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Defending the Truth on Twitter Is Hard Work!

January 20, 2014

Last week, I got involved in a long discussion with an atheist on Twitter. I enjoy Twitter, but it has a frustrating limitation: you can only write 140 characters in each tweet! Which makes for a rather disjointed discussion… so I thought I’d try and put some of my thoughts in a blog post instead.

To begin with, it seems clear that atheists assume that their position is the “default”, and that they’re on a higher plane morally, intellectually and scientifically. Christians are naïve, deluded and victims of all sorts of logical fallacies which they’ve obviously never heard of. We don’t know any of the arguments against our faith, otherwise we would obviously have become non-believers long ago.

This may be true of some Christians, but not all, and I for one find it quite insulting when my opponents assume I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m much less “brainwashed” than atheists who have grown up in completely secular surroundings. I have read Dawkins and Hitchens, I follow atheists on Twitter, and most of society around me (21st century England) is irreligious at best. I love logic, and even have a book about logical fallacies – ironically written by two evangelical Christians!

I’m also not in it for the money or the fame; a ridiculous accusation, with my 53 Twitter followers (I’m @RevDavidMilford if you want to add to that number!) and a Sunday congregation of 35-40 people…  J

Then there is the definition issue. Atheists often insist on treating everything that’s called “Christian” as if it was the same, and that if I’m a Christian, I have to approve of Crusades, child abuse and Westboro Baptist. Of course I don’t! I’m told Hitler was a Christian; well, he wasn’t. He was a Catholic – but so are many murderous types, both popes and mafia hit men. I’m not defending Christian versions of religion; I’m a follower of Jesus, and the only Christianity I defend is the kind that takes his words and his example seriously.

When I say that, people often accuse me of the “True Scotsman” fallacy – who can decide what is true Christianity? Well, it’s true that the edges are blurred – but unlike “scottishness” we do have an objective criterion: the New Testament. Anything that deviates from the NT is clearly not Christian, regardless of what label it uses.

Secondly, atheists tend to know quite a lot about the Bible – but they don’t understand the over-all picture or progression of God’s plan of salvation. Very few Christians believe we should apply all of the Law of Moses today; but that argument is discarded as contradictory or deceptive. The story of Abraham and Isaac makes it clear that God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice his son; it’s not a justification for child sacrifice, and never was. The flood story is not “genocide”, which is one people eradicating another; it was God’s judgment on a sinful world, and it’s not really a big issue if you consider that I believe a) that God is just in his judgments and b) that he will one day execute judgment on the entire human race.

Our opponents constantly try and make our faith seem contradictory. Last week’s guy illustrates this beautifully: “so your fairy invents ‘sin’ and then kills ‘his’ creation for doing something ‘he’ invented? Well that makes sense…” Of course it doesn’t make sense; but no Christian believes that. Sin wasn’t invented by God, it’s an intrusion and a hostile power. It frustrates me when people attach straw men like that (even Christopher Hitchens does it all the time, in his book “God Is Not Great”). Please, all atheists out there: attack what we do believe, don’t try and look clever by knocking down windmills!

The same is true for most alleged contradictions: they’re simply not there, if you consider a) the flow of biblical history and b) the fact that human authors tend not to express things in exactly the same way as others. Mark didn’t need to talk about the virgin birth in his brief gospel, as he focused on Jesus’ ministry and death; that doesn’t mean he didn’t know about it, and it doesn’t constitute a contradiction.

What really annoyed my last week was that the guy wouldn’t accept my reference to books by people who have spent more time than me investigating and explaining issues like manuscript copies etc. He seemed to think I should know everything myself, and be then able to explain it all in a tweet or two… But that doesn’t apply to most things in life. How do I know Julius Caesar existed? Because historians tell me so. The only evidence I have for the Higgs boson is that some scientists in Switzerland clam to have found it. How on earth could I verify that independently? I have never examined a water molecule to confirm that it really is H2O, and when I go on an airplane I trust that the pilot is qualified to fly the plane – I don’t take a pilot’s exam and insist on flying the plane myself!

The whole issue of “authority” seems to be a problem for these debating atheists – if I rely on Lee Strobel to explain the reliability of the gospels, aren’t I just swallowing propaganda and listening to people who I already agree with? Well, I guess I might be – but then again, I’m sure my Twitter opponent hasn’t read the whole Bible and come up with all his arguments by himself, either… Most people listen to music they enjoy and read books they think they can learn from; that surely can’t be an objection to faith in itself!

