Author Topic: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question  (Read 11876 times)

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Offline screwtape

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #58 on: August 09, 2011, 07:10:24 AM »
God's Choice/Predestination in the Bible
Universalism in the Bible
God as a just judge
A loving God
Faith in the Bible
Miracle Stories

In all cases you have cited yhwh's propagandists as your evidence.  That is like quoting Ari Fleischer to prove how awesome George W Bush was.
What's true is already so. Owning up to it does not make it worse.

Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #59 on: August 09, 2011, 12:22:54 PM »
Again, I think you misunderstand me. I am not presenting evidence as I do not think evidence from the Bible is useful or reliable. There is simply too much historical debate and uncertainty. What I am presenting is concepts, a worldview if you will and then examples to help people understand; it does not really matter whether or not these events happened. Analogously, I take what George Bush did, ask if it makes sense that it shows his awesomeness and then see if Ari's comments provide an example of when he was awesome.
Overall, I think the analogy is a little too simple to work with because it doesn't provide room for explaining more abstract questions. It's a little too earth-bound.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 12:26:00 PM by ddavisso4 »

Online velkyn

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #60 on: August 09, 2011, 02:00:13 PM »
I thought the analogy of fixing a car is a good one. We both agree the car is broken. We both want to fix it. In fact we both know what needs to be fixed (get rid of war, get rid of child abuse, get everyone to work hard, have everyone respect each other, etc). I am merely presenting how to fix it. I will state this again and elaborate a little more but I DO NOT think that what I will say can be proven.
Then your claims of presenting how to fix the “car” are utterly worthless.  You cannot show that your “method” works at all.  You admit that it can’t be proven to work at all.  And I can give evidence that it indeed *doesn’t* work at all.  So, if you had a car, who would you bring it to, you or me as mechanics? 
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That is a core tenet of Christianity (and I will elaborate). You must understand this before we can go any further. Now, I totally understand if you are unwilling to go there and are purely concerned with what can be proven. That is, of course, a very respectable intellectual framework.
I’ve been told many times that there is some “core tenent” to Christianity.  And every time, it’s something different.  Why is this?
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Returning to my homework, I don't think Google will give me the answers I'm looking for. Maybe a course on (or degree in) comparative religion or a career in archeology or a lifelong study of ancient history would make me lean one way or the other but it really seems that there is just too much uncertainty. I don't know where people got the idea that the Bible is a historical document free of errors and uninfluenced by other cultures.
I do.  It has been represented as this for millennia. It claims that it is inspired directly from a “perfect” god, and thus a perfect book about the events that claim this god exists.  I find your claims of not knowing to be just more willful ignorance. 
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I don't think it is a necessary assumption and I don't think it helps anybody because none of it can be proven. This is true of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. I think it is rather incredible that someone can say with a straight face that Jesus definitely did not exist and at the same time someone can say right back that they are absolutely sure that he did not. I think in the face of history's complexity and uncertainty we should fear to tread too far to either extreme.
You dn’t think it’s necessary to think that the bible is historical?  Then what happens with your salvation, Dan?  If your bible is just a bunch of metaphors and myths, that JC never existed and never was sacrificed to save your soul, where does that leave your religion? And I can easily say with a straight face that Jesus Christ, son of god, doer of miracles, savior of the world, never existed.  It’s as easy as saying that Horus, defender of the light, son of Osiris and Isis, conquerer of Set, never existed.  There is no evidence of either existing at all.  There is the same lack of evidence of JC as there is of any “exodus”, any “flood”, any magical “creation”, etc.  You want to claim that history is sooo complex so we can’t know but then you think you are sure that JC did exist.  You can’t have it both ways, Dan. 
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The point I would return to is that at its core Christianity (and, in fact, the precursor to it, Judaism) are very clear about the non-universality of faith. I suppose that is unclear to some people so you can take out the "very clear" if you would like and I can explain it in a more detailed fashion. At no point in history has God "shown off" to everybody; I think that is important to realize and I would be interested to see where people get that idea.
It is not clear at all, no matter how many times you try to claim it so. You know the whole plague thing?  He intentionally caused plagues to show off his power to the peole who did believe, which was pointless, and to the Egyptians.
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But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”
and
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  1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them 2 that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD.”
and
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9 The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

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He has, purportedly (though as I stated above, definitely not certainly) shown up to certain people throughout history. I think it is fair to ask, "Why did God do it like this?" I use the analogy of asking the question of why did a painter paint a certain piece of art over another. Of course, I must stress a belief that God will ultimately "reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" (Col 1:20). Please see bible-truths.com for more information.
So I’m left with you claiming that God does things on a whim.  Not because people ask him to help them with their faith, not to help people but just because he feels like it.  Yes, many Christians want to be universalists since they don’t like the idea of a hell.  However, they are just as valid in their beliefs as any other Christian, which means not much at all.  That verse cited alone from Collosians is always amusing considering how Revelation makes it all nonsense.  But if a Christian would actually read it in context it makes a bit more sense with the vicious god they worship
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For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
See that big *if* there?  The rest of us are damned.

Your roofer is just one more magic decoder ring Christian.  Nothing special there. Your bible says that all those who do not believe in god will be damned, right there in John 3.  They will be punished and then thrown into the lake of fire.  That’s it.  Punished for not believing in a god that its followers can’t even find evidence for.  Where is the justice or fairness in this, Dan?  And how is it fair that people are “punished” for something thye have no control over.  You said
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Another important point is that being given faith is no reason for a feeling of superiority because we cannot earn faith.
Quite a god you have there that punishes people for something it chose to do on a whim. 

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Humans are beings of contrast and so we need suffering to experience happiness.
Prove it.  Show me I wouldn’t know what heaven was if there was no hell.  And this also shoots a nice big hole in heaven, since humans couldn’t’ exist there per your own claims.  I care about the suffering in this life since this is the only one we get.  No promises of some magic present that we never have evidence of after we are dead.   
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As I said before, Jesus provides hope for the suffering and a strong incentive to alleviate suffering. (that's one of the reasons I don't like to post here, it just seems so impractical and impersonal).
  Just like your Jesus.  A book provides a false hope for the suffering. We see no fulfillment of this at all.  We are empathic beings and do not need your god at all. Plenty of other peoples and cultures are just as much about alleviating suffering without your supposed “savior”.
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I would like to point out what I see is a misrepresentation of religion. Lately, all I hear about is that religion is for stupid people and it makes people do bad things and it makes people arrogant. I think this is a perfect example of the same issue we run into when interpreting history. There is a tendency to step to far to one extreme. One can point to at least some benefits of religion whether or not God exists. I can testify to it making me a "better" person whether or not there is a deity and I have friends that could say the same. It is easy to pick out the bad stuff and I will admit I often do that same...
Religion is for those who are ignorant, not stupid. It makes people stay ignorant since it claims to have all of the answers and it doesn’t.  Religion does make people do bad things and it makes them arrogant since they think they are a perfect god’s “chosen” few.  These are demonstrable facts.  Can religion help people? Yes, but no more than just being human does.  I became a better person after I lost my faith.  As you note, religion can make one better, though that is only because your particular magic decoder ring allowed you to choose the better parts of the bible.  The bad stuff is just as valid as the good stuff, Dan.  You pick and choose and that’s plenty of reason for me to believe tht your religion is purely man-made and isnt’ worth the harm it causes. 
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My faith, in particular, is based on hearing supposed supernatural occurrences from people that are close to me, from seeing the lives of people that are close to me changed, and because I think my worldview goes a long way in explaining some tough questions.
So you would believe in the same stories even if it was another religion.  Christianity is nothing special.
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I do not claim that I am right. I do claim that I make sense. I do not claim that I can universally prove what I believe (though as I said before I don't think that will ever be possible and was never designed to be). I do claim that my worldview (which I believe is the Biblical worldview) can change your life for the better (I'm going to get flak for that...).
You may claim to make sense but I don’t see that at all.  Let me ask, does a Shia Muslim make sense?  If not, why not?  It’s awfully convenient that you have decided that  God has magically decided to make sure we can never prove that it exists.  Then I may as well believe in nothing or in anything.  I can’t belive unless your god allows me. I’m damned for it for what it did to me.  You claim that your world view is what “God really meant” but again can’t prove that at all, just like every other Christian who makes the same tedious baseless claims, which belying your claim that you dont’ claim that you are right, have right here, that you do claim that you are right “which I believe is the Biblical worldview”.   We see NOTHING about yourworld view that makes anything in the universe “better”. 

And all of your claims of core components are just your magic decoder ring and which have also been around for much longer than your religion.  JC does tell you how to live, but as always you ignore the inconvenient parts.  You need much more than this imaginary being’s “love” and that’s not hard to show at all.  Care to go to Somalia and live on “love”?  And where is this love for those starving people? 

Your god might say it will live in you but change you? Nope, never saw that at all.

I still find it amusing that you want to claim predestination and then claim all of those things that show your initial claim is contradicted.  So, God choose only a few, “Mat 22:14  "For many are invited, but few are chosen.”but suddenly then you say God chooses everyone “oh 12:32  But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.".  What utter nonsense!  And ah, God is supposedly just, but damns people for him not bothering to “grace” them with belief.  Absolutely hilarious.  And a loveing God?  Even more funny, considering the Flood, Babel, Sodom and Gommorah, Egypt, the Midianites, etc.  Lots of murder, lots of innocents being destroyed.  This isn’t love at all.  This is a genocidal primitive brat who can’t stand not being worshipped. Love is action, not claims of love with nothing to support it and plenty to show it to be false.  If my husband treated me this way, I would not call it love.  If my father treated me this way, I would not call it love.

