Author Topic: Regarding "10 questions that every intelligent Christian must answer" [#338]  (Read 743 times)

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Offline DL

 
I think there is an 11th question that is quite important to include:

This is regarding John 14:6 -- "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"

If the only way to God is through Christ, what happened to all the people living in North and South America and Africa and Asia prior to the arrival of missionaries? Did they all go to hell? And if so, doesn't it seem that God put them on this Earth only to be doomed to go to hell with NO hope of salvation. Doesn't that make God sound more evil than the Devil? Does that make sense?

Offline StPatrick

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I see where you're coming from, and you've got a good point.  I didn't make the vids, but Hermes is going to pitch some suggestions for new videos; likely he'll see this and take it into account.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2008, 06:21:31 PM by StPatrick »
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Offline Hermes

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I see where you're coming from, and you've got a good point.  I didn't make the vids, but Hermes is going to pitch some suggestions for new videos; likely he'll see this and take it into account.

You're psychic!  (Hmmm....)

Yep, I was thinking the same thing when I read your letter.   There is a case for adding in a note for that one verse.  Thanks for the idea; it is appreciated and quite insightful!
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline bgb

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What about the serial killer who waiting for the electric chair and suddenly finds God.  He goes to heaven and the good atheist goes to hell.  Makes sense doesn't it.
The whole point of science is that most of it is uncertain. That's why science is exciting--because we don't know. Science is all about things we don't understand. The public, of course, imagines science is just a set of facts. But it's not.  Freeman Dyson

Offline Hermes

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What about the serial killer who waiting for the electric chair and suddenly finds God.  He goes to heaven and the good atheist goes to hell.  Makes sense doesn't it.

Good point.  I'm thinking this might work best if there were three religions represented, all with the same basic claim as the John 14:6 quote the OP sent in and three typical people in each religion.  If it was not clear which of the three people was a Christian at first (or at all), it would emphasize the point even more.  This could be used to show the absurdity of Pascal's Wager and at the same time the nastiness of my-way-or-fry dogmas in any religion.

The statement in the videos would be something like this; How could you choose the one valid god over the others?  You can not; it's impossible to decide as all three religions make the same claims, and the believers in each religion believe those claims equally.

The Christians (and ironically if this were tailored for other religions those believers as well) would say this is silly ... because those others are obviously wrong and those believers do not believe as correctly as my group does.  This would have to be addressed.

At the end, the emphasis could be made that good or bad, mass murders and thugs and charlatans, if they accept the one true god they are saved from an eternity of damnation.  If they choose wrongly, they are dammed for all eternity.  "This makes no sense.  You know this." 

Yet (Pascal's Wager again), the issue boils down not to a bet but a belief.  If you doubt that you have made the correct choice, even if you 'bet' on the right horse, you are as equally damned as any of the believers in other religions.

Other details; there are 9,000+ Christian denominations in the world.  Many subscribe that they are the one true way for salvation and that the others are not.  As an intelligent Christian, how do you know that your denomination is the correct one?  You can't.  Nobody can.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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The John 14:6 quote is an example of Pascal's Wager.  Pascal's Wager depends entirely on what really happens to us when our bodies die.  Yet, what religious groups claim happens is always a bare assertion and not backed by facts ... so they make things up.

As an example, here's a set of ideas that I presented to a Christian in another thread.  It was not an attempt to deconvert them, but was an attempt to get them to agree with me on some basic features of reality.  For whatever reason, they talked with me a few times and never came back just at the point I think I was getting through to them and we could start a meaningful conversation.  I think the reason why is that they knew I was right on the basic facts and knew where those facts would lead to.

The plea they made was 'how do you know there is no god -- only people at the time of death know the truth'.

I said that this is not possible to know that they experience anything after death -- you don't know it, I don't know it -- and most importantly no person who ever died can tell us ... EVER.

Here are the details to start with if they are used in the video (but they need to be simplified greatly and reworked in parts);

So, my belief is, without the analogy, that the only time the two subjects in the second argument can know if God exists or not is at the time of death, that is when the hand touches the skin of an elephant, rhino or the animal that never was.

Yet, that is demonstratively false or at best inconsistent with what we know to be true and asserts that what many would wish yet do not know is actually knowable.

Specifically, and as a reminder;

1. The time of death is variable.  When one person was considered dead even a few years ago is no longer true and some have been revived.  We even have terms for types of death now so that they can be distinguished from one another.

2. At the time of death by massive blood loss, we know that the brain is one of the last organs to loose oxygen.  As that oxygen is depleted, specific parts of the brain are starved first before others.  The "tunnel of light" effect that people report in near death experiences is caused by this selective blood loss.

3. If there is or was an afterlife, then it could only be experienced when the person is dead.  At that point, if the person were brought back to life, where would the experience of the afterlife be stored?   For that matter, what 'experienced' the after life if the body was not involved?  (If you say the soul, then why did the ancients refer to the breath and the soul as one in the same?)

4. The soul?  A myth (said with respect) that adds complexity to the issue and no insight.  With it being introduced we now have to deal with the religious concept of an immaterial vapor ... something that is asserted as fact by many, has not been verified by anyone who is not predisposed.  (The soul and the breath were considered to be one and the same by many of our ancestors.  With that they were not too far from the truth.)

5. Nobody who is completely dead is ever brought back to life so they (soul in tow) can't say anything about what happened even if there was an afterlife.  We have no facts, only assertions, and those assertions are very detailed and differ from society to society, from religion to religion, from sect to sect, and often from person to person.

Because in general we know these things are true, I can't agree or even assess the topics covered in much of the rest of your comment.  I don't think anyone can unless we have honest neutral and verifiable facts to go on.  Anything else is wishful speculation or at best a presumption.

Hermes, I agree with you, no need to rule anyone out of the thread for sake of a lackluster discussion.  I am having fun, so let them all say their peace.

FWIW: The word seeker kinda misses the point.  Some folks are.  Most are not.  Personally, while I am compelled to learn and will change my opinion, I'm not annoyed and dissatisfied with what I do know. 

As an example, with news of a potential body of Bigfoot reported in the news a few days back, I did not dismiss it entirely.  I did think that it being a hoax was a likely certainty.  When the facts came in, all that was left was a bare assertion that they had Bigfoot's body in a freezer box and a bunch of reasons why people can't investigate the claim itself.

When religious people proclaim miracles or supernaturalism as true, I will give them some time to offer proof but as soon as they refuse to put the claims they make to a review I'm done with them.  Why take seriously something that is extraordinary just because they say so?


Bottom line; Pascal's Wager is contingent on what happens after we are really and truly dead -- not if we are kinda dead.  When we are really dead, our bodies can not be used as means of communication of what happens in the after world so nobody who has died can tell us what happened.

Yet, if we are honest, we already know what happens after death.  It is the same way we know how our solar system is organized with the sun at the middle, and the planets going around it.  We looked at the evidence.  (insert reference to some of the details above)
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer