scripture is to be taken figuratively?  Did you figure it out by yourself?  Can any one person figure it out by themself?

      2.  One reason that different denominations exist is because humans have different interpretations and understandings of scripture.  Which group has the correct understanding?  Why would God allow so much confusion among faithful people?  The divisions between Catholics and Protestants are not trivial.  They are deep and serious.

      3. Roman Catholics do not consider your church to be a true church.  They claim to have over one billion members today, and they claim their church was founded by Jesus Christ when Jesus personally gave Peter authority over the earthly body of believers.  What reason(s) do you have for rejecting the Roman Catholic claim to be the one true church?  It would appear their claims are more  believable than those of your church or Robert’s church re. doctrine.  Don’t you suppose that Catholics have read and studied the Bible? 

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

        1.       I can only do my best through study and prayer to understand scripture the best I can, as well as discussion with fellow Christians obviously finding a good pastor who has attend seminary doesn’t hurt either.
        2.       Any Catholics and Protestant differences should be examined using scripture, not tradition, not decree via the Pope, is it biblical.  Or maybe it is disputed in which case follow Romans 14
        3.       The Catholic churches opinion of my church or beliefs has no impact on my relationship with God

        • Anonymous

          <<>>

          If this were the case, there would be many Bible scholars and laypersons who would interpret scripture differently from one another. There would be many different denominations and churches popping up. There would be deep divisions within Christianity and substantial confusion among sincere believers. Come to think of it, Broc, that is exactly the case today. You can not seriously believe that God intended for the Christian faith to be so deeply divided. Catholics don’t believe that. They believe the Holy Spirit is an infallible witness that guides them and prevents their church from embracing doctrinal error. Would God sit idly by and watch over one billion sincere Catholics be misled?

          <<>>

          Scripture?! Broc, when do you think the Bible was compiled and made widely available to believing Christians? What were the 1st century Christians and 2nd century Christians and 3rd century Christians and early 4th century Christians supposed to use as their guide before the Bible was compiled and the canon was established? Those people couldn’t just go to a local book store and get a Bible. For that matter, one could argue that the Bible was not widely available to the world until long after the modern printing press was invented in the 15th century. There are billions of people who have lived and died on Earth who never once owned a Bible or read a Bible.

          <<>>

          Their claims sound more convincing than your own. Do you think they never read the Bible?

          • Anonymous

            “Would God sit idly by and watch over one billion sincere Catholics be misled?”

            Hello? Bingo! And no, I don’t think if an all-powerful “God” existed that he/she/it would stand by with arms folded as millions of sincere, devout believers are being misled. The notion is absurd.  Moreover, I don’t think if an ALL-loving and all-powerful “God” existed that he/she/it would stand be with arms folded as children are sexually abused and beaten(and some cases, killed), whether it be by deranged parents and blood relatives, or complete strangers. The notion that I am supposed to believe that the “free will” of the aforementioned people takes precedence over the safety of their victims is an outrageously absurd notion. 

            In any case, I’ll wager that Bob wishes he never came to the EX-Xian website. Again, “Cross Examination”, my hindquarters.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            If he continues with this series, I plan to follow along every step of the way (unless he requires a subscription of some sort in order for us to participate).

            <<>>

            I concur.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

            You seem to
            have a focused eye on Catholics; I am not catholic and have never been
            Catholic. Actually I have never been to Catholic mass, so I cannot speak to
            anything Catholics. Were you Catholic at one point? If you find Catholics more
            convincing, that is fine, go ask these question of a Catholic.

            No I believe
            that there are teachers in our religious communities who do not use gospel
            teaching as their guide, whether it be with the best intention or whatever. There
            are churches who are not following biblical teachings. Sure back in day there
            were no Bibles but culture was different then. there were no Bibles but the
            people who Jesus himself taught were the ones out spreading the word. The
            authors of the Bibles were the ones conducting teaching and making more
            disciples,. It wasn’t necessary for Paul to refer to Romans, he wrote Romans.
            Mathew, Mark Luke and John did not need to reference the Bible to find Jesus
            teachings, Jesus had taught them. Teaching was accomplished from spoken word.

            “They
            believe the Holy Spirit is an infallible witness that guides them and prevents
            their church from embracing doctrinal error. ”

            That sounds
            very dangerous unless this infallibility is coupled with surrendered humility
            and patience.  Monarchs once used the “divinity”
            of their position to commit and justify many wrongs. 

             

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            No, I was not baptized as a Catholic.  I was baptized as a Baptist.  The reason I reference the Catholic Church is because it is by far the largest Christian denomination on Earth.  They claim their origins from when Jesus was personally present on Earth.  If their claims are true, then there  are deep doctrinal issues between you and them.  They do not share your doctrine.  They do not share your views on how one receives eternal salvation.  They don’t consider your church to be a church at all.  The point of my asking you these questions is that I want to know how come you don’t accept their doctrine instead if your own?  Don’t you think they can read Romans 14 just like you can?  If Jesus really did establish the Catholic Church (with Peter as the first head of the church as Catholics believe), why would He allow Christian doctrine to have become so deeply divided?  How can any Christian alive today pick up a Bible and read it and know if they are understanding it correctly unless they have an infallible guide?  If there is an infallible guide, why did it allow Christianity to become so deeply fragmented in the first place?  Doesn’t that undermine the purpose of Jesus establishing a church on Earth?  

            <<>>

            If the message that Jesus came to spread was so important, why couldn’t He have appeared to every human on Earth?  It is a very inefficient for God to require word-of-mouth teaching in order to spread such an important message.  As it is, billions of humans never once heard of Jesus or His teachings during their entire lives.

            <<>>

            Many of the books of the Bible were written anonymously.  Nobody alive today knows who wrote many of the books of the Bible.

            <<<   Mathew, Mark Luke and John did not need to reference the Bible to find Jesus teachings, Jesus had taught them.  Teaching was accomplished from spoken word.