And no your stories aren’t historically accurate, for if they were, where is the evidence? No flood, no splitting of the red sea, no exodus, no 900 year old men, no eternally victorious Israelites (they have to contantly re-kill *all* of several tribes, even though the bible keeps claiming that they are all dead),  Jesus was in Jerusalem, a very big city for the time belying your baseless claims, no Paul since we can’t even get that story straight.

These events are presented as the truth for people to believe in God. That certainly seems to be an effort to prove itself.  If it didn’t care, why a bible, Dan?  Why spread the story if it doesn’t care for anyone to know it exists?  There is plenty of contradiction here.

Yep, prayer isn’t answered in the bible, and in EVERY occasion, it was because your God had other plans.  Your supposedly just and loving God killed David’s son for David’s sin.  Your god is worse than any capital punishment advocate, even getting collateral damage!  We have Paul begging for help and gee, God saying no.  How loving!  Again, I’m glad my husband and father are nothing like your vindictive nasty god.  However, your bible contradicts all of this by saying that all prayers will be answered, knock and the door will be opened, ask in my name and I will do anything you ask, etc.  So again, we have contradictions.

Unless you have evidence of your “miracles, it’s just more stories.  You are attempting to present evidence, as weak as it is.  You want me to believe the nonsense in your bible and your claims about it and you cite the bible and your own claims.  I do agree with you, the bible is useless as evidence or as a reliable source. A pity for you, then, since you claim that it is repeatedly.  As I said before, you can’t have it both ways.
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Online velkyn

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #61 on: August 09, 2011, 02:30:06 PM »
Always nice to watch theists showing their true colors, zardoz.

velkyn: FYI, the post to which you refer has now been removed. It was posted by a banned person with mental health issues. GB


except for the photos, I'd say that this person was just as Christian as many others, which does make one wonder about the commoness of mental health issues.  ;)
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 03:09:18 PM by velkyn »
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #62 on: August 09, 2011, 02:49:20 PM »
I think there is a God and I think he reveals himself to those he chooses to.
This is what is known as a truism. It is true because if you don’t get a revelation, then obviously God did not chose you, but if you did, then He did. I’m afraid it is not an argument at all, it is a fallacy.
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Take the example of the Israelites in the Old Testament and the example of the "elect" in the New Testament. This is called predestination (see Romans 9) [
Romans 9 is a very significant part of Christianity. It does not at all refer to anything you have said. Please re-read it with reference to (a) who said it and (b) M't:10:6: / M't:15:24:

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I think God is loving and I think he can be known.
Two questions arise.
(i)Where in the Bible does it say God is loving
(ii)Who does He love? Careful, the answer is not immediately obvious.

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I am what would probably be categorized a "universalist"[everyone  goes to heaven asserted cut for brevity ]Jesus warnings are most severe for the Pharisees and teachers or the law, the hypocrites, those who had reason to believe in Jesus who showed them miracle after miracle but whose pride and stubbornness and the fact that they used religion to take advantage of people got in the way.
I may have misread it, but earlier you seemed only ~5% in favour of miracles. And, as I said earlier, and you agreed, miracles only appear to believers. So, what’s the point?

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Miracles are one way in which God will communicate faith to the people that he wants.
This is not a matter of opinion. Miracles only appear to those of faith. The Bible says as much. Can you imagine one of your friends only communicating through card tricks? He would have a hard time explaining physics, wouldn’t he?

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I think they are critical for the scientific, analytical mind
Yes, I agree. Miracles start when scientific thinking stops. Thunder was Yahweh’s big thing back in the day – we now know that thunder is caused by other things – prior to that, it was a miracle.
[various poor  and unsubstantiated examples deleted]
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Alternatively, in the case of Jesus supposedly feeding 5000 people the result was faith and alleviation of suffering.
I am surprised that anyone believes this fairy tale. Just think about it for a moment.

Jesus is going to preach. 5000 turn up. Every one of them has forgotten to bring food… Really? All 5,000 of them? Who was he preaching to? Morons? Is it not far more likely, if it happened[1] that He called out to the crowd, “Hey, there are some morons who have forgotten to bring food – share your stuff.”

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Paul's miracles  […] only reached a small area of the world and only a small number of people.
Did it ever occur to you that there is nowhere any contemporary account of any miracle by Jesus? Did it occur that in the very land in which He preached, the conversion rate was roughly = zero.

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Of course the idea of miracles is one of semantics as well. Not everything that people claim as miracles are, in fact, miracles.
Did I read and comment on that for no reason? If you don’t accept them, why mention them?


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parts of the O.T. may be anywhere from mythical to legendary to traditional. I think a core part of understanding the Bible is knowing that the Old Testament is just an allegory for the New Testament (give or take).
I also want to briefly touch on the idea that the Bible says that Jesus or God will answer every prayer. This of course is quite inaccurate.
The point is “answering prayers” is as random as a milk bottle grants wishes. Any argument for God can be applied to the milk bottle.

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On a scale of 1 to 10 let me know how much this makes sense. I don't think it's less than 2
 
You are generally inconsistent. You cannot express the ideas in a concise manner, which indicates you don’t understand either. Your Bible knowledge is lacking. Your own opinions seem to be supported by the Bible, rather than the Bible founding your beliefs. Your use of English is above that of the average godbotherer.

I have not the faintest idea why you bother to believe. I suggest living for 3 months as an atheist and see if it makes any difference (other than you won’t have to pay tithes.)
 1. and the evidence against a real Jesus existing is huge
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Hatter23

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #63 on: August 09, 2011, 02:59:37 PM »
I think this quote is relevant:
"For all those who say they have had a direct experience of angels, no proof is necessary; for those predisposed to doubt angels' existence, no proof is possible. And for those in the mystified middle, there is often a growing desire to be persuaded. If heaven is willing to sing to us, it is little to ask that we be ready to listen."

Again, I think the problem is that you are operating on the premise that God is trying to prove himself to everybody right now...

No I'm operating on the premise that lengends and false tales exist. Various ones from around the Globe include deities, magic, and miracles. They also have differing cosmologies, so they cannot all be true. Everyone seems to think that the ones they grew up with should be somehow 'exempt' from reasoning and skepticism, simply because they happen to be the ones popular at the place and time of the believer.

You seem an investigation of Zeus is not worth your time, simeilarly a person at 200AD in Hellenistic Greece would consider the same about Christ.

This skepticism isn't "extreme," as you put it, it is applied equally, and it galls you not to get a special exemption.
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #64 on: August 09, 2011, 03:04:04 PM »
I thought the analogy of fixing a car is a good one. We both agree the car is broken. We both want to fix it. In fact we both know what needs to be fixed (get rid of war, get rid of child abuse, get everyone to work hard, have everyone respect each other, etc). I am merely presenting how to fix it. I will state this again and elaborate a little more but I DO NOT think that what I will say can be proven.
Then your claims of presenting how to fix the “car” are utterly worthless.  You cannot show that your “method” works at all.  You admit that it can’t be proven to work at all.  And I can give evidence that it indeed *doesn’t* work at all.  So, if you had a car, who would you bring it to, you or me as mechanics? 

Funny, it makes me think of a SNL skit about an ad for the Holistic Auto repair shop. Odd how the analogy still fits
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline albeto

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #65 on: August 09, 2011, 03:10:28 PM »
Humans are beings of contrast and so we need suffering to experience happiness.

You don't need a class or degree in anything to see the flaws in this proposition.  Try this exercise, If you were a god and could create any world in your unlimited imagination, would you create happiness through the sufferings of selected members (remember, you're able to do anything and there is no limit to your knowledge or imagination or abilities)?  On a scale of 1-10, how hard do you think an infinitely clever god could come up with some design that avoids suffering? 



Offline Hatter23

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #66 on: August 09, 2011, 03:22:54 PM »
Humans are beings of contrast and so we need suffering to experience happiness.

You don't need a class or degree in anything to see the flaws in this proposition.  Try this exercise, If you were a god and could create any world in your unlimited imagination, would you create happiness through the sufferings of selected members (remember, you're able to do anything and there is no limit to your knowledge or imagination or abilities)?  On a scale of 1-10, how hard do you think an infinitely clever god could come up with some design that avoids suffering?

Some suffering, as in frustration based on freewill or thwarted malice or greed, is inevitable. Suffering from Starvation, Death, Dismemberment, or disease is not.



An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #67 on: August 09, 2011, 04:18:38 PM »
Thanks for your responses. I'll get back to your posts when I get a chance but I thought I'd post a link that might be useful...
http://bible-truths.com/email2.htm#suffer

Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #68 on: August 10, 2011, 12:25:40 AM »
So I had an hour or so to browse the forums and it seems like the stuff I'm saying has been brought up before, more or less. With hundreds of thousands of posts it's what I should have expected. To be fair, I was a little overwhelmed at first by the sheer number of posts and so my initial efforts to get a grasp of the information that was already available here was halted prematurely.
There really isn't much more to be said by me (or maybe even in the forums as a whole). I apologize for wasting your time though it has been a good experience for me. I have come across most of your arguments before and so I won't say they were revolutionary for me (i.e. there wasn't a huge epiphany where I realized everything I've thought is completely ridiculous) but at the same time I have spent an absurd amount of time just letting all these ideas and concepts weave their way through my brain (that sounds a little creepy, oh well) and I may be more of an atheist than when I came in (only time will tell, that's just how my mind works). I will continue to poke around the site for some time and hopefully it will continue to create lively conversation among my roommates.

