Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog

Are There Things that Really Bother You about Christianity? – #1 Post of 2010

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Does it bother you that the Bible is composed of 66 different books instead of one single tome?

What about the fact that there were errors made in copying some of the Bible manuscripts over the last few thousand years?

Does it cause you to doubt Christianity because there are some difficult passages in the Bible?

Do you wish Jesus didn’t say some of the harsh things he said?

Do you find it strange that the biblical authors come from vastly different backgrounds (e.g., shepherds, kings, fishermen)?  Or that they composed poetry, historical narrative, allegory, and apocalyptic letters instead of a theological/moral textbook with each point being carefully outlined (e.g., “see section 11.3.4.7 for why murder is wrong”).

Does it irritate you that Jesus only ministered for a few years and covered a limited range of topics?

Are you worried about the way the canon of Scripture developed over time in the church instead of God sending Scripture to earth in a black obelisk, like  in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Do you wish Jesus and the apostles had addressed more social ills than they did?

Listen carefully: If these kinds of things really eat at you, you have either rejected Christianity or you have erected barriers around your faith so that you can shut off your brain and not think any more.

You see, what you fail to realize is that God has chosen to use flawed and fallible human beings in the framework of human history to accomplish his purposes.  We are included in his plans and he allows us to be important actors in the drama he has written, but there is a catch with this approach: Christianity turns out to be messier than some of us would like.

Jesus is both divine and human; the Bible is both divine and human.  Both of these are tenets of Christianity, so why do so many of us want to drop the human part of the Bible and the human part of Jesus?

Jesus, as the God-man, was sinless during his life in earth, but that doesn’t mean he was some kind of emotionless Spock with no feelings and no passion.  The Bible, because it is divinely inspired, is inerrant in what it teaches, but that doesn’t mean that God had to compose the Bible as a dry textbook that dropped from the sky one day, avoiding all human interference.

Learn to appreciate the fact that God has included humanity in his plans.  The sooner you do, the better you’ll understand Christianity.


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Comments

  • ramzi

    Nice post, I definitely have struggled with some of these questions.

  • Willie G

    “You see, what you fail to realize is that God has chosen to use flawed and fallible human beings in the framework of human history to accomplish his purposes. We are included in his plans and he allows us to be important actors in the drama he has written, but there is a catch with this approach: Christianity turns out to be messier than some of us would like.”

    That is an incredible encapsulation of why so many former evangelicals have turned their backs on their former faith. You paint god as the tyrannical playwright that fully orchestrates the “drama” of human existence in all it’s ugliness, with all it’s tragedy, gross neglect and evil encounters, then add that it is all his plan and he “allows” us to play. There is far too much deleterious inuendo here to ever accept your final appeal to the appreciation of any kind of a divine “plan.” Rather it points clearly to delusion.

    Have a nice day.

  • Bill Pratt

    Have a nice day as well.

  • Bill Pratt

    By the way, I would say the reason any evangelicals turn their backs on their former faith is because they were taught a Pollyanna view of Christianity that was so naive and simplistic that when the first little trouble occurred in their faith, it fell apart into a million tiny pieces.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Bill Pratt: By the way, I would say the reason any evangelicals turn their backs on their former faith is because they were taught a Pollyanna view of Christianity that was so naive and simplistic that when the first little trouble occurred in their faith, it fell apart into a million tiny pieces.
    .
    Oh, sure…you can say that…you’d be wrong, of course, but nothing prevents you from saying it. *wink* Now—proving it? Whole different kettle of fish…

    We understand the claim of human interweaving with divine. Where the trouble comes is determining a method of differentiating between what is “human” compared to “human + divine” (however one cares to define that.) Some claim this writing is just human, others claim the writing is human + divine. Others claim that writing is human + divine; while opponents disagree.

    What many of us were faced with was coming up with an arguably consistent method of determining what writings (or persons or miracles or claims) can be differentiated from solely human. Sure, we understood the human element in creating the Protestant Bible. The question is not that at all; the question is how to determine any divine element within something we all agree is human?

    In simple question form: “Given a string of words, what method is used to determine said string is theopneustos?”

  • Willie G

    This is so typical. The first line of defense when faced with the realization that someone has rejected what you cling to always seems to be to denegrate the experience and understanding of the one who lost their faith. “If you just believed what I believe,” or “you weren’t really a christian to start with,” or any other assumption you can think of not to have to deal with the fact that men and women of extreme intelligence who have immersed themselves in scripture, the christian fellowship, evangelism and ministry and earnest seeking of god’s face and personal relationship with him have authentically found their beliefs deficient in plausible content and have simply and often painfully walked away.

    I find this first line of defense to be condescending. If I hadn’t come to expect it from every believer I would also find it insulting.

  • Bill Pratt

    Willie, I’m not trying to offend anybody; I’m just telling you what I’ve witnessed time and again when dealing with ex-evangelicals. I’m sure there are some ex-evangelicals who do not fall into this camp, but most of the ones I talk to do fall into this camp.

    Now it’s your turn to offend me. Tell me how you explain the fact that men and women of extreme intelligence have immersed themselves in scripture, the Christian fellowship, evangelism, and ministry, and have found their beliefs to be perfectly plausible, reasonable, and intellectually satisfying. There are millions of them, so what gives?

  • Bill Pratt

    I think I already addressed this in the blog post. The doctrine of inerrancy holds that the original writing is inspired by God and therefore without error. Christians are agreed on some 99% of the New Testament text, based on textual criticism, so that’s what we would hold as inerrant, at least in the NT. This number has moved very little since textual critics began their work a couple hundred years ago or so. If it does move a little bit up or down based on new findings, it’s no big deal since we’re dealing with such a small part of the text.

    There is no dichotomy between divine and human in the Bible. The church has always held that God, through the agency of humans, inspired the very words of the biblical books. We don’t say this word is from God and that word is from a human. We say that they are all from both, working in coordination.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Bill Pratt: The doctrine of inerrancy holds that the original writing is inspired by God and therefore without error.
    .
    You do understand that is circular, correct? The Bible is inerrant because the Bible self-claims to be theopneustos, and theopneustos means it was inspired by God, and since God cannot error, the Bible must be inerrant.

    But let’s say, for a moment, it is inerrant. And let’s say, for the moment, our copies are 100% exact duplicates of the original. We both agree the originals (and copies) were made by humans. This still does not answer the question—what method does one use to differentiate between human writings and human + God-inspired writings?

    I can grab a Hallmark card. It is inerrant, and 100% exact copy of the original. It was written by a human. What method do I apply to determine whether it is or is not equally God-inspired? Other writings, such as the Book of Mormon, Qur’an and Science and Health with Key to Scriptures claim to be written by humans, but with a divine touch.

    If I granted them the same latitude I grant the Bible in terms of inerrancy and copies—what method does one use to determine those are or are not God-inspired?

    Simply claiming a human writing has additional divine influence is insufficient. We have plenty of such writings. We have entire books of such writings. We have books that were once in the Bible (Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, Wisdom of Solomon.) We have books that remained in dispute for a long time (James, Epistles of John, Revelation.) We have entire sections of the Bible that have been both in AND out of inspiration–Pericope de Adultera, ending of Mark, Johannine Comma.

    I’m sorry, perhaps I missed it in the blog entry. Maybe you can point it out. “Given a string of words, what method do we use to determine that string is theopneustos?”*

    *I should note I don’t use the term theopneustos to sound impressive or show off some archaic knowledge of Greek. I use that term because it is singularly used, and we have no other works utilizing it—not even other places in Christian writing. We understand it is a combination of “God” (theo) and “Spirit or wind or breath” (pneuma) yet that is insufficient to necessarily explain what the author meant, nor what he meant by “Scripture” (graphe.)

  • Willie G

    Bill says: “Now it’s your turn to offend me. Tell me how you explain the fact that men and women of extreme intelligence have immersed themselves in scripture, the Christian fellowship, evangelism, and ministry, and have found their beliefs to be perfectly plausible, reasonable, and intellectually satisfying. There are millions of them, so what gives?”

    First of all, I do not want to offend you or anyone else here. I seek only dialogue. As one who has weighed their faith on the scales of truth and found it wanting I continually seek diverse points of view that will help me to either confirm or deny my current position. In this search I have quickly tired of the same old arguments and theistic short cuts of those who would quickly cling to their long held beliefs blindly and condemn or at least discount the honest seeker who has discarded those same long held beliefs. Fair enough?

    Now, to address your question: I alluded to my position in my first comment above. I would propose that the problem is one of delusion. While the application of this term is not original to me, it is striking to me the people of all religions, not just the masses that you refer to in the Christian faith will cling to their beliefs in the face of contrary evidence and reason and will further attempt to excuse inconsistencies and out right horrors and atrocities committed in the name of their religion and their gods This smacks of neuro-pschycological conditioning similar to what is found in all cases of what we would commonly refer to as brainwashing. Although I am not a proponent of his combative and militant style, nor his general nasty approach and rudeness I nevertheless refer you to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Also, John Loftus new book The Christian Delusion is outstanding from both the point of view of Christian apologists and Atheist/agnostic philosophers.

    One thing I would like to point out, and I hope you don’t find this insulting, is I am surprised to see you lean on your appeal to the masses as a basis for a truth claim. I have read this argument in your archives as well and was dumbfounded that anyone would appeal to the majority as a source of confirmation. There is nothing more dangerous than group-think. This very thing has led many a cult to a suicidal rampage. The fact that Atheists find themselves vastly outnumbered in no way discredits their claim to truth, nor does numerical superiority of any religion seal the deal for it’s truth claim.

    So, I basically ask that you and I have a dialogue based on our own search for truth. I in know way doubt your sincerity. I believe you are deluded. I believe that I was deluded as well. I believe I have awakened from the delusional haze and have made the decision to no longer drink the kool-aid. I am not hear to attempt to convert you. Although, if you are honest, I believe that you would have to admit that since I stumbled onto your site you are here, in fact, to attempt to reconvert me. And I’m ok with that. But I will insist that your arguments be intellectually charged, clearly logical, and not just the same old tired drivel that gets tossed out at the skeptical world because you have nothing of substance to say.

    You and your colleague are hear under the guise of apologetics. I can tell by the commenters (one of whom I read regularly) that you have several very honest, well versed, highly educated skeptics in the house and along for the ride. The nature of your site being a blog invites interaction and dissent. So I’m here to see what you have to say. I hope you are here to accept my respectful dialogue.

    Peace to you.

  • Willie G

    …and I really do know the difference between “here” and “hear”, and “no” and “know.” Sorry for the spelling deficiencies :-)

  • Bill Pratt

    “You do understand that is circular, correct? The Bible is inerrant because the Bible self-claims to be theopneustos, and theopneustos means it was inspired by God, and since God cannot error, the Bible must be inerrant.”

    I was not presenting an argument for inerrancy. I was stating what inerrancy is. You’ve made that mistake several times with me now. You criticize me for not presenting sound arguments when I am not presenting arguments at all (you did the same thing with the whole Misquoting Jesus comment string). I like to just discuss things sometimes without always developing a 5-point thesis and then marshaling evidence for it. I would appreciate it if you would try to give me the benefit of the doubt a little more. If you want me to always answer every comment you make with a well-structured argument, then let me know.

    How one arrives at the doctrine of inerrancy is through a process that goes through several steps, the first being the demonstration that the God of Christianity exists. Every time you and I correspond we seem to eventually come back to this point. You asked me to prove the historicity of miracles without presupposing the existence of God, and I said that was foolish. You are now asking me to prove inerrancy, and I am telling you that you cannot do so without first establishing the existence of the Christian God. We have done some of that work in previous blog posts, if you’re interested.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Bill Pratt,

    I apologize for the confusion I caused with my comment on inerrancy. I should have resisted temptation.

    Really, what I am focused on is “inspiration”—what theopneustos is typically translated in 2 Tim. 3:16. Not inerrancy. In fact, I was attempting to take inerrancy out of the picture, by granting it for the moment. I also tried to take textual variants out by temporarily granting 100% accurate transmission .

    It still leaves us the question as to what human writings are theopneustos–presumably divine influenced under orthodox Christian doctrine. Your blog entry indicated (essentially) Christians shouldn’t be worried that flawed and fallible humans were involved in the creating of theopneustos writing. And we all agree (I think) other writings by other flawed and fallible humans are also claimed to be theopneustos by other flawed and fallible humans.

    If we are not to be bothered by this, I am curious what method one would use to differentiate between the correct flawed and fallible humans who declared writings by flawed and fallible humans to be theopneustos as compared to the incorrect flawed and fallible humans who declared writings by other flawed and fallible humans to be theopneustos.

    In other words, “Given a string of words, what method is used to determine that string is theopneustos?

  • Bill Pratt

    Thanks for the comment, Willie G. A couple things I’d like to respond to:

    You said: “I would propose that the problem is one of delusion.” You further say religious folks are brainwashed. I appreciate your honesty, but I wonder why you bother dialoguing with people who are deluded and brainwashed. After all, these kinds of people rarely, if ever, respond to rational evidence or argumentation. You said that I must be trying to re-convert you, and I won’t argue with you, but why exactly are you talking to me? Delusional people are hardly worth spending serious time with.

    You said: “I am surprised to see you lean on your appeal to the masses as a basis for a truth claim.”

    I think you have misunderstood me. I do not claim that majority opinions must be true or are even strong evidence for truth. I always bring up this point in order to force people to come to terms with why they are in a minority. The fact that a viewpoint is shared by most people demands an explanation from those who do not share that viewpoint; that’s all. If you do not come up with a decent explanation for why most people are wrong about an issue, I worry that you really have not taken the majority view seriously.

    In your case, you believe that 95% of the people who are alive and who have probably ever lived are delusional, and that you are part of a minority that have somehow escaped this delusion. That is a fact worth stating and thinking about. It may say something important about you, but only you can know that. So I guess I should follow up with the question of why is it that you were able to escape the delusion? And then, why haven’t I escaped?

  • Bill Pratt

    Same answer as before. The existence of the Christian God must be established first. Without that, there is no hope in determining which “inspired” writings from the many religious traditions are truly inspired. We would be left with total agnosticism.

  • Willie G

    You said: “I wonder why you bother dialoguing with people who are deluded and brainwashed. After all, these kinds of people rarely, if ever, respond to rational evidence or argumentation. You said that I must be trying to re-convert you, and I won’t argue with you, but why exactly are you talking to me? Delusional people are hardly worth spending serious time with.”

    I suppose the basic answer is that I feel a great affinity with and for those who still cling to faith in the supernatural, especially those who seem open to examining questions in an intellectual and academic way. You seem to be one that finds your faith to be reasonable (i.e. you don’t seem to have “blind” faith). I was once fully indoctrinated, brainwashed, deluded. Once my faith was forced under the scrutiny of reason and science my faith began to crumble and the shroud of delusion began to lift until eventually I could no longer reasonably hold to my previous faith. However, as any adequate student of science will tell you, the objective of science is not to prove a hypothesis correct, but rather to disprove that hypothesis. Therefore, there is no better place to check for error in your assumptions than the source. I seek out theistic intellectuals that are willing to dialogue, discuss and debate to make certain that I have not come to false conclusions. So in essence I come to you, though I may think you are deluded, to find evidence that I have drawn faulty conclusions. This is why I admittedly get irritated when presented with canned, tired, worn out attempts at rebuttal. I will always be a seeker. I will not find what I seek by engaging only those that agree with me. I must also stay in touch with those who are contrary.

    You said: “If you do not come up with a decent explanation for why most people are wrong about an issue, I worry that you really have not taken the majority view seriously.”

    I ask a little levity here. Without divulging my entire life’s history let’s leave it at me being fully engrossed and invested in all things Christian and evangelical. I not only took the majority view seriously, I was the majority view, I proselytized based on the majority view, I gave and sacrificed all that would be considered dear for the majority view. When I walked away from what I now refer to as delusion I was crushed spiritually, emotionally, socially and economically. I have paid a massive negative price for my deconversion that carries serious personal repercussions to this day (20 years later). So please, do not question my serious consideration of the majority view.

    You asked: “why is it that you were able to escape the delusion? And then, why haven’t I escaped?”

    Delusion is an awful thing. One who is mistaken can be corrected. One who is confused can be redirected. One who is ignorant can be enlightened. But one who is deluded can only be changed by the most unpleasant, and sometimes violent intervention. I was able to escape only through the most unpleasant heart-wrenching and personally devastating and socially isolating experience that I could ever imagine. My life has been rent asunder. Everything I ever cherished and held dear has been torn from under me. I have been rejected and tossed aside by nearly everyone that ever meant anything to me. But now I am free. Free from the bondage of religious delusion. The cult has been scourged from my brain, and now I stand alone, just me and my days on the earth.

    My experience is why I said in an earlier comment that I am not here to convert you. If you are as deluded as I was, I would never wish the pain of my deconversion upon you. I cannot explain why you have not escaped, but I daresay that if you continue to engage people like me in the conversations you seem to be inviting, that it is only a matter of time. Ancient supernatural superstition cannot stand the onslaught of modern reason. If you continue to expose your faith to those who have escaped it will be weighed in the balance, and it will be found wanting, and you will either escape the delusion, or you will become a cowering dishonest theist.

    I look forward to your response.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Bill Pratt,

    Unfortunately, even establishing the Christian God does little to help us on our way (and can dangerously interject subjectivity into the topic.) I’ll explain.

    First, there is nothing technically within the requirements of a Christian God necessitating inspired writing. Think of it this way, according to Christianity, 1000’s of people were converted to Christianity before there was a single Christian writing! (Acts 2:41, 47) [Arguably, at best one would have the Christian interpretation of the Jewish inspired writing—the Tanakh.]

    Therefore, we not only would have to establish a Christian God—but a Christian God that desires to communicate in writing. A narrower version. But even that is not enough. There are various claims as to how this Christian God communicates in writing: Directly by angel (Qur’an), or on golden plates (Mormon) or through human interaction (Creedal Christianity and Christian Science.) Now we either have to establish a method to determine which means the Christian God uses! Creating the same problem I have asked in each comment—what method do we use?

    Or, alternatively, we presume it is through human compulsion—“inspiration” if you will. Now we have to establish: 1) A Christian God who 2) communicates in writing by 3)human instrumentality.

    Here we come very close to question-begging; assuming the very conclusion we are trying to prove. To prove an inspired writing, we use a particular inspired writing to first establish a God would utilize inspired writing, and then claim this must be the inspired writing! This becomes dangerously circular:

    1) The Bible is used to prove a God using inspired writing.
    2) A God using inspired writing proves the Bible is inspired.

    Secondly, this still leaves us with methodological problems. As I previously pointed out, even Christians who hold to 1) a Christian God that 2) communicates through writing by 3) inspiring humans…even such Christians debate over what phrases, verses, words, clauses and even chapters and books are included within theopneustos. We are left clamoring for a method to make the same determinations.

    Please understand, I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I have asked the same question three times, and have yet to see a method provided. Am I to presume you have such a method—giving you the benefit of the doubt—but that you are not willing to share it with us? Is that what you are saying?

    Simply establishing a Christian God is insufficient. Attempting to establish attributes of this God to align with an inspired writing flirts with question-begging, and introduces another question of methodology—how do we determine which means such a God would use? And even after establishing all that, we are still left with the same question—what method do we use to determine a certain string of words is theopneustos?

  • Bill Pratt

    Willie,
    Thanks for your honesty and openness. I do not doubt anything you say about your de-conversion, and I imagine it was and remains extremely painful. One of the first things I want to ask God when I finally get to meet him face to face, is “Why are there intelligent people who looked at the evidence for your existence and found it to be strong, and others who looked and found it to be weak?”

    Please indulge me a little bit; I am not trying to brag, but just give you my background so you can get a sense for who I am. I have been engaging non-Christians, and especially atheists, for 7 years now. I was ranked third in my high school class of 500 students, have an IQ of 140, and received an electrical engineering degree from GA Tech, one of the toughest engineering schools in the US. I have saturated myself in the arguments against Christianity. I meet weekly with skeptics at a friends’ house.

    Why do I continue to believe? Just from my brief bio, you can see that I probably have the intellectual chops, that I’ve studied the evidence for and against, and yet my faith remains solid. There must be something more to de-conversion than mere intellectual exploration of the issues. There are many people like me. So why don’t we deconvert? This is the question that bothers me.

    I can only conclude that there are spiritual, emotional, moral, and volitional issues also at play when someone believes or doesn’t believe. It has to be more than mere intellect, because the empirical evidence shows that there are many Christian intellectuals. What are your thoughts on this question?

  • Willie G

    Bill says:
    “I’ve studied the evidence for and against, and yet my faith remains solid. There must be something more to de-conversion than mere intellectual exploration of the issues. There are many people like me. So why don’t we de-convert? This is the question that bothers me. I can only conclude that there are spiritual, emotional, moral, and volitional issues also at play when someone believes or doesn’t believe. It has to be more than mere intellect, because the empirical evidence shows that there are many Christian intellectuals. What are your thoughts on this question?”

    This is a big and important question and one that I’m not sure I can do justice to without a considerable amount of time and space. So I will attempt to answer briefly without taking over your blog space. I only ask that you assume positive intent if something seems not fully developed. Please follow up with additional questions if you require more detail for clarity.

    “I’ve studied the evidence for and against, and yet my faith remains solid. There must be something more to de-conversion than mere intellectual exploration of the issues.”

    First of all, intellectual exploration is not the equivalent of de-conversion, but rather the responsibility of anyone that would make a truth claim with regards to any subject whatsoever, whether religious or non-religious in nature. We are creatures endowed with intellect and the powers of reason. We owe it to ourselves to be agnostic towards all truth-claims that lack explicit empirical evidence to support them. We take this approach towards nearly all ideas that are presented to us, especially religious ideas that are outside our cultural and familial experience. Here in lies the problem. We have no difficulty in rejecting the truth claims of those that do not share our religious culture and habitual practice. In fact we dismiss them out of hand without fear of consequence. But after years, if not decades of religious indoctrination we are so culturally and experientially invested in what we have always “known” to be the truth that we struggle to objectively examine those truth claims in the light of reason. Since we cannot bring ourselves to even consider that we may be mistaken we refuse to hear the objections of those who have agnostically approached our claims and have cast them aside as preposterous. Until you can forcefully and even violently step outside of your biases (biases that we all possess) and approach the tenets of your faith agnostically, examining them in the light or reason and scientific method I would propose that you never will resolve this issue. John Loftus refers to this as the ‘Outsiders Test of Faith.”

    I was much like you in this regard. I was an apologist, an evangelist, a lifetime believer seriously invested in the Christian faith. I could not imagine how anyone could possibly not see Christianity as the absolute truth for which I claimed it to be. Over the course of a decades’ long journey, piece by piece it began to unravel, come unglued and eventually dissolve as I studied and examined critically claim after claim in the light of reason. So intellectual exploration is not the equivalent to de-conversion, but rather it is like the lighting of a fuse, a very slow, long-burning fuse that if kept in an environment of scientific reason will burn passed all unsupportable truth claims until it reaches the point of no return, the ultimate implosion of faith known as de-conversion.

    But as you imply, there is more to de-conversion than a simple intellectual exploration. I would like to briefly address these as you have outlined.

    “So why don’t we de-convert? … I can only conclude that there are spiritual, emotional, moral, and volitional issues also at play when someone believes or doesn’t believe.”

    Spiritual issues: This brings to mind the argument of William Lane Craig with regards to the “internal witness of the Holy Spirit” or what I have come to refer to as the “I know what I know therefore what I know cannot be refuted” argument. It’s exactly how the old hymn says regarding the resurrection of Jesus: “you ask me how I know he lives… he lives within my heart.”

    I would contend that this is a non-argument. This is nothing more than experiential subjectivism that is 100% non-verifiable outside the psyche of the one who has the experience. You can no more objectively demonstrate spirituality than I can objectively demonstrate the real presence of the flying spaghetti monster.

    Studies have clearly demonstrated the power of indoctrination upon the human mind, especially in the case where the indoctrination begins early in the life of a child. With the right level of indoctrination implanted ideas become part of the physical makeup of the brain as a new reality becomes imprinted in the mind. The power of repetition supported with a system of reward and a guilt enforced fear of failure the human mind can be convinced to do and say both the most altruistic and the most self-destructive actions. To avoid delusion we must realize that believing something to be true does not make it actually true.

    I am certainly open to being shown that I am in error, but I would contend that there is no objective test that would demonstrate a state of spirituality. You may point to sincerity, and faithful dedication, good works and acts of contrition, religious practice and ritual, but none of these will prove, demonstrate or verify the existence of a spiritual realm or state outside of our physical experience. These all rather are only the proscribed actions of a religious creed. Christians do in fact like to refer to these things as an “outward expression of an inward grace” yet only those indoctrinated in that particular religion will perform those particular religious practices and rituals, and it is quite simple to demonstrate that people of all cultures and traditions, religious or otherwise will behave kindly, morally and decently coupled with altruistic good works.

    So in short, if you believe that there are “spiritual issues” that lead one to de-conversion that are outside of the intellectual exploration, then I would challenge that it is the intellectual exploration that leads one to the realization that there are no spiritual issues at all, but only what we can deal with in the realm of nature.

    Emotional issues: Anyone who de-converts from Evangelical Christianity who says there were no emotional issues involved was not long invested in their faith. For me personally, the longer that fuse of intellectual exploration burned the more emotional issues accumulated. The closer a de-convert comes to the summit of the de-conversion process, the more the emotional and rational discontent grows. As reason brings intellectual honesty there is a sometimes violent shaking off of chains that have long been clung to as if they were a security blanket. As eyes are opened to the light of reason one will find themselves suddenly hurt by the realization of how their lives have been negatively impacted by a delusion that was cast upon them. Unfortunately there is usually a period of hatefulness and sarcasm, cynicism and even poor behavior towards those that they feel have held them captive. This emotional reality is akin to the Kubler-Ross cycle of grief. All stages must be passed through before true acceptance can be attained. During this period many de-converts simply walk away from long held fellowships and abandon relationships leaving people wondering, and often accusing them of things that have nothing to do with their true reality.

    Bill, I would like to speak also to what you refer to as moral and volitional issues, but I feel I have taken up too much space already. If you would like me to respond further please just ask me to continue. And please, if I have been vague on some point please follow up with questions.

    Otherwise I will assume I have worn out my welcome and will sit quietly. :)

    Peace.

  • Bill Pratt

    Willie,
    Please continue with the moral and volitional issues. Thanks for the comments so far.

  • Willie G

    Bill, thanks for the opportunity to continue my response. I will try to be concise with the conclusion to my response.

    Moral and volitional issues

    I must admit first of all that these last two “issues” are one of those hot-button triggers that really get under my skin, and I normally just walk away from it. That is why I chose to leave off my previous response prior to addressing them, just to make sure that you truly were engaged and cared about what I have to say. You have been courteous and seem nominally interested so I will move forward and at least attempt to contain my sarcasm and cynicism towards this common theistic objection to the Christian turned skeptic.

    I’m not directing this criticism at you personally, but citing “moral and volitional issues” is nothing more than an ad hominem argument. Christians seriously invested and committed to their indoctrination cannot begin to fathom how anyone could possibly reason themselves away from the faith so the fall back is automatically that there must be sin in the skeptics life that could not be squared with the holiness of god. Once their sin is exposed to the light, being unwilling to repent and give it up, the skeptic is forced to retreat to the shadows and deny their previously held faith. And further, for you to say “I can only conclude that there are … moral and volitional issues also at play” is a clear indication to me that you have failed to see the beam in your own eye in favor of searching for the speck in mine. I’m sorry Bill, but this is a cop out, and I’m calling “foul”!! This is self-righteous judgmental legalism at its finest. Does not the Bible teach that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of god? None are righteous, no not one? Through the death of the one man, all die? And did Jesus not exclaim to “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? And did not the Apostle Paul opine his extreme and ongoing struggle with sins that he could not overcome (“that which I do not want to do, I do”)? In fact were not Paul’s struggles so extreme that he had to be comforted by the retort of god’s proclamation to him that “my grace is sufficient for you”? To contend that Christian-turned-skeptics walk away from their faith due to “moral and volitional issues” is both disingenuous and demeaning, and further a shallow attempt to dismiss the skeptic without dealing with his true concerns. Thus: ad-hominem.

    I’m sorry for the rant, I mean no disrespect to you, but this argument smacks at the most extreme condescension and disrespect to all deconverted skeptics.

    I hold that the specter of “sin” and the fear of retributive eternal punishment is the greatest single factor in commanding adherence to the delusion. The fear of burning for eternity in the fire and brimstone of Hell is etched in the minds of the evangelical world such as to hold them fast. It takes great courage to face that fear and to examine your core beliefs in the light of reason. Many Christians who have extreme doubts about their religious beliefs are kept in the pew for no other reason. They have swallowed the shallow argument of Pascal’s wager and take the better safe than sorry approach. So they live their lives convincing themselves that those things that make intellectually no sense must be taken as truth “by faith.” All the while, the intellectual reasoning and drawn conclusions that are applied to the things of faith, these same folks would never apply to any other intellectual pursuit or discipline they encounter. They would quickly recognize the ludicrous nature. But add the “god-said-it, god-did-it, god-wrote-it, god-breathed-it” element to the conversation, coupled with the promise of eternal damnation for rejecting it, and the issue is cemented and resolved. The delusion is complete.

    I look forward to your analysis of my response. Peace to you.

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    Are you going to respond?

  • Bill Pratt

    Yes, I am. I apologize for the delay with Willie. I am right in the middle of writing a research paper for a seminary class that is due in just a few days, and I have been swamped. I should have said something to Willie about that. I am enjoying our discussion and would like to continue, if you’ll just give me a few more days.

