My atheist friends often have Psalm 14:1 lobbed at them as if the verse ends the conversation like a holy grenade! It says, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God".

But the verse does not mean all atheists are fools. It means anyone who "says in his heart" there is no God is a fool. In other words, anyone who denies God for merely emotional reasons is foolish. An issue this profound is not to be determined by one's psychological state or emotional disposition.

The person who has genuine intellectual questions or objections concerning God's existence is not the biblical definition of a fool. God will honor and answer in the humble quest for truth. The honest inquirer is in a better position before God than the emotionally closed-minded.

Since I'm talking about the Hebraic-Christian Scriptures, they repeatedly say we must humble ourselves before God. Think about it. If God exists, humility is certainly in order in seeking Him. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you". "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God", etc.

This shouldn't be hard for the atheist intellectually. Most of my atheist friends agree that humility is in order in the quest for any truth. Don't you agree?

(On the other hand, I can see how horrible I would feel (at least at first) if, say, Islam was proven to me to be true. I would be forced intellectually and emotionally to acknowledge Allah and Muhammad. I would have to begrudgingly and reluctantly bow before them. That would suck! I would acknowledge Allah's existence, but probably continually resist any relationship or love for him until he smote me!

But I must say that my emotional resistance to Islam is mostly for intellectual reasons! Thankfully, I am confident there is nothing forthcoming in Islam that will serve as an adequate defeater of Christ's claims.)

BTW, I am aware of Christ's injunction against calling anyone a fool, yet he himself did. Keep in mind that Christ is forbidding unwarranted name-calling (literally "empty head") from people who are themselves often foolish!

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One-upper. ;)

Two-upping. ;)

Damn.. that's not a concept.

yeah we need all of those buttons...
There is a huge problem about quoting scripture and that is that it represents 2000 year old moral values. For example Exodus 35:2 - "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death." Or Leviticus 20:13 - “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." Point your scripture quoting friends my way and we can quote some scripture. Now they might say that the Old Testament is not to be taken literally, well the 10 commandments are in the Old Testament so should we take those literally? I formulated two arguments that go like this:

Premise 1: If the Ten Commandments are true, then God is changing.
Premise 2: If God is changing, then His word is not eternal (by 'eternal' I mean his word/teachings are always relevant).
Premise 3: If God's word is not eternal, then all the lessons from the Bible can be disregarded.
Conclusion: The Bible can be regarded as immoral for modern society.

Premise 1: If the Ten Commandments are false, then God is unchanging
Premise 2: If God is unchanging, then his word is eternal
Premise 3: If God's word is unchanging, then all lessons from the Bible are relevant today.
Conclusion: If all lessons from the Bible are relevant today, then it is permissible to kill people who work on the Sabbath.
You can tell your religious friends to pick which one they are going to go with.

Sam, first, you are committing a fallacy known as Argumentum Ab Annis. One does not determine the truth or falsehood of a proposition (including moral ones) based on the age or era from which it came, i.e. newer does not necessarily mean truer.

Secondly, neither God nor moral values have changed. In the case of the 10 Commandments, all that has changed is the application of certain moral imperatives.  In Christian theology, the civil/ceremonial aspects of the Law (Sabbath laws, eating shellfish, etc) have changed due to (1) the theocracy being no longer extant, and (2) Christ fulfilling those aspects of the Law. 

You'll notice that certain moral imperatives transcend the civil/ceremonial aspects of the Law (e.g. murder) and are upheld by the New Testament. So, your post has to do with internal aspects of Christian theology and the application of moral values and duties (Applied Ethics).

Kris, the moral relevance of something should be determined on its own merits. That's why it is a fallacy to fault it based on how old it is. And that's exactly what Sam does ("it represents 2000 year old moral values"). "You ought not lie", "you ought not murder"; both of these moral values are over 2,000 years old. Are they therefore no longer relevant?

BTW, despite what Sam says, the 10 Commandments are much older than 2,000 years! 

Yes, on second thought, it was just a general mistake we all make. He knows the OT predates the NT.

Also, it depends on what you mean by "tenant". Do you mean moral tenant? If so, then the Bible can merely reflect the moral tenants that we universally recognize (do not rape, do not murder, do not steal).

If you mean spiritual tenants, then I would agree that one is free to accept or reject them. One is free to reject God or place as many gods before him as one wishes.

HA! So did I! ("tenant"). Takes me back to my renting days!


In biblical theology, these things you listed are a reflection of God's view revealed in Scripture. The OT theocracy forced God's people to adhere to them. But God showed through the Levitical Law that one cannot force love and relationship! Therefore, it pointed forward to fulfillment in Christ which allowed for a heart change,rather than a mere behavior change. So, in Christ, we are free to keep the "spirit" of, say, the Sabbath, and not the burdensome legal requirements of the Sabbath (which are now defunct). 

We are not a theocracy in the U.S. and are not forced to adhere to devotion to God (which can't be done anyway!). Our laws have a moral component but they try to accommodate various religious views. 

Notice the 10 Commandments still show an overview of proper relationship to God (no gods before me, name in vain, etc.) and to others (do not commit adultery, honor father and mother, etc.). Does that make sense?

The issue is the relevance of these laws to modern existence and any special value assigned to the Bible as a moral text. By contemporary standards, the document has little value as a moral guide compared to other available resources.

Not sure what you mean, Kris. Claiming the Bible has no special value as a moral text flies in the face of everything we know in human history! What exactly is it about the Golden Rule that does not apply to contemporary life? 

"The concept of reciprocity is one that is established in many cultures without the Bible.."

That is not the point! Christ affirmed the principle, which is also found in other cultures. The Greek construction accurately reflects the principle.

And it's only one moral imperative found in the Bible I can bring up! If you want to critique the Bible, go ahead. But to try to diminish the profound moral impact of the Bible is ridiculous! In fact, it is universally considered the #1 moral paradigm of all time!

"If you wanted a high school student to learn about embryological development, would you point that student first to scientific resources...".

Absolutely! I agree that there is nothing in the Koran that accurately predicts embryological development (I've seen it). But even if it did, one could only show possible correlation between known science and an ancient text (which could then have theological ramifications).

In the same way, one can examine known science and draw theological ramifications from it. Science can provide inferences that provide philosophical pointers to God, but not direct detection of God. This is how science and philosophy or theology can work together. (In case you're wondering, I'm not a "Young Earth" guy).


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