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General Religious Discussion / Re: A question for theists
« Last post by BibleStudent on Yesterday at 04:23:11 PM »
As is often the case here, rather than analyzing and discussing possible explanations for the Biblical accounts, it seems the time has arrived to begin attacking the theist’s (in this case, me) credibility as well as the theist’s knowledge. The introduction of a link to a thread about 'free will' is especially puzzling as I fail to see how it ties into this discussion at all. This outcome only bothers me in the sense that it cuts short what we might have learned from each other.

Instead of analyzing, discussing, and debating on the non-scholarly level we are capable of, the atheist will now assume that their understanding and interpretation of these stories warrants insulting God. These are complicated stories that contain meaning, lessons, and perhaps even reasons for believing something we didn’t believe before. 

If you have determined that these are myths, then I see no reason to continue the discussion.  I was going to offer some commentary with the hope that you may have found it at least somewhat persuasive but it is apparent that the mission is a search and destroy rather than an intellectual discussion about whether these Biblical accounts fit at all with the character and workings of God.

It appears you have your minds made up.


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I joined my local church choir when I was 14, mostly to learn to sight-sing but ended up getting confirmed in the church and taking part in various activities. Layer I took up organ playing and played as organist in various places. I started to take an interest in theology and enrolled in a part-time 1st year for a theology degree which involved learning Greek and the study of the bible and apologetics.

By the time I completed the 2 years and passed the exam, we had decided to move to Scotland and I was able to use the part-time study to qualify to study full-time for an master of Theology degree. I specialised in the Bible, with all three languages to master as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is probably not well known but the Dead Sea Scrolls includes quite a lot of biblical texts (it has 2 versions of Jeremiah - a longer one and a shorter one) which shows that bible texts were being redacted and added to for a long time after they were supposedly written.

By the time I have completed my degree I had come to the conclusion, based on my study, that whilst really interested documents from the past, the bible documents were not what people are told - the word of god - but only the words of men.

Wheels, that is a fascinating background.  Yes, I'm familiar with the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Thanks for sharing your experience, I appreciate hearing about your background and how it led you to your current position.   I may have some followup questions at some point for discussion, but I have to leave shortly for the rest of the afternoon.
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Introductions / Re: Hi. Brief Introduction
« Last post by pisteuo on Yesterday at 03:47:41 PM »
Hi pisteuo! I'm CrystalDragon, but you can call me CD if you like since that's long.  I'm one of the theists here and I guess you could say I'm a bit like Old Church Guy. :)

Thanks, CD!  Appreciate the welcome!
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Introductions / Re: Hi. Brief Introduction
« Last post by pisteuo on Yesterday at 03:45:55 PM »
I guess one thing we need to consider is that some theists have met people who claim to be atheists, but are atheists for bad reasons.  Maybe they really did have something bad happen to them, or maybe they really are angry because a parent died, or something to that extent.  So the decision could be based more on emotion than research.  What we should convey to pisteuo is that we've come to our conclusions not haphazardly, but as the result of a lot of thought and investigation.  If pisteuo has real evidence to bring to the table, we should be open to it.  He may well be open to our evidence as well.  Obviously, what we don't want to see is him referring back to the Bible, or talking about personal experiences.  Is there something else he can bring to the table?  Let's find out.

No doubt, just as there are undoubtedly those who claim to be theists who are also uncertain of why, or for reasons that may not stand up to the most basic scrutiny.  For example, culturally labeling oneself as Christian or Muslim by default (as in the USA, where almost everyone is a "Christian", but most couldn't even tell you what's in Scripture because they never read it, and maybe never have). 
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General Religious Discussion / Re: A question for theists
« Last post by Azdgari on Yesterday at 03:44:24 PM »
Many Christians, yourself included BibleStudent, like to throw out stuff like 'free will' as an answer to questions.  And I've never really gotten the sense that those Christians, including you BibleStudent, ever bother to really think about what they mean by free will.  What they mean when they say "it's a choice."  Of course, I could be wrong on that score, but it doesn't seem like it.  It seems like you guys don't really try to understand the nature of choice.  You just reflexively say 'something is a choice' without bothering to ascertain what the nature of those choices actually are.