The worst problem, though, is that atheist debaters often insist there is no “evidence” for God, and that we’re all ostriches refusing to face the facts. When I or somebody else insists that we base our faith on facts, the answer is generally “no you don’t” or a brash assertion that our facts aren’t “facts” at all.

Part of the problem is that what they want isn’t evidence but proof. As I understand it, “evidence” is something that points to the truth, whereas “proof” is basically irrefutable. In a murder case, the police rarely have “proof” of the identity of the murderer (unless caught on camera); but they have many items of evidence that they piece together to prove their identity anyway – but a clever lawyer can often pick holes in the evidence anyway.

It seems God hasn’t chosen to give us fool-proof proofs – maybe because he wants us to follow him voluntarily, rather than submit by obligation. Or should I say, currently there is no irrefutable proof; when Jesus comes back in majesty, “every knee will bow” and nobody will be able to hide behind the alleged lack of evidence!

Still, I don’t think there is such a lack of evidence anyway – if there was, I wouldn’t be a Christian in the first place. So let me list the ones that make the biggest impression on me:

1)      The universe. I know Stephen Hawking and others argue that the universe “created itself”; I fail to be impressed. Nothing creates itself, and so the very existence of a universe suggests there is a divine Creator behind it. The question “who created God” is silly, since God by definition is not part of creation, and the question can’t apply to him in the way it applies to the pre-Bib Bang singularity or Hawkings’ creative gravity…

2)      Jesus’ life and ministry. I have no time for the refusal to accept even that Jesus existed, put so eloquently by my opponent last week: “please provide some *good* reasons for believing this character ever existed as a person in the first place.” There is plenty of evidence: the gospels (which are reliable as historical documents), mentions in Tacitus, Josephus (even if you remove the Christian embellishments), the Talmud etc. The very fact that by the middle of the first century there is an empire-wide church based completely on “this character” suggests that nobody at the time doubted it. No Jewish source ever denies that Jesus existed, only his virgin birth and resurrection.

3)      The resurrection: usually dismissed out of hand as evidence by atheists because it’s scientifically impossible – but that’s the whole point: it’s called a miracle because it’s impossible. If people came back to life right, left and centre, what would be so special about Jesus?
The fact is, the tomb was empty. If the Romans or the Jewish leaders had known where it was, they would have brought it out and put an end to the whole thing as soon as it started. The disciples stood to gain nothing: the church was persecuted for the first two centuries of its existence, and there was neither money nor honour involved in preaching Jesus. The only reason they could have had was that they had indeed met him alive.
It’s also worth pointing out that the four gospels give slightly different accounts of the resurrection morning. This is not a problem: that’s what always happens when different people give an account of the same event. If anything, it confirms the story: the authors have not colluded in producing an identical story, and they must have got their info from different sources, which makes it more reliable.

4)      Ethics and morals: even atheists agree that there is right and wrong, good and bad. Where does this idea come from? If it’s all just a matter of surviving long enough to reproduce, there’s no room for kindness and mercy. There’s no way evolution would bring about a conscience; so where did it come from, if not from a divine source of right and good?

5)      People’s experience, including myself. Millions of people can testify to radically changed lives as well as more low-key encounters with Jesus. This can’t be tested scientifically, of course, but it’s still valid as evidence suggesting there is something beyond what can be seen and heard.

Christians are often accused by atheists of being against science. That seems ridiculous; science brought about my clothes, my central heating, the computer I’m writing this on and the internet browser that allows you to read it. Science deals with the physical world, what can be tested and measured and studied in a laboratory. Lots of Christians work in various fields of science; what do we have to fear? All truth is God’s truth – I’m as ardent a seeker after truth as any atheist, despite their frequent assertion that their mind is open whereas mine must be closed, otherwise I would agree with them (it never seems to occur to them that it might be the other way round…).

What I am opposed to, however, is some people’s religious-like belief in science’s ability to answer every question and solve every riddle. The mystery of life and death, meaning and purpose, lies beyond the realm of science, and so does God. Science cannot study God, as he isn’t part of the physical universe – that doesn’t mean science has proved there is no God. If you choose to believe it has, that the universe really did create itself and that there really is nothing beyond the physical – a kind of spiritual WYSIWYG – that’s up to you, but it’s not scientific. It’s scientism, which is based on faith just as much as Christianity.

