Greetings! I am just going to come out and say that I am what you might call I crazy, die hard, delusional Jesus freak, though I do not discourage any discussion about how wrong I am. That is essentially why I am here. I have somewhat become addicted to looking into religious discussion and anything and everything related to it. I want to acquire as much knowledge as I can, and I think this is an excellent place to do so. I am not here to offend anyone and I would love to be able to stay in this community for a while. I don't kow how accepting you guys are of outsiders, but judging by what I have seen on this site so far, most of you are pretty open. So, without further adieu, I would simply like to state how intrigued I am by atheism! From a theological perspective, you and I are polar opposites! I mean to the ends of the earth OPPOSITE. I as a christian believe what I have read in the book of Proverbs: that fear of God is the beginnig of wisdom. With that, my entire life is constantly in pursuit of God and this wisdom! I don't fear him because He is evil, but because He is all powerful. Surely this makes sense? If an all powerful God did exist, it would be foolish not to be afraid of Him. I read somewhere in the quote of the day section, that the beginning of wisdom is the "conquering of fear". Obviously this quote was intended to directly oppose the verse from Proverbs, but I am curious nonetheless whether all or most of the atheist community agrees with this. This would have intriguing implications! Does your life center upon eliminating fear? Fear of the imaginary God, fear of man, fear of death? Do you strive to live a fearless life in the sense that you don't allow fear to control your actions? I would too if there were no God. But instead I WANT fear to control my every thought! I am completely aware of how foolish that is, but I am completely okay with that too!
I want to get on the same page with you here. We are all human beings. We are all more or less equally able to think logically. I believe that the pivotal point from where all logic flows is whether or not God exists. Let me start by saying that if God does not exist, then I would completely agree nearly atheist based ideology-everything that has anything to do with the secular world view, I would LIVE by. Now assume for a moment that you were on the same side as I am, all evidence aside. There is a God. He is the perfect King. Everyone loves Him and everyong respects Him and admires His wisdom. Everyone also fears Him, for if they are on the wrong side of the law, He can justly punish them. Who would respect a Ruler who was a pushover and didn't care about justice? Now, if this God was perfect in the absolute sense, would it not be logical to dedicate your life to trying to be like Him? And if you weren't afraid of Him, would you be able to do that? I just want to try to clarify that if what I believe is true, then I am following the logical course of action by allowing this fear/love combination to take over my life. Do you agree with me? Yes? Then the pivotal point I established earlier must be real, and all ideology flows in two general directions starting from whether you believe God is real or not. No? Then lets continue.
If you disagree with me, then twe have arrived at a second pivotal point in our differences. First being whether you believe in God, and the second (being on the belief side) whether you want to follow this God or not. What do you guys think about these pivotal points? Which one is more important?
sigh. Bill, i asked you for evidence or an argument justifying your belief that god exists and you offer this?
disappointing, to say the least...
1. Sodom and Gomorrah-
presumably this is in response to my refutation of your claim that archaeological evidence justifies your belief in the existence of god. but this is only true insofar as the archaeological evidence supports the Old Testament narrative of the patriarchs, the land promise, the slavery in Egypt, the Exodus, the 40 years spent wandering in the desert, and the conquest of Canaan. but i already pointed out that this is just not true. and in response to this you offer a Christian apologetics website, ChristianAnswers.net, that you say supports your argument because "There is quite powerful evidence that these cities existed near the dead sea and were destroyed by brimstone and fire."
let's examine this for a moment and see if it supports your claim.
first, the argument, relying on the website you offered, seems to be thus:
a) evidence suggests that both Sodom and Gomorrah existed near the dead sea.
b) evidence suggests that both Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by brimstone and fire.
c) the bible, thus shown to contain certain elements of narrative truth [from a and b)], is true.
d) the bible was inspired by god.
e) a belief in the existence of god is justified.
assuming i've done the argument justice, let's take a look and see if the premises support your conclusion.
regarding a), if the evidence suggested that both Sodom and Gomorrah existed near the dead sea would this be impressive at all? hardly. plenty of cities whose names appear in the bible existed in fact. what matters is not that the bible is able to name some cities that existed but that the narrative surrounding those cities is accurate and true, as we would of course expect it to be if the narrative was inspired by a god that existed. after all, that a Spiderman comic book mentions New York City doesn't mean that Spiderman exists. besides, even though it hardly matters for my purposes, there is reason to be skeptical about their historicity.