If you would like I can do my best to answer your latest posts...just let me know.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2011, 12:30:12 AM by ddavisso4 »

Offline Brakeman

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #69 on: August 10, 2011, 05:54:51 AM »
If you would like I can do my best to answer your latest posts...just let me know.

As an atheist, my position is that when a person "becomes saved" it is really an emotional trick, an overwhelming of guilt and false acceptance / forgiveness that makes us believe that we are really conversing with god. The services in which this happens is almost always carefully orchestrated to maximize emotion. Revivals and fiery sermons with woeful music always brings forth the most conversions.
Why is this so? Why would a real god only want to talk to sinners in a vulnerable emotional state?
It wasn't this way in the bible, Saul wasn't weepy and crying when first confronted by god. And god spoke to him in a loud voice.

Has god ever spoken to you in an audible voice?

What did he sound like? James Earl Jones? Did he have an accent?
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Online velkyn

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #70 on: August 10, 2011, 11:05:02 AM »
If you would like I can do my best to answer your latest posts...just let me know.

You wouldn't be wasting our time if you were honest enough to answer our questions.  But as so many have before, you seem to want to ignore them and only preach at us or post useless links as if they can make any difference.  You can't even defend your own nonsense much less anyone else's. You are shown to be wrong again and again and you just blither on, ignoring any evidence that anyone else has that your religion is only myth.

I do want answers and evidence of your claims. But I certainly don't expect either from a theist.  I do get so tired when theists are so dishonest and so willfully ignorant that they run away when questions are asked and evidence is requested.  So many of you come in here all sure that your version of your religion is the only one and that it is absolutely true, but when push comes to shove, you run away and never support the baseless claims you make.  I wonder if you realize just how that makes you and your religion look.

EDIT: Just had to add a quote from that ridiculous link you gave: 
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God created EVIL, and God uses EVIL. But, He uses it for a GOOD AND HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS PURPOSE! "Evil" has nor moral bias. Evil is only a SIN when men use evil against other men. When God uses it, it is NO sin.
  lots of lols here. 
« Last Edit: August 10, 2011, 11:18:22 AM by velkyn »
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #71 on: August 10, 2011, 12:22:54 PM »

(1)Define God.
(2)Prove that that definition is not a logical paradox
(3)Show proof that differs from the other ten thousand dieties man
has worshipped

Until you do those three things....your deity is the intellectual equivanlent a gibbering tribal primitive bowing before their god, UGABUGA.
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline jtk73

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #72 on: August 11, 2011, 11:14:54 AM »
I'm sorry, I know that this wasn't addressed to me but I wanted to jump in. *also a little late to the thread

Such extremism. There is not even a hint of healthy skepticism here.
How exactly do you define skepticism?
Merriam webster - skep·ti·cism
noun \?skep-t?-?si-z?m\ Definition of SKEPTICISM 1: an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object.
I think that when you say skepticism, you actually mean gullibility. Remember - extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
 
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I don't think this is possible. I will agree that there are bad evidence/reasons for faith but people will always have evidence/reasons for what they do.
People may have reasons for what they do but that is not the same as evidence.

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I think it's more accurately to do the right thing or suffer. I don't think this concept is that far-fetched.
Do the right thing according to who? God of the bible? God of the bible allegedly wiped out the the entire population of the earth except for four people and two (or seven?) of every kind(?) of animal because humans were behaving like humans.

Or...who do I look to for "the right thing"? Westboro, John Hagee, ...?  I can't really look in the bible as we can see that God in the bible doesn't practice what he preaches. Not to mention that the bible is very vague and open to interpretation.

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What is this "evidence" that you are looking for? When is it enough?
Evidence is just that - evidence. Not personal experience. Not something written in a book. Not hearsay.

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Take for example something like the "Hindu milk miracle". Millions of people all across the world said that idols drank milk. This phenomenon occurred only for one day and was highly publicized.
Even if this really happened and was a real miracle. What does it mean? What is it's purpose? That the animals|people|creatures that the statues represent enjoy drinking milk? Wow! That is really useful AND helpful information! Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't there many starving people suffering of diseases (curable & incurable) among the Hindu populations? But the Hindu gods would rather drink milk. Yummy!

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I just don't think you can disregard what people claim to have witnessed with such impudence.
Even if it is ridiculously stupid?

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Congressman William Upshaw claims to have been healed. William Branham who is purportedly the man who prayed for his healing is a well-known "faith healer". I've heard second-hand accounts of people that have claimed everything from demon-possession to resurrection from the dead. They've told me of broken limbs being instantly repaired, blind people being instantly healed, and, yes, amputees getting limbs back.
Claims and hearsay are not evidence. I've heard second-hand accounts of people that claimed that their aquarium talks to them. Should I give that equal treatment to every other claim that is made? Why or why not? Why do some extraordinary claims get free pass but others are treated more critically?

Would Willy or any of these faith healers ever report when they prayed or danced around someone with an ailment and the person was NOT healed? No? Hmm...that is strange. Why wouldn't they include that information?

How do you, or the people that experienced these phenomena(assuming for the moment that they are true), know that it was their particular god? It could have been Zeus taking pity on someone. It could have been a demon healing them to reenforce their belief in the wrong god.

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These are not rich people trying to make a bunch of money or weird people that were hallucinatory (as far as I could tell, again uncertainty) but people like you and me.
There are other motives for people to make up shit.

Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #73 on: August 11, 2011, 05:34:41 PM »
This is basically just a response to velkyn because of time constraints.

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Then your claims of presenting how to fix the “car” are utterly worthless.  You cannot show that your “method” works at all.  You admit that it can’t be proven to work at all.  And I can give evidence that it indeed *doesn’t* work at all.  So, if you had a car, who would you bring it to, you or me as mechanics? 
Returning to the car analogy again, I can't prove that "my" method works all the time. I can tell you about the changes that have happened in my life and some of the people I know who are following Jesus' teachings. Out of curiosity, what is your evidence that it "doesn't work at all". The broken car (e.g. broken world) is a bigger than you or me but I guess if we scale it down to individuals than I'd have to look at how you "fix people" before I answer that question...

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I’ve been told many times that there is some “core tenent” to Christianity.  And every time, it’s something different.  Why is this?
In terms of a core tenet for Christianity, the obvious answer for differences is that people interpret the Bible differently. I am arguing that predestination is a core tenet based on reason because I feel like that is the only common ground.

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I do.  It has been represented as this for millennia. It claims that it is inspired directly from a “perfect” god, and thus a perfect book about the events that claim this god exists.  I find your claims of not knowing to be just more willful ignorance.
Sorry, my statement that I don't know where people get the idea the Bible is somehow inerrant (which I guess means historically accurate in every point and free from both translation errors and the possibility of interpretation errors) was an expression of surprised disbelief rather than knowledge. I know it comes from 2 Timothy 3:16 where Paul says Scripture is God-breathed but I don't think that verse (and that particular word, God-breathed) is enough to support the view that everything in the Bible is necessarily historically accurate and theologically obvious.

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You dn’t think it’s necessary to think that the bible is historical?  Then what happens with your salvation, Dan?  If your bible is just a bunch of metaphors and myths, that JC never existed and never was sacrificed to save your soul, where does that leave your religion? And I can easily say with a straight face that Jesus Christ, son of god, doer of miracles, savior of the world, never existed.  It’s as easy as saying that Horus, defender of the light, son of Osiris and Isis, conquerer of Set, never existed.  There is no evidence of either existing at all.  There is the same lack of evidence of JC as there is of any “exodus”, any “flood”, any magical “creation”, etc.  You want to claim that history is sooo complex so we can’t know but then you think you are sure that JC did exist.  You can’t have it both ways, Dan.
I think there may be certain parts of the Bible that are myths. Other parts would be more reasonably taken as historical. I don't think I have to choose between "a bunch of metaphors and myths" and "entirely historical". I will certainly agree with you that Jesus miracles and resurrection can't be proven. I think there is better evidence for it than for Osiris and Horus but of course it can't be proven. I think the comparisons between Jesus and other deities are weak at best just based on the literature. I think there is also more evidence for a historical Jesus than for a flood, or exodus, or magical creation. Would you agree with that? Again, I'm not saying there is proof, I'm saying there is more evidence.

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It is not clear at all, no matter how many times you try to claim it so. You know the whole plague thing?  He intentionally caused plagues to show off his power to the peole who did believe, which was pointless, and to the Egyptians.
I think you are incorrect in your claim that God "shows off" his power. First of all, the Israelites more often than not did not believe. They barely made it out of Egypt (again we'll assume it is hypothetical not than we can be sure either way) before they started questioning God. The Egyptians believed in gods too. There is a story of Moses throwing down his staff and it turning into a snake and Pharaoh's sorcerers throwing their staffs down with the same result. I think the idea of God ever trying to prove his existence to the whole world is out of the question.