Let’s be clear: I’m just as interested in truth as your ordinary atheist. The reason I debate is that I’m passionate about communicating the truth, and it frustrates me to come across so many misconceptions and false representations of true Christianity. I saw an XKCD cartoon once, with this guy typing away frantically, not able to go to bed because “someone is wrong on the Internet”! I sympathise with him – I feel exactly the same…

Last week’s guy kept referring to God as a “fairy”, implying he’s just as real and just as believable as fairies at the bottom of the garden. But there is a big difference: fairies are part of the garden, which can happily exist without them; God is the gardener, without whom there wouldn’t be a garden to begin with. Scientists can study the garden (and discover that there doesn’t seem to be any fairies in it); they can’t access the Gardener unless he chooses to reveal himself to them. This I believe he has done, when he came to earth in Jesus. If you don’t at least investigate properly who he was and what he did, how can you claim to be objective and unbiased?

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

7 Comments
  1. “To begin with, it seems clear that atheists assume that their position is the “default”, and that they’re on a higher plane morally, intellectually and scientifically. Christians are naïve, deluded and victims of all sorts of logical fallacies which they’ve obviously never heard of. We don’t know any of the arguments against our faith, otherwise we would obviously have become non-believers long ago.”

    It is the default position. For instance, why did the native americans or other non-european civilizations have to be taught about the christian/jewish god? Shouldn’t they have known already? Why didn’t the greeks or other cultures dated long before the god of Israel already know this god of Israel or have some reference or even the slightest hint of it and some reference to this hebrew bible?

    Though perhaps it is more accurate to say the atheism position is the default position, especially in our current age with the level of technology and tools we have available that people of a more superstitious nature in a different age couldn’t have access to so they would just say some invisible thing did this thing they don’t understand such as lightning.

    “When I say that, people often accuse me of the “True Scotsman” fallacy – who can decide what is true Christianity? Well, it’s true that the edges are blurred – but unlike “scottishness” we do have an objective criterion: the New Testament. Anything that deviates from the NT is clearly not Christian, regardless of what label it uses.”

    Catholics follow the new testament. So how are they not christian?

    “Secondly, atheists tend to know quite a lot about the Bible – but they don’t understand the over-all picture or progression of God’s plan of salvation. Very few Christians believe we should apply all of the Law of Moses today; but that argument is discarded as contradictory or deceptive. The story of Abraham and Isaac makes it clear that God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice his son; it’s not a justification for child sacrifice, and never was. The flood story is not “genocide”, which is one people eradicating another; it was God’s judgment on a sinful world, and it’s not really a big issue if you consider that I believe a) that God is just in his judgments and b) that he will one day execute judgment on the entire human race.”

    You are basically making god the master in a master/slave relationship now. You are putting obedience over conscience and morals. How was it moral for Abraham to sacrifice his son just because his god said so? How is it moral for god to drown millions of children who could commit no actual crime other than existing? Or is this where you say god is above morality and doesn’t have to live by the same laws he makes humans follow? If god told you to sacrifice your entire congregation, would you go out and do it? How would you know you are not just going insane and hearing voices?

    “Sin wasn’t invented by God, it’s an intrusion and a hostile power. It frustrates me when people attach straw men like that…”

    That presents another problem for you though. It shows your god cannot control something thus making him not omnipotent.

    “The same is true for most alleged contradictions: they’re simply not there, if you consider a) the flow of biblical history and b) the fact that human authors tend not to express things in exactly the same way as others. Mark didn’t need to talk about the virgin birth in his brief gospel, as he focused on Jesus’ ministry and death; that doesn’t mean he didn’t know about it, and it doesn’t constitute a contradiction.”

    No, but the addition of everything after 16:8 in Mark presents a problem. If that part was changed, how much else was? And do you have anything outside christian writings that corroborates any of the items presented in Mark? In fact, I can point you to some greek stories that follow similar themes as Mark.

    “The whole issue of “authority” seems to be a problem for these debating atheists – if I rely on Lee Strobel to explain the reliability of the gospels, aren’t I just swallowing propaganda and listening to people who I already agree with?”

    Lee Strobel is an apologist and the people he spoke to were people who already agreed with him. Don’t you wonder why he never spoke to anyone who was more skeptical or maybe more neutral and had no vested interest in agreeing with him? Perhaps an agnostic scholar.