regarding b), if the evidence suggested that both cities wee destroyed by fire and brimstone would that lead us to believe that a belief in the existence of god was justified? again we find the only answer is, hardly.
your link first says that the archaeological findings of these ruins suggest that the buildings were burned and that the fire started from above, from the roof. great. who cares? buildings burn all the time. many buildings start fire at the roof first. a fire starting at the roof could have been started by an ember floating up on an updraft from a fire. it could have been started by a lit arrow. it could have been purposefully started. each of these is infinitely more likely than that a transcendent disembodied mind willed the city to be destroyed by fire and brimstone and it was done.
but the very link you provided undermines this claim anyway when it suggests the possibility that an earthquake caused nearby bitumen to gush out, after which it may have been ignited by a spark or fire! where's the miracle here? in order to make this stuff palatable to modern intelligent persons you have to abandon any notion of miracles and that's what's been done.
regarding c), since we've shown that there's no reason to think a and b true, c falls apart.
that's enough to kill the argument but let's keep going.
regarding d), the only reason why the biblical narrative is cited is because it's supposed to be inspired by god. because, let's face it, there are plenty of cities that have been named in other ancient documents and in ancient steles and these sources aren't pointed to as justification for a belief in the existence of a god.
the argument being: the bible says this>this is true>god inspired the bible>god must exist to have inspired the bible>god exists.
but of course we already covered this particular brand of silliness. it's circular. you can't justify your use of the bible on the basis of its divine authority when the question is whether or not there exists a divine authority in the first place!
and it's worse because not only doesn't this work to justify a belief in the existence of god, even if god existed there's no reason outside of the bible to think that he inspired the bible! and you're back to fallacious circular reasoning.
so, no, your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises. the fact that the bible mentions Sodom and Gomorrah and that the archaeological evidence (if said evidence is even of Sodom and Gomorrah) suggests that these cities were burned with the fire starting from the roof of the buildings... it means nothing.
the YouTube video you provided is just plain sad. it looks like it was made by someone on vacation. Bill, you're sacrificing your own credibility in an attempt to shore up your god's.
and the website that is linked in the information accompanying the video goes to this website which isn't much better than the video.
perhaps best of all, the website says that Sodom was discovered adjacent to an mountain known as Mount Sodom. and a simple search reveals Mount Sodom to be SOUTHWEST of the Dead Sea. but the first website you provided says that Sodom and Gomorrah were discovered SOUTHEAST of the Dead Sea. so which is it?
probably best to make sure your sources agree with each other before you start offering them in defense of an assertion Bill.
but the biggest problem with all of this is that, as i've already pointed out, the larger narrative in which the Sodom and Gomorrah story is situated is wholly without evidence for its historicity. it's like plucking a single element from a narrative you have no reason to think bears any relationship with a historical reality, saying "hey, these cities existed and burned down" and then think that this could ever allow us to ignore the fact that we have no reason to think the narrative is true in any sense.
2. the flood-
you can hardly be less serious. as i have had occasion to before, i'll pay you the compliment of assuming you're joking rather than insult you by even considering that you're really offering the flood as evidence for the existence of god.
seashells on mountains are caused by uplift. moreover, floods would wash seashells down off of mountains into the valleys and so if there was a flood seashells on mountains is precisely what we wouldn't expect.
sedimentary rocks covering large areas is also easily explainable without having to resort to magnificent and unevidenced goings on.
so is the prevalence of flood myths around the world in varying cultures. people tended to live near rivers for obvious reasons. in living near rivers the water level of those rivers would certainly figure high in their cultural consciousness. it's not hard to see how myths and legends would grow up over time surrounding semi-regular but severe floods.
strike 2 Bill.
"not much but worth mentioning"? no Bill, not worth mentioning if you can describe it as "not much" these are supposed to be your big guns. what's going on here?
but since you did mention it i'll take the time to show you where it fails to be the justification you claim.
regarding the link you provided, it says "archaeologists discovered a small pottery sherd that mentions two names very similar to the name 'Goliath'.” right there is your first problem: that a name is similar to Goliath doesn't mean we're talking about the name Goliath. and so by extension it doesn't mean the sherd references THE Goliath.
but it gets worse. the text at the link is full of qualified statements that give confidence to no one not already grasping at straws in an attempt to see this as justifying a belief in the existence of god.
"the inscription may give evidence..."