    Thanks for the reminder,
    BP

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Willie,
    I apologize for the delay, as I have been working hard on finishing a seminary class. I guess I have several things to say in response.

    First, citing the possible existence of moral and volitional issues is not an ad hominem argument, for I am not arguing the point at all. I am not saying: “You deconverted because of moral and volitional issues only, therefore your beliefs about God are false.” That would be ad hominem, but I am not saying that, nor have I ever said that.

    I am merely pointing out that human beings are not purely intellectual creatures. We possess will, emotions, and intellect. We are complex, and when we make decisions about ultimate issues, such as God, it is highly likely that all of these components come into play. So many skeptics try to argue that their deconversion was purely intellectual, and I find that to be ludicrous, to be blunt. That may be the case in a rare few instances, but in general, skeptics have emotional, volitional, moral, and intellectual reasons for not wanting to believe. In fact, research done by psychologist Paul Vitz indicates that many atheists have unresolved hatred for their father figures.

    You have argued that most Christians cling to their beliefs for fear of hell, and some do. But many do not. I rarely think about hell. I have studied Christianity backward and forward and I find it to be quite intellectually satisfying, as I’ve said before. There are many others like me, so your theory for why people remain Christian is flawed, as it does not deal with all the data. The data says that there are rational and intellectual people who have no problem believing the core beliefs of Christianity.

    Again, your theory addresses some of the data (i.e., there are Christians who don’t think about their faith, there are Christians who are afraid of hell, there are Christians whose faith is only undergirded by “God says it, I believe it”). This may even be a large number of Christians, but certainly not all.

    But let’s say that most Christians are ignorant of the intellectual reasons for their beliefs: what exactly does this prove? A person may hold a true belief without understanding why it’s a true belief. For example, everyone believes that gravity exists, but most people cannot explain what scientific equations explain its operation.

    Maybe a summary of our positions would be helpful here:
    You seem to be saying that any Christian who truly examines his faith in the light of reason will eventually de-convert, given that they are intellectually honest.
    I say that people de-convert not just for intellectual reasons, but for moral and volitional reasons as well. I also say that I and many others are living proof that you can believe in Christianity and be intellectually honest.

    Where should we move from here? Were there certain key facts you learned that made Christianity intellectually impossible to believe, facts that I am not aware of?

    Thanks for the correspondence,
    Bill

  • Willie G

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for continuing the discussion. No problem on the timing, I remember Seminary days and the stress of the graduate degree process. I can certainly relate to the need to focus.

    I have been sitting here reading and rereading our thread for over an hour and have concluded that I am not ready to reply at this time; at least not on this beautiful Saturday afternoon. So be patient with me and let me collect my thoughts so I can be sure to reply in an adequate way.

    I do believe that our conversation has become tangential as we have bounced from subject to subject. I would recommend that we reduce the conversation to a single topic for coherence and focus so that we can proceed in an orderly way and not get sidetracked. So when I return to comment I will select a small portion of our discussion to address, and then we can beat it until it dies a respectful death.

    Hopefully you agree with this approach. Talk to you soon.

  • Bill Pratt

    No problem. I concur. Enjoy your day!

  • Willie G

    Bill, you stated:

    “I have studied Christianity backward and forward and I find it to be quite intellectually satisfying, as I’ve said before.”

    and:

    “But let’s say that most Christians are ignorant of the intellectual reasons for their beliefs: what exactly does this prove?”

    I have spent several days pondering our discussion, your most recent response and how I would like to engage with you going forward. I am sorry to have reached the conclusion that I have come to because I was genuinely hoping for a invigorating exchange that would challenge my thinking and current positions. However, in light of the above two quotes I fear that we have reached the end of the road and it would be futile to attempt to move forward. I will attempt to summarize why I am feeling this way.

    I stated in no uncertain terms that my contention is that Christians, you included, are delusional. You cling to beliefs that you would not allow for any other situation in life. You have put your hope in things that have no scientific or natural foundation. You believe in miraculous claims that are outside the realm of reason and fully discount as false the miraculous claims of all others who don’t share your particular worldview. Further you guard your delusion by confidently claiming that having studied backward and forward you find it to be “intellectually satisfying.”

    Further, instead of dealing with my direct accusation of delusion and attempting to convince me why I am incorrect in my claim, and prove to me that you are not delusional you make an appeal to popularity stating that I need to explain how so many “intellectual” people can be likewise deluded. You follow that with a HUGE red herring argument that it’s not you that is deluded, but rather I must of necessity have spiritual, emotional, moral and volitional issues outside of my intellectual reasoning that have resulted in my deconversion. Unfortunately your diversion sucked me in and I spent a good deal of time trying to answer your accusation. Although I called you on this ad hominem approach, you simply wrote it off as a mischaracterization of your intent and proceeded to throw another red herring into play with your comment about atheists having unresolved hate issues with father figures.

    If that wasn’t sufficient to demonstrate that you are totally dodging my objection you then make a weak analogy by comparing unintellectual belief in god to lack of understanding (but yet believing) in the LAW of gravity.

    Then finally you state that:

    “I and many others are living proof that you can believe in Christianity and be intellectually honest.”

    Again I would state that you and many others are living proof that honestly believing in Christianity proves you to be delusional.

    If you would like to directly address my accusation of delusion and explain why it is intellectually reasonable to believe in the foundations of the Christian faith then I am willing to continue our conversation. However, if all you want to do is beat up straw-men, toss out red herrings and weak analogies then I’m not sure I have the energy to continue to deal with the same poor arguments that are presented by nearly every poorly informed Christian who really only believes because they live in a predominantly Christian society.

    If you address my accusation of delusion demonstrating intellectually why it is reasonable to accept the claims of Christianity, then I will be glad to supply you with a long list of of key facts that have made Christianity impossible for me to believe.

    As before I am open to and look forward to your response.

  • Bill Pratt

    Willie,
    You ask me to prove that I am not delusional (who exactly is using the ad hominem approach? just asking…). I would point to the numerous blog posts that I have written on the evidence for God’s existence, the historical reliability of the New Testament, and the utter inadequacy of competing worldviews to explain the basic properties of our universe and the human experience. These are easy to find either by using the tag cloud, the search box, or clicking on categories in the left column of the home page.

    Unfortunately I have not produced a systematized discourse on why Christianity is reasonable, as that would require a book-length treatment. This is, after all, a blog. Blogs are useful for narrowing in on bite-size topics, but not for defending complete worldviews.

    If you would like to know what book most closely explains my reasoned belief in Christianity, I would recommend reading I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. This books follows a classical apologetic approach to presenting the reasonableness of Christianity. There are certainly other approaches, but I prefer that one.

    I’m not sure what else I can do to prove I’m not delusional.

  • Doubting T

    Bill and Willie G,

    I have been following your conversation in this thread. Since it looks like it may be coming to an end, I would like to comment.

    First of all, Willie, as an atheist and former theist I essentially agree with your comments.

    The rest of my comments will be directed to you, Bill.

    There seems to be a significant difference between you and the atheists I know. You seem to be working from several assumptions, whereas, virtually all of the atheists I know have no assumptions and accept the results of the scientific method and evidence. In essence, you put faith over reason and we take the opposite view.

    You have stated in your postings that folks like me who were Christian and became atheistic have “emotional, volitional and moral” factors beside reason for this change in worldview. There may be some atheists with that background but I don’t know of any. Personally, I did not leave my faith due to any negative experiences or because I had a desire to act against the teaching of my church, and I loved my father. Thus, I think, you may be attacking straw men.

    I’m sure that you consider yourself reasonable, but with such prior assumptions as the existence of God, the Resurrection and miracles you disqualify yourself from using science to determine knowledge and truth in matters of religion. I would ask why do you do so? I’m sure you use reason and science in virtually all other areas of life, so why not in matters of religion? What is your alternative for seeking the truth without bias? What does faith add to the understanding of reality? (the last two questions are not just rhetorical)

    Science does not address the supernatural , thus, it cannot draw any conclusions regarding this concept. However, religion makes claims on the effects of the supernatural on human experience. Thus, such claims can be studied like any other claim that effects us. In essence, anything that effects us is, by definition , natural. If there is a supernatural and it does not effect us, why should we be concerned about it?

    My de-conversion was a very long process and really became serious when the cognitive dissonance I was experiencing became overwhelming. I essentially wiped the slate clean and looked at religion without any assumptions.This lead to an opinion that, although you cannot “prove a negative” (“There is no god”), the most reasonable conclusion is that the probability of a personal deity is quite low.

    This process of wiping the slate clean and restarting without any assumptions is very difficult. It requires valuing the seeking of truth (and being satisfied when the answer is “we don’t know”) over being comfortable, secure and certain. It also requires a humble understanding that we all have biases and tend to want to confirm them when confronting an opposing view. It culminates in submission to impartial, objective evidence wherever it leads.

    I have a loving family, to include my wife of 38 years, three daughters and two granddaughters. I give to charity, perform volunteer work and am generally considered to be a positive member of society. I am happier and at greater peace since changing my worldview. I treasure every moment more. I determine my own purpose in life consistent with common secular morality that is at least as “good” as any theist morality. I clearly see that the reality of the world is more consistent with a non-theist universe and I no longer have to perform mental gymnastics to reconcile it to my faith.

    I wish you both peace and health.

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    I have not made a personal attack. I stated “…address my accusation of delusion demonstrating intellectually why it is reasonable to accept the claims of Christianity…”

    I am asking you a direct question. Why is it reasonable to accept the claims of Christianity? You have titled your blog “Tough Questions Answered”, subtitled “a christian apologetics blog.” This communicates to me that you have the answers to my tough questions and you are prepared to defend Christianity. I am merely asking you to do just that.

    I am disappointed that you would simply wave your hand and dismiss me with a homework assignment to explore your archives. You present yourself as an apologist, a defender of the faith. I would expect you to be prepared to address the questions of the honest skeptic. You asked me why I thought so many intellectual people adhered to the tenets of Christianity. I answered that Christians were caught in the demise of delusion, social and cultural brainwashing. I asked you to demonstrate why Christian belief is not a delusion but instead a reasonable understanding of the human condition, and an intellectually sound approach to the human condition. Instead of answering my question and challenge you point me to Geisler/Turek and their tome (which I own and have studied and critiqued) which is nothing more than delusional propaganda to prop up the pre-existent faith of the Christian community. There is nothing in their book that is the least bit intellectually challenging to the skeptic community.

    If you are unwilling to address my questions feel free to contact me at my email address which you have through your registration process and simply politely ask me to go away, and I will honor your request. But if that is your choice I would highly suggest you retitle your blog to something more appropriate like “Giving Christians the Answers That They Want To Hear to Their Questions.” Otherwise, if you are here to defend your faith and the reasons that you believe what you believe then please step up to the challenge and address the question: why is Christianity not a delusion? Why is it reasonable to accept the claims of Christianity?

  • Willie G

    Doubting T,

    We some to share many similar experiences and thoughts. Thanks for your comments here.

  • Doubting T

    You’re welcome, Willie.

  • Bill Pratt

    Willie,
    If someone asks you a complex question that would take many hours and thousands of words to adequately answer, what would you do? What if that person knows that you have written about the question in many different places, but they refuse to read that material and instead demand a unified and re-packaged version especially for themselves?

    This is the problem I am having. What would you do if you were me? How do I answer your question without dropping everything else I’m doing for the next month?

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    As I had posted a few replies, I remained subscribed to this blog entry and have been following the discussion. There have been numerous occasions where I lifted my fingers to keyboard to write a response, and then refrained to avoid interrupting the conversation.

    First of all, I have many sentiments similar to the positions postulated by Willie G & Doubting T. Not a shock, as it sounds we have comparable backgrounds in deconverting from Christianity.

    Bill Pratt, I have respectedyour indication regarding the intent of this blog. That you are providing abbreviated posts to Christians posing inquiries. I think Willie G very accurately reflected my thoughts when he stated this blog could more aptly be named, “Giving Christians the Answers They Want To Hear.”

    However, when you make statements like, “I would say the reason any evangelicals turn their backs on their former faith is because they were taught a Pollyanna view of Christianity that was so naive and simplistic that when the first little trouble occurred in their faith, it fell apart into a million tiny pieces,” I do feel a desire to probe your position on that. Since you are informing the world what I (the former Christian) am doing—and I think you are incorrect—I question how you reached that position.

    I found your question to Willie G….intriguing:

    Bill Pratt: Were there certain key facts you learned that made Christianity intellectually impossible to believe, facts that I am not aware of?
    .
    If one looks back at the comments I have asked one question. Four Times. “Given a string of words, what method is used to determine that string is theopneustos?”

    One might also notice that question has remained unanswered.

    One fact that made Christian belief difficult and eventually unable to sustain was the fact apologists avoid method questions like the plague. Oh, they love to debate nuance and interpretation and possibilities—but start asking for a method and they find themselves at a loss. Ask them to stay consistent with a method and the system crumbles.

    The reason I find method so important is that it works toward removing bias in determining answers. Doubting T correctly asks, “What is your alternative for seeking the truth without bias?“

    Therefore when you portrayed my deconversion along lines it was not, I started asking questions. Perhaps I was utilizing some “Pollyanna” view of Christianity; perhaps Bill Pratt had the answers to the tough questions—answers I could not locate on my own research.

    Alas, it appears you do not.

    The only reason I am posting a reply now is to inform lurkers. You have made a claim about skeptics and former Christians in particular. You now have had three (3) deconverts step in, say, “No, that is not correct” and provide questions. All three have pointed out what appears to be avoidance in answering those questions.

    I will leave it to the lurker to determine whether tough questions are being answered.

  • Bill Pratt

    Tom,
    You have me confused. At our first meeting together, you told a group of us that what touched off your de-conversion process was a very painful personal experience with a loved one. Yet, in your response above, you made no mention of that and claim that your de-conversion was purely intellectual. What am I missing? Did that painful personal experience have anything to do with your de-conversion or not?

    I am not asking you to talk about that personal experience if you choose not to, but I would like to know how it fits in with your de-conversion.

    Thanks,
    BP

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Dagoods,
    The reason I neglected fully answering your question is the same reason I have not fully answered Willie’s. You are both asking questions that require very complex answers – answers that entail a significant amount of effort on my part to pull together a lot of information and formulate it into a unified and coherent response. I did think about your question, and conceived outlines that would fully deal with it, but then realized that the material needed to fill out the body of the outline would be substantial.

    As long as we stick to issues that we can debate in bite-size chunks, I’m glad to – and we did that for a while. But I simply cannot, for time reasons, address the kinds of questions you are asking in the way you would like me to address them.

    When I have tried to give you bite-size answers to your complex questions, you have immediately criticized the answers as inadequate and incomplete, so I figured, “What’s the point in continuing?” You and Willie are portraying me as unable to answer your questions, when the truth is that I am unwilling for time reasons.

    If you were me, what would you do? I am using a medium (blog) and dealing with time constraints that demands pithy dialogue. Your questions are better suited for book-length efforts, and I simply am not willing to do that. What is the solution?

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    From your bio:

    “I especially like to tackle tough questions that many folks have…. If you’ve ever wanted to dig into the Christian faith and seek answers that your friends, parents, or pastor can’t or won’t answer, then you’ve come to the right place…. I can help honest questioners with their search for honest answers. It is my goal to provide a place where people can clear away any intellectual barriers to the Christian faith that are plaguing them.”

    You have openly made a monumental claim for your intentions and have done so in a public space that is readily available to the miracle that is google search. I am the “honest questioner” with “intellectual barriers.” Tough questions demand tough, complicated, lengthy involved responses and dialogue.

    I totally get and appreciate the time constraints and demands of life. It is certainly difficult to address these types of questions without hours if not days of thoughtful contemplation and difficult work. But you have to admit, you opened yourself and your blog up to this problem. Specifically, I have never commented on your site previously, but in this very post you asked the internet world a very direct question: “Are There Things That Really Bother You About Christianity?” And BINGO!! Why yes, yes there are. And here is a guy that claims to have the answers. So here I am, and at the end of the day the answer is:

    “You and Willie are portraying me as unable to answer your questions, when the truth is that I am unwilling for time reasons.”

    I apologize if I have caused you undue stress or have put you in an awkward position. I will leave it to you if you want to further dialogue with me and as Dagoods has put it “I will leave it to the lurker to determine whether tough questions are being answered.”

    Peace to you

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Bill Pratt: When I have tried to give you bite-size answers to your complex questions, you have immediately criticized the answers as inadequate and incomplete…
    .
    Er…um…huh? Can you possibly point out where I indicated your answers were inadequate and incomplete? Irrelevant to the question—yes! Red Herrings—yes! But not “inadequate and incomplete.” Let’s look at the history, and lest you fear I am misrepresenting it any way, I will provide links:

    Bill Pratt: You see, what you fail to realize is that God has chosen to use flawed and fallible human beings in the framework of human history to accomplish his purposes.

    Jesus is both divine and human; the Bible is both divine and human.

    .
    Fair enough…based upon your past indication this was addressed to Christians with an abbreviated response…I left it alone. But then in the comments you stated:

    Bill Pratt: By the way, I would say the reason any evangelicals turn their backs on their former faith is because they were taught a Pollyanna view of Christianity that was so naive and simplistic that when the first little trouble occurred in their faith, it fell apart into a million tiny pieces.
    .
    Whoops. Now you decided to tell the world what I—the former Christian—was all about. As I said, I decided to probe a bit, just to see how “Pollyanna” you thought my position was. How much did YOU think about the questions my “Pollyanna Christianity” thought about?

    I asked (essentially) one question, “Given a string of words, what method is used to determine said string is theopneustos?”

    You responded with a comment regarding inerrancy and textual criticism. (Curiously you also indicated you dealt with this in the original blog entry, but now seem to claim this would be far too complex to deal with in a blog entry.)

    I attempted to keep the focus on the question involved—inspiration—by conceding inerrancy and textual accuracy. I was attempting to demonstrate those were separate and irrelevant issues to the central question, which I repeated: “Given a string of words, what method is used to determine said string is theopneustos?”

    You again responded about inerrancy, despite my already stating inerrancy was not what I was questioning about.

    I reply again explicitly stating I was “taking inerrancy out of the picture” and again asked: “Given a string of words, what method is used to determine said string is theopneustos?”

    You then claimed the existence of the Christian God must be established first. Again, this was a point already conceded by me.

    I pointed out even having a Christian God is not enough, as those claiming such a God exists are still left with the problem of methodology. They may agree such a God divinely inspired writings, but disagree over what writings are inspired. Leaving us with the same question I asked before: “Given a string of words, what method is used to determine said string is theopneustos?”

    At this point, you abandoned the conversation. Now you indicate the answer is ”very complex”–why didn’t you say that in the first place?

    Bill Pratt: You and Willie are portraying me as unable to answer your questions, when the truth is that I am unwilling for time reasons.
    .
    How can we tell this difference? I’m not trying to be (too) harsh here, but this sounds a lot like something we heard as children in the playground. “I know the answer; I’m just not going to tell you.” When we all knew the kid didn’t actually know the answer.

    How can we tell the difference between your not having an answer, and your having an answer, but just not willing to share it with us? “Very complex”? This should be a most basic, foundational question–well-established! Anyone making the claim some writings are human+divine should have a method in place as to how they made such a determination! Especially in light of a blog entry that says, “Don’t worry if those human+divine writings are ‘messier than some of us would like.’”

    It has been my past experience (I’ve asked this question before, see) apologists ALL run away from it. I suspect because the method they are using is that of first declaring their particular Bible is inspired, and then looking for support for that conclusion. When poked and prodded on it, they realize it is ad hoc and can be demonstrated as inconsistent. *shrug* I may be wrong, but I haven’t had an apologist take me up on this question. Ever.

    Bill Pratt: If you were me, what would you do?
    .
    First, I would be extremely careful to make broad sweeping claims about other people’s motivations. I would avoid terms like “Pollyanna” or “naïve and simplistic.” (I would also avoid terms like “deluded” and “intellectually honest” as well.) I would stay away from generalized psychoanalysis regarding theistic positions and fathers.

    If I did make such claims, I would be prepared to back them up, OR willingly apologize for using terms considered offensive by the other. Otherwise the terms tend to backfire in my face. Like calling the other person “naïve and simplistic,” yet they ask one (1) question and I would require (in your words) “book-length efforts.” If they are “naïve and simplistic” yet with one question bury me in months (again your words) worth of work just to respond—what does that make me?

    Secondly, in terms of responding to the questions—it would depend on the person I was responding to. I tend to love the in-depth research involved on some minor nuance that only 2 or 3 people actually care about. I revel in minute details. If it was some troll who wandered into my blog and popped off one question…no…I may not answer it. I may search out on my own, but depending on time constraints I may not. If it was someone engaging with me over a period of time; who seemed to put together some rationale for their position—yes, I would spend the time to respond.

    Thirdly, it would depend on how important I view the question. I’ve never studied abiogenesis more than a cursory basis; so apparently I have never found that question very important. Although, in my defense, nor would I write a blog entry on it either!

    Fourthly, I am extremely cognizant of lurkers. Ever read a deconversion story? One thing that is universal is that we read. We read and we read and we read. We were (are) looking for answers. We read forums and blogs and magazines and articles and books…and anything we can get our hands on. We rarely enter the discussion because we want to see how all the sides respond to each other. Time and again we thought, “There’s a good point by the Christian—what will the skeptic say? There’s a good point by the skeptic—what will the Christian say?”

    I lost count of how many times I watched a Christian walk away not answering a question. Questions I, as a lurker, thought were quite legitimate. That bothered me. A lot. So I looked for the answers myself, only to see other Christians walking away. And yes, I often saw, “I know the answer, but I’m not going to invest the time to answer it.” I wondered why not.

    In short, Bill Pratt, if it was me—I would be answering the questions.

    But I am not you, of course.

    Bill Pratt: Your questions are better suited for book-length efforts, and I simply am not willing to do that.
    .
    O.K.—great! Welcome to internet world! Why do you care what I would do, if you have already decided what you—a different person with different motivations—are going to do? It is your privilege as a human to choose to answer what questions you want, and disregard those you do not want. I fully support that.

    C’est la vie.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    @Bill
    If you confess that you have certain doubts about the Christian faith, then that is your problem not all of Christianities.
    It is a problem of ignorance, irrationality, and a deficiency in your righteousness and intellect. What you need is prayer, study, and divine grace for your soul.
    It takes a very particular variety of hypocrisy to translate this malfunctioning of faith into an approach to apologetics, and then to take pride in it and call it humility. If you introduce doubt into the people of God, and in turn cast rebellion into their hearts. You are a wolf in the disguise of a sheep, discouraging the assurance of the faithful, while making an excuse for the sons of hell. Shame to you. Let your type of humility burn in hell, because it does not proceed from the revelation of God but from the limiting arrogance of man.

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    The “painful experience” you referred to was, if you may recall, the slow mental decline of my mother who died of Alzheimer’s about 25 years. It was one of my earliest experiences of questioning where the so-called soul was in this degrading process. It in no way caused me negative feelings toward God or religion. It just fed into my early questioning process.

    You may be conflating this story with the story of my decision to stop going to church and to “come out” to my family and friends. As I have mentioned, there was a growing problem with cognitive dissonance and it came to a head on a Sunday in church, when I became nauseated and almost vomited while trying to “fake it” during the ritual of the Mass. I did refer to this experience as an emotional reason for finally acting. However, please understand that the intellectual process was the reason for my decision to deconvert, the physical illness was just the cataylist to do so.

    To repeat, there was nothing negative in my relationship with God, Christians, family or the Church that lead to my decision. If you think otherwise, then you claim to have a greater understanding of my psyche than you possibly can have.

    Thanks for responding and I am taking your question with the best of intentions. I just wrote the last paragraph above to nip in the bud any thoughts you might have over and above simple questioning of an apparent contradiction.

    Please say hey to the rest of the church group for me.
    .

  • Willie G

    I am pretty certain the words above are those of a comment Troll seeing how they in no way reflect either the content of the original post or the discussion that followed. If they are authentic they speak volumes to the position of skeptics and further evidence of why throwing off the fetters of religious delusion was the right thing to do.

  • Willie G

    refering to comments from DiscipleoftheWord, not Doubting T

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Whose a comment trolled?

    Introducing a positive tenet of Christianity with a negative premise is exactly what I am pointing to.

    And if I might join this debate:

    The fact that Bill thinks he can in anyway turn Will G to the Gospel with an intellectual argument proves his spiritual stupor.

    Willie G or Doubting T have never been in Christ and in no way represent the Born Again nature of a believer.

    What is born of God cannot be unborn Doubting T, no matter what Bill says.

    And Willy G, you are the very Son of Hell I am speaking of.

    Does Bill think his intellectual arguments apart from the Word of God can save Willy G or Doubting T ?… or does Willy G believe that his secular arguments can shake the faith of a regenerated believer?

    You fools…neither can happen.

    Willy G can no more see the Kingdom of God anymore than he can see his own depravity and absolute inability to understand spiritual things.

    Bill you’re a religious coward…tell him that the wrath of God is being revealed against all ungodliness…tell him that the wages of sin is death.

    Tell him the truth….that he is Hell bound.

    John 3:5

  • Doubting T

    DiscipleoftheWord,

    You are either a great example of Poe’s Law (i.e. A parody of a Fundamentalist is indistinguishable from the real thing.) or mentally dysfunctional I can say no more, except, if you are truly typical of folks that post on this site, then Bill and Darrell have a problem with how this site is represented to even Christians.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    LOL…your offended?
    So what.
    You’re at a Christian Blog arguing that there is no rational reason to believe in God.
    You’re an enemy of the Lord I serve.
    If Bill and Darrell do not believe that an unbeliever will perish in Hell then they really can’t call themselves Bible believing Christians can they?
    Jn 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    What did you expect to hear?…

  • Willie G

    It never ceases to amaze me how a Troll will ruin both a conversation and the integrity of a blog. But of course this Troll is just doing the “Lord’s” work.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Oh boo hoo,
    Is that all you have Willy G?
    Integrity?… in your first post you accused Bill of being delusional.
    In your second post you accused him of being condescending….ect,ect.
    I smell arrogant self contradiction and it stinks like flesh.
    Aren’t you going to pull an epicurean riddle out of your hat?
    Or maybe you’d like to challenge the TAG argument?
    Or why God doesn’t heal amputees.
    How about the problem with Evil?, or we can discuss you allegations against “Christian Atrocities”.
    You could run over to the Annotated Skeptics Bible web site and copy and paste a few verses out of context to try and refute the living God.
    (If your mentally challenged that is.)

    It is you that is here under a guise, a guise of intellectualism, but there is nothing new in what you say.

    You guys are a dime a dozen.

    1Co 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise , And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

  • Bill Pratt

    Willie,
    I don’t think you’re being fair or reasonable. I have sincerely interacted with you, and I have answered several of your questions. But you are throwing a doctoral thesis at me and then claiming that it’s disappointing that I won’t take the time to write it.

    Are you just trying to trap me and make me look bad or do you want to tackle some smaller issues that we could more easily dissect? I am not unwilling to talk with you; I am just asking you to focus our discussion on some smaller, more manageable topics. Are you willing to do that or will you let things stand at: “I asked Bill tough questions and he refused to answer.” I’m not sure how making that statement advances anything.

    What is particularly frustrating is that anyone who bothers to read this blog over a period of time has seen me answer hundreds of questions and spend considerable time over the past year and a half doing so. You have so far refused to read the other blog posts I have written and have demanded that I put everything into this one blog post comment thread.

    Willie, are you acting in good faith in our conversation? What is your goal here? If it is to continue our dialogue, then please consider my time constraints. If you are only content with me writing a book in this comment thread, then so be it. Our time, on this comment thread, is at an end. I hope you will choose to focus instead.

  • Bill Pratt

    Thom,
    Thanks for the clarification.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Bill Pratt

    Thom,
    If you read through the blog, you will see that I get attacked by both Christians and skeptics. DiscipleoftheWord has been commenting on another post, but I refused to continue talking to him when he continuously used derogatory words to describe my views. He is obviously frustrated that I won’t get down in the mud with him and sling some of it around. Such is my life….

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    I understand. I guess it is a “cross to bear”.

    Peace,

    Tom

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Oh how that man suffers.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Bill your hatred for me must be profoundly deep that you would rather side with unbelievers than men of God.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    DotW, it would be right and reasonable, and in charachter with the way Jesus deported Himself in the Gospels, to side with those God loves, died for, and wishes to draw to Himself over those who bring disrepute to His name by straining to remove specks from everyone’s eyes and totally missing the log.

    R. Eric Sawyer

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Wow Eric…that’s very profound.

    Would you like to sight your scripture proofs and show me where Jesus saved atheist?
    Or where unbelievers are considered as the ones whom “God loves”.

  • Bill Pratt

    Greg,
    I definitely do not hate you and I am not siding with anyone. I just wish you would tone it down and speak with more humility – that’s all.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    DT, not trying to be profound, simply accurate.

    Would you like to sight your scripture proofs and show me where Jesus saved atheist?
    Or where unbelievers are considered as the ones whom “God loves”.

