Basic question: How many people in the Old Testament died and went to heaven? What were their names?

This is a basic question for both atheists and Bible believers.

Discussion, please.

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Once again, Bob, you're ignoring the unusualness of the event. I'm also willing to accept fragmentary evidence carefully pieced together for an event that is non-magical and fits in with other events we know take place. An example might be the existence of Joan of Arc. I don't know whether she existed or not as there is no hard evidence remaining but I'm willing to accept the fragmentary evidence we have as a woman existing fitting her characteristics is a perfectly reasonable supposition. It is not reasonable to suppose that a man rose from the dead and therefore it is not reasonable to think it happened just based on fragmentary evidence.

Once again, the point is that the event was unusual.  Ordinary events don't cause a collection of fishermen, tax collectors, and prostitutes to go off and start a world-spanning religion.

Joan of Arc was also an extremely unusual person for her day and for several centuries afterward.  So much so that many people would have said that it was not reasonable to think such a female military leader existed given fragmentary evidence.  Females are the fair sex, weak, needing protection, etc. etc.

What's reasonable or unreasonable depends on the prior biases of the person making the judgment more than any aspect of supposed rationality.   We had bankers, financiers, and economists prior to the global crash and recession of 2008 who maintained that it was not reasonable to think that such a catastrophe could happen, because extensive derivative use had distributed and mitigated the risk.

Many Christians pick and choose the New Testament stories they wish to align with.

Nonetheless, they still adjust their behaviors to some of the stories, and are confronted with ideas that challenge their choices where they don't.  People are not robots; we can influence them, but we can't reprogram them.

People of course have aligned themselves with other written principles, secular and religious.  Mao's Little Red Book, Hitler's Mein Kampf, ISIS's version of the Koran and Islam, Lenin's The State and Revolution, on and on.   

There is no rational evidence at all to indicate that people don't or won't align themselves to principles that are destructive to any or all outside of their family or tribe.

My point is that the religion of Christianity was entirely crafted by human beings, with all the flaws and merits of that species. God/Gods/magical resurrections/water to wine, etc have nothing to do with it.

Christianity, science, history, art, music, economics, all of these were crafted by human beings.

It does not automatically follow that the ideas, reports, experiments, accounts, songs, models, etc.  that these flawed human beings passed on to each other are inherently wrong.

The wave-nature of matter is a human idea.  That human idea can still reflect something deeply fundamental about the nature of the universe.  God is a human idea, but that idea, too, can still reflect something deeply fundamental about the nature of the universe. 

Well, that's novel I guess.  You do realize that if you throw out oral & written histories, commentaries, and artwork you've pretty much tossed out all of the evidence that we have for many/most historical figures and events, right?

The claims made about Hitler, Napoleon, Henry VIII, Caesar, Alexander, and The Pharoahs a) are not miraculous and contrary to the laws governing the Universe (and if any such claim was made we'd be justified in rejecting them out of hand) and b) are at least falsifiable in principle. Exactly how does one falsify a miraculous claim when, in order to take it serious enough to consider, one has to throw the laws of Nature out the window to start with?

We all tend to question our beliefs except those that we really believe.

What makes you think that there's really any such thing as "Laws governing the Universe"?

You realize that's just a made-up human assumption that comes out of monotheism / God as Creator and Lawgiver, right?

We've got no "proof" or "evidence" of such a thing as Laws of Nature beyond that the idea appears to be useful as the basis for a system of thought to describe or model physical phenomena.

What makes you think that there's really any such thing as "Laws governing the Universe"?

How about the success one has when obeying them vs. the sad history of people who try to defy them ("I can fly like Superman!").

How is that any different from the majority of people basing their belief of U.S. History on what they have been taught?

It's different in that whatever is taught in a U.S. History class at least passes the smell test of plausibility.

I'd also say that the idea of the resurrection (A) is useful because when people have knowledge of the idea many adjust their behavior accordingly, and those adjustments both help and protect those people as well as improve the general society, and (B) the idea allows us to construct a broader framework to teach or "predict" whether certain behaviors are good or bad for individuals and society.

So, something is true or false in your mind depending upon its (dubious in this case) utility?

If you begin with the assumption of God, then resurrection is still a surprise, world-changing event.  One so powerful that, like being rescued from Egyptian slavery, it becomes the basis for a totally new way of looking at God and the world.

Sort of like when the dark Batman appeared on the scene.

So, something is true or false in your mind depending upon its (dubious in this case) utility?