    “Part of the problem is that what they want isn’t evidence but proof. As I understand it, “evidence” is something that points to the truth, whereas “proof” is basically irrefutable. In a murder case, the police rarely have “proof” of the identity of the murderer (unless caught on camera); but they have many items of evidence that they piece together to prove their identity anyway – but a clever lawyer can often pick holes in the evidence anyway.”

    The ‘evidence’ for your resurrection that christians cite as proof is the ‘eyewitnesses’. In today’s world, we would know these people’s names and everything about them but even then we know that eyewitness testimony is terrible. Why don’t you use that same standard of evidence for the Resurrection?

    I find it amazing that you haven’t all become Mormons or Scientologists yet given that the same standards you apply to your bible as proof you would dismiss when it came to Mormonism or Scientology. Why is it more true because it happened 2000 years ago instead of 100 or 50 years when we have much better means for gathering and investigating this?

    “It seems God hasn’t chosen to give us fool-proof proofs – maybe because he wants us to follow him voluntarily, rather than submit by obligation. Or should I say, currently there is no irrefutable proof; when Jesus comes back in majesty, “every knee will bow” and nobody will be able to hide behind the alleged lack of evidence!”

    So your god favors gullible people? It doesn’t make you wonder why religion is on the decline in the western world but more on the rise in areas of the world where they are less educated?

    “The universe. I know Stephen Hawking and others argue that the universe “created itself”; I fail to be impressed. Nothing creates itself, and so the very existence of a universe suggests there is a divine Creator behind it. The question “who created God” is silly, since God by definition is not part of creation, and the question can’t apply to him in the way it applies to the pre-Bib Bang singularity or Hawkings’ creative gravity…”

    And how exactly does that point to your particular god?

    Further, you may be mistaking nothing with something extremely small. For instance, the universe may have always existed as a tiny particle that undergoes a phase of expansion (a big bang as it were) every several trillion years and we are in that cycle now. Why do I need to suddenly add a new realm for something that could never be tested? It sounds like you just want something to be true and so you make up something you can’t test for.

    “Jesus’ life and ministry. I have no time for the refusal to accept even that Jesus existed, put so eloquently by my opponent last week: “please provide some *good* reasons for believing this character ever existed as a person in the first place.” There is plenty of evidence: the gospels (which are reliable as historical documents), mentions in Tacitus, Josephus (even if you remove the Christian embellishments), the Talmud etc. The very fact that by the middle of the first century there is an empire-wide church based completely on “this character” suggests that nobody at the time doubted it. No Jewish source ever denies that Jesus existed, only his virgin birth and resurrection.”

    No, they gospels are not ‘reliable’. As I pointed out, we can show they have been changed over the centuries. And both Tacitus and Josepheus only mention christians, not Jesus. Even if you accept the forgery of testimonium flavianum, it only mentions James as the brother of Jesus and that is it. Now while it could be talking about James of the gospel, the problem is that early christians often refered to themselves as brothers and sisters within their sects so it could have just been another christian especially since they all considered themselves equals.

    I wouldn’t say that no one doubted it. Don’t you feel the ancient romans, when they adopted christianity by command of the emperor, had something to do with its spread?

    But all that is also irrelevant because even when it is granted that Jesus existed, so what? Ghandi existed too. What exactly does that prove? That you had a rabbi at the time preaching a message of peace and equality? Great. Now what? How does that make any of his more unique claims true?

    “The resurrection: usually dismissed out of hand as evidence by atheists because it’s scientifically impossible – but that’s the whole point: it’s called a miracle because it’s impossible. If people came back to life right, left and centre, what would be so special about Jesus?
    The fact is, the tomb was empty. If the Romans or the Jewish leaders had known where it was, they would have brought it out and put an end to the whole thing as soon as it started. The disciples stood to gain nothing: the church was persecuted for the first two centuries of its existence, and there was neither money nor honour involved in preaching Jesus. The only reason they could have had was that they had indeed met him alive.
    It’s also worth pointing out that the four gospels give slightly different accounts of the resurrection morning. This is not a problem: that’s what always happens when different people give an account of the same event. If anything, it confirms the story: the authors have not colluded in producing an identical story, and they must have got their info from different sources, which makes it more reliable.”

    So you take a story of an empty tomb by people you actually know nothing about and it is repeated in more stories within their sect (some of which are carbon copies as Matthew took 600 lines word for word from Mark and Luke took 300) and you call that evidence? Using that standard, then Joseph Smith’s claims are also true and his evidence is even stronger since we have the signed affidavits from his own followers who we can identify in history and who swear they saw these golden tablets he had to give back to the angel. So why are you not mormon?

