Hey Guys,

So I'm just looking to brush up on my knowledge regarding Christian beliefs so that I'm better prepared to explain my position of disbelief when the discussion arises (it has been a much more common topic around the house than I'd like, especially being the sole atheist of the family). I have some general questions mainly concerning timelines, tailored beliefs and context of things relating to the Bible. Any insight or helpful links would be greatly appreciated. Alright, so here's what I'd like more info on:

1) Does the Bible condone slavery? Every Christian that's confronted with this seems to flat out deny that it does, stating that those "slaves" were people who volunteered themselves to serve.

2) Over what period of time was the Bible written?

3) What's the story of Abraham killing his son?

4) Who are Cain and Abel?

5) What misogynist things does the Bible say about women?

6) Why don't Christians like to follow the Old Testament?

7) What has the Bible "predicted"?

8) Does the Bible have any racist implications?

9) Who was Mary Magdalene and what was so special about her?

10) What other religions does the Bible "borrow" from?

Thanks in advance! <3

Tags: abraham, atheism, bible, context, debate, god, jesus, misogyny, questions, racism, More…women

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There are people out there, Bob, telling other people that if they don't strictly follow a set of rules that an invisible sky-fairy and a crucified and risen zombie set up for them to follow, they're going to burn, after they die, for all eternity. I don't see how you can call anyone's effort to tell people that it isn't true, that they needn't live their lives in fear, "sophomoric deconstruction." Your people have had centuries to spread your myths and fear, but with every passing day, more and more of us throw off your yoke and say, "No more!"

"you probably construct a worldview that bears a lot in common with religious teaching"

I prefer to see it from a different viewpoint - those involved with maintaining religion in the world, whether for wealth or power, took those universal human characteristics: "Care for others, striving for a just society, making personal sacrifices for the sake of the group, gathering occasionally to reflect on and renew our commitment," as you put it, and wove it into their religion, since these were things we would normally tend to do anyway, why not make it look like it was their god's idea?

I'm curious, Robert - you found ample time to respond to my Tim Minchin quotation, "Science adjusts its views based on what's observed, faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved," yet you seem disinclined to answer my question, "Do you pray to a postulate?"

Do you really wonder why we accuse you of dodging questions?

@archy, I find these long threads very hard to navigate, and have relatively little time to do so.  I don't mean to dodge, I just have other things to attend to, especially now that we're in fall semester.

The answer to your question should be obvious, though.  Of course I pray to God.  Why would you think otherwise? 

Physical science postulates that the universe exists.   There really is no way to "prove" that when observational perceptions are really just neuro-electrical impulses.  We could all be plugged into the Matrix.  Yet we choose to interact with that postulate on an ongoing basis.  Observe it, experiment with it, base our behaviors and behavioral choices on those perceptions.

@archy, I find these long threads very hard to navigate, and have relatively little time to do so. I don't mean to dodge, I just have other things to attend to, especially now that we're in fall semester.

Thus, having blundered into admitting God does not exist empirically, Bob suddenly loses the time and ability to navigate, and won't respond to simple requests (time after time after time) to explain just how this imaginary God originated the universe, fathered Jesus, and answers prayers. (This is #2. Bob's favorite, as Arch pointed out.)

Yet somehow, Bob finds the time and capability to navigate well enough to write this unrelated response.

The answer to your question should be obvious, though. Of course I pray to God. Why would you think otherwise?

For the same reason one would think you do not pray to Gandalf the Wizard.

Physical science postulates that the universe exists.

Wrong. Physical science proves the universe exists with empirical evidence.

There really is no way to "prove" that when observational perceptions are really just neuro-electrical impulses. We could all be plugged into the Matrix. Yet we choose to interact with that postulate on an ongoing basis. Observe it, experiment with it, base our behaviors and behavioral choices on those perceptions.

I am interacting with what my senses tell me is true. From this I conclude reasonably that; (A) I exist in a universe that is teeming with natural wonders, (B) the universe is self-existing in that my thoughts discover a reality that is external to my mind, but my thoughts do not create that reality, and (C) I can create imaginary, abstract, or hypothetical concepts that do not exist except within my thoughts.

In all human observation in all of human history, God is nowhere to be found in except firmly in the realm of C, right alongside Gandalf the Wizard and Barney the Dinosaur.

Thus-- upon being confronted with the incongruity of an imaginary God running the universe-- Bob literally denies all the empirical evidence in existence, uproots the entire universe from realm B, and crams it into realm C.

This is done in a desperate attempt to cling to the tattered remnants of 'God is a postulate', also known as #4, (since we don't need evidence for imaginary things). Presto: Now the entire universe is imaginary, just like God!