Of course.   Can you think of a field of human endeavor where that is not the case?   We believe energy exists because it's a useful construct, not because there's any evidence for it.   We believe in Keynesian economics (or not) because we think it's a useful model for describing government/market interactions.    We choose to believe some clothing is worth paying $$$ for because it is useful for conveying status or getting us a job. 

As an atheist, you don't actually believe that we're out questing for some Existential Truth, do you?   What possible evidence could you have that THAT exists?

I understand what you're saying Bob (about energy for example) but some things are useful although they are not true. If I tell my son his eyesight will improve if he eats carrots that is a useful idea because it gets him to be more healthy (which is want I want). However as an idea, objectively, it is false.

Oh, sure, lying can be "useful" if by that you mean getting you what you want, at least in the short term.

That's not really what we're talking about though, is it?  I thought we were talking about ideas that are useful as the basis of systems of thought that lead to productive outcomes for humanity.

Of course.   Can you think of a field of human endeavor where that is not the case?   We believe energy exists because it's a useful construct, not because there's any evidence for it.   We believe in Keynesian economics (or not) because we think it's a useful model for describing government/market interactions.    We choose to believe some clothing is worth paying $$$ for because it is useful for conveying status or getting us a job. 

Making false assumptions is useful in disproving arguments, for example. Those false assumptions, on your theory, are also true? That's a contradiction in terms. In math, imaginary numbers are used which are plainly not true in any existential sense despite their utility. Likewise it seems there's no such thing as an actual infinity and yet the concept is useful. Psychologically, rehearsing things in one's mind, even if they are things that never could happen, can be useful. You're defending a losing point.

As an atheist, you don't actually believe that we're out questing for some Existential Truth, do you?   What possible evidence could you have that THAT exists?

What is this Existential Truth we're supposedly not questing after?

In math, imaginary numbers are used which are plainly not true in any existential sense despite their utility.

Not just complex numbers, but irrational numbers, points, lines, really the entirety of mathematics. 

Though we honestly don't really know, do we?  Pythagoras may be right, and some deep fundamental aspect of Nature may be tied to the mathematics of complex numbers in Riemannian manifolds.  They may be more "true" than matter is.

Most of us would say it's impossible to say what's True in that sense.

The point is that we teach things like complex analysis in school to children as important and worth learning, and by doing so we advance humankind.  If you're will to acknowledge the same thing with respect to God and religion, then I don't think we're really in disagreement.

The reason I discovered I was an atheist had nothing to do with religion or feeling ripped off. I think religions have been a two edged sword. If you read some of Yuval Harari's books on the history of humans from hunter-collectors you realize from the agricultural period onward, the world has been a shit hole for most people. Religions were the institutions that were willing to look at the value of a life and uphold it. Of course, because so many people believed, religions were hijacked by rulers who wanted to control people. What Sarah Palin does today, shoehorning Bible verses into her personal quest for fame and fortune, is no different than what Popes of the past did.

I have no axe to grind even though I was a born again Christian for nearly 20 years. I memorized large portions of the Bible and built up a narrative that tried to make the Bible look like some magical text which all works together -- something out of a Spielberg movie. That was how I proved my beliefs were correct because it all fit together like an intricate puzzle. I'd say 99% of born again Christians are walking around with this proof set.

But it started to cave in on me when I began to have some personal problems and was introduced to some tapes by Wayne Dyer. I felt he was semi-Christian and so it was okay. He does believe in some kind of mysticism. But, he said one thing that I couldn't get out of my head. He quoted a few sayings of Jesus and said something like, "now, these are deep truths that you'll find in whatever religion you may believe from many great thinkers." It bothered the shit out of me that the Buddha said the same thing. How? Only we have the truth. They don't.

But that was the beginning of the unraveling. I started to realize that the most important teachings of Jesus, you rarely ever see a preacher talk about. Loving your neighbor as yourself is the top one. 

And it started to simmer in my mind that "loving your neighbor as yourself" is just fucking radical. Still, today, after we've essentially gotten past slavery and all the other major ills which require a mind shift, that one still goes much further.

I knew I was an atheist when I saw that that idea was thought up by human beings as a realization of how to survive. At some point people understood, "if we agree not to kill each other, we both can live better." To arrive at, "love people who don't love you," is science fiction. To not understand why is to remain a neanderthal. To truly grasp it and all its implications is utterly mind blowing. 

Religion looks at the value of human life in an attempt to equate it with the sublime. I don't have a problem with that. Leaders and despots will use whatever they can to control and harm other people. And they often use religion to achieve that. There are useful truths discovered by religious people, which are not religious truths at all.

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