    “Ethics and morals: even atheists agree that there is right and wrong, good and bad. Where does this idea come from? If it’s all just a matter of surviving long enough to reproduce, there’s no room for kindness and mercy. There’s no way evolution would bring about a conscience; so where did it come from, if not from a divine source of right and good?”

    Survival. Every living creature has this. If you don’t, you don’t grow as a species. That is pretty simple to understand. What kind of logical sense does it make for a civilization to survive without some kind of mutual co-operation going on within it? It would collapse quickly.

    “People’s experience, including myself. Millions of people can testify to radically changed lives as well as more low-key encounters with Jesus. This can’t be tested scientifically, of course, but it’s still valid as evidence suggesting there is something beyond what can be seen and heard.”

    What of the people who make the change without it? I was a christian. I was also very depressed. It was only when I started shedding my superstitious fears that I became far more content and happier as a person. People put meaning into anything. This is no more proof of Jesus or God than it is Zeus or Nuwa.

    “Christians are often accused by atheists of being against science. That seems ridiculous; science brought about my clothes, my central heating, the computer I’m writing this on and the internet browser that allows you to read it. Science deals with the physical world, what can be tested and measured and studied in a laboratory. Lots of Christians work in various fields of science; what do we have to fear? All truth is God’s truth – I’m as ardent a seeker after truth as any atheist, despite their frequent assertion that their mind is open whereas mine must be closed, otherwise I would agree with them (it never seems to occur to them that it might be the other way round…).”

    Convenient excuse when you are worshiping an invisible, incorporeal deity. Simply make up something rather than try to approach it rationally. I prefer people being skeptical of claims made by snake oil salesman rather than accept them on weak evidence or because someone told them it is true. This is no different than all the people claiming that a specific drug makes you lose weight when it doesn’t but no one checks and it sells by the millions.

    “What I am opposed to, however, is some people’s religious-like belief in science’s ability to answer every question and solve every riddle. The mystery of life and death, meaning and purpose, lies beyond the realm of science, and so does God. Science cannot study God, as he isn’t part of the physical universe – that doesn’t mean science has proved there is no God. If you choose to believe it has, that the universe really did create itself and that there really is nothing beyond the physical – a kind of spiritual WYSIWYG – that’s up to you, but it’s not scientific. It’s scientism, which is based on faith just as much as Christianity.”

    Science has a better track record of actually giving a real answer. The sound barrier couldn’t be broken! Then it was. You can’t escape the gravity of the earth! Then it was. As for the more philosphical questions, we assign our own purpose. I don’t see how being a slave to a god who favors obedience above all else makes him morally superior. His reported kindness seems easily trumped by his vanity.

    And of course it can’t study god. You assign abstract qualities. I could do the same to anything as well. Lets introduce Eric the god eating magic penguin. Since Eric is god-eating by definition, he has no choice but to eat god. So if god exists, he ceases to exist as a result of being eaten. Unless you can prove that eric doesn’t exist, god doesn’t exist. Even if you can prove eric doesn’t, that same proof applies to god. You see how this works when you just make things up and expect people to believe you at face value on weak, circumstancial evidence?

    • I appreciate the time and effort you put into answering my post! I’ll try to comment on a few points, but can’t do it this very minute. Please bear with me!

