I’d like to burn some very typical straw men. Hopefully, in the debate over Christianity, these unnecessary issues can be avoided.
Creation - Neither Genesis nor any of the scriptures demands that the earth and universe is only 6- to 10- thousand years old. The Hebrew word for “day” (yom) could mean long periods of time. The words “there was morning and there was evening, the first day” could be translated “there was beginning and ending, the first (yom)”.
(BTW, the narrative moves to the surface of the earth in Genesis 1:2. While stars were certainly already in existence, their light was not visible on the surface of the earth until the opaque early atmosphere cleared).
Adam and Eve – While scripture does indicate they were specially created, there are gaps in the biblical genealogies that could place Adam and Eve back 60- to 90-thousand years. This would also predict increasing discovery of a common DNA originating between east Africa and the Mesopotamia.
(BTW, the word for “rib” means “side”. The story of Eve’s creation could mean God created her from Adam for symbolic purposes. I speculate a biopsy, of sorts, from the side, with a few million variations to the DNA producing a female. )
Talking Snakes - A boa constrictor with vocal cords is not in view here. That image comes largely from medieval art. The “serpent” in the garden was intelligent and used for evil. One can only speculate what sort of being it was (perhaps one no longer extant).
The Flood – The fact that a great flood is found in various cultures indicates that it happened. Two questions emerge: which account is most accurate and whether the flood was global or local.
I’m of the opinion that the flood was regional rather than global for several reasons. First, while the flood was universal in effect, it was only regional in extent due to human’s not having moved much beyond the Mesopotamia at the time. A global flood was unnecessary.
Secondly, language like “under all the heavens”, “all the earth”, etc. are most likely from the perspective of the observer, i.e. a flood from horizon to horizon. “Mountains” could be translated “hills” with rain and water “covering” (or running over) them rather than submerging them.
Thirdly, this would mean there were not polar bears and penguins, etc. on the ark, but only animals indigenous to the region and of special relation to man.
Fourthly, a global flood would have torn the ark to pieces, no matter how well built. And it certainly would not have landed anywhere near its original location.
Fifthly, the scripture itself said a “large wind” was used in the evaporation process. Such a wind would have virtually no effect in a global flood.
Finally, if the flood were only regional why not just have Noah, his family, and whatever animals needed, hike out of the area and be safe? Why a big specifically-built ark? I think because God often operates via symbols teaching important truths or significance, i.e. salvation in Christ or deliverance through troubled waters (trials).
Use of Metaphor – The scriptures use metaphor and other literary devices. One need only utilize common exegetical analysis and context to determine what any author meant as literal or metaphorical (and on a case-by-case basis).
Inerrancy – If there are consequential or factual errors in the Bible that does not mean Christianity is false. However, I find it remarkable how well the Bible holds up to scrutiny and that there are plausible answers to discrepancies. Personally, I hold to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy.
Hell – is not a place of torture (external) but of torment (internal). There are many descriptions of hell in the scriptures. The “fire” is most likely not the chemical combustion we’re familiar with. It, combined with all the other descriptions, reduces to separation from God and the judgment of God.
This does not make hell more tolerable (that’s not possible). But it does dispel hillbilly theology that has poor souls swatting flames for eternity! Christ depicted conversation taking place “in the flames”. No person could have a conversation while on fire! On our familiar planet, one is in mindless torture if burning.
It is, however, a profound tragedy to be eternally separated from God. It is a “spiritual chaos” one enters when the intact “self” survives the physical body. There are indications that some kind of body could exist in hell.
Heaven – is a remarkably physical place. It is not ethereal or immaterial. It is a combination of a “new heaven and new earth”. We will live on earth in physical bodies that are “spiritual” which nonetheless have access to one another and continued exploration of the universe without many of the limits of current bodies affected by entropy, etc. Christ’s resurrected body could be touched and he ate food, etc. This describes the redeemed, resurrected body.
This is not to be confused with an intermediary state which is not physical. At death, one goes either into the very presence of God to await the resurrection of the body, or in a state of chaos to await final judgment.
“God will not allow anything to happen in your life that you can’t handle” – False! Scripturally, there are plenty of things that happen that one cannot handle! Devastating things! The accurate teaching is that nothing will happen that God’s grace will not get one through.
“You must become like children” - Christ said to “humble yourself like a little child”. It does not mean to be naïve, ignorant, gullible, or irrational.
Pascal’s Wager – This is not an argument for God nor necessarily addressed to atheists. Pascal used a popular gambling motif to shake the French laity out of spiritual complacency and to at least move them in the direction of God.
Further, the Wager, as it is commonly used, is not allowed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. He said if Christ was not risen, then the jig is up! Christianity is false! He did not say believe it anyway “just in case” or because it provides a positive way of life.
I hope these internal considerations provide food for thought.
It's the idealists who believe that mind is a kind of substance. But the word "substance" in philosophy is jargon and doesn't really relate to what we mean by substance in everyday life. They hold that everything is mental, that reality is composed of ideas. There are different stripes of idealists, so any broad generalization we'll be more accurate for some than others. The main thing is to learn that they aren't idealists because they have ideals.
Their opposition is the materialists who believe that everything is either matter or some matter-related phenomenon or epiphenomenon. I happen to be a materialist.
Strangely, one might view Einstein in believing in a weird kind of substance. In a way, space/time behaves like a substance as we understand substance in everyday life, because it can be compressed or stretched under the influence of mass, rather like taffy.
