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  1. #1
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    Christianity is True

    I've wanted to make this thread for quite a while; I hope the other members here will indulge me. What follows is a little bit of argument and a whole lot of explanation:


    THE ARGUMENT

    Consists of three (rough) tenets:

    1) There exists one supreme God.

    2) Jesus Christ was his Son, through whom God offers all of humanity salvation.

    3) The Bible is the word of God.


    THE EXPLANATION

    As many here know, I am an atheist. But I do not participate in ODN to "spread atheism"; I participate because I believe in and enjoy intelligent discussion. So, as both an entertainment and as a way of exercising my debate-ability, I'd like to take a turn as Devil's (God's?) Advocate in arguing for Christianity.

    My goal is to successfully argue for those three tenets listed above. Along the way, it is likely that I will have to claim many other things that I would not normally claim. I am liable to concede any such point, as I believe it is proper to do so when finally cornered in debate, but I will not concede my three central tenets, because were I open to concession on those matters, I'd likely feel forced to offer it immediately and this thread would be meaningless. Thus I will argue them to the point of my own exhaustion.

    These tenets, as initially stated, are admittedly "rough." It is likely that all three will have to be refined through discussion. However, I am not allowed to "refine" them to the point of self-contradiction or meaninglessness, and I hope to keep myself to that no matter the implications or consequences.

    While I will doubtless draw on many sources and arguments presented to me (and against me) in the past, I do not intend to simply parrot traditional Christian apologetics. My goal will be to put myself as much as possible in the mind of one who truly holds these tenets and argue from there. I will attempt to be as sincere as possible in my insincerity.

    Beyond the tenets, it is not my intention or desire to argue for any specific denomination. It is likely that in the course of defending my tenets, I will take positions that put me outside the bounds of most (or all) extant denominations, and that some might feel that this disqualifies me from arguing for "Christianity" at all. It's no matter; my only interest is in defending the tenets, and any other specific argument (e.g. transubstantiation) will only matter to me as it relates to them.

    Beyond that, I welcome any and all challenges, and from any perspective.

    Whether other participants in the thread wish to argue from their traditional/sincerely-held viewpoint or similarly "flip the script" and take on the opposite side is up to their discretion.

    Finally, I apologize in advance if anyone takes offense to either my project or its execution. My goal isn't to offend. I've argued stridently against many members here with whom I've longed to share fellowship, and perpetually alongside some whose intelligent opposition I've craved. I'm hopeful that this could be a fun and instructive exercise for all involved.



    THE ARGUMENT RESTATED

    There exists one supreme God. Jesus Christ was his Son, through whom God offers all of humanity salvation. The Bible is the word of God.

    Any questions?
    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these things with you!

    If you'd like to know "where I'm coming from" you can look here.

  2. #2
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    Re: Christianity is True

    What evidence is there that there is a supreme God?

  3. #3
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    Re: Christianity is True

    I'm confused, are you going to supply the argument in your next post?

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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by Duelix View Post
    What evidence is there that there is a supreme God?
    Good question.

    We'll start with the fact of existence and our knowledge of cause and effect. Everything we observe we can also recognize as being an effect from some prior cause.

    We can imagine the events of the universe all spiraling backwards towards some beginning condition. The pattern calls for a first event, touching all of the rest off.

    But what of this first event? Isn't it subject to cause and effect? In our search for this first event, it must be assumed that the first event has certain characteristics without which it could never satisfy our requirements.

    Specifically, it needs to be able to operate outside of our normal understanding of "cause and effect." That is, it must be supernatural. Because if it is not -- if it is natural -- then it is as subject to cause and effect as everything else, and will not provide the first event that logic demands.

    God is the first event, and existence is the evidence of his creation.

    (Whew, this is harder than I'd expected; I've already broken out in a sweat! )

    ---------- Post added at 06:02 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:37 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    I'm confused, are you going to supply the argument in your next post?
    I plan on defending the three tenets of my opening post against any challenges; I'm interested in using this thread as a catch-all for any arguments anyone might be interested in pursuing against Christianity, be it the question of evil, Herman's non-believer challenge, Khan's views on polytheism, "problems" within the Bible, issues of salvation, etc.

    If I were to try to argue all of those cases up-front, my OP would stretch for volumes and volumes. So for now, I'll just stand by what I've said: God; Christ; the Bible. There any good reason we shouldn't take those as the given and call it a day?

    Or, if you'd like a (slightly) more substantial argument as a starting point...

    Jesus Christ performed miracles which have been recorded in the Bible. He rose from the dead. Not just anyone can do such a thing. In fact, can anyone else do it? Power over life and death is surely the mark of divinity.

    It's telling then, and hardly coincidental, that Christ said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Where most are concerned, you might be able to reject such a thing out of hand... but when someone lies three-days dead and then comes back to life, it demands attention. He claimed divinity... and he backed that claim up with demonstration of supernatural, divine power. When you rise from the dead, you have effectively shifted the burden of proof.
    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these things with you!

    If you'd like to know "where I'm coming from" you can look here.

  5. #5
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Do your precepts preclude the existence of other deities? Doesn't seem to be the way you've written it, it only says that there's only one Supreme God, and that could allow for other lesser deities, each with their own world views.

  6. #6
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post

    I plan on defending the three tenets of my opening post against any challenges; I'm interested in using this thread as a catch-all for any arguments anyone might be interested in pursuing against Christianity, be it the question of evil, Herman's non-believer challenge, Khan's views on polytheism, "problems" within the Bible, issues of salvation, etc.