            Broc, nobody alive today knows who wrote the 4 Gospels.  All 4 books were written anonymously.  Again, if the teachings of Jesus were so important, why did it take so long to spread?  Why couldn't Jesus appear to every person and give them the same chance to hear the Good News?  Did the God of the universe need to be constrained by our primitive communication methods when it came to telling the greatest story ever told to the whole world?

            I hope you will begin to realize how absurd the arguments in defense of these issues really are…  

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

            “They do not share your doctrine”
            My beliefs to not require them to, again as for the Catholics I will leave it to them to answer those questions. 
             
            “why couldn’t He have appeared to every human on Earth? It is a very inefficient for God to require word-of-mouth teaching in order to spread such an important message.”
            How do you really expect me to be able to answer that? I do not know why, maybe God should get a twitter account..lol, That is simply a question I have no way of answering. 

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            What assurance do you have that your beliefs are correct?  Catholics read the Bible, and they have different beliefs than yours.  Since your eternal salvation is important to you, don’t you want to know WHY your beliefs are different than theirs?  This seems like a rather important matter.

            I didn’t expect you to know why Jesus didn’t appear to everyone.  I wanted you to think about it.  If the gospel message is so important, every person on Earth should have been given the chance to hear it.  As it is, billions of humans lived and died and never once heard it.  Billions of people were taught different religions than Christianity.  Why would God let so many people live and die who never once heard the gospel message?  That same God is going to judge those people who were taught different religions (or perhaps no religion at all).  Billions of them never owned or read a Bible or heard of its contents… yet they will be judged. 

  • Anonymous

    ..

  • O!

    *** In short…Love your neighbor as Jesus Christ and the New covenant commanded…Do you understand old covenant vs. New Covenant…***

    Oops – Hmmmmm? What else did Jesus say about the old law? Oh yeah.

    “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:18-19
    “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.”  Luke 16:17
    “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19) and “For the law was given by Moses,…” John 1:17.

    And oddly enough Jesus and the new covenant still encourage death to the wayward children, who curse their mother or father………….

     “Whoever curses father or mother shall die”  Mark.7:9-13
     “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”  Matthew 15:4-7

    And while we’re at it, I’m sure – you – can drink posion and heal the sick right? — you know being a believer and all.

    Mark 16:18 “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mark 16:18

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

      Yep you are right…its not like you have taken those text out of context at all. 

      “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished…. Mathew 5:18
      The most important part being “until all is accomplished”, what was Jesus referring to when he was saying this in Mathew 5:18?  Jesus said that he had “come to fulfill the law” just one verse before in verse 17.  Jesus death was that fulfill, it was that accomplishment, of the law.
      “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law…” John 7:19
      Jesus was speaking to an angry crowd seeking to kill him for “working” on the Sabbath.  He had healed a blind man, So his reference to keeping the law was a part of a lesson he was attempting to teach.  See the whole passage…
      18He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.  19Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?  20The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?  21Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.  22Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.  23If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?  24Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
       
      John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses…
      Again the whole passage not just an out of context fragment…

      John 1:14-18 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.  16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.  18No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

      I am not even going to bother with the rest…read the passage have some context not just a sentence fragment. 

      • Anonymous

        “Yep you are right…its not like you have taken those text out of context at all.” ~ Broc

        This whole “context” apologetic is utterly absurd. If you want to get technical, you’d have to sit down and read the entire bible, cover to cover, to get it “in context”.

        There’s a glaring double standard: It’s okay for Christians to, any ol’ time they damned-well please, selectively extract and quote scripture to make a point . But the second a non-Christian does the same to make a counter-point, and/or, to show blatant contradiction(see previous examples), the Christian cries, “No, no….you’re taking it out of context!”. Ridiculous. 

        We are all familiar with the driver’s manual which was written by fallible ordinary men, right? Right.  Well, what if one wanted to refresh their memory on what to do at a stop sign? What would they do? Would they have to read the ENTIRE driver’s manual? No, of course not. They’d likely just find the chapter that deals with that issue, and read it. There are no “context” issues to worry about, because the driver’s manual is very concise in conveying the driving rules. It doesn’t say, “come to a complete stop at a stop sign”, in one chapter, and then say, “(Psssst….run the stop sign if no one’s looking)”, in another chapter.

        IOW, the driver’s manual was written by smart, educated men. The bible, on the other hand, was written by primitive, uneducated men, and the massive amount of contradictory nonsense reflects this, and it most certainly doesn’t reflect any sphere of thought of a “God”. 

        Love your neighbor? Or KILL him? Honor your father? Or KILL him? Treat a prostitute with compassion? Or throw ROCKS at her until she bleeds to death? Love your enemy? Or KILL them and keep their daughters as concubines?! Nonsense…utter nonsense.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Boom, the “context” argument is not one-way, as you say. If a Christian takes a verse out of context, you can call them on it as well. The “context” argument is also not a purely Christian construct. If you’re going to make the argument that arguments should be made out of context, then you’re foolish.

          If you would like, at any time, to point how any Christian takes a Bible verse out of context, please feel free to do it. That is a very valid argument, and it would show that you actually know the context of the verse.

          • Anonymous

            Robert,

            How do you (or Broc) know how to interpret the meaning of the scripture that Broc has quoted?  It was written many centuries ago, and it was not originally recorded in English.  The Bible was not written all at one time as a “book”.  It is a collection of manuscripts that were written over many centuries.  Please tell me how you (or Broc) can pick up a Bible today and read it and KNOW how to interpret it?  Considering how many Bible scholars disagree over the meaning of so many different verses, I would like to know who is correct and who is not.  Does it matter at all if humans interpret scripture correctly or not?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, 99% of the Bible’s translation is not in dispute–i.e. it’s clear what the right translation is. There is less than 1% where the translation is in dispute.

            In terms of interpretation, the percentage is the same. A normal person can understand what the Bible is saying 95% of the time. Most of the Bible isn’t obtuse in the way you’re implying.

            From a larger interpretation perspective, you might as well be making the argument that the average person cannot know ANYTHING that they read. You could just as well be asking the question, “How can a person understand anything they read?”

