So in order to understand my points for belief in God, you would first have to accept something that I believe is true. That mankind is made up of more than just the physical. We have other dimensions to us. Love, music, art, self sacrifice, laughter, sadness, and all of these expressions (and more) tell me that we are more than just tangible. We have qualities like higher level thinking and a consciousness that causes us to ask why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?
These are the basic questions that every philosophy and religion in the history of the world has wrestled with, and proposed answers to. I don't see any reason to make the immediate leap from "Huh. Fascinating questions" to "Therefore, the Bible must be true!" It would be quite the stroke of luck if the predominant religion of the region and culture you just happened to be born in also just happened to be the one with all the correct answers to the questions of life! Wouldn't it? If you are uncomfortable with the "random chance" element of evolutionary theory, shouldn't you also be uncomfortable with the idea of assuming that American Protestantism is true just because you happened to be born into the milieu of American Protestantism?
Obviously, taking the answers of the local predominant religion doesn't work as a method
of discovering truth because...think of all those other poor bastards born in other places and times, with other predominant religions and philosophies! If you had been born under the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III, I guarantee you, "Christianity!" would not have been the answer to those questions you would have found.
So, the first thing that must be done when beginning a process of inquiry into these questions, is to seek out a method or methods that work for the purpose of answering questions, discovering facts, and identifying errors in one's own thinking.
"Defend the religion I was born into" demonstrably does not work
, as shown by the existence of all those people born into religions and philosophies you think are wrong, wrong, wrong. So far, the methods that have
shown themselves to work best are: observation, logic, and science practiced under a rubric of reciprocal accountability. "Reciprocal accountability" is the process by which ideas (world views, political polices, scientific theories, products for sale, claims that a given person is guilty of a crime, etc.) are subject to the critical scrutiny of others, who are free to shoot them down.
This is the underlying principle of how the world's most successful science (peer review, replication of observation and experiments by skeptical scientists), courts (adversarial trial-by-jury with guaranteed access to professional legal representation), government (political leaders regularly subject to democratic elections, checks-and-balances, and debate of their policy proposals), and markets (free competition by multiple enterprises with a government referee to prevent the formation of cartels, monopolies, systematic cheating by the powerful, etc.) work
. Of course these things don't work perfectly. Nothing human does. But...the way we find out
they don't work perfectly, and try to make them work better is: science, logic, and reciprocal accountability.
Have you noticed that religions as a rule, never
use these tools? How they always try to put something or someone (or both) above
questioning and criticism?
Observations like this leads me to believe that we are more than just evolved beasts. That we are not random chance beings whose ancestors crawled out of a primordial soup and eventually become man. I don't see the evolutionary reason or even the possibility of evolution "needing to" create those intangible qualities (as if evolution itself had a brain and a motive).
I could just as easily say, "Observations like this lead me to believe that we are more than just automatons made to tend a garden (Gen. 2:15). That we were not made to just munch fruit and obey orders, or herd goats in the desert. I don't see the design reason or even the possibility of a deity 'needing to' create those intangible qualities [e.g. ability to perform calculus or build spaceships] in order to have people to bow down to it and sing its praises." And the truth is, I don't. Any deity capable of creating a hundred billion galaxies with a thought has no conceivable use for human sycophants.
1. I see evidence of good and evil
This does not provide evidence for Christianity. The "Argument From Evil" is actually one of the main evidences against
the existence of an all-powerful, all-good creator deity with omnimax attributes (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, omnibenevolence). Leaping straight to Christianity here also represents a fallacy of Locating the Hypothesis
. More on this below.
2. I have reason to believe in the authenticity of the bible
Not sure what you mean by "authenticity of the Bible" here. If you're arguing something along the lines of, "The Bible said that Nineveh was real; the archaeologists thought it was a myth until they found it, therefore the Bible is God's infallible Word!," that is no more to the point than assuming that because Troy and Mycenae were found, therefore the Goddess Athena must exist. Again, you're jumping straight to the Bible for no apparent reason. Have you tested the Upanishads for authenticity? Locating the Hypothesis again.
3. The bible also admits the problem of good and evil
4. The bible states that the ability for good and evil exists in people. Which I see evidence of.
Outside of, maybe, a few hand-wringing French Existentialists and postmodernist academics, you'd have a hard time finding any
philosophical or religious text that doesn't admit the problem of good and evil, and state that good and evil exist in people. If you're guessing that I'll mention "Locating the Hypothesis" again here, you'd be right.
5. The bible states that mankind needs to be taught what good and evil are. Otherwise, if left to their own devices, man will deviate into a place where he hurts and destroys himself and others around him. I see evidence of this throughout history and in today's world.
See my response to #4 above.
But ultimately a society without God's rules for living written in their hearts, will decay. Therefore God in the bible shows us that we are lost without Him.
And yet, somehow, the Japanese, the Swedes and Finns and Danes manage just fine without ordering their societies along the lines of a Biblical Sharia. In terms of measurable criteria of social health (crime rates, teen pregnancy rates, happiness levels, social equality, infant mortality, etc.) such secular societies routinely outperform religious societies like the U.S. Within the U.S., the more secular "blue" states outperform the more religious "red" states. As far as we can tell from actual observation, we are better off
"without Him." For that matter, the ancient Egyptians, Minoans, etc.--not to mention hunter-gatherer cultures that measured their continuation in tens of thousands
of years--seem to have managed alright without the Bible.
Furthermore, what exactly are
"God's rules for living" anyway? No eating shrimp wrapped in bacon? No use of blended-fiber cloth? Picking up sticks on a Saturday should be a capital offense (Numbers 15:32-36)? No, wait, we ignore all that stuff nowadays, don't we? You know, the places where the Bible actually lays out a code of law and jurisprudence
. Instead, we come up with a set of "rules for living" we like better (don't be gay, don't be a woman, and cut taxes on the rich) and then say
those are in the Bible as "God's rules for living." How many Christians these days actually obey
the things the Jesus of the Gospels said about money
? Well, if we're going to come up with our own rules anyway, we might as well use the methods I outlined above and stop using Yahweh as a ventriloquist dummy. Locating the Hypothesis
I mentioned the concept of "Locating the Hypothesis" a few times. When we are trying to answer a question, and are confronted with a large possibility space of potential answers, it is fallacious to select one particular hypothesis out for focused attention without having sufficient evidence to do so. Over and over again, you leap straight to [your interpretation of] the Bible without first providing any evidence that it, and not some other ancient holy book or none, should be privileged
as the one worthy of consideration.
To see the problem of privileging the hypothesis, suppose that the police in Largeville, a town with a million inhabitants, are investigating a murder in which there are few or no clues - the victim was stabbed to death in an alley, and there are no fingerprints and no witnesses.
Then, one of the detectives says, "Well... we have no idea who did it... no particular evidence singling out any of the million people in this city... but let's consider the possibility that this murder was committed by Mortimer Q. Snodgrass, who lives at 128 Ordinary Ln."
If the detective does not have evidence already in hand to justify singling out Mortimer for such special and individual attention, then this is, or ought to be, a violation of Mortimer's civil rights.
You have provided no reason to immediately select "the Bible" as the one hypothesis worthy of consideration, no evidence that you ever went through any process of inquiry where you considered the merits of the Vedas and the Pyramid Texts and the Pupul Vuh and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics[/url] and the writings of Confucius, etc. before finally hitting upon the Bible as the best and most rational understanding. You've shown no evidence of having a method of inquiry that lead you to choosing "the Bible" other than "being born at a particular place and time."
6. Other religions are self serving in that they try to control their followers. If practiced correctly, Christianity allows people to choose.
Oh, sure. But if you "choose" wrong, you BURN FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER IN EXQUISITE FIERY TORMENT!!!!
Nice soul ya got there. It'd be a shame if something happened
to it. Capiche?
As Joshua said "choose for yourself this day whom you will serve".
Joshua, the Adolf Hitler of the Bible, whose sword (if the legends were true) dripped with the blood of hundreds of thousands of people, including women, children, and infants killed for the "crime" of "choosing" (well, being born into) a different religion, offering people a "choice?" Do you really, honestly think
that anyone in his audience would have felt (much less actually been
) safe to say, "Actually, now that you mention it, I think I'd rather go worship Asherah in that sacred grove of trees over there. Thanks, bye"?
Jesus said "behold I stand at the door and knock, if any one opens the door I will come into Him and dwell".
"It's Jesus. You need to let me in so I can save you!"