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See that big *if* there?  The rest of us are damned.
There is a difference between being presented "holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" and being eventually saved. For the first, there is something that is achieved in this life; for the latter, this is not the case. When you say the rest of us are damned I think that is accurate but only as far as damned means "punished for our actions". I do not think there will be punishment for not having faith. I think there will be punishment for treating people incorrectly and for taking advantage of people and this type of thing. The "punishment" itself is never described in detail and is always described allegorically (outer darkness, lake of fire, gehenna, weeping, gnashing of teeth, etc). I agree we are punished for things we have no control over much in the same way our human nature causes us to sometimes hurt people and we are punished for it either by our parents or by the law. I would respond that it is all part of the process of perfecting us. I think you are getting caught up on the idea of punishment being bad. Punishment is a good thing and designed for the improving the one being punished.

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Just like your Jesus.  A book provides a false hope for the suffering. We see no fulfillment of this at all.  We are empathic beings and do not need your god at all. Plenty of other peoples and cultures are just as much about alleviating suffering without your supposed “savior”.
I, of course, care about suffering in this life too. It is a question of how much do we care about it. What is our incentive to care about it. To me, loving Jesus makes me care more about others. It makes me love more radically. Prove it, you say. Well, all I can do is give before and after examples. Our care about suffering has to be based on something. Humans are at their core selfish and so there must be something else to turn that selfishness into a care for others' suffering.
I'm not sure what you mean by no fulfillment of alleviation of suffering. I know of quite a few "Christian" organizations that are actively alleviating suffering. Chances are your local church has any number of programs to help the poor and widows and orphans. I agree that people can still do good things without my "savior" but again I would return to the fact that, for me, my incentive to love other people is directly and significantly impacted by my love for Jesus.

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Religion is for those who are ignorant, not stupid. It makes people stay ignorant since it claims to have all of the answers and it doesn’t.  Religion does make people do bad things and it makes them arrogant since they think they are a perfect god’s “chosen” few.  These are demonstrable facts.  Can religion help people? Yes, but no more than just being human does.  I became a better person after I lost my faith.  As you note, religion can make one better, though that is only because your particular magic decoder ring allowed you to choose the better parts of the bible.  The bad stuff is just as valid as the good stuff, Dan.  You pick and choose and that’s plenty of reason for me to believe tht your religion is purely man-made and isnt’ worth the harm it causes. 
I think there are a lot of ignorant people in the world. I don't think Christians are exempt. I think it stems primarily from the fact that many people aren't concerned about the same things we are talking about right now. They would rather play Super Smash Bros or League of Legends or go bowling. What we are doing takes time and many people are not interested in investing time in it. There are some arrogant Christians. I personally don't know very many that are exceptionally arrogant because of what they believe.
I don't discard the "bad" parts of the Bible but I do try to understand them. I will admit there are certain goals I have when interpreting a "difficult" or "bad" passage of Scripture but I don't think that is necessarily a problem.

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So you would believe in the same stories even if it was another religion.  Christianity is nothing special.
I would do the same thing I do with stories I hear from Christians. It would depend on how well I know them and what they are claiming.

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You may claim to make sense but I don’t see that at all...
I don't think I have magically decided that God does not prove his existence to everyone. I think I got it from the Bible and looking at this world. I don't see how we can be so disagreeable on this issue. It seems like your argument is that at some point in history God proved himself to everybody but now he doesn't. Where do you get that from?
Again you use this word damned. I have told you how I feel about that.
I think my worldview presents a way for people to be "better" individually. Anyone can claim the same. I am identifying myself with Jesus and what I perceive to be his teachings and I think they have made me better and I can see them making people better around me. What is better? Maybe we don't agree on that.
Not Somalia, but I do plan to go to India in less than 6 years for at least 2 years. I plan to support myself. I donate most (over 50%) of my small salary and live on less than $300 per month. I have donated thousands of dollars to "starving" people. I am only 1 person though. My own life doesn't prove anything. There are probably lots of non-Christians living even more sacrificially than I am. I can only talk on relative terms. My love for God makes me do things out of love. I need to do more. I am trying.
Again, God's choosing relates only to those that will reign with him. He has chosen some people to perfect right now (the elect) and some to perfect later.
The Bible is not for giving faith. It is to help us live right when we have faith and to help us make sense of the world. I imagine every holy book has the same purpose. Faith is a separate issue.
At least tell me you were wrong about God not answering all prayers in the Bible ;). You can say that God "killed" David's son but this is a short-sighted view. I will, of course, admit that God created this world and so is directly though implicitly responsible for every "bad" thing that has ever happened. Again, my argument is that "badness" has a purpose. First it gives us the opportunity to love people. Second, it shows people what life on our own is like (outside the "Garden of Eden" if you will, though I think that is probably metaphorical rather than historical).

I don't quite get your second comment. Sounds like I would had to have been there (when the post still existed)....

Overall, I get where you are coming from and I can see myself thinking the same thing. The difference is that I have had more reasons for faith in my life. This doesn't make me better. It does give me more responsibility to live correctly (still trying to figure out what that means on a day-to-day basis)...

Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #74 on: August 11, 2011, 05:46:26 PM »
I just had a brilliant idea...velkyn, you should totally come to India with me! One idea is to work with a small, poor village and bring them some medical care, education, and some small business loans. Another idea is to work with a small orphanage that I was helping out with when I was in India about 6 months ago. Again, probably won't be for 6 years but I trying to get the ball rolling (already got my Bengali language book and I've got plenty of contacts there as well as the start of a team here). Also, my sources tell me there's more miracles in India...

Offline Graybeard

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #75 on: August 11, 2011, 06:21:01 PM »
I just had a brilliant idea...velkyn, you should totally come to India with me! One idea is to work with a small, poor village and bring them some medical care, education, and some small business loans. Another idea is to work with a small orphanage that I was helping out with when I was in India about 6 months ago.
Shame on you:
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #76 on: August 12, 2011, 03:26:15 AM »
If you read that next verse (Eph 2:10) you will see that the works have been "prepared in advance". I cannot boast because (1) I have no free will and (2) because any "good works" which I do were already prepared for me to walk in them; it's not by some inherent superiority that I possess. My emotion when writing that comment to velkyn about accompanying me to India was one of excitement about teaming up with her to do something that seems profitable and, honestly, not at all arrogant (though I suppose that could be one possible emotion to feel). All you have is my word though which I know doesn't carry much value 'round these parts. My motivation for writing that comment is the important thing to consider...

Offline Crocoduck

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #77 on: August 12, 2011, 03:32:40 AM »
i think it'd take about the same level of evidence that is required to believe the multitudes of alien abduction claims.

of course this god needs to prove himself to everyone -equally, he is apparently concerned with us knowing about him so he needs to get off the bench and live up to his own expectations.

also you must understand that as this is the god of the bible that you are speaking of, the bible the source of the information on the subject so the entire thing is on the table for scrutiny whether you want it to be or not. there is no picking and choosing what parts you like or dislike.

he had no problem proving himself to multitudes of people in the bible (parting seas, producing fire, brimstone and food from the sky, he had better aim with his natural disasters, donkeys could talk... etc) and he was definitely in the business of showing off his power (john 10:37,38 and exodus 7:3-5 for the purpose of proving himself) but at some point after his appearance to paul he decided to start phoning it in and we'd just have to have faith after that.

the nt does not resolve the issues of the ot as jesus and yhwh are (supposedly) the same entity.

as for predestination- if that is true... then the conversation ends as there is nothing left to discuss as conversation is obviously predestined to end however it ends and that is as good of a way as any.

 as far as this universalism goes, anything jesus did was pointless. if everyone is to end up in heaven at some point in time (including those retroactively saved- ie, moses, abraham, noah,  etc..) then the whole jesus story is a dog and pony show that has no meaning whatsoever as god could have just implemented universal salvation from the get go.

and then there is jesus himself, any religion that believes that something must be slaughtered as a sacrifice is clearly man made and revolting. it is no surprise that this religion gets its roots in a part of the world where scapegoating was common place. 

if we're just being offered the teachings of jesus as a worldview to live by then we have quite a number of options that exceed his limited knowledge of the world, remember that this is a guy who thought illness was demon possession and that thought crimes are equal to murder.

one last thing, on the analogy of you and velkin as mechanics... it is more like velkin is the known mechanic and you are a guy on an infomercial selling a product that will fix chips in my wind shield, remove scratches from my paint, stop leaks and get me 200mpg. you need to provide hard data to back up your claims, and anecdotes will not do.