            Yes, the Bible was translated. But, unlike other books that have been translated, it’s been translated over and over by thousands of people over hundreds of years, so it’s pretty likely that the translation is pretty close to accurate.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            I am not arguing over whether or not a translation was done accurately!  I am talking about the CONTENT.  Let us suppose that you could read ancient Hebrew and Greek and Aramaic and read the ancient manuscripts in their original form.  How could you KNOW what the sacred scriptures mean unless you had an infallible witness to guide you?  Are you telling me that you believe God simply left it up to our own understanding to “figure it out” for ourselves?  Don’t you realize how daft that explanation would be?  That would lead to untold numbers of different Christian denominations springing up when people disagree with one another…  Wait!  That is EXACTLY what we have today.

            <<>>

            Robert, are you aware that the Roman Catholic Church does not view your church as a true church?  Are you aware that they do not share your own views re. how a person receives eternal salvation?  Their church has over one billion members.  Do you think they ever read the Bible and studied the Bible and sought to understand it?  Your claims here are patently ridiculous.      

            <<>>

            I am talking specifically about the Bible.  You apparently believe it was inspired by God.  This statement is from your church’s doctrinal position:

            ” We teach that there is only one meaning of Scripture, the meaning which the author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, intended his audience to hear. ”

            Again, how can you KNOW the true meaning of scripture?  Are you just real smart?

            BTW, I don’t care much if you read “Moby Dick” and draw a different conclusion from what I would draw.  “Moby Dick” doesn’t have any bearing on my salvation, now does it…

          • Anonymous

            “Could the reason that you want to punch your screen when Christians give you the ‘free will’ argument is because it’s something you cannot explain?”

            I think what Sid’s saying is that CHRISTIANS “cannot explain”, in any consistent, logical terms, how “free will” magically goes out the window if “God” were to appear in any unambiguous terms. “God” was (allegedly) making all sort of unambiguous appearances just a few thousand years ago, and that didn’t harm anyone’s “free will”.

            “You WANT God to appear to everyone, so anything less is a ‘cop out’.”

            Why shouldn’t he or I want it? “God” is the one who wants everyone to believe in him, right?

            ” Since God chooses to reveal himself in another way, you feel that he doesn’t live up to YOUR standard.”

            Yes, MY standard…..why the %$#@ should I accept it on YOUR “standard” or anyone elses!?!?!?!?!

            “Do you really expect God to act in ways that are acceptable to YOU?”

            Good grief. Yes!…yes, I do! Otherwise, how do I know I’m not worshiping a saddistic, despotic, butthole? Here the thing: YOU’d accept that, because of your appeal to “Authoritarianism”…i.e..god can do whatever he wants by pure virtue of being “God”. 

            “Or do you expect that God will have a free will of his own, and will reveal himself in a way that he chooses?”

            “God” can do as “God” chooses, yes. The problem I have, is if/when this “God”, who presumably gave me the ability to REASON, condemns me for using it. It is REASON that I don’t accept the existence of Allah or Thor on “faith”. For all I know, those gods HAVE CHOOSEN to give me ambiguous, vague signs of their existence, too. ‘Get it?

          • Anonymous

            “Boom, the ‘context’ argument is not one-way, as you say. If a Christian takes a verse out of context, you can call them on it as well.”

            Noted. On the other hand, they can simply say, “No, I’m NOT….you don’t have a proper understanding of Christianity!”(the latter should sound familiar to you)

            “The ‘context’ argument is also not a purely Christian construct. If you’re going to make the argument that arguments should be made out of context, then you’re foolish.”

            I would never suggest that, “arguments should be made out of context”. So, I guess I’m no fool. Oh, but wait….I don’t believe in “God”, and according to the “God” I don’t believe in, “The fool says in his heart there is no God”! Gosh, I feel like such a fool!

            ..::snicker::

            BTW, doesn’t the bible admonish people against calling people fools? Yes, I believe so, so there’s just one more instance of biblegod not being able to practice what he preaches. Par for the course.

            “If you would like, at any time, to point how any Christian takes a Bible verse out of context, please feel free to do it. That is a very valid argument, and it would show that you actually know the context of the verse.”

            The “context” of any verse funnels back to the greater point:  ALL verses were supposedly “inspired” by a “God”, and the “Commandments” supposedly carved into stone by “God”, himself.  IOW, if “God” says I should feel “blessed” to smash the heads of children against rocks, I couldn’t give a crap less if Broc or Bob or any other “True Believer” says I’m “taking it out of context”. There is no “statute of limitation” on ANY verse, OT or NT, because Christians and their bibles insist that “God” is UNCHANGING, the same today and tomorrow. Shall I find the verse? Or will that be taking it “out of context’?????

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            No, the Bible doesn’t admonish people against calling other people fools.  In fact, the Bible itself calls certain people fools:

            “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

            “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

            “In everything the prudent acts in knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.”

            “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’  They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.”

            The verse that most people run to in saying that Christians shouldn’t call others fools is Matthew 5:22, a passage which is dealing with calling someone a fool in unrighteous anger.

        • Anonymous

          <<>>

          That is a common hiding place for Christian apologists. They have been using it for centuries.

          Another argument that gets my goat is this BS about how God won’t appear to us in some “coercive” way because He does not want to affect our “free will”. I want to punch the computer screen when I hear that lame excuse offered up from apologists. It is a cop out that lets God off the hook from having to appear to us.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, the “context” argument goes both ways, which I explain above.  You may call it a “hiding place,” but that would just be ignorant.

            Could the reason that you want to punch your screen when Christians give you the “free will” argument is because it’s something you cannot explain?  You WANT God to appear to everyone, so anything less is a “cop out.”  Since God chooses to reveal himself in another way, you feel that he doesn’t live up to YOUR standard.  Do you really expect God to act in ways that are acceptable to YOU?  Or do you expect that God will have a free will of his own, and will reveal himself in a way that he chooses?

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            Robert, please tell me how you (and Broc) can read the verses Broc referenced and KNOW what they mean?  Did the Holy Spirit guide you and give you the gift of interpretation?  Bible scholars disagree over the meanings of many verses.  How do you know who is correct and who is not correct?  Does it matter?  I think it does.