      • To begin with: we’re not going to convince each other; the only reason I’m writing this (despite not really having the time) is that I can’t bear misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the truth…
        a) No, atheism is not the default position. Nothing to do with superstition or science; most people still believe there’s more to life than what can be measured and weighed and analysed, and that involves God (or other versions of the supernatural, obviously). And when we debate, we need to approach each other as equals, prepared to defend and explain our position, not ridicule and caricature our opponents. (That goes for Christians as well: saying things like “atheists just want to be able to sin without fear of punishment” is just stupid.)
        b) Why did other cultures not get the same revelation as Israel? The whole storyline explains that: God is working through people, not just imparting knowledge but creating a people specially prepared for the Messiah. And then he commissioned his church to spread the word through relationships. Seeing as the cross, at a particular time and a particular place, is the centrepiece of Christianity, it had to start from where the cross was, passed on by eyewitnesses and their followers.
        c) “Obedience” isn’t the bugbear some atheists seem to think it is. Obedience doesn’t automatically create a master/slave relationship; it features in all kinds of human relationships. I happily obey the laws of the land, I don’t hesitate to obey the police or the military, and I expect my children to obey me and my wife. That obedience is partly based on trust; I obey God because I already have reason to believe that what he wants is the best. It’s not always easy to see how that works out, but if he was prepared to die for me, how can I not trust him? Thinking I should kill my congregation falls foul of so many aspects of my faith that I would assume insanity… (On a side note, if the Flood happened as described, it was only some 10 generations after Adam so there wouldn’t have been more than max 20,000 people in the whole world – not quite the genocide people make it out to be. And as I said, one day the whole world will be judged; that’s the prerogative or the Creator.)
        d) God will one day reign in and eradicate sin; until then he has voluntarily limited his omnipotence.
        e) Everybody knows the ending of Mark has been added. Look at it like this: if it’s that easy to spot an addition, that means that the rest is pretty coherent and most likely all original…
        f) Why am I not a Mormon? Because there was no need for God to suddenly reveal something new in the 19th century; because the book of Mormon ridiculously claims that Native Americans are really Israelites; because there is a lot more support for the eye-witness stories in the Bible than for the contents of those tablets…
        I need to stop now; you can easily find answers to the other things if you’re interested. Thanks for interacting!

  2. “To begin with: we’re not going to convince each other; the only reason I’m writing this (despite not really having the time) is that I can’t bear misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the truth…”

    I wasn’t expecting that. I only care about the facts, not subjective interpretations of them. It doesn’t bother you at all that there are some things in what I said that you are just completely glossing over or ignoring completely?

    “No, atheism is not the default position. Nothing to do with superstition or science; most people still believe there’s more to life than what can be measured and weighed and analysed, and that involves God (or other versions of the supernatural, obviously). And when we debate, we need to approach each other as equals, prepared to defend and explain our position, not ridicule and caricature our opponents. (That goes for Christians as well: saying things like “atheists just want to be able to sin without fear of punishment” is just stupid.)”

    And when you take superstition out of the equation completely which there is no need for in the age we have today, what exactly do you have? If you took a child and raised him in a rational way into adulthood, what would you have?

    “Why did other cultures not get the same revelation as Israel? The whole storyline explains that: God is working through people, not just imparting knowledge but creating a people specially prepared for the Messiah. And then he commissioned his church to spread the word through relationships. Seeing as the cross, at a particular time and a particular place, is the centrepiece of Christianity, it had to start from where the cross was, passed on by eyewitnesses and their followers.”

    No, that is not what I meant at all. I mean why do none of those cultures have zero mention of any god of Israel? But then you also run into another theological problem. If those cultures never heard of Jesus in order to be saved, what happened to these souls when they died? Are they burning in hell for eternity for simply being born in the wrong place in the wrong time? If not and they got a free pass due to ignorance, then why bother spreading the word of Jesus in the first place? Many of these cultures were doing perfectly fine on their own.

    “Obedience isn’t the bugbear some atheists seem to think it is. Obedience doesn’t automatically create a master/slave relationship; it features in all kinds of human relationships. I happily obey the laws of the land, I don’t hesitate to obey the police or the military, and I expect my children to obey me and my wife. That obedience is partly based on trust; I obey God because I already have reason to believe that what he wants is the best. It’s not always easy to see how that works out, but if he was prepared to die for me, how can I not trust him? Thinking I should kill my congregation falls foul of so many aspects of my faith that I would assume insanity… (On a side note, if the Flood happened as described, it was only some 10 generations after Adam so there wouldn’t have been more than max 20,000 people in the whole world – not quite the genocide people make it out to be. And as I said, one day the whole world will be judged; that’s the prerogative or the Creator.)”

    Since you would say you would be insane, put yourself in Abraham’s shoes now. You hear a disembodied voice saying it is god and telling you to kill your son to appease it and as some kind of declaration of obedience. Do you do it?

    I can’t help but notice your avoidance of the exact point I was driving at in regards to the whole narrative. You avoided the question. How is it what is described in the bible moral?

    See, this is why I find apologetics willfully dishonest. You avoid the questions and the whole point.

    To response to your side note, if there are only 20,000 people in the world, that would in fact be a genocide or a near genocide. The amount does not matter. The extinction of an ethnic group or a race does.

    “God will one day reign in and eradicate sin; until then he has voluntarily limited his omnipotence.”

    He has limited his own power, thus making himself not omnipotent. That is contradictory. And in order to do what exactly? Sit back and do nothing?