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Online velkyn

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #78 on: August 12, 2011, 09:58:51 AM »
Returning to the car analogy again, I can't prove that "my" method works all the time. I can tell you about the changes that have happened in my life and some of the people I know who are following Jesus' teachings. Out of curiosity, what is your evidence that it "doesn't work at all". The broken car (e.g. broken world) is a bigger than you or me but I guess if we scale it down to individuals than I'd have to look at how you "fix people" before I answer that question...
You have yet to prove your method works any of the time.  You have claimed changes and anecdotes which are the same as the claims of any theist.  And all can be shown to have nothing to do with any supernatural being. There is no evidence of prayer working. No evidence of your god performing any miracles. No evidence for any of the claims of the bible.  I’d say that certainly shows that yoru religion doesn’t work if there is no evidence for it. Your excuse has come down to “lift every rock in the universe and maybe my god will be under it. Until you do that, I will still cling to my baseless faith.”  Now for fixing people in reality, and using your list of things to fix “rid of war, get rid of child abuse, get everyone to work hard, have everyone respect each other, etc”, there are many ways that are used and that have worked.  We can show that people aren’t different to lessen war and improve how they treat each other rather than having a bible that says some people are better than others. We can eliminate the false divisions created by religion.  Your religion contributes to war by declaring that someone’s invisible friend is better than someone elses, all with NO evidence.  We can get rid of child abuse by teaching people how to deal with children. We do not need to just say “have kids, God’ll sort it out for you” as religion would claim for every problem.  We can have a more fair and equal system for work and payment, not just saying as your bible does, to accept anyone in charge since God put them there. Again we see that we do not need your primitive religion.  Now, show me how your religion actually helps and how its any different from humans just being humans?  There is nothing new your religion has ever brought.
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In terms of a core tenet for Christianity, the obvious answer for differences is that people interpret the Bible differently. I am arguing that predestination is a core tenet based on reason because I feel like that is the only common ground.
And wow, other Christians claim it isn’t a core tenent at all and isn’t at all what God “really” meant.  So, again why does your God allow different “interpretations” and have people all declare different core tenents?  If this was so important, one would certainly think that God could make it clear.  But he doesn’t.  Again, why is this?
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Sorry, my statement that I don't know where people get the idea the Bible is somehow inerrant (which I guess means historically accurate in every point and free from both translation errors and the possibility of interpretation errors) was an expression of surprised disbelief rather than knowledge. I know it comes from 2 Timothy 3:16 where Paul says Scripture is God-breathed but I don't think that verse (and that particular word, God-breathed) is enough to support the view that everything in the Bible is necessarily historically accurate and theologically obvious.
So what would you think would be enough support other then a verse from your own bible?  If it isn’t, why hasn’t your god corrected this misapprehension? 
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I think there may be certain parts of the Bible that are myths. Other parts would be more reasonably taken as historical. I don't think I have to choose between "a bunch of metaphors and myths" and "entirely historical". I will certainly agree with you that Jesus miracles and resurrection can't be proven. I think there is better evidence for it than for Osiris and Horus but of course it can't be proven. I think the comparisons between Jesus and other deities are weak at best just based on the literature. I think there is also more evidence for a historical Jesus than for a flood, or exodus, or magical creation. Would you agree with that? Again, I'm not saying there is proof, I'm saying there is more evidence.
yep, there’s that magic decoder ring again. In that we have no evidence of any of JC’s miracles, why do you think they are any more evidence for those or Osiris and Horus?  You say “of course it can’t be proven” so you seem to only have your own desires as your “evidence” since you never have shown any. We see no more evidence for your god and JC than we do of any other god.  I am quite familiar with many mythos and they all come up with the same lack of evidence. We see no evidence for Athena and Poseidon vying over who gets to name Athens and we see the same lack of evidence for any cruxifiction and resurrection.  And what evidence do you think exists for a historical Jesus?  Josephus?  Tacitus?  The mentions of Christians in other texts?  Mentions of actual historical people and places in the myths?  Those all fail. I have yet, and this is after a very long time of looking, to have found any actual evidence of JC’s existence.  Post some you think are valid.   
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I think you are incorrect in your claim that God "shows off" his power. First of all, the Israelites more often than not did not believe. They barely made it out of Egypt (again we'll assume it is hypothetical not than we can be sure either way) before they started questioning God. The Egyptians believed in gods too. There is a story of Moses throwing down his staff and it turning into a snake and Pharaoh's sorcerers throwing their staffs down with the same result. I think the idea of God ever trying to prove his existence to the whole world is out of the question.
  Yep, the Israelites questioned God.  And this is to show that God didn’t show off in all of the previous stories?  Sorry, one does not preclude the other. We see God saying directly that he is showing off so others know his power.  It can’t get any clearer than that.  And in the NT, we see JC saying that one should believe in the miracles even if you don’t believe in JC himself since God is showing off again to get people to believe in it.  Then we have even more claims of miracles through out the ages that Christians again claim to be God demonstrating himself so people believe.  Now, I understand that you don’t agree with them, but I have no more reason to accept your version of Christianity than the next Christian who disagrees with you. 
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There is a difference between being presented "holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" and being eventually saved. For the first, there is something that is achieved in this life; for the latter, this is not the case.
Ah, so there is something else needed other than just JC dying for everyone.
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When you say the rest of us are damned I think that is accurate but only as far as damned means "punished for our actions". I do not think there will be punishment for not having faith.
Unfortunately for you, your bible disagrees.  You have made this up to feel better about your god.
 
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I think there will be punishment for treating people incorrectly and for taking advantage of people and this type of thing. The "punishment" itself is never described in detail and is always described allegorically (outer darkness, lake of fire, gehenna, weeping, gnashing of teeth, etc). I agree we are punished for things we have no control over much in the same way our human nature causes us to sometimes hurt people and we are punished for it either by our parents or by the law. I would respond that it is all part of the process of perfecting us. I think you are getting caught up on the idea of punishment being bad. Punishment is a good thing and designed for the improving the one being punished.
So you just ignore your own bible.  Typical.  The punishment is described in detail.  We have worms, fire, etc.  And of course you want to claim that it’s metaphor when it is described in detail. Hilarious, absolutely hilarious.  Let me posit a situation: I punish my daughter for something she did not do.  Is this fair or just? Will this “perfect” her?  Punishment can correct a bad behavior but does nothing if there was no bad behavior. It teaches *nothing* and it improves *nothing*. It is just being vicious and capricious.  I really do fear for any children you might have if you really do believe in such unpleasant things.  I suspect you wouldn’t but have found that this is the only way to explain your god and have ignored the flaws in your excuse.
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I, of course, care about suffering in this life too. It is a question of how much do we care about it. What is our incentive to care about it. To me, loving Jesus makes me care more about others. It makes me love more radically. Prove it, you say. Well, all I can do is give before and after examples. Our care about suffering has to be based on something. Humans are at their core selfish and so there must be something else to turn that selfishness into a care for others' suffering.
I care about it because I have empathy.  I will ask you, why does loving one being make you care *more* for others?  What is the mechanism here? And you make the baseless claim that “humans are at their core selfish” and that there has to be something external.  Well, your claim fails right with me and it’s the same old “we are filthy rags” garbage from your bible.
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I'm not sure what you mean by no fulfillment of alleviation of suffering. I know of quite a few "Christian" organizations that are actively alleviating suffering. Chances are your local church has any number of programs to help the poor and widows and orphans. I agree that people can still do good things without my "savior" but again I would return to the fact that, for me, my incentive to love other people is directly and significantly impacted by my love for Jesus.
I am saying that the promises of the bible are never fulfilled in alleviateing any suffering.  It all comes down to hard human work, no magic from your god.  There are many organizations that alleviate suffering. All sorts of religions, all sorts of secular groups, and it all comes down to humans doing work.  I have about ten pages of churches in my local yellow pages. And that’s just counting the Christians, not the synagogues or mosques.  And you know what?  The local mission has to beg everyone in the community, not just Christians, for money *every* year.  Now, with 10 pages of churches, probably a couple hundred I’m guessing, why is this?  I recall my own church, in a very rural area, that just *had* to send missionaries to Australia to proselytize. Of course there were people at home who could have used some help but oh no, we had to go to those poor godless Aussies &) Or how about my sister-in-law, who just had to go to Peru to convert the Catholics for her “team”? I’ll have to say, I’m glad that I’m a decent person who doesn’t need some carrot or stick to actually get off my ass and do something.  Heck, good for you that you actually did, but it’s a shame that you were so worthless before and so many people were so much better than you without a promise of a magic present after you die. 
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I think there are a lot of ignorant people in the world. I don't think Christians are exempt. I think it stems primarily from the fact that many people aren't concerned about the same things we are talking about right now. They would rather play Super Smash Bros or League of Legends or go bowling. What we are doing takes time and many people are not interested in investing time in it. There are some arrogant Christians. I personally don't know very many that are exceptionally arrogant because of what they believe.
And why aren’t Christians exempt from this ignorance? Does your god not care?  You claim earlier that your belief and actual good acts are totally from your god, not from you.  Why doesn’t this hold true for every believer? 
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I don't discard the "bad" parts of the Bible but I do try to understand them. I will admit there are certain goals I have when interpreting a "difficult" or "bad" passage of Scripture but I don't think that is necessarily a problem.
That’s called presupposition, Dan.  It allows you to decide what is metaphor and what is literal, all with no regard to what is actually what. You are created a religion suited to you and you alone, and one that has no evidence that it is any more real than the next.  Of course, you dont’ think it’s a problem because you get to be “right” with your made up God.  You can avoid the problems by declaring that they don’t matter.  And all theists do this.  This is why I find that Christianity is such a joke.  You all claim to have some magical knowledge, all sure that you are the only “right” one. 
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I would do the same thing I do with stories I hear from Christians. It would depend on how well I know them and what they are claiming.
Let me ask you, do you accept the claims of healings from people you don’t know personally?  For instance, Benny Hinn?  William Branham? Oral Robert?  Why or why not? And what types of healing do you accept?  Cancer?  Boils?  How about those amputees?
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I don't think I have magically decided that God does not prove his existence to everyone. I think I got it from the Bible and looking at this world. I don't see how we can be so disagreeable on this issue. It seems like your argument is that at some point in history God proved himself to everybody but now he doesn't. Where do you get that from?
From the continuous claims of miracles by Christians.  From your bible, which was my bible when I believed.  The bible claims
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25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
  I’m sure you did determine that God doesn’t prove his existence to everyone by looking at this world.  It sure does contradict what the Bible claims, unsurprisingly.  We had miracles constantly in the NT and OT and now we get what? Anecdotes with no evidence.  We have claims of healings which strangely never heal anything that can be seen, like amputations.  We get claims of visitations and images of JC and Mary on toast, which are touted as god revealing himself to the world, and the idiot news reports this stuff.  But now you want to claim that oh no this doesn’t happen at all.  Again, who I do believe, Dan?  You or them? Should I expect a demonstration of who is the true Christian by seeing what miracles you can personally do? Shall we have dueling altars like God was fond of back in the day?   
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I think my worldview presents a way for people to be "better" individually. Anyone can claim the same. I am identifying myself with Jesus and what I perceive to be his teachings and I think they have made me better and I can see them making people better around me. What is better? Maybe we don't agree on that.
Indeed they can claim the same.  They always do.  And they also claim that they can see the work of their god in others and in themselves.  Unfortunately, this comes with a price since you think only your god does this. 
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Not Somalia, but I do plan to go to India in less than 6 years for at least 2 years. I plan to support myself. I donate most (over 50%) of my small salary and live on less than $300 per month.
how is this accomplished? I have reasons to doubt this claim, especially if you live in the US.
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I have donated thousands of dollars to "starving" people. I am only 1 person though. My own life doesn't prove anything. There are probably lots of non-Christians living even more sacrificially than I am. I can only talk on relative terms. My love for God makes me do things out of love. I need to do more. I am trying.
I have also done the same.  Not out of love of a deity but concern for my fellow man. Again, I would ask you, what is the purpose of your deity if humans can do this on their own and have? Your claims of predestination preclude any advantage to what you do since God already knows you’ll do it. 
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Again, God's choosing relates only to those that will reign with him. He has chosen some people to perfect right now (the elect) and some to perfect later.
Always “later”.  Funny how people die now.
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The Bible is not for giving faith. It is to help us live right when we have faith and to help us make sense of the world. I imagine every holy book has the same purpose. Faith is a separate issue.
Funny how that works when everyone gets a different idea on how to “live right”.  We are back to your predestination nonsense again. Faith is given only by God.  Per your claims, one can only believe if one has faith.  If one believes then one is a better person. It seems that this would lead to only those who are given faith are good. 
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At least tell me you were wrong about God not answering all prayers in the Bible ;). You can say that God "killed" David's son but this is a short-sighted view.
I will not since every time God did not answer a prayer it was for some other purpose that it had, including murdering a boy for his father’s actions. I’ve seen the whole gesthemene thing trotted out as an “unanswered prayer” but funny how if it was answered, you’d all be damned.  And no, that is not a “short sighted view”. That is the truth. Your god killed someone for someone else’s sins for no reason.  Your god allowed a man’s entire family killed on a bet and then decided to replace it after it was shown that this omniscient/omnipotent deity was wrong.  Would you accept a replacement family, Dan?  Would you want your son killed because you did something wrong?  That’s the act of a mafia don, not a supposedly all-good god. I feel sorry for Christians who would accept such a deity.   
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I will, of course, admit that God created this world and so is directly though implicitly responsible for every "bad" thing that has ever happened. Again, my argument is that "badness" has a purpose. First it gives us the opportunity to love people. Second, it shows people what life on our own is like (outside the "Garden of Eden" if you will, though I think that is probably metaphorical rather than historical).
Okay, what purpose was there to my grandfather dying of small cell lung cancer? the events of 9/11?  Let me guess, you’ll say that they were to “teach” people, that we need to be “perfected”.  Well, Dan, I would rather be literally damned to the classic “hell” rather than have *anyone* harmed to “teach” me something.  I do not require other people to be sacrificed for me.  I guess that’s the difference between me and a Christian.  You need blood sacrifice, I don’t.  I can love without people being harmed.  I’m sorry you can’t. How disgusting.