            <<>>

            No.  My frustration stems from the fact that you maintain such myopic views.  

            <<>>

            Every sincere Christian I ever knew WANTED God to appear in a way they could comprehend.  I didn’t say that God was committing a “cop out”.  I clearly stated that Christian apologists who use the lame argument are committing a “cop out”.

            <<>>

            Robert, don’t be so arrogant as to presume to speak for God.  God’s ways are mysterious to men.  That includes you.

            <<>>

            I never said God was required to act in any fashion.  I clearly stated that I WANTED God to appear to me in a fashion that I could comprehend.  Being mortal, that seems like a reasonable desire.  Every sincere Christian I ever knew WANTED God to make His presence known to them.

            <<>>

            God’s ways are mysterious to men.  Unlike you, I am not so arrogant as to presume to know why God acts in a certain manner.  I clearly said that as a sincere Christian, I WANTED God to appear to me in a way that I could comprehend.  EVERY Christian I ever knew desired the same thing.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            You’re “not so arrogant as to presume to know why God acts in a certain manner,” but you are arrogant enough to say that God should act in a way that you desire in order for you to believe?  Christians, while desiring that God would reveal himself in a tangible way, realize that he has revealed himself in a way that they can still believe, even if their desire for tangible revelation is not met.

            You make the argument that God’s ways are mysterious, probably because that’s what you were taught when you were a Christian.  While some of God’s ways are mysterious, there are ways in which he has clearly revealed himself.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            I said that I personally WANTED God to appear in a way that I could comprehend.  I didn’t give God any marching orders.

            <<>>

            Oh, really?  Do you now presume to speak for all Christians?  Amazing person you are…

            <<>>

            I didn’t make an argument.  I repeated what I read here:

            —————-
            Isaiah 55:8-9
            New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,  Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
            —————

            It is remarkable how you seem to comprehend God’s ways.  I guess the untold numbers of Christians who don’t feel God’s presence are just not as special as you.

          • Anonymous

            “You’re ‘not so arrogant as to presume to know why God acts in a certain manner’, but you are arrogant enough to say that God should act in a way that you desire in order for you to believe?”

            If you’re asking if I’m “arrogant” and not telling me that I am…..no, I’m NOT “arrogant” to believe that IF “God” wants me to believe, then “God” will give me the evidence that, by virtue of his PRESCIENCE, knows what would convince me. If “God” doesn’t care if I believe, then fine, “God” can contitnue to hide in the clouds and be miffed that I won’t accept his existence on flimsy, anecdotal evidence.

            “Christians, while desiring that God would reveal himself in a tangible way, realize that he has revealed himself in a way that they can still believe, even if their desire for tangible revelation is not met.”

            Outstanding. If “Christians”, who are already convinced, accept it on “faith”, and/or, scant evidence, then good for them. Maybe I should adopt believe in Quetzacoatl on “faith” and scant evidence.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            boom, it’s not that God doesn’t care if you don’t believe.  He knows that some won’t believe.  He does know, by his PRESCIENCE, what would convince you.  But he also knows that there’s a certain way that he’s made in order for people to be saved.  If you choose not to accept him in that way, that does not negatively reflect on him.  He is not “miffed” by your unbelief.  While he wants all to believe, belief is to your advantage, not to God’s.  God doesn’t need people to believe in order for him to be complete.

            “If ‘Christians,’ who are already convinced, accept it on ‘faith,’ and/or scant evidence, then good for them.”  I didn’t say that they accept him on scant evidence or faith.  I said that they accept the way that he’s provided for them.  I would argue that there’s plenty of evidence for both a god, and for the God of the Bible.

          • Anonymous

            —————-
            Isaiah 55:8-9
            New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
            —————

            Robert, you sure do presume to KNOW a lot about how God chooses to operate.  I suppose His methods of operation were divinely revealed to you…?

          • Anonymous

            “it’s not that God doesn’t care if you don’t believe.”

            I’m not convinced.

            “He knows that some won’t believe.  He does know, by his PRESCIENCE, what would convince you.”

            Okay, some progress.

            “But he also knows that there’s a certain way that he’s made in order for people to be saved.  If you choose not to accept him in that way, that does not negatively reflect on him.”

            And what little progress was made, now comes to a halt. 

            That there’s “a certain way that he’s made in order to be saved” is completely immaterial to the point that I’m unable to believe on “faith”(or really flimsy evidence), since, in order for me to believe and accept the “certain way he’s made for me to be saved”, IT WOULD REQUIRE THAT I BELIEVE THAT HE EXISTS. In other words, you’ve just spewed a bunch of equivocal, irrelevant godspeak.

            “He is not ‘miffed’ by your unbelief. “

            But has no problem sentencing me to “hell” for my “unbelief”. Seriously? You can”t see the ridiculousness of what you’re proposing?

            “While he wants all to believe, belief is to your advantage, not to God’s.”

            More obfuscation. I never said anything about who has an “advantage” in this. In any case, if it’s to MY “advantage” to believe, is that magically going to make it more believable? Your apologetics are as pathetic as they are unconvincing.

            “God doesn’t need people to believe in order for him to be complete.”

            More of the same. “God” either wants me to believe, or he doesn’t(or doesn’t care). Whose has an “advantage” or who feels “complete” is immaterial to the fact that I am UNable to honestly believe on “faith”. Maybe your “God” accepts phonies? It wouldn’t surprise me.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            If the “God doesn’t tangibly reveal himself in order not to supplant free will” argument is myopic (myopic = “nearsighted, unable to see distant objects clearly”), please offer the “farsighted” argument that I should see in response to this argument.

          • Anonymous

            “If the ‘God doesn’t tangibly reveal himself in order not to supplant free will’ argument is myopic (myopic = ‘nearsighted, unable to see distant objects clearly’), please offer the ‘farsighted’ argument that I should see in response to this argument.”

            You’d have to first spell out what you mean by, “supplant free will”.