"From what I'm gonna do to you if you don't let me in
7. There is a law of nature that says all sin must be paid for with a price. Similar to the first law of thermodynamics in physics, there is a spiritual law in a sense that we can see manifest itself here in the natural realm. If people steal, lie, covet, murder, there is a price to be paid, by someone. Either the victim or the perpetrator pays the price of the activity.
8. Christ came to pay the price for the sins of the world.
So, if somebody murders a loved one of yours, but then they "accept Jesus," you're OK with them serving no jail time for the murder, right? Because Jesus "paid the price" for their "sin," obviously you can't be still "paying the price" as measured in the loss of your loved one, and we can't expect the perpetrator to "pay the price" as measured in a life sentence in jail. Right?
Of course I expect you won't agree. That's because what you're doing here is conflating actual
things (real costs incurred as a result of crime) with religious abstractions
like "sin" and "Jesus paying a price" by "dying" (but not really--there was never only two
members of the Trinity, right?) in a story. The two are not the same at all, and it doesn't work to treat them that way. So no, the Bible doesn't get to be a new principle of thermodynamics.
9. The offer of salvation being a free gift through faith,
Bollocks. You earn your "salvation" the exact same way
you used to earn an A in school. If Christian "salvation" was actually
a "free gift," then the blank in the following sentence: "In order to be saved, you must ___________" would stay blank
is not something that I see men who wrote books in the bible at different points in time, could have come up with on their own, without collaboration.
Because there's no freakin' way
the guys who wrote the later books could ever have read the earlier books, right?
It is not self serving especially when considering the time and culture in which they lived.
Bollocks. Getting your "salvation" for "free" (by having the right set of beliefs, i.e., getting the right answers on the Celestial Quiz), you get the best of both worlds. You get to be part of the extra-special in-group that's going to Heaven while all of "those people" (the pagans, gays, Jews, uppity women, Vile Heretics who believe most of the same things you do but disagree on a few doctrines, etc.) Burn In Hell. But you don't have to actually work
at it to earn the privilege. Jews had to obey a long list of rules in order to be on the Inside Track. If the Gospels are to be believed, Jesus came along and made Judaism even harder
--it wasn't enough just to not commit fornication, you had to not even think
about it! But then along comes Saul of Tarsus, and he says nah, don't worry about any of that, just believe The Right Things, and you're golden!
Nah, that's not self-serving at all! Guys who wanted to worship the Goddess Cybele had to chop. their. balls
. off! Talk about a religion "nobody would make up!"
10. Christ had a huge impact on the world.
No he didn't. During his (alleged) existence, nobody noticed he was even there except for his tiny band of followers. No contemporary writer mentions him or any "huge impact" he had. He doesn't even have a "huge impact" in the New Testament
. Just compare how much space is taken up with his words (a red letter Bible is helpful here) vs. how much space is taken up with the words of Paul, a guy who never even met the man. Or for that matter, all the space taken up with painstaking descriptions of the Tabernacle, the bowls and furniture and altars to be used in it, the garments of the priests, and so on. In his 33 years of life, Jesus never had anything else to say that might have been more deserving of "making the cut" than all that stuff? Really?
The world's calendar for example is based on His birth. Major holidays around His birth and resurrection.
The major holidays (Saturnalia, Easter, etc.) existed prior to their assimilation into Christianity. The dominance of the Gregorian calendar in today's world is due to Guns, Germs, and Steel, not how awesomesauce Jesus was. Native Americans: "Hey, this Jesus fellow was really great, wasn't he? Let's toss our calendar and adopt his!" Sorry, but that never happened.
11. Men who knew Him where martyred and persecuted because of their faith in Him.
Stories--and I might add, Roman Catholic
stories that aren't in the Bible
, say that Jesus' disciples were martyred because of their faith in him. Also, lots and lots and lots of people die for their religions. That doesn't make their religions true.
12. I have had sin in my own life and Christ has changed me. My belief in Him has caused me to love God for the free gift of salvation that He has given me. This in turn gives me a desire to avoid sin and things that lead to sin. Because of a love for God.
This is nice, but Christianity is hardly the only belief-system that can be "life-changing." Realizing that Jesus was not "in control," heading up to the Bridge to see that he wasn't at the wheel, and taking control and responsibility for my own life was the best thing I ever did. I wish I had made that realization, and that decision much earlier. Atheism has changed me and turned my life around. Does that make atheism true?