    I’m not much on proof texts, I think we better grasp the revelation of God through the Bible as a whole, Including context.
    But I’l indulge you just a little. These will do for a quick off the cuff:
    Luke 19:10
    1 John 4:10
    Romans 5, particularly 6, 8, and 10
    And the whole of the interplay between the Pharasees, Jesus, and “sinners and tax collectors.”
    He came to seek the lost, to cure those who “needed a physician”

    Now, he did in fact call them to repentence; he did not leave them where they were. But the bulk of His condemnation was not for those. He seems mostly to have compassion on them in their lost state, as :sheep without a shepherd” His condemnation was reserved for those who, like you seem to do, present themselves as paragons of virtue and spritual truth while laying their own life as a stumbling block and keeping them out of the kingdom. To be quite blunt, your faith seems to have much in common with the Pharasee.

    I quite understand that you may say that those to whom Jesus displayed compassion were those pre-ordained to salvation. Limited atonement and all that. And I have some sympathy with my brothers who hold that view out of jelousy for God’s sovereinity. But that is not the whole story, and I am afraid it is many lessons in the future for you. One must start with the basics. Learn first how Jesus acted, and what he said. Study to whom He displayed love and forgivensess, and those to whom he did not even offer such a thing.

    If you do that honestly, asking for the guidence of the Holy Sprit, I suspect you will find the answers uncomfortable. AndI hope that would bring you to repentance, which is the next lesson.

    (Oh, and in your post, the verb is “cite” not “sight” as in “because of my poor eye sight, I could not see the scriptures you cited. I have eyes, but I can’t see”)

    R. Eric Sawyer

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Eric,
    It’s obvious why you do not Scripture proof, since none of your text even come close to answering my question.
    I did not ask you for a 5th grade Sunday School lesson on salvation for sinners, I asked you to show me where Jesus saves Atheist or where unbelievers are called the ones “God loves”.
    You did neither, instead you did the very thing that you have rebuked me for by refering to me as a “Pharisee”, (which you mispelled) along with “I’l”, “Pharasees”, “repentence”, “spritual”, “jelousy”, “sovereinity”, “forgivensess”,
    “guidence”,and “Sprit”.
    So I would certainly refrain from grammar lessons on Homonyms.
    And please do indulge me further by explaining to me why it is you are able to judge accurately but that I have a Log in my eye.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    D, He nowhere saves, nor is it possible to save an atheist and have him remain an atheist. But surely you cannot be meaning that God does not save atheists *from* their atheisim? Have I misunderstood you that badly? History sems replete with Christians who were once atheists. My point is that the salvation bgins with God, and sinners of every stripe, including those who do not yet believe, may be redeemed. that God extended His love to us FIRST, otherwise, none of us, atheist or any other type. And they, no less than we, must come to repentance. If God loves us while we were yet sinners, it stands to reason that He loved us while we were still adulterers, liers,drunkards, while we were yet consumed by pride, or anger, or whatever else our pet sin may have been, including while we were yet atheists.

    But as it is God’s will that none should perish, but that all come to repentance, I assume He means those who are still “far off” And if God’s proactive love is not sufficient for their sin, then it is hard to see that it is sufficient for mine. But for all of us, the initiator of conversion is God’s love, while we were yet sinners. But none of us may then *remain* in our sin.

    I would not have thought it, or maybe I am dense to your line of thinking. But I cannot see how an educated mature Christian could find room to differ. Do you?I
    So forgive me for giving ou the 5th grade lesson. It seemed to me to speak directly to your point as I understood it. It still so seems. If I have misunderstood your objection, please let me know.

    As to the rest, yes, a little self-righteousness is a dangerous thing. I can’t spell IRS without spell- check, and shouldnt try. I am wrong, not in my point (or so I think) wut in that I let my “heat” create flaws that make it harder to look at the light. That is at least part of what I meant be “stumbling block”

    I do not see clearly enough to *remove* the log, or even to be sure of a correct diagnosis. The apeal must be made to a greater physician. But I recognize the issues as one drunk recognizes another.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Eric,
    I can let the grammar slide, perhaps you’ll learn to do the same.
    Time only permits me a short reply here, but I’ll be back tomorrow to continue.
    I was born for this.
    And I’m not sure if you’re implying that I’m an “uneducated immature Christian”…*lol…but I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt.
    Funny thing about drunks recognizing drunks…
    Although they may know a drunk when they see one, they never seem to find a better drunk than themselves.
    Somehow all the other drunks are worse.

    Pax Vobiscum

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    I’m gone. I wish you well.

    Tom

  • Bill Pratt

    Thanks, Tom. See you around soon, I hope.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    D, I’m not impying anything about your eductation. I’m stating plainly that there are things that don’t add up to me. I asked you straight up if my assumptions about what I would consider basic Christian understanding were in dispute, and if so, why.

    When I left the SBC for the Anglican communion over thirty years ago, I discovered all sorts of things that we Baptist had taken as givens were in fact not in agreemment even by people of great learning and godliness. I had some adjusting to do, on the lines of the “Truth” residing in who God knows Himself to be, and not in my own understanding of Him.

    Are the points in that little narrative of “5th grade Sunday School” (I don’t reject the term) of this nature? Do you agree with these simple points? And if so, how does that not square with my idea that God loves even the atheist and unbelievers among all the rest of us sinners.
    I truly do not understand how those positions can be squared. There is a falacy somewhere, and I am asking for your opinion, in as straightforward manor as I can.

    Yes, I dislike what I understand of your views, and think them extremly dangerous.
    That does not make me right. If I have misunderstood you, or have failed to understand something important about how these concepts relate, I am open to hearing you.

    And no, some drunks are proud of being worse than anyone else. Not saying that is relavent here, just that it is true. I’ve known a few.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    My apology to Doubting T and Willie G. for hijacking this worthwhile thread for inter-nicine squables. I’m done ranting.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    I was trying to nice up a little here with you, but since you are determined to bring out the fight in me let’s do it.
    See, here’s the problem Eric.
    The flaw in your perception is so deep and un-profound it would take a seminary of study to unravel your thinking.
    But allow me to make some points without presenting another 5th grade Sunday School Lesson as a rebuttal of your simplistic “God can do anything theology”
    The most avoided and denied attribute of God is His hatred of evil people.
    It is an immature and deceptive portrayal of God.
    And spare me the effeminate “all-loving God” rubbish that Bill spews out in his theology.
    I’m not interested in your need to have your ears tickled, and what you or Bill wants to hear has no purpose in evangelism.
    To deny Gods infinite holiness and justice and wrath as something only temporary or as if the OT God is not the same God of the NT is blaspheme.
    It is creating a god that looks like you, and acts like you, and thinks like you… because it is you.
    It is a god of your own mind one that you can tame.
    Are you deceived?
    Hatred of evil is an absolute and righteous attribute of God. Accepting or accommodating unbelief or evil is an unrighteous attribute of Satan himself.
    God required the shedding of Jesus’ blood for the remission of mankind’s sin.
    God did not just willy-nilly forgive mankind as suggested in the blasphemous false doctrine of “unconditional love.”
    God requires faith in Him and faith in His Son.
    God’s love is very conditional.
    God requires faith and belief.
    And what the Father demands he is sovereign to bring about, and only he is able to bring it about.
    Apart from God no one would, or more importantly could come to faith on his own.
    Another heresy Bill has sold into.
    The awesome number of compassionate works of the so called “atheists” is but filthy rags to God.
    I don’t care how nice they seem or how sorry you may feel for them they are vessels of wrath in Gods eyes.
    Your opinions apart from Gods word are empty.
    Without faith in Him a person cannot please God with good works, righteous living, or giving to the poor.
    God hates the generous humanitarian who is an “atheist”.
    God loves “mankind”, not the individual sinner.
    Yet, while we were yet sinners God provided a way for us to have eternal life with Him.
    Through faith by Grace alone…try moving towards God without it, He’ll burn you like chaff.
    God requires faith and belief.
    And God certainly does hate.
    God hates those who are unrighteous.
    God does not love the sinner.
    God hates pride.
    God hates a liar.
    God hates a murderer.
    God hates a person who develops evil plans.
    God hates people who are swift to do evil.
    God hates a perjurer.
    God hates a person who tries to stir up discord among the true Body of Christ.
    God hates divorce except for adultery.
    God does not love the evil person.
    God is not looking at the sin; He is looking at the person.
    God does not cast Sin into Hell he cast the whole person into Hell.
    The sin is not a separate entity apart from the sinner.
    We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.
    What is the cure for this malady? Believe and Trust on Christ Jesus and him alone.
    Your right Jesus did not save atheist because there were no atheist
    This is the deception, that they just simply do not believe in a god.
    “Poor pitiful little pathetic creatures”…
    This is a fallacy, there is no atheist.
    There are only enemies of God and those who hate God.
    There are only those who suppress the truth in wickedness and encourage others to do the same.
    Their entire purpose is to convert others who hate God and to cause confusion and doubt in the body of Christ.
    Our weapon in this battle is not one of intellect or pseudo counseling with pop psychology.
    But the Sword of truth, the same weapon Jesus used in his battle with Satan in the wilderness.
    The scripture as it is written.
    Apart from the word of God no one can be born again and no one can be saved.
    To simply tell an unregenerate person that “God loves you” is pointless.
    He cannot hear you.
    And whether or not God loves that person is irrelevant to the truth of the fact that they must repent and believe if they are to be saved.
    Saying “God loves you” is not an inducement to repent and believe, rather, it is a disincentive, because “If God already loves me, then he’ll just accept me just the way I am and forgive me whatever I’ve done.”
    This is a slick candy coated enticement (that may not turn out to be true) and totally misses the true point of evangelism.
    Here’s a little study for you…
    The OT predicts Christ, the NT reveals Christ, Luke Acts preaches Christ, the Epistles explain Christ, and finally Revelation expects Christ.
    “Luke Acts preaches Christ”…
    Acts is our evangelical model for building the church and the body of Christ.
    Count the times the Apostle Paul preaches the “the Love of Jesus” or the “All-Loving God” as an evangelical tool.
    Or simply count the times the word “love” shows up at all.
    The problem is that almost everyone who calls themselves a “Christian” sees a God of love as being the gospel.
    And what is the design of a false prophet or teacher?
    Is it not to blind the minds and eyes of the world to the truth of God…to convince them to believe the lie?
    For this reason alone we should be extremely careful to never buy into any such one dimensional view of God.
    And any suggestion that things are actually more complex than that is immediately denounced as heresy.
    How do I know this?…aren’t you accusing me of this very same thing here and now?

    But if I do the “brutally direct” thing should I be rebuked?.
    If I preach Christ as a rock of offense and a stumbling block to the damned?
    Would I be un-Biblical?
    The gospel is always unproductive with those who do not believe.
    When Paul called out to the philosophers on Mars Hill, he told them about this “unknown God”, and told them He commands all men everywhere to repent.
    Paul was always brutally direct as were John the Baptist, Peter, and Jesus himself.
    Some did mock and walk away, but others stayed and wanted to know more….
    I’m only interested in the sheep that raise their heads, who hear his voice…
    The ones who want know more…
    For them my compassion burns.
    We must be absolutely honest with those outside the fold.
    Outside of Christ there is no salvation – all have sinned and fall short, and if God is indeed true, and just, then sin must and will be eternally punished.
    There are no “get out of jail” cards handed out just because you want to believe God is a nice guy.
    Do you believe that anyone can come to Christ without knowing and believing the dire circumstances that they are in apart from being in Him?
    Evangelism being presented that lacks such a truth is no evangelism at all.
    Since without it, the good news is not particularly interesting or good news at all…is it.
    I know you and Bill will both find this un-palatable to your senses, and Bill may even push the delete button.
    But that just comes with the territory, the truth came to us once and we killed it.
    Men have an aversion to truth, but that’s not my problem.
    Now am I pleasing Men or am I pleasing God? Because if I am pleasing men I would not be a bondservant of Christ Jesus.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    D, for my part, this is the most reasonable thing I have seen from you in the short time here. I hope (and expect) that Bill will let it stand.
    You may be surprised to know that I accept almost all of your source premises, especially that we are by nature sinners, and out of our darkness and twisted nature, commit sin. We are not “good people” who happen to commit “a sin” (oops!) and are by that one slip, destined to hell. The bondage goes to the root of who I am. “Total Depravity” I expect you would call it. I see that as obvious.
    I also believe that God hates most of the things you say he hates. But I know that He loves me enough to resue me from being those things. My only rebuttal, and you may discard it, is that …While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
    I appreciate the solas, and the insistance on the continuity between the OT and the NT. God is the same Yesterday, today and tomorrow, or there is no God.

    I read you as more committed to “reformed” theology than am I, but ven there, not by much.
    The biggest area of disagreement between us is perhaps rather small, but it has a large impact.
    And that is What are we to do, given the character of Grace? How is it to be extended? what does that extension look like? How does God extend that Grace, How did He extend it to me, personally, How is it shown in the Gospels. That is where I think we come up with profoundly different answers. As I read you, I think we are in 99% lock-step as to the nature of the gospel concerning sin and redemption, what oour problem is and what God did to redeem us.
    But I also think that the 1%, though it be small, matters.

    Again, I thank you for a very clear and discriptive portrayel of your case against me and others. Makes it much easier to understand. And with that, I think it time I give Bill’s blog back to him.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Eric,
    We are saved by Grace and Gace alone.
    I don’t believe that we are in anyway in disagreemenet on this matter.
    But I think I understand you question.
    And here is the only way I know to answer it.
    He chose us because he chose us and he loves because he loved us.
    Not like the way men love, the way men love is always conditional and I challenge anyone to correct that assertion.
    This is the plight of man, the inability to phathom an eternal love that is not deserved and cannot be earned by merit.

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    I don’t think I am being unfair at all. I am not here to insult you, make you look bad, castigate you, or even argue with you. I came here to get a very tough question answered. Has it occurred to you that I have, in fact, read through your archives, not only the posts themselves but also the dialogue that follows? I am not being disingenuous. I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. You have simply not addressed my question on your blog, not in this post nor in any other. If you feel that you have, then please help me out and point me to it. Otherwise you seem to be saying “that question is too hard so ask me an easier one.”

    Everything you have written on your blog is built on the foundation that belief in god and Christianity in particular is reasonable. Before I can dialogue with you on any particular facet of Christian theology I need to understand why it is reasonable. I will not debate a person over the ethical nature of harsh treatment of abductees aboard the alien mother ship because I reject alien abduction as a fantasy, and those who believe it and claim to live their lives based upon it are delusional. It is immaterial how the aliens decorate their spaceships and not worthy of discussion due to the fact the foundation of credibility of the entire subject matter is non-existent.

    Please Bill, go back to my very first comment on this blog post. Although I allowed myself to be distracted some by your follow up comments, I have not changed my question from the beginning. You asked “are there things about Christianity that really bother you?” I stated “Yes. I think it is a delusion.” You said “I find Christianity to be intellectually satisfying,” so I asked “Why? Why is it reasonable to believe in God and Christianity?”

    I can’t ask you a different question. No other question matters to me. I am appealing to you. You can judge my motives to be false if you want to, but if that is the case why do I come back again especially with the tirades of the nut-job Troll. For me, at this point in my life there can be no other question. If you want me to go ask someone else, just say so. If you think you have an answer I sincerely want to hear it.

  • Willie G

    Bill, never acknowledge a Troll. Call them out as being a troll and then totally ignore them or block their return. Otherwise they will never stop.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Show Willy what ya got Bill.
    He’s firing his only bullet at ya.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Here’s how I would answer him if weren’t just a pesky troll.

    When a non-Christian demands to know the reason I am justified in affirming the Christian faith,
    and why it is reasonable for me to be a believer, part of my answer is this.
    That there is something wrong with him, the unbeliever who asks me this.
    My answer is that any person who is a non-Christian is immoral and irrational.
    And because I do not wish to be the same as him, and since I recognize that all the riches of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ Jesus, I am justified in confirming the Christian faith.
    My answer is that God will cast the unbeliever into a lake of fire.
    Since I do not desire to suffer the same fate as the un-believer, and since I believe that Christ was made sin for me, although he did no sin, so that in him I might be made the righteousness of God, I look to him for salvation, and for deliverance from divine wrath, and for the hope of eternal life and glory.

    This is what I believe, and so this is what I tell him.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Bill Pratt,

    I will confess a bit of frustration. I often (as in times almost uncountable) see claims made on Christian apologetic sites about what skeptics say. And the Christian apologist then deals with the alleged claim “There were no Hittites” or “There are no non-Christian writings on Jesus prior to the Third Century” (remember that?)

    And the Christian apologist then takes down these straw people or extremely weak arguments. I imagine a chorus round in the background, congratulating the “strenuous defense” [note slight sarcasm] of Christianity.

    On rare occasion, I join in and ask a question. 9 times out of 10 it will be on methodology. Then I am bombarded with complaints similar to what I have heard here. “Too hard!” “Too long!” “I know the answer, but don’t have the inclination to share it.” “You ask too much.”

    Why don’t Christians want to deal with the hard questions skeptics ask? Why is it they only want to deal with the easiest and lightest objections?

    (P.S., I’ve heard Dr. Turek in action and was less than impressed. Does his book provide a method to differentiate what writings are theopneustos and which ones are not?)

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    @dagoods,
    What you are asking Bill to do is argue from a non spritual perspective.
    You want answers to questions that can only be answered from a Biblical persepective.
    The problem is not with Bills answers but with your inability to perceive what is truth.
    Since you cannot believe you cannot believe that anybody at all can believe.
    Since you cannot see or hear spiritual truth you canot believe anybody else can either.
    The problem is not with Christians apologetics but is within you.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Ah, DiscipleoftheWord, therein lies the rub. In order to have a “biblical perspective,” I would need to know what “biblical” is. The very question I have been asking! What method does a wee humble atheist such as myself, use to determine a certain string of words qualifies to be in the Bible?

    Without such a method, I could never gain a “biblical” perspective. Yet no Christian seems willing to provide such a method.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Let me define it there for ya genius.
    The entire Cannon of Scripture.

    2 Timothy 3:16-1716 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

    2 Peter 1:20-2120 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

    2 Peter 3:14-1614 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    Clear it up for ya?

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Thanks for the three passages, DiscipleoftheWord. (Thanks especially for recognizing my genius; so rarely acknowledged these days! *wink*)

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t answer the question: “Given a string of words, how do we determine if that string is theopneustos?” All these do is attempt a description—not provide a method.

    2 Timothy 3:16 does indicate (although there is a question of grammar I will leave aside for now) “All Scripture is theopneustos…” but it doesn’t tell us what “scripture” is! If you believe Paul wrote this (I suspect you do), this would only include the Tanakh. But does it include the Apocrypha? Is it the Septuagint language or the Masoretic text? Does it include Daniel? Esther?

    2 Tim. 3:16 doesn’t say.

    2 Peter 1:20 is an attempt to describe the doctrine of inspiration, but doesn’t tell us a single writing that is inspired.

    And even if we grant 2 Peter 3:15-16 as equating Paul’s letters to Scripture, the author doesn’t list a single book qualifying as “Scripture” NOR does s/he list what letters of Paul they are referring to! Did the author have the same letters we have? Less? More? Did s/he have the other letters to the Corinthians? To the Laodecians?

    The three passages do not list a single book qualifying as theopneustos. After reading them, can we tell if Hebrews is? Or John? Or Gospel of Peter? Or Epistle of Barnabas? Or even, ironically, 2 Timothy or 2 Peter–since they don’t even include themselves!

    Nope—we are no further along in our inquiry as to what qualifies as “biblical” in order to have a “biblical perspective.”

    Worse, as the verses don’t include even a Book, they certainly do not address the more specific examples I raised earlier such as the Pericope de Adultera or the ending of Mark.

    After asking this question so many times my fingers are numb, it appears to me the method Christians use is, “I think this string of words is theopneustos because someone told me it was, and I’ve never sat down and thought of any other way to make the determination.”

    In other words, it is opinion.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    LoL…thanks for the laugh this morning.

    What part of “all” is confusing you?

  • Bill Pratt

    Dagoods,
    Thanks for the response. I will take your criticism to heart and try to learn from it. As I said, I am not willing to give a lengthy response to your question, but I will give a brief one which you will surely find inadequate. Here goes:

    If I have a text that claims to be inspired by God, I must first ask what kind of God. Step one is using the tools of philosophy and science to establish what kind of God, if any, exists (we are filtering out incorrect worldviews in this step).

    If I find that the kind of God exists which the religious tradition attached to the text in question asserts, I must now ask whether the text in question comes from a true representative of that God. Just because a God exists doesn’t mean that every religion that claims a text is from that God truly is.

    How do I know who a true representative is? I study the historical records about the alleged representative(s) of the religion attached to the text in question. If I find that history corroborates the status of the alleged representative, I then study what the representative of God said about the text in question. If he says it came from God, then I believe that it came from God.

    There is my rough and ready outline. Consider the question answered.

  • Bill Pratt

    Willie,
    In some of my blog posts, I have given philosophical and scientific reasons for believing in a theistic God (cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments being three of them). Because of our conversation together, I am plan on doing more of that. In other posts, I have written about the historical reliability of the New Testament documents. I have written several posts pointing out the deficiencies of an atheistic worldview (no grounding for free will, morality, consciousness, etc.). I have pointed out the fact that over 95% of the world’s population believes in God, which means that less than 5% of the world is not delusional. I know you don’t like me to bring this up, but surely it’s a fact that counts against your viewpoint and for mine. Can you truly believe that 95% of all people are delusional? The blog is littered with these kinds of posts and they are easy to find.

    Is there more evidence I could provide? Always. I am working on it and will continue to produce more material along these lines. Again, if there is a particular issue you would like to jump into, I’m game.

  • Bill Pratt

    See my previous response.

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    I am glad you have responded. I was fearing that you had decided to back out of the dialogue.

    So I think since you have put a stake in the ground (level setting) that I should return in kind (level setting).

    Although I very much enjoy discussing and debating the various arguments for the existence of the Christian God that you posit above “(cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments being three of them)”, none of these address my question to you. All of these arguments are not sufficient to address my core question. Please bear with me on this. I am not being belligerent, or mean, or in your words trying to “make you look bad.” My question to you is the stumbling block for me. So I repeat and reword my question again for you hear. Why is it reasonable to believe in god; any god; any religious faith or dogma?

    Let me give some qualifying statements to set the stage for our future discussion.

    1) Discipleoftheword is a straight-up a**hole (sorry for the language). I will not be dialoguing with him/her in any fashion. I will not acknowledge his/her comments in any way. He/she is a pathetic excuse for humanity and an embarrassment to the Christian cause. He/she is the christian equivalent to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and the world would be better off without those of his/her kind.

    2) I have not reached the point in my life-journey that I proclaim to be a strong atheist. I would say that I am agnostic to all gods and all religions. However I would say I am a strong agnostic; my interpretation being that I see no evidence to accept any claim for the existence of any god. If reasonable evidence is presented I will follow that evidence. The more I search and examine what is presented, the stronger my agnosticism has become.

    3) I am extremely educated and previously indoctrinated in fundamentalist/evangelical christian doctrine. I only know your education/scriptural training background from what you have shared in your biography and comments about your current seminary training. I am in no way putting myself or my training above you, in fact I am very humble in regards to my understanding, however I am confident in saying that you can speak at any academic level with regards to both the Bible and Christian academia and I am with you. I am studied and proficient in biblical languages, textual criticism, modern and post-modern theological thought, hermeneutics, apologetics, philosophy of religion and psychology. I say all of this not to build myself up, but only to say that if you have something to say, a position to argue, then bring it please. Don’t hold back or dumb anything down. We are deep into the comments now, you don’t have to worry about your general audience, very few people will venture this deep into a thread.

    Now to the point at hand, and it really is a simple one based upon the way you have presented your defense. Even if I find your arguments reasonable “(cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments being three of them)” why should I apply these arguments to your god, the christian god? Why should I not apply them to Vishnu, Allah, Thor, Zeus, Mithra, etc? I know you have heard this question before, but you have to be honest, it has never been answered. So I ask again, why is it reasonable to believe in god, any god, your god?

    As for your continued insistence to appeal to popularity/the masses, I would encourage you to drop this line of argumentation as it is a well recognized fallacy and your constant repetition of it only makes you look silly in the eyes of serious students of logic and debate. I mean, really, think of all the by-gone universally accepted beliefs that have been obliterated by science: geo-centrism, flat earth, etc… So many universally held beliefs have been disproved and discredited by science and the simple growth and development of the human intellect that it is non-productive to appeal to universal belief as a measure of “rightness.” I will disregard any appeal you make to the masses out of hand, so you should really just stop doing it.

    You asked me earlier why I bother talking to you since I obviously claim that you are delusional. Most christians that I talk to are not only delusional, but so deeply entrenched in their delusion that meaningful discussion is impossible (such as Discipleoftheword). You however, although we definitely disagree and at are at odds with our core positions, seem to be open to searching for truth. That’s all I ask for. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. In fact, that is the challenge. All of my beliefs are falsifiable. In fact that is what I am seeking. Please, prove me wrong.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Bill Pratt,

    Thank you very much for the response. I believe this is the first time anyone has even attempted to frame a method and I confess I was pleasantly surprised to see you try. Yes, I would dig much deeper, but that is not your intent with this blog, nor your style. You have provided something and I do appreciate it.

    A few points:

    1) I think your approach is correct. I would agree one needs to start off with demonstrating a God, then demonstrate a certain type of God (i.e. one that communicates through writing), and would utilize this method. Your method begins well.

    2) If we consistently applied this method, we would have a very different Bible. We would lose Hebrews (the author is unknown, and therefore no determination could be made whether the author was a “true representative.”) We would lose the ending of Mark and the Pericope de Adultera as being unknown authors. We would certainly lose sections that authors explicitly state are NOT from God—e.g. 1 Cor. 7:12-15. In fact, there are only a few areas where authors indicate what they are saying is from God. Much of the Epistles, and Acts of the Apostles would be gone.

    Of course, if one argues Jesus was God, we could arguably apply this methodology to say Jesus’ words would qualify, but this means we could include 1 Clement and its quotation regarding Jesus’ statements. Or Papias.

    Further, we introduce tension regarding modern scholarship. When to embrace it; when to reject it? Without traditional claims to authorship, we may lose Moses as the author of the Pentateuch, and thus we lose determination of “true representative” Not to mention difficulties surrounding the authors of Isaiah, the Chronicler, Esther, Job, etc. Additionally the problem with the anonymity of the Gospel authors, the pseudo-pauline works, 1 & 11 Peter, the Johannine epistles.

    As an example, many Christians extol the scholarship of Dr. Bauckham in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses–yet Dr. Bauckham indicates Matthew the disciple did not write Matthew the Gospel. Do we gain historical accuracy, only to lose Matthew’s theopneustos? Or do we start to abandon this method to retain Dr. Bauckham?

    I am thankful you framed a methodology. I cannot possibly see how this methodology would result in the claim “The Bible, because it is divinely inspired…” [as stated in the original blog entry] since the Protestant Bible does not conform to this method.

    And that is something that bothers me about Christianity. (How serendipitous to bring this all together in the end!)

    Thank you for the discussion. Unless you provide a different method, or clarify some of the terms, I will end our interaction here. It is only polite to allow the owner of the blog the last word…it is yours, sir!

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Oh my Willy…aren’t you a naughty little school boy.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Willy,
    Since your in the zenith of of your unbelief, and considering the fact that you consider yourself to be speaking from reality.
    Just for the sake of the argument why don’t you show all us deluded Christians how you would apply the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments to say, Vishnu, Allah, Thor, Zeus, Mithra, etc

    If what you believe is truth, and you believe that those arguments apply to those these belief systems as well, then it should be no problem for eminent scholar such as yourself.

  • Greg

    WOW. I am continually amazed as to how Atheists seem to believe they are the ONLY ones who understand “science”. The fact that most of the early scientists believed in God is quite puzzling.

    Way way up the chain Doubting T seems to think my good friend Bill is without scientific aptitude (he has many other faults but science he knows!). His statement:

    “You seem to be working from several assumptions, whereas, virtually all of the atheists I know have no assumptions and accept the results of the scientific method and evidence. In essence, you put faith over reason and we take the opposite view.”

    is completely false!! Atheists make assumptions every day. They first assume God does not exist (do they have absolute proof?? No, then it’s an assumption). They assume that the universe is either eternal (which it cant be according to the science of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) or they assume that it sprung seemingly self caused from nothing. Both of those assumptions are ridiculous. Nothing can be self caused because it would have to first exist to cause something. We all know that not even the GREAT STEPHEN HAWKING and all of his almost infinite wisdom can use science to explain how something can come from nothing. Nothing is the absence of everything so how could anything come from it all by itself?

    But sometimes atheists assume that the universe did come into existence and they assume there is no God so they in turn assume their position to be the only possible one. Then they assume that multiple universes “might” exist and matter can leak from one to the other creating “our” Big Bang. They also assume there is no need to regress the 2nd law back to the multiple universes to where the first matter came from.

    Everyone on this planet makes assumptions and not even atheists are excluded. Science is so full of assumptions to claim it is based purely on fact is to clearly not have any understanding of science. Darwin made hundreds of assumptions for Origin of the Species. He had ZERO observable, repeatable evidence to support his assumptions and still there are virtually no reliable reasons to believe in macro evolution today. Darwin must have made assumptions about first life and the birth of the universe as well because he did not address them. I’m thinking he assumed his hypothesis to be correct and he needn’t bother with the details.

    Please go and find me science that explains how the system for blood clotting could have evolved. Or explain to me thru science how the fish evolved over millions of years to the amphibian? Did the theory of evolution not apply here because certainly over the millions of years that the fish was developing a land based respiratory system it is tough to explain how it would have helped the fish to better gather food or repopulate thus allowing that mutation to proceed? Why wouldn’t the lungs just have disappeared then as Darwin’s theory states?