Unseen: You can be seen instead of being understood for changes when you are doing what is interesting that you know how to do not requiring any assistance from someone else to do it at an experience that is peace. From there you are participating in the knowledge process provided according to what you are caused to see and experience available at your living environment.
Everything is a substance with some substance not appearing that way due to the amount of nervous system information which is somewhat understandable to research and lay life as gravity. When all of that is removed you have either 1) the substance of liquid hydrogen doing something different (fission purposeful for decaying life) or 2) liquid hydrogen that is caused still purposeful for strategic removal of useless hardened substance some call resistance or plaques or masses or 3) liquid helium or 4) whole hydrogen which is the lines (some might say strings from within M theory and quantum understandings) of liquid hydrogen caused to unite as one substance. This unity of liquid hydrogen together with interesting nervous system life removed from pressure and caused to a non audible communication that is understandable as circumlocutio is how knowledge is placed to a lot of life at the same moment according to appreciated sights having the same meaning across existence areas. It is interesting and you can use yourself within it in a way that is never about Unseen "do something different."
So, whole sight is circumventing disaster.
Yes, and while that is true all of that last sentence is not interesting said that way.
That's easy for YOU to say --
UNSEEEEN! I told you it was for you --!
I am not sure what you are talking about, but it is fun to read what you write. I especially like "quantum understandings." I feel like what I've got going on is quantum misunderstandings, but maybe that's because it's Wednesday. Strange things happen on Wednesdays
Neurologist John Eccles - His "three world view" or as he calls this view trialist interactionist is relatively simple to understand and it does not propose that there exists 'mental substance' apart from physical embodiment.
Christians tend to latch onto his use of the words "The Self - The Soul" under Pure Ego in his world two definition. He however defines Pure Ego - "Finally, at the core of World 2 there is the self or pure ego, which is the basis of our unity as an experiencing being throughout our whole lifetime."
Note: Pure Ego is for our lifetime.
Eccles was a theist, and an off-again, on-again Catholic, but nothing of the sort devotion Kevin is proposing.
Personally, I prefer a 3-bean salad.
Kevin, Hell can't be separation from God if you are using those biblical accounts of it!
Yeah there are parables that talk about that, but the "casting outside" parables fit the imagery of the parables used to describe them. They were parables, not detailed accounts of what this place/state of being was supposed to be like.
"he[the beast] also will drink the wine of God's wrath,poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." Rev 14:10-11
If anything it seems like the main show for eternity's entertainment schedule.
You kinda have to wonder, don't you John, how many thousands of years, for entertainment, you can stroll over to watch some dudes smolder, before you ask, "Is there any way to change the channel --?"
ROFL. I was wondering if I was stretching it, but seriously, why else would you have it be the centerpiece around all the throneroom of heaven?
But the REAL thing is, John, that normal people, people like ones you and I meet every day, people with whom we could find ourselves friends, actually believe this stuff! They can't see beyond the book, to the nonsense it contains!
"Jaime, you bear a big burden of proof to declare that the way God has communicated is not the best way to communicate to mankind!"
Why does Jaime bear the burden of proof? It is your ideology, do your job of proving it to us. So far I am not impressed. There is so much to accept, even before a 'proof' could be mounted, that I look forward to your, so far, strained attempts.
"In fact, in Christian theology we are not left to our own devices and accidents of circumstance in order to know God. He has taken the initiative not only in General Revelation and Special Revelation but also directly to the "human heart"."
So 'God' can down link to the 'human heart'? HOW IS THIS DONE? YOU HAVE ONE MORE THING TO PROVE! Please try not to rely upon some convoluted metaphorical licence!
"And while free will is not necessarily the direct reason for miscommunication it certainly potentializes the evil that results in miscommunication. Christ spoke in parables for the express purpose that people who wanted more would get more, and the people who did not want anything from God would not only get less but even lose what they had.."
So you presonally now know the mind of Christ? Was this by a SPECIAL Revelation to you personally? Did you really understand the 'parables' yourself or are you only offering your SPECIAL Revelation concerning them?
"Again, in biblical theology, God gives us an "inner witness" of himself as well as revealing himself in nature. Sadly, people willfully turn from that for various reasons and therefore do not progress in their knowledge of God."
I would even grant you that each human being might have an 'inner witness'. This could be conscience, understanding, experience, rationality, etc. If 'God' has such a powerful force to direct that 'witness', surely the existence of even one atheist or non-christian would invalidate the assertion of such a power.
'God........revealing himself in nature'. So the 'inner witness', after 'God can't make his mojo work, is blamed for not get the message? The christian theists always have one more out! If their assertions don't convince, they try guilt, if that does not work they blame the 'inner witness' for not getting the message, if that does not work they try politics!
I do want to believe there is a mind somewhere on the other side of this email...;p(
I think it is a bit of a theological trap. It does toss the burden of proof on the atheists if atheists were claiming that it is a inneffective manner for God to work. We can't account for variables like that to say it is the worst or best or anything in-between. What we can say is just limited to probability. It seems very improbable. And probability is really important in figuring out if you should accept a claim.
So the point is that the real criticism isn't "Why did God do it that way, it is really: "It doesn't seem probable that God did it at all, because it doesn't seem God would have done it in such an ineffective manner if he existed"
With that, the burden of proof is on the theist, not the atheist, as the atheist has added evidence of more improbability.