          • Anonymous

            God (the Father) and God (the Son) supposedly appeared to many (according to the Bible).  Strange that their “free will” wasn’t taken away, but our “free will” would be taken away today if God made a physical appearance to us.  Mighty convenient argument…  

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            You say that, if God were to appear to you, you would believe. Doesn’t that mean, “I would have no choice BUT to believe”? Could you honestly say that, if God were to appear to you, you could still say, “You know what? I’ve seen that you’re real, but I’m still going to choose not to believe in you, or to accept that you’re God”?

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            Robert,

            Here is some scripture for you:

            ————————–
            John 20:19-27
            New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”  24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  29 Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

            30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
            —————————–

            Thomas was reportedly one of the twelve (as chosen by Jesus).  Thomas saw Jesus in the flesh during His life, and I think is is safe to assume that Thomas observed at least SOME of the many acts of Jesus during His life.  Thomas still asked for MORE evidence.  Jesus didn’t LECTURE Thomas about whose standard should apply when we mortals ask for firsthand evidence.  Are you more of an authority on this subject than Jesus?  Furthermore, many Jews supposedly saw Jesus in the flesh during His life and refused to accept Him as the Messiah.  Furthermore, the nation of  Egypt supposedly experienced the 10 plagues sent by God, but I don’t see much historical evidence of a mass conversion of Egyptians into becoming Jews as a result.

            The argument re. God appearing and taking away free will is pure folly.

          • Anonymous

            “You say that, if God were to appear to you, you would believe. Doesn’t that mean, ‘I would have no choice BUT to believe’?” 

            Why, yes…yes it does….and ?..?..?..?..?  

            Let’s review: *Even once I become throughly, with-a-doubt, 100% convinced that the biblegod you (pretend to) worship and love actually exists, that in no way NECESSITATES that I bow down to, worship, love, respect the policies of said biblegod. 

            “Could you honestly say that, if God were to appear to you, you could still say, ‘You know what? I’ve seen that you’re real, but I’m still going to choose not to believe in you, or to accept that you’re God’?”

            At that point, my “belief” is irrelevant. See here*, above. 

            As for accepting that god is “God”, if I could somehow meet Hitler, I could accept him as being “Hitler”, yes, but at that point, will I mysteriously fall on my knees and forget about him being a despotic, immoral jerk? No, of course not, and the same holds true for your “God”.

            Like clockwork, your apologetics fail.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            That was the point of my illustration above.  The Bible claims different people saw God (in some form) and/or Jesus, and some people supposedly saw miracles being performed.  This did not necessitate that those people all bowed down and worshiped God.  In fact, many Jews rejected Jesus as the “Messiah”.

             

          • Anonymous

            “Could the reason that you want to punch your screen when Christians give you the ‘free will’ argument is because it’s something you cannot explain?”

            I think what Sid’s saying is that CHRISTIANS “cannot explain”, in any consistent, logical terms, how “free will” magically goes out the window if “God” were to appear in any unambiguous terms. “God” was (allegedly) making all sort of unambiguous appearances just a few thousand years ago, and that didn’t harm anyone’s “free will”.

            “You WANT God to appear to everyone, so anything less is a ‘cop out’.”

            Why shouldn’t he or I want it? “God” is the one who wants everyone to believe in him, right?

            ” Since God chooses to reveal himself in another way, you feel that he doesn’t live up to YOUR standard.”

            Yes, MY standard…..why the %$#@ should I accept it on YOUR “standard” or anyone elses!?!?!?!?!

            “Do you really expect God to act in ways that are acceptable to YOU?”

            Good grief. Yes!…yes, I do! Otherwise, how do I know I’m not worshiping a saddistic, despotic, butthole? Here the thing: YOU’d accept that, because of your appeal to “Authoritarianism”…i.e..god can do whatever he wants by pure virtue of being “God”. 

            “Or do you expect that God will have a free will of his own, and will reveal himself in a way that he chooses?”

            “God” can do as “God” chooses, yes. The problem I have, is if/when this “God”, who presumably gave me the ability to REASON, condemns me for using it. It is REASON that I don’t accept the existence of Allah or Thor on “faith”. For all I know, those gods HAVE CHOOSEN to give me ambiguous, vague signs of their existence, too. ‘Get it?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Yes, MY standard…..why the %$#@ should I accept it on YOUR “standard” or anyone elses!?!?!?!?!”

            How do you arrive at your standard?  You say that your standard is that God reveal himself to you in some tangible (maybe visual) way?  How do you know that that is the right standard?  Why not have a logical standard?  Or a standard that would accept some evidence of god from nature?

            Setting your own standard gets back to the point of this article… the will determines a lot of what we believe.  That you’re setting your own standard is evidence of this.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            The Bible claims Moses SAW the figure of God (through the cleft in the rock) and HEARD God’s voice.  The Bible claims people SAW and/or HEARD and/or TOUCHED Jesus in the flesh.  The Bible claims many people SAW miracles performed right before their eyes. 

            Robert, are you so stubborn (or daft) that you refuse to comprehend what we are clearly saying?    

          • Anonymous

            “Robert, are you so stubborn (or daft) that you refuse to comprehend what we are clearly saying?”

            I assume you are being rhetorical, here.

          • Anonymous

            Yes…

          • Anonymous

            Previously, me: Yes, MY standard…..why the %$#@ should I accept it on YOUR “standard” or anyone elses!?!?!?!?!”

            You respond: “How do you arrive at your standard?”

            You DO NOT GET IT, and this is becoming extremely tedious….i.e..you, repeating and defending your errors over and over and over.

             ‘Probably a waste of time——-but to answer your question,  **it’s the SAME flippin’ “standard” and criterion that I would require of the Muslim “God”, or the Hindu “Gods”, or the American Indian “God”,  if those individuals had a referent in reality and expected me to BELIEVE. IN. THEM.

            “You say that your standard is that God reveal himself to you in some tangible (maybe visual) way?  How do you know that that is the right standard?”