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I don't quite get your second comment. Sounds like I would had to have been there (when the post still existed)....
the usual lies told by Christians, nothing new.

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Overall, I get where you are coming from and I can see myself thinking the same thing. The difference is that I have had more reasons for faith in my life. This doesn't make me better. It does give me more responsibility to live correctly (still trying to figure out what that means on a day-to-day basis)...
Cripes, Dan, you keep trying to claim you aren’t better and then you do just that.  False humility is amusing if tedious. 

And no kidding there are more “claims” of miracles in India.  Funny how that works, always claims of miracles with no evidence. Nothing new here.

No, I won’t go to India.  Surely your god can do things without my help.  You keep claiming it can, now here is where the rubber meets the road.  I do send money to Oxfam for their people to help others.  I’m expecting your god to feed the hungry, eliminate all of the landmines and cluster bombs on its own since it is supposedly good and it supposedly can.  I want to see this god actually do something and its believers not take false claim to the actions of humans.  And I’m surprised that you would go to India since you claim that these people are being taught by God by their unhappy circumstances. Why would you want to stop that education and work against your god’s will?  Indeed, since they are predestined, why help at all if this is what God wants?  You see, your human nature, a good human nature, want to actually help, and not actually do what you claim to believe.  It’s always convenient for Christians to declare predestination and then have to face the actual meaning of what they natter.  Trying to claim predestination, that suffering “teaches” and then try to excuse those claims by saying you were “meant” to do “good” works, comes down to utter nonsense and the situational morals evinced by so many Christians (and others too).  However, in Christians it appears as pure hypocrisy.   

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Offline Hatter23

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #79 on: August 12, 2011, 10:58:17 AM »
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Overall, I get where you are coming from and I can see myself thinking the same thing. The difference is that I have had more reasons for faith in my life. This doesn't make me better. It does give me more responsibility to live correctly (still trying to figure out what that means on a day-to-day basis)...
Cripes, Dan, you keep trying to claim you aren’t better and then you do just that.  False humility is amusing if tedious. 
Yes, the blatent false humility of "I'm not claiming to be better(followed by a claim of being better) has been pretty common thing coming from Christian here as of late.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2011, 11:42:18 AM by Hatter23 »
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #80 on: August 12, 2011, 02:06:07 PM »
Humility is about the heart, it has nothing to do with actions. We could probably come to some agreement on what defines "better" and "worse". It could be that I am just an inherently better person based on these definitions. It could be that you are an inherently better person. This does not get us anywhere. My genetic makeup versus your genetic makeup is clearly not the result of anything that we had control over. I am taking it one step further and saying that my experiences that have led me to whatever "good works" that I happen to do (and correspondingly those that have led you to do yours) are also not the result of anything that I have control over. In that sense, I am not claiming to be inherently better. Again, I think you would agree that there are certain actions that are better or worse. We are both striving to do better things. But we cannot be inherently better or worse than each other. The problem is that feeling better than someone else is a natural emotion (and often desirable emotion, maybe even something that we would both want to feel as we respond to each other). I am saying that I did not experience that emotion, that is all.

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #81 on: August 12, 2011, 02:24:45 PM »
Humility is about the heart, it has nothing to do with actions.
What?  I find that humlility is all about actions, that reveal the  humility of a person.  Trying to claim its only in the “heart” is rather bizaare.  Saying this always seems that it’s a great excuse so you actually don’t have to expect anything of anyone. 
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We could probably come to some agreement on what defines "better" and "worse". It could be that I am just an inherently better person based on these definitions. It could be that you are an inherently better person. This does not get us anywhere.
No, it gets us to who is better based on a definition.
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My genetic makeup versus your genetic makeup is clearly not the result of anything that we had control over. I am taking it one step further and saying that my experiences that have led me to whatever "good works" that I happen to do (and correspondingly those that have led you to do yours) are also not the result of anything that I have control over.
And you’d be wrong.  Are you not a conscious human being?  Can you make no choices?  And if we have no choices, again how does this work with a God that punishes us for what we do?  and indeed, back to humility again, how can someone be actually humble if they have no control?
[quoteIn that sense, I am not claiming to be inherently better. Again, I think you would agree that there are certain actions that are better or worse. We are both striving to do better things. But we cannot be inherently better or worse than each other.[/quote] Why not? I see no problem in having one person better than another depending on the the actions they do.  You are making little sense here, Dan. 
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The problem is that feeling better than someone else is a natural emotion (and often desirable emotion, maybe even something that we would both want to feel as we respond to each other). I am saying that I did not experience that emotion, that is all.
There is a difference between being better and feeling better.  We see you declaring that your “method” is better.  You have claimed that you have some additional way to know how to live “correctly”, and even though you couched that by saying you are still figuring out what that means, you still seem to think your ways are the only right ways.  You’ve said
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To me, loving Jesus makes me care more about others. It makes me love more radically. Prove it, you say. Well, all I can do is give before and after examples. Our care about suffering has to be based on something. Humans are at their core selfish and so there must be something else to turn that selfishness into a care for others' suffering.


I’ll be back after the weekend. I would hope for some answers to the questions in my post.


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Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #82 on: August 15, 2011, 12:22:04 AM »
Hope you had a nice weekend...honestly.

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What?  I find that humlility is all about actions, that reveal the  humility of a person.  Trying to claim its only in the “heart” is rather bizaare.  Saying this always seems that it’s a great excuse so you actually don’t have to expect anything of anyone.
A person's humility can often be measured by observing their actions but humility is an issue of the "heart"/emotions. You can perceive how humble a person is by watching their actions and listening to them talk but these actions and words are the result of what is inside them. A humble person will act humbly but their humbleness is inherent much in the same way a red apple is red whether or not someone sees it to be so. I can see where there might have been some confusion but I wouldn't go so far as to say what I said was bizarre...not that it matters all that much.

