skeptic54768, this might end up being a lengthy reply but there’s just so much I disagree with you on. I hope you find this reply reasonable.1. ON ANIMAL SACRIFICE“With that said, I would like to say that Jesus' sacrifice was important because He willingly did it. That is the ultimate act of love.” - skeptic54768
If Jesus is God (John 1:1-1-14), the creator of all things, and God is all knowing (Isaiah 46:9) then the entire plan is asinine, sacrifice and all. Seriously, Jesus’ sacrifice means nothing if the sacrifice is to and for himself.
If God has the attributes of being all powerful, all knowing, and has the ability to foresee the future, are you telling me that the best he could come up with is a plan which involves designing purposely flawed creations (man, woman, and the snake), temporarily leaving and setting up the perfect opportunity for man to be tricked, eventually drowning his flawed creations and regretting it, then eventually sacrificing himself to himself so his creations can be spared the eternal torture? It just doesn’t make any sense. Why not skip the whole dramatic flood event and get straight to sacrificing himself? Or better yet, why not just forgive without the sacrifice?“In the Old Testament, blood of an innocent lamb was used on the door's of the Hebrews. This represented how an innocent animal must be sacrificed to atone for sins.” - skeptic54768
Animal sacrifice…I don’t even know where to start. I guess this is what I want to know first- how does slitting an animal’s carotid artery and having its blood spill out translate over to atonement? Really, please explain the mechanism behind the forgiveness. How does it work? Why does an innocent animal have to be involved? Saying that something clean is needed in order to be used to redeem the dirty doesn’t explain anything. That’s just a subjective rule of forgiveness a god created. What is Yahweh’s obsession with innocent blood? And he isn’t the only god of antiquity that’s obsessed with blood sacrifice:
- Kisin, the Mayan god of death required blood sacrifices.
- Tezcatlipoca, an Aztec god required sacrifices for atonement.
- Jupiter, a Roman god, was calmed by the spilling of chicken and cow blood.
- The Sumerian gods accepted animal sacrifice in order to keep the peace.
- Greek gods were fans of the entrails, lard, and spices.
- Germanic gods were appeased by animal sacrifices.
- The list goes on and on...
So tell me something, 54768, how is your god any different when it comes to animal bloodshed? You claim that these other gods were just demons in disguise, but honestly, I can’t tell your god Yahweh apart from Kisin, El, Thor, Marduk, Jupiter, Zeus, or Tezcatlipoca. To bring it full circle, you said that Jesus’ sacrifice to himself for humanity’s sake was the ultimate act of love. An ultimate act of love would not require a sacrifice in the first place. If you want to forgive someone then you just forgive that person with no strings attached. Let’s say I wronged you, 54768, and you decided to lovingly forgive me. What would be more loving and forgiving: 1) simply forgiving me or 2) having me slit the neck of the nearest pigeon and splash its blood on a park bench, or 3) crucifying 54768 Jr. on my behalf?
Any sane person (or deity) would go with #1.
The sacrificial lamb plan is not a plan I would expect from an intelligent moral agent. I sincerely mean that.2. ON SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES“I had a spiritual experience with God. […] Many people around the world always claim to spiritually experience God […]” - skeptic54768
Spiritual experiences are a dime a dozen and aren’t convincing. The problem is people say they have spiritual experiences with gods other than yours, and they use these experiences to claim their god is real, just like you do. Muslims saw angels, Hindus saw and became one with Brahman through meditation, et cetera et cetera et cetera- there are millions of these accounts and they aren’t any more or less convincing than Christian experiences.
Your friend saw a flaming cross in front of his face while he read the Bible? So what? There are countless Muslim testimonies on the internet with nearly identical stories: they were reading the Koran and had a spiritual experience while reading it (saw the word Allah spelt out, felt Allah’s warm glow, saw the face of Muhammad). You wouldn’t take any of that as proof the Koran is true, so why would you take your friend’s story as evidence the Bible is true? Your societal bias is showing.3. ON YAHWEH’S IMMORALITY“The firstborn were killed by God because Pharaoh killed the firstborn males of the Hebrews. What should God have done about that?” - skeptic54768
How about not murder the Egyptian firstborns? I would have expected a benevolent being with ultimate intelligence to have educated the Pharaoh. If you were God what would you have done? If you tell me you also would have started slaughtered innocent people then you need to check yourself in to a hospital, because you’re a sociopath. And you may very well say “Sure I would!” in order to make excuses for Yahweh, but I doubt you would order the mutilation of children like he does, or for that matter, carry it out like Moses and his army does in the book.