    In fact Doubting T, aren’t you “assuming” that virtually all of the atheists you know don’t use assumptions? Have you literally sat with them all for 24hr periods checking their every statement and thought to something that science can back up with observable repeatable data? I assume not.

    Do you believe it is morally bad to murder everyone in a specific family, neighborhood, city, or country based purely on the enjoyment of murdering people? If you say yes, then please use observable repeatable science to prove your case. See, without someone to define what is good and what is bad, everything that happens is just subjectively good and bad. You have opinions and i have them. Neither is absolute. I say Hitler was bad, you say he was good. But again, without a definer there can be NO absolute definition.

    Now I know you will try to explain to me how morals evolved because of how they protect the tribe or herd but that is not absolute. Your definition of morals change as evolution sees fit to change them. The morale code I am bound to NEVER changes and is clear and concise

    Please use science to explain why science exists at all. This should be easy…..

    But then again, I’m just another delusional, non-scientific Christian without a clue. I keep searching for the clues to deconvert me but there just aren’t any. Seems elementary to me Watson.

  • Willie G

    Whether you call yourself Greg or DiscipleoftheWord the result is the same, you are a Troll and a pathetic example for christianity. I will never engage in discussion with you on any topic.

  • Greg

    Willie,

    thanks for the comment. I am Greg. Not sure who Diciple is. Glad you can discern so much about me from one post. Why do you say I am pathetic? Is it because I get upset hearing from atheists how stupid we Christians are and when i ask them to give me scientific proof for their beliefs and they can’t i challenge their beliefs?

    Maybe my post came off harsh to you and if it did I truely apologize but i do not apologize for the Gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16). As Christians we are commanded to refute false teachings, evangelize, and defend our faith. If that offends you, again i sincerely apologize but Jesus himself offended many people 2000 years ago and still does today. I never addressed you personally in my post so I’m a bit perplexed as to why you revert to calling me names.

  • Willie G

    Greg,

    In replying to DiscipleoftheWord in a comment above Bill identified that commenter as “Greg”. Your overdramatic and off-topic rant sounded so much like DOTW that it was an easy mistake to make.

    If you would like to discuss our differences in a civil manner without personal attacks, rudeness and sarcasm, and you will focus enough to drop the red herrings and stay on topic I will be glad to discourse with you. Otherwise you are simply picking a fight and attempting to draw me into the nastiness. I will not go there with you or anyone else.

    So maybe you would like to take a stab at answering my question which I will rephrase once again:

    Even if all of the arguments listed in various comments above do indeed strengthen the probability for the existence of a god, why the christian god? Why not Allah and his prophet? Why not Krishna, or Vishnu? Why not Ra or Mithra or Baal? Since you are agnostic toward the existence of all these gods, why are you not agnostic towards Yawheh? Why is it reasonable to believe in the Christian God?

  • Greg

    Willie,

    1. How was my post off topic?? Doubting T explicitly commented that Christians don’t know anything about science. I simply asked him to use science to explain some of his beliefs.

    2. You claim my comment were not civil, they attacked someone, they were rude and sarcastic? Have you read your post to me and several to Billy? Are you not held accountable to your own standard?

    3. I NEVER addressed you once in my post so please explain why you think i was picking a fight with you.

    4. As to why the Christian God vs. all the other false gods…. Please see any one of the numerous posts that Billy has presented to explain the evidence for Jesus and Christianity. I will not spend any more time defending my God because he needs no defense and you have been given all the proof you need to believe (Rom 1:18-20).

    Why is it that when a Christian challenges an atheist we are being rude but the reciprocal is to show how delusional we are? I beg of you to search in science for a logical answer to any of the below and then i would be more than willing to change my view if they are rationally sound:

    1. Origin of the universe
    2. Origin of Life
    3. Evolution of blood clotting
    4. evolution of any system in the human anatomy
    5. Origin of ABSOLUTE morality

    Bring a solid argument and i will be more than willing to listen but your ranting and name calling uses absolutely no science.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Willie,
    One quick point about my appeal to the masses. I was not arguing that a person should believe in God because 95% of the population do. I was pointing out that your position is that 95% of people in the world are not only intellectually wrong about something (that has certainly happened before, as you point out), but that they are actually delusional, which is an abnormal psychological condition. I am challenging you to re-think your use of the word “delusional” as describing those who believe in God because you end up claiming that virtually everyone on the planet is psychotic, or whatever word you want to use as a synonym for delusional.

    Anyway, let’s look at what the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments demonstrate. If you accept these arguments, they show, in total, that there exists a being who is self-existent, timeless, nonspatial, immaterial, unimaginably powerful, personal, super-intelligent, purposeful, and good. Using these criteria, we can then examine which gods out of your list fit this criteria. To my knowledge, the only two that do are Yahweh and Allah.

    Now that we’ve narrowed down to these two, we can investigate the historical claims that are made about the founders of these religions, Christianity and Islam. We look at the New Testament documents to see if they are trustworthy and if they are an accurate report about Jesus. We ask if Jesus did anything to prove he was God’s true representative. We then look to see if Muhammad did anything to prove he was God’s representative, as he claimed. In the end, we can show with historical probability, that Jesus died and rose from the dead, as he predicted he would. He claimed that this would prove he was sent from God. Muhammad recited words allegedly given to him by an angel, and that is the only proof he offered. Nobody ever saw this angel except Muhammad. I would then say that Jesus’ claims are reliable and Muhammad’s are not.

    That’s how I would approach it.

  • Bill Pratt

    Dagoods,
    My method ended before considering the issue of canonicity. Given that we have a religious movement that is authenticated by a true representative of God, and given that this movement has produced many written documents, how does the movement determine which documents come from God. I don’t believe I have ever covered this on the blog, although I have studied the topic in the past. Suffice to say that you raise important issues about the canon of Scripture. I plan on addressing them eventually. For now, I will say that there are criteria, but that they do not always yield certainty. Some books we aren’t sure about, but many of them have passed the criteria with flying colors, so the situation is not so dire! The books that the church has always been sure about give us more than enough information about Jesus and God to make our way home to him.

    God bless you,
    BP

  • Willie G

    Greg,

    First, I admitted my mistake. I addressed you due to mistaken identity. Sorry about that.

    Second, you are picking a fight. You have no desire to search for meaning. You aren’t brave enough to question your own beliefs. You know that you are right and that is the end of the matter. Your only desire is to prove me wrong. You are hateful and mean-spirited. Keep in mind that this is coming from the person that you apparently want to influence. You are condescending and rude. I’m pretty confident that you would not address anyone in person the way you present yourself here behind the protection of the internet.

    I have not been disrespectful to Bill, nor has he been disrespectful to me; challenging yes, confrontational, yes, but not rude or condescending. I would challenging you to compare Bill’s thoughtful response to me above to yours. Which person would you want to have a discussion with. So, at this point I wish you well and hope that you are always at peace with yourself and your journey in life.

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I believe we have now begun, at last, a productive discussion.

    I believe that you have taken the definition of delusion to the extreme, and it is not necessary to go that far to understand my point. According to the American Psychological Association to delude is to mislead the mind or judgement.

    (American Psychological Association (APA):
    delude. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/delude)

    It is not necessary to carry the definition to any greater force to understand my intention in the words use. I have no difficulty in stating that 95% of the population of the world has been deluded, or misled in judgement to believe in beings for which there is insubstantial evidence to merit their existence. I have yet to see presented by any believer a falsifiable hypothesis for the existence of the supernatural. All religions ask adherents to accept outrageous claims without evidence. Adherents recognize that there is no positive evidence, and in the face of derogatory evidence will choose to continue to believe. William Lane Craig, in a now infamous YouTube debate stated that if he could be shown the tomb of Jesus with the rotting corpse of Jesus inside that he would still continue to believe in the resurrection of Christ. He would not abandon his faith even with the foundational event of the faith being demonstrated to be false. This is textbook, dictionary definition, delusion.

    Humans need explanations. Humans need truth. After all, that is why I bother to continue to engage Christians even after discarding my faith. We are the most advanced creatures in all of the earths history. We have evolved the capacity for higher level reasoning and searching for meaning outside of ourselves. No other creature on earth has this capacity. Some of us, indeed most of us, satisfy that need with myth. The rest, remaining unsatisfied, continue to search.

    Now to your logical arguments. First, I do not accept the classical arguments as demonstrative of a supreme being who is a being who is self-existent, timeless, nonspatial, immaterial, unimaginably powerful, personal, super-intelligent, purposeful, and good. While I would say that these classic arguments carry much philosophical weight and are worthy of discussion, they only leave one with a decision to make. Does the logic of the argument merit the acceptance of the conclusion? If you build impeccable logic around a mythical foundation you still finish with myth. Aristotelean logic can only produce valid arguments, not truth. If the foundational hypothesis is based upon myth or legend, regardless of the infallible logic of the argument you still have a false conclusion.

    This leaves us with nothing but empirical data. Since empirical data of the supernatural is non-existent then the only non-delsusional conclusion is agnosticism. I have no knowledge of gods or anything supernatural.

    Bill, please comment on my thoughts here as I would really like to hear your perspective directed toward my specific view. I want to move on to discuss why I no longer accept the Bible as authoritative, but I don’t want to convolute the discussion with too many thoughts at once.

    Please feel free to share why you personally believe, because I am far more than mere academics. I want to know how the whole of your being has brought you to where you are.

    Thanks, and continued peace to you.

  • Nox

    Bill and Willie G,

    Bill I would first like to inform you foremost that we had the discussion on the book by Eckhart Tolle in the last couple of days on this site. I happened to be browsing through your page when I stumbled upon this blog.

    I dont mean to intrude in the above conversation, however, there were several interesting points mentioned , which have sparked an interest in me, especially in relation to Willie G’s comments. I have tried to read all comments made with the most objective possible outlook and a clear mind so as not to discriminate between the two view points with my own subjective beliefs.

    I consider myself to be a christian, however, I do not believe that salvation can only be ascertained through believing in Jesus christ to be god. Nor do I believe that non-believers will necessarily spend eternity in “damnation” if they are not christians.
    Bill, Being a proponent to the contrary please let me know what your thoughts are on these.

    How can someone having grown up and living in an environment isolated completely from christian views possibly be given a chance in this world to get to “heaven” if they have no chance or access to a bible or christian beliefs? Say for example children in parts of Africa having no exposure to theological dogma, let alone christianity.

    What is the likelyhood of getting to “heaven” between persons having read the bible thoroughly their entire life, insideout, but with an intense dislike for people who do not believe in god, and those who do not know a thing about the bible or Jesus yet live their life with an intense genuine love for everything and everyone including christians who despise him/her.

    Finally, this is more a philosophical question but I thought id throw it in here anyway, what was god doing before he created the world?

    Willie G,

    Having read the brief description about yourself I can sort of relate to what you mean about how one’s beliefs and can be so profoundly transformed from one thing to another, as my own beliefs have had this transoformation too, however maybe not to the degree you have experienced. A book that completely changed my rigid beliefs in christianity, and my outlook on life in general, is a book called A new Earth by Eckhart Tolle, it doesnt talk about religion or any set of beliefs, but I found it to be a very life changing. I recommend you read it as it may answer alot of the things you are searching for.

    Peace to you both.

  • Nox

    Bill,

    (Sorry I just had to add this) You stated that.-

    “One quick point about my appeal to the masses. I was not arguing that a person should believe in God because 95% of the population do. I was pointing out that your position is that 95% of people in the world are not only intellectually wrong about something (that has certainly happened before, as you point out), but that they are actually delusional, which is an abnormal psychological condition.”

    Your argument here still expresses a belief based on an appeal to the masses. The fact that you point out that Willie G believes 95% of the population to be delusional as a abnormal psychological condition doesnt clearly state a belief to the contrary, All your doing is restating something Willie G has said. If you read the quote again you will see your error.

    The point im trying to make is that the whole establishment and regime of Nazi germany during world war 2, was based on an appeal to the majority in power at the time. Legislation in Germany drafted at the time of hitler allowed Nazi soldiers to carry out the outrageous crimes under the false surmise that jews were less than humans closer to animals and therefore allowed to be treated as they were. (this is very general summary). At this time in Germany, the majority were not considered to be delusional. Nor did anyone in the majority think to question the delusion they were in. In fact, those with contrary beliefs ( the minority) were killed for believing otherwise.

    This is a rigid belief system at its’worst…. the only difference between this of Nazi germany and some christians today is the rigidity in these beliefs which the individuals wish to hold onto. A simple matter of degree.

    Again, thoughts please.

  • Greg

    Willie,

    Thanks for your apology but please understand i am not picking a fight and please also understand that I continually search out “meaning” and truth. In fact, I’m the Christian that watches almost every program that NatGeo has about evolution, parallel universes and anything with Stephen Hawking. I listen carefully but I hold the programs accountable to the principals of science. And do you know what i most often hear, words like possible, probable, might (as in might have happened this way), could have, and the like. Also, the statements most often made have no scientific data to support the statement (at least any that is observable and repeatable). I grew up watching Dr. Carl Sagan on PBS talk about the billions and billions of galaxies but he never could give me a good explanation for where they came from. Even at an early age I understood that Nothing can come from Nothing, and certainly by a self imposed act. Again, is it wrong for me to ask atheists to use science to support their beliefs? Unfortunately, when we Christians do ask we just get told how stupid we are and that we don’t understand. Seemingly you would think that someone would prove to us that God doesn’t exist using adequate science but they don’t.

    You say that my only desire is to prove you wrong? Isn’t that your desire, to prove that all Christians are delusional? You’ve called us that several times in your many posts. Is that not being mean spirited as you accuse me? My desire is not to prove anyone wrong; God will do that on judgment day. It is my desire though that lost people come to an understanding that God does exist, we are not worthy of his love, he gave us the law which we did not uphold and had planned from the beginning to offer his Son as a living sacrifice to atone for our sins. That because of Christ’s sacrifice those who accept him as Lord and Savior are given a grace that is unearned and it is this grace thru our faith in Christ that provides for our salvation. Apart from this all are lost and will spend eternity separated from God.

    I truly apologize if you think I am trying to be condescending or trying to offend you. I only ask for the same “scientific” proof to support atheism that you ask of a Christian. I really can’t see how one request can be so offensive and the reciprocal not the same.

    I am sorry you choose not to try and answer or at least seek valid answers to the questions I asked in previous posts. If you seriously study the logic behind what the world has offered as answers you can clearly see the errors in the logic. I do have an open mind and open heart but you think I am closed minded because I do not believe as you do.

    I clearly cannot convince you of anything nor am I trying to. My original post only asked for someone claiming to understand science to use it to explain clearly how and why some things exist. No one seems to want to do that though. If the science were so clear wouldn’t it be quite easy to prove me wrong?

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Nox asks

    How can someone having grown up and living in an environment isolated completely from christian views possibly be given a chance in this world to get to “heaven” if they have no chance or access to a bible or christian beliefs? Say for example children in parts of Africa having no exposure to theological dogma, let alone christianity.

    Nox, to do my share of ‘butting in” in your address to Bill, (I rather think his answers may differ from mine) I believe your questions here are very sound, and worth some thought. I, too, have a hard time with the idea that such an issue as eternal destiny could rest on the correct answers to a multiple choice test on theology, particularly when the examinee was never allowed to even audit the course.
    I have sometimes heard Christianity presented in some translation of those ideas, and believe that to be non-sensical on the face of it. There is either something deeper of which this is a fractured distortion, or the whole thing is foolishness.

    The way I approach it is a bit different. I think it answers to orthodox Christianity, but that opinion is decidedly my own, and I am speaking only on my own hook. I understand “God” to be “that which is” He is recorded as giving His name to Moses as “I AM THAT I AM, tell them I AM has sent you…” Jesus said that he was” the way, the TRUTH, and the life” not a teacher of the truth, but the truth itself. If I understand them, this gives me a little in common with the taoists, who might say that the universe is what it is. (Note that I do believe that this eternal truth is the God of the Bible, personal, trancendant and immenant both, etc. –but that is not part of this point)

    I further understand Heaven, or eternal salvation to involve at a minimum, unity with God (else what is all that metaphor, through the entire Bible, about brides and bridgrooms and weddings, for?) Further, it is imposssible be united with “TRUTH” while at the same time rejecting truth. I take it that there is such a thing as objective truth, not just about what time I need to get up in the morning (which I have trouble in avoiding self-deception), but also as to who I am in regard to my fellow man, and to God. All these theings are theoretically knowable, and I believe will be known. Eternal seperation from “Truth” lies in rejection of those things which we have the power to know. Not just now, but “on that day” That would include truth about who God is, and how He has brought us to this place of potential freedom.

    There is to be no “entrance exam”, but there will be an acceptance or rejection of “the way things are.” Naturally, as a traditional Christian, I believe the traditional Christian understanding off the gospel is part of the way things are, and is thus part of that :truth” we may either accept and be united to, or reject, and be seperated from. I also expect there will be many points about which I deceive myself, or hold as pet ideas, that I will have to lay aside if I am to be the “bride” of “all Truth”

    What is the likelyhood of getting to “heaven” between persons having read the bible thoroughly their entire life, insideout, but with an intense dislike for people who do not believe in god, and those who do not know a thing about the bible or Jesus yet live their life with an intense genuine love for everything and everyone including christians who despise him/her.

    I think your insticts here are spot on. Such people may “know” all the correct answeres to that disavowed “Entrance Exam” but they are not, in fact that which they present themselves as being. Of course, “on that day” this could itself be part of the truth I am asked to embrace (to my healing) or reject. (to my damnation). Even Jesus said “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter…” St. Paul said “Even if I (am all that [paraphrase]), but have not love, I am nothing.”

    I think what matters is not primarily who we say we are, but who we in fact are. I think there are man who profess a devotion to God that is at odds with their enternal life, and I corrospondingly think that there are those who are devoted to that truth, and are continually abandoning themselves whenever they understand themselves to be wrong, who will be pleasently surprised. Jesus alludes to this also. “Lord, when did we see you naked, or thirsty …” etc. The truth matters. the outward form does not, except (and this is a big except) in so much as it echos and supports the inward reality. If one conciously chooses to avow one thing internally while disavowing it externally, he is practising the very dis-integrity and embrace oof falsehood that I have spoken of as damning. Better to practice truth.

    Finally, this is more a philosophical question but I thought id throw it in here anyway, what was god doing before he created the world?

    .

    I think this mystery is partially hidden in the nature of God as “Trinity.” For all eternity, God was in a relationship of love, which overflows in the creative impulse, even as modled in the desire of a human couple to reproduce as an overflow of their love. But on another level, I don’t thing there was a “before” creation. Not that the created relm is eternal, I don’t think that. Rather, I think that the question is self-defeating as it assumes the bacground condition of time.
    I believe that time is itself part of the created order. Much of the genesis account is about seperating one thing from another; dark from light, sea from dry ground, animals given names by Adam, etc.
    In “time” one moment is seperated from another. Time is a feature of this creation which dwells in God, but God, in his trancendence, does not dwell in time.
    If this understanding holds up, then the question equates to what was God doing before he created such a thing as “Before and After”. Sequence did not exist.

    Good questions, and I will be interested what the more educated make of them.

    -Blessings,
    R. Eric Sawyer

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    R. Eric Sawyer says: “Good questions, and I will be interested what the more educated make of them.”

    Isa 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
    9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

    It never surprises me when I see arguments such as these reduced to what I term to be “head faith”.
    I believe that Eric’s last statement sums up the direction that this blog has undertaken.

    Whenever someone stands on the Gospel as the sole basis for understanding God or knowing any truth about God they are immediately labeled “fundamental” “irrational” “deluded” or it is implied somehow that they are less than “educated”..etc..etc…
    And I don’t think you will have to critique this string of post with much discernment to see that this is true.

    When we argue are points apart from the entire counsel of God as it is written, then we are only stating our opinions, they are not the opinions of God.

    Ps 50:21 “These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.

    God warns us not to confuse God’s patience with His approval.
    God’s silence does not mean that He agrees with our actions or our thoughts.
    We think too much of man and all our thoughts on God are to human.

    When the Lord speaks, he is not trying to confuse us; he is making himself clearly know in all that he says.
    It’s not that we can’t understand the wisdom that he is imparting to us, it’s that we will not accept it as Gods final word.
    It doesn’t seem fair to us, it offends our senses, and so we rationalize that it must mean something else.

    When I say that my faith in God’s word is invincible I am not saying something about myself I am saying something about God.

    How many of you go to physicians only to hear what you want to hear?
    If a physician told you were cured because he was uncomfortable telling you that you were riddled with cancers, because “well.. that would make you unhappy and that just wouldn’t be nice or fair”…would you consider that love?

    The first word our Lord spoke in his ministry is “Repent”

    And if that call to repentance is rejected or disregarded and the heart is hardened against that message, then religious tradition is revealed as what it is, a cloak to disguise the evil within, and the righteousness of Jesus is replaced with human endorsement.

    The ones, who hear and refuse the prophetic word, set out to destroy God’s messengers, because those who preach must be silenced at all cost to preserve their peace and sanity.

    In every theistic argument, there are Christians who, boast of a scholar’s mentality, and they judge what they read and hear by this standard. This only tells us more about them than the ones that they criticize.

    They respect only human approval and agreement. They would condemn the Lord Jesus himself as uneducated and amateurish.
    And in most ways, by questioning his wisdom they do.

    We could sit for an unlimited amount of hours with a person, and set forth the whole of the Christian faith to him in a systematized fashion, providing rational justification for every claim and every premise, defending this assertion, refuting that objection, until we have seized total victory over his unreasonableness, until his mind and body come to a point of complete and utter exhaustion.
    And still he could fail to perceive the truth about Christ, and fail to believe and confess him.
    The shortcoming is not in God, or in me, or in the message, or in the presenting, but it is in the unbeliever.

    With all that said, we should not conclude that all of our preaching and argumentation are worthless.
    But human responsibility is determined by divine command, and not by the anticipated effect
    of our actions.
    Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.
    So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow”

    Although truth and reason are on our side, because God himself hardens the foolish and
    irrational reprobate, no argument can convince an unbeliever.
    And in the same sense, because God preserves the elect, whose mind has been enlightened to perceive and believe the truth, no objection can persuade him otherwise.
    It is not that man’s efforts are meaningless, but that man’s efforts in themselves do not produce the effect, whether faith or unbelief.

    Truth should never lead us to a feeling of futility and hopelessness or feigned humility, but to a sense of confidence and invincibility.

    So gather round all you pots in your futility to decide what you will or won’t allow the Potter to say or do.

    1Co 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
    12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
    13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
    14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
    15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
    16 For Who has known the mind of the Lord , that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

  • Willie G

    Greg,

    Thank you for toning down the rhetoric. I don’t mind being challenged, confronted, or disagreed with, even passionately as long as I can sense that the challenge is sincere and respectful. Hopefully you will accept my response to you in this same spirit of fair play. I hope you are ready to read and think, because this is going to be a long one.

    You said: “…I continually search out “meaning” and truth…. I’m the Christian that watches almost every program that NatGeo has about evolution, parallel universes and anything with Stephen Hawking.”

    Although I watch and enjoy NatGeo, the Science Channel, Discovery, etc as well, you have to know that these programs are not “Science”. Rather they are entertainment distilled for the masses. Sure the topics are of things relating to science (i.e. about evolution, about astronomy, about biology) but they are not University training in research methodology, experimentation methodology, or the general principles of the scientific method. Peer reviewed scientific white-papers are above the abilities and education of the general public and have to be watered down to generalizations in order to be entertaining to the masses. If you want to debate the evidence for evolution, molecular biology, genetics, astrophysics or cosmology you are going to have to study the sources and the published works of the scientists themselves. Then and only then will you be qualified to offer a dispute of the masses of evidence that has been accumulated. You say you like Stephen Hawking, well I can promise you if your exposure to him is only on Television, or even in reading his book “A Brief History of Time” that you may not like him so much after trying to digest any of his peer-reviewed papers on quantum mechanics and gravitational singularities.

    You said: “I listen carefully but I hold the programs accountable to the principals of science… Also, the statements most often made have no scientific data to support the statement (at least any that is observable and repeatable).”

    I’m not exactly sure how you are holding a program accountable to anything, especially a program that is designed to deliver general information and provide it in an entertaining format that will appeal to most people possible and earn the most advertising dollars that it possibly can. NatGeo makes no claims that it is providing scientific proof of anything. They are merely reporting the findings and claims of scientists. To do anything more would put their audience to sleep, or worse result in everyone changing the channel.

    You said: “…I most often hear, words like possible, probable, might (as in might have happened this way), could have, and the like.”

    Here is our biggest disconnect. If you understand the scientific method as you claim then you know that science, in all cases, makes only limited and temporary claims to truth. A scientist looks at evidence (verified factual data) and states a hypothesis about what the think is possible or probable in relation to that body of evidence. Groups of like hypotheses are gathered and linked to form a synthesis. This synthesis is them referred to as a scientific theory (not a theory in the common sense that it is a guess, but rather a body of hypotheses that are supported at varying levels of certainty) or the best understanding of how a certain thing functions. Each individual hypothesis is the tested with carefully designed experiments in order to disprove the hypothesis. A true scientist will never speak of absolute truth, but will only speak of what has been observed and verified at this point in time. Only the theist will speak in terms of absolute truth never allowing for future variance.

    Since you mention watching the shows of Sagan and Hawking I think I’ll let them speak to your misunderstanding of the scientific method:

    ” There are many hypotheses in science that are wrong. That’s perfectly all right; it’s the aperture to finding out what’s right. Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny…. The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge and there is no place for it in the endeavor of science.”

    –Carl Sagan in Cosmos

    “Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory. As philosopher of science Karl Popper has emphasized, a good theory is characterized by the fact that it makes a number of predictions that could in principle be disproved or falsified by observation. Each time new experiments are observed to agree with the predictions the theory survives, and our confidence in it is increased; but if ever a new observation is found to disagree, we have to abandon or modify the theory.”

    — Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time

    You said: “…Carl Sagan [talked] about the billions and billions of galaxies but he never could give me a good explanation for where they came from.”

    No scientist on earth would ever make any claim to have used the scientific method to establish a position on the origin of the universe. The discussion of origins is left to the realm of philosophy and theology. Only a fool would claim to “know” where “they came from” as you say. The statements that you will hear scientists make are that based on the evidence that we have and understand at this point in time we have found everything to this point to have a natural explanation, so with regards to the origins of our universe, although we cannot explain it yet, there is no evidence that would lead to hypothesize about an type of supernatural cause. Until that evidence presents itself we will continue to pursue a naturalistic explanation.

    Again Carl Sagan has some pointed thoughts here:
    “The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can’t all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It’s a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I’m not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they’re called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation.”

    –Carl Sagan in Contact p. 162

    You said: “…is it wrong for me to ask atheists to use science to support their beliefs? Unfortunately, when we Christians do ask we just get told how stupid we are and that we don’t understand.”

    It is absolutely your right to ask me to present evidence to support any statement that I claim to be a positive fact. Since this response is running so long already I am not going to argue anything other than to your comments I am addressing here. If you want to challenge me for evidence on some particular item, then ask about something I stated specifically when you respond and I will address it.

    For the record I have never called you stupid or even questioned your intellect. I do however question your true understanding of the scientific method and what scientists’ motives and objectives are. I believe that you have a very shallow understanding of science that leads you to make some very misleading and misguided statements about the claims of science. (That is not an insult. That is a challenging and confrontational statement, but not a personal attack).

    You said: “…you would think that someone would prove to us that God doesn’t exist using adequate science but they don’t.”

    This is a prime example of why I hold that you do not truly understand either science or it’s methods, and further do not understand philosophical methods of logic and argumentation. Plain and simple, you cannot prove a negative. Neither I nor anyone who has ever existed can prove to you using science, chicken feet or a Ouija Board that your God or any gods does/do not exist. You cannot prove a negative.

    Why is this? You may ask. Because no matter how many times I proclaim gods do not exist because I have found no evidence sufficient prove his existence you can always say “then keep looking because you haven’t looked in the right place.”

    So again, plain and simple, you can only prove a positive. You and all god believers everywhere are making a positive claim; “God Exists.” So the burden of proof is on you, not me. You must present evidence that demonstrates and proves the existence of God. We can never say that God truly does not exist. We can only say that adequate evidence has not been presented to accept the he/she/they exist. Therefore we are agnostic to the existence of supernatural beings.

    “You say that my only desire is to prove you wrong? Isn’t that your desire, to prove that all Christians are delusional?”

    I’m sorry but I desire to prove anything. I was asked a specific question, how do I explain that some many people in the world, many highly intelligent believe in a god. I answered that question by stating that they are delusional. I was then told that for various reasons that Bill presented that my position was weak. So I asked a very specific question that has yet to be answered, and again it went like this:

    Why is it reasonable to believe in the Christian God?

    That doesn’t sound like I’m trying to prove anything does it. I was told my position was weak, and I asked why. That’s it.

    “Is that not being mean spirited as you accuse me?”

    Absolutely not. Lots of people are deluded about lots of things. That doesn’t mean that they are mentally deficient or even mentally ill. It means that they have been misled or misguided so deeply that they have become blinded to any contradictory information. I understand that no one would like to have this term (delusional) applied to themselves, after all it would be very embarrassing to have to admit that, but it is not derogatory in the sense that all of you here are taking it. If you don’t like being thought of as delusional, then I challenge you to answer my question.

    “My desire is not to prove anyone wrong; God will do that on judgment day.”