"...some archaeology experts..."
so we have an argument that goes something like: piece of pottery mentions a name KINDA LIKE a name appearing in the bible>the inscription MAY give evidence>SOME archaeology experts...> therefore god exists!
but as if that's not enough let's be sure to mention that the bible describes Goliath as being 9 feet 9 inches tall- believing in giants now are we? -and that the description of Goliath's armor and of David has so much in common with The Illiad that we're left wondering why the Goliath/David story must be true while The Iliad false and wondering whether it was The Illiad that actually happened and the Goliath/David story is a rip off.
strike three. you're out. but let's continue for fun!
4. the star of Bethlehem-
so what? you've taken all the miracle out of this and made it mundane. the story would have us understand that god gave the wise men a star to follow so that they would be assured of arriving to find Jesus. this is a miracle. to say that it was a concurrence of a couple of planets is to say that it was a natural event. make up your mind. and once again, who cares if the natural event was mentioned in the bible. the Chinese astronomers recorded all kinds of celestial goings on, does this mean that their myths and legends are true? i don't think so but perhaps if you think this is evidence that the myths and legends of your religion are true you will think that this is evidence that the Chinese myths and legends are true.
5. extra-biblical accounts of Jesus-
Josephus wrote in the early 90's of the first century. he wasn't even born until 37, 4 years after Jesus is said to have died! as such, if he mentioned Jesus he was talking about someone he knew only from history. and, owing to the time that had passed bv and the shorter life spans back then, not even eye witness history. but it's irrelevant as scholars have been nearly unanimous for a hundred years that the references to Jesus in Josephus' works are, if not utter late Christian fabrications, at least heavily interpolated by later Christian copyists.
Tacitus wrote late as well, indeed, even later than Josephus. Tacitus was born in 56 and didn't write his Annals until 116 in which we find mention of a Christ and his followers. but just like with Josephus, given the late date and the passage of time, Tacitus can only be relied upon to provide evidence that people thought that Jesus had existed and that Christians did exist. but no one disputes that people 80 years later thought that Jesus had existed or that they worshiped him.
you prove nothing with either of these and the rest are the same quality: too late to be extra-biblical contemporaneous mentions of Jesus. they attest merely to the fact that people decades later believed in and worshiped Jesus. but no one disputes that. and besides, even if Jesus existed it doesn't establish that your god exists so i'm not even sure what this is supposed to be evidence of. after all, if someone were to establish that Mohammad existed would you say that that would establish that Allah exists?
but it's worse because by citing Tacitus you actually you allow me to transition into an exposition of how Luke undermines itself. Tacitus says "Christ, from whom the name [Chrestians] had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty (i.e., Crucifixion) during the reign of Tiberius..."
now Tiberius' reign was from 14-37 CE. okay, but Luke 2:1-3 tells us that Jesus was born when Quirinius took his census. the Romans left great records so we know that this census took place in the years 6/7 CE during the reign of Augustus. that would have made Jesus 30 years old in the years old in the year 24/25 CE. but Luke 3:1; 3:23 tells us that Jesus was 30 years old when he was baptized in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius. so Luke has Jesus aged 30 years in the year 29 CE. so Luke contradicts itself.
you're saying that you want me to believe a book filled with absurdities and plain errors of fact accurately recounts someone's dream, first of all, and then you want me to accept the odd tortured interpretation of the elements of that dream to indicate references to future civilizations and that's your evidence justifying your believe that god exists? Bill...
anyway, the book of Daniel is filled with evidence that it was written way later than a straightforward reading of the text would have us believe.
first of all, "Nebuchadnezzar" (Nabuchodonosser) is actually the Greek version of the name of the famous Chaldean king Nabu-kudurri-user. in Jeremiah and Ezekiel he is referred to as "Nebuchadrezzar", with an "r" whereas the author of Daniel calls him Nebuchadnezzar, the Greek version with an "n" in place of the "r". this tells us that the book could never have been written by one of the advisers of the Chaldean king, but hundreds of years later when Greek influence was widespread enough to be reflected in the name change. hell, Daniel 4 is supposedly written by the king himself and he apparently couldn't bring himself to spell his name correctly!
another anachronism give away is when in Daniel 2:2 the king calls for experts including "chaldeans" to interpret his dream for him. but in the later Hellenistic period "chaldeans" had come to be used to refer to astrologers, so famous by then were the Chaldeans for their astrology. but if Daniel had been written when it is supposed to have been written this wouldn't have made any sense since "chaldeans" referred to a nationality and not a profession as it did much later (Callahan 2002:335).
there are many others.
these little quirks show that it wasn't "Daniel" that wrote the book, it was written when it is supposed to have been written by, and so it can not possibly recount- certainly not accurately- the dreams of a person who hadn't been alive for hundreds of years.
where are the big guns? after a while it begins to look like your belief in the existence of god isn't just unjustified, but unjustifiable.