    If I were to try to argue all of those cases up-front, my OP would stretch for volumes and volumes. So for now, I'll just stand by what I've said: God; Christ; the Bible. There any good reason we shouldn't take those as the given and call it a day?
    Ah, I understand, I think. So you are less concerned with you providing an argument as to why these are true, but would rather defend against arguments attempting to prove they are false?

    I could say one such argument against it is a lack of evidence for it...but meh...I see that's not what you wanted and it's not as much fun.

    __________________________________________________ _
    __________________________________________________ _

    Or, if you'd like a (slightly) more substantial argument as a starting point...


    Jesus Christ performed miracles which have been recorded in the Bible.
    The Bible isn't an accurate source of history. It was written hundreds of years after Jesus's supposed "death."
    He rose from the dead. Not just anyone can do such a thing. In fact, can anyone else do it? Power over life and death is surely the mark of divinity.
    Prove that we can trust what the Bible says.
    It's telling then, and hardly coincidental, that Christ said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
    Where most are concerned, you might be able to reject such a thing out of hand... but when someone lies three-days dead and then comes back to life, it demands attention. He claimed divinity... and he backed that claim up with demonstration of supernatural, divine power. When you rise from the dead, you have effectively shifted the burden of proof.
    How do you know he actually did this?

    __________________________________________________ _
    __________________________________________________ _

    You can ignore the above. Here is my argument against it:

    Quote Originally Posted by Why did Yahweh create Lucifer?
    My rationale is this;
    • Omnibenevolence is a necessary requirement for God's existence
    • To knowingly create something evil is an evil act
    • Being omnibenevolent means you cannot commit an evil act
    • Yahweh knowingly created Lucifer
    • Lucifer is evil
    • Because Yahweh is omniscient he knew Lucifer would turn evil
    • Therefore Yahweh knowingly created something evil
    • Therefore Yahweh commited an evil act
    • Therefore Yahweh is not omnibenevolent
    • Therefore Yahweh does not exist
    I've edited it slightly from what my original OP was.

    (I had to clarify by saying that this is the Christian God Yahweh, and not the Jewish God)

    Later on in the thread people pointed out that Lucifer wasn't actually mentioned that much in the Bible and it is possible that all of the stuff about Lucifer being evil was quite likely false.

    So replace Lucifer with Satan.

    MT asked whether or not I considered Gun-makers to be evil. I replied with:
    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    Quote Originally Posted by MT
    Do you hold that gun makers, knife makers, rope makers, pharma drug makers.
    Are all EVIL because they make those things?
    1. There is a large difference between committing an evil act, than becoming evil. My OP does not say God became evil because he created Satan, merely that he committed an evil act, which he can't do because he is omnibenevolent. So yes if we assume the gun makers did make something evil, and therefore commited an evil act, those gun makers aren't omnibenevolent.

    But they themselves aren't necessarily evil because of this.

    Committing a sin is an evil act, but according to Christian Doctrine we can receive forgiveness for this, therefore committing one evil act does not make somebody evil.

    2. It is a logical category error to say that material items, or tools, are evil. Have you ever heard the saying, "Guns don't kill people, people do."?
    Then MT pointed out that God did not actually create something evil. He created something that became evil.
    Then MT pointed out that God did NOT create something evil, he created something that WAS GOING TO become evil.

    I replied with:
    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    His second point was that God did not create something evil, merely, he created something with the potential for evil.

    I should have seen that one coming. So I will rephrase my first step in the OP to be:

    To create something that you know know for a fact will become purely evil is an evil act.

    Rephrased:

    To create something with the potential to become evil in and of itself, while knowing that potential will be monopolized on, is to effectively create something evil.

    (Notice the "in and of itself," guns cannot become evil.)

    Let us say for example that we genetically comstruct a brand new bacteria. We know that this bacteria has a very high potential to become a deadly bacteria after several genetic swaps. And we also know that it will go through these genetic swaps. I would say that effectively this is morally the same as creating something evil. If we know that it will go through those genetic swaps, it acheives the same result as just making it deadly in the first place (evil).
    And MT never replied...


    Note: The classic free-will objection to this variation of the argument from evil does not work, because not creating Satan doesn't violate his free will.

    You can't violate something's free will if that said something does not exist!


    Edit: MT did reply... and I said this to him:
    If I create something with the potential for evil, knowing that in doing so that evil will be monopolized upon, then this is an evil act.

    Why?

    Well, it knowingly contributes more evil to the universe than good. That's what constitutes an 'evil' act. Consider my bacteria example again, I am a scientist working in a laboratory. I design a bacterium that if subject to certain genetic swaps, will become a deadly disease. Let us just accept for the sake of the argument that a deadly disease is evil, because the point I am trying to illustrate is creating something with the potential for evil (the bacteria has it). So I create this bacterium, all good. However, I knew before creating it, that my friend was going to subject this bacterium to this genetic swap, and release it into the public! He did not force me in any way whatsoever either, it was under my free will that I made this bacterium. So after creating the bacterium, my friend takes it and does what I knew he would do. I just enabled him to release this deadly disease into the public, willingly. I created the starting point for an evil, and knew that the potential would be monopolized upon! In a court of law, if they knew all of this, I would be in prison! I effectively made the bacteria into a deadly disease in the first place, I mean c’mon, what difference would it have made to just make it a deadly disease in the first place? None. I committed an evil act.

    So now that we have our if/then statement, we need to support the "if."