    Threats are totally not helpful Greg. If I don’t believe in God then why would I concern myself with a non-existent judgment day? All this kind of thing does is drive a wedge between us and shut down the dialogue. Although we may disagree with one another very strongly don’t you think there just might be something we can learn from one another if we keep talking? I think we can. However, if you are going to just threaten me with judgment and Hell, then go talk to someone else.

    “I only ask for the same “scientific” proof to support atheism that you ask of a Christian.”

    As I stated above I can offer no scientific proof for the non-existence of God. I can only refute evidence you present for his existence. So maybe a good place to start would be for you or somebody here to answer my question that I have asked about 40 times now.

    “I am sorry you choose not to try and answer or at least seek valid answers to the questions I asked in previous posts.”

    Why do you answer my question with a question? Bill and I were deep in our conversation before you ever showed up in this thread. You have already distracted me from paying attention to Bill, the person I really want to dialogue with, and now you demand answers to your questions. Go get your own blog post to hijack, I already hijacked this one!! 

    “If you seriously study the logic behind what the world has offered as answers you can clearly see the errors in the logic.”

    I have, and I don’t.

    “…you think I am closed minded because I do not believe as you do.”

    No, I think because you have been deluded by your church, Christian culture and American religious society in general that you are closed minded. I really don’t care what you believe. You can believe anything you want.

    “My original post only asked for someone claiming to understand science to use it to explain clearly how and why some things exist.”

    I do understand science. How and why are two different questions that are not answered by the same methodologies. I can offer you scientific evidence for how many, many things have come to be, others are mystery and will probably never be understood. I cannot tell you why. I have no knowledge or evidence of why things came to be. I am relatively certain that when that answer is discovered it will be found in nature. I have been presented no evidence to believe otherwise.

    Sorry for the length of this response. I didn’t know how to address it any shorter.

    Peace

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Science?… your position is that non-belief is correct and reasonable, but I could just as easily attack you for taking such a position.
    After so many centuries of philosophy and science, including thousands of guesses, speculations, and chance musings, this is as far as you have gotten?
    The people of God have been sure of the truth for thousands of years – to be sure, since the beginning of the world – and there has never been any need to change our answer.
    What an atheist calls “progress” is just a nice word for revising previous answers. That kind of progress does not signify an advance in knowledge, but it indicates that they never had any to begin with.

  • Willie G

    Did you hear something? …. crickets… No? Me either

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    I wouldn’t argue with me either you Philistine dog.
    Go back to your little corner of hell.

  • Willie G

    LOL

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    I am amazed at how the other participants in this blog have allowed one lone Philistine to control the dialogue.
    He has you apologizing for your conviction?
    He’s playing you…he insults you and your intelligence, denies your God and makes you apologize for it?
    He’s feigning the fact that he is just some poor heathen atheist who just can’t come to believe in God yet.
    But maybe if you can answer X,Y, & Z he’ll be convinced.
    You’re all playing in his yard and he’s kicking your [butts].
    He could care less about knowing God or Christ Jesus; he only enjoys watching you squirm.
    He’s right, you are deluded.
    There is only one troll here and his name is Willy G.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    D, I will interact with you for a final time, and you and I will probably agree that it is because I am a fool.
    This being a blog, I leave you the final word, but expect no response more than is given here. I respond mainly because you used my name in your above post, net directly towards me, but enough to draw my interest. If I seem mean spirited and internet “flame oriented” tak note of whose name is the same as in the telephone book, and who hides behind an alias?
    ========

    D o t D, I have at last only one phrase for you, and as the fine scholar you represent yourself to be, I’m sure you will recognize it.

    MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN

    As that part of my response is for you alone, I won’t bother with the translation or the reference.

    Isa 55:8 is vastly important in my earlier response: I think about the things of God and man, about what God has revealed, but only God knows the truth. He IS the truth. I would be a fool to rely on the understanding of Eric, (or for that matter, on that of some self-styled “disciple” of the word)

    D, my beef with you is not the Word. When you get down to doctrinal points, I agree with almost 95% of what you say. But that last bit is essential. In my reckoning, you get everything except the main point. Forgive me for being juvinille, but John 3 does not say “for God so loved the elect…” or “For God so loved the rightous…” It may be juvinille, and trite. But it is not thereby false. It is not beneath you. In fact, it has no discernable place in your theology at all. If it does have such a place, then your carriage is at great odds with your doctrine. In such a condition, a man should beware, and pray that he might be no more double-minded.

    As to the substance of my argument being non-biblical, I plead guily. Arguments from Scripture are effective to those who understand it to be authoritative, such as I do, and as you proclaim (though I do not believe that claim true). They have less moment when addressing those who have yet to discover God in this Book.
    Since I believe that God is rational, I believe that He also reveals Himself in plain reason. The degree is less, the focus is less intense, but truth is truth.
    “Head faith” is a useful term, but it has been used before with enough frequency that you are amiss to use your own definition. Commonly, it is faith of the intelect alone, that has not yet been asented to by the heart. The “faithful” can talk a good game, but when the issue comes to his life, to the fruit of his heart, he shows none of the “fruit of the Spirit” and is divisive, spiteful, contention-spreading, in short,the Love of God is not found in Him. D, this is what I see in you.

    Ps 50:21
    Again, I do not claim that you are without the sprit of God, for how else would he provide through your mouth the things you need to hear?

    When I say that my faith in God’s word is invincible I am not saying something about myself I am saying something about God.
    I agree that God’s word is invincible. I further agree that you are not saying anything here about yourself. Much of your writing in these last few days has shown how little the Word of God actually has to do with you, quote it as you may.

    The first word our Lord spoke in his ministry is “Repent”

    Yes, and all should hear and obey. Especially if they hold themselves out as “Disciples” lest their hearts become hardened and their religion become a cloke to disguise the evil within.
    Peter was called to it before the Crucifixion, after the Resurrection, and through Paul, after the ascension.

    “The shortcoming is not in God, or in me, or in the message, or in the presenting, but it is in the unbeliever.”
    Do you really believe that it is not possible for a preacher to set a stumbling block before those to whom Christ would have him preach? If so, you should brush up on our Lord’s prayer for us, that the world would know by our love that He is in us. I also would recommend a tour again through Paul’s epistles, esp. Corinthians, (to say nothing of John’s or even Jude’s) with note about false teachers and those who bring reproach to the Lord they claim to love.

    And even though as you say “truth and reason” be on our side, is it therefor inescapable that we are on the side of truth and reason? Paul did say that he planted, but God gave the increase. Paul did not say that he salted the ground, but that he planted good seed.

    You sir are using the things of God, and the truth of God, to manifest your own hatred and rejection. You are using the light as an excuse to spread darkness, and I fear that no argument can convince you, for as you say “God himself hardens the foolish and irrational reprobate; no argument can convince an unbeliever.”
    And of course, my effort here cannot “produce the effect, whether faith or unbelief.

    But I am tired of being defamed by association with you (as I said, I do not wish to dispute your ideas, I agree with most of what you hav presented). Even more, I am tired of my Lord being made a scandal and a laughing stock by you. There are those here who have rejceted the gospel –so far. There are also those who have, more reasonabl, rejected you. God have mercy on you for alowing your insistance personal unpleasentness and self-righteousness to cause others to rejct His call.

    ….The people of God have been sure of the truth for thousands of years – to be sure, since the beginning of the world – and there has never been any need to change our answer.
    What an atheist calls “progress” is just a nice word for revising previous answers. That kind of progress does not signify an advance in knowledge, but it indicates that they never had any to begin with.

    This was the position of the Pharasees, and the Jewish teachers of Jesus’day. “We have the Law and the Prophets- why are you trying to tell us something ‘new’” God does not change His word stands forever. But may God take pity on us if we think that “my (or DotW’s) *understanding* of God and His Word stands forever. I wish such arrogance was more rare. It is unfortunatly not rare, and it is fatal.
    ===============================

    “I am amazed at how the other participants in this blog have allowed one lone Philistine to control the dialogue.”

    See, I told you we were in 95% agreement. But the word is not “Philistine” but “Pharasee”

    “There is only one troll here and his name is Willy G.” (that pesky 5% again)

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Nice diatribe, but…
    Another possibility is that at least some of these critics are still unconverted
    themselves, and since their priority is still man’s dignity and not God’s glory, then of
    course they would be offended and reject me.
    I understand that my position on these issues is unpopular, but it is indeed biblical, and what is biblical is often unpopular.
    You say so yourself.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Eric,
    I understand that you are not interacting with me any longer but the more I think about your diatribe the more one particular sentence causes me concern for you.
    R. Eric Sawyer says: “God have mercy on you for alowing your insistance personal unpleasentness and self-righteousness to cause others to rejct His call.”
    You have far too much confidence in men and not enough confidence in the omnipotence of God.
    I see this as an obvious flaw in your theology and your faith in God.
    It puts your criticism of me into perspective, you give me too much credit my friend.

  • Greg

    What bothers me about Christianity? Christians that feel they can damn people to hell. While WIllie may have alterior motives and doesn’t provide a scientific proof for atheism, it does not mean that we can attack him. Is this how Christ ran his ministry?

    Someone needs to read Rom 2:17-29 and I’m not talking about Willie.

    Please change your name because you give true disciples of Christ a bad name. I say this because as a Christian it is my duty to hold other Christians accountable to Christ’s teachings and commands.

  • Greg

    No need to reply to me because I’m done with this post. I’m shaking the dust off my feet at the edge of town…….

  • Willie G

    Greg,

    I have no ulterior motive. Don’t assume because you fail to see a miraculous conversion to your point of view that I am not considering your input and looking for something of substance. In spite of DOTW’s accusations I have come here to “Tough Questions Answered” seeking answers. I’m sorry that I don’t simply lay down and accept what comes out of your mouth as truth. If you are going to answer my tough questions you are going to have to have good answers.

    I’m sorry to see you go, I spent several hours replying to you today, I thought I would have earned at least some kind of response. I guess I’ll continue to wait for Bill.

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    I actually like the moniker Philistine Dog. It truly made me laugh out loud. And the thought of having my own private corner of hell in the mind of the likes of DOTW gave me a chuckle as well. In fact I think I will use both of these phrases as the title and subtitle of a new blog that will discuss what skeptics should expect from lunatic fundamentalist Christians when they chance upon them while asking honest seeking questions.

    Peace to you.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Are you joking?

    Greg says: “as a Christian it is my duty to hold other Christians accountable to Christ’s teachings and commands.”

    Then do so.

    Someone should read Romans 1 and I mean you Greg.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Thanks WG. The Philistines sometimes get a bit of a bad rap, I think. If I remember rightly, I think David spent some time amongst them.
    I’ve probably offended enough on this topic, though I should probably bow out unless I have something burning my tounge out to say.

    BTW, I think you wrong, and importantly so, but you seem as honest and as rational as most of us. (and as dishonest and irrational as most of us, for what THAT is worth!)

    -Peace and blessings to you
    R Eric Sawyer

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    “honest and rational atheist”….LOL…man now I have heard it all…

    And this actually came out of a Christians mouth.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    “The Philistines sometimes get a bit of a bad rap”…sure Eric

    Eze 25:15 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Because the Philistines have acted in revenge and have taken vengeance with scorn of soul to destroy with everlasting enmity,”
    16 therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines, even cut off the Cherethites and destroy the remnant of the seacoast.
    17 “I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes; and they will know that I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance on them.””‘ …

    God had a special place in his heart for them.

  • Willie G

    chirp….. chirp….. chirp….

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    You said: “I think you wrong, and importantly so, but you seem as honest and as rational as most of us.”

    This is the first time in this long thread that you have engaged with me directly. Since you have now stated that you think that I am wrong in an important way I am assuming that you have some more developed thoughts on my question. Would you mind taking a few minutes to elaborate?

    Why is it reasonable to believe in the Christian God? Why do all the philisophical / apologetic / experiential arguments lead you to Yawheh and not Allah, Vishnu, Ra, etc? Why is it reasonable to believe in the Christian God?

  • Bill Pratt

    Willie,
    I have been very busy with my kid’s sports the last couple days. I will pick up where we left off, but it may be another day or two. Thanks for being patient.

    Bill

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    No problem. Enjoy your children. I’ll be relaxing in my little corner of Hell. :)

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 declare that those who deny the existence of God are fools.
    So as a self declared atheist willy is either lying or he is a fool or both.
    He is just as lost as those who believe in Vishnu, Allah, Thor, Zeus, Mithra, etc

  • Nox

    R. Eric Sawyer

    Thankyou for your response to the aforementioned questions, much appreciated.

    Peace be to you.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Willie, Back to you when I can -have to at least pretend to get some work done, lest my employer guess my secret identety as “blog-man”

    If I take it at all (which I will) your question deserves more than a toss-off response.
    back to you soon (and don’t get to hooked on your “corner”. I have gotten calls to move serveral times in my life; and while I neither anticipated nor appreciated them, things have worked out well, all in all.)

  • Nox

    Bill, and Willie G

    just a quick note on the dispute ive noticed in this blog….Willie G ive read a few of your comments and from an objective perspective you seem to be trying to convert christians more so than they are trying to convert you.

    Firstly, you say that you are simply trying to find answers to your tough questions, yet, did you not say yourself that you had once had a strong belief in the christian faith, and were unsatisfied with the same tedious arguments that were put forward and so converted, if this is the case, why not seek answers in a religion in which you have had no affiliation, it just seems the more logical thing to do.

    What seems to be happening here is that your reiterating information you have gathered from prominent writers to questions in christianity (which im sure you already know have no answers) in an attempt to confuse christians. Whilst the website does say it will answer tough questions, it doesnt say that the reader will be satisfied with them, nor does it say, it will be able to answer every question. (your better off saying this Bill if you dont have the answers instead of defending something you just dont know, and providing half attempt unsatisfactory interpretations of the bible.)

    In reality neither of you will be converted to either belief. If you think deeply enough, the truth (whatever it may be) doesnt need a defence. What is happening now is that everyone in this blog is defending there own subjective idiosyncratic ideas. The truth is the truth no matter what anyone says (and Im not saying christianity is the truth or any other belief for that reason). It may not be easy to see it at first, but the need to prove someone else wrong is painted all over this page. Jesus if he does exist doesnt need you to defend his existence Bill. The truth need no defence.

    You are the truth.

    Peace to you all.

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    You said: “your question deserves more than a toss-off response.”

    Thank you for your respectful acknowledgement of my sincerity. I look forward to your response.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Willy is the type who needs to have the “N” and the “O” in “no” explained to him.

  • Willie G

    Nox,

    Thank you for your feedback. I fear the many distractions of those that want to castigate me with a swift trip to the depths of the inferno have resulted in everyone being somewhat on the defensive.

    I believe that Bill understands my intentions at this point, and I will leave it to him to correct me if he doesn’t, but for your benefit I would like to respond to your concerns.

    I have no ulterior motives in my questioning. I have no desire to convert, or the better word deconvert anyone from their currently held and cherished positions. I am on a lifelong search for meaning and truth. I have made so many theological, philosophical, experiential, political, etc. mistakes in my life that I have learned that for me skepticism is the only frugal path. I am constantly calling into question my own core beliefs, especially those that I and others hold sacred. I seek out and read the best scholarship available on all sides of the religious debate. I read evangelicals, Catholics, fundamentalists, apologists, evolutionists, atheists, agnostics, social and cultural anthropologists and anyone else that has a studied viewpoint on the questions that are pertinent. I have over 100 theist and atheist bloggers in my feed reader that I follow and read everyday. I am hungry for information, simply because I will not accept an answer as truth just because it is the popular or normative viewpoint. As I quoted Sagan above: “to be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny.” The day we stop questioning and seeking answers and weighing those answers against reason is the day we stagnate and give up what it means to be human.

    My biggest complaint with narrow-minded people (not referring to anyone here in particular) is they only talk to, listen to, read and research people who they already agree with. Confirmation bias runs rampant in these circles as they simple want to add ammunition to protect the viewpoints and world view that they already hold sacred.

    I don’t take this approach. I hold every position I take up to the counter position. I seek out those hold contrary views and I study and do the hard work to assess the value of each position. Then I take a stance. I formalize my position and through it out for review, and then start the whole process over. And I grow as a result.

    That is my purpose and motivation here. No ulterior motive necessary.

    Thanks for your comments.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    ” I seek out and read the best scholarship available on all sides of the religious debate.”

    Then why are you asking such fundamental questions.
    If you have been in in such a life and death search of truth you certainly have a less than scholarly understanding of the question you are asking.

    I agree with knox’ interpretation of your position.

    You’re looking for God in a test tube and you know that neither Bill nor any other Christian can provide that.

    Wrap your mind around this willy….

    Let’s try a simple syllogism;
    Why the ontological argument cannot be applied to say, Zeus
    (1) A being that owes its existence to other beings cannot be the being than which none greater can be conceived.
    (2) Zeus owes his existence to other beings.
    (3) Therefore, Zeus cannot be the being than which none greater can be conceived.
    The premise is logically compelling and unless you have good reason to challenge the intuition that motivates, the argument is valid. Thus, it provides a solid proof for more important questions.
    Unless of course you believe in Zeus, then we have another problem at had, but I’m fairly certain this is not the case
    Bill only need to explain why he believes in what he believes in, not in what he doesn’t believe in.
    He does not have to explain why a tea kettle orbiting the sun does not exist in order to discuss what he does believe exists.
    If however this is you requirement for proof of existence then you are held to the same standard and must give proof that Zeus indeed exist and that belief in Zeus is tenable.
    And the arguments for the existence of other gods is compelling enought to apply formal argument to.
    It’s at this point that I find it extraordinarily unbelievable that someone who has searched the deepest chasms and caves of knowledge has yet to see the difference between the Christian God of the Bible and mythology, or even the differences between the literary criticism of mythology and the Bible.
    But let’s keep going.
    Does a Christian face this quandary? That either he must admit that Zeus (and innumerable other deities) exist or accept that she is hopelessly subjective or deluded in stopping at Yahweh?
    To begin addressing this question, let’s turn from religion to the every day life.
    My wallet is missing. I left it on the dresser and now it’s missing.
    But wait, there it is on the coffee table.
    How do we explain the case of the disappearing/reappearing wallet?
    Logically speaking, there are an infinite number of possiblities.
    Here are three: (1) my memory is flawed and I placed the wallet on the coffee table, not the dresser. (2) An evil spirit moved the wallet. (3) The wallet disappeared into some strange quantum wormhole while an identical wallet spontaneously appeared into existence on the coffee table.
    Since there is an infinite number of options, we can never logically or empirically exclude every possible option. Nonetheless, we can draw some reasonable conclusions about what just happened.
    But we always do so in relation to a cognitive set of beliefs while never even stopping to consider the vast range of other options.
    Let’s say that we conclude (1) is probably correct. We accept it while sensing no obligation to refute (2) and (3). How is it that we exclude (2) and (3) from contemplation?
    Let’s put it like this, it is because they are not live options for us.
    It’s not that we have some logical proof that (2) or (3) could never occur.
    We just don’t take them seriously.
    That which is true in the everyday disappearance of a wallet is also true when scientists formulate hypotheses and construct theories. There is in fact an infinite number of hypotheses that could explain any given phenomenon. But scientist never bothers to regard the vast mass of them because they are not live options for him.
    What I am saying is this, that which is true in the everyday world and in science is true in metaphysics and religion as well.
    A specific range of explanations are not live options for the Christian theist.
    Another set are not live options for an atheist.
    And another set are not live options for the primitive Greek mythologist.
    Much remains to be discussed including the rational grounds for shifting paradigms or worldviews, a question that has been much discussed since the writings of Thomas Kuhn.
    But at the very least we can see that the question posed to the theist: “Why Yahweh and not
    Zeus?” is part of a general question: “Why X and not Y?”
    And that question is faced by everybody all the time.

    But here’s the second part of the problem for you willy.
    Unless there is supernatural work of God by the Holy Spirit in the life of the man, he cannot and will not believe that God is.
    This is where you are, you cannot believe because it has not been given you to believe.
    I wasn’t raised in a religious environment and I did not experience my conversion until later in life.
    I did not just one day decide that believing in God was an acceptable proposition; I was brought to believe by God effectual call.
    It’s that simple for me now, but in the same sense it is absolutely that impossible for you to understand.

    If I tell you that He who believes is not judged, but he who does not believe is judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    I am telling you truth.

    And if I tell you that you face the possibility of eternal punishment, as cruel as that sounds I am also telling you truth.

    If there is no fear of God before your eyes and you see no need of God in your life then you are among the ones who are perishing because the word of the cross is foolishness to you, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    I tell you truth.

  • Nox

    Willie G,

    Thankyou for your response. As i now know your stance on things let me see if i can assist you in anyway and also clarify my position on things.

    My comments to you above were in no way intended to attack you from a christian point of view, my conversations on this blog are simply an expression of my beliefs as a person without any religion involved.

    I can tell you in confidence that any attempt of yours to search for answers to life in this blog will be unsatisfactory, it may be stimulating mentally, and may allow you to grow as far as knowledge is concerned, but it will not bring you happiness, answers, or truth.

    When I said, “you are the truth”

    what I meant is that you as a person are the truth, anything on the level of form only obscures this truth, the bible, quaran or any other book or document which professes to be the truth is ultimately an expression of man and is an attempt to find the meaning to life, but it is not the truth. It may try to point to the truth but it is not the truth. The finger pointing at the moon, is not the moon itself. Nothing you can add to yourself on the level of the intellect, can show you who you are. You are complete and whole already. You could live 300 years on this planet searching for answers in books and from people and still never know who you truly are. I can tell you this, you are not your mind. Trying to feel who you are can get you closer that anything you read in any books including the bible.

    Peace be to you.

  • Pingback: Random Musings()

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    (Bill and all -my spelling and typing was awful! please ignor the frist, and Bill, I would aske you to delete the first. Until then, it will have to stand to encourage my own humility It is almost unreadable!

    ========By the way, Willy, I can appreciate your idea of reading people who disagree with you. I have a couple of atheist blogs I visit from time to time ((Billy)) the Atheist being one, and have found it to my profit. Those guys give no quarter, but on the rare times I post there, the interaction always helps me cut the bs out of my argument, and they have alway treated me with about the same level of respect I give them. I learn very little by only reading people who agree with me. The only danger, Willy, is as true for you as it is for me. And that is to develope a love of debate for its own sake, not as a route to truth upon which I should change my life, but just because it is entertaining. Doing that can lead either one of us to an intellectual, emotional and spiritual life fragmented from our real self, and therefore illusionary. I don’t have much more hope for the eternal existence of the illusionary human than I do for the illusionary unicorn. Probably less – there may yet be real unicorns)
    ========================================

    Willy G. wrote

    Why is it reasonable to believe in the Christian God? Why do all the philosophical / apologetic / experiential arguments lead you to Yawheh and not Allah, Vishnu, Ra, etc? Why is it reasonable to believe in the Christian God?

    Willy (or should I say PhD –for Phillistine Dog? Maybe Willy G., PhD.?)
    I’m afraid I am not going to be able to give you answers that satisfy an intellectual proof. That is largely why I have avoided speaking directly to that issue on this thread. But I will be happy to lay out some of my thoughts.

    My difficulties are several: first, I wish to differ to those who have spent for time with the classical arguments, and suspect both Bill and you surpass me on that score. I am not likely to strike fire where my superior has not.

    Secondly, and probably more to the point, I do not believe such an irrefutable argument for the existence of the Christian God is to be found. This is decidedly not due to any ambivalence on my part: you saw (if you particularly enjoy watching train wrecks) me publicly state that I affirm 95% of our late friends theological statements. I’ll hold to that. I’m as knee-jerk orthodox as anyone. But from what I can see from the statements of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, it doesn’t seem as though a Q.E.D. proof was intended. Paul does indicate in Romans 1 that at least the beginnings can be plainly seen, and that seems evident to me. At the very least, I think we can see that someone/some principle/something is “in charge”, and further, that it ain’t me.

    Lastly, what proofs I do have involve anecdotal evidence. As an undergrad, most of my training was in statistics and experimental design, for an intended academic career in psychological research. That path has been long abandoned, but it did leave a residue of “how do you know what you know, and how does one prove it?” Probably one of the more useful “abandonded” majors anyone could have. But anecdotes are not proof, only suggestions for further research (and more grant money).

    With those disclaimers, I’ll dive in.
    My path has not been terribly different from what you describe. I became a practicing Christian in High school, a committed one in univ., but about 10 years after that, I went through a crisis of faith that compelled me to throw it all away, like a bag of worthless stones. I remember standing at the end of a jetty off of Galveston Island praying to “whoevver is listening, if anyone.” Some six – twelve months latter, when I next took up the issue, I tried to figure out what I did actually believe. I discovered that I was a theist – that I definitely believed that there was a God (and by pretty clear deduction, this meant one and only one, whatever I should call him or it) latter, I found that I believed this entity to be good, and later, that it was personal (meaning having the characteristics of personality, and person-hood, not that he was necessarily connected to ME). This took me close to a year, but having got this far, the whole of Christian orthodoxy came rushing back as if a dam holding it back had broken. This re-affirmation, or re-discovery was both intellectual and emotional. I feel a lot of kinship with your struggle, but where I “bounced off” some bottom, you broke through. That was not due to any virtue in me that you lack; some would see it as me lacking a virtue you possess. But I do not believe it was from within me, and I don’t understand it outside of God’s grace.

    To get more to the question, I take it that your question does not relate to specific deities proposed in other systems (I know v. little about comparative religion, although ignorance is often not an impediment). Rather I see it as a question about Christianity v other religion in abstract – why THIS instead of any other system one could devise?

    And partly, the answer is as subjective as why I married the woman I did.
    I did not read the book, her CV, and say “this proves it – she is the one for me!” Instead, I engaged a process of right foot – left foot, where my advancing intellectual knowledge of her fed my advancing emotional connection, which being found to be reliable so far, led to further exploration and advances in relationship until the point of commitment was reached.

    My belief in God as the Christian story describes Him (and from here forward, I’ll just refer to “God” meaning this whole phrase) is not primarily intellectual at all. But it is also not primarily emotional. It is hand-over-hand leading to an experiential understanding that I believe is central to authentic relationship; and I think that this is what God desires. In fact, I think it almost the prime desire of the universe. I wish I could give mathematical proofs (there are mathematical true things, but I don’t think any of them ‘prove’ God) but I think He intends things to be a little more willful from us, and a little less compelled.

    Working backward, I can by many of the arguments Bill would bring forth, and I think many of them true. Given the starting points I gave from Romans, that God is real, and I am not God, I can develop the doctrine of Trinity, creation, the fall, the restoration, and the ultimate consummation of the last chapters of the Revelation. There are of course, quite a bit that confuses me, but I find that the Biblical narrative holds together as a coherent story from beginning to end, even with all the diversions (like a Russian novel), and that unity both supports and is supported by my emotional experience. I find that, as I explore Christian doctrine, I find it shedding light on all sorts of experiences in this world, from sexuality to agriculture. I find that, like the sun, God is hard to look at. But by the sun, I can see everything else more clearly. And, if there truly is a trancendent, self-existant being who created all things including the very fabric of space and time itself, this is exactly what one should expect to find.

    Still working backwards, if this God I posit above wishes to relate to us, then it would have to be in one of two fashions: a) Shakespeare must put something into Hamlet’s head about the author, or b) Shakespeare must write himself into the story. And Christianity’s claim is that God did exactly that: revelation and incarnation.

    Willy, I could go on ad nauseum in the same fashion, but my point is either made or not by now. There is much that I don’t understand. After some 35 years, I am just beginning to see something of the mystery of how the death of Jesus and his resurrection is of personal benefit to me. I’ve long accepted it, but I am just starting to understand it a little, like a 2nd year physics student and quantum mechanics.

    I believe in the Christian God because I heard a little, and asked him “is this true?” I understood that answer to that question as something like “come and see” I go back and forth between learning and experiencing, and should trust neither one, anymore than I should try to get down the road by hopping. The more I have understood and accepted the Christian story, the more sense this world, my place and your place, and everything else seems to make. If this story is indeed central to existence, I could expect no less. But I honestly do believe that there is relationship at the bottom of it; that God intends nothing less than the healing of this creation and us relating to him as in a marriage. Everything I have submitted to that framework fits, and is illuminated by it. That is why I believe it. That is why I believe there is great good to come for all who will accept it.

  • Nox

    R. Eric Sawyer and Willie G..

    A book I found that completely changed the way I perceived the world and life, Is one called A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.

    I highly recommend it, it may change your life in so many ways for the better. If I had to pick anyone book in the world which could be considered to be the closest to truth and the most important book, it would have to be this one.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    And so the introducing of heresy to Gods people continues.

    Your doing a great Job here Bill & Eric.

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful response (both of them :) ). You have treated me respectfully and with dignity. You are a gentleman and I am thankful. I would like to respond to your comments. I need a little down time this evening, so I will be back with you as soon as I can.

    Peace

  • Willie G

    Nox,

    I am pleased that you have found information that you have found fullfilling. Though I have not read Tolle’s book I have read reviews of it. I can say that I find New Age philosophy far less compelling than even old age orthodoxy.

    Thank you for the recommendation though. At least you are making offers in the desire to assist rather than banishing me to the depths of hell.

    Peace to you.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    willy.when you tire of playing with the children in the market place you can challenge me.

  • Willie G

    DOTW,

    you said: “when you tire of playing with the children in the market place you can challenge me”

    I can tell from your last long post that you have some decent thoughts hidden under your cloak of indoctrination. When you can assure me that you are willing to approach me with respect and common decency I will engage with you. Until then you are nothing more than a troll trying to stir the pot.