            I’m NOT saying there is a “right” and “wrong” standard that fits EVERYBODY. I’m merely saying IF “God” wants >>>ME<<< to believe, then it can give ME the evidence it would require for ME to believe.  I've explained to you in great detail why I will not accept it on FAITH. 

             “Why not have a logical standard?”

            My standard IS logical. You’d agree it’s logical that I don’t believe that “Poseidon” causes earthquakes, right?

            It is YOU with the double-standard; it is you who is willing to believe in YOUR “God” on ambiguous, scant “evidence”, because you compartmentalize your beliefs.

            “Or a standard that would accept some evidence of god from nature?”

            Because “nature” is evidence of NATURE, not “super-duper-nature”. That’s why.

            “Setting your own standard gets back to the point of this article… the will determines a lot of what we believe. “ 

            Except that I DO NOT believe.

            “That you’re setting your own standard is evidence of this.”

            Hello, pot?…meet Kettle. You’re the one “willing” yourself to believe on lame, flimsy evidence; you’re the one with a DOUBLE-standard.

          • Anonymous

            “Another argument that gets my goat is this BS about how God won’t appear to us in some ‘coercive’ way because He does not want to affect our ‘free will’.”

            Yes, lame, and so easily refuted a 4th grader could grasp it. Even if we were thoroughly, 100% convinced that “God” existed, we could still use our “free will” to reject the policies, the offers to worship, and the (supposed) “love” of this “God”. 

            The whole “Divine Hiddenness of God” rigmarole is a smokescreen.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            If a 4th grader could grasp the counter-argument to this argument, please offer the 4th-grader version of this argument.

          • Anonymous

            I used “4th grader” as analogy to make a point; I never once said I had, in my possession, a literal counter-argument of a 4th grader. You’re taking my comment OUT OF CONTEXT. In any case, consider the “God’s Divine Hiddenness” argument debunked. See above.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I, too, was using the “4th grader” term in continuation of your analogy.  You said that there was a counter-argument that a 4th grader could understand.  I asked you to submit the argument, if it was so easy, using the 4th grader as your target audience.  Are you now saying that you DON’T have an argument against this argument?  Are you just going to say “consider the ‘God’s Divine Hiddenness’ argument debunked,” and call that your argument that a 4th grader could understand?

            Is your argument that, “Even if we were thoroughly, 100% convinced that ‘God’ existed, we could still use our ‘free will’ to reject the policies, the offers to worship, and the (supposed) ‘love’ of this ‘God'”?

          • Anonymous

            “I, too, was using the ‘4th grader’ term in continuation of your analogy.  You said that there was a counter-argument that a 4th grader could understand.  I asked you to submit the argument, if it was so easy, using the 4th grader as your target audience.  Are you now saying that you DON’T have an argument against this argument” ~ R. Ewoldt

            *The “Divine Hiddenness of God” argument:

            1)  “God cannot show himself in a tangible, undeniable way, especially, in physical form, because to do so would tamper with our free will.”

            *Note: if my rendition of the argument doesn’t satisfy you, fine. Simply supply your *own* rendering of the argument, and then copy and paste the following refutation and put it AFTER it, since I am confident it will  soundly refute it, even if you reword your argument to your liking.

            The “Divine Hiddenness of God” argument refuted, as previously stated:

            Even if we were thoroughly, 100% convinced that “God” existed, we could still use our “free will” to reject the policies, the offers to worship, and the (supposed) “love” of this “God”. ~ me

            And I reiterate—-so elementary,  a 4th grader can grasp it.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            According to the Bible, a number of people saw God (the Father in some form) and/or God (the Son in fleshly form).  According to the Bible, many people saw miracles.  As it is, many Jews and Greeks STILL rejected Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah.  Also, how many Egyptians supposedly witnessed the 10 plagues (all miracles) , yet history tells us of nothing of a mass conversion to Judaism by Egyptians.  I suppose God hardened all of their hearts just like Pharaoh’s…  

            Strange that we don’t see these grandiose displays of God’s power today.  Strange that God would appear to people in biblical times without concern of taking away their free will.  Strange that Christian apologists today still hide behind the argument that you refuted.

            Claiming that God doesn’t ever have to appear to us is a “cop out” on the part of the apologist.  William Lane Craig likes to use it.  That speaks for itself…

          • Anonymous

            “I suppose God hardened all of their hearts just like Pharaoh’s… “

            Excellent point. On top of  “God” staying invisible,  perhaps he’s also hardening my heart and making me a mean  ol’ Atheist, on top of it. It’s all part of the great “mystery”. 

            Or wait, is it because the invisible and the non-existent look exactly alike? Hmmmm…..

          • Anonymous

            If God really did “harden” Pharaoh’s heart, I guess God took away his “free will”.  I guess that is a perk of being God.  God shows mercy upon whom He wishes and not upon others as He wishes.  Strange that using one’s “free will” and choosing not to worship God carries such a stiff penalty.  It’s all part of the Great Mystery…

            ———————-
            Romans 9: 17-18
            New American Standard Bible

            (17)  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”  (18)  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 
            ———————-

          • Anonymous

            “(17)  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”  (18)  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. “

            As people outside of the Christian bubble can see, the face-value language is crystal clear: “God” picks and chooses at his own discretion whom he will “save”, and whom he will let burn. 

            On the inside of the Christian bubble, there is some sort of apologetic designed to overcome the face-value language…e.g….”You’re taking it out of context!”…”God is a mystery!”….”You don’t understand Christianity!”, blah, blah, yadda, yadda.

            Christianity is lunacy.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

            I came across these verses while doing a study of Romans and
            was, like everyone who first comes across it, taken aback by what I read.  I felt just as you do.  There were a few didn’t possible explanations
            given to me which I still wrestle with.  First
            is that our language does not provide the correct translation from its original
            language. Example: Greek has 4 different words for love, each with their own
            meaning. Perhaps this lack of appropriate translation is why different passages
            state different parties or no party responsible for Pharaohs heart being
            hardened.

            Exodus 7:13: Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would
            not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.

            Exodus 7:22: But the Egyptian magicians did the same things
            by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to
            Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.

            Exodus 8:15: But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he
            hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD
            had said.