You also have to deal with the problem that this was all God’s plan from the start. He designed the Pharaoh in such a way that he would kill the Hebrew’s firstborn males. He knew he was going to get his own rocks off getting revenge by killing innocent Egyptians. Why? Because he planned it “In the Beginning…” If God didn’t want to slaughter children then he simply wouldn’t slaughter children. That’s sort of the perk of being a god, you get to make the rules.“Even today imagine if someone witnessed their own baby murdered right in front of them by someone. I can't even imagine what they would do in retaliation.” - skeptic54768
If my child was murdered in front of me the last thing I would do is grab a kitchen knife and murder someone else’s child. The length you’re going to in order to justify Yahweh murdering innocent children is impressive. You’re so afraid of questioning Yahweh you’re willing to create loopholes so he gets a free pass on things you find deplorable.But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. […] The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open
. –Hosea 13:4-16
So Yahweh sends an army to murder children and gut pregnant women. But God knows best right? Those unborn children were God’s anyway. He can spill as many fetuses and placentas in the dirt as often as he wants, because Yahweh's got that ultimate love, right? That’s quite a loophole for barbarism.4. ON BELIEFS AND ATHEISM
Here are the reasons you’ve presented for your past atheism:
- You thought god-belief was silly. (You haven’t explained why.)
- You thought people that believed in god were stupid. (You haven’t explained why.)
- You thought you were smarter than god-believers. (You haven’t explained why.)
And here are the reasons you presented for your conversion to Christianity:
- Biblical predictions seem to have come true.
- The state of the existence prior to the Big Bang isn’t fully understood.
- Your friend saw a burning cross.
- Prayers were answered ambiguously.
- An argumentum ad populum: If many believe so, it is so.
You haven’t elaborated on why you were an atheist, but from what you’ve typed you had poor reasons for being an atheist then, and you have poor reasons for being a Christian now. I believe there have been many atheist to Christian conversions. But the reason why many atheists don’t believe them is because their reasons for being an atheist are bad reasons, and not based on rational and critical thought. We always hear “I was big into drugs and I just wanted to sin” or “I was angry with God” and these are truly poor reasons to not believe in the supernatural. Now if you had said, “One reason I was an atheist was due to the fact that Yahweh existed as a pagan Canaanite god prior to being the god of Israel,” then that would have been a good reason for nonbelief in Yahweh. Do you see my concern about your reasons for your past disbelief?“Plenty of people think they are worshiping God, but they are following a false religion. Since I am not following a false religion, I am not one of those people that the verse is speaking about.” –skeptic54768
You haven’t explained how you know you aren’t following a false religion. If the holy book of the religion you follow says it isn’t a false religion, you’re using circular reasoning for support. For example:
Believer: "I’m not following a false religion."
Nonbeliever: "How do you know?"
Believer: "Because the Bible says so."
Nonbeliever: "Why should I believe the Bible?"
Believer: "Because the Bible says all other religions are false. Therefore, I’m not following a false religion.”
See why circular reasoning is considered illogical? Plus, this sort of argument can be used to support any religion.5. ON PROPHECIES“I know the Bible is true because of all the prophecies coming true.” - skeptic54768
Biblical prophecy isn’t the least bit convincing. Since you mentioned the prophecy involving the destruction of the Holy Temple, I’ll use that as an example. Here's Jesus' prediction in Mark 13:1-4:As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
Let's ask ourselves the following:
When did the Siege of Jerusalem take place? 70CE
When was the Gospel of Mark written? No earlier than 70CE
So we have an unknown author living during the Roman-Jewish War (which involved the destruction of the Holy Temple) that wrote about a man that supposedly predicted the destruction of the Holy Temple. Let that sink in for a minute, then you'll understand why this Biblical prophecy isn’t convincing to nonbelievers and skeptics. But! But the passage is written in present tense! If the temple was already destroyed, why would the author of Mark write it in such a way!? Isn’t it obvious, skeptic54768? The author of Mark is a Christian. He's hardly unbiased and he’s writing a story about Jesus 70-80 years after Jesus’ death. One can conclude that the author wrote it this way to ensure that Jesus’ "prediction" came true. 6. ON WOMEN AND SLAVERY“The Bible says that everyone is equal. This is in contrast with other faiths who think some people are superior, like Islam. Women are treated terribly in Islam, but given free choices in Christianity.” - skeptic54768
When Christians say things like this it makes me wonder if they’ve actually read their own Bible, or studied Christianity’s past. Or know anything about the history of women’s rights. You do realize it’s a relatively new development (18-19th century), right? And here a sample of Biblical equality:Old Testament:If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her
. –Deut. 22:28-29New Testament:Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church
. -1 Cor. 14:34–35
Those are just off the top of my head. There are many more verses that go into detail about how you should chop off the hand of a woman that attempts to stop a fight between two men, how women are treated like property and spoils of war, and how a rapist can force a rape victim to marry him. Much of this is from God’s holy mouth. So I really don’t care what Jesus supposedly said about woman and equality, because it only makes God seem like a flip-flopper on the issue, and Christians certainly didn’t interpret the Bible the way you are for thousands of years. Isn’t it funny that when the moral values in a society change that God’s values suddenly change? SPAG at it's finest.