    Your call.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Willie,
    I may have said this here already before …I’m not sure.
    But let me say it again,
    Humility is something often feigned in men, it is a humility that lowers itself in order to raise itself.
    You should know this…your religious experience should testify to this.
    And it is always an attempt to bring a person under the control of another person.
    That type of humility is foreign to me…I do not play by the rules of unbelievers, nor the kosmos diabolicus, and I do not make deals with devils.
    You want slick pretty answers about pretty worlds…then stick with Eric and Bill.
    You may engage me as I am…if you are forthright I will be forthright, it is that simple.
    There is no cloak of indoctrination…I am a servant of my Lord Jesus Christ.
    I am a bad person, a very bad man, a sinner saved by Grace.
    Apart from Christ there is no good in me.
    I did not trade my brain or my logic and intellect for the Holy Spirit.
    When God called me he did not strip away my humanity, I am a new creature indeed, but the “old man” remains.
    There is some here including my pious brothers, who see your unbelief as more of a “virtue” than the sin that it is.
    This is not my case…I’m not selling fire insurance.
    Salvation is not something I feel, it is something I know.
    I don’t use charismatic clichés to express my belief.
    You call me fundamental…and that’s fine…we need fundamentals..because, well..they are fundamental.
    So called Christians have no problem using biblical language when it suits their purpose, when they are comfortable in their little boats in safe harbors.
    They will call abortion “murder” alluding to the fact that women who commit such acts are guilty of such crimes and are indeed worthy of this accusation.
    And I do not disagree with that.
    Liars, thieves, drunkards, adulterers, sexual immorals, sinners, etc etc…are all acceptable terms in their congregations.
    But when I speak of Sin, Judgment, Punishment, and Hell as a reality in the real world…they shrink back in horror.
    Ask yourself this Willie…what book are they reading?
    Though our belief systems are worlds apart…and I am right and you are wrong…we will find common ground in the fact that I hate effeminate religiosity and churchianity…and the pretentious creepism that so often passes itself off as Christian.
    It is no wonder the world does not take us serious…why should they?
    I’m a believer and I don’y take the majority of what I see in the ekklesia serious.
    If I told you “I loved you” or that “I want to share the love of Jesus with you” would you be more comfortable with me?
    I’m not about to tell you that “God loves you” or that “God has a very special plan for your life” since that very well may not be true.
    I am a real person, living in a real place, in a real time.
    As were and are all of Gods people.
    I don’t wear white robes, have a halo, or float 6 inches off the ground.
    If you are earnestly looking for truth then you will find it with me…but I will not shrink from declaring to you the entire counsel of God.
    I can take the blows…they come with the job.

  • Willie G

    DOTW,

    So clearly your answer is no.

    May all that life has to offer be yours. May all peace and joy rest upon you. It is my greatest desire that all the desires of your heart be fulfilled and that you and all you love prosper. Peace be unto you.

    I bid you farwell.

  • Willie G

    excuse me, farewell. :)

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    You said: “…what proofs I do have involve anecdotal evidence…. My training was in statistics and experimental design…. [It left] a residue of “how do you know what you know, and how does one prove it?” But anecdotes are not proof, only suggestions for further research….”

    Let me offer some statistics which illustrate the difficulty of my question:

    There are estimated to be over 4200 religions worldwide. Of these there are now recognized 12 major religions (criteria being: large number of adherents, widespread reaching multiple countries, independent distinctness from other religions, possessing a body of doctrine [scripture or holy book], still in practice today). Christianity is largest world religion today with over 2 billion adherents.

    See: http://www.theologicalstudies.org/classicalreligionlist.html

    It is estimated that worldwide there are over 34,000 Christian denominations with greater than 15,000 being recognized by the IRS for tax-exempt status in the United States alone.

    See: http://www.goshen.edu/news/pressarchive/02-25-08-roth-folo.html

    The religions of the world are dispersed across the globe in very specific cultural and societal divisions, highly influenced by historical, political and socioeconomic dispersal routes.

    See: http://www.worldreligions.psu.edu/maps-introduction.htm

    While none of these facts are intended to be proof of any philosophical position, they clearly point to the difficulty of answering my question of reasonableness. You speak of anecdotal evidence and experiential and emotional knowledge but can you point to any evidence to demonstrate that had you not been born and raised in the United States or some other culturally Christian society that you would still have anecdotal evidence for the Christian God. I would proffer that had you been born in Saudi Arabia, Iran or Iraq you would have anecdotal evidence of the true presence of Allah. Had you been born in India the evidence would be to Vishnu.

    But lets focus just on Christianity. You have stated earlier that you used to be of one denomination and now you identify as Anglican (I think). While your particular denomination is more on the liberal end of the continuum, as has been loudly demonstrated in this thread there are others counted in the 34,000 or more other denominations that hold you not to be a Christian at all. I may be castigated as the Philistine Dog and the spawn of Satan, but I’m reasonably sure the DOTW considers you my next door neighbor (so keep the noise down over there!). So why is it reasonable that you have “Anglican” anecdotal evidence other than that is what your unique cultural, geographical, educational experience imposed upon you.

    DOTW is convinced 100% that he is of the “true” faith, because his interpretation of his holy book is correct. I’m fairly confident that we could find between 15,000 and 33,000 just as sincere, passionate and outspoken folks that disagree with him in favor of their “true” faith and interpretation of the holy book.
    But now step outside of that demise and add that there are 11 other major world religions all possessing their unique holy books as handed down by their unique holy gods. Multiply that by the thousands of sects contained in those religions (not to mention the 4188 minor world religions) all being influential culturally, socially and most important geographically, and suddenly my question is virtually impossible to answer.

    In short, I would hypothesize that you are a Christian in general, and an Anglican in particular because you want to be. You find it, as Bill has said, “intellectually stimulating” and the practice of it has brought you a feeling of peace and security and it helps you be a good member of society and do good works for your fellow man. Plus, it allows you to formulate answers for questions that you have not been able to answer otherwise (viz. meaning and purpose of life, death, afterlife etc.).

    I wish I had one big point to make here, but I don’t, because as I stated to Nox, I’m not trying to convert anybody to anything and I don’t care what you believe. You can believe whatever you want. I’m really trying to help those of you do believe understand the difficulty of why I don’t (other than being a hell-spawn philistine dog of course).

    I hope that you will address my statements and continue to work out your thinking for why you believe it is reasonable to believe in the Christian God. I think all Christians could benefit from the process, and who knows maybe I can to. Although my little corner of hell is quite comfortable at the moment.

    Peace to you Eric

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    I love it! Willie G, PhD!

    I repsonded to you a moment ago, but I included some links and it got kicked into Bill’s queue for moderation. Hopefully he will approve it shortly.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    So the first thing I want to ask willy is whether or not he is comparing the comparable.

    willy goes straight from Saudi Arabian Muslims to American Christianity as if there were no material difference at all.

    But the truth is this.
    Saudi Arabia is a theocracy.
    Islam is the state religion.
    It’s the creed of the media, education, and court system alike.

    Furthermore, in Saudi Arabia they have a tiny matter called the law of apostasy.
    This means that if you openly defect from the faith, the state will free of charge take you to a barbershop and administers you rather radical haircut with a straight razor.
    They shaves everything away from the neck up—hair, skin, muscle, bone, arteries—the works.

    So don’t you think that these two factors might just possibly account for the statistical correspondence to which willy tries to draws our attention?

    And, needless to say, we have the very same type of religious social conditioning in the US as they have in Saudi Arabia, right?
    Wrong.
    Instead of judging things on a case-by-case basis, and bringing what we already to know bear, willy wants us to feign that we can know nothing, and we should treat every religion the same even though we know every religion is obviously not the same.
    Can you see that through the underlying posing of studied neutral antiseptic skepticism that willy has already taken sides?
    This is not an objective test. This is a test where an atheist is attempting to stack the deck.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Willie,
    I can finally pick up on our conversation, as my son’s baseball games have been rain delayed! I would like to start with your statement:

    “This leaves us with nothing but empirical data. Since empirical data of the supernatural is non-existent then the only non-delsusional conclusion is agnosticism. I have no knowledge of gods or anything supernatural.”

    It seems that you grant the force of the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments, but you deny that they can lead to a supernatural being, as supernatural beings cannot be empirically known. So I think this is a core issue for us to discuss. It seems that you are setting an epistemic boundary for yourself, that anything that you cannot directly see, touch, taste, smell, or hear probably does not exist. Or, to believe in anything that you cannot directly see, touch, taste, smell, or hear is delusional.

    I find this to be a very curious way of looking at the world, as there are many things we cannot directly empirically detect that we nonetheless posit as existing: the mind, moral values, laws of logic, the concept of truth, sub-atomic particles, multiple universes, and so forth. I doubt that you deny the existence of all of these things.

    Would you agree that the following statement is self-defeating? “Only what can be known by science or quantified and empirically tested is rational and true.” That statement itself cannot be empirically tested, so does that make it false? It is a statement about science, not of science. Clearly there is more to reality than what we can empirically test.

    How would we have rational grounds to believe in the supernatural? Well, we look at ourselves and the world around us, and we ask, “Are there effects we see that demand a cause that is like God?” We work from effect to cause, which is just the same way we approach many things in life. Some effects demand causes that are truly exceptional. When we think about the cause of the universe, the cause of the complex conditions necessary for human life, for the existence of morality, for the existence of human consciousness, we are pushed beyond the standard material causes that can explain most things.

    At this point, do we just throw our hands up and say, “Oh well. These things demand some kind of awesome cause, but we have never seen this kind of cause directly, so we must remain ignorant.” No! Because we have background information. Virtually every human has an innate sense of the supernatural; we have numerous alleged historical accounts of humans interacting with supernatural beings. Maybe the explanation for the awesome cause lies here.

    I look forward to your response!

    Speak to you soon,
    Bill

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Willy implies that belief is merely a choice, that a person can simply will himself to believe in any one proposition.
    That Christians simply will their selves, or choose to believe.
    So here’s a little experiment for willy,…will yourself to believe.
    Choose to believe in the Christian God or any god for that matter.
    Choose just for a while, it’s a choice, a simple flipping of the switch, you can turn it off later just like you did before.

  • Bill Pratt

    Nox,
    With regard to your last comment to Willie, you said “anything on the level of form only obscures this truth, the bible, quaran or any other book or document which professes to be the truth is ultimately an expression of man and is an attempt to find the meaning to life, but it is not the truth.”

    I am not trying to be a smart alec, but you have said that Tolle’s book is one of the best you’ve read, and you seem to be repeating ideas from his book. But you told Willie that no book contains the truth. I see this kind of thinking all the time in the New Age/pantheist religious sphere. They will tell you that reality is an illusion, but forget that they are assuming reality is real at least long enough to tell you that it’s an illusion. They will tell you that truth is elusive, except for the truths they are communicating to you.

    You said, “Trying to feel who you are can get you closer that anything you read in any books including the bible.” But what if Willie or I perform this test, and we feel that in ourselves that the Bible is correct, or that New Age teachings are wrong. Would we still be getting closer to the truth?

  • Nox

    hi Bill,

    You clearly aren’t trying to be a smart alec, because if u had read and understood my comments correctly, you would have noticed that I said religious and spiritual books at best point to the truth but is not the truth itself, (this applies to Eckhart tolle’s books as well). The fact that I found it very helpful and one of the most influential books in my life, doesnt mean I claim it to be the ultimate truth, which is clearly what most christians do with the bible. Just like thefinger pointing at the moon is not the moon, books claiming to be the ultimate truth are not the truth itself, and are at best guidelines.

    Now from your comment above, I can tell you havent really read many spiritual books outside the realm of christianity.

    ” I see this kind of thinking all the time in the New Age/pantheist religious sphere. They will tell you that reality is an illusion, but forget that they are assuming reality is real at least long enough to tell you that it’s an illusion. They will tell you that truth is elusive, except for the truths they are communicating to you.”

    How many New Age/pantheist books have you actually read? In relation to A New Earth, if you actually read the book itself, instead of reviews which dont even talk about what the book is actually about. There is nothing new age about it all. In fact, alot of the book adopts teachings from the bible, in particular, Jesus himself. Like I said in previous comments to you , the book is not about religion or any new age belief system. My advice to you is read the book before you make comments about it. It would be like me reading a review about the bible where it says that “I am a jealous god”and thinking well thats all I need to know, forget about anything essential the bible may have, Im going to judge it on this basis and on how critics think about it. Read it youself, form your own opinions and then talk to me about it. If you do read it, try not to read it in the search for something that is contrary to your christian beliefs, just read it as if it were a story and with an open mind.

    “But what if Willie or I perform this test, and we feel that in ourselves that the Bible is correct, or that New Age teachings are wrong. Would we still be getting closer to the truth?”

    The whole purpose of trying to feel who you are, is to try and create a cessation in your thought processes. Ive already been through how books are not the truth, so from this you should be able to extrapolate that if books are not truth, then words cannot be truth. Any though in your head, or idea, is ultimately a word. So when you feel who you are, it would not be possible to think that christianity is good or bad, in reality you would not be able to think in general. Thoughts may come into your state of consciousness, but you are able to see them as just thoughts and nothing more than that. This is what I meant when I said Feeling gets you closer to the truth than anything you read on the level of form.

    On its deepest level, it is not possible to know who you are mentally. You may believe that your name and beliefs form who you are, yet someone who is completely blind, mute, and deaf all their life can still feel who they really are even though not knowing mentally. This is what Jesus meant when he said “be still and know that I am God” He didnt mean to sit or stand still and think that he is god, this would not make any sense. He meant be still mentally, stop the mind, feel that you are god. Jesus also said that “the kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here, it is!’or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of heaven is in the midst of you.” Jesus was trying to tell them at the time that the kingdom of heaven is available to them in the present moment. Read a few of the bible versees on Jesus again whiere he makes his statements, you may find that Jesus makes the stament, and his disciples add on what the interpret him to be saying…give it a go and check yourself.

  • Nox

    Willie G,

    just a random question, stripping away anything to do with religion, do you believe there is a higher being( and dont think jesus or picture a man or spirit for that matter), Ive noticed that you seem to think that my position in this blog is defending a supernatural entity in religions in general.

    Do you believe, that the world was created by mere coincidence and/or through narural selection. I think in assessing what to believe in, you should first go through an incrermental assessment of what it is you believe and dont believe, in science, religion and from a purely theist view.

    So what exactly is it believe in and dont believe?

  • Nox

    I apologize for the appalling spelling mistakes in both comments

  • Bill Pratt

    Nox,
    Thanks for the response. I haven’t read many New Age books completely through, but I have sampled them and I have interacted with many people who come from this spiritual school.

    You said, “Ive already been through how books are not the truth, so from this you should be able to extrapolate that if books are not truth, then words cannot be truth.”

    This statement is self-refuting. If I could re-phrase what you said to make it more clear, especially the last phrase: “It is true that words cannot be truth.” Do you see how this doesn’t make sense? You are using words to say that words are not true; you are using words to express truth. It is impossible to escape words as carriers of truth. If a writer like Tolle really believes that truth cannot be found in words, then why does he write so many books?

    I am not saying that all truth is found in propositions and words. Obviously our internal mental states are important and reveal truth to us. But you seem to be trying to deny that words carry any truth, and yet you are writing a lot of words to express what you think is true. Does this make sense? Am I misunderstanding you? (always possible!)

  • Willie G

    Hi Bill,

    Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend. I was busy with friends and family, so I’m a little delayed with my response here.

    You said: “It seems that you grant the force of the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments, but you deny that they can lead to a supernatural being, as supernatural beings cannot be empirically known.”

    I was making a rhetorical statement, as in “if I grant the force of… etc.” I did not want to get sidetracked with the classic arguments for the existence of gods as I knew they would distract us from the central tenet of my argument. As I stated in a previous post, I do not find the classic arguments effective. They have been bantered about by philosophers for ages with little effect. Each new generation has to muddle through their complexity with scores of new thinkers rediscovering the classic premises and conclusions only to end up with the same stale-mate that the previous generation ended with.

    So let me reiterate what I said before, if for the sake of our discussion I was to grant that these classic arguments carry some weight for the evidence of gods, that is all that they would do; provide evidence that “something” or “some god” could possibly exist. They do not in any form or fashion establish compelling evidence for the christian god with any weight greater than for any other god. You know where I’m going here Bill, back to my original question. Why the Christian God?

    You said: “ It seems that you are setting an epistemic boundary for yourself, that anything that you cannot directly see, touch, taste, smell, or hear probably does not exist. Or, to believe in anything that you cannot directly see, touch, taste, smell, or hear is delusional.”

    I do not take issue with your characterization here. Science in general and the scientific methodology in particular has well established that what cannot be demonstrated evidentially are either non-existent, or beyond our ability to know. That is clearly why science does not deal in the realm of possibility, but rather probability. If I can’t see, touch, taste, smell, or hear a thing (1st order experience), nor see, touch, taste, smell or hear evidence of a thing (2nd order experience), then although it may be possible for that thing to exist, it is not probable. There is no reason to invest oneself in what is not probable. I have no 1st or 2nd order evidence of either leprechauns or unicorns. Could they possibly exist? Yes. Is it probable based on the evidence I have? No. So why bother.

    You said: “I find this to be a very curious way of looking at the world, as there are many things we cannot directly empirically detect that we nonetheless posit as existing: the mind, moral values, laws of logic, the concept of truth, sub-atomic particles, multiple universes, and so forth. I doubt that you deny the existence of all of these things.”

    Bill I can’t help but think you are playing word games here, or being disingenuous so as to dodge my question. I don’t want to get drawn into a battle of semantics. I am being straight forward with you and telling you exactly what I think. I find your statement a little silly. The mind, moral values, laws of logic and the concept of truth are all the products of natural physical processes within the brain. Our ability to conceive of them is a by-product of our humanity; our ability for higher order thinking. As for sub-atomic particles, multiple universes, etc. you know as well as I do that much of advanced science is highly speculative and hypothetical as mankind and science searches for knowledge and understanding. This line of thinking is getting us nowhere.

    You said: “How would we have rational grounds to believe in the supernatural? Well, we look at ourselves and the world around us, and we ask, “Are there effects we see that demand a cause that is like God?” We work from effect to cause, which is just the same way we approach many things in life.”

    You are making an attempt at the scientific method here, but in my opinion are falling short. You are proposing a post-modern methodology and attempting to overlay an ancient worldview. You are simply proposing a “god of the gaps.” In other words, anything that you or I or science cannot yet explain must demand god as the answer. I am not here rejecting god, I am rejecting your conclusion. We are back to my question. Why is it necessary to interject god into the answer for a currently unsolved question. And in particular, even if that is the route you find that you must take, then why the Christian God? So I would answer your question with a very large NO. Rather than hypothesize an unfalsifiable conclusion, why not rest comfortably in stating that as of right now we do not know the answer. We may never know the answer. But together humanity will continue to search.

    You said: “Some effects demand causes that are truly exceptional. When we think about the cause of the universe, the cause of the complex conditions necessary for human life, for the existence of morality, for the existence of human consciousness, we are pushed beyond the standard material causes that can explain most things.”

    You are absolutely right, and as Christopher Hitchens stated, “exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.” Why is it reasonable just to fill in the blank with something that is unfalsifiable because you don’t have an answer yet. Yes, we are pushed beyond the standard material causes that can explain most things. That’s why we do know. That’s why agnosticism becomes the default position.

    You said: “At this point, do we just throw our hands up and say, “Oh well. These things demand some kind of awesome cause, but we have never seen this kind of cause directly, so we must remain ignorant.”
    Absolutely not! Humanity will continue to strive and seek and find. We as a species will never acquiesce to the unknown. We will continue to march forward in the face of mystery, and seek the answers that will be found in the natural world, the only thing that we can experience and know. If gods exist, we can only know them in the natural, because that is what we are and that is where we exist.

    You said: “No! Because we have background information. Virtually every human has an innate sense of the supernatural…”

    I would state that every human has an innate genetic drive to know. We all want to understand, and to sense that we have a purpose and that life has meaning. I am of the mind that humanity invented religion to answer that question, not the other way around.

    You said: “we have numerous alleged historical accounts of humans interacting with supernatural beings. Maybe the explanation for the awesome cause lies here.”

    Alleged is the optimal word. You don’t believe any of the modern alleged accounts of interacting with supernatural beings. Why do believe the ancient ones. Don’t make me go into all the alleged supernatural events going on in our modern world. I know you are aware of the claims and I know that you either deny them out of hand or are extremely skeptical. All I am saying is that to be an honest seeker of truth you must apply that same degree of healthy skepticism to your own deeply held beliefs.

    So to conclude, I am really asking you not for an argument, but rather to understand your point of view. Let me put it in evangelical church terms. What is your testimony? Why do you believe? You said you find Christianity to be intellectually satisfying; why is that? Why is it reasonable to believe in the Christian God, and not any of the other 4800 major and minor world religions and their associated gods?

    Thanks for your willingness to continue the discussion.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Willie,
    I want to pick up again on this idea of empirical evidence. I think you’re dismissing this point too quickly. Virtually everyone believes that minds exist, that real moral values exists, that laws of logic exist, but nobody can directly see, touch, taste, smell, or hear those things. We infer their existence by looking at the world around us with our five senses and then working back from effect to cause; we infer non-material things from material things.

    We cannot actually see electrons, but virtually everyone believes they exist because we see their effects. Again, effect to cause. When we find effects that demand a supernatural cause, why shut the door on that option? Why is it so hard to believe that a Mind is behind this world? We have no trouble believing minds exist, so why rule out The Mind?

    I see things in the world that demand a cause which is very much like God. I reject agnosticism as the default position as I think there is ample philosophical, scientific, historical, and experiential data to conclude that the Christian God really exists. The accumulation of all of the data pushes me inexorably to this conclusion.

    Let me try to put it another way. I see effects around me that demand a supernatural cause. The kind of cause that is necessary fits the description of a theistic God. I look to the historical evidence surrounding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and I find it to be quite good. He claimed to be the unique representative of God, and he proved it by his resurrection (a well attested historical event). That’s how I find my way to Jesus.

    Leaving aside the intellectual rationale, I have found, experientially, that whenever I adjust my life to the principles taught by Jesus, I find greater peace, greater comfort, greater wisdom, and greater love for my fellow man. All of the virtues that humans seek in each other are brought out more and more as I conform my life to Jesus. For me, Christianity works. It is practical. That doesn’t prove it’s true, but ultimately when we conform our thoughts and behaviors to the way the world really is, things will go better for us. The person who refuses to believe that cars drive in front of his house will only survive so long while blindly walking into the street every day. If Jesus is really God, the sooner we get on board, the better our lives will be.

    Is this making sense or am I still missing the mark?

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    I’m sorry, but this is just a spurious argument. You seem to be taking conceptual entities that are products of the neurological processes of the human brain and assigning some kind of physical existence to them. Higher order thinking is a mental process unique to the physical anatomical functioning of the human brain. To anthropomorphize the existence of these processes and equate physical existence just does not follow. There is no inference required and none necessary. We are not starting with the concept and moving to the neurological workings of the brain, but rather vice versa. We understand, if only partially, the firing of synapses to activate the neural processing that takes place in the brain. This is the cause that produces the effect of higher order reasoning unique to human beings. Non material simply does not mean non-natural, and certainly not supernatural. The analogy is weak. You are not going to move me on this point.

    Your example of electrons is stronger, though your conclusion is just as spurious. Only the casual reader of atomic theory accepts the existence of electrons as fact. The existence of protons, electrons and neutrons is speculative and hypothetical based on very sound scientific reasoning. It is a best guess based on the solid experimental data that atomic science has been able to produce. Science in all cases accepts the possibility of the need to alter or even abandon long held hypotheses in the event any experimental condition falsifies the currently accepted hypothetical condition. To analogize from a hypothesis of electrons which we cannot see, taste, touch, smell to “effects that demand a supernatural cause” breaks down. You are jumping from solid experimental scientific methodology with decades of proven results that have produced practical application in chemistry, pharmaceuticals, atomic energy, etc. to trying to equate it to non-verifiable, non-testable, non-falsifiable claims of the existence of supernatural entities. I am not finding this line of thinking reasonable in the least.

    You said: “I see things in the world that demand a cause which is very much like God.”

    And I would ask you for specific examples, and extraordinary evidence to support that extraordinary claim. You simply don’t have an answer, so you are assigning agency.

    You said: “I think there is ample philosophical, scientific, historical, and experiential data to conclude that the Christian God really exists. The accumulation of all of the data pushes me inexorably to this conclusion.”

    This is why I am still here talking with you. I challenge you to back up this claim. Please show me “scientific” evidence for the existence of God. And I will hold you to proper methodology. Show me historical evidence for the existence of the Christian God that is any more relevant than historical claims of any other religion for any other gods. There is simply no such thing as philosophical or experiential data worth discussing. Philosophy is simply a means of organizing complex thinking into bodies of knowledge. If your starting premises are false your whole philosophy crumbles. I have been telling you from the beginning that I don’t accept your initial premises. I am begging you to explain your premises and convince me why your philosophy is reasonable. Experiential data is meaningless because it is nothing more than sheer subjectivity that is open to various and sundry personal interpretations.

    Your next line of reason is strictly southern USA conservative evangelical theology. This is of no consequence to the skeptical world. You claim the “right” interpretation of your scriptures. The other 15,000 to 34,000 protestant denominations claim their “right” interpretation as well. There are as many diverse views of the historical Jesus and the events of his life as there are denominations. Your appeal to your particular theology carries little weight.

    And finally you want to “leave aside the intellectual rationale.” Although this is the only thing that I have asked you for, an explanation for why believing in the Christian God is reasonable. But OK, I’ll go with it. I believe this is really the heart of your argument. Experientially you find Christianity to be a positive experience. You like it. It is satisfying personally, socially, practically and morally. It has helped you be a good person and feel good about yourself. You believe it helps you live a decent life.

    OK, I have no problem with that. But guess what, I have all of that as well. I have found all of that same positive experiential data exists for my life outside of the church and belief in god. I have found total freedom to love life and my fellow man and to excel as a socially fulfilled human being by throwing off the shackles of religion. And I have a great added benefit; no more fear, no more guilt, no more worry about anything. Living life moment by moment day by day, making the most of this life here and now is extremely gratifying and fulfilling.

    Please, help me see how I am missing the mark, as you say, because I’m just not seeing the reasonableness here.

    Thanks

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    willy say’s that science involves experimentation, but why is experimentation a rational
    way of discovering true information about reality?
    He must explain why he belives this in order to make a rational defense of his beliefs.
    willy says that he believes in science and in experimentation, does that mean
    that he uses the scientific method himself to discover all that he thinks he knows about reality?
    Or, does he believe what scientists tell him that they have discovered by the scientific method? If that is the case, is he really believing in science, or in the testimony of
    scientists?

    Willy say’s: “Experiential data is meaningless because it is nothing more than sheer subjectivity that is open to various and sundry personal interpretations.”
    All of willy’s claims are experiential.
    willy claims are meaningless.

  • Willie G

    “but why is experimentation a rational way of discovering true information about reality?”

    Wow. That’s all, just wow.

  • Willie G

    Nox,

    Sorry for the delayed response. The holiday weekend and lengthy responses to Bill has slowed my response time.

    You asked: “stripping away anything to do with religion, do you believe there is a higher being…?”

    You are basically asking me to encapsulate the results of a life-long search into a yes or no response. I can’t honestly do that. At this point in my life I will concede the possibility of something. It is theoretically possible that a higher power could exist. I do not think it is probable. I am open to the presentation of falsifiable evidence. I am not an atheist. I do not positively proclaim “there are no gods.” Rather, I have no knowledge of the existence of the supernatural. Therefore I am agnostic.

    Nox, I am not discounting your question here, but out of respect for Bill’s blog I am not going to address your question regarding creation, natural selection, etc. I believe it is tangential to the thread and would take us off topic.

    As far as me going “through an incremental assessment of what it is [I] believe and don’t believe…” you can trust me when I say that this is what I do every day of my life. That is why I’m agnostic. Every previously held religious belief has been thoroughly examined in the light of reason and has fallen short. But I continually seek out others with well reasoned thoughts that may have me retest and reconsider my previous conclusions. I am not only skeptical of Bill’s beliefs, I’m skeptical of my own.

    Peace to you.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Willy, I have not forgoten your question to me; having visited “a little corner of hell,” my schedule decided to stay.
    But re:
    ====================================
    ” ‘but why is experimentation a rational way of discovering true information about reality? ‘
    Wow. That’s all, just wow.”
    =====================
    I don’t know that anyone is nessesarily claiming that experimentation is NOT a rational way of discovering true information (BTW, that would not imply that it is a universal tool for producing such results. The fact that a hammer may be the only tool in my toolbox does not imply that it is the best or only tool for driving screws)

    I would rather take it that “experimentation as a rational and effective tool” cannot come down from Mt Sinai , unless one wants to assert “divine revelation” as the underpinnings of science. For what it’s worth, I’m OK with that. I think that phrase limited and limiting, but not wrong.

    More likely, we have to avoid taking science as a given, else we are subject to all your doubts about religion.
    What then are the underlying supports to scientific method and experimentation as ueseful tools?

    One is that I asume the universe is rational. I can make no headway unless I take that as a baseline. But so taking it, because it is useful, is a long way from proving it or demonstrating why it should be so.

    Another foundational idea is the idea of causality. Things happen for a reason. (Please forgive me for basic scientific phlosophy, I expect you know these things) Is this normative, or simply discriptive? Is there a distinction between the two? Is causality universally operative? if so, how do we avoid B.F. Skinner’s (among others) idea that even our “rational thought” is simply conditioning?

