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The Best Way to Decide the Existence of God

I think that this is the best way for atheists and Christians to finally settle our differences.

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Scripture Saturday: Importance of Bible Study (Prv 28:9)

I’ve heard that some folks benefit from a regimented blogging schedule, so I thought I’d give it a shot to see if it helps me.  And that means I will now introduce two new features.  If I blog nothing else in the course of a week, I will blog the two features.

The first is Contradiction Tuesday, where I will detail a perceived contradiction in the Bible.  I’ll take requests for this series from skeptics and believers alike — e-mail me.  It will begin next Tuesday; I didn’t have time to do one this week.

On a side note, I’m thinking of adding Anti-Testimony Wednesday sometime in the future.  I would critique the latest “Why I’m not a Christian” bit from ex-Christian.net, with a private offer to the poster to defend him or herself here.  Since they don’t like their unbelief challenged on the site, this would be playing by their rules.  After all, the anti-testimony is posted publicly so it’s unrealistic to think that someone won’t pick it up and challenge it somewhere.

The series beginning today is Scripture Saturday.  What better way to kick off Scripture Saturday than with a verse on the importance of studying Scripture?

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.  (Prv 28:9)

Strongly worded.  If a person stops studying God’s Law, then that person’s prayer is an abomination.  An abomination!  That’s the strongest way God can revile something.  And here, God is saying that he will revile a person’s prayers if that person refuses to hear God! Read the rest of this entry

Practical Application of Yesterday’s Theory

Yesterday, I presented a theoretical post.  I said that the Euthyphro dilemma could be solved, as William Lane Craig observes, by the ontology of God.  God is the ultimate source of good, and therefore the dilemma creates a false dichotomy.  God neither commands something because it’s good, nor is it good because he commands it.  God is good, and therefore his commands are good since they flow from his nature.

However, I observed, this wouldn’t satisfy most skeptics because they don’t think a syllable of the Bible is either true or reliable.  Most believe that the Bible has been completely disproved by every discipline of science:

  • Paleontologists and geologists have shown that the earth is older than the Bible declares (my buddy Mike disagrees, as does this website)
  • Archeologists have shown that most of the sites mentioned in the Bible don’t exist (check out some discoveries that attest to the veracity of the Bible)
  • Historians have demonstrated serious contradictions between what the Bible claims and what is reported in other historical documents (begs the question; why couldn’t the Bible be right and the other documents wrong?)
  • Biology shows us that the Bible reports nonsense about animals; hares don’t chew cud, bats aren’t birds, humans aren’t fundamentally different and therefore not special creations of any god (the last has to do with the rejection of the soul, so I won’t give a specific defense)

And on the list goes.

Now, all of those have logical answers.  I’ve linked to what others have said (I haven’t actually addressed any of those claims in depth) if you, the skeptic, would actually care to read them.

But let’s get to a practical application of yesterday: the Resurrection.  This is the central tenet of Christianity, but if the skeptic believes that the Bible is as riddled with error as many believe (above), then how are they ever going to swallow something as improbable and unbelievable as the Resurrection?

And make no mistake: It is both unbelievable and improbable! Read the rest of this entry

On Harold Camping and the Rapture (May 21, 2011)

Harold Camping predicted that the Rapture will occur, with certainty, on May 21, 2011.  Well, it’s May 22, 2011, and we’re all still here.  Why?  Because Mr. Camping ignored Scripture to get where he did.

Chief among texts ignored by Mr. Camping was Matthew 24:36-44:

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.  For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

In other words, we simply don’t know when the Judgment is coming.  But, we can be assured in the words of Jesus that he will return.  Therefore, we should stay vigilant and live as though it could happen at any time.

But this gets better and better.  Mr. Camping arrived at the date using numerology, which  means he ignored the texts condemning sorcery, and Deuteronomy 4:19:

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Since Mr. Camping has ignored or rationalized so many Scriptures, then one more shouldn’t be a problem for him.  This next one is a doozy.  He now has to explain to us why, in light of Deuteronomy 18:20-22, that anyone should remain his follower:

“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, orwho speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.” And if you say in your heart, “How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?”— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Camping predicted the date of the Rapture, said it was a certainty, and it didn’t come to pass.  Therefore, he has met the biblical definition of a false prophet, and we need not pay him any mind.  Why should anyone continue listening to him?  I await his reply.

Happy Easter!

It’s Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The disciples had no idea what was coming.  The first reports came in: they didn’t believe it.  But then more reports.  Soon, they saw for themselves.

The importance of Easter cannot be overstated.  Paul said it like this:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:12-19, emphasis added)

Fortunately, that is not the case!

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “Godhas put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:20-28)

Monica’s Longer Arguments No Better than the Tweets, part 2

Monica, who goes on Twitter as @Monicks, has thousands of followers.  Why?  Her arguments are even more vacuous than most.  I think I got hooked into this for the same reason I follow @antitheistangie (Angie Jackson)–not for intellectual arguments or deep thinking, but because she’s really, really hot.