I hereby grant Professor Doctor Robert Bob an official 'Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard' Award, delivered with a chorus of merry laughter and a lyric of: Merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream.

--------------------

Yes, my senses could be tricked because we're all jacked into the Matrix. For good measure, the solar system could be an atom in the fingernail of a giant. Bigfoot could be avoiding human contact using the power of invisibility. A colony of intangible half-inch leprechauns wearing French ticklers could be living in Bob's large intestine, causing his pleasures to be endless.

Absent any evidence to support these claims consider them dismissed. There's no reason to believe them, nothing to consider, nothing to debate, nothing to discuss. Scientific standards of evidence aren't perfect, but this is no reason to discard them. Science is still the best method we have for knowing what is really true. 

Sorry Gallup, these could all be true:

Yes, my senses could be tricked because we're all jacked into the Matrix. For good measure, the solar system could be an atom in the fingernail of a giant. Bigfoot could be avoiding human contact using the power of invisibility. A colony of intangible half-inch leprechauns wearing French ticklers could be living in Bob's large intestine, causing his pleasures to be endless.

Absent any evidence to support these claims consider them dismissed. There's no reason to believe them, nothing to consider, nothing to debate, nothing to discuss. Scientific standards of evidence aren't perfect, but this is no reason to discard them.

They could be postulates --

Robert, I'm beginning to lose all faith in your ability to intelligently defend your position.

LOL!  That's OK, @archy, it's nice to have you admit to "faith" in anything, even for a time.

Oh, I have faith in far more things than you realize Robert, just not in supernatural things. I have to trust that at this very minute, the sun is shining, and I really won't know for nearly 8 more minutes, whether or not it is, yet I still won't know if it is at that moment, only that it was at this one.

Firstly, this is a fantastic selection of questions.

1. In a sense any culture of any era in which there was slavery indirectly "condoned" it because it was accepted. But that's the real point here: you can't live your life by a collection of teachings that emerged from an era in which the people writing these scriptures accepted that kind of thing. Because their moral credibility is shot.

2. There's a general consensus, but the gist of it is that the new testament wasn't finished until hundreds of years after the man Yeshua lived, and a lot of it was written by people who never even met him, let alone saw him on a daily basis.

3. Yahweh told Abraham to kill his son Isaac to test him. Just when he saw he was actually going to do it, he was like "Dude don't! I was just testing you! LOL Jesus, man. You were actually gonna do it. Wow." So Abraham passed the test. And Isaac was just kind of like "Okay, I guess..."

4. In Judeo-Christian mythos, Cain and Abel were the sons of the first man and woman. Cain killed Abel and then ran off and married his sister (because that was his only option).

5. Timothy 2:12, for example, tells us that a woman should not have authority over a man or teach, and should remain silent.

6. Christians don't like to follow the Old Testament because it's where the worst of the worst stuff is and they don't want to identify with that. They're highly selective like that and it's all very convenient.

7. The bible's speculated on a lot of things. Like Nostradamus. If I speculate that enough teams will win the Superbowl over long enough a period of time, eventually I'll be right. And then I'll be like "I told you so," and everyone will know I'm a tool. That's the bible.

8. There are some racial and sometimes downright segregationalist undertones, even stereotypes when the writers reference other ethnic groups, and of course the Old Testament has indirect racism that develops as the result of two groups of different origins fighting, but it's kind of a moot point given that you can't say they were any more racist than people fifty years ago, or a hundred, or today.

9. There were a few characters named Mary that pop up in the stories about Jesus' life. "She" is "special" because people raise a big lugapalooza about her. Which is really to say that "she" raises questions about whether or not Jesus had relations with a woman. He was a 30+ year-old male, and he was human, so... what do we know about human males? They have urges, needs, and even those with the loftiest ideals can fall in love.

10. Well, Christianity is obviously an offshoot of Judaism, and you can see a lot of ideas that the Hebrews took on from their introduction to Zoroastrianism (that'd be from the Persians), but there are a number of reoccurring themes from older and deader religions that you've probably already heard about (Mithraism etc).

It has always seemed to me that the bulk of the people here seem to object primarily to fundamentalism/biblical literalism, or at times to poorly educated/informed religiosity, rather than to religion more generally.

This is #6.

I object to the unsupported claim of theism. The rest (including the religion you hang on it) is window dressing.

Then, oddly, quite a few tend to emulate those they object to, by making biblical literalist arguments or unsubstantiated/unprovable claims about religion.  In fact, they sometimes criticize me and my religion for not being fundamentalist (I just "pick and choose", etc.).