Case in point, this thread:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,30262.msg713832.html#msg713832

BibleStudent acknowledges not having an understanding of what he means by "free will", yet goes ahead and uses the term anyway.  When pressed, he cites a few mutually contradictory dictionary definitions.
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Introductions / Re: Hi. Brief Introduction
« Last post by pisteuo on Yesterday at 03:40:58 PM »
Welcome to the site pisteuo. Hoping you enjoy reading and posting and decide to stick around.  :)

Thanks Emma, I appreciate the warm welcome from you and several others.  I'm sure I'll enjoy my stay here.
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Introductions / Re: Hi. Brief Introduction
« Last post by pisteuo on Yesterday at 03:38:22 PM »
Don't let anyone conflate atheism with anything other than the rejection of god assertions. Some Christians believe that atheists hate "God", or that they are simply struggling with their faith, etc. In my opinion, atheism is nothing more than the rejection of god assertions, nothing more, nothing less. It is a response to god assertions. Someone say's "there is a god", the atheist asks "where?", and the answer is always some form of faith or belief, or a variation of the two. They always tell you how to find their god, but it never involves actual demonstration. And so on...

Jetson, thanks for this.  I don't want to presume someone simply hates God, or that they are an atheist because something bad happened in their life.  While there are several testimonies that lend themselves to that conceptually, there are also many who came to that conclusion via reasoning, or debate, or where said tragic events were a catalyst that led them to a deeper search to determine what they believe (or don't believe).  I think there is probably a wide variety of reasons and viewpoints among atheists just as there are among theists.  I'll try not to make too many assumptions.  I agree, certainly, that atheism is a rejection of god assertions.  There may be far more subtle nuances as to "why", but at a basic level, atheism is simply a rejection of belief.
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General Religious Discussion / Re: A Hypothetical for Christians
« Last post by jdawg70 on Yesterday at 03:37:32 PM »
Since no other theist has stood up so far to answer the OP (don't know why), I will.

If that happened—no strings attached, God was absolutely sincere, etc., here's what I'd do: assuming there was an "everlasting fiery torture" part of hell, I'd take everyone out of that part, and put them all in a sort of holding-prison area.  I'd then divide everyone according to their crime, and their punishment would be worse the worse the crime was.  For instance, someone who was in hell who had not believe would see and experience definitive action and presence of God that they could easily understand, so that they'd realize what they were missing.  Those who tortured other people like the terrible deep-dark-web-crush-torture stuff would endure a punishment where they understand and feel the pain and terror their victims went through.  Not for eternity, but enough for them to get a change in perspective and a punishment that fit their crime.

If people, eventually, were sorry and showed it with complete sincerity, I wouldn't have them prove it in some way (maybe placing them into a simulated situation involving seeing what their past self did and protesting against/stopping it).  THEN, if they were really REALLY sincere in their repentance, and they had proven they had truly changed, THEN they would get to heaven.

If the truly vile ones were never sorry (though given eternity I think they would be eventually, given punishment), then they'd stay in hell. Again though, not being eternally tortured, but being punished in a way that fit the crimes.

Thanks for your input CrystalDragon.  One thing I am missing from you on all this is explanations why you would act in this particular way.

Would your actions constitute a moral decision?  That is, in your view, could your actions be described as 'morally good' or 'morally bad', depending on what those actions are?

Like, for example, pretend Bob Smith receives this offer rather than you.  And let's say that Bob Smith does one of the following:
1) Eradicates the entirety of hell and all of it's inhabitants.  The entities there no longer exist so therefore do not suffer.
2) Double-down on the pain, increasing everyone's suffering 10-fold.
3) Moving everyone in hell into heaven, complete with a coupon for one free scoop of iced cream.

Should any of those decisions, actions, and outcomes be considered 'morally good' or 'morally evil' or somewhere in between?  Does god's lack of judgment in the circumstance make this a non-moral question?  Do you think the occupants of hell would consider this to be a non-moral question?

...
......
Would you say that you would be acting in a more morally fair way than god had been acting prior to making this offer to you?