    “Everybody knows the ending of Mark has been added. Look at it like this: if it’s that easy to spot an addition, that means that the rest is pretty coherent and most likely all original…”

    Except for Matthew. And John which has 4 different authors according to every reputable biblical scholar we have. Do you want me to make a list?

    “Why am I not a Mormon? Because there was no need for God to suddenly reveal something new in the 19th century; because the book of Mormon ridiculously claims that Native Americans are really Israelites; because there is a lot more support for the eye-witness stories in the Bible than for the contents of those tablets…”

    And you would know that there was no need how exactly? There are many things the bible could be updated with. For example, slavery was perfectly okay and was an absolute for hundreds of years. Couldn’t god have just commanded or at least hinted that it was a bad idea? Where is the absolute morality coming from him on this subject to communicate it worldwide like he did the first time around so everyone could know?

    And tell me where this support for the eyewitness stories is? I have at length gone through as much material I can find and I can find zero details on it. It says there were 500 witnesses for one particular incident. Who were they? What were their names? Where did they live? I could say 20 people saw me turn invisible but it doesn’t prove I can turn invisible. Whenever these questions are asked, apologists use the same tactics you just did. They ignore the question or give a non-answer. No wonder the religious demographics in the western world is shrinking and churches are closing.

    • Obviously I can’t comment on everything you say, and there are better answers than i can provide available in books and online. But I do want to comment on one thing: you’re presuming that your position is neutral and mine isn’t. Truth is, neither is neutral. Christianity is superstition only on the assumption that there is no God. Assuming there is, Christianity is rational and atheism is wishful thinking.
      My experience, observations and logic tell me there is a God. Therefore it’s perfectly rational to worship that God, and to tell my children (and others) about him. I refute any suggestion I’m raising my children irrationally. They are both very good at science and maths, and are generally clever. They have the advantage of seeing both sides; unlike a child raised in an atheist home, who’s only ever seen atheism.
      So please don’t assume that your position is more rational than mid; it’s only rational from your position, and is thus a kind of circular reasoning…

  3. “Obviously I can’t comment on everything you say, and there are better answers than i can provide available in books and online.”

    You can’t or you won’t? Or do you just don’t know?

    The only ‘answers’ I found regarding religion consists of rationalizations and excuses, not actual answers. Like why was slavery once moral and now it isn’t if the morality of god is supposed to be absolute. Or how can a perfect being suddenly experience regret like it states in the bible? That would mean it experiences some vanity, rendering this entity imperfect.

    “you’re presuming that your position is neutral and mine isn’t. Truth is, neither is neutral. Christianity is superstition only on the assumption that there is no God. Assuming there is, Christianity is rational and atheism is wishful thinking.”

    Of course it is when you just make things up like that. I am not inclined to make things up however just to support a presupposition. That is a way to support faith, not truth.

    “My experience, observations and logic tell me there is a God. Therefore it’s perfectly rational to worship that God, and to tell my children (and others) about him. I refute any suggestion I’m raising my children irrationally. They are both very good at science and maths, and are generally clever. They have the advantage of seeing both sides; unlike a child raised in an atheist home, who’s only ever seen atheism.
    So please don’t assume that your position is more rational than mid; it’s only rational from your position, and is thus a kind of circular reasoning…”

    Your ‘experience’ is irrelevant since it is entirely subjective. This type of belief would be the kind that suggested larger objects fall faster than smaller ones. God either exists as an entity or it doesn’t. When you have to make things up just to support the belief and only use circumstantial evidence that no more supports your god than it would any other, why should anyone believe what you claim?

    You can refuse to believe it all you want. We already have some data and statistics what happens when you do raise children in a religion however as I presented multiple times but you won’t acknowledge.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cogs.12138/abstract

    How exactly does it make sense to consider christianity rational but that every other non-abrahamic religion untrue? You are the one saying that based on a book that was assembled from individual writings by unknown authors thousands of years ago (with remarkable similarities to the religions prior to it) that some singular supernatural being that exists outside our reality yet can interact with it and suspend all known laws of physics. Why should anyone rational believe it based purely on that book written during a time where people were far more ignorant of how the world works? How exactly would you convince someone not raised in a completely neutral environment of that without playing upon their ignorance of the natural world? Answer those questions for yourself if christianity is based on actual rational thought without trying to change the meaning of what truth is. Faith is not a pathway to truth.

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