    God knowingly created Lucifer (who had the potential for evil), and knowing that in doing so this evil will be monopolized upon, therefore, this was an evil act.
    Ughh, I did not write any of the stuff in that thread well.

  7. #7
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Good question.

    We'll start with the fact of existence and our knowledge of cause and effect. Everything we observe we can also recognize as being an effect from some prior cause.

    We can imagine the events of the universe all spiraling backwards towards some beginning condition. The pattern calls for a first event, touching all of the rest off.

    But what of this first event? Isn't it subject to cause and effect? In our search for this first event, it must be assumed that the first event has certain characteristics without which it could never satisfy our requirements.

    Specifically, it needs to be able to operate outside of our normal understanding of "cause and effect." That is, it must be supernatural. Because if it is not -- if it is natural -- then it is as subject to cause and effect as everything else, and will not provide the first event that logic demands.

    God is the first event, and existence is the evidence of his creation.
    How do you know that this "first cause" is a personal deity, capable of having a Son? What makes it "supreme" other than being uncaused?

    Is Jesus God, too?
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  8. #8
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    I've wanted to make this thread for quite a while; I hope the other members here will indulge me. What follows is a little bit of argument and a whole lot of explanation:


    THE ARGUMENT

    Consists of three (rough) tenets:

    1) There exists one supreme God.

    2) Jesus Christ was his Son, through whom God offers all of humanity salvation.

    3) The Bible is the word of God.
    1. There are many gods each claiming supremeness.

    2. Jesus Christ is the suppossed Son of God, he made claims, the claims of God claiming JEsus as his son are somewhat troublesome as different writers wrote different things. Jesus may offer up salvation to all of humanity....only if you believe and this is not any different than some of the other gods out there. Crosspollination?

    3. The Bible is the word of man as it relates to a God it has never met. IF the bible is the word of God then God has a hard time trying to figure out what it is he wants us to know putting into serious question his omnipotence and allmightiness.

    To say that the creation is the evidence of God is kinda putting the cart before the horse. You are arguing from a point that you still can't prove. You are supposing that God created the universe when in fact you have no evidence. Aliens could have done it....or perhaps Abe Lincoln did....or perhaps it just was. AT any rate here we are and we are simply no wiser as to how we got here or to where we are going.

    In Heaven there is no beer. That's why we drink it here.

    Rogue Cardinal, Member of the God-Awful Atheist Syndicate


  9. #9
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    3. The Bible is the word of man as it relates to a God it has never met. IF the bible is the word of God then God has a hard time trying to figure out what it is he wants us to know putting into serious question his omnipotence and allmightiness.
    Um, not really. His omnipotence or infinite wisdom, perhaps, but not His ability to actuate His will.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

  10. #10
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Thanks everyone for these initial replies; it appears I've sown the wind! I'll do my best to ride the storm out...

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    Do your precepts preclude the existence of other deities? Doesn't seem to be the way you've written it, it only says that there's only one Supreme God, and that could allow for other lesser deities, each with their own world views.
    It is possible that there are other "deities," yes. I only maintain the existence of one God, however, who is Supreme.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    Ah, I understand, I think. So you are less concerned with you providing an argument as to why these are true, but would rather defend against arguments attempting to prove they are false?

    I could say one such argument against it is a lack of evidence for it...but meh...I see that's not what you wanted and it's not as much fun.
    "Lack of evidence"? I've given you creation as evidence -- meaning that everything which is, is evidence of God. There's not a lack, but a surfeit!

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    The Bible isn't an accurate source of history.
    How not?

    First I think it's important that we try to assess where the burden of proof lies, relative to the Bible.

    Suppose you and I were archaeologists excavating some site where an ancient people used to live. We'll call them... the uh... Clivestapleites. And we unearth some document (!) from the time of the Clivestapleites which contains records of those people. One of those records lists a King of the Clivestapleites -- Talthas the Magnificent -- who reigned for nine years.

    Would it be proper for me, on this basis, to claim that Talthas the Magnificent was King of the Clivestapleites? To believe such a thing? To teach it in schools? Put it in texts. I think so. I think this is rather how it's done.

    If, in response, you were to say that there's "no evidence" that Talthas the Magnificent was King of the Clivestapleites, and that the document is not "an accurate source of history"... I guess I'd have to ask you why the document itself is not evidence, and how you know that it's inaccurate.

    I submit that the burden of proof rests with you to show that the Bible is not accurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    It was written hundreds of years after Jesus's supposed "death."
    How does this mean that it is inaccurate? Here's the reasoning that you're advancing:

    1) The Bible was written hundreds of years after Jesus' death.
    3) The Bible is inaccurate.

    Obviously, Premise #2 is left unstated. And well you might want to leave it that way! Because here's the necessary missing premise:

    2) Works about an event written hundreds of years after that event are necessarily inaccurate.

    Is that the case? Right now, in 2011, I can write a paper on the Renaissance, which took place, what -- circa 1400 - 1500? -- hundreds of years further removed from now than when the Gospels would have been written following Christ's death.

    Does that mean that my paper will necessarily be inaccurate? If I state in my paper that Dante wrote the Divine Comedy, am I wrong because I'm writing it down hundreds of years later?

    Or is the accuracy of my writing completely independent from when I write it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    Prove that we can trust what the Bible says.
    Is this the same standard you'd hold to my Clivestapelite document? Or would that get the benefit of the doubt?