Presumably the answer is 'no', insofar as god is still considered the paragon of morality for you[1], but if that is the case, and this decision could be construed as a moral decision, how do you explain the discrepancy between what you would do and what god would do?  Do you not want to act in a morally good manner?  If you could make a maximally morally good decision, would you strive to try to make that decision?
 1. Near as I can tell - perhaps that is not the case?
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General Religious Discussion / Re: A question for theists
« Last post by jdawg70 on Yesterday at 03:20:58 PM »
If Abraham "surely knew" that God was just fooling around, then Isaac was in no danger at all and any "sacrifice" was worthless since everyone involved knew it wasn't a sacrifice at all. 

Yeah good post overall, but this is the point you make that stands out to me.  It reminds me a lot of Jesus's sacrifice.  If you know you'll be rising again in 3 days and returning to heaven to claim your Kingdom, is it really a sacrifice?  This is the whole "he had a bad weekend" argument.  It's that same plot hole all over again.

BibleStudent, try to answer this:

Precisely what choice did Abraham make in the circumstance of Isaac and sacrifice?

Let me walk you through my thinking here.  Assuming the following is true:
1. Due to the promises that had previously been made by God, Abraham surely knew that his son would live no matter how far he went in his obedience to sacrifice him…even if it meant God raising him after death.
2. God did not command that Abraham murder his son. He commanded that he sacrifice him clearly indicating that there was holy purpose involved.
3. The appearance of the ram in the bushes makes it clear that God never intended for this sacrifice to result in the death of Isaac.
4. There is evidence that Isaac cooperated with his father and chose to obey further indicating  that both were aware of what the outcome must surely be.

We have an Abraham who apparently knew with nigh-certainty that Isaac's life, irrespective of Abraham's actions, would not be ended.
We have an Abraham who apparently knew with nigh-certainty that there was in fact a holy purpose involved.
We have an Abraham who apparently knew with nigh-certainty that his actions would not result in the death of Isaac (insofar as god, the unquestioned lord and master of all reality, did not intend for that result to be made manifest).
We have an Abraham who could communicate on an intellectual with Isaac, presumably because a) Isaac was actually a 10-year old boy or b) Abraham could speak baby.

I want to discount the 4th part because, well, it's pretty dumb.  I know you don't think it's dumb, but it's kinda dumb dude.  But fine if you want to assert that baby Isaac possessed sufficient understanding and control of his own will to be responsible and accountable, we'll go with it.  But man that sounds ridiculous.

Anyway, with the above, it seems quite certain that Abraham's choice wasn't "be willing to kill my own son at god's command" because Abraham genuinely, truly, earnestly believed and apparently knew with nigh-certainty that "killing his son" wasn't going to happen."  It is quite certain that is not what Abraham was choosing.  So I am curious as to what choice Abraham was making in this circumstance.  Many Christians, yourself included BibleStudent, like to throw out stuff like 'free will' as an answer to questions.  And I've never really gotten the sense that those Christians, including you BibleStudent, ever bother to really think about what they mean by free will.  What they mean when they say "it's a choice."  Of course, I could be wrong on that score, but it doesn't seem like it.  It seems like you guys don't really try to understand the nature of choice.  You just reflexively say 'something is a choice' without bothering to ascertain what the nature of those choices actually are.

So help me out here BibleStudent.  What was Abraham choosing here?  From what you're saying, he was almost certainly not choosing to kill his son for whatever laudable, divine, holy reasons you can muster.  It really does not look like he was choosing to kill his son at all.  If I told you that for the low, low price of $75,000 you could have this shiny pen, except that you will not actually have your finances reduced by $75,000 when you agree to make this purchase (and this circumstance is known to you), and you agree, did you actually agree to paying $75,000, or did you just agree to getting a free shiny pen?
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General Religious Discussion / Re: A question for theists
« Last post by YouCantHandleTheTruth on Yesterday at 03:18:07 PM »
^ its actual much worse, Jesus not only knew he would be resurrected, god knew humans would commit original sin in order to create moses to create the flood to create Jesus to create the sacrifice of Jesus to.......

All of it was known at time of creation and the universe just rolls the script out in real time.

We are not even real, we are acting like we are real and can't help it. When we finish this act we then become new preordained automaton in heaven or hell.

Stupid religion.

Yeah I know - those poor people in the flood.  If only God had figured out he could bring down Jesus at that time, they could have been forgiven of their sins instead of drowned in the flood.  I wonder what happened to them?  Did they get to see Jesus in a final vision, and accept him as their savior?  I'm guessing that's the answer to that one.
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