This might help with the biblical contradictions.
"Most people tend to agree that they are pretty morally sound set of rules, break them, and them blame God for making them."
Again, no. You're continually asserting that most people follow your particular religion, when in fact less than half of the population of the planet does so.
You bring up the Ten Commandments, so let's look at them. The first question is which set of commandments? There are two, you know, and they are not the same. The first set, the set that most people think of when the Ten Commandments are mentioned, is found in Exodus 20: 1-17 and also in Deuteronomy 5:1-21. The second set, the set that was carved into the tablets on Mt Sinai and are actually called the Ten Commandments by the Bible, is also found in Exodus, in Exodus 34:1-28.
The first set (Exodus 20:1-17):1 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
The second set (Exodus:34:1-28):1 The LORD said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”
4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
10 Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
17 “Do not make any idols.
18 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
19 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons.
“No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
22 “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel. 24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.
25 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.
26 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.
“Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.
Whether or not your god is a bully is up for debate, Bill... which is what we're debating.
I really have to question your character if you would kill the innocent if "God" didn't tell you not to. Really? That's the reason you don't take innocent lives? You need someone to tell you it's wrong to commit an act as heinous as that? I don't. I choose not to kill innocent people because I think it's disgusting, and I have no inclinations to go on murderous rampages without someone keeping an eye on me.
The Ten Commandments aren't a great reference for morality, and the "most people" who agree that they are don't represent people on a site like this. Those people are called "Christians", and you already know how we feel about them, or what they believe.
First commandment: do not worship any other gods. FAIL. There are no gods. This has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with what fairy tale someone subscribes to.
Second commandment: do not make any idols. FAIL. There are worse things than creating artwork in this world, and this adds nothing to a conversation about morality. Nothing. It just means you god is jealous and petty.
Third commandment: do not use the Lord's name in vain: FAIL. I don't acknowledge the existence of your god, so avoiding the misuse of his name is not exactly high on my priority list. This has nothing to do with human morality, but does suggest this imaginary god is a bit vain.
Fourth commandment: keep the Sabbath holy. Again... I don't acknowledge your god's existence, so keeping the "Sabbath" holy is as important keeping National Noodle Day holy. People who work on Saturday do not concern me, and I don't worry about their moral character.
Fifth commandment: honor your mother and father. Sure, this is good advice. I won't sneer at the idea of honoring my parents, but I'm not going to honor them if they're abusive or controlling. Parenthood doesn't necessarily get automatic reverence; people have to be honorable in order to be honored.
Sixth commandment: do not murder. Not there is ONE command I am totally on board with. Totally.
Seventh commandment: do not commit adultery. Alright, I like this one too. People in committed relationships shouldn't cheat on each other. But I also don't believe couples should stay together if they find that there are irreconcilable differences... and divorce leads to adultery, according to Jesus. I don't agree with what the Bible defines as adultery (a man simply checking a hot chick out is not adultery).
Eighth commandment: do not steal. Okay, good one. I agree with this.
Ninth commandment: do not lie. Generally speaking, I think it's a good idea not to lie. I do believe it's sometimes necessary. It was even necessary in the Bible sometimes (remember when that prostitute hid Joshua and his henchmen in Jericho? she totally lied and God was cool with that). Everyone has to lie at some point or another. GENERALLY it's wrong, but not always.
Tenth commandment: do not covet. I don't like this one. We all want what we don't have. Most of us see something we want, and then we actually are motivated by that desire to obtain it. I would like a nicer car. I covet my friend's Honda Civic. I'm going to work hard, however, so I can get one myself. And I just don't think people's private thoughts should be monitored.
So four commands I think are completely irrelevant to the application of morality, two I agree with, and the rest are iffy.
How about a list like...
1. Don't murder
2. Don't steal
3. Don't own slaves or treat people like property
4. Don't physically, verbally, or emotionally abuse your children (then they'll honor you)
5. Be honest as much as possible
6. Be respectful and kind to other living beings
7. Treat women as equals, because they are
8. Honor your spouse/partner
9. Take care of the planet
10. Always take the time to LEARN MORE AND ASK QUESTIONS
I like my list better than yours. It actually has more useful applications for achieving morality.
Cara, Now I REALLY like your commandments. Let's get the government to post them in city hall!