    Unless there's good reason to doubt the Bible, I don't see why we oughtn't trust what it says.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    It's telling then, and hardly coincidental, that Christ said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." How do you know he actually did this?
    How do you know that Euclid wrote about geometry? Or that Caesar conquered Gaul? None of us were there; it's all from ancient writings.

    It's special pleading if we're willing to accept Euclid and Caesar but not Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    You can ignore the above. Here is my argument against it:

    [The Problem of Evil]
    Okay.

    I expect that the conversation regarding evil might carry on for a little while, so I don't want to try to rush the whole thing into one response. Let's start here:

    Suppose that God exists, that God created man, and that God loves man and wishes for man to return God's love.

    But! There is "free will," which here means that man is free to return God's love or not, at his own discretion.

    Man is also free in his action. If a man acts according to his love for God (reciprocating God's love for man), he will act in ways that we would term "good." If man acts apart from love for God, he will act in an "evil" manner.

    But primarily what exists -- and what matters -- is not "good" or "evil," which is merely our way of describing certain behaviors and states of mind, not metaphysical categories of existents; what exists and matters is God's love, and our choice of reciprocating it or not. If Lucifer/Satan existed, it would not be as an "evil agent," but a creature who could freely love God or not and has chosen not to.

    God created us with the potential to love him, but the freedom to elect against that. If he foresaw that some of us would make the choice not to love him, that doesn't make God "evil"; it gives meaning to the idea of "choice."

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    How do you know that this "first cause" is a personal deity, capable of having a Son? What makes it "supreme" other than being uncaused?
    It is not from the fact of creation alone that I know everything about God which I'd assert. I merely start with creation to demonstrate that some divinity is required.

    As for the deity being "personal," we have Biblical records of God's engaging in conversation with many people as well as more contemporary records of those who have claimed all manner of personal experiences and encounters with the divine.

    His ability to have a "Son" (which I use in that Christ referred to God as "Father"; it is not strictly as we normally understand a father/son relationship) is evidenced by Christ, whose divine nature is revealed in his life as recorded in the Bible, and again through a multitude of experiences that people have expressed and recorded for thousands of years.

    If God is the first cause (as I've argued), then any other entity, "divine" or otherwise, must also ultimately come from God. Per the Bible, there are also ending conditions for the Universe set by God. He is in this way master of all that lives and dies, all that exists and all that ceases to be, and in this way he is Supreme. Are there any necessary aspects of "supremacy" that I haven't covered here?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Is Jesus God, too?
    Yes.

    But. I don't want to leave it there. Jesus is a particular expression of God.

    Suppose Shakespeare were to write a haiku. It's understandable that a person reading it might feel confused that the haiku "were Shakespeare." After all, the person might feel, where is the five act structure? Where is the iambic pentameter? Where are the dramatic soliloquies? Where is the incredible nuance and range of character?

    While Shakespeare remains the author -- while the haiku is "as Shakespeare" as Hamlet or anything else -- the form of the haiku demands certain things and makes impossible others.

    Jesus is God as a man. This particular expression of Godhood necessarily introduces aspects that are not otherwise typical of God's divinity, including mortality and temporality, just as a Shakespearean haiku would incorporate elements not typical of his plays, and lack others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    1. There are many gods each claiming supremeness.
    To evaluate their claims, we'd first have to establish their reality. The existence of the Christian God does not preclude mankind from inventing other imaginary creatures. Is there any god in particular you'd like to champion as being real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    2. Jesus Christ is the suppossed Son of God, he made claims, the claims of God claiming JEsus as his son are somewhat troublesome as different writers wrote different things.
    He did make claims, but "making claims" is no evidence that those claims aren't true. In fact, a person making a claim is often our first indication that the matter of his claim is true.

    I claim to be writing this post from Los Angeles, CA. My profile, written when I lived in Oregon, puts me in Eugene. It's all troublesome, no question, but I really am in Los Angeles, and I'm drawing your attention to that fact via my claims on the matter.

    Of course you'd be welcome to ignore or otherwise disregard my claims, but would you have good reason to do it? In every case, if you *did* reject my claim, you'd be factually incorrect. I am in Los Angeles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    Jesus may offer up salvation to all of humanity....only if you believe and this is not any different than some of the other gods out there. Crosspollination?
    Not sure what "crosspollination" means here -- maybe you could clarify?

    Regarding the "other gods," again, we'd have to independently establish their reality before I'd find them material to discussion about Christ. But I will say this: the fact of Jesus' divinity does not mean that God has never expressed himself in any other way to men, before, during, or since Christ's lifetime.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    3. The Bible is the word of man as it relates to a God it has never met. IF the bible is the word of God then God has a hard time trying to figure out what it is he wants us to know putting into serious question his omnipotence and allmightiness.
    The Bible is the word of God as written by men. If I hold a cup under a waterfall and only walk away with a cupful of water, that doesn't mean that a cupful was the only water to be had.

    If God himself put pen to paper, I imagine that the results would be reflective of his omnipotence. But when a mortal puts pen to paper, even a mortal divinely inspired, the results will be reflective of the abilities of that mortal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    To say that the creation is the evidence of God is kinda putting the cart before the horse. You are arguing from a point that you still can't prove. You are supposing that God created the universe when in fact you have no evidence.
    No evidence save the universe.

    My argument is that the fact of the universe implies creation of the universe. This seems a logical extrapolation because everything that we observe, we can also observe as being an effect from some prior cause. If we go so far back as a "Big Bang," then the Big Bang must have been caused by something. The only way to save us from infinite regression is to posit something not subject to cause and effect, and that very characteristic means that we're positing the supernatural.