    If “science” is taken as a bedrock assertion on it’s own, it becomes a semi-religious idea, subject to all the weak points for which you call religion to task. It also needs to answer for them.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    “wow” is that your answer?

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Let’s ask willy this “is logic a priori or a posteriori to science and experimentation?”

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    Thank you for your voice of reason here in this forum. You and Bill have continually addressed my questions with respect and goodwill. From one human to another that is greatly appreciated.

    I think your comment overall is very broad and will be difficult to adequately respond to as you have crossed boundaries of many disciplines (scientific methodology, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy, theology, etc.). So I will make an attempt to zero in on what I think is pertinent to the overall discussion (please let me know if you think I have missed your intent).

    You said: “[A] foundational idea is the idea of causality. Things happen for a reason…. Is this normative, or simply descriptive? Is there a distinction between the two? Is causality universally operative? If so, how do we avoid B.F. Skinner’s (among others) idea that even our “rational thought” is simply conditioning?”
    I want to make three points based upon your entire response, but using the above quote as the starting point:

    1. It is outside the capacity human reason to prove the existence of entities or events outside of the natural world.

    Causality is a foundational ideal, or law if you will. However causality breaks down at the point of “infinite regress.” It is outside our natural ability to establish the truth or untruth of an uncaused cause. Science limits itself to the observable natural world and speculates (guesses, hypothesizes) what else there may be based on those observations.

    2. Genetics, social-conditioning, innate psychological biases, survival instinct prevent us from ever possessing absolute certainty about anything, therefore everything is to be scrutinized.

    I am very much in line with B.F. Skinner and many of the existentialist philosophers. We are all biased, conditioned, genetically and environmental predisposed to certain understandings. The only way we have any hope to overcome is to rationally question everything, all truth claims must fall under scrutiny and the more rational the methodology used for this process the more sure we can be that we have eliminated (or at least barricaded) our conditioning.

    3. Science and the scientific method have proven to be the most reliable method for obtaining an understanding of the natural world and the humans that live in it as part of that natural world. Science is consistently and steadfastly making mistake after mistake, failure after failure, false conclusion after false conclusion. As a result of this process of elimination the antiquated falsehoods of the past are tumbling one by one. The workings of the natural world are being discovered, documented and leveraged. The myths of ancient civilizations are being refuted and replaced with observable, tested hard data. Superstition has eroded for the last 500 years to the point that religious belief pre-enlightenment is not even recognizable to the religious of today. Agnosticism, skepticism and scientific scrutiny have taught irrefutably the wisdom that nothing is undeserving of the critical and questioning eye.

    So Eric, I ask you, in the light of the fast advance of science and it’s impact upon the knowledge base of the world, what other method seems reasonable to you to ascertain some semblance of truth?

  • Willie G

    DOTW,

    So now I suppose you want to stop using the Bible as your bludgeoner and start using Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Either way you are still a disrespectful Troll and I will not engage with you beyond calling you out as a Troll.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Nope…I’m still bludgeoning you with the Bible…it’s called the mind of Christ.

    Since all things came into being through Him (God) and apart from HIm (God) nothing came into being that has come into being.
    I would be quite in line with scripture to ask you this question.

    Answer the question “is logic a priori or a posteriori to science and experimentation?”

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    “a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response”..

    Do you think your constant referring to me as a “troll” would qualify as “an inflammatory statement internet on provoking me into a desired response?”

    Does that not also qualify you also a troll?

  • Willie G

    Not at all. Just calling it as I see it. You are a troll.

  • Willie G

    So here is an idea. You stop being disrespectful and I’ll stop calling you a troll. Deal?

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    No deals…answer the question “is logic a priori or a posteriori to science and experimentation?”

  • Willie G

    So that’s the second chance I’ve given you to be respectful, and again you refuse. So you get nothing from me. NO SOUP FOR YOU!

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Thats the cowards way out.

  • Willie G

    Call it what you will. Until you can give me the common respect deserving of one human to another I will not waste my time or breath on you.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    You know what…maybe your right.

    It might be wiser for you to remain quiet and to be thought a fool, rather than to open your mouth and prove it.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    How come the “sensitive willy” is not over at youtube…the atheist over there write poems to each other.

  • Willie G

    Keep it up DOTW. Your words neither hurt me nor change my decision not to interact with you. In fact the only thing you are accomplishing is discrediting Bill and making the mission of his blog a farce. You are very juvenile at best, and no one here is amused. You discredited yourself from your first post. Now you’re just making a mockery of the whole website and the belief system it purports to defend.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Oh Sure, invoke the “you insult Bill” card, how intellectually masculine of you.
    LOL…if you knew how many laughs I get from you.
    Your concerned with the honor of a sight that pushes a Christian agenda and belief in the God you claim is a “deleterious delusion”?
    I think i just saw a monkey flight out of your rear.
    LOL!!!…are you for real?…maybe you don’t exist…perhaps I really should reevaluate my position on belief systems.
    LOL…!
    Go ahead and cry out to Bill in hope that he will come along and make me go away so you can pursue your atheist manifesto.
    You keep refusing to respond to me, yet you respond repeatedly with air.

    Stop all the self pity and just answer the question: “is logic a priori or a posteriori to science and experimentation?”

  • Willie G

    This is all you will get from me, air as you say. You are truly not worth any more effort than that. Go ahead, say something else to make yourself look even more foolish.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    2Co 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
    4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
    5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
    6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

  • Willie G

    oh you got me there… next

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    I geuss I’ve poked the atheist with a stick enough for one day.

    I’ll come back later to check on your progress willy.

  • Willie G

    Good riddance

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    One last thought..since you demand I treat you as a human.

    My “holy book” says your not at all like a human.

    Jude 1:10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.
    2Pe 2:12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,
    13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.

    So biblicaly speaking I am under no obligation to treat with the dignity of human.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    1. It is outside the capacity human reason to prove the existence of entities or events outside of the natural world.

    Causality is a foundational ideal, or law if you will. However causality breaks down at the point of “infinite regress.” It is outside our natural ability to establish the truth or untruth of an uncaused cause. Science limits itself to the observable natural world and speculates (guesses, hypothesizes) what else there may be based on those observations.

    ======
    (RES)I can understand about causality breaking down in infinite regresion. Although perhaps not totally. I can see why it would be impossible for science to speak to the cause of something that had no cause. Does it also follow that reason has nothing to say about something that has results, even if it has no cause? As we walk back along the chain, when we reach the first link, can we not even describe the chain, and the place of that link in it, how the other links relate to that patern, even though our method is powerless to say what comes before the first?
    Perhaps a more powerful example would be in the quantum realm, where, if I understand, causality breaks down pretty far. Statistics, probablility and uncertainty rule. And yet the sum of all that chaos, the world on our scale, seems pretty well causally anchored.
    In providing fuel for your fire, I am acknowleging that you rghtfully put a hedge around science: as great a tool as it is, there are some problems that just don’t lend themselves to it. The question is that, given this “black-out zone” that science cannot look through, what (if anything) lies beyond it, how is that veil pierced, and with what reliability can we regard the answers. Actually, I think this may be a fair summary of our questions to date.
    ================

    2. Genetics, social-conditioning, innate psychological biases, survival instinct prevent us from ever possessing absolute certainty about anything, therefore everything is to be scrutinized.

    I am very much in line with B.F. Skinner and many of the existentialist philosophers. We are all biased, conditioned, genetically and environmental predisposed to certain understandings. The only way we have any hope to overcome is to rationally question everything, all truth claims must fall under scrutiny and the more rational the methodology used for this process the more sure we can be that we have eliminated (or at least barricaded) our conditioning.
    =================

    (RES)To tell you something completely obvious, I know very little philosophy. I ran into a lot of Skinner in school,”Beyond Freedom and Dignity” was all the rage. I disliked him intensly, but I could not then see the answer.
    But I agree greatly that we are conditioned to an astoundingly and distressingly great degree. In fact, one of my private opinions is that movement “into God” is also “into truth,” and that part of the freedom we are to developed into is freedom from all these things, elevation from being another causal link (and nothing more) into something much more capable of being an actual initiator of events, the way we claim God (as ‘un-moved mover’)is. A part of man being made in God’s image. Even secular mental health practitioners seem to regard movement toward this type of freedom as movement towards health and wholeness.
    =================================

    “3. Science and the scientific method have proven to be the most reliable method for obtaining an understanding of the natural world and the humans that live in it as part of that natural world. …”
    =================================
    (RES)I agree with you about the power of the scientific method, and its results. The danger with any successful technique though, is that its practitioners can assume that it is the right tool for any task. And with that, we have come full-circle. The fact that science is a very good tool does not change what you said earlier about science knowing that it has limits.
    Knowing that we may be lacking in other tools does not make science an appropriate one. As you put it “… Agnosticism, skepticism and scientific scrutiny have taught … that nothing is udeserving of the critical and questioning eye.” This including agnostism, skepticism and scientific scrutiny.

    =====
    “So Eric, I ask you, in the light of the fast advance of science and it’s impact upon the knowledge base of the world, what other method seems reasonable to you to ascertain some semblance of truth?”
    =====

    (RES)Fair enough, and I have used my “spare time” for the day.
    But true reason knows what it cannot know, and that is (at least) in any existance beyond causality.
    Anything on that side of the veil cannot even in theory be reached from here. It may not be knowable at all. But if so, it would have to be by revelation from “that side”. This does not come within a mile of proving that it happened, but it does show that, if there is to be such knowledge, it must come from the other side, not from beneath reason,and that is a common error, but from beyond it. It is subject to reason once it comes within our grasp, but not before.

    —hope to get back to you soon, on this, and the other. (How do people write coherintly with 10 minutes here, and 5 minutes there?!)

    -Blessings

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    (sheesh!) like family, it would be nice to be able to pick one’s allies.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Eric,
    The Apostle Paul never abandoned the authority of Scripture to simply argue with those who had abandoned the authority of Scripture.
    What you are doing is unbiblical.
    You are attempting to argue on allegedly “neutral” terms, this is arrogant Christian apologetics.
    You know (or you should know) that it is only by God’s grace that we have been saved, not only from eternal hell, but also from intellectual absurdity.
    We never abandon the authority of scripture .

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    I would very much like to discuss these things further with you. You strike me as a very reasonable man willing to honestly examine your beliefs as well as be open to mine. I have been reading your archives on your blog. If you are interested in further discussion in a more calm environment let me know and I will come and register on your site and provide my personal email address. Perhaps a more uninterrupted and civil conversation is in order.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    I am truly sorry if I have fostered the responses of DOTW. Regardless of what he may think he is the worst of the worst that religion has to offer. His hate and bigotry is beyond imagination and is the epitome of the delusion that I spoke of through out this thread. He has fully illustrated my case to the nth degree.

    I would very much like to continue our discussion. I don’t feel that it would be productive to continue to do so in this forum. If you agree, please contact me on my personal email address which you have through your site registration process and I will be glad to communicate with you one on one. If you don’t have that address for whatever reason just let me know and we will figure out a way to talk unobstructed. Or, if you don’t want to continue just let me know, and I will honor that request.

    Peace to you.

  • Willie G

    Here’s the difference between you and I. After 191 comments on this thread it is clear who is decent and who is not. Sure, I’m showing my *** now because you have pushed every button imaginable, but you are the dregs of the Christian-religious undercurrent. You have nothing to offer but hate and venom. You despise everything that is different from you and everything that you don’t understand. Rather than take the time to engage you people honestly and respectfully you spew your venom and hate and crouch behind a veil of self-rightesousness. You see yourself as redeemed and pure while you dream of murder and hate. You are a pathetic example of a christian and a pathetic human being. I have held my tongue for 191 comments, but apparently Bill is not willing to step up and call you out for the ****** that you are spewing, so I will put myself on the line. After all, I’m condemning to hell anyway right?

    You are anathama to us all. You and all of your kind deserve nothing more than to be discarded from the face of the earth. You are a scourge to humanity. The sooner fundamentalism is eliminated from the world the better. If gods do exist and they created humanity, then you are their failing.

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    The question of delusion is resolved. If you want to talk with me you know how to reach me.

    This has been enlightening and confirmation of my theory.

    Peace to you.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Willie, I would be glad to have you. No registration required. Post anything on any thread, and I’ll find you.

    Eric

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Disciple of the Disciple: (and you are the one hiding behind a psudonym -my name is in the phone book- half an hour with google would probably get you an e-mail address for me)

    One last comment to you, and I am out.

    You sir have treated everyone with whom you have interacted in these lists with malice and spite.
    You present yourself as a follower of Jesus, and the Gospel of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, and no doubt , you have some education there, as you can trot out some doctrinal statements with some accuracy. I have said before this that I agree with you in the vast majority of the theology you actually state.

    And I am ashamed to admit it.

    I have rarely seen anyone who acts more directly to drag the name of Christ through the mud and filth of his own making. Packing a pearl, even a “pearl of great price” into a mass of steaming, fetid offal from your own fallen humanity does not make that pile stink less. It is as if one swallowed such a pearl, then had it pass through his body without effect, and was eleminated. Interested passersby ar then invited to dig around with a stick and see if anything of value has come forth.

    You said in an earlier post that you are “a very bad man”
    I would add that you are a very bad man for whom Jesus died, because of his love for you. (You see, I am not sold on limited atonement; If I were, I would say one must look to the fruit as evidence of election, and I would rejoice at the coming proclamation of God’s righteous judgement).
    You have brought shame, and have been used by your more powerful masters, to bring shame and reproach to that name which is above all other names.

    I would bid you peace, and blessings, but I will not cry “peace” where there is no peace. There is help and hope, from whence you have heard. But nowhere else.

    R. Eric Sawyer

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Eric get off your ivory pedestal.
    The only time you’re willing to invoke the name of Christ is when you’re feeling exceptionally pious and judgmental towards me.
    You’re more than willing to hold hands and skip around with an atheist but as soon as a Christian points out the fact that he’s part of the “damned race” or that you are acting un-biblical you cry out foul.
    What? no harsh words for willys use of foul language or his “atheist brigade” threats against my church?
    What is wrong within you?

    I honesty have to look at this situation here and ask myself “what I am I looking at?”
    Can these actually be Gods elect who rail against Gods men and turn and find virtue in outright atheism and unbelief?
    My first impression is that you do not believe what you know the scripture say’s.
    Would you have taken sides with Canaanites, the philistines, or the 450 prophets of Baal that Elijah destroyed at the brook of Kishon?
    Or is all that just a big fairy tale to you as well?
    Eric I would seriously examine myself if I were you.
    Again I say The Apostle Paul never abandoned the authority of Scripture to simply argue with those who had abandoned the authority of Scripture.
    And that is exactly what you are doing.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    OK, I will (stupidly) bite.

    I have no idea whether or not Willy G. is or is not part of God’s elect. If so, it is not yet manifest. That data is not mine to know. I do know that salvation for him, as well as for me and you, is only through repentance and faith, which is itself the gift of God, and His grace. You and I are also part of that “damned race” out of which we have presumably both been ransomed. If you believe I am crying “foul” (as I most clearly am) because you have used plain language to point out his peril, you are vastly mistaken, to such a breathtaking degree that I can only assume that you are either a fool (which sounds unlikely, and which I do not believe) or that you are willfully deflecting all criticism of you as cristicism of God. That is disingenuous to the point of being pathetic.
    I will tolorate no actual threat against a church. But his threats have been harsh reactionary words. Frankly, I don’t mind an atheist showing that he can be bound and petty. I claim the same for those outside of Christ.
    But you, on the other hand, present yourself, not just as a Christian, but as a teacher (who “shall be held to a higher standard” I don’t remember chapter and verse, and am too ticked to look it up now) and as a pastor –with souls under your care, and the defense and propogation of the faith under your charge. You present yourself as a leader and example of Christianity. What you say reflects not just on you (whoever you are), it reflects on me, and all others who name the name of Christ, and our Lord Himself. In my earlier picture, I am forced to point to the pile of dung with the un-absorbed Pearl, and say “yes, I embrace that, I own that, I cherish that.” And people think I must be embracing the crap. They can’t see the Pearl. So YES. I DO hold you to a higher standard than I do one who is outside the grace of Christ, who is very much the “natural man.”
    ==================
    I choose to not speak directly from Scripture with non-believers. That does not mean that I doubt its authority nor its inspiration. I do not.
    But it is my experience that arguments directly from scripture are of limited effectivness for non-believers. Among Christians, an appeal to the mutally recognized authority of God’s Word, written, can and should be final. It is subject to no argument except that the Scripture has been improperly understood, interpretd or applied. There is no higher authority to which we may refer.

    But for non-christians, it is not so recognized. Resorting to it as a final, unanwereable authority just gets us rejectd before the word has gotten a hearing. I choose to base my argument on things that the other already respects, usualy natural reason, so as to get an opening into which the Word may speak.
    If I anywhere speak contrary to the whole Word, I wish to know it, so that I can make revisions.

    And since you brought up Paul, he did speak respectfuly to the Athenians, commending their sense of the rightness that man must worship, and worship rightly; so much so that they had a temple to “the unknown god” After so praising them, he proceeded to tell them who that God is.
    But you are right. In praising the paegan greeks, and offering respect for their religious proclivities, he did not in any way violate the authority of the Scriptures. He got a hearing for those scriptures.

    I’m sick of this, and of you. and of defending the Gospel when it is being so trashed by “friendly fire”

    R. Eric Sawyer

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Willy G has made it very plain that he is against God.
    How it is that you can miss his plain speech is beyong my undeerstanding.
    R. Eric Sawyer says: “I choose to not speak directly from Scripture with non-believers.”
    Is that your choice or is that what Jesus commanded?
    Mt 11:4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:
    5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
    6 “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
    Mt 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
    19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
    20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    Ac 10:42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.
    Do I really need to teach YOU this?
    Show me once where Jesus or any apostle or disciple divorced himself from scripture when they spoke directly to “Non-believers”
    As far as Paul at Athens
    Ac 17:16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.
    17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.
    18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
    19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?
    20 “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.”
    21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

    What do you suppose that message was Eric? His intellectual prowess?

    Ac 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects.

    “very religious”…this is what you are basing your exegete of this passage on?
    These two words translate the Greek deisidaimonesterous from deidō (“to fear or revere”), daimōn (“deities, evil spirits”), and stereos (“firm, hard”). The idea is that the Athenians were firm and rigid in their reverencing of their deities. This was a carefully chosen word. Hearing it, the men of Athens would have thought of their deities or gods. But Paul subtly implied that their deities were evil spirits or demons, not gods. Behind all idols are demons .
    Rightness? Are you joking?
    Over and over I see you commending unbelief as some sort of virtue…
    Is this because you see your own doubt and unbelief as a virtue Eric?
    All sin is unbelief…”Hath God said?”
    Ro 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
    18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
    Who’s using smooth and flattering speech here to tickle the ears of unbelievers Eric?
    R. Eric Sawyer says:“I will tolorate no actual threat against a church.”
    Then do it.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Let’s break this down to something simple.
    Two simple questions for Eric.

    1. Why is important for Willy G to believe in God?
    2. What are the consequences if Willy G doesn not believe and trust on Jesus Christ?

    No Red Herrings and no Argumentum Verbosium.
    Leave the fallacies at the door and just answer the questions.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    –Willy G has made it very plain that he is against God.

    res -Will he remain so? that is mostly up to him, and to the Holy Spirit. Folks like you and I are offered a bit part to play.
    How deeply he is against the God of Truth, is perhaps not as clear as his oposition to a god that is identified as looking like you. His rejection of any such diety is plain enough.

    Part of my effort is to draw a distinction between God as revealed in the word written and the Word incarnate, and that illustrated by you. For him, they are perhaps he same; For you, I believe they are the same. As for me, I worship the one and reject the other.

    –R. Eric Sawyer says: “I choose to not speak directly from Scripture with non-believers.”
    Is that your choice or is that what Jesus commanded?

    res- It is my choice, but it is a choice which I understand as both right and fitting, in accordance with the commands of Jesus, and in line with the teaching of the apostles. They did not always quote scripture, esp Paul. But they did try to say that which scripture says. That is my aim. If I fail in that aim, I am at fault. There is no argument between us (I hope) as to the final authority of scripture over all I tink, say or do. I would hope you believe the same concerning all ou think, say or do.

    — Mt 11:4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:
    5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
    6 “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
    Mt 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
    19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
    20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    Ac 10:42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

    The only pertinance I see in the above list concernes the teaching of the truth. I do not see a sylabus for the introduction of truth. I didn’t suppose that you were unable to grasp the distinction between proclaiming the truths of scripture using other words, and proclaiming things contrary to scripture. I know it is subtle, one must try and understand what is actually being said. Takes some effort, but I think it a useful exersise.

    -Do I really need to teach YOU this?

    res-How can you give another that which you do not have?

    — Show me once where Jesus or any apostle or disciple divorced himself from scripture when they spoke directly to “Non-believers”

    res – asked and answered in the one who “specialized” in such groups. Again, most of even the pauline epistles were to those within, and thus he could presume upon a shared view of the OT. Otherwise, he went further afield “… that I may by all means, save some.”
    When speaking to those who knew, or at least valued the scriptures, Jesus and the apostles spoke from them. That was most of the time.

    –As far as Paul at Athens
    Ac 17:16 What do you suppose that message was Eric? His intellectual prowess?

    res -What do *you* think? Do you suppose to condemn Paul on the basis that is first words were not “repent or be damned”? I thnk it fits with both the scriptural account and with reason to think it likely that his oration went on for considerably longer than acts records.
    Ac 17:22

    –Rightness? Are you joking?

    res -Are you deliberately dense, or is it just an unavoidable tragedy? or is it just the “be damned” part that brings you any pleasure?

    –Over and over I see you commending unbelief as some sort of virtue…
    Is this because you see your own doubt and unbelief as a virtue Eric?

    res -This I take as a legitimate question. It is not my intent to commend doubt per se., but with one exception. For those certain in their error, doubt is the first step towards truth. “Doubt the error” comes before ‘trust the Truth’. As an example of what I mean, I have three times served on a jury, two civil and one criminal. All three times I was forman. In each, my view of a just outcome prevailed (conviction, in the criminal case) in spite of a substantially split vote going into the jury room. The tactic I used involved making a safe place for my “opposition” to have doubts. He could doubt anything, without drawing rejection from me. He could doubt me, and explore those doubts. Because I prooved to him/them that doubts were safe, it also was safe for him/them to doubt their own position. Once that was achieved, the outcome was not in doubt. But it took days, in the criminal case, many days, with others on my side undoing all the gain by saying things like “we know he’s guilty, what’s wrong with you!?”
    I believe that doubt is safe, because, having been there, I trust that truth is strong. God is Truth, and can prevail if we are not hardened against Him.

    — All sin is unbelief…”Hath God said?”
    res -I don’t know if all sin is unbelief. I do know that all unbelief in the truth is sin.
    The sin was in eve, and adam, believing with their eyes and their belly that which they knew was untrue.

    — Ro 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
    18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

    Who’s using smooth and flattering speech here to tickle the ears of unbelievers Eric?

    res -I do not believe I am doing so. But I agree that my tendencies are such that such a danger applies more to me than to you. I must be aware of it, and repent and change should I be wrong. I will own the warning in 18b if you watch out for 17. If either of us err, 18a is the probable cause; me out of a dislike of conflict, you out of a lust for it.

    –R. Eric Sawyer says:“I will tolorate no actual threat against a church.”
    Then do it.
    res – that is my intent in speaking to you.
    ===========================:
    June 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Let’s break this down to something simple.
    Two simple questions for Eric.
    1. Why is important for Willy G to believe in God?
    2. What are the consequences if Willy G doesn not believe and trust on Jesus Christ?
    No Red Herrings and no Argumentum Verbosium.
    Leave the fallacies at the door and just answer the questions.

    Fair enough, and I’ll step into this trap with my eyes open; although it sort of begs the question as to what *are* the fallacies. Ignorance is easier if one surpresses or eliminates truth. But I expect you already know that.

    1) it is important that the unconverted, unsaved, rejector of God believe God for only one discernable reason: that is it is the foundation for his salvation. (I assume you not the difference between ‘believe’ and ‘believe in’ God)
    Restoration and salvation is offered to us on no other terms than that we are saved by grace through faith in the sacraficial work of Jesus. Since I am already well on record as claiming this, I may be hearing “ yes, yes, but why is it important the WILLIE believe this?” I have no idea. The converion of the lost is not the burning passion with me that it perhaps ought to be. But I do accept that th Father “is not willing that any should perrish” and that Willie, along with you, have at least as much (and as little) natural claim on that salvation as I do. That claim is precisely zero. I am not more favored, unless God wills it so, and I would be wrong to assume in advance that God does not so will it.

    2) The consequences for any of us failing to believe and trust on the Lord Jesus are the same. Death.

    If I, you, Willie, or anyone else on this planet reject Him and His work, reject the Truth, then that person is rejecting God. Existance without God is accurately described as damnation. I think the images surrounding damnation are images and metephors, but they are images of a truth (or rather of an absence of truth) too horrible to contemplate.

    I do not think there is an risk of the elect falling away, but I do think there are many who are not who they believe themselves to me

    I have no non-retorical questions for you. I seek no new information from you, and believe based on the past, that your attempts are mostly self-serving. Feel free to choose differently. That at least is part of the birth-right of all sons of Adam.

    R. Eric Sawyer (and you are?)

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    What part of no Argumentum Verbosium didn’t you understand?

    1. How deeply he is against the God of Truth, is perhaps not as clear as his oposition to a god that is identified as looking like you.
    1b. Willy came in here appoosed to God before he ever heard from me. (Ad Hominem Red Herring)

    The argument is already invalid.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Even though you invalidate the argument by fallaciously attacking me, something your absolutely shocked that I would do, especially when your whole philosophy is supposedly based on tolerance, and I have no obligation to answer your assertions, I can’t help but reply with at least one more rebuttal.
    I’m always impressed by the way,with tolerance that only tolerates what agrees with it.
    Don’t add me to that list, tolerance is not my gift.
    And I made my position firm on that in an earlier post.
    Your whole supposition that willy is some poor layman who is just a lost and honest seeker is rather pathetic.
    Are you just dense? Or is it that I have offended your senses so violently that you just refuse to see the obvious.
    From the beginning willy has solidly denounced any belief in a deity.
    C’mon Eric, I really do not mind if you don’t like me but get a grip and step into reality.
    Go back read his post.
    I could spend more time and effort arguing your poor eisegesis of 2 Peter 3:9 but what’s the point.
    You’re as deeply entrenched in your philosophy as I in mine.
    But the basic law of logic say’s that only one of us can be right…and unfortunately for you, it’s me.
    I know the deep trouble your denomination is facing and with such a mist in the pulpit, it’s no wonder there is such a fog in the pew.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    I suppose argument is easier when you’re in control?

    Let me clarify. For what it’s worth, I would recommending avoiding Latin if you find it difficult to follow the point in English. Basically, Argumentum Verbusium translates as “Huh?” , but saying it in Latin sounds smarter.

    I accept the criticism. To put a few simple points in a simple order;

    1. Willy displays great opposition to religion

    2. Willy displays an unknown antipathy to the actual God.

    3. Unknown to what degree 1 and 2 are connected, but my supposition is that “God” and “religious activity” are mixed to a degree that God is guilted by association with religious people.

    4. I watched as his antipathy towards you developed, and think it highly likely that this low opinion transfers to his view of God

    5. In my own observation, I believe his reaction to you is quite predictable, and has a great deal of justice. I also observe revulsion rising up within me, so I am subject to a challenge based on transference.

    6. Where other Christians may be able to successfully separate “God” and “those who claim to follow God,” non-Christians may not do so accurately. My revulsion is thus confined to you, while others may assign it to Christ. I think this a very bad thing.

    7. None of this implies that the action of God is not the prime agent in redemption. Yet He leaves us with responsibility, and I think, culpability.
    =========================================
    I doubt that clarity from me is a goal of yours, but in mimicry of your own requests to me and others here, these are the points I put before you. You may answer them if you wish. I don’t much care. There is not much point in any case, and none at all if you dance around them.

    But please no more transparent nonsense about rhetoric.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    D, what fool said I was tolerant?

    My struggle is to rise to the level of tolerance with which I have been treated in God’s grace extended to me while yet in my sin, and in my present failures. As you may have noticed, such tolerance does not come naturally.
    Also, where did I say that W is “some poor layman who is just a lost and honest seeker”?
    I have said that I have no knowledge of God’s intention for him, or for that matter, you, and I refused to address him out of my ignorance. Maybe God has given you some special revelation concerning His plans concerning him or anyone else, something external to the Bible, but here I am a skeptic.
    I do find him an honest and pleasant debater, who requires me to think about what I believe. At least for me, that is a good thing. Whether God does anything with more with that is beyond my knowledge. I have no illusion that I can effect an “awakening” in him. God is sovereign .

    As to 2 Peter, remember that I am an ignorant layman. Hiding behind Greek this time is a bit too much of an advantage. “eisegesis” is SUCH an intelligent and learned word! By my making one point, do not presume that I forget or ignore verse 7.

    The harshest and most biting remark is that of comparing you and me. Yes we are both entrenched, and yes, I hope I don’t change. That central principal is that “I am not the truth. God is. Don’t confuse the two.”