            Exodus 8:30-32: Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the
            LORD, 31 and the LORD did what Moses asked. The flies
            left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would
            not let the people go.

            Exodus 9:33-35:  Then
            Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the
            LORD; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the
            land. 34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and
            thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their
            hearts. 35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would
            not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses.

            These different verses seem to illustrate multiple versions for
            the hardening of Pharoah’s heart

             A second possible explanation
            for this is God allowed Pharaoh to hardened his own heart, like he allows all
            man with free will who reject him to harden their hearts against him. So with
            this God did the hardening by allowing it to happen.  This is a subject with I have been wrestling
            with in the past few weeks in my own life. 
            I have not come to any firm conclusions and am still seeking a truth
            which will satisfy.  I hope that his honesty does not simply put “blood in the water” but can be a gateway to open discussion which might help provide answers. 

            http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1205

             

          • Anonymous

            “I have not come to any firm conclusions and am still seeking a truth” ~ Broc

            If you are experiencing honest doubts (as Sid and I once did), and if you are looking to honestly  find “truth”(or what is more likely true), then you’d be hard pressed to get me to believe that to  “cross examine” your current beliefs that this would simply mean going to an apologetic website and looking for possible “solutions”, or more appropriately, excuses, for why the plain, black and white text doesn’t mean exactly what it says.

            One of which excuses, is… our language does not provide the correct translation from its original language. Example: Greek has 4 different words for love, each with their own meaning

            Then perhaps all discussion is pointless until/unless we all break out our Greek lexicons and translate every word from its original Greek.

             See, this is why I find it all unconvincing: The letters.. l, o, v, e mean “love” where there’s no conflict. The letters, d, a, y mean a 24 hr period called a “day”, where there’s no conflict. We don’t need to “translate” anything. But as soon as someone raises an objection or points out something contradictory, the already-convinced, AKA “believers”, want to play the “translation” card. 

            You say….

            “A second possible explanation for this is God allowed Pharaoh to hardened his own heart, like he allows all man with free will who reject him to harden their hearts against him.”

            Really? Then instead of Exodus 10:20 reading, “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go” …why doesn’t it then say, “But Pharaoh had hardened his OWN heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.” ?

            IOW, it seems evident to me that you are willing yourself to believe that your currently-held beliefs are “true”, then looking for ways to make those beliefs remain “true”, at all costs. It seems that the article is accordingly for those who use this disingenuous tactic.

          • Anonymous

            BTW, I tried to read the the explanation from the provided link, where the writer seeks to discredit skeptic and Calvinist views of the Exodus account, and I had stop reading it in disgust. The typical dishonest rhetoric. But I’m sure it will convince its targeted audience…i.e..the already-convinced.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            Broc, consider that Christianity is a religion based upon reward and punishment.  I don’t know how a rational person could deny that.  The “elect” get eternal reward and the “damned” get eternal punishment.  Those are two very powerful incentives for someone to consider.  In fact, I can not think of any two possible outcomes to any situation that are more drastically opposed than eternal reward and eternal suffering.  According to prominent Christian teaching, every human is faced with one of those two outcomes.  Does that sound like a real choice to you?  Would you give your own children those two choices (and ONLY those two choices) when you know that some children that you created will suffer for all eternity as a result of disobedience during their mortal life?  Keep in mind that Christian tradition holds that Lucifer led a rebellion in Heaven before the Fall of Man took place.  If Lucifer could deceive one-third of the angels in Heaven, it stands to reason that Lucifer could deceive two morally innocent human beings on Earth… and that is exactly what Christianity tells us happened as God allowed it.  Lucifer deceived angels and humans, and the entire human race has suffered and died ever since, and untold numbers will spend eternity suffering (according to prominent Christian teaching).  Further, God was apparently incapable of forgiving the human race until a blood sacrifice (Jesus) was offered up.  Imagine that.  That is the God you choose to worship.

          • Anonymous

            Yup, and then there’s the whole prescience vs free agency quagmire …..

            “35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he wouldnot let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses.” [bold added]

             Again, if “the LORD” has a knowledge of the future, and in this case, subsequently used “Moses” to foretell that person X would have a “hard heart” and not let group Y go,  then very basic logic says that person X, absolutely,  must follow through with that prediction in order to coincide with the KNOWN future. 

            IOW, person X’ “free will” is an illusion; their actions are BOUND by the LORD’s “omniscience”. 

            No Christian has overcome this, and the only way they can, is to forfeit, either, a) God’s omniscience, or b) free agency

          • Anonymous

            As a side note, according to the Bible, Enoch and Elijah apparently didn’t “die” like the rest of mortals do.  I don’t want to shortchange those two righteous dudes…  ;-> 

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Also, there’s a flaw in saying that, in order to understand context, you must read the entire Bible. Yes, you are part right. There’s the context of how the book or verse fits into the entire narrative of the Bible. But there’s also the immediate context of a verse (the few verses around the verse), and the larger context of the verse within its own book.

          Normally, if you look at a verse and say, “It’s out of context,” it means that the way that one is interpreting the verse is not in line with how someone would normally interpret the verse within its immediate context.
          But you’re right in the sense that you can also look at a verse and say, “It’s out of context,” and mean that the way that one is interpreting it is wrong given the context of the ENTIRE Bible.

          • Anonymous

            Again, Robert, please tell boom and I how you can pick up a Bible and read it and KNOW how to interpret it.  Considering how many Bible scholars disagree on the meanings of many different passages, how can YOU know how to correctly interpret scripture?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, I answered this above.

          • Anonymous

            Your “answer” above was piffle.

  • Anonymous

    ..

  • O!

    ***I am not even going to bother with the rest…read the passage have some context not just a sentence fragment. ***

    O h I guess you’re just too busy chuggin’ down poison and healing the sick to address the other verses…….
     
    But as to the interpretation of “All is accomplished” and what was “fulfilled“ – I’m having trouble stretching the context  as you do to suggest that Jesus’ death was ALL that was to be accomplished.
     