    If we say that "the universe has always been," that, too, would be outside of our understanding of cause and effect and therefore similarly "supernatural." But since the universe is by definition "the natural," we must be looking for something outside of it. After all, every observation we've made of the universe suggests that it's subject to cause and effect; to posit that the universe itself exists outside of cause and effect would seem to me to reject all other observations, and thus be nonsensical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    Aliens could have done it....or perhaps Abe Lincoln did....or perhaps it just was.
    If Abe Lincoln created the universe, then how would he not be God? (And I don't doubt Railsplitter could've done; hell, the man beat Chuck Norris in a rap battle!) If Lincoln created the universe, that wouldn't "eliminate the divine," it would just mean that Lincoln was the divine. But Lincoln didn't create the universe and I don't suppose you're arguing that he did.

    The necessity for the divine has been established in the creation of the universe; now it's just a question of which entity -- Lincoln, aliens, or the God that Christ proclaimed -- was responsible.

    Lincoln freed the slaves; aliens may or may not exist; through God's power, Christ rose from the dead, fed the masses, transmutated substances, walked on water and advocated a system of morality that, albeit imperfectly at times, has revolutionized the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    AT any rate here we are and we are simply no wiser as to how we got here or to where we are going.
    This is just a statement of Skepticism.

    In the face of any kind of theory backed by evidence/logic -- let's say "gravity" -- I could say that things just seem to fall, and we're no wiser about any of it.

    But that's just not true. When a man comes to earth, claims divine power and authority and then backs up his claims through supernatural feats, we're not "no wiser" than before on questions of divinity. If we're paying attention and attempting to gain wisdom, then obviously we stand to learn from it. Just as an apple might fall on our heads, and while one person may get nothing out of the experience other than a lump, another person -- one who's trying to understand the meaning of the events he witnesses -- can extrapolate from that an entire theory of physics.
    Last edited by DonAthos; May 25th, 2011 at 02:44 PM.
    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these things with you!

    If you'd like to know "where I'm coming from" you can look here.

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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post



    "Lack of evidence"? I've given you creation as evidence -- meaning that everything which is, is evidence of God. There's not a lack, but a surfeit!
    1. Show me where you made this argument.
    2. Explain how creation is evidence of the Christian God.

    How not?
    First I think it's important that we try to assess where the burden of proof lies, relative to the Bible.

    Suppose you and I were archaeologists excavating some site where an ancient people used to live. We'll call them... the uh... Clivestapleites. And we unearth some document (!) from the time of the Clivestapleites which contains records of those people. One of those records lists a King of the Clivestapleites -- Talthas the Magnificent -- who reigned for nine years.

    Would it be proper for me, on this basis, to claim that Talthas the Magnificent was King of the Clivestapleites? To believe such a thing? To teach it in schools? Put it in texts. I think so. I think this is rather how it's done.

    If, in response, you were to say that there's "no evidence" that Talthas the Magnificent was King of the Clivestapleites, and that the document is not "an accurate source of history"... I guess I'd have to ask you why the document itself is not evidence, and how you know that it's inaccurate.

    I submit that the burden of proof rests with you to show that the Bible is not accurate.
    If that text was consistent with our current laws of science at the time, then yes I would trust it. Also, the fact that it claims Yahweh is the one and only God, but several other holy texts claim a different God is the one and only, I see no reason to trust the Bible over the others.

    How does this mean that it is inaccurate? Here's the reasoning that you're advancing:

    1) The Bible was written hundreds of years after Jesus' death.
    3) The Bible is inaccurate.

    Obviously, Premise #2 is left unstated. And well you might want to leave it that way! Because here's the necessary missing premise:

    2) Works about an event written hundreds of years after that event are necessarily inaccurate.
    Is that the case? Right now, in 2011, I can write a paper on the Renaissance, which took place, what -- circa 1400 - 1500? -- hundreds of years further removed from now than when the Gospels would have been written following Christ's death.

    Does that mean that my paper will necessarily be inaccurate? If I state in my paper that Dante wrote the Divine Comedy, am I wrong because I'm writing it down hundreds of years later?

    Or is the accuracy of my writing completely independent from when I write it?
    That's different, you are drawing on other sources that were already written from the time period.

    Your accuracy is completely independent from when you write it, but proving you're accuracy is different.



    How do you know that Euclid wrote about geometry? Or that Caesar conquered Gaul? None of us were there; it's all from ancient writings.

    It's special pleading if we're willing to accept Euclid and Caesar but not Christ.
    Hold on, I don't doubt that Matthew wrote the book of Matthew. Just like I don't doubt Euclid wrote about geometry. I don't doubt that Caesar conquered Gaul, it was written right after it happened by scribes, so isn't subject to hundreds of years of "bloating" (think tall tales). And I don't see why anybody would lie about that, religion on the other hand, I can...(look at the power Christianity has had on the world).

    Okay.

    I expect that the conversation regarding evil might carry on for a little while, so I don't want to try to rush the whole thing into one response. Let's start here:

    Suppose that God exists, that God created man, and that God loves man and wishes for man to return God's love.

    But! There is "free will," which here means that man is free to return God's love or not, at his own discretion.

    Man is also free in his action. If a man acts according to his love for God (reciprocating God's love for man), he will act in ways that we would term "good." If man acts apart from love for God, he will act in an "evil" manner.