That said, let’s examine one of the remaining two commands of the Bible that no one follows.  It’s interesting that I mentioned I’m following Angie because she’s super hot, since divorce (Mk 10:8-12) is today’s topic.

I agree that divorce is forbidden; so what?  The people that God declares righteous in the Bible: were they perfect and without sin?  No!  Abraham lied numerous times.  Jacob deceived his brother and his father to be the heir of promise.  David slept with another man’s wife, then conspired to have the husband killed.  Peter denied Jesus three times.  Paul killed and tortured Christians to get them to renounce their faith in Jesus.

If we had to come before God with our works, we’d all be screwed.  Especially me!  I just admitted to a sin in the introduction of this post–looking at a woman besides my wife with lust!  The righteous live by faith.

So, at the end of the day, the truth of Christianity doesn’t rise or fall on the actions of its practitioners.  If it did, this religion would never have gotten off the ground.

But that’s getting away from the central issue of ignoring divorce.  We’ll come back to the idea that the actions of Christians isn’t the arbiter of the truth of Christianity in a moment.  First, let’s look at the parallel passage in Matthew 19:9, which reads, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (emphasis added).  This is a twist on our story.

The translation “sexual immorality” really isn’t the best way to capture the Greek word that Matthew used.  The NET Bible translates it simply “immorality.”  The word is properly understood as separating parts from the whole or destroying the union or fellowship of [something].  I take this to mean that anything that destroys the fellowship of marriage (beating your wife, gazing with lust upon Angie Jackson, creating an unsafe home environment, physically or emotionally abusing your children) should be grounds for divorce.  Sexual immorality is only the tip of the iceberg.

So, divorce is permissible if one of the partners destroys the solidarity of the marriage.  Other passages confirm this (check 1 Cor 7:10-16).

Do I think that all Christian divorces are taking place because someone broke up the solidarity of the marriage?  No!  I’m not naive.  I know that some Christian divorces occur for the same frivolous reasons as the unbelievers’ divorces: “We’re not compatible anymore;” “I didn’t know he snored that loud!” “She nags me everyday.”

That brings us full circle: the truth of Christianity doesn’t rely on the actions of its practitioners.  If it did, this religion wouldn’t have survived for very long, because all of us are sinners–whether we lie about our marital status to save our own skin, deceive our closest family to wrongfully obtain an inheritance, or secretly wish Angie was wearing something skimpier in the latest video.

Tomorrow, we shall show that atheists truly don’t think very deeply about possible meanings of biblical texts.  They read what is there and that’s it.

Convincing Skeptics to Believe

John W. Loftus discussed what it would take to convince him to believe. The discussion was prompted when Jayman, a Christian, asked  Loftus if he witnessed a bona fide miracle, would he then believe in God? Let’s look at the hubris displayed in the answer:

I have said that it would take a personal miracle for me to believe. I didn’t say what kind of miracle nor did I comment on the other things that would have to accompany that miracle. Let me do so now. . . .

Let’s say the miracle was an anonymous one, like the resurrection of my cousin Steve Strawser, who died at 58 alone in the woods of a massive heart attack, or the skeptic Ken Pulliam who died in October. I would believe in a supernatural reality, yes, but an anonymous one. I don’t think I could conclude anything different. But it would be an anonymous god who did it. I could not conclude much about this god other than that he could raise the dead. (emphasis added)

Once telling us that a miracle would convince him, he qualifies that by saying that a miracle is only evidence of a supernatural entity, but the identity of said entity is still open for conjecture. Then he backtracks:

So I would need more than a miracle, even though that scenario is already far fetched to begin with. (emphasis added)

After the miracle, Loftus wants God to take credit for it, by making a personal appearance (of course). Loftus further considers that proposition:

But let’s say that along with such a miracle I am told by this deity to believe exactly the way Jayman does about Christianity. That presumes even more than that a miracle occurred, since there are so many brands of Christianity around, some accusing the others of heresy. Would I believe then?

Assuming that the miracle came, the worker of the miracle has shown himself and taken credit, then he tells Loftus to believe exactly as a specific Christian believes. Meaning God’s power has been demonstrated, and then asserts his authority. Does Loftus submit?

So, if I experienced a personal miracle I would require more than just that to believe in Jayman’s god. I have so many objections to the Bible and the biblical god I would have to reconcile what I know with what this deity told me to believe. I cannot even understand why any god would require me to believe in the first place! At that point I would be forced to chose between Jayman’s god and a trickster conception of god, and the trickster god would have to be my choice given what I know. (emphasis added)

Wow. Don’t miss Loftus’s  this:

  1. An incontrovertible miracle occurs.
  2. God himself appears to Loftus and takes credit.
  3. God tells Loftus which Christian denomination is correct in all doctrinal points.
  4. However, Loftus doesn’t think that any branch of Christianity is correct.
  5. Loftus assumes that the deity who appeared and worked the miracle is now tricking him.

