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

By tenets, I mean any tenets anywhere in the entire set of books,but if we want to talk of moral tenets, here are some which are quite contestable:

no gods before me
graven images
coveting
adultery (grey area depending on definition)
Lord's name in vain
Keeping the Sabbath holy
honouring mother and father
homosexuality (not a major tenet, but I don't believe prohibitions on sexual conduct were ever actually removed -- feel free to correct if I am mistaken)

Even seeking salvation or redemption through Christ is highly contestable. Without secular law providing a more practical backbone to social order, this would never fly.

Kris,

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.

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 or the Abrahamic faiths, but the phrasing of, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" is awkward and limited. It doesn't really account for diversity in needs and desires of other people which tends to be a strong area of focus in modern ethics.

It's handy as an aphorism, but that's about the extent of it.

"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!

Actually, let's take a step away from the Bible and morality for a second and look at the same issue from a slightly different angle.

Some Muslims take to the idea that the Koran is consistent with science. The specific example given is that it describes embryological development correctly. I disagree that it does from the passages I have been provided this far, but let's just assume for a second that it is reasonably accurate.

If you wanted a high school student to learn about embryological development, would you point that student first to scientific resources which describe the process in clear and concise terms with abundant explanation and supporting resources, or would you point them to an antiquated text with cryptic descriptions revealing little significant detail, no depth, and hardly anything in the way of verifiable source material?

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

That is EXACTLY the point. We do not need a lengthy document subject to endless translation and interpretation debates, peppered with irrelevant commentary, repetition, peppered with disgusting and immoral behaviour by contemporary standards followed by bizarre negations with questionable justification to reveal to us basic moral precepts which almost certainly would have been assumed regardless and have since been better refined under secular reasoning.

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!

It's not ridiculous, but that was also never the point. It remains a question of contemporary relevance. You have provided not a single reason for why we should continue to cite or reference this document on moral fronts.

"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).

 Science can provide inferences that provide philosophical pointers to God, but not direct detection of God.

This should defy the methodologically impossible owing to the limitations of science, but I'll entertain the notion: what inferences can be drawn in this regard? And keep in mind directionality: it has to be science which provides "inferences that provide philosophical pointers to God" and not merely science viewed through a religious lens such as god of the gaps type arguments like intelligent design.

Ah, crap: in my previous post it should have read "Koran is consistent with science".

"...what inferences can be drawn in this regard?"


For example, the scientific data that the universe had a beginning increases almost daily. If the time/space/material universe had a beginning, it brings up philosophical questions concerning the nature of causality, and what the attributes of the cause of the universe are (impersonal? personal? eternal? immaterial?). 

Another example is the fine-tuning of the initial constants that allow for intelligent life (found in the Big Bang itself). The scientist, or anyone else, can put on her philosophers hat and ask if these fine-tuning aspects derive from chance, physical necessity, or design. 


(God of the Gaps arguments are not necessary. One can argue for God based on what we know, not on what we don't know.)

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