    But primarily what exists -- and what matters -- is not "good" or "evil," which is merely our way of describing certain behaviors and states of mind, not metaphysical categories of existents; what exists and matters is God's love, and our choice of reciprocating it or not. If Lucifer/Satan existed, it would not be as an "evil agent," but a creature who could freely love God or not and has chosen not to.

    God created us with the potential to love him, but the freedom to elect against that. If he foresaw that some of us would make the choice not to love him, that doesn't make God "evil"; it gives meaning to the idea of "choice."
    How does this solve the problem of evil? Are you saying that Satan is not evil?
    .
    .
    .

    That's why the argument I provided is different from the traditional argument from evil. The classic defense to it is:
    1. Free will is a greater good than restricting (supposed) evil things like murder.
    2. So a universe with free will is better than a universe without murder.
    3. So things like murder are actually not evil because they serve free will which serves the greater good.

    But with my argument;
    a) Free will doesn't make a difference. God could have kept free will in line by not creating Satan in the first place
    b) You can't say that Satan is actually "not evil," because this ignores scripture!

  12. #12
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    It is not from the fact of creation alone that I know everything about God which I'd assert. I merely start with creation to demonstrate that some divinity is required.

    As for the deity being "personal," we have Biblical records of God's engaging in conversation with many people as well as more contemporary records of those who have claimed all manner of personal experiences and encounters with the divine.

    His ability to have a "Son" (which I use in that Christ referred to God as "Father"; it is not strictly as we normally understand a father/son relationship) is evidenced by Christ, whose divine nature is revealed in his life as recorded in the Bible, and again through a multitude of experiences that people have expressed and recorded for thousands of years.

    If God is the first cause (as I've argued), then any other entity, "divine" or otherwise, must also ultimately come from God. Per the Bible, there are also ending conditions for the Universe set by God. He is in this way master of all that lives and dies, all that exists and all that ceases to be, and in this way he is Supreme. Are there any necessary aspects of "supremacy" that I haven't covered here?
    You are using the Bible as support for your claims about God. How do you know the Bible is reliable?

    Yes.

    But. I don't want to leave it there. Jesus is a particular expression of God.

    Suppose Shakespeare were to write a haiku. It's understandable that a person reading it might feel confused that the haiku "were Shakespeare." After all, the person might feel, where is the five act structure? Where is the iambic pentameter? Where are the dramatic soliloquies? Where is the incredible nuance and range of character?

    While Shakespeare remains the author -- while the haiku is "as Shakespeare" as Hamlet or anything else -- the form of the haiku demands certain things and makes impossible others.

    Jesus is God as a man. This particular expression of Godhood necessarily introduces aspects that are not otherwise typical of God's divinity, including mortality and temporality, just as a Shakespearean haiku would incorporate elements not typical of his plays, and lack others.
    Isn't this the heresy of modalism?
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Um, not really. His omnipotence or infinite wisdom, perhaps, but not His ability to actuate His will.
    OF course he ability to actuate his will is in trouble....people still do evil things and lots of people simply do not believe. He "supposedly" really wants wants us to...but a lot of us find it impossible to do so.

    It's not really him actuating his will as much as it is people chosing to believe in something they have zero evidence for. HE is no longer the God of the OT that gets actively involved. He is now the new and improved God that doesn't actively participate in this world because now he's left us Jesus and he no longer has to do anything...or so the argument goes.

    In Heaven there is no beer. That's why we drink it here.

    Rogue Cardinal, Member of the God-Awful Atheist Syndicate


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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    OF course he ability to actuate his will is in trouble....people still do evil things and lots of people simply do not believe. He "supposedly" really wants wants us to...but a lot of us find it impossible to do so.

    It's not really him actuating his will as much as it is people chosing to believe in something they have zero evidence for. HE is no longer the God of the OT that gets actively involved. He is now the new and improved God that doesn't actively participate in this world because now he's left us Jesus and he no longer has to do anything...or so the argument goes.
    No, I'm sorry but you're constructing an imaginary opponent. The argument here is that it (God being actively involved) didn't work very well at all. Having Jesus is an improvement because even though the choosing to believe deal is still a mess and people are still fickle, we can be fully redeemed and go to dwell with God.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal View Post
    OF course he ability to actuate his will is in trouble....people still do evil things and lots of people simply do not believe. He "supposedly" really wants wants us to...but a lot of us find it impossible to do so.

    It's not really him actuating his will as much as it is people chosing to believe in something they have zero evidence for. HE is no longer the God of the OT that gets actively involved. He is now the new and improved God that doesn't actively participate in this world because now he's left us Jesus and he no longer has to do anything...or so the argument goes.
    You're changing the goalposts. You originally claimed that because God was having a hard time figuring out what it is He wants us to know, we've got good reason to doubt His omnipotence.

    Now you're arguing something more like "God doesn't intervene as much as He supposedly did in the OT...so we have good reason to doubt His omnipotence."

    I still don't see what this has to do with omnipotence. This isn't a matter of capacity or power, but rather how that power is directed.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
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    Re: Christianity is True

    Christianity. like all existing and former religions is a myth. Christianity does have some good ideals, with the main one being the Golden Rule, which it adopted from other philosophies. Since many of the stories regarding the origin of Christianity include magic and supernatural, they did not happen. Also we today have never found one single shred of evidence to confirm any of the stories in the Bible, except what could be confirmed anyway without the Bible, such as a few people who lived and a few places that exist(ed).