In conclusion:

If I was convinced Christianity is true and Jesus arose from the grave, and if I must believe in such a barbaric God, I would believe, yes, but I could still not worship such a barbaric God. I would fear such a Supreme Being, since he has such great power, but I’d still view him as a thug, a despicable tyrant, a devil in disguise; unless Christianity was revised. (source, emphasis added)

This is quite educational. My conclusion: John W. Loftus is an arrogant and unrelenting narcissist who has put himself in place of God. In his own words, Loftus has said, “Even if God himself proved his existence beyond a reasonable doubt and told me that Christianity is true, I’ll believe it but I’m still not going to worship God.”

Literally, John Loftus has just told us that he knows better than God. Only on the Internet can you witness egos this big first hand.  And, this proves that no one is in hell kicking, screaming, and crying to be let out (as I’ve frequently argued).  Loftus would rather be there then to bow down and worship God.

I don’t think I can add anything further. This speaks for itself.

Consistent Atheist: Meet Tom

Guest Post by Tom Scanlon

All right, I’m new to blogging so you’re going to have to give me some room.  My name is Tom Scanlon, and I’m an atheist.  But I feel like I’m different than most atheists in a very important way.  I consistently apply the attitudes and methodologies that led me to atheism to all areas of my life.

My life is pretty messed up because of that, but I don’t care.  I’m actually happy because I’m 100% consistent in all of my conclusions about life–no matter how weird they are.  In the coming weeks, I’m going to post about that, so you’ll see just how messed up things are.

Cory and I used to go to school together and we reconnected through Facebook.  I saw Cory had a blog and I talked to him about how to start one, since I was thinking about doing one about how consistent my atheism has become.  When I heard that you have to update blogs fairly regularly to get traffic and build loyal readers, I balked because I don’t think I have that much to say, or that I’ll even post that often.  So, being a gracious friend, Cory agreed to let me post every now and again to his blog.

So, hi, everyone!  I thought I’d start out with a brief introductory post and then maybe later this week or something I can put up a post about applying the methodology for rejecting Christianity to my personal life, and why it messed stuff up so badly.

All my posts will be under the Consistent Atheist category of the blog, so click on that to check me out.  Also, I got my own page.  All right, that’s it.  Hopefully I’ll be back around Friday or so with my first post.

Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, part 6

Former Christian turned atheist DaGoodS (DGS) has compiled a list of eleven questions that he doesn’t think Christians can answer. I’ve decided to take him on, since I’m a sucker for questions that Christians supposedly can’t answer. Hopefully, DGS and I can learn something from each other.

Question #6, the most foolishly misguided question, is:

If God lied, how would you know?

For some reason, atheists treat faith as a foul word that rivals the f-bomb for words that shouldn’t be used in civil conversation. This is because they are seriously misguided as to what it means.

Here are some skeptical examples representative of how they typically define the concept of faith:

  • Voltaire: “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”
  • Nietzsche: “Faith: not wanting to know what is true.”
  • Henry Ward Beecher: “Faith is spiritualized imagination.”
  • George Seaton: “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
  • Even Ben Franklin had issues with faith! He said, “To Follow by faith alone is to follow blindly;” and “The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason.”
  • Mason Cooley deserves the last word here: “Ultimately, blind faith is the only kind.”

These quotes show us that the atheist believes faith is belief without evidence, or despite all the evidence. That’s not true! D. Elton Trueblood has the real definition of faith: “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.” J.P. Holding develops the idea of faith as trust in this must-read article.

Once you realize that faith isn’t a blind step in the dark, taken for no rhyme or reason, then you can understand that the answer to this question is a matter of faith. Faith is trust placed in one who deserves that trust.

As Christians, we have faith in God, and we have faith in the Bible since the Bible is an accurate revelation of God’s character and mission. Indeed, they are one-in-the-same revelation. The Scriptures affirm that God cannot (will not?) lie (Num 23:19; Tts 1:2; Heb 6:18; 1 Jn 1:5).

Having faith in God means having faith that the inspiration of the Scriptures is accurate, and what is in the Scriptures is an accurate representation of the character of God. The Scriptures are clear that God doesn’t lie.

What this means is that there’s no need to consider how to know if God has lied or not. He’s not going to. It’s a moot point.

Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, Sidebar on 1 Corinthians

The first of today’s posts on DaGoodS’s (DGS) questions will come a bit later, as I wanted to examine a side issue that was raised. The discussion revolves around a specific interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:20-21. DGS thinks it supports a rejection of all worldly wisdom. However, I believe that in its proper context, it is trying to argue something far different. Read the rest of this entry