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.
To know a gap and to hate it is an atheist and they are doing what they are supposed to do.
There is no such thing as random and smoke is not interesting or necessary in order to experience what it is you are free to do and know about completely which is the meaning of whole.
It is well to know how you understand the parts of what you do pertaining to your interests.
Unless you are participating with the life that is able to see what I write as I am writing it because they can use it now, the only areas of what I am writing that you can understand to you within the delay that is occurring at the area of internet, is the portions called understanding ability. The rest would have to be given to you within a translation by someone who is getting this and then assembling that together within your activity grouping where that non continuable activity is not provided at unity with what you can continue to do participating in knowing placed directly to you.
In order for you to be able to communicate and talk about the parts of your interests when you are dependent upon someone who has written about it and then someone else who is placing or marketing a translation of it into a divided preoccupation area, the original knowing must be diverted to what is the living integrating communication of nervous system information or what you would understand as aware thought. Aware thought is what you can sit around and think you are and someone who understands like you is telling themselves in what they misunderstand as "private" before they say it or type it. This information is something that human beings do not agree with each other even while they can understand to tolerate that within what are the words diversity, different and dissonant. Diversity, difference and dissonance are disassociated from unity, disassociated from a united understanding (one common knowing about how we understand knowledge and use ourselves in this experience together shared according to interesting experiencing pathways across areas) and disassociated from what is appreciating coherence. Aware integrations with diverted knowing placed to nervous system information is not caused to occur to life that is understanding their interests complete and instead sight knowing is the experience with knowledge and activity that is added to again and again.
Life that is understanding their existence as dependent upon human beings to tell them how to understand something and how to handle themselves when there is an occurrence that is not the same as before (discomfort, "ailment", loss, etc) will continue to have gaps. Life that is understanding diverted through atheism and other activity that relates that way upset with something that relates to a religion are caused proficient at locating gaps. It is at the gaps that the experience of truth falls apart and an atheist is very interested in that experience and is caused to be able to know exactly where the truth halts. It is really something to appreciate within what is the outcome. The outcome is to drive up complete understanding for the life that will use itself at unity knowing complete and so peace and proper understanding with the areas of life that relate to the atheist is necessary to achieve. An atheist will doggedly persist in a way that some do not understand how they do it caused to a rapidity of reading and what some might "label" compulsivity toward what is purposeful in causing the life going around saying what is incomplete (such as Christianity as well as Physics) to come together with what is always true about the provision of knowledge and continuous experiencing according to their interest pathway. It is possible that some atheists can say something about their experience with reading text and pages even while they will not understand how or why it is occurring completely unless they move over to what they can continue to see. Reading is not a continuable interaction with life and results in cellular division...so "put down the flipper presidents in this area of all varieties".
When you understand complete the only thing an atheist can understand to you if they understand to say something in any way at all is what is caused directly through the area of Infinity through still negative energy (this is liquid hydrogen that is not causing change or entropy) toward a next necessary communication going to life that is understanding itself out of division.
"Take your clothes off and go around in something you can continue to is the current circumlocutio placed to the area using itself as and relating like a private research crew formerly relating like hop scotch territory "!?service-2-you?!" intelligence platforms who will now move over to use themselves seeing and understanding what is experienced to them directly as interesting caused to be added to seamlessly.
If you remain in activity areas where life is understanding from what can be moved over to a television set (same as computer) you will understand something from life relating like the cia which is able to be said together with the life at the vatican as well as medical and computing technology. You will understand about additional activities being added to this area relating to movement and communication through what is an always back and forth process called diversion and this completely understandable to both life like the cia and to you.
If you understand an interest in moving out of this different activity place then you know there is nothing a human can understand itself to be providing and you go over to see what is interesting united with your repositioned circumstances (how you know what you will continue to about what you see and are doing that is added to). Life at unity participates at a sharing experience and no one "thinks" they are providing horizontally or transactionally. Transformation is good communication and the final product is happening at unity and the unity of knowledge and activity is added to again and again without an end.
I think, Kevin, that you just may have found that disciple you came here looking for --
Yes... there were sects of Christianity that believed Jesus was God... but there were also sects that firmly rejected that notion. The point was that it wasn't OFFICIAL canon until after Nicea... which is unsettling.
Skycomet, Christianity was a bit more solidified than it sounds you understand it before Nicea. I can go into details for you on the other thread, but I am worried about hijacking it. If you repost there I will go into some details and bring some primary sources for you about that all. Reading the canons of Nicea really reveals some of this stuff, because you can see the hierarchy that is already in place.
Personal opinion, Kevin R, with absolutely nothing to back it up, but I believe that a person, who as a child, has had a strong, kind, caring, tender, loving father, who had a warm loving relationship with his wife, will, as an adult, have no need for a god. Gods are symbolically the perfect fathers, missing in the average child's life.
I'm sorry Michael - I had both, caring, though imperfect, parents who both lived long lives. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be parentless at such a young age.
I have no idea what happened to Bryan B's post - possibly the Comment Police - just as I finished replying to him, his post disappeared.
There is nothing insightful about cleverly hidden proselytizing. I don't go to christian sites and talk about atheism and I will call out any christian who doesn't show the same respect.
Bryan, if you've followed any of my posts, or happened to have visited, as many others have, my own site at www.in-His-own-image.com, you know I'm not on his side against you, but if he's not welcome here, how can we call ourselves free thinkers? Otherwise, we're just a mutual admiration society. Personally, I invite his input, it challenges our ability to express our beliefs.
Archaeopteryx, while I do value free thinking with my full brain, the context does matter. Also, there are literally millions of forums for religious discussions. I actually sought out a website like Think Atheist as a place of a mutually beneficial sanctuary to find friends with similar minds and not to have to constantly debate with theists and their barrage of non-sense and denial of the historical and scientific record. I, in no way want to discourage you from educating theists, but I don't see this place as the best location for such discussions.
I respect your opinion to disagree with me. Don't we as atheists deserve a place (there are relatively so few) on the Internet that can be a place to admire and encourage each other without harassment? We should just refer these theists to websites that have already exhaustively addressed pretty much every claim and argument they present to us here.
They have no special rights to constantly bother us. If they want to be educated about atheism, they can find a multiplicity of resources to help them learn. But if they come to atheist websites to try to come and "teach" us something, I just respectfully say that they are NOT welcome.
You might check out Atheist Nexus (http://www.atheistnexus.org/). It's for atheists and agnostics only. Part of the registration requires that you claim to be an atheist or agnostic. A majority of Christians won't do that, so the "troll factor" is relatively low.
You're right Mike/archeaoptryx and I'm already a member at Atheist Nexus. But I like coming here and do realize that this website is more open. I guess I just get tired of having people come and post things over and over about the same topics. It makes it feel like being in church hahaha I hated hearing the same non-sense over and over again with very little variation or novelty. I guess I should just say that I don't find theistic teachers/evangelists very fun to read or listen to. I have had too many experiences explaining things in super great detail just to have them dismiss it without a second thought. If they are actually reasonable and not tyrannical in their thought processes then I can tolerate talking with them for a lot longer but still have limits on my patience talking about subjects that are so easily falsifiable. Anyway, I guess I just need thicker skin against the trolls. Thanks :)