    The practice of Christianity, in my experience, was a positive experience in general, but Christianity as a whole has had a terrible record of human abuse and tragedy which it caused either directly or indirectly. My main objections to it now are the numerous divisions in people which it has caused, both within the religion and between religions.

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    Re: Christianity is True

    [QUOTE=Soren;467994]
    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    "Lack of evidence"? I've given you creation as evidence -- meaning that everything which is, is evidence of God. There's not a lack, but a surfeit!


    1. Show me where you made this argument.
    I presented this argument here:

    Quote Originally Posted by DonAthos View Post
    Everything we observe we can also recognize as being an effect from some prior cause.

    We can imagine the events of the universe all spiraling backwards towards some beginning condition. The pattern calls for a first event, touching all of the rest off.

    But what of this first event? Isn't it subject to cause and effect? In our search for this first event, it must be assumed that the first event has certain characteristics without which it could never satisfy our requirements.

    Specifically, it needs to be able to operate outside of our normal understanding of "cause and effect." That is, it must be supernatural. Because if it is not -- if it is natural -- then it is as subject to cause and effect as everything else, and will not provide the first event that logic demands.

    God is the first event, and existence is the evidence of his creation.
    Would you like other evidences of God's existence? I've been working on a couple of ideas...

    1) Free will.

    Many people suppose for some reason that Christianity has a hard time with the question of free will. After all, God's "omniscience" supposedly stands in the way of man being truly free, which 1) conflicts with Christian doctrine about free will, and 2) conflicts with our own, internal experiences. We all know what it is like to have free will.

    But it isn't the case that Christianity and free will are at odds. Much like the supernatural is required to explain the existence of the natural, I would argue that free will itself suggests a divine origin. For everything we can tell, we live in a mechanical, materialist universe. One atom collides with another with another, etc., in an endless chain leading to certain, unavoidable outcomes. Whence free will?

    Some suggest that "free will" is an illusion brought about by the "emergent property" of consciousness. I say that these are just words which bring us no closer to understanding consciousness or free will, the truth of which are apparent to anyone who performs introspection with honesty. We're more than just materialist cause-and-effect, and we have the power to will.

    That power to will is evidence of the divine.

    2) Morality.

    Have you observed morality debates on ODN? The way that they typically devolve into accusations of subjectivity...?

    It's true that we can't logically assess the moral character of actions; we cannot "prove" that some things are right and some things are wrong.

    And yet, we all have an internal sense of the truth of moral judgment. While no one here may be able to explain how rape is abhorrent according to any "universal standard," we all understand that it is, and you'll be hard pressed to find anyone willing to take up the case for rape, even as an intellectual exercise.

    Saying that "morality is subjective", "arbitrary", etc., is one thing. But the heavy conviction that man seems to share that morality is a real force in our lives suggests otherwise. And the fact that this morality does not come from logical means -- or from nature -- suggests a divine origin.

    Our creator-God is not simply a deity, then, but a moral one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    2. Explain how creation is evidence of the Christian God.
    We have to go one step at a time. The "Christian God" is not a separate entity than "God" or the "creator," so everything that is evidence of a creator is also evidence of the "Christian God." It's just that no one piece of evidence will also supply every detail about God; we haven't yet established what color his eyes are, for instance.

    So I start here: creation (i.e. the universe) implies divinity.

    Any kind of divinity? I don't believe so. The very act of creation also implies 1) a powerful divinity (in that it can create); and 2) a volitional divinity (in that it can choose to do so). Put together with our observation that it is a moral divinity and it begins to take shape. That is, the more we learn about God (through direct observation and inference), the more he looks like the "Christian God."

    Of course, we wouldn't call him the "Christian God" at all had not Christ proclaimed him and performed miracles in his name, so that can't be discounted either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    If that text was consistent with our current laws of science at the time, then yes I would trust it.
    Can you show how the Bible is inconsistent with science?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    Also, the fact that it claims Yahweh is the one and only God, but several other holy texts claim a different God is the one and only, I see no reason to trust the Bible over the others.
    Christ's miracles establish his divine origin, and give strong reason to trust the Bible over other claims to divinity.

    But beyond that, I don't know that my position requires me to reject all other divinity. You asked if my position meant rejecting all other gods -- and I said no. Can you show me where the Bible requires me to reject them?

    Finally, this isn't a question of "what do you trust more -- the Bible or X other given work"? It's a question of "can you trust the Bible?" And so far, you've given no good reason to doubt it. Let's deal with the veracity of the Bible, itself, and leave the consequences to other religions for later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    That's different, you are drawing on other sources that were already written from the time period.
    And do you suppose that when the Gospels were written, they weren't drawing on anything extant?

    We know about the Bible that we have because it survived the 2,000 years since. Most things written from that era have not. Further, in ancient societies there were strong oral traditions. The books of the current Bible weren't written in a vacuum. There would have been a number of other works, allowing people to write accurate histories, just as now we could write an accurate history of the Renaissance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    Your accuracy is completely independent from when you write it, but proving you're accuracy is different.
    But -- again -- why should I have to "prove" the accuracy of the Bible? This is a completely different standard than we'd use to judge other ancient texts. When we unearth documents talking about an ancient King, we take it for granted that these documents are "accurate." The only reason we'd ever doubt their accuracy is if there's some reason -- conflicting evidence, perhaps -- to doubt it.

    Do we have reason to doubt Christ's life, miracles, and resurrection? Is there a historian, perhaps, who was watching Christ's tomb, and then wrote down how nothing was disturbed and nothing changed and no one ever came out?