    Where specifically does it say in Mathew 5:17 that the fulfillment was Jesus’ death?
     
    From where I’m sitting (and if you want to put the whole thing in context) Jesus’ mission was not to just die but to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. But being the apocalypse hasn’t happened and Jesus isn’t flying around on a white horse destroying the beast and armies before him… then ALL is not accomplished. It’s like saying, a major league baseball team wants to accomplish the one thing they so desire — a world series, So they practice hard, play hard and win lots of games but they don’t win the world series. ALL is not accomplished.
     
    Obviously for the Christian, they must salvage their belief system by saying, practicing hard, playing hard and winning a lot of games was the accomplishment, therefore it was fulfilled.
     
    What was to be fulfilled?
    “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” — Matthew16:28
     
    “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.” — Luke 9:27
     
    “Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” — Matthew 23:36
     
    “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” — Matthew 24:34

    “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” — Mark 9:1
     
    “Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” — Mark 13:30
     
    “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” — Luke 21:32

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

    Well dang I go to bed and boom, the conversations blows up… 78 comments to 113+
     

    I actually wanted to post a comment about a few new shows that are going to air on Discovery Channel next Sunday (8/7/11), After Shark week, the best week on TV!!! Anyways, there are 3 shows which I think will interest all of us: 

    Curiosity/Create the Universe 7:00-8:00 CST : Hosted by Stephen Hawking
    Creation Question/Curiosity 8:00-8:30 CST : Hosted by David Gregory
    Into the Universe with Hawking 8:30 – 10:00: Host by Stephen Hawking
     

    I have set my DVR to record all 3 of these programs so Bob if you want to come over to watch them that would be great,  and I thought it would be fun for us all to watch and discuss them. 

    OPTIONAL: To put a twist on the debate I thought we could flip flop sides, while watching the shows make note  of a one or two things you find most convincing about the opposing position and bring that to the discussion. 

     Let me know what you guys think. 

    • Anonymous

      The Discovery Channel is my favorite station.  I look forward to those programs.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

        Anyone else disappointed by the shows on Discovery Channel?

        • Anonymous

          <<>>

          Are you disappointed because Stephen Hawking does not support your view that God created the universe?

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

            Absolutely not I knew where Mr. Hawking stood before watching these shows, which is why I was so interested.  However I was disappointed at the overall depth of the show, I was hoping for more examination of the science not analogy after analogy…think of it like tennis game, or a river…. I was looking for more “meat”; instead we got over simplifications and generalizations.

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

            ***Dr. Hawking

          • Anonymous

            Keep in mind that the target audience for The Discovery Channel is not people with PhD’s.  Having Dr. Hawking give a detailed lecture on Applied Mathematics and/or Theoretical Physics would alienate most of the audience.  The Discovery Channel doesn’t want that.  The show has to have some entertainment value.

            I thought the programs were interesting.  Dr. Hawking summed it up nicely.  He believes there is no God.  If he is right, you don’t have to dress up and go to church on Sunday.   You can go fishing instead!  ;->  

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

            I agree it would have alienated some viewers,  perhaps my expectations were too high

          • Anonymous

            If you are interested in those areas, maybe a local college or university offers introductory courses in those topics.  It might be worth a look-see.

  • Realist

    Atheism is the absence of belief in gods-current or historical.

  • Pingback: Cross Examination: Is There a Moral Law? | Brevis by Bob Ewoldt | Brevis from Bob Ewoldt()

  • Mike Blyth

    Hi, Bob. You should check the excellent video lecture by Moshe Halbertal: Three Concepts of Faith (http://bit.ly/ZDk4Vu) which distinguishes believing facts, believing in a person (relational), and believing *as* (a sort of provisional belief while in a certain capacity). It touches, though briefly, on James’ idea of willed belief.

    To me, as a Christian moving away from belief toward skepticism, I don’t see willed belief as a helpful concept (for this issue). It is certainly true that we cannot afford to postpone or avoid action forever because we are not 100% convinced of something–there is no certainty in life. However, to make a leap of faith against the best evidence one can find is a far different thing.

    I actually *wish* I could go back and unlearn, or erase from my mind, the things that have led me away from faith in the past two years. It would be far more comfortable for me to remain a sincere believer with all the comfort of the Christian community, the belief that God is always taking care of me, that I have eternal life, and so on. What’s not to like? However, now that I have reached this point, “willing belief” is not an option.

    What can belief against one’s cognition and perception even mean? Does it mean that we decide that we will make a prior commitment to a position regardless of the facts we encounter? Does it mean we decide to twist our perceptions and information until they fit with the position we “believe”? If truth is something we can “will”, then is it truth or illusion?

    Even if I take James’ challenge, where does that leave me? I am not faced with a single choice but with hundreds of competing ones. Do I will to believe in Islam? That would certainly be a step away from doubt and passivity. Many have found deep meaning and purpose in such faith. Or what about Roman Catholicism, the longest-enduring branch of Christianity, and the one in Pascal’s mind when he wrote his wager (as far as I understand)? Or maybe I should be bold and believe in Mormonism or Bahai’ism, more modern faiths.

    You will probably answer that it is *reason* (facts) that lead toward Evangelical Christianity as the true faith, so that these others can be discarded. Then, however, you are back to evidence-based rather than willed belief, and I will say that the evidence is not convincing. Evidence is at least something that we can discuss from different perspectives, perhaps even changing our minds as we are confronted with new evidence, while “will to belief” seems to me a dead end.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Mike, I admire your willingness to challenge your long-held beliefs. I think that you’re taking James’ hypothesis too far, though. When he talks about willing oneself to believe, I don’t think he’s talking about willing oneself to believe in Evangelical Christianity (for example). Rather, he’s talking about willing oneself to believe in the possibility of God. Or, in your case, perhaps willing yourself to believe that there might NOT be a God. It’s what James terms a “live option.” Without the “live option” that there might not be a God, you will not (a) put much stake in any arguments that assert that view, or (b) not be willing to invest much time investigating that topic. Therefore, I think that it’s valid to say that you have to will yourself to believe in that option before you can prove it to yourself.