    My thoughts on your seemingly biting remark about the distress within the Episcopal church may disappoint you. Although I think there are some tremendous bright spots in local places, my tolerance for them is much less than you seem to think. According to the terms of one of our own seminal documents, the “articles of religion” I am unable to consider “The Episcopal Church” (registered trade mark) a true church. The body has abandoned God, and I believe that he is returning the favor. We are Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah.
    I am not a prolific writer on this point, but I am on record, (again, under my own name –a point of some importance if one is to advocate truth and accountability).

    I may be dense, or (more plausibly) so ticked that I refuse to see the obvious. I have certainly missed things before. But I am glad that you are fine with the fact that I dislike you. I am fine with it, too.

    I think we are indeed at an end.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    “my tolerance for them is much less …”
    SHOULD READ
    “my tolerance for the National Body is much less…”

    I of course do not mean that I have a low tolerance for the few bright spots left!

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    1.Let me clarify. For what it’s worth, I would recommending avoiding Latin if you find it difficult to follow the point in English. Basically, Argumentum Verbusium translates as “Huh?” , but saying it in Latin sounds smarter.
    I accept the criticism. To put a few simple points in a simple order;
    1. Willy displays great opposition to religion
    2. Willy displays an unknown antipathy to the actual God.

    Res – “Antipathy” a fancy synonym for “Enmity” wich means hatred…look that one up in your Bible. Nice effort in trying to “nice up” willys “unknown” veiws.
    Logically speaking though, if it is unknown then how do you know it?

    3. Unknown to what degree 1 and 2 are connected, but my supposition is that “God” and “religious activity” are mixed to a degree that God is guilted by association with religious people.

    Res 1. – duh…Jn 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

    Res 2.- Does this religious activity include a plain reading of the Bible? I would say resoundingly “yes”. So if it is guilt by association I accept it.

    4. I watched as his antipathy towards you developed, and think it highly likely that this low opinion transfers to his view of God.

    Res – I think I just answered this one.

    5. In my own observation, I believe his reaction to you is quite predictable, and has a great deal of justice. I also observe revulsion rising up within me, so I am subject to a challenge based on transference.

    Res – Again I think I just answered this one, and I guess that answer includes you as well based on transference.

    6. Where other Christians may be able to successfully separate “God” and “those who claim to follow God,” non-Christians may not do so accurately. My revulsion is thus confined to you, while others may assign it to Christ. I think this a very bad thing.

    Res- This is about me and not about God, so my answer is “so what.”

    7. None of this implies that the action of God is not the prime agent in redemption. Yet He leaves us with responsibility, and I think, culpability.

    Res – I would say with absolute certainty that He leaves us with culpability for commission and omission as well.
    =========================================
    I doubt that clarity from me is a goal of yours, but in mimicry of your own requests to me and others here, these are the points I put before you. You may answer them if you wish. I don’t much care. There is not much point in any case, and none at all if you dance around them.

    Eric says: “I may be hearing “ yes, yes, but why is it important the WILLIE believe this?” I have no idea.”

    I like that statement; it shows a powerful clarity and conviction over a set standard of beliefs!

    And your interpretation of Acts 17 is purely speculation and bad speculation at that.

    Ac 17:18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

    It clearly says what Paul is teaching and preaching, I’m sure that merely escaped your impecable attention.

    But please no more transparent nonsense about rhetoric.

    Res- Eric get out of your own head and get your face back into the Bible.
    This is my only advice to you.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Thanks for the advice. In spite of all the nonsensical packing material, I actualy think it sound for all of us. especially when read with prayer that the Holy Spirit remove the scales from our eyes, and help me hear God’s word to me.

    If I need any other good advise from you, I’ll schedule a session.
    (No, wait. I can’t do that –you still prefer annonymity)

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    google me

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    been there, done that.
    redundant, tiresome, and yet strangely still hidden (Not willing to be personally identified with your beliefs? – very sensible. Neither do I)

    but I grant you that consistency is a virtue.

  • Willie G

    Bill & Eric,

    If DOTW is on a leash and you would like to continue, I’m still here. Unless I lost track in the thread I believe it is the turn of both of you to respond. This has been an enlightening conversation in many ways, and I would like to continue.

    Hope to hear from you both soon.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    “The philosophy of the atheist is always grounded in fundamental ignorance of the truths of divine revelation” ~ S. Lewis Johnson

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  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Willie,
    Back again to philosophy because everything you say makes philosophical assumptions. Let’s take science in particular. In order for the scientific method to work at all, certain non-material things must be assumed to exist (taken from philosopher J. P. Moreland):

    First, “one must hold that the senses are reliable and give accurate information about a mind-independent physical world.” This is a philosophical position and there are some in academia who would deny its truth. The scientist must take this philosophical statement to be true before he can start doing science.

    Second, “science must assume that the mind is rational and that the universe is rational in such a way that the mind can know it. Science must assume some uniformity of nature to justify induction (i.e., science must assume that one can legitimately infer from the past to the future and from the examined cases to unexamined ones of the same kind).” Again, this is a philosophical presupposition of science. In fact, the assumption that the universe is rational such that we can know it is a big surprise if you are a materialist.

    Third, science assumes that “the laws of logic are true, that numbers exist, . . . that language has meaning, . . . that truth exists and involves some sort of correspondence between theories and the world.” None of these things are demonstrated by science. They must all be true for science to work in the first place.

    Fourth, “science assumes certain moral, epistemic, and methodological values. Regarding moral values, science assumes that experiments should be reported honestly and that truth-telling is a moral virtue. Regarding epistemic virtues, science assumes that theories ought to be simple, accurate, predictively successful, and so forth. Regarding methodological values, science often values such things as disinterestedness, organized skepticism, and procedural rules.”

    Fifth, and finally, boundary conditions are not accounted for by science. “The mass of a proton, the rate of expansion of the big bang, the existence of the big bang itself – in short all cases of genuine brute givens not subsumable under higher laws – are boundary conditions for science. They are givens which cannot be accounted for by science.”

    Science rests on piles of presuppositions and assumptions that your worldview doesn’t seem to have any place for. You cannot reduce everything to the laws of physics and chemistry, which is what you seem to have tried to do. Science is the second story of a house, and it is upheld by a foundation which consists of philosophy, at the very least. It is strange that when I start speaking about philosophical concepts, you jump immediately to neuro-science. I am interested in what makes the field of neuro-science even able to get started at all. What upholds science? Here is where we primarily find evidence for God.

    Where do all the non-material things I mentioned above fit in your system? Are they real? If they are not real, then how can your love of evidence and scientific method be sustained, because they are literally built on nothing.

    Look forward to your response,
    Bill

  • Willie G

    Hi Bill,

    I’m glad we are resuming the conversation. Hopefully it will become a little more focused now. I have copied and linked to our conversation on a DOTW inspired blog where our discussion can be seen in one continuous thread. It makes it a little easier to follow with all the noise removed. If you are interested in taking a look you can find it here: http://philistinedog.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/a-tough-questions-debate/.

    Bill, you are all over the board here, and honestly I am having a little difficulty following what exactly it is you are getting at. It seems to me you are simply proof-texting from one of your pet Christian writers. It also seems to me that you are making an attempt to discredit science and the scientific revolution in favor of theism. If that is the case you are on a fool’s errand. The advances of science stand on their own merits. I will not even begin to defend it. If you are so blind to the superiority of science as the means for the advancement of humanity over any other human achievement than that is truly your short-coming. I find that thought sad, as a graduate of GA Tech I would have assumed you much more academically and scientifically grounded.

    Bill, I’m sorry but I just don’t even know where to go with your post. You seem to be postulating that there is some mysterious thing outside of our natural world that is immaterial that has to be given some special status before we poor scientists can manage to have an original thought. I am both a methodological naturalist and a philosophical naturalist (Excellent white paper on Methodological/Philosophical Naturalism: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/naturalism.html). Your comments about me pointing to neuro-science are simply misunderstood. You have been hinting at some mystical existence planted within the human that you are referring to as the mind (although I think what you really mean is the soul). My only reason to refer to neuro-science is to point to a body of science that supports that the “mind” is nothing more than the results of a naturalistic process that works within the natural brain. It appears to me that you are so entrenched in your beliefs that you have no desire to even consider that there are natural explanations for everything. In short you want there to be a supernatural. You want there to be agency. You don’t want to have to deal with a harsh reality that you get 75-100 years if your lucky and then there is nothing more. So rather than dig into the natural world and assume (yes, assume) that there are natural explanations for everything that we encounter, you simply lay down and assign agency: goddidit.

    You said: “Where do all the non-material things I mentioned above fit in your system? Are they real? If they are not real, then how can your love of evidence and scientific method be sustained, because they are literally built on nothing.”

    I simply will not engage in this kind of semantic pleading nonsense. Science is grounded in the material natural world. You are throwing up esoteric smokescreens in an attempt to convolute the merits and accomplishments of science. My love for evidence and scientific method is sustained because they work. Plain and simple. They are proven and established as effective life and world changing methodological constructs that better humanity. In the modern world the sick are healed, the blind see, the lame walk, the hungry are fed, the cold are made warm, etc. etc. etc. because of science. You can play your J.P. Moreland trump cards all you want, but you cannot deny the efficacy and sustainable and repeatable success of science. A theist who would deny this is blinded to reality and is truly delusional.

    Are you ever going to make an attempt to answer my question, or are you just going to continue to divert attention to some other pet apologetic technique?

  • Willie G

    The link above should be this:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/naturalism.html

    It is a great explanation of Naturalism if you have the time to read it.

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  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Bill, just to clarify for me that particular line of argument:
    I know that we talk about science proceeding by observation, with experimental proofs.
    This does indeed rest an all the philosophical underpinnings you describe.
    But there is another path that does not so much rest on final answers.

    Take just one example, that physical laws (e.g. gravity) operate everywhere the same (with the understanding that other forces may combine)

    It is perhaps not possible to “prove” that things work by different principals on other planets, by say a force called “oomph” that happens to have the same numbers when acting upon objects in the size range being considered, but arises from very different fundamental issues , maybe even personal. Can’t prove it, can claim no evidence for it. But without resort to philosophy of science, can’t say it isn’t so.

    But what we can say is that we get on much better if we assume consistency.
    Assuming that consistent results have consistent causes gives us greater predictive power.

    That power of prediction, the existence of fruit is to be taken as sufficient proof. If challenged about it, (like challenging a helio-centric system) the astronomer may likely shake his head at your arguments, and just point out that, whether or not you are somehow right, the math is far easier if we go with Copernicus.

    So, even the assumption of a reasonable universe: whether one can prove “reasonableness” or not, we get along just fine if we only observe that the universe “behaves as if” it were reasonable, and take that as a constant unless disproved.

    It is not itself “proved” merely useful.

    R. Eric Sawyer

  • Willie G

    Eric,

    Thanks for your well-reasoned comments above. What you are saying makes a lot of well grounded and well established sense.

    Bill,

    I want to add a couple of thoughts to what Eric has said, but first I wanted to apologize for the tone of my previous comment. Having reread it after a day I feel it came across somewhat combative. I think I’m still reeling a little from the last exchange with DOTW and hadn’t re-calibrated my attitude. I will tone it down from here forward.

    It feels to me that you are trying to force me into a box. It feels like you are accusing me of saying that science has the answers to everything. I want to correct that accusation. Science and the scientific method starts with the basic assumption that we know nothing. And, as you alluded to we can’t be totally sure that we are even capable of knowing anything for certain. I don’t want to delve too deeply into Moreland’s premises because I’m sure that at the philosophical level his arguments are sound. However, I don’t want you to push those arguments on me for some kind of proof text to demand that “science is wrong, or unreliable.”

    Every scientific endeavor begins with a basic set of assumptions as you say. We assume that if the results are repeatable, verifiable and probably most importantly peer reviewed, repeatable and verifiable, that the results can be accepted at face value. However, even with those rigorous standings scientists still only speak of statistical probabilities and levels of certainty. Through complex methodological observation repeated over and over conclusions are drawn. All of this is established in the natural world and cosmos. If an answer cannot be established in nature, then the conclusion is very simply “we don’t know yet.” Only the disingenuous scientific practitioner of science is willing to make the leap to the supernatural as an absolute explanation. I don’t deny that there are religious scientists. I know there are. However, it is not their scientific methodologies that have led them to that conclusion, but rather other reasons that they have managed for themselves. I cannot explain their personal decisions, just as I obviously cannot explain yours. That’s why I continue to ask you the same question over and over, why is it reasonable to believe in the Christian God?

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  • Bill Pratt

    Willie,
    Kids’ sports again. Be back soon!

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Eric,
    If the ultimate argument between atheistic naturalists and Christians is whether science works or whether science is fruitful, then there isn’t much to argue about. I agree 100% that science works and that it is fruitful. I agree that Copernicus made some math equations simpler.

    But I thought we were discussing what is true, what is real. I thought we were discussing whether the natural world is all there is or whether there is a supernatural being.

    If Willie G would say today that we are not trying to get at what really exists out there, but that we are only trying to find what works and makes our lives more enjoyable, then that would be a completely different conversation. But I think he is saying that it is unlikely that God exists, and that it is likely that all that exists is the natural world. Just because something works doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. Just because something has predictive power doesn’t make it true either. Those are not the essences of truth. Truth is that which corresponds to reality.

    I could make the argument that Christianity really works well for me and for 2 billion other people, but I don’t think that would mean that Christianity is true.

    If the scientific method yields results that tell us what the world is really like, then we must justify that claim philosophically. Why does the scientific method tell us what the world is really like? The answer cannot be “because it works.” As we’ve seen, what works does not necessarily correlate with what is true or real.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Bill, I was principally pointing out that science, by nature, cannot say what something “is,” in an absolute manner. The best it can do is to say what something “looks like” or “behaves like.” Of course, if 10 billion times in a row come out the same way, we have come pretty close to saying what that thing is, but it is kind of like 1/x. As x increases, the ratio keeps approaching 0, but it never quite gets there. It cannot.

    For science to bridge that last little gap (or big gap if the science isn’t complete) takes philosophy; whether of a materialist or supernaturalist persuasion. What bothers me are the folks who presume that science goes all the way and don’t see that this is a philosophical statement. Science gets on by assuming that there is no deity, that there are no possible actors other than those inside “nature” But that doesn’t come within a mile of showing that there *are* no such actors. It has to proceed to say what will happen “barring a miraculous intervention” It can say nothing about whether such an intervention can happen. That takes philosophy, and perhaps more.

    Science can never describe absolute truth. There is a gulf which it, and perfect reason as well, cannot penetrate. Perfect reason knows its limits.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Willie,
    You said, “I don’t want you to push those arguments on me for some kind of proof text to demand that ‘science is wrong, or unreliable.'” I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood me. I do not believe that science is fundamentally wrong or unreliable. I believe that some scientific claims are wrong, but I am not impugning the scientific method or science itself. I would have to be truly schizophrenic to be an electrical engineer and not believe that the scientific method works!

    You believe, as I do, that the results of scientific inquiry can tell us what the world is really like. Some of the results of science are more certain than others, but science is about getting to the truth, about explaining what the world is really like. You said that science begins with a basic set of assumptions, and I agree. I listed several of those assumptions in my previous comment.

    Here is where I want to spend time. I want to get behind science and see what is holding it up. If what is holding up science is not, in fact, real, then we cannot trust the scientific method to render accurate results about the world. Science cannot stand all alone, by itself. It must be built on a foundation of philosophical constructs, constructs which are non-material. Just because something is non-material does not make it not real.

    In order for science to get going, we must assume that certain moral values are real, that the laws of logic are real, that there exists a rational mind, that truth exists, and so forth. Let’s look at a few of these.

    If avoiding deception in reporting scientific results was not considered a real moral value, then no reported scientific result could ever point us to true knowledge about the world. Where does this moral value come from? Is it real?

    If the laws of logic do not really exist, then scientific results could both be true and false at the same time and in the same sense. We could say that Darwinian evolution brought forth human beings and did not bring forth human beings in the same sense, which is nonsense. In other words, we could never know anything about reality without the laws of logic. Where do the laws of logic come from?

    If man does not have a real rational mind, then all of our scientific results could not be trusted. Only rational minds can know truth. Where do rational minds come from?

    If the concept of truth, meaning that which corresponds to reality, did not really exist, then science would not tell us anything about reality. Truth must exist for science to give us real results about the world around us.

    Willie, you seem to want to always start with science and then proceed. I am asking you to back up and explain where all of the things that undergird science come from. What is the source of all these non-material things? The theist has a ready explanation: the nature of God. We believe that all of these things point back to an ultimate Mind that is behind everything.

    Are these non-material things real? If not, if they are just human inventions (like unicorns) to make our lives easier, then we’re in trouble. We are basing science on made-up things that are not based in reality. If science is based on made-up things, then it can’t be trusted to give us anything but make-believe results. We are left in total agnosticism and ignorance. If these things are real, then where did they come from? I am wondering how your worldview deals with these things.

    Thanks,
    BP

  • Bill Pratt

    Well said, Eric. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Willie G

    Bill,

    I’ve been sitting on my response for awhile pondering all you have had to say (an extended cooling off period as well). If you are still interested in this discussion we can continue.

    You said: “Willie, you seem to want to always start with science and then proceed. I am asking you to back up and explain where all of the things that undergird science come from. What is the source of all these non-material things? The theist has a ready explanation: the nature of God. We believe that all of these things point back to an ultimate Mind that is behind everything.”

    Bill I’m straight-shooting here. I’m not trying to pull any debating punches or conversational trickery. If we were sitting face to face I think we would quickly dispense with this round and round exchange, but with the limitations of the forum format and the waiting for each others responses I think we are really getting hung up on fundamentals and missing the deeper questions. So hopefully you will take my comments here as genuine and move on to my real question.

    I start with the scientific method because it is the most proven and reliable means by which we can “know” anything at all, if in fact as you point out we can actually really know anything for sure. But I think that is my whole point. You’re early objections are pushing us into an epistemological black hole, sucking us into a no-mans-land where we are all forced to proclaim that we can never really know anything for sure; our sense of knowing and perception is unreliable, our ability to draw absolute conclusions is tentative.

    I think the fundamental difference in our approach, due to this, is that whereas I embrace this lack of ability to know and declare agnosticism as the natural default position, you choose to assign agency and employ a god of the gaps philosophy. You state a confidence in the methods of science as well as the success of science but then question whether we can really know anything anyway, then leap to agency as the final answer. And that, I suppose is OK. You are after all free to think and believe whatever you want, and if adding a layer of the non-observable, non-falsifiable, non verifiable to your otherwise natural observable world gives you some sense of meaning and hope in this world, then more power to you. I, on the other hand, am finding fulfillment, meaning and happiness in my natural, observable surroundings without the extra layer of non-observable, and in my opinion unreasonable pretense.

    So in an effort to move us forward, and hopefully get back to my original question let’s dispense with all the epistemology debate. As an agnostic I am open to knowledge where I can find it. If all the classic philosophical arguments lend themselves to the actual existence of “an ultimate mind that is behind everything,” why is it reasonable to accept that he has revealed himself through the Christian religion and none of the other countless religions that have been devised by mankind through the ages?

    Thanks Bill

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Willie,
    Happy Father’s Day! I would like to clear up a few things about philosophy and then I will move on to why the Christian God is the one true God.

    You said, “I start with the scientific method because it is the most proven and reliable means by which we can “know” anything at all, if in fact as you point out we can actually really know anything for sure.” This is a philosophical statement about science, not a scientific statement of science. In other words, you don’t really start with science at all. You start with a whole load of assumptions about the existence of rational minds, the existence of truth, human ability to know reality, laws of logic, and so forth.

    Why do I keep beating this drum? It’s not to be annoying, but to demonstrate that the person who says they start with science, and that only what science can prove is knowable, is making a highly controversial and philosophically illogical claim. It’s like a calculus student saying, “I start with calculus because it’s the only way to really get at mathematical truth. I don’t ever think about addition or subtraction or multiplication or division. Those things aren’t needed to do math.” Granted that analogy isn’t perfect, but it gets the basic point across. Science is built on a foundation of lots of other stuff, and to ignore that other stuff is to make a serious error in thinking.

    You said that I am adding a “layer of the non-observable, non-falsifiable, non verifiable to [my] otherwise natural observable world,” but so do you. The difference is that I acknowledge the non-observable things behind science (truth, rationality, morality, logic, and ultimately God), but you don’t acknowledge them. You just take them all for granted (except God) and build off them, but when I ask you about where they came from or what they are, you have no answer. This is a serious problem for your worldview.

    What lies behind and beyond the observable facts in the universe is where a lot of the action is, so to speak, when talking about evidence for God’s existence. Asking me to skip this discussion and move on is asking me to tie one arm behind my back in a boxing match. Most Christian theologians and apologists spend a great deal of time writing about these philosophical concepts, and a great number of atheist philosophers debate these issues with them. I do not believe that a person can properly understand the rational arguments for God without diving deeply into this field of study.

    However, since you asked nicely, I will move on to the next step in the process of showing the existence of the Christian God. Once we establish the existence of a being who is self-existent, timeless, nonspatial, immaterial, unimaginably powerful, personal, super-intelligent, purposeful, and good – using several arguments for God’s existence – we then can rule out worldviews that do not admit such a being (e.g., atheism, pantheism).

    We are left with theism as the only viable worldview. In order to determine which theistic religion, we look at the historical evidence behind the alleged representatives of God for each of the theistic religions. In the case of Christianity, that would be Jesus. We ask, “Is there good historical evidence that Jesus claimed to be God’s representative and that he backed that claim up?”

    When we look at the historical records about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we find plenty of evidence that he proved he was God’s true representative (primarily by the resurrection), and we therefore conclude that the words of Jesus and his followers truly came from God. Thus we know that the God of the Christian religion is real and that he revealed himself through Jesus.

    Obviously I skipped over a lot of details in the last few paragraphs, but that is the basic outline. We move from philosophy to history. Christianity has the philosophical arguments and it has the historical evidence. These work together to build a strong case for the truth of Christianity, a case that is quite rational and reasonable, especially since philosophy and history are both fields where regular people can interact without invoking any religious dogma or hocus-pocus. You will not find this in any of the other “countless” religions you mentioned.

    I look forward to your feedback,
    Bill

  • Willie G

    Hi Bill,

    We are not getting anywhere here. You clearly don’t have a good understanding of either methodological/philosophical naturalism, and your epistemological arguments are unfounded. You speak of the process of conceptualization and other workings of the human brain as if “the existence of truth, human ability to know reality, laws of logic” etc exist somewhere out in the ether and not part of the natural human experience.

    Based on your approach here you and I cannot reason together, because anything I say you will simply sweep under the rug as based on “philosophical statements…[with a] whole load of assumptions.” I’ve tried to push beyond the philosophical to get to the core of the question but you seem unwilling to get to it. You would rather discuss the things that I “take for granted”. I would add that any naturalist will recognize the existence of philosophical ponderings, but will always fall back to the observable as the only source for knowable reality.

    Why do you want base your life on the absurdly possible, when observational probabilities are effecting humanity positively everyday?

    I will simply leave you with that question. I’m not avoiding your brief attempt to actually answer my question, I just feel we have reached a logical end. My worldview is based on the observable. Yours is based on what you want to be true, what you choose to believe. What you call evidence for your belief is shrouded in mystical questions that can never be resolved by any naturalistic means without god manifesting himself in the modern world to all of humanity an answering the tough questions. Until then, I guess I remain skeptical.

    As DagoodS said earlier. This is your blog, you deserve the final word on this extended thread, so I leave it to you to do so. By the way, I live in the same town you do, perhaps our paths will cross sometime and we can sit down over a cup of coffee and get passed these hurdles that our once a week posting have aggravated.

    Peace

  • bobo chango

    Was God in charge of the design of Hell, even remotely in charge? Did he make it infinitely more cruel than any torturous event that ocurred on Earth? Was he proud of his achievement?

  • http://www.communion.net Communion

    Believing in God out of fear or some compulsion would have no use. On the contrary if a person on his/her own learns about it and wants to adopt it would have better meaning. The designing of the hell as spoken off here, is a place for punishing the sinners and reviving the ones those who have understood their flaws and try to get on the righteous path.

  • Mick Curran

    Hi Bill,

    What irritates me is that the differences and disagreements inside Christendom aren’t easily discernible to the outsider because the word “Christianity” isn’t always qualified. How about if from now on you championed clarity and led the way by referring in your posts not to “Christianity,” but to “Biblical Christianity”?

    Then the divisions in Christendom might be described something like this:

    Catholicism
    Eastern Catholicism
    Anglicanism
    Lutheranism
    Eastern Orthodox
    Oriental Orthodox
    Biblical Christianity
    Restorationism
    Universalism

    Just a thought. Happy New Year! :)

    Festively,
    Mick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Mick,
    I have always been a defender of “mere” Christianity, which I have defined on my post on essential Christianity. Most of the divisions you listed would fall under that rubric, I think. There are numerous Catholics and Protestants who read the blog, and who agree with most of what I say about Christianity. I am not as sure about how many Eastern Orthodox read the blog, so I’m not as confident there. I would, however, think that most Eastern Orthodox would go along with most of what I say about Christianity. What do you think?

  • Mick Curran

    Bill,

    As an Eastern Orthodox Christian I would not describe myself as a “Bible–believing Christian.” I daresay most Catholics would prefer not to use the “Bible–believing” prefix, either. But I don’t think you’d have any trouble using it in your own case, would you, as you’re a Sola Scriptura adherent?

    I would imagine most of the people that read your blog could find something in it with which to agree and even those that disagree with you doubtless know WHY they disagree with you. But then that’s not really surprising, I suppose, since people who visit and spend time on religious blogs and forums are usually reasonably well informed. I was thinking about the people that might visit your blog who aren’t so well informed. A person that looks in at Christianity from the outside with only a vague idea of what it’s about would probably take some time to get up to speed. And that’s assuming the person is actually interested in learning. But those are the people I had in mind: the people that are interested and who want to learn. They probably lurk for the most part but I’m sure they’re there.

    Nevertheless, it seems to me that your current approach is fine. I’m enjoying reading your stuff. It was just a thought. You seem like a teacher and teachers generally try to anticipate questions and even answer them before they’re asked. If you use only the term “Christianity” you cause the novice to ask an extra question in order that he or she can establish and understand that you perceive the 66–book Bible to be your Authority. By adopting the term “Biblical Christianity,” you’d ensure the novice had no need to ask you, “By what authority?”

    D’you follow how I’m thinking?

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org Darrell

    Mick,

    I am curious as to why you would say that Eastern Orthodox would not classify themselves as “Bible-Believing Christians.” I know that Eastern Orthodox hold the Bible to be the Word of God and hold it to be authoritative. So in a sense they definitely are Bible believing just as much as any protestant out there.

    Are you saying this because of the modern day connection of “BIble-Believing Christian” with sola-scriptura and the inherent rejection of authoritative Tradition that goes along with it?

    Darrell

  • Mick Curran

    Hi Darrell,

    Yes.

    I think members of the different faith communities use words and terms in different ways and with different nuances and that’s why we often end up talking past each other. I mean… You’ve just had to double–check with me that I do in fact mean what you think I mean. If you were an angry polemicist you’d have used my wording to start an argument and we’d have gotten nowhere. But as you’re a gentle apologist you’ve just sought clarification. Appreciate it. :)

    And apart from the words we use, there is, of course, the issue of differing canons. This surely makes things very confusing for an outsider. How easy is it to comprehend how Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Protestants (are we allowed to say “Protestants,” still? :)) can possibly agree upon an assertion as simple as “the Bible is the Word of God,” when each faith community proposes a different Bible in respect of the number of books contained therein?

    What I’m getting at is that I think (only my opinion, I could be wrong) the term “Bible–believing” brings with it baggage that’s too cumbersome for Catholics and Orthodox Christians to carry.

    Happy New Year! :)

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org Darrell

    What I’m getting at is that I think (only my opinion, I could be wrong) the term “Bible–believing” brings with it baggage that’s too cumbersome for Catholics and Orthodox Christians to carry.

    I can understand where you are coming from with this Mick.

    Happy New Year to you as well!

    Darrell

  • perplexed_indian

    Mick ,

    I am Oriental Orthodox and the Bible is certainly paramount to us.The difference that sets apart the Catholics and Orthodox (Eastern and Oriental) from the ‘Bible believing bunch’ as you put it is their rigid church heirarchy.

  • Mick Curran

    Did I write Bible–believing BUNCH? If I did, I take it back. It sounds dismissive and patronizing. Bible–believing CHRISTIANS is better. And I think it’s probably true to say that Bible–believing Christians tend to read their Bibles much more frequently than their Catholic and Orthodox counterparts. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=78598293746 Mark Henninger

    “Learn to appreciate the fact that God has included humanity in his plans.”

    Humanity can be weak. Should we be slothful so that God’s strength will show? Humanity can be foolish. Should we be foolish so that God’s wisdom will show? 

    Am I correct that KJVese is too foolish to practice in the world @ work, home, cyberspace, and school? Should KJVese be accepted more or less for Christian vs. worldly fellowship?

  • pyhiG

    No. There is nothing that bothers me about Christianity; however, I am bothered by a lot of christians who put on the full armour of God only to wage war against their own body. God’s word is interpreted in different ways that lead to resentment and causes division rather than unity in the body of Christ Jesus! Sometimes they ignore you or they do not accept your interpretations of God’s word, because they think that you are not hearing God properly, or you have a rebellious spirit etc. just because you have different interpretations and understanding of God’s word.
    For example, literal millineum, masturbation and more!

  • Kevin McGeary

    Many: Here is just one simple example- 1 Corinthians 14:34
    For some reason, women are not allow to talk…does that have something to do with immaculate conception, or rape?

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