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No, it gets us to who is better based on a definition.
Let me rephrase. I am saying that it does not help us in determining how to get more humble. Me being born more humble than you or you being born more humble than me doesn't mean either of us have a good method for becoming more humble.

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And you’d be wrong.  Are you not a conscious human being?  Can you make no choices?  And if we have no choices, again how does this work with a God that punishes us for what we do?  and indeed, back to humility again, how can someone be actually humble if they have no control?
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In that sense, I am not claiming to be inherently better. Again, I think you would agree that there are certain actions that are better or worse. We are both striving to do better things. But we cannot be inherently better or worse than each other.
Why not? I see no problem in having one person better than another depending on the the actions they do.  You are making little sense here, Dan
There is an important distinction between choices and free will. Of course, I will not dispute that fact that I make choices. Free will, however, is an entirely different matter. It can be best understood by analogy. Think of a choice as a domino or that it is based on an equation. Complexity gives the perception of freedom of choice but really we are just acting on a complex series of physical interactions. I'm not sure how helpful it is to dwell on this because I know philosophers have been debating it for centuries. I think a naturalist would be more inclined to think that there is no free will. However, whether or not we have free will has little to no practical effect because we do not have the predictive capability to know what choice we or others will make; it merely helps us understand the world as a whole. Again, using the apple analogy, a red apple cannot control its redness; it is red whether or not it wants to be. Humans are more complex (especially since we can change) but ultimately we have no control over how humble we are.
Stating that we can't be inherently better or worse than each other was definitely a bad way to phrase my idea. I shouldn't have reused the word "inherent". Ultimately, what I'm saying is that I can't take the ultimate credit for my character because it is the result of things outside of my control.
As far as punishment, I think it is very comparable to our own law enforcement. I would think there are certain personal histories that result in an individual being more or less prone to breaking the law. For the most part, people have very little control over their childhood and therefore their tendencies to act in certain ways are not completely in their control. Again, complexity yields the perception of someone having control but they really don't. However, we still punish people for doing things wrong (i.e. they don't get away with crimes because they had a rough childhood).

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There is a difference between being better and feeling better.  We see you declaring that your “method” is better.  You have claimed that you have some additional way to know how to live “correctly”, and even though you couched that by saying you are still figuring out what that means, you still seem to think your ways are the only right ways.  You’ve said
Here, I am merely saying that our "heart" will influence our actions. If, in my heart, I love somebody, my actions towards them will generally be better. For me, a natural instinct is to relish in being superior to people. I think this is partially because I am generally above average at my endeavors. If my heart wants to love people more than be superior than people than my actions towards them will be better.

Working on a response to your previous post...
« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 12:25:56 AM by ddavisso4 »

Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #83 on: August 15, 2011, 01:01:13 AM »
How about we figure out faith first and then go on to punishment and suffering...
What it seems like you're saying is that, according to the Bible, at some (or many) points in history, God has provided undeniable evidence of his existence that should have been enough for the whole world to believe in him and that now he has gone completely silent. Obviously, you think he hasn't because you don't think there is a God at all. I'm saying that another possibility is that God chooses who gets reasons for faith. There were certain people among the Israelites (e.g. the Judges, Moses, David, the prophets) that had "special access" to God. However, for many of the people they weren't even sure their God could beat the gods of the nations they were fighting against. Things like the Red Sea were not on the nightly news, the manna would have been known only to the Israelites (and they weren't too impressed by it), they had both success and defeat in battle, and there are other examples. After supposedly having the Red Sea part in from of them, the Israelites couldn't manage to avoid building idols even for a few years. Also, God's big OT miracles are almost exclusive to the Israelites, God's chosen people. Jesus could have had a 70-year ministry and traveled around the world and done thousands more miracles but instead he stayed in a relatively small area and ministered to a relatively small group of people. What's more, his miracles aren't very demonstrative. Sure Lazarus was raised from the dead but how many people knew Lazarus? The people that knew him probably believed in Jesus but the people that heard the story from them would most likely have written it off as a rumor. Sure, he healed 5,000 people but did the people know where the food was coming from? Sure, he turned water into wine but who knew where the wine came from? Just the servants. What's more, it is stated that the other people were casting out demons at the time (Luke 11:19) and so these probably weren't particularly impactful. The apostles miracles seem primarily restricted to the first few years of the church and Paul spends most of his time debating people rather than just showing up and performing lots of miracles. Now, I'm not claiming that these miracles actually happened. What I'm saying is that your statement that God used to prove himself to everybody but is now silent is not Biblically supported. In fact, from what I've heard and seen it is very similar to how it was then. Low-profile miracles that happen in relatively low-profile situtations. I understand your position that there is no God and that miracles have never, don't, and will never happen. In my own mind I struggle with faith because I haven't been personally raised from the dead or had a limb grow back. However, I think it is a reasonable stance to say that God only gives faith to certain people and that the Bible supports this both doctrinally and anecdotally.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #84 on: August 15, 2011, 08:51:48 AM »
There were certain people among the Israelites (e.g. the Judges, Moses, David, the prophets) that had "special access" to God. However, I think it is a reasonable stance to say that God only gives faith to certain people and that the Bible supports this both doctrinally and anecdotally.

So the God of your selects "certain people" and what is to show that these "certain people" weren't making up, or hallucinating, the whole thing? Don't you notice that there are similar claims across the globe that seem to vanish just at the time people can fact check, but persist in the least learned and advanced portions of the world? Doesn't that begin to give you a clue?
« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 08:53:48 AM by Hatter23 »
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #85 on: August 15, 2011, 10:13:27 AM »
I see no reason to claim that oooh even if you don’t see humility it’s “really” there.  Why should I? However, I do see how this can seem acceptable to a Christian where they need to imagine things without evidence.  And one can be more humble even if one isn’t “born” that way.  One can be taught, one can learn.  Many of your statements seem to forget that. However, again, I can see why you would ignore that since you assume predestination, where everyone is screwed when it comes to choice and ability to change.
 
And yes, I can be inherently better than you or you than me.  Better morally, better physically, etc.  You again make baseless claims and do not back them up.  Dan, back them up. 
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There is an important distinction between choices and free will. Of course, I will not dispute that fact that I make choices. Free will, however, is an entirely different matter.
Oh my.  Free will is made up of choices.  Yes, there is the school of thought that says that what we perceive as free will really isn’t and if we knew everything that there was to know we could predict everything.  However, since we cannot, and cannot know if that is even hypothetically possible, free will is about making choices and is what we perceive.  An apple isn’t conscious and we are, one very important difference in your analogy.  And it makes it fail.  And I can show you how someone becomes more humble: by being beaten and accepting that.  Were they that humble before? No.  Are they now because they’ve learned? Yes.  You wish to claim that your character is outside of your control.  Is it in the example I’ve cited above?  You could choose to learn and see the benefits or not and continue on your way.  It is the same with your claims about people and their “tendencies” from childhood.  Again, people can learn and change and they do often. 
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However, we still punish people for doing things wrong (i.e. they don't get away with crimes because they had a rough childhood).
which is not how your bible shows your god punishing people at all.  We punish the crime. Your god punishes the criminal, sometimes, but sometimes gets collateral damage and direct innocents.  This demonstrates that humans are more fair and just and heck, just smarter than your god.