    Because if there's not, then don't we have to give credence to the only accounts we have, which all report that Christ was resurrected?

    If you don't have any good reason to doubt that particular history, but doubt it anyways, doesn't that suggest that you're prejudiced against any claim of the miraculous? How many ancient writings would I need for you to grant that these things actually happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    Hold on, I don't doubt that Matthew wrote the book of Matthew. Just like I don't doubt Euclid wrote about geometry. I don't doubt that Caesar conquered Gaul, it was written right after it happened by scribes, so isn't subject to hundreds of years of "bloating" (think tall tales). And I don't see why anybody would lie about that, religion on the other hand, I can...(look at the power Christianity has had on the world).
    This is all fine in theory -- yes, things could conceivably "bloat" -- but we're still a long way away from showing that it has happened. If you can demonstrate that the events in the Bible did not actually happen as written, but are "tall tales" which were embellished upon by ancient writers, that would be cool, and a strong argument in your favor.

    But if you can't show that these things didn't actually happen as written, then we have no call to assume that they didn't.

    We should treat the Bible (at least) like we do all other ancient history. Believe it's true unless or until we have good reason not to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    How does this solve the problem of evil? Are you saying that Satan is not evil?
    What I'm saying is a bit more subtle than that. What I'm saying is that there are no such things as "evil creatures." That "evil" does not exist in a strict sense, except that it's a way we describe certain actions, etc.

    What actually exists? Beings that are capable of making choices. Sometimes we call those choices "good" or "evil," according to our sense of morality, but that doesn't mean that things are walking around with an actual, physical "good" or "evil" imprint on them.

    So I'm saying that God did not create anything evil. He merely created creatures capable of making choices. And what "evil" is, really, is just a lack of God's presence. We can choose to be with God or without him -- to follow his inspiration or choose against it -- and the latter is "evil."

    The relationship of God to evil is light to the shadow. Sure, there's no such thing as "evil" without good/without God, just as there's no shadow without light. Reason being? Without God and without light, all we have is undifferentiated darkness. But does the light therefore "create the shadow"? Or is the shadow just the part that the light doesn't reach?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    a) Free will doesn't make a difference. God could have kept free will in line by not creating Satan in the first place
    God didn't create Satan, in the sense of making an evil entity. He created a creature capable of choosing to follow God or not, and Satan choose not to follow. Satan, therefore, created himself, in the sense of being who he is. As do we all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    b) You can't say that Satan is actually "not evil," because this ignores scripture!
    Which part, specifically?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    You are using the Bible as support for your claims about God. How do you know the Bible is reliable?
    See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Isn't this the heresy of modalism?
    It may or may not be. Is there anything about my position (the three tenets in my OP) that is incompatible with this "heresy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by challenged View Post
    Christianity. like all existing and former religions is a myth. Christianity does have some good ideals, with the main one being the Golden Rule, which it adopted from other philosophies. Since many of the stories regarding the origin of Christianity include magic and supernatural, they did not happen. Also we today have never found one single shred of evidence to confirm any of the stories in the Bible, except what could be confirmed anyway without the Bible, such as a few people who lived and a few places that exist(ed).
    So you're saying that we haven't found "one single shred of evidence"... except for all of the evidence we've found.

    Well, that's convenient!

    Quote Originally Posted by challenged View Post
    The practice of Christianity, in my experience, was a positive experience in general, but Christianity as a whole has had a terrible record of human abuse and tragedy which it caused either directly or indirectly. My main objections to it now are the numerous divisions in people which it has caused, both within the religion and between religions.
    Can you show this "abuse and tragedy" to have their origins in the Bible? Or are they more the result of people not taking Christ's words seriously? Maybe the answer to the world's problems isn't "less Christianity," but more.
    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these things with you!

    If you'd like to know "where I'm coming from" you can look here.

  18. #18
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    Re: Christianity is True

    But -- again -- why should I have to "prove" the accuracy of the Bible? This is a completely different standard than we'd use to judge other ancient texts. When we unearth documents talking about an ancient King, we take it for granted that these documents are "accurate." The only reason we'd ever doubt their accuracy is if there's some reason -- conflicting evidence, perhaps -- to doubt it.

    Do we have reason to doubt Christ's life, miracles, and resurrection? Is there a historian, perhaps, who was watching Christ's tomb, and then wrote down how nothing was disturbed and nothing changed and no one ever came out?

    Because if there's not, then don't we have to give credence to the only accounts we have, which all report that Christ was resurrected?

    If you don't have any good reason to doubt that particular history, but doubt it anyways, doesn't that suggest that you're prejudiced against any claim of the miraculous? How many ancient writings would I need for you to grant that these things actually happened?
    The problem, of course, is that there are about a thousand different conflicting "ancient texts". Why should we take the Bible's account as true instead of one of these? Can all of them simultaneously be true? Why should we be more skeptical of the religious texts of every other religion?


    Your theodicy is rather unpersuasive, as well. Why does God permit suffering? How is that loving?

    Will we have free will in heaven? If so, will we sin in heaven? If it is possible that we should have free will but not sin, why wouldn't God create us in that state already? Why would God intentionally create suffering?
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

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  19. #19
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    Re: Christianity is True

    The god is only one.
    He begets not, nor was he begotten...

    ---------- Post added at 07:53 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:43 AM ----------

    1) The god is only one.
    2)The god begets not,
    3)nor was he begotten

 

 

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