This is #5 and #6.

You're implying I've done these things by including these remarks in your response to me. By all means, show me the unsubstantiated claims I have made. Show me the times I criticized you for not being a fundamentalist. Find them. Quote them. Link to them here. Otherwise, consider yourself rebuked (yet again) for being an incorrigible liar.

As for the rest, you must have missed my response in that long post.
Bob: Parallel lines will never meet.
Gallup:  Evidence, please.
Bob: There is none.
Gallup: I don't believe you.
Bob (rolling eyes): Whatever. I'm going to keep using Euclidean Geometry because it's useful.  Be grateful that the guy who built your house does, too.

This is #6.

I didn't miss it. It was so ridiculous (even for you) that I didn't initially think it merited a response. I changed my mind later because I guessed I'd be seeing it again unless I did.

Well, [bigfoot, leprechauns, astrology, cold fusion, and cosmic beings with supernatural powers] aren't good examples [of claims that are exempt from supporting evidence] because....

...because why, Bob?

...none would really be foundational assumptions for a philosophy/way of looking at the world or a discipline.

This is #4.

So a claim about empirical reality that is a foundational assumption for a philosophy or a discipline does not need supporting evidence? And the reason for this howler is...? Not given. And the evidence to support this astonishing claim is...? Nowhere to be seen.

Again, we distinguish between philosophies that are based on different postulates not by evidence, but by utility. There's no proof of the axioms of geometry or mathematics, we accept geometry or mathematics because we find them useful. We disregard lots of other things because we don't find them useful.

Again, completely irrelevant. The claim that God exists is a claim about empirical reality, not a claim about an abstract concept that exists in the imagination. This is the reason we do not ask for evidence for Harry Potter or a hypothetical geometric point in space: if they are presented as existing in the imagination, no evidence is required.

This does not apply to God because theists claim God exists not in the conceptual, hypothetical, imaginary sense, but in empirical reality. So the claim requires evidence (of the empirical, that is non-conceptual, non-hypothetical, non-imaginary sort.)

Harry Potter is useful as a bedtime story in getting young children to sleep, but this does not mean Harry Potter should be accepted to exist in empirical reality.

Besides, how does utility necessarily equate to confirmation? Why couldn't the God claim be useful and be an utter fabrication? That this type of falsehood is observably useful requires nothing more than a visit to your neighborhood psychic or astrology shop.

I agree completely that there's nothing irrational or unreasonable about being an atheist. I certainly have never made that claim. I think the people here are generally quite reasonable.

For fuck's sake, Bob. You were just insisting on my behalf that my using the standard of scientific evidence-- which is the reason why many atheists are atheists-- disqualifies me as a believer in all mathematics. It was rubbish of course, but you were making a rather pointed statement that I was being irrational and unreasonable.

For me personally, I don't find atheism useful as a philosophy. It doesn't seem to contribute any substantive knowledge or insight, doesn't help answer any questions, doesn't help societies or individuals improve. In fact, some here insist that it's only not believing in god(s). OK, but that doesn't seem to me to be very worthwhile as a construct. Indeed, for the most part the atheists here couldn't really come up with very good reasons why pedophilia was "wrong" without relying on a Christian cultural context.

Atheism IS only disbelief in gods. Anything beyond that is something more than just atheism. As for my "philosophy" you have not restrained yourself on these boards from telling me what I believe rather than asking me. Since you've been wrong every time and this was a product of your own doing, so is the resulting lack of worth for your while. I have no idea what "Christian cultural contexts" means, but since human culture and altruism predate any so-called "Christian" origins by at least 193,000 years, consider this meaningless claim to be dismissed with the standard chortle. Christianity is a product of human culture not the origin of it or its moral aspect.

You were just insisting on my behalf that my using the standard of scientific evidence-- which is the reason why many atheists are atheists-- disqualifies me as a believer in all mathematics.

No, I was just saying that you didn't actually understand mathematics.  Or, for that matter, the science that you were claiming.   Your statements that you didn't believe the 5th Axiom was actually an axiom were statements that you didn't believe in standard mathematics.  Your claim that scientific observation "proved" Euclidean Geometry (parallel lines never meet) was a statement that you didn't actually understand scientific method, where mathematics is used to model reality, not vice versa.

You have constructed for yourself an interesting worldview, but it isn't fully consistent with science as defined by the broader community. 

And no, the existence of God is not a claim about "empirical reality" for any religion I am aware of. It's a straw man that you have created, which would be my #1 of "typical atheist arguments". ;)

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