Sorry, Dan but I don’t take that you claiming your method was better, to be equivalent to “Here, I am merely saying that our "heart" will influence our actions.”  You weren’t saying anything of the sort.  You said that your method, your belief, is a better way.  No “heart” no “emotions” but your religion makes people “better” than simply being human and empathetic.  I can love people and again no need for your god.  You want to say your god says love everyone (which it contradicts itself constantly in) and I say that we can just love each other and no other baggage of who believes in what invisible friend.   
How about we figure out faith first and then go on to punishment and suffering...
What it seems like you're saying is that, according to the Bible, at some (or many) points in history, God has provided undeniable evidence of his existence that should have been enough for the whole world to believe in him and that now he has gone completely silent. Obviously, you think he hasn't because you don't think there is a God at all.
I am saying that your god relied on showing off to many many people, who spread the stories of these events.  We have your very own bible that says
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25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
.  If he did this, there was much to be noted per the author of the John gospel.  Since I do not believe that God or JC existed, I find that the stories are just that, *however* if they were describing actual events, it is awfully convenient for your god to go quiet just as humanity was starting to question many things, including their religions.   
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I'm saying that another possibility is that God chooses who gets reasons for faith. There were certain people among the Israelites (e.g. the Judges, Moses, David, the prophets) that had "special access" to God. However, for many of the people they weren't even sure their God could beat the gods of the nations they were fighting against.
Really, where do you see such doubt?  I would say sure, in Gideon, and surprise, God gave evidence there too. 
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Things like the Red Sea were not on the nightly news, the manna would have been known only to the Israelites (and they weren't too impressed by it), they had both success and defeat in battle, and there are other examples.
Your ignorance in history and politics are showing here.  Let’s assume that the plagues of Egypt were real.  Of course, no Christian or Jew can say when they happened, which is problem number one. Second, we have many many other countries around this area which would have certainly noticed if all of the Egyptian army suddenly was dead.  They would have noticed that all of the first born creatures in Egypt were dead.  And as things are in that region this would have been known as a weakness and they would have attacked.  Trade and communications weren’t that bad back then, even if you try to stick this story in during Egypt in the very early days of its empire. But again, we have no idea when it happened, or that it happened at all. We have claims of this tower flame/cloud.  No one saw this either?  And as for the manna and water and quails, per your bible there were hundred of thousands of people walking around in the Sinai.  No one noticed this, considering the trade routes through there? Why do we see no archaeological evidence? Why can’t the Jews even figure out where Mt. Sinai really is? Does this seem ridiculous to you or not?  As for having success and defeat in battles, yep, it does say this, and always with the reasons why, how God influenced this.  Your bible also has various tribes being annihilated but magically appearing again later to be annihilated again.  Again, it seems that someone wasn’t paying attention.   
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After supposedly having the Red Sea part in from of them, the Israelites couldn't manage to avoid building idols even for a few years.
Yep, funny that, how God can’t get anything right again and again.  I mean, really?  God can’t figure out what it takes?  Why not given them the faith? But that doesn’t make as good a story. And that’s all it seems to be.
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Also, God's big OT miracles are almost exclusive to the Israelites, God's chosen people.
Except for that problem of the Egyptian empire, whomever was in Jericho, Sodom and Gomorroah, etc.&) 
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Jesus could have had a 70-year ministry and traveled around the world and done thousands more miracles but instead he stayed in a relatively small area and ministered to a relatively small group of people.
belied by the claim from “John”.[qutoe]What's more, his miracles aren't very demonstrative. Sure Lazarus was raised from the dead but how many people knew Lazarus? The people that knew him probably believed in Jesus but the people that heard the story from them would most likely have written it off as a rumor. Sure, he healed 5,000 people but did the people know where the food was coming from? Sure, he turned water into wine but who knew where the wine came from? Just the servants. [/quote]Sure would seemed to have since the story was told, yes?  And how many people would have noticed a dead man walking?  I am always amused when Christians find it necessary to depower their god and its miracles.  Golly who would have noticed?  And that healing of the centurion’s child?  You seem to be desperate to assume that no one talked about any of this.  I might accept your reasoning if there were *no* mentions of miracles in the bible, it just said “believe in me” and that’s it. But it doesn’t, we have story after story saying this is true and this is why you should believe in God.  We have JC saying that if they can’t believe in him, just to believe in the miracles. 
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What's more, it is stated that the other people were casting out demons at the time (Luke 11:19) and so these probably weren't particularly impactful.
or real. just like your JC.
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The apostles miracles seem primarily restricted to the first few years of the church and Paul spends most of his time debating people rather than just showing up and performing lots of miracles.
And funny that too.  Watch the decrease in miracles along the span of time.  Suddenly miracles aren’t just accepted so not surprisingly they are less and less and especially now, all of them come from the ill-educated and claimed from deepest darkest “wherever”. 
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Now, I'm not claiming that these miracles actually happened. What I'm saying is that your statement that God used to prove himself to everybody but is now silent is not Biblically supported.
You can say it but again you have failed to prove it.  Dan, read that quote from John. Is it accurate to you? If not, why not?
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In fact, from what I've heard and seen it is very similar to how it was then. Low-profile miracles that happen in relatively low-profile situtations.
  and darn those in the mega-churches and on tv. &)  The further and further we go into this discussion, the more you must qualify your claims since I can show how they are wrong. 
 
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I understand your position that there is no God and that miracles have never, don't, and will never happen.
yep, and I can demonstrate this to be accurate. 
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In my own mind I struggle with faith because I haven't been personally raised from the dead or had a limb grow back. However, I think it is a reasonable stance to say that God only gives faith to certain people and that the Bible supports this both doctrinally and anecdotally.
I agree, your bible certainly does say that only certain people get faith and everyone else is SOL.  However, it also says that one can believe and one should use miracles as a basis of your belief.  Again, it contradicts itself.  If faith is to be just faith, then why any miracles at all, and why allow only “some” people to have this faith whilst not others?  What does this succeed at doing that just allowing everyone to have faith doesn’t?  I see Christians come here and claim that God wants us all back with him. Well, why not have just had that from the beginning?  Have JC right out side the gates of Eden and then all things get to be taken care of and no need for thousands of years of nonsense. 
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

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Offline ddavisso4

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Re: An Alternate Approach to th WWGHA Question
« Reply #86 on: August 16, 2011, 01:28:06 AM »
@Hatter
I understand that you don't believe in God and I understand that you have good reasons for it. In your comment you presented a good reason, namely that there appears to be a correlation between the provability of the supernatural and the apparent decrease in the manifestation of the supernatural. This is not a new idea to me and I have considered it at length. The point I would return to is that faith is God's selection tool; he gives faith to his "chosen" ones, the elect and so having nightly amputee healings conducted by Jesus in person for CNN camera crews is not how this world is set up. I think there is some assumption (maybe about punishment) that is preventing you from understanding this as a valid concept, at least independently. You can label it as a truism and you can dismiss it as obviously untrue but it seems logically valid. It is conceivable that if there were a God and he happened to want to choose who he would give faith to than the faith distribution of this world would probably look very much like it does today. As I'm currently discussing with velkyn, I also think this is the position of the Bible.

@velkyn
In light of humility, I am not asking you to disregard your observations of people's actions as clues to their humility. I am asking you to consider that when I requested that you come to India with me, I did it humbly and it was not to "show off", if that would even generally be considered showing off (from how many people react to the idea, it seems like they just consider it weird and a little crazy).

You seem to think that a lack of free will is a very ridiculous idea indeed. Maybe we're not definitely free will adequately enough. Free will is the idea that our choices are free from the forces around us and the sum of all the influences in our lives. I think the concept is so abstract that is really is tough to define adequately. You say that free will is made up of choices but this isn't quite right. Choices will be made no matter if there is free will or not. Maybe another analogy would help. Let's say there is a domino in the middle of 6 rows of 1,000,000 dominos that radiate out from the center domino. Say the dominos in the rows are different sizes and some are farther apart than others. If we knock down the farthest dominos we will start a chain reaction that will ultimately result in the center domino being knocked down. While it would be very difficult for us, as humans, to determine which row will hit the center domino first, there is an answer to that question before the initial dominos are knocked down. I am saying human choices are like this but, of course, much more complex. Again, this concept is of little practical significance. It only helps us in understanding the world as a whole, and possibly it only helps us to understand God (of course given the assumption that there is one).
Practically, we all have the ability to make choices that can result in positive or negative change and the idea of free will becomes irrelevant due to complexity. I assure you, I understand and agree with the fact that people change. This fact is not relevant to the discussion of free will.

Again, let's deal with punishment and suffering after we cover this (if we ever do)...

I do not disagree that you can love without God. I'm not sure how any reasonable person could disagree with that and I'm surprised I've shown myself to be that illogical. Maybe my writing skills are much worse than I thought. Let me use another analogy. Assume I am married. Assume that I love my wife very much and assume that I don't get along with my mother-in-law very well. Assume also that my wife wants me to love my mother-in-law. My love for my wife will cause me to try to love my mother-in-law more. In the same way, I don't mind spending time with the annoying guy at church or washing my roommates dirty dishes or staying calm when someone is angry with me because I know that this imaginary friend that I love so much wants me to show as much love as possible.

I don't want to go on for too long because I feel like we try and address so many issues every time that we never address a single one so I'll just make one more point...
It seems we continue to disagree about God's supposed hide and seek game. I agree that God has shown up to a number of people. If he showed up in a burning bush to Moses I would imagine that would have been very impactful for him and he would have lived a life similar to the one he did. If the disciples spent 3 years with Jesus and saw his miracles and saw him transfigured and saw him resurrected I would imagine that would have been very impactful for them and they would have lived lives similar to the ones they did. Of course, you can disregard these stories as myth and falsehood but this is a separate issue (again, I think either of us would be hard-pressed to prove or disprove Jesus due to historical uncertainty). What I am saying is that generally in the Bible the people that had more impactful (in terms of faith) encounters with God were the ones that lived more radically for him. In my opinion, the same thing continues today based on stories people have told me. I think the verse from John is more poetic rhetoric than anything else; you could make that statement about anybody. If you are using that verse to say that the Bible says Jesus did miracles for the whole world and that now there are no miracles, I think you are mistaken. However, you are entitled to your interpretation.
In terms of doubt, I think an obvious example is when the Israelites are scared to enter the land of Canaan due to the size of the people there (end of Numbers 13 and Numbers 14) even after they had crossed the Red Sea. Romans 9-11 talk a lot about the Israelites unbelief. Peter didn't believe dying with Jesus was worth it and denied him 3 times. I think I'm getting of track here though and want to return to my point that, in the Bible, God shows up to some people in more impactful ways than others and some people are given more reasons for faith than others.
I don't know how helpful it is to dwell on my ignorance of history. I understand that you think it is obvious that the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan and Jesus are very obviously made up but I have already agreed these are not something to base one's faith on. I think you stray to far to the side of certainty when addressing these historical events and that many things can be said to the contrary. This to me is an exercise in futility.

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I see Christians come here and claim that God wants us all back with him. Well, why not have just had that from the beginning?  Have JC right out side the gates of Eden and then all things get to be taken care of and no need for thousands of years of nonsense.
Alright...one more point. I just wanted to note that this is not my stance and if it was than I would be forced to agree with you. I am not saying that just to disagree with the other Christians but, of course, it doesn't make sense with the arguments I am presenting. Again, I think ultimately everyone will be reconciled to God but